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Confronting COVID-19

Searching for a job during the pandemic

Career Services launches new resource to help students during COVID-19.

Photo of Gordon Hall
Career Services has created a new online hub to connect students with resources that will help them search for a job or work remotely.

Queen’s students and new graduates are among those who may be facing disruption to their current jobs or employment plans due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Career Services in the Division of Student Affairs is responding to help students and grads navigate the new job market landscape with the creation of a new online hub that includes advice, resources, and opportunities.

“Students wear many hats,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services and Experiential Learning. “In addition to being students, many are also staff, some here at Queen’s or with other employers. And many who are not currently employed are looking for new opportunities for this summer. We want to make it easy for students and new graduates to find support for their career and job search situations.”

Online career resources

In the new hub, student can access information about:

  • remote job search strategies
  • making big career decisions
  • summer professional development opportunities, including courses at Queen’s and tips for working remotely
  • financial supports

The site also connects students to remote drop-in career counselling via Skype, and remote career development workshops.

“Even though the economic situation is changing rapidly, and some types of work are negatively impacted, there are still opportunities,” says Kyllie Jansen, Events and Employer Development Coordinator. “There are employers posting new positions to our job board every day.”

Workshops on job search strategies

New workshops now being offered include career development and job search strategy during a global pandemic.

“I attended a Career Services workshop on how to navigate the job market during COVID-19.” says John Deidous, PhD Candidate of Sociocultural Studies of Sport, Health & the Body in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “This has greatly helped me in how I organize my resume and how I apply for jobs. I was able to narrow my focus, be more efficient, and less stressed in my job search.”

Visit Career Services new web resource Student and New Graduate Employment during COVID 19 for more information.

Hungry to help healthcare workers

A conversation between two Queen's alumni inspires Grocery Hero, an online platform that is helping to feed healthcare workers across Canada.

Matthew Lombardi
Matthew Lombardi (Artsci’10) worked with a team to develop Grocery Hero, volunteer online food-delivery program.

What started out as a conversation between two Queen’s alumni is turning into a volunteer food-delivery program that is helping frontline healthcare workers across the country.

Matthew Lombardi (Artsci’10), a management consultant in Toronto, learned from his friend and emergency room doctor Jon Gravel (Artsci’09), that it has been difficult for many health-care workers to get groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working long hours, food delivery services are swamped, and many healthcare professionals are avoiding going inside grocery stores because they don’t want to risk exposing the public to the virus.

The discussion sparked an idea, so Lombardi got together with four friends and Grocery Hero was born. The online platform matches volunteers who will go to the store and pick up groceries for overworked healthcare workers in their neighbourhood. The medical workers pay for the food, and the volunteers provide their time.

Successful launch

Grocery Hero, which launched at the end of March, saw 500 people sign up on the first day. Grocery Hero was originally intended to only serve the Toronto area, but Lombardi and his co-founders immediately received email requests from people across Canada. Within 24 hours, the site was retooled to go national. After only two weeks, Grocery Hero has more than 3,800 volunteers across nine provinces. It has matched 850 health-care professionals with nearby volunteer shoppers, with more than 70 per cent of the matches between people who live less than one kilometre apart.

Grocery Hero was built by a team of non-engineers using free online tools and only cost a total of $50.

Lombardi says the reaction has been incredible. He’s heard from medical workers who are grateful they can focus on fighting COVID-19 and from volunteers who are happy to have a way to help.

“We stumbled upon an incredibly simple solution,” says Lombardi. “We are solving a problem for medical workers, and simultaneously providing people a meaningful way to help. It has really resonated with people. Why not pick up some extra groceries for your neighbour, who might be a nurse or a paramedic, the next time you are out shopping?”

Visit the Grocery Hero website to learn more.

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.

Time to work on your company’s reset strategy

With the reopening of the economy on the horizon, companies must be ready to emerge from the crisis and seize their opportunities.

Reset button
Even though there is no solid timeline on reopening the economy, companies should plan ahead.

Some provinces and states have announced preliminary plans to ease restrictions and reopen their economies. While we may not all agree on when this should happen, at least from a business perspective it is good news. Regardless of when “reset” gets pressed in your organization, now is the time to determine what your next steps will look like. Don’t wait for permission before you start planning.

Politicians are using terms like “gradual”, “measured” and “safe” to describe their approach to removing coronavirus restrictions. Such language, we can anticipate, will have a number of operational implications. Conditions could include: 

  • Gatherings and groups larger than 30 (or pick a number) will remain prohibited, including crowds at sporting events, concerts and festivals.
  • Restaurants, salons and barbers may open to half of normal capacity, keeping in mind the above restriction on crowd sizes.
  • Stores will open, but with restrictions on the number of people permitted entry at one time.
  • Airlines, trains, buses and other transit may require passengers to wear masks (such restrictions already exist in some cases), while operating half-full or at partial capacity.

The sudden swell in activity may also lead to shortages as supply chains restart. Anticipate continued limits to masks and cleaning supplies, some food products and other materials. That retailers and others have done as well as they have managing inventories over the past two months without significant shortages is remarkable. It is a testament to preparation and crisis-management planning.

In the meantime, remember my colleague John Moore’s favourite line, that “cash is king”. Can you renegotiate your lease or find a less expensive or smaller footprint? Do you have inventory you can clear out? Consider a shoe retailer that has been deeply discounting its existing inventory by 50 per cent or more. This may result in some customers “buying ahead” and therefore not needing shoes later. The upside for the shoe retailer, however, is that it’s freeing up cash. Plus, people are buying shoes from this store now, rather than from another retailer later on.

All phasers on reset

With all that in mind, what might Reset Phase One look like for your organization? Think about what your processes will look like with a limited work crew. After all, you may not be able to afford to bring everyone back. Or the crowd-size restrictions noted above may limit your number of employees. If you are limited in the number of customers you can permit entry, can you speed processes up without significantly diminishing service, and thus optimize sales? I don’t think people will want to linger in the near term regardless, so they may appreciate the faster service.  

Consider the breadth of your offering as well. McDonald’s and Tim Hortons have shrunk their menus for takeout purposes during the pandemic (long overdue, people have heard me argue). What would your menu or service offering look like if you cut it in half? Look at your historical data showing what people buy most of and most often. Ask yourself, will we continue to have access to the materials and supplies necessary for that refined menu?

Retailers may also open by department, rather than the whole store. A home improvement store might start with the garden centre, patio furniture and outdoor building supplies. Other goods will remain available through a quickly improving online order and pickup system.

University semesters are essentially wrapped up at this point, with the spring/summer semester starting in May, and continuing a distance education model through the summer. Public schools, however, may consider bringing students back in alternating half-sized groups for the final month of classes. This would certainly be complicated. But it would give educators the opportunity to focus on some of their most important content for a short period, provide parents a break at home, and offer a huge morale boost for students getting to wrap up the year in person.

Some questions and thought starters as you map out Phase One of your comeback: 

  • Who will our first customers be? Will we focus on our historical “best” customers or members-only in certain operations? Or do we allow pent-up demand and marketing efforts to draw the general public?
  • Would a “welcome back” event be meaningful for people who have supported us in the past, and allow us to warm up through a soft opening?
  • Which employees will we call back first, given the customers or product line we want to focus on first?
  • Do we have inventory or access to the right supplies for that initial market?
  • Are our processes designed to support the Phase One opening?

Opportunity knocks

Individually, a crisis often provides opportunities to press “reset” in our careers as well. The pandemic may have emphasized the need to accelerate a plan we have had already, or highlighted a problem we didn’t know we had.

Challenges and needs have emerged in all operations, and organization may not have the expertise or resources to fill those needs. A friend and former teammate, John McDougall, used to say to me, ‘Give me your biggest problem!’  I often did, and he delivered, even when it was outside his role. Speak up and step up — there are some huge opportunities out there right now.

Crises create gaps and voids within organizations and the market as a whole. Those who fill those gaps will position themselves for growth and perhaps redefine that space. 

This article was first published by Smith Business Insight.


Barry Cross is an assistant professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Operations Strategy at Smith School of Business and bestselling author of Simple: Killing Complexity for a Lean and Agile Organization.

Emergency funding for students

Queen’s University has provided $2.18 million and counting in bursaries in response to COVID-19.

Looking south on University Avenue from Union Street
During the period of March 16-April 27 Queen’s University has provided $2.18 million in emergency bursary funding to undergraduate and graduate students as part of its response to COVID-19. (University Communications)

As part of its ongoing response to COVID-19, Queen’s University has provided $2.18 million in emergency bursary funding to undergraduate and graduate students from March 16, 2020 to April 27, 2020. The assistance is designed to help with some of the financial challenges posed by the pandemic.

“The strength of the Queen’s student experience is rooted in our sense of community and the support it can provide,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “As the world continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, we recognize that many students have short-term, unexpected financial needs, and through this effort we hope to help ease some of their financial pressures.”

Though not intended to cover long-term expenses for students, this supplemental bursary assistance offers some relief for those encountering extenuating and unplanned financial burdens because of the outbreak, such as the loss of employment income or unexpected medical expenses not covered by students’ health plans. 

Alumni, friends of Queen’s, faculty, staff and students have been demonstrating their generosity and making contributions towards the COVID-19 Emergency Student Fund. These gifts have made a real difference in students’ lives.

Students who are eligible for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) have also qualified for Queen’s bursary assistance. On April 22, the federal government announced several new measures to support postsecondary students, such as the Canada Emergency Student Benefit that will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

As we prepare for the 2020-21 academic year and move into the summer and fall terms, the university will continue to explore tailored solutions to help those who continue to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Aid for international graduate students

International students a number of obstacles to overcome as a result of COVID-19, including travel barriers and barriers to employment. In response, all international graduate students who previously applied for a Queen’s General Bursary and demonstrated unmet need have received a $1,500 emergency bursary.

“Our international graduate students face particular challenges, and we are committed to helping them through this uncertain period,” says Tierney.

International graduate students are also encouraged to contact their embassies, as their home countries may have established assistance programs as well.

For information and to apply for COVID-19 emergency bursary assistance, visit the Queen’s Financial Aid website. In addition to financial assistance, students can access other supports, including the Queen’s University International Centre, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, Student Academic Success Services, the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, and their department and faculty offices. To learn more about these services and to reach out, visit the Student Affairs COVID-19 information website.

Will coronavirus help or hinder women’s candidacies?

The Conversation: COVID-19 has the potential to shock the system, upending or reinforcing existing gender imbalances in political power.

Parliament Hill with a blue sky
Only 29 per cent of Canada's Members of Parliament are women. (Unsplash / Erik McLean)

Women’s leadership has drawn a lot of praise during the COVID-19 crisis, including for politicians like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and chief medical officers Theresa Tam and Bonnie Henry.

The Conversation logoThere has also been quick acceptance that women’s perspectives must shape the crisis response. Attention to issues like domestic violence, which is increasing during the pandemic, is a good example. Longer term, however, what effect will the crisis have on women’s political power? Will the pool of women candidates and leaders swell or contract in coming years?

Women make up only 25 per cent of legislators worldwide, and only 29 per cent in Canada’s House of Commons. The chief obstacle for women attaining political office is recruitment and nomination, not general election. Women are less likely than men to seek candidacy, and parties are less likely to recruit and nominate women than men, including to winnable districts.

Political recruitment requires time, money and professional networks. Economic status and social hierarchy affect the decision to run for office.

Women have fewer resources

Women run less often because they have fewer of these resources, and early data on COVID-19’s effects suggest those inequities will widen. Statistics Canada’s March jobs report, for example, shows that Canadian women suffered greater job losses than men since the pandemic started, and not only in the service industry, but also in the hard-hit insurance, real estate and finance sectors.

Among core workers aged 25 to 54 years, women account for 70 per cent of job losses. Government income supports will help compensate, but concern about women’s economic well-being and future career trajectories is warranted.

For women who have retained employment, they too face pandemic pressures. With schools and day-care centres closed, many parents now find themselves engaged heavily in child care and home-schooling, and also care responsibilities for relatives, friends and neighbours. Women shoulder a disproportionate share of all these tasks.

In Canada, the 2015 General Social Survey (GSS) shows that women spent 47 per cent more time per day on housework than men did (2.8 hours versus men’s 1.9 hours), 64 per cent more time on routine child-care tasks (2.3 versus 1.4 hours), and 70 per cent more time per day on caring for other adults (1.7 versus 1 hour).

A women holds several cleaning products in her arms
Women still spend a lot more time on housework than men. (Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema)

Detailed time-use data was not collected in the 2018 General Social Survey, but it is unlikely that these patterns changed dramatically in three years, and certainly not enough to close care gaps.

As the care demands increase during COVID-19, therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that women are the essential front line in many households.

Career paths interrupted

Care for home and children can be a rewarding part of life for many men and women. But the danger now is that inequitable care patterns established long before the crisis are likely to have dramatic consequences. These include substantial interruptions in women’s career achievement and diminished time and energy for political engagement. This consequently will contribute to even greater gaps in the supply of qualified and eager women candidates post-pandemic.

On the other hand, maybe things will be better for women candidates after the pandemic. Perhaps flexible work arrangements will persist, allowing more women to combine care-taking and career ambitions, including political careers.

Legislatures could become more flexible workplaces, allowing remote sittings and voting, for example, as recommended by the Good Parliament Report, a blueprint for a more representative British parliament by gender and politics professor Sarah Childs.

While complex, such reforms might make politics more attractive to women, especially in large countries like Canada, where many MPs must travel thousands of kilometres between their constituencies and Parliament Hill. Greater workplace flexibility would also allow women MPs to breastfeed longer if they choose, and recover more fully post-birth, while still serving their constituents and fulfilling parliamentary duties.

In the home, the COVID-19 crisis may have put some men into primary caretaker roles if they’ve been laid off and their partners have not, which may accelerate the erosion of gendered norms about the household division of labour.

More involved fathers post-pandemic?

Studies of the effects of paternity/parental leave on fathers suggest that caretaking norms and behaviours can shift rapidly. Men who take parental leave are more likely to be involved with the care of their children further down the road.

The effect is found in countries around the world, and is not simply a product of pre-birth childcaring commitment, socioeconomic status and other drivers of involvement — it appears to be an independent effect of men taking parental leave.

Households where men have experienced primary or equitably shared care for a child end up being more equitable environments with greater continued sharing of care later too. The same outcome may prevail as a result of COVID-19 child care and home schooling.

Whatever the eventual impact on women’s candidacies post-pandemic, COVID-19 has the potential to shock the system, upending or reinforcing existing gender imbalances in political power.The Conversation


Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Associate Professor, Political Studies; Director, Canadian Opinion Research Archive, Queen's University.

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

Mobility in the time of COVID-19

Queen’s researcher Jennifer Ruth Hosek examines how paradigms of mobility and immobility are being upended as a result of the pandemic

A streetcar climbs a street in heavy traffic
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting how we view mobility. 

For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to drastic changes in how we move about in our daily lives. Adhering to social distancing rules, millions of people are now working and socializing from home — only venturing out for essential trips. This shift marks a stark contrast to a mere few months ago when many were able to freely move about, not only of necessity but for desire and fun.

Queen’s researcher Jennifer Ruth Hosek (Language, Literatures and Cultures; Gender Studies; Film and Media) is working on urban mobility studies and petrocultures (social and cultural study of energy sources). She has found that the COVID-19 situation is impacting how we view mobility.

“Typically, mobility expresses privilege,” says Dr. Hosek. “In these times of the virus, however, immobility expresses privilege, with self-isolation understood to demonstrate exemplary citizenship to boot. This is clear a reversal of the mobility paradigm.”

A complicating factor is the harsh reality that much of humanity cannot participate in such immobility. This includes medical personnel, such as doctors, nurses and other frontline hospital workers needed to attend to the sick and to monitor and test populations. They are hailed around the world for their heroism during this crisis. This recognition also extends to other professionals such firefighters and police who are working to keep our communities safe and protected.

According to Hosek, the definition of “frontline” is finally starting to broaden. It is extending to service workers such as warehouse laborers, paid drivers, and grocery store employees who may not have the choice to stay home. Their mobility ensures essential services like garbage pickup and much less essential services like home delivery of consumer goods. These workers are seldom mobile based upon particular expertise, but because they need employment, whether or not they may be more vulnerable to illness.

“Once those of us who have the privilege to be able to stay at home acknowledge this latter group as frontline, our immobility becomes less noble,” says Hosek. “In today's world in which so many of us are choosing immobility, there are millions of others for whom both immobility and mobility present impossible options and even deadly peril.”

However, in virus times, even the privileged feel the detriments of immobility. It can spell work disruptions, meaning-of -life crises, loneliness, and boredom. Such challenges belie the idea of immobility as fundamentally privileged.

And this reality: that our current immobility is both profoundly unjust and profoundly unsatisfying, is driving us towards what needs to be done recalibrate our mobility assets.

It may not seem immediately obvious, but Hosek points out that the long-time, hypermobility of the privileged few has promoted this hypermobile pandemic. Fuel emissions further climate change, which fosters disease spread, just to name a few issues. High speed hypermobility is untenable, while equitable distribution of mobility furthers environmental and human health.

Now, this pandemic has revealed that inequitable mobility – and its associate inequitable immobility – is unfair, unfun, and unsustainable. Hosek says it has also simultaneously shown that we must fundamentally revamp societal infrastructures. All of which points to a solution.

Working together, governments must deploy fiscal policies – such as debt buyback, quantitative easing, and job guarantees – and largescale projects – such as renewables and public transit – to resuscitate the economy while overcoming this disease and mitigating recurrences, in part through flattening the mobility differential globally.

According to Hosek, "The painful realities of the new mobile order in the time of COVID-19 demonstrate that more equitably distributed, moderate mobility is both more sustainable and more worth sustaining."

Reconnections: capturing a Queen’s community

Photo contest seeks to bring Queen's students around the globe together during time of physical distancing.

Theological Hall at Queen's University campus
The Office of the Associate Vice-Principal (International) has launched a photo contest, asking students to submit a photo about their pandemic experience. (University Communications)

Queen’s students across the globe are feeling the impacts COVID-19 in many different ways. To document this unprecedented period, the Office of the Associate Vice-Principal (International) has launched a photo contest to help strengthen our community’s connections in a time of increased physical distancing, asking students to submit a photo about their pandemic experience.

“Though the COVID-19 pandemic may be a single, common event affecting the world at large, there is a deep diversity in the ways individuals are experiencing its impacts,” says Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (Research & International). “Given the global nature of the Queen’s student body and the physical distancing required of us all, we wanted to create a conduit through which we could bring the community together virtually to share in empathy and strengthen our bonds, and to document this unique moment in time.”

All undergraduates, graduate students, and those on exchange to or from Queen’s, including those based at the Bader International Study Centre, are invited to participate. Submissions can explore any theme relating to students’ pandemic experiences, such as physical distancing, maintaining mental wellness, how your surroundings have changed, and beyond.

Entries must be an original photograph taken by the submitter between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 3, 2020, when the contest is scheduled to close. Permission must be gained from people pictured in each photo.

One entry per student will be accepted into the contest, and photos should be high-resolution, in the proper format, and include a few descriptive sentences as a caption.

Once all submissions have been received, select photos will be collated into an online gallery. A panel will determine ten winners and a shortlist of photos for the ‘People’s Choice’ category. The People’s Choice winner will be voted for by members of the Queen’s community, Kingston community, and friends around the globe. All winning photos will receive a prize of $100 CAD each.

Learn more about contest details, deadlines, and rules and submit your photo.

Supporting student wellness at a distance

Student Wellness Services continues offering support online and in person.

Mitchell Hall at Queen's University
Student Wellness Services have reduced their clinic hours in Mitchell Hall to 10 am-3 pm Monday to Friday, offering appointments with physicians, counsellors, and accessibility advisors. Students are asked to book an appointment by calling 613-533-2506. (University Communications)

Students seeking health and wellness support are still able to access Student Wellness Service’s (SWS) many resources.

SWS – a division within Student Affairs – is working hard to ensure that they are meeting the medical, mental health and wellness needs of Queen’s students. 

“Keeping SWS functioning was extremely important to us,” says Cynthia Gibney, Executive Director of SWS. “We want to reassure students that they can rely on the clinic, and other services, during these uncertain times.”

Continuing to meet the needs of students

While SWS have reduced their clinic hours in Mitchell Hall to 10 am-3 pm Monday to Friday, they are still offering appointments with physicians, counsellors, and accessibility advisors. Students are asked to book an appointment by calling 613-533-2506.  Most appointments will be on the phone or via secured video conference, but on occasion, a student will be asked to come to the clinic in person. 

If students have general inquiries, they can also email health.services@queensu.ca or counselling.services@queensu.ca.

“We are here to care for our students remotely through these challenging times,” says Dr. Rina Gupta, Director of Counselling Services. “We will continue to be flexible and creative in meeting the needs of our population as circumstances require.”

Accessibility Services and academic accommodations

Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) will be easing their documentation requirements for students seeking academic accommodations. They will accept any documentation students currently have – and work with those who cannot obtain documentation – depending on individual needs and circumstances. 

Students seeking academic accommodation and support for reasons of a disability or health condition can contact the QSAS Intake Coordinator at qsas.intake@queensu.ca. For general QSAS inquiries, email accessibility.services@queensu.ca.

Virtual healthy lifestyle appointments are also available for students who want help changing or starting healthy habits. To book an appointment, use the online booking form or email bewell@queensu.ca.

Staying up to date with wellness services

To stay up to date with all services, visit the SWS website.

The SWS website also includes links to other phone and online mental health services available to students – such as the text support offered by Good2Talk, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), self-directed help, and 24/7 crisis support options.

Students can get daily wellness strategies and learn about other resources by following Queen’s University Be Well on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A successful transition for RARC

The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre continues to help students with invisible disabilities or mental health challenges prepare for postsecondary education.

A teen girls uses a laptop
Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) moved its introductory workshop for two of its programs online. (Unsplash / Annie Spratt)

For the past 15 years the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) at Queen’s University has been helping high school students with invisible disabilities such as specific learning disabilities or mental health challenges prepare for the transition to postsecondary education. As with practically everything else, COVID-19 has forced a change of plans with how the program is delivered.

The two programs involved – On-Line to Success (OLTS) and Successful Transition Online and Mentoring Program (STOMP) – are both primarily provided online over a six-week period. However, one of the key ingredients for both has been a two-day introductory workshop that is conducted in-person and allows the participants to meet with RARC staff as well as their peers in the program.

Under the current circumstances this was no longer possible, so the staff and clinicians at RARC pivoted quickly and, with the support of IT Services at Queen’s, moved the introductory workshop online.

With this being a first there were some concerns on being able to replicate the vibrancy and engagement of the in-person experience.

Thanks to the team effort, the results have been very positive.

“Because we were not able to have our face-to-face workshops this year, we’ve added new video content to the website, including recording our presentations, adding video introductions for all moderators, conducting one-on-one phone and video calls to students and starting a weekly interactive riddle contest with prizes,” says Marie McCarron, Clinical Services Manager. “We are also starting some group conversations over Zoom to facilitate more student-student interaction.”

Safe transition

OLTS and STOMP are designed specifically to target and address areas that research has shown are problematic for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, ASD and/or mental health disorders as they make the transition to postsecondary education. There are several modules in OLTS and STOMP that cover different topics such:
• Understanding yourself
• Differences between high school and postsecondary education
• Researching your school/Finding your way around/resources
• Study Strategies
• Time Management/Scheduling/Work-Life Balance
• Accommodations at postsecondary
• Self-Advocacy

For this group of students, having a safe place to talk with peers and to feel less alone is important, McCarron adds. The programs have proven very successful, with participants enjoying a much higher overall success rate in post-secondary than their disabled peers who did not participate in such a transition program.

One of the strengths of the program is its online flexibility; it allows participants to manage their own schedules, become accustomed to online learning environments, and complete the course at their own pace over a six-week period.

“The online format works quite well, as it allows students to take this course on top of their schoolwork, without having to do it during the summer or on weekends. They are able to choose when it fits in their schedule, whether it’s during a spare or in the evenings, or on weekends if they want,” says Alison Parker, Transitions Coordinator at RARC. “It also allows students to go at their own pace, which is especially useful for students with disabilities that effect their reading, writing and attention. For some of our students, there is also some comfort in being able to type out answers – to review them before they share, and to offer a little less spotlight and attention then if they were speaking in front of a group. Many of our students also realize that completing online courses is an incredibly useful skill as they approach post-secondary school, and they’re happy to take this opportunity to test it out.”

Learning opportunities

The program also receives support from teacher candidates from the Queen’s Faculty of Education who moderate the course as part of an alternative practicum placement provided by RARC. The placement also provides the teacher candidates with valuable experience in the areas of online teaching and learning, and training in how to support students with learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and mental health disorders who are participating in an online learning environment.

“To me, this course offers a win-win to both teacher candidates and students with disabilities” says RARC clinical director, Allyson G. Harrison, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. “The teacher candidates receive direct instruction and practice in learning how to deliver content online and to assist students with disabilities as they navigate this platform, and the high school students need to learn the skills of how to interact and participate in an online environment.”

University 101

Dr. Harrison says that the beauty of the online programs that RARC has developed is that the content could easily be used to assist all students making the transition to university.

“Almost all of the content of this transition course is like the University 101 courses offered in many institutions in the U.S., and would make transition to a university environment easier for most students. The fact that we’ve modified and improved this course with student input over the past 15 years means that it is extremely engaging, dynamic, and easy to do,” she adds. “We’d be happy to share this course with any department or program on campus, and given the current COVID-19 crisis this might be an ideal time to expand what the university offers to all incoming students”.

Over and above the two transition programs, the RARC team also developed an online transition resource guide to help all students in Ontario with disabilities make the transition from high school to college or university.

RARC operates as part of the Queen’s Division of Students Affairs.

To learn more about the programs and services, visit the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) website.

Update on student support measures announced by federal government

On Wednesday, April 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $9 billion in support measures for post-secondary students during the COVID-19 crisis.

The measures, some of which are subject to legislative approval, continue to be finalized, but include the following:

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

  • CESB to provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities.
  • The benefit would be available from May to August 2020
  • Recipients must be Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents
  • Students entering postsecondary education in September 2020 are also eligible
  • Up to $1,000 per month earnings permitted while receiving benefits

Canada Student Service Grant

  • Will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall

Expanding employment and skills development opportunities

In addition to the recent changes to expand the Canada Summer Jobs program, the government will:

  • Support the creation of 76,000 work placements to help students develop valuable skills.
  • Focus on sectors in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils, and enhance work opportunities for grad students

Student Financial Assistance

To support students entering/returning to postsecondary institutions in the fall, the federal government will:

  • Double the Canada Student Grants for eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21
  • Broaden the eligibility for financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21
  • Raise the maximum weekly student loan amount in 2020-21 from $210 to $350 – representing a per-student loan cap of $11,000
  • Increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21
  • On March 30, 2020, the Government of Canada placed a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying

For more information visit the Government of Canada website.



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