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Confronting COVID-19

Don’t turn that dial

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Campus radio station CFRC offers unique community program designed to inform and support people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kingston’s only campus and community radio station CFRC 101.9 is using its airwaves to connect the community while providing critical COVID-19 information and updates.

Radio Pandemic is a new call-in show that discusses news and events related to the pandemic and helps answer difficult questions including what this world may be like when this is over.

The show airs Mondays from 1-2 pm, Wednesdays from 1-3 pm and Fridays from 8-9 pm. Listeners can call during those times at 613-533-CFRC to get on the air or request a song. Archives of the program can be found at  https://www.cfrc.ca/program_archive.

“When the instructions for people to start practicing social/physical distancing in the Kingston area were first publicized, my friends and I had a conversation about what we should do about the situation,” says volunteer Rachel Mendl. “We were concerned about the toll these prevention practices will take on people's emotional and mental well-being and on our sense of community. Someone floated the idea of a call-in radio show and we proposed it to the radio station the next day.”

CFRC station manager Dinah Jansen says the show is an important part of CFRC’s mandate.

“We want to ensure we are serving the whole community with our programming. It’s important to bring critical information to our listeners.”

The programming for the show is still being developed. Lynda Colgan (Education) was the first academic guest on the show. She called in and talked about how to keep children educationally engaged while staying at home.

“We are focusing on hearing from members of the Queen's and Kingston community at large right now and promoting the show so that anybody can call in, but we're definitely hoping to hear more expert or academic opinions too,” says Rachel. “We hope that anybody who has an idea they'd like to share or some information that might help others get through this crisis will reach out to us.”

CFRC has also launched three more lighthearted programs to help keep the Queen’s community connected, including live interactive Grad Club Trivia at 9 pm Thursdays and Tales and Stories for Young Listeners with former Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf Sundays at 10 am. Dr. Woolf is reading children’s stories and is hoping other families will join in the reading.

Another program entitled Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah features simple recipes submitted by community members that help stretch food resources for people and families in isolation and airs on Wednesdays at 5 PM.

Grad Club Trivia Part Two is a virtual version of the highly popular Grad Club Trivia where teams compete in random categories to earn trivia greatness. Jansen says last week there were 86 teams from around the world using various social media app to play. For more information about the event visit the Facebook page.

“I’m delighted with the community engagement from Queen’s, Kingston and beyond with CFRC’s special programming initiatives during the COVID crisis,” says Jansen. “We’re here to help by providing critical information over the airwaves in addition to fun interactive broadcasts that the whole community can participate in from their homes.”

Jansen invites community members to participate in the CFRC programming directly by submitting recipes and even recordings of children’s stories to station@cfrc.ca.

Food for the community

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Queen’s is increasing its food donation efforts to help the community during COVID-19.

photo of food set aside for donation
Queen's Hospitality Services has donated over $11,000 of food to Kingston area partners since March 20. (Supplied photo.) 

Queen’s regularly donates unused food items to Kingston area partners that feed people in need. As the effects of COVID-19 are being felt in the region, the university has started to give even more than usual. Since March 20, Queen’s has donated over $11,000 of food to local shelters and food banks.

“Giving back to our community is a priority right now and in this time when many people are facing uncertainty we want to do what we can to help. Since a lot of students have now left campus, we have been able to direct unused food to non-profit organizations that can put it to good use,” says Jennifer Pete, Associate Director, Housing and Ancillary Services.

The donations since March 20 have consisted primarily of perishable food items, such as fresh produce and dairy. But Hospitality Services is reviewing all items in their inventory and working with their partners, such as vending machine suppliers, to divert food to local non-profits.

Several hundred students remain in residences, as they are unable to leave at this time. These students continue to receive necessary supports, include food service.  Students with optional meal plans who need access to food can also continue to use their plans. Housing & Ancillary Services is working closely with KFL&A Public Health and our other community partners to determine the best use of our residence buildings.

Community partners

Many different organizations in Kingston have received donations or are scheduled to receive them. Currently, the full list of these partners is:

  • Partners in Mission Food Bank 
  • Salvation Army
  • Martha's Table
  • Kingston Youth Shelter
  • Kingston Community Housing Partnership
  • In from the cold
  • Interval house
  • Lunch by George

Throughout the academic year, Queen’s Hospitality Services partners with Queen’s Soul Food, Food Rescue, and Loving Spoonful to deliver unused food from campus cafeterias to local food banks every night. Learn more about this work on the Hospitality Services website.

Cleaning to combat coronavirus

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Queen’s custodial staff ready and working to keep campus spaces COVID-19 free.

Essential to the effort to combat COVID-19 are effective and enhanced cleaning measures. That’s why the university’s Physical Plant Services (PPS) is incorporating improved methods and processes for cleaning campus, to keep the Queen’s community safe.

“Although the majority of Queen’s employees are working from home, our custodial team is on site doing fantastic work to ensure our spaces remain safe for those members of our community still present on campus,” says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities). “I want to express my appreciation to our dedicated professional and well-trained cleaning staff during this difficult period for their crucial role in keeping our campus safe.”

Standard operating procedures focused on disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as washrooms, stair railings, doorknobs, and elevator controls continue unabated. PPS’ Custodial Support Services is focused on typical high-usage areas and buildings that are still occupied, and they have been equipped with industry best practice tools needed to ensure surfaces are clean and disinfected, including microfiber cloths and Green Guard Gold-certified chemicals.

For buildings that are closed now, custodial teams are cleaning and detailing the spaces to ensure the best cleanliness experience for students, staff, and visitors, once the university community returns to campus.

Special custodial response team ready to confront COVID-19

A special response team within Custodial Support Services has been trained to standards set by the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC), should it be determined that a location on campus has had possible or confirmed exposure to COVID-19. The PIDAC-trained team is set to perform isolation cleaning for any campus locations exposed to the virus, using enhanced chemicals and techniques to ensure spaces are sanitized completely.  

If you have any additional questions or custodial concerns please call 613.533.6757 or email the team.

Crisis reflections from the front lines

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Advice on how to cope in crisis situations from a family physician and former medical officer in the Canadian Armed Forces

Brent Wolfrom is a family physician and Postgraduate Program Director in the Department of Family Medicine at Queen’s University. Prior to joining Queen’s, he was previously a full-time Medical Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces and served in the South Pacific, Mediterranean, as well as two tours to Afghanistan.

Recently, Dr. Wolfrom published a blog in the Canadian Medical Association Journal outlining tips for how physicians can cope in periods of stress and uncertainty. The blog was based on an email he distributed to his colleagues in Department of Family Medicine as they prepared for the arrival of COVID-19. The Gazette has received permission to republish these tips and adapt them for a broader audience.


Brent Wolfrom
Dr. Brent Wolfrom (Family Medicine)

My past experiences working with the Canadian Armed Forces in the South Pacific and the Mediterranean and in particular during my times deployed in Afghanistan, taught me a great deal about coping with crises, stress, confusion, guilt, loss and grief. They taught me how I myself cope with crises, be it an unexpected emergency requiring immediate action, or an expected and prolonged event involving complex systems and little control, much like what we are experiencing with COVID-19. As we head down this road, I find myself experiencing so many of the same emotions that I did during my deployments. I also find myself reflexively, and largely unconsciously, setting up supports, defenses and plans.

Based on these experiences and lessons, I wrote a message to my fellow physicians in my department with some of the advice I wish I had received 12-13 years ago. The following is an adaptation of these reflections that are applicable to the entire Queen’s and greater community.

  1. This event is unlike anything we have lived through before and we expect it to be drawn out, especially if social distancing does what we hope it will. It is likely that at some point we will transition from an acute to chronic crisis mentality. This can be a difficult transition because it can feel like defeat. It’s not. It’s us getting better at beating COVID-19.
  2. Plan now for how you will maintain your own physical and mental wellness and stick to your plan rigidly. Specifically, how you will deal with both physical and social isolation, confusion and anxiety.
  3. Find supports who will talk with you about non-COVID-19 related topics and stay in touch daily even if just by text or email.
  4. There will be some long and dark days ahead and people will all cope differently. A small word of encouragement or appreciation from you to a friend or colleague could make all the difference in helping someone get through the day.
  5. Support each other. If you have the time or capacity to help someone, just do it.
  6. Communicate with those who need information and minimize communication with those who don’t. Be deliberate about your email distributions and who you include on the “To” vs “CC” lines. Information overload is going to happen, and we need to be deliberate about protecting each other.
  7. Grief doesn’t equal failure. Bad outcomes don’t equal failure. Sadness doesn’t equal failure.
  8. There will be many changes and constraints over the coming weeks, including lack of access to sports, clubs and social events that you used to recharge you. Try to find a replacement for each joyful activity you lose.

All of us have a role to play in defeating this threat and the actions of each of us have the potential to change the trajectory of the ultimate outcome.  Best of luck and I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this.

A version of this blog was originally posted in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Coronavirus tips: 7 lessons we can learn from hockey

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Lessons learned from Canada's favourite game can offer some wisdom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queen's Gaels score against Ontario Tech
Canadians often see hockey as a metaphor for life.

Canadians often see hockey as a metaphor for life. Hockey’s cliché-littered locker room may offer some wisdom as we collectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Let’s take a few of hockey’s time-worn aphorisms and apply them to our situation.

In Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak we are in the first period and it’s 2-0 for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Team Canada faces an opponent that is big, strong and fast, and engenders fear. To ensure the game ends in favour of Team Canada, the first step is overcoming fear by building a sense of team.

1. There is no “I” in team

We will defeat COVID-19 as a team. As a cardiologist and head of medicine at Queen’s University, I am acutely aware of the importance of every member of the health-care team. But the team that’s required to defeat COVID-19 is even larger than that, and includes the whole community. It’s going to take all of us to get this done.

2. The best defence is a good offence

We are using social distancing and the cancellation of events, mass gatherings and even elective health-care services to ensure we don’t all get sick at the same time.

This flattening of the epidemic’s curve (see below) is designed to slow the spread of a virus, against which we have no natural immunity, so that the numbers of infected people will be distributed over a longer period.

This makes the care of those who become sick much more manageable. This is a good defensive strategy, and until we get an effective vaccine, it is the best defence we have.

Slow the spread: Flattening the curve distributes transmission over a longer period. (Esther Kim & Carl T. Bergstrom)CC BY

3. Move to where the puck will be

There’s a famous quote from Wayne Gretzky, of Edmonton Oilers fame, about not skating to where the puck is, but to where it is going to be. This advice can be applied to COVID-19. The question is not where we are now. You can see where the outbreak is today, and how it has progressed, using this online tool. The question is where we are going. What will the epidemic look like in the third period? How can we shape it to ensure we are victorious?

Skating to where the puck will be requires a dynamic partnership between health care and public health. Think of public health agencies as hockey scouts who track the epidemic and apply lessons learned from other provinces and countries. These scouting reports are helpful because they tell us the natural history of the pandemic and predict the spread of COVID-19, helping us deploy resources wisely.

We can take some comfort in knowing that we are prepared and that fewer than five per cent of cases will be life-threatening. For most (80 per cent) infected people, including almost all who are young and healthy, this will be a self-limited infection, managed by staying home and recovering with symptomatic care, good nutrition, fluids and over-the-counter medications.

In Ontario, we have planned for out-patient and in-patient screening for the virus. It has been a slow ramp up, however, due to a national shortage of the swabs required to acquire the specimens for the COVID-19 test.

I am encouraged by victories that have occurred internationally. After three very difficult months, things have stabilized in China; indeed cases peaked in February. Some countries, such as South Korea and Germany, are managing to avoid high mortality rates. We can learn from them.

4. Play your position

There is not a position on the team that trumps the others in terms of importance. Our victory will reflect the efforts of front-line nurses, doctors and trainees, and those in our lab and pharmacy, as well as support services, from housekeeping to our information technology team.

As a calm, well-informed member of the public you, too, are part of Team Canada. There will not be a three-star selection when we beat COVID-19; you will all be stars!

5. Thank your team members

A typical hockey interview given by the star player after a game almost always follows a standard, self-deprecating script: “I’d like to thank the coach. My goalie was amazing. The wingers were passing the puck tape to tape, and our fans were great!” It’s never self-congratulatory.

Listen to former Chicago Black Hawks star Marion Hossa give credit to everyone else — his teammates, and even the opposition.

In the hospital and beyond, a virtual pat on the back to a colleague or team member is always appreciated and goes a huge way to reassure them. Small acts of kindness to support each other are always appreciated. The bolstering effect of praise and acknowledgement is particularly felt as health-care workers struggle with daycare and school closures and worry about aging parents, all while caring for patients.

Here at Queen’s University, our medical students are offering a tangible example of support to our physicians during this difficult time. They are providing services such as child care, pickups, drop-offs, etc. You can probably envision how you can help a neighbour who must continue to work in an essential service field!

5. Keep your head up

In hockey, this admonition is a reminder to be aware of what is happening around you so you are not blindsided (run over by an opponent). In the COVID-19 pandemic we can keep our head up by paying attention to high quality, reliable information about your city, province and country.

There is lots of information that is dark and false on the internet, so follow the information feeds from trusted news outlets and reliable health agencies.

6. Envision success

Believing that you will succeed is a precondition for success, whether in hockey or medicine. In hockey you cannot let your mind go to that easily reached, dark place of defeat. When its 2-0 in the first period, all thoughts should be focused on turning the tide: stop further goals, score one goal, repeat as necessary!

In the case of COVID-19, we are doing much the same: slowing the spread through social distancing, hand hygiene and suspension of elective services, buttressed by ramping up COVID-19 testing in symptomatic people. I am envisioning success and a resumption of normal life!

7. Thank the fans

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by students, families and people working in restaurants, retail outlets, utilities and more. We, your health-care professionals, stand with the people in our communities.

Doctors, we can “thank the fans” in this analogy, not only through the health care we provide but also by listening to and allaying their concerns, providing accurate information and providing role models for calm response.

Permit me a few final aphorisms.

  • Keep your stick on the ice (be prepared).
  • Skate to the paint (stay engaged with your friends and co-workers).
  • And finally, together we will put the puck in the net.The Conversation


Stephen Archer is a professor at Queen's University and Head of the Department of Medicine.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A team effort to help protect healthcare workers

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Queen's students, medical residents, staff and faculty working with community partners to boost personal protection equipment supplies.

Queen's team for PPE
Students and faculty members from the School of Medicine are helping lead a drive to boost supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) for local healthcare workers. From left: Megan Singh; Zuhaib Mir; Jeremy Babcock; Matthew Snow; and Cesia Quintero (Photo by Saif Elmaghraby)

A team of Queen’s and Kingston community partners are working together to help provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team is a diverse group, bringing together Queen’s faculty members, medical students and medical residents, university students, and staff, as well as partners such as St. Lawrence College, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, and Kingston residents. All are donating their time and 3D printers to manufacture PPE, such as masks and face shields.

The equipment being manufactured is not intended to replace current masks and face shields but would act as a reserve in case supplies were to run out and there were no other options. The prototypes have been approved by KHSC for this purpose.

Hailey Hobbs, an assistant professor at Queen’s and critical care physician at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, initially put out a call on social media and quickly received a number of replies from people who were working on similar projects or ready to provide support.

The first to respond was Jeremy Babcock of the School of Medicine’s Clinical Simulation Centre who quickly got to work printing PPE prototypes from the designs Dr. Hobbs had found. He was then contacted by a group of students from the Queen’s School of Medicine – led by Cesia Quintero, Matt Snow and Megan Singh – who had the same idea and were ready to join the effort.

That was just the start.

“Honestly, I didn't really think that this would take off the way it has. I follow other critical care/intensive care doctors from around the world on Twitter, and with the COVID-19 outbreak I was checking it frequently to keep up to date on what was happening elsewhere in the world,” Dr. Hobbs says. “I found a tweet from Boston about a doc interested in making 3D printed PPE and I thought it was an interesting idea so I tweeted to the Queen’s community asking if there were any 3D printers on campus. I received several answers within 30 minutes and from there things have really snowballed.” 

The medical students and residents have been the feet on the ground helping get the word out about the project and picking up printers loaned out by groups such as the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. They are also leading the work to assemble the PPE. Volunteers to help with the assembly work are welcome.

“The medical school community, as well as the Kingston community at large, have come together in a very beautiful way,” Quintero says. “We started over the weekend with three printers and five people, and it’s quickly snowballed to over 50 printers from various institutions, including Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, the Limestone District School Board, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, as well as many, many individuals across the province who own their own printers, and who have been donating their time and material. Currently there are more than 70 people involved in organizing, printing, assembling and collecting the products at this point, and these numbers are growing quickly.”

The project gained further momentum after connecting with SparQ Studios, a makerspace supported by Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre (DDQIC), that had five 3D printers and the know-how to manufacture the PPE. SparQ Studios has since become the production hub.

“I am proud with our community. Users of SparQ have volunteered their personal printers and the Alma Mater Society helped me reach more people,” says Connor Crowe, director of SparQ Studios.

There continues to be an open call for more 3D printers that can either be loaned or used at home. 

Overall, much has been accomplished in a short amount of time thanks to the dedication of all those involved.

“The response has been incredible – every day we receive emails from different groups interested in helping or learning from what we are doing to make PPE for their own hospitals,” says Dr. Hobbs. “It’s just been wonderful to know that so many different groups in the community are supportive and willing to help out in any way that they can. It really makes you realize how many great people there are in Kingston and how important it is to help each other in tough times.”

Anyone interested in loaning their 3D printers or printing PPE from home can email the group. Donations of filament and other supplies are also welcome.

Donations of surplus personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer to KGH and Kingston Community Clinics can be made via Anna Curry at PPEKingston@gmail.com.

For those looking to make a financial donation a GoFundMe page has been set up.

Academic adjustments in response to COVID-19

The advent of COVID-19 has led to momentous and complex shifts over the last week for our entire campus community. Students now find they must adapt to learning online or onto other remote platforms while dealing with concerns over social distancing and infection control. The university appreciates that this new environment has raised concerns for our students, with many wondering how they will complete their terms and how their marks will be assessed.

The university remains committed to ensuring students can succeed despite the challenges posed to our community by the current global pandemic. To that end, the university has made considered efforts to find fair, flexible, and equitable solutions that best serve the largest number of our students, and which allow for the recognition of academic grades required by some disciplines, while also considering the desire of others for a pass/fail approach. In so doing, staff consulted widely with our faculties and peer institutions.

The university has made available two new academic adjustment options for undergraduate students (only) to consider as they complete their Winter Term 2020 classes: Late drops, and the ability to request Pass/Fail grades. Students should seek advice and carefully consider the impacts of these options on government financial assistance and future academic requirements before choosing either or both of the options. 

The late-drop option is available effective March 26 through May 20, 2020. While the option to drop is available in advance of exams, students can expect to learn their final grades on May 11th, giving them the option to review their final grades before electing to drop courses. Dropped courses will not incur academic penalties or a ‘DR’ grade. Students are strongly encouraged to seek advice before exercising the late-drop option.

Students will be also able to request Pass/Fail grades for Winter Term 2020 and the winter half of Fall-Winter 2019-20 classes. Approval and administration of all Pass/Fail grading will rest with the appropriate Faculty/School, and just as with the drop option, students will be able to see their final grades before they request that a letter grade be changed to a Pass.

Instructors have also adjusted class syllabi, and the format of remaining tests and assignments may be modified. In doing so, every effort has been made to avoid negatively impacting students, including any students with a disability accommodated through QSAS, and to ensuring that the essential academic requirements of the course are maintained. The term will end on Friday, April 3 as originally planned.

Emails were sent directly to students on March 25, providing more detail specific to their individual programs. Student Service teams are ready to support students throughout this term and through the summer. 

Responding to the health crisis that COVID-19 represents is an unprecedented situation for all of us. Everyone continues to do their best, and Queen’s is committed to helping our students triumph through difficult times. Students who need support should consult Student Affairs for details on how to access the various available services remotely, as well as contacting their advisors in their Faculty/School offices.

Additional information concerning these academic adjustments is available on the Provost’s website.

Making all the right moves

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Queen’s University researcher Robert Ross encourages us to stay active during trying times.

A person walks along a path in a park
A key to staying healthy while working remotely is to reduce time in front of the screen and being physically active, while practicing proper social distancing. (Unsplash / Arek Adeoye)

Self-isolation comes with its own unique set of challenges including staying fit and healthy when normal routines have been disrupted. Queen’s University researcher Robert Ross has several ideas on how to stay active during this challenging time.

“These are somber, uncertain times and, unfortunately, we have little control over what is happening,” says Dr. Ross, professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies  “The one thing we do have control over is how we take care of ourselves and this is empowering news. You have control over your own behaviours, including staying physically active.”

Dr. Ross runs the Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Research Unit at Queen’s. His research is focused on obesity in adults. The lab has conducted a number of randomized trials to determine the effectiveness of lifestyle-based interventions on improving overall health.

One key area Dr. Ross says everyone should keep in mind is reducing the amount of time you are sitting, including time spent in front of screens while working from home.

“Just getting up and moving around is huge. During commercials, online meetings, finishing emails or breaks between shows, walk around the house, stand up and stretch, take a break outside. Make it a fun family activity.”

He added people also need to remember they should still go outside and get some fresh air and exercise – while practicing proper social distancing with anyone not in their household.

“I’m asking people to go for walks – any kind of walk will do. You can walk fast, or you can walk slow. Move at your own pace. I’m not telling people to run five kilometres, do whatever is comfortable for you and it will still improve your health and wellbeing.”

These simple tricks will also help people sleep better during this time of increased anxiety and stress and also ensure proper weight is maintained while our lives are disrupted. Exercise has also been shown to help maintain the immune system.

“We aren’t certain about what lies ahead but we can empower ourselves by committing to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

Twenty-Four Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults are available for free at https://csepguidelines.ca/.

Tips for staying productive and motivated while working remotely

Queen’s Human Resources offers advice for staying productive and motivated while working remotely.

Here are a few tips and strategies for those working from home.

Tip # 1: Create or Continue your Routines

Establish morning routines to be at your home work station for a certain time, take time away from your computer for lunch or snack breaks, and establish a shut-down routine at the end of the day to close out your work.

Set goals and objectives for your day that are reasonable and achievable while maintaining productivity throughout the workday.

Tip # 2: Create a Positive Workspace 

If you have space in your home, set up a space that is just for work. Select an area that provides you with a suitable workspace and access to natural light, avoiding the bedroom or high traffic areas if possible. 

Tip # 3: Dress for Success

Get dressed for work. Business attire not required, but simply changing out of your PJs can help to keep to your normal work routines and put you in ‘work mode’ so you are ready to take on the day!

Tip # 4: Get up and Move

Schedule work breaks throughout the day. Good short energy breaks consist of getting up and moving around physically…not just switching your screen to funny YouTube videos.  Longer breaks would include getting lunch or getting outside for a walk (while maintaining healthy social distancing!). Our brain tends to perform better when we have concentrated focus time, followed by healthy active breaks. 

Tip # 5: Eating and Hydration

Maintain healthy eating patterns and drink plenty of water. Avoid high sugar snacks and beverages to avoid swings in mood and energy levels.

Tip # 6: Stay Visually Connected…With People 

Maintain communication with your colleagues throughout the day. If you have meetings with work colleagues, connect via a video platform like Microsoft Teams. This will help you to stay engaged during the meeting and provides positive social connections that may be otherwise hard to get during this time.

Tip # 7: Mental Health and Wellness

If you start feeling overwhelmed or isolated, engage with your personal and professional support networks. Take mental health breaks, avoid watching or reading pandemic headlines and social media posts during your free time, take care of your body, stretch and exercise, practice mindfulness and ensure you are getting plenty of rest and sleep.

In times of emotional distress, our Employee Family and Assistance Program (EFAP) is here to help, with staff from Homewood Health prepared to take your call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Help is always available. To learn more, call the Homewood Health line (1.800.663.1142 or 1.866.398.9505 (Numéro sans frais - en français)) or visit the following link: http://www.queensu.ca/humanresources/wellness-accessibility/employee-and-family-assistanceprogram

Principal’s message to the Queen’s community

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'This is a time to demonstrate the values without which our university could not succeed, even in the best of times: compassion, understanding, trust and selflessness.’

Dear Queen’s Community,

Just one week ago I wrote to all of you that we were entering an entirely new reality, one that would test us in ways we never imagined.  I asked you to work differently and to prepare for a new way of delivering higher education. After a week’s hiatus during which faculty and staff have worked assiduously and creatively to find alternatives to face-to-face learning, Queen’s students are resuming their studies. Absorbed as we have been in addressing our local challenges, it is easy to overlook the momentous shift that has occurred over the last seven days as over a million university students across Canada have moved their learning online or onto other remote platforms. I have remarked to a few people that had we planned to do the same thing outside of the context of a public health emergency, we would have been hard pressed to manage it in less than a decade!

That we have done so here at Queen’s is testimony to the dedication and resolve of our university community. Of course, such rapid change comes at a price. For the remainder of the academic year our students have lost aspects of their Queen’s experience that are very important, in particular that sense of physical community which has always defined the institution. The university remains determined, however, that they should have every opportunity to complete their courses, and despite altered methods of assessment, to do so to the normal standard expected. Flexibility, innovative thinking and extraordinary efforts on the part of faculty and staff are prerequisites for that outcome, and I am grateful to colleagues across the university for their single-minded and unreserved commitment to the good of our students at all levels.

The challenges with regard to our research mission are also extremely complex and sometimes intractable. The need for social distancing and the shift towards working from home pose particular problems for research laboratories, and for many scholars the closing of the library to physical access is a serious impediment to their continuing research. While we may be forced to close our doors for a time, we will reopen and what we need now is patience, creativity and trust from everyone.

The paradox of our situation right now is that we are doing everything we can to keep ourselves, our institution and its mission together — even while the health crisis is driving all of those things apart. Public Health officials remind us daily that at times like these the public good trumps the needs and desires of the individual. I am grateful to all the individuals within the Queen’s community who have worked to support and advance the university mission despite the unprecedented challenges we are facing, and I am optimistic that we will emerge from this crisis with vitality, determination, and a renewed sense of purpose.

I wrote in my open letter last fall that we need to be ambitious for ourselves, that we need to be self-excelling, our eyes fixed on ways in which we can serve the greater human good. Unexpectedly we find ourselves confronted in our daily lives with an almost unimaginable threat to that good, and we must not fail to address it in our teaching, learning, and research. We must also confound it in the ways we relate to our community outside the university and in society at large. The university has been asked by health authorities and public leaders to offer its facilities and the talents of its members to support the people of Kingston and the surrounding region during this time of crisis. We will naturally work to do so. This is a time to demonstrate the values without which our university could not succeed, even in the best of times: compassion, understanding, trust and selflessness. 

A week ago I expressed the hope that we would together face the challenges that lie ahead, and that in our unity we would prevail. Over this last week, I feel more confident than ever that our university will come through this crisis.  I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far and how we have rallied to support our institution and its members and I am humbled to be your principal.

Patrick Deane

Principal and Vice-Chancellor


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