When it’s time to come back, we’ll be ready: President’s letter
May 12, 2020
Dear Members of the McMaster community,
I am certain you have begun to miss being on campus, and are anxious to know when we can begin to return. While virtual platforms and interactions are helping us to keep in touch, I, like you, look forward to the time when we can safely increase our presence at all of our campus locations.
For the time being, current restrictions remain in place. But there are many people on campus who are working together to answer the complex questions we face, including: how will we begin to expand campus activities once the government allows us to do so? How will we maintain physical distancing? What does this mean for our researchers, our staff and our students?
To assist with this planning at the program and departmental level, the President and Vice-Presidents Group (PVP) has confirmed McMaster’s approach in a number of key over-arching areas.
- We will continue to be guided by Public Health Ontario directives and advice. This advice is dynamic and will continue to change as the provincial recovery unfolds.
- In alignment with current Public Health guidance, masks will not be required on campus, save in specific cases such as labs where personal protective equipment (PPE) would have been required for normal operations, healthcare settings, or special circumstances such as certain cleaning operations.
- Individuals may choose to wear a mask in other situations. That is a personal choice.
- Everyone who is not considered part of an essential service should continue to work at home, if they are able to do so. More people will be invited to return to our campuses as the University begins to reopen, but for now we are asking people to continue to work from home.
- A research recovery plan is being developed by the Vice-President, Research and the Associate Deans, Research. Principal Investigators in consultation with Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) will be primarily responsible for safety planning in their areas once reopening is underway. A request to expand the research activity on campus, approved by the Department and the Faculty, will be required and must include a physical distancing and staffing plan so the University can maintain an overall view of who is on campus and in which locations.
- Self-monitoring for symptoms will continue to be important. Anyone who feels unwell should not come to campus, and should follow the advice on Ontario’s COVID-19 self-screening website https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/.
Thank you to all those who are helping us plan for re-opening. In addition to the research planning group and the return-to-work operations committee, other units who manage a wide-range of activities at the university are also working on strategies to assist us in reopening as soon as we can.
The Guiding Framework I laid out in my last letter to the community (https://covid19.mcmaster.ca/principles-guiding-our-decision-making-for-fall-and-beyond-presidents-letter/) outlines McMaster’s institutional approach to planning, which we will continue to use as we manage through the pandemic. More detailed operational guidelines will be developed as we move forward.
I have heard from many of you over the last few weeks and I know how much you are doing to keep the university’s teaching and research activities operating. I have also witnessed your personal contributions to strengthening our support for students and our researchers in these challenging times.
I am proud to be part of this deeply compassionate community.
David FarrarMessages from leadership