Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

Message from the Principal on planning and decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic

Dear Queen’s Community,

I wanted to write to everyone on this eve of our university-wide holiday. I know we are all looking forward to at least one day off and, for many of us, an extended weekend. As I noted in my message last week, this is a challenging time and it has taken a toll on us all. I am grateful to everyone at Queen’s for the countless hours in sometimes challenging personal circumstances that they have dedicated to ensuring our university continues to operate. These efforts have enabled us to continue to provide the exceptional education, research, services and community support on which our world class reputation is based. 

What we are learning about the spread of the virus and how best to address it means that every day brings challenges to our hitherto “normal” expectations for work and for simply being in the world. In that context, many members of our community are not surprisingly looking for guidance. For that reason I’d like to remind you that we have an extensive Covid-19 website that is updated frequently with information on the university’s response to Covid-19. There you will also find our Return to Campus Guidelines that set out in detail the most current direction to the community on university operations. Some of you will also have attended one of the town halls I am hosting to try to keep the community informed and to answer questions and address the concerns that people may have.  

By way of this email, I am also releasing the following principles for decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic. These principles, which have already been guiding our decisions and need to be more broadly known and understood, will also be posted to the Covid-19 website.

1.       The health and safety of students, faculty and staff is the first priority for all decision-making. Public and community safety must also be considered.

2.       At this time, university-related activities should occur remotely whenever possible.

3.       At this time, where possible working from home should be the default, not the exception.

4.       All decision-making will be informed by public health directives and best evidence. The university will continue to work closely with public health experts.

5.       Queen’s University will use a coordinated and incremental approach to returning to campus and the resumption of more on site university operations.

6.       On-campus activities may be authorized if recommended infection prevention and control measures including physical distance rules can be maintained. All campus activities require integration into a safety plan that must be approved through the appropriate approval body. 

7.       Approval of plans for return or changes to operations will be by the appropriate oversight group (Research, Academic or Operations). Initial re-openings (over the summer months) and more complex plans will be escalated to the Principal and Senior Leadership Team for approval.

8.       While the university intends to begin a phased-in approach to re-opening over the coming months, plans must be flexible and may be reversed or put on hold should circumstances change or directives from public health require a different approach.

9.       The university will provide as much certainty as possible to students, staff and faculty by making and communicating decisions as promptly as that can be done.

10.   Decision-making during this pandemic requires careful reflection and constant evaluation so that we can learn from practice and implementation, continually improving to better serve our community.

As we continue to address the challenges posed by this pandemic, we must dedicate ourselves to supporting each other and to thoughtful and creative collaboration. The principles articulated here will help guide us and provide a framework for managing our practical challenges, but it is love for the great mission of our university and consideration for the well-being of all the members of our family that will ensure we emerge from this crisis a stronger institution with an exciting future to embrace. 

In the coming days I hope you will find much to relax and sustain you.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
June 30, 2020