During yesterday’s student town hall, university leaders answered questions submitted by McMaster students, addressing topics from campus safety measures to in person components expected for fall 2021.
More than 260 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. With over 700 viewers, the town hall brought together academic and operational university leaders to share what McMaster is planning for the gradual transition back to campus.
In case you missed it, please see a recording of the livestreamed event below as well as a summary of key topics covered. Introductions start at 10 minutes 51 seconds in.
Please note that information shared during the June 17 student town hall is accurate at the time of recording. As an institution, we are committed to being flexible and agile in this ever-evolving environment. With that, the information we share with our community will continue to evolve and be consistently updated via the Back to Mac website.
Distancing & masking: McMaster will continue to follow the local, provincial, and federal public health directives of masking, including by fully vaccinated people. For now, the rule is that 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.
Screening & vaccination: In accordance with Provincial guidelines, anyone coming to campus will need to complete the Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment before arriving. Vaccinations are strongly encouraged but not required. The single most important contribution by staff, faculty and students to protect themselves and each other is to get fully vaccinated, optimally prior to working or studying on campus.
Ventilation & Cleaning: McMaster is assessing and making any required updates to the ventilation systems in buildings on campus. The Facilities team will be maximizing fresh air and keeping recirculated air to a minimum indoors. High standard filters are being installed in buildings where air recirculation exists and replaced regularly. McMaster’s team of custodians will vigorously clean high touchpoint surfaces at an increased frequency. Teams will clean every classroom and lecture hall nightly, including treating these spaces with electrostatic disinfectant spray. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be available in every classroom and lecture hall for personal use.
In person vs. virtual
Fall 2021 will provide as many safe and meaningful in-person experiences for students as possible. This includes expanded opportunities for small-group learning across all Faculties, but also in-person student life activities and campus resources.
The fall class schedule fall is available Mosaic and indicates a teaching mode for every course (i.e. in-person component, online, virtual, or some may be a combination of these). If you are enrolling in a course or course component designated as in-person, there will be varying levels of in-person engagement throughout the term.
If you are not able to attend any in-person components, it is recommended that you register in another course that is offered virtually or online. If the in-person course is a degree requirement where you have no other course options, please contact your Associate Dean’s/Program Office where you may request consideration based upon extenuating circumstances.
Final examinations will continue in the remote environment for Fall 2021. In-person courses may use their scheduled classroom for testing purposes (i.e. midterms). There may be some exceptions for clinical programs. For questions about modes of learning in individual courses and programs, please reach out to your faculty, department or instructor.
International students have the same choice as domestic students in selecting in-person or online/virtual courses and can travel to Canada to resume / start their studies. Please contact your faculty office if you are concerned you will not be here in time for September. International students can access updates and support programs through the iCent portal.
University libraries and study spaces
Libraries on campus will be open for the fall term to the maximum capacity permitted by Public Health guidelines. Study and gathering spaces are being developed. Classrooms and other large spaces are being assessed to support distanced study activities. McMaster is also introducing more outdoor seating (Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, benches, stones) to allow for maximum utilization of green spaces on campus.
McMaster is currently planning to resume in-person classes in the winter term while still harnessing the benefits and lessons learned from the last year of virtual learning. Teams across campus are also planning to ramp up on-campus student life activities so they are closer to, if not meeting, pre-pandemic capacities. This includes services and resources, events, and student study and social space.
The health and safety of our community will remain our top priority into the winter, and though we are planning for a more normal term we will be ready to pivot if the public health situation does not improve.
For more information, please view the recording above and stay tuned for further updates to be posted on the Back to Mac website.