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Principal's message to faculty and staff on health and well-being

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we come to the second week of our new Coronavirus reality, I have found myself and my colleagues often speaking about a common issue – the difficulties and challenges of working from home.  Every morning, the senior leadership team and I convene to speak with public health and find out what, if anything, has changed with the status of the virus.  These are extraordinary times. Only a few weeks ago, it would never have occurred to me that this topic would be guiding my day, nor that every meeting I attend would be through the camera on my computer.  Things have changed dramatically for us all and it feels as if it happened overnight.

We are adjusting to this new version of normality and I recognize this is not easy.  My senior team and the Deans met yesterday on-line, and the health and well-being of faculty and staff was a major discussion point.  People are struggling not just with a remote workplace but with all the complications and adjustments this brings.  For some, there is the additional challenge of childcare, sharing space with a partner or other housemates, and worries about eldercare.  For those that live alone, there is a stark contrast to our usual work life with the social interaction significantly curtailed.  We all know there is a cost to our current situation and it is personal.  We are affected, and it is in times like these, in the absence of human contact, that our humanity is most needed.

We are social beings and we need each other.  Our community has been incredibly creative in its ability to adapt education and work to a new remote format.  We must be equally innovative in our support for one another.  I have heard of some teams taking part in on-line lunches.  Others have daily check-ins just to keep connected and see each other’s faces. Our technology offers us a personal glimpse into each other’s lives.  It is not surprising that in this time of crisis, we often see more similarities with each other than differences. There is nothing easy about what is happening to our world right now and no one is immune to the impact of this virus.

I want to reiterate what I have written in other messages: nothing is more important than the health, well-being and safety of the Queen’s community. Please take care of yourself, your family and loved ones during this stressful time.  Find ways to help one another.  Our Human Resources Department is preparing to post new materials and resources for staff working remotely.  There are already existing resources you can tap into, including the Employee and Family Assistance Program.  A recent article in the Gazette, All the right moves, from Queen’s researcher Robert Ross talks about maintaining physical health while working from home – and other tips and tricks for you and your family. We will continue to feature stories like this in the Gazette over the coming weeks as well as stories about how the Queen’s community is coming together during these difficult and challenging times.

I strongly encourage you to connect using the many technology options available – whether it’s Microsoft Teams to connect with your colleagues, or Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp or other video sharing platforms to connect with friends and family.  This is a time unlike any other in recent history, and that connectivity is critical. With it, we bring a little humanity back into our daily lives.

Patrick Deane

Principal and Vice-Chancellor