Update: Fall term begins

September 04, 2020 5:00 PM

Dear colleagues,

I hope this note finds you and your family in good health. This has been a remarkably busy summer for everyone and I am incredibly proud of the way our campus community has pulled together to prepare for the fall. 

From preparing to teach classes and provide services online and in person to making our campus as safe as possible for our community, faculty and staff have shown both expertise and resolve in the face of challenging times.

As the start of the fall term quickly approaches, I want to provide an update on a few important items.

Take Care Western

Launched earlier this week, the Take Care Western campaign encourages the campus community to take extraordinary and necessary steps to take care of ourselves, each other, and our community. 

Return to Campus

Our phased ‘return to campus’, which is now complete, provided flexibility to adapt and comply with public health protocols, while supporting faculty and staff who are balancing home life with work. 

Employees required to come to campus will be notified by their supervisor. Those requiring access to campus for research, teaching and supporting students are welcome to return to campus, following health and safety protocols.

A reminder that those returning to campus must view a training module video and complete the Return to Campus questionnaire each day before coming to campus. More details on this and steps you can take to be safe once on campus are available on the Health & Safety Measures page.

Face Coverings

All members of the Western community are required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings indoors in the presence of others, and in common and shared spaces. This includes corridors, lobbies, washrooms, elevators, classrooms, teaching laboratories, libraries, meeting rooms, or any area where physical distancing is a challenge. Western is supplying all faculty, staff and students with washable Western-branded masks. These are available from your supervisor or faculty/unit’s designated requisitioner.

Some in our campus community are not able to wear face masks and can request accommodations: faculty and staff via Employee Well-being and students via Academic Support & Engagement. For those with approved accommodations who are unable to wear a mask, Western will provide a face shield. Patience and respect are critical as we adjust to life on campus with face coverings.

Re-Opening of Buildings and Services

Commencing September 14, most academic buildings will be open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or later as class schedules dictate. For campus services such as eateries and libraries, we’ve compiled a list of what’s open and when.

Space Planning

Common areas and classrooms across campus have been prepared to support physical distancing. This includes enhanced signage, physical barriers such as plexiglass, limits on available seating, and limited occupancy of shared spaces such as conferences rooms and kitchens.

For those wishing to hold academic or social events in an outdoor setting, a number of tents have been erected around campus that are available for booking through Conference and Events Services. The tents can hold physically distanced gatherings of up to 80 people and will be available until October 31.

Classroom Safety

Before attending in-person classes, students must complete the Return to Campus questionnaire. Upon arrival at their classroom, they will be greeted by a classroom/building ambassador who will have them swipe their Western ONECard before entering. This swipe will indicate whether the student has completed the health survey. Those who have not completed the survey will not be permitted entry into the classroom until they have done so. 

Classroom/building ambassadors will also remind students of classroom entry and exit procedures and the requirement to wear a face covering. 

Instructor classroom kits are available to all instructors and teaching assistants at no cost from the designated requisitioner for each department through Mustang Market. The kits are designed to support classroom safety and are not required to be used. Each kit contains:

  • Gloves (100)
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • White board markers and eraser
  • Disposable microphone covers (50)

Online Teaching Support

Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is offering a variety of supports as faculty and teaching assistants move courses online, including curriculum review support online. Email elearning-support@uwo.ca to connect with CTL and Western Technology Services (WTS) staff.

TA Day: Graduate Student Conference on Teaching takes place Sept. 8. TA Day has welcomed new graduate students to Western for over 30 years. Redesigned for the online teaching and learning environment, this year’s half-day conference introduces graduate students to teaching at Western and helps prepare them for their roles as Teaching Assistants.

Western Libraries

Western Libraries has been working with campus health and safety partners to adapt in-person library services to meet provincial guidelines. This includes reducing occupancy in campus libraries to support physical distancing and prioritizing access to spaces to support currently registered students, staff and faculty. More information on Western Libraries collections and services, including enhanced digital resources and remote supports, is available online.

Student Residences

Western’s student residences have been de-densified to support physical distancing, and are operating at 70 per cent capacity. Double rooms in traditional-style buildings will only have single-occupants. Residence staff have worked closely with facilities management, hospitality services, and public health officials, to ensure health and safety strategies are in place to create a supportive environment and community for our students.

Orientation Week

This year’s Orientation Week has been revised and re-imagined to adhere to provincial guidelines around limits to social gatherings. Orientation Week will see a mix of in-person and online experiences, focused on creating peer connections and preparing students for their new academic journey.

Western’s Health & Safety Team has reviewed all in-person program plans to ensure appropriate measures are in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. These planning parameters are included in Western’s Return to Campus Plan and have been shared with the Middlesex-London Health Unit and the provincial government.

Campus Eateries

Western’s eateries will be open to serve the campus community in September. Hours of operation have been adjusted to account for the number of people expected on campus and some locations will remain closed. A full list of eateries that will be open in September is available at eateries.uwo.ca.

In addition, the tent outside the Physics & Astronomy Building will feature food truck vendors, including “The Angry Goose”, our first food truck operated by Great Hall Catering.

Parking Services

Parking & Visitor Services will resume collecting fees for faculty and staff parking permits in September with permit rates being held at 2019-2020 pricing. Permit holders are reminded to park in their designated lots and that lot enforcement is in effect.

Additional Resources for Faculty and Staff

Contact information, frequently asked questions, steps to take before coming to campus and additional resources can be found at Faculty and Staff Resources.

As we welcome our students this week, we will be experiencing a new environment - additional signage, new rules and regulations and changes to our physical spaces. Our students and our colleagues may require help understanding health and safety processes and procedures and it is important that we approach one another with patience, empathy and respect.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. On behalf of Western’s senior leadership team, thank you for your hard work in preparing for a safe and successful fall term.



Lynn Logan

Vice-President (Operations & Finance)