Province-wide shutdown for Ontario: COVID-19 update

December 22, 2020 11:15 AM

Yesterday, the Ontario government announced a province-wide shutdown effective Saturday, December 26 for a minimum of 28 days.

We are writing to clarify the effects of the shutdown on Western’s academic and campus operations.

We have been working closely with local and provincial health officials on our response to these new measures. They will impact course delivery and some campus operations at Western.

Western will close for the holiday break today at 6:30 p.m. after the last exam has been written and will reopen with new restrictions on Monday, January 4, 2021.

The University is fully committed to helping our students start the winter term, with virtual classes starting across most faculties on Monday, January 11, 2021 (The Faculty of Law resumes January 4, as do some professional master’s programs).

It is our intention to resume in-person instruction in those courses already designated as in-person on January 25, 2021. We may need to adjust that date again, depending on the outcome of the shutdown. 

In compliance with health and safety guidelines, there are some exceptions. Some courses will begin to operate in-person on January 11. These exceptions include clinical in-person learning that supports health-related programs, such as medicine, nursing and rehabilitation sciences, and certain approved non-health related programs that cannot be modified for virtual delivery and do not exceed 10 students.

Instructors will provide information through the OWL site regarding the resumption of in-person activities for courses that were scheduled to have in-person components and are not included in the January 11 exception list.

International students may continue to travel to Canada, provided they follow all mandatory travel guidelines, including registering their 14-day quarantine plan with Western in advance. Students are advised to watch for travel advisories and government updates and contact an international student advisor with specific questions.

We would like to thank everyone for your outstanding efforts adhering to COVID safety protocols. The Western campus continues to be a safe environment and there has been no known COVID transmission in any structured lab, workplace or learning experience on campus.

Residences

Students who had their request for a winter stay approved can continue to stay in residence during the winter break.

Student residences and residence dining halls will close for the winter break at 12 noon Tuesday, December 22.

To ensure all health and safety protocols are in place, students are asked to book their date of return to residence starting Saturday January 16. Western will consider requests for an earlier return date.  Residents may send their request by email to housing@uwo.ca. Registration information will follow.   

As a result of the provincial shutdown order, seating areas in residence dining halls will close and all food will be available for takeout only. All common spaces in residences will close, including but not limited to study halls, floor lounges, study rooms, and exercise rooms.

Research labs to remain open

Research continues. In-person research involving human participants and field research may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the relevant dean or dean’s delegate (e.g., associate dean, research), as well as the vice-president, research or delegate.

The maximum number of people in a lab is 10, adhering to rigorous cleaning, physical distancing and/or PPE practices.

If you can continue to carry out your research off-site, please do so.

Access to campus for employees

The University will continue to operate through the province-wide shutdown. Some employees will be required to be physically present on campus, while others will be asked to work off-campus in a virtual mode.

Employees not required to be physically at work on campus should work from home.

Leaders will be in contact with all staff to communicate their January work schedule and location.

Faculty, staff, post-doctoral scholars and leaders may continue to access their offices for required work. Caretaking and cleaning continues in buildings.

Parking fees will be waived in January.

Graduate students should consult with their supervisors when they need access to buildings.

Services on campus

While Western Libraries will be closed to the public, services will be available to members of the University community. These services will be “no-contact” pick-up at the door via Weldon Library. All current digital and remote services continue.

All indoor campus sport and recreation facilities will close December 22 at 6:30 p.m., however pre-recorded digital fitness classes are available throughout the break and live virtual programming will resume January 11, 2021. Limited in-person outdoor athlete training will resume January 11.  Communication from coaches will follow.

A selection of campus eateries will reopen January 4  for takeout only and all on-campus seated dining areas will close.

Provincial directives prohibit indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except in very limited circumstances. No indoor organized public events and social gatherings related to the University are permitted on or off campus. All campus community members are expected to continue to follow social gathering limits to help reduce the spread of the virus.  

Let’s keep doing our part

The health and safety of Western’s campus community is a shared responsibility. Now more than ever we must continue to take thoughtful and persistent steps to take care of ourselves, each other, and our community:

Wellness and well-being

Western’s COVID-19 Testing Centre will reopen Tuesday, January 5, 2021 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a new online booking tool to schedule appointments up to three days in advance. If you’re remaining in the London area and require a COVID-19 test before January 5, please visit one of the city’s COVID-19 assessment centres.

Continue to be vigilant and follow public health directives during the break. Avoid indoor gatherings and all non-essential travel. Find ways to celebrate the season virtually with your loved ones.

And as we look forward to the promise of a new year, and a COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to prioritize your health and wellness. If you need support, please know there are 24/7 options for students and faculty and staff even when the University is closed. 

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season. As long as it is safe to do so, we are ready to welcome you back.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hrymak
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Lynn Logan
Vice-President (Operations and Finance)