Video and recap: Student town hall Aug. 10
Update, Aug. 16: The information on vaccination in this video and article is no longer applicable. For updated information on McMaster’s vaccination requirements, please go to this letter from the President and Provost and our vaccination FAQ.
At the Aug. 10 virtual town hall for students, university leaders answered questions submitted and upvoted by McMaster students, addressing topics like convocation, welcome week, clubs and in-person class components for fall 2021.
More than 100 questions were submitted in advance of the town hall and during the livestream. Participants had the opportunity to upvote questions, which informed popular topics to be addressed by leaders during the forum.
In case you missed it, please see a recording of the livestreamed event below as well as a summary of key topics covered.
Please note that information shared during the August 10 student town hall is accurate at the time of recording. The information we share with our community will continue to evolve and be consistently updated via the Back to Mac website.
- Host: Susan Tighe, Provost and Vice-President, Academic
- Paul O’Byrne, Dean and Vice-President, Faculty of Health Sciences
- Kim Dej, Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty
- Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion
- Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President, Students and Learning, and Dean of Students
- Doug Welch, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
- Vaccinations are currently required for students living in residence to allow a safer and more interactive residence experience.
- Vaccinations are currently required for varsity student-athletes based on the need for close physical interaction for training and games along with travel.
- Vaccination is encouraged but not required. But throughout the pandemic, McMaster has adapted and updated policy and procedures based on changing guidelines and vaccine availability. We will continue to be nimble and flexible.
- The university continues to monitor public health guidelines as the situation surrounding vaccine requirements evolves across Ontario.
- A reminder: the single most important contribution by staff, faculty and students to protect themselves and each other is to get fully vaccinated.
- 94 per cent of students and 93 per cent of faculty and staff surveyed have indicated that they have already received or intend to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before September. This shows how seriously our students and employees are taking the need for vaccinations.
Masks and Distancing
- At present, people must be masked indoors in any setting, regardless of vaccine status, and in outdoor settings when 2 metre/6 feet distance cannot be maintained.
- This includes indoor settings where students are more than 2 metres away from their peers and instructors.
- Exceptions are when individuals are sitting alone in a personal office with a closed door or eating in a designated area. They must put their masks back on when they’re done.
Learning, classes and exams
Fall 2021: In person and online
- About 50 per cent of course components are scheduled to be in person, with an emphasis on small-group and hands-on learning — things like tutorials, labs, smaller, experiential learning.
- A course that is scheduled to be online or virtual will not switch to in-person, to not cause disruptions for students. In rare circumstances where they do switch, instructors are expected to continue to offer ways for students to participate online/virtually.
If you’re unable to attend a required in-person class
- Please connect with your Faculty’s associate dean’s office and speak to an academic advisor for support.
If you get sick or need to isolate
- If you feel ill or find out you have been in contact with COVID-19, please stay home and seek medical attention.
- Contact your instructor(s) and they will be able to advise you on how to best proceed. It will vary largely from course to course.
- You will not be academically penalized for abiding by health and safety guidelines.
- If you will be forced to miss more than a week of classes, you may also want to connect with an academic advisor so you can work together ensure you have the support you need to succeed.
- Libraries are opening, and almost all spaces will be open for use. Masks will be required inside.
- Mills and Thode libraries will reopen Sept. 7. The Health Sciences Library will reopen Sept. 13. Operating hours will be posted on the libraries’ websites once finalized.
- Individual study space at all libraries will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Group study space at Mills and Thode libraries will open in September and will be available through the library’s online booking system, as it was pre-COVID.
- McMaster is planning for a return to in-person teaching, learning and student life activities for the Winter 2022 term.
- Students should continue to make arrangements and prepare to live in Hamilton or commute into the city for their classes for 2022.
- We will continue to ensure our planning is flexible so that we can pivot if necessary due to public health measures
Student activities, events and campus life
- Vaccinations are currently required for students living in residence to allow a safer and more interactive residence experience
- For now, only people who live in the same building can visit a student’s room. No guests from outside that building may visit.
- Fall 2021 convocation planning is underway. The celebration might look and feel a little different than it has in the past. We continue to build contingency plans in case restrictions change.
- For our 2020 graduates, we are also continuing to explore how those celebrations might look, with them likely to occur in 2022.
- Clubs or other approved student-run events can and will operate, and must follow both university guidelines and Public Health measures.
- We are finalizing event guidelines that will be shared soon with the community.
- These guidelines will outline what’s considered a high-risk activity and should be avoided.
- In September, the maximum gathering size will be 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
- We anticipate that masking, screening, and attendance tracking will all be required, though some measures may change in accordance with Public Health guidelines.
- A reminder that clubs are run through the MSU and event specifics beyond the guidelines from the University will be determined by the MSU and the clubs’ executive teams.
- We intend to offer a mix of online and in-person activities from Sept. 1 to Sept. 8.
- Students need to register for a MacPass to participate in Welcome Week activities, which can be done through OSCARPlus, McMaster’s online booking and registration system.
Second-year welcome activities
- We’re planning exciting September programming for our second-year students to give them an in-person welcome.
- Our second-year students will get to meet students, staff and faculty, and discover the beautiful McMaster campus and all it has to offer.
For more information, please view the recording above and stay tuned for further updates to be posted on the Back to Mac website.