COVID-19 Updates for Graduate Students and Supervisors

News for Students and Supervisors

September 30, 2020: Campus Access Changes
September 10, 2020: Guidance for Instructors on Face Mask Compliance
July 3, 2020: Update on Campus Access for Students and Relaunch
July 2, 2020: Update on Library Services and borrowing physical items
June 15, 2020: Fall 2020 timetable update - experiential in-person classes
June 15, 2020: Update re: research on campus
June 8, 2020: Changes to final thesis examination
May 25, 2020: Fall 2020 update
April 17, 2020: Update on taking a leave of absence
April 15, 2020: Important message from the Dean of Graduate Studies
April 14, 2020: COVID-19 student finance FAQ
April 9, 2020: Update on deferrals for summer term
March 27, 2020: Important update from School of Graduate Studies


Campus Access Changes

September 30, 2020

Dear Students,

As of October 1 the process for accessing campus has changed.  Please keep in mind that we are still encouraging everyone who can work from home to do so.  However if you are working as a GA and need to be on campus for that work, or if you need to be on campus for your research, you may (with the support of your Graduate Coordinator or supervisor) request access using the process below.  This is only for those who have not yet requested ongoing access.  This will also replace the one-time request process.

Campus access is still restricted, so there will be a limited number of places that you can enter the buildings.  Facilities will let you know what those access points are, and information is on the university’s Covid-19 website (see link below).

While you are on-campus please remember that masks are mandatory.  The University of Lethbridge requirements for when and where masks are required can be found here:  https://www.uleth.ca/covid-19.  If you notice anyone not wearing their masks, or not wearing them properly, you may feel comfortable approaching them and offering a gentle reminder.  If you are not comfortable approaching, but the individuals are working in your lab, please have a discussion with your supervisor as to how best to approach the problem.  If the students are in a lab that you are teaching you can seek advice from your coordinator or the professor teaching the course.  If the individuals are in a common area and you are not comfortable initiating a discussion you can contact security:  https://www.uleth.ca/security/contact.   Please remember that we are all in this together, and we’re all human!

~ Dr. Jackie Rice

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Guidance for Instructors on Face Mask Compliance

September 10, 2020

Individuals on campus are required to wear a face mask anywhere others are present and physical distancing cannot be maintained.  We recommend the use of masks whenever individuals are inside our buildings due to movement of others through shared spaces or in spaces where speaking occurs over an extended period of time in a closed space. This includes wearing a mask in every classroom and during class time.

Some students may come to class not wearing a mask or remove their mask during class.  We do not want this to be a negative experience for students, of course, but we have allowed face to face classes during a serious pandemic with the expectation that we would uphold high safety standards for the sake of our students, staff and instructors.  Professors in face to face offerings should make the expectations clear to students.

We have been asked to provide guidance on how a professor should respond if a student comes to class without a mask or removes their mask during class.

  • Approach the student individually and privately and ask them to don their mask.  
  • If the student does not have a mask, provide a disposable mask.  You can pick up a box of disposable masks from Campus safety for this purpose, but please encourage students to remember their masks for each class to avoid excessive use of disposables.
  • If you encounter a student who resists wearing a mask (without having discussed with you valid extenuating medical circumstances and a safe alternative such as a face shield), you may ask the student to leave the classroom but encourage them instead to don a mask. 
  • Should a student remain resistant to wearing a mask, please contact your Dean’s Office for support. There are provisions within the Non-Academic Policy that allow a Dean’s Office to act in such circumstances (after having received a notification of the concern from you), including the ability to discontinue class participation should it become necessary. 

Prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff must remain our priority, and mask compliance is a key part of these efforts.

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Update on Campus Access for Students and Relaunch

July 3, 2020

Dear students,

There have been quite a few changes over the past few weeks.  As you should be aware, access to campus can now be requested via your supervisors for time sensitive research work.    As well, secondary requests are being assessed and will be reviewed when the time sensitive requests have been processed.  The link for all types of access applications is here:  https://www.uleth.ca/covid-19/accessing-campus.  This is part of a phased relaunch that the university is planning now that the province’s state of emergency has been lifted (as of June 15).  

Relaunch
Reflecting this shift in focus the Emergency Operations Committee is being renamed to become the Relaunch Coordination Committee (RCC) and two new co-chairs have been appointed to lead the process — TJ Hanson, Associate Vice-President (Facilities), and Chris Mattatall, Associate Dean (Education).

The RCC is planning a gradual return to campus that complies with public health requirements. While the RCC will develop guidelines for Stage 3, when all workplaces can reopen and restrictions on public gatherings are relaxed, the committee is also focused on preventing a second wave of infection.

Updated provincial guidance documents
On Monday, June 22, the province released an update to its Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions documents. These documents encourage the University to continue to hold classes remotely and limit in-person attendance on campus as much as possible. Most U of L faculty and staff will continue to work from home unless they are specifically required to come to campus. 

Part of allowing more access to campus involves making the necessary accommodations to ensure physical distancing is possible, that cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces is enhanced and plans are in place to identify and manage illness in campus settings.

Meeting these requirements requires a great deal of planning and coordination. We appreciate everyone’s patience and finalized plans will be shared with the campus community as soon as they become available.

Anyone accessing campus is reminded to practice physical distancing, wash your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your face.

Jackie

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Update on Library Services and borrowing physical items

July 2, 2020

Starting July 6, 2020, the University Library is pleased to provide the lending of resources from select collections and the Faculty of Education’s Curriculum Laboratory for Lethbridge-and-area members of the University Community (academic staff, staff, and students).

Books from the Library’s Main Collection and the Faculty of Education’s Curriculum Laboratory are available to request. Materials from the Media Collection (e.g., CDs, Blu-rays/DVDs, etc.) are bookable. Either the requesting or booking service is available in an item’s record via a Summon or classic catalogue search from the University Library’s homepage.

Not all collections will be immediately available. Collections and materials that are not available at this time include physical Course Reserves, non-circulating materials (e.g., Microform, Reference, and Special Collections, etc.). Specialized items such as puppets and any items with soft surfaces that are not easily sanitized are not available. Items with less than a seven-day loan period are also excluded.

It can take one to two business days for bookings and requests to be honoured. Once an item is available for pick up, you will receive an email notice. Items can be retrieved from Anderson Hall (AH176) from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday between July 6 and August 28. You will need to present your Campus ID Card to borrow resources.

When picking up materials, please observe the following practices: physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, and any signage onsite. If you are not feeling well, please do not attend the campus. For answers to frequently asked questions related to our requesting services, click here.

It is estimated that the coronavirus can live up to 24 hours on cardboard, and three to seven days on metal and plastic. Print materials cannot be effectively sanitized, so it is advised that you handle them with care. It is further suggested that you place items in a quarantine area once you have returned to your residence. Your best protection is to wash and sanitize your hands each time you handle any materials and avoid touching your face—even after a quarantine period.

Any items that you borrowed can also be returned to the Anderson Hall location (AH 176) during its operational hours. Please place returned materials in the designated bins or carts provided. Returned items will be quarantined for at least three days after being returned. Fines are not charged due to the quarantine period.

We are not currently able to provide this service to our patrons outside the Lethbridge area and Calgary Campus. Please submit requests for articles and book chapters to our Interlibrary Loans service. A reply to your request will be sent to your @uleth.ca email account, if the material you are requesting is available. We continue to explore distance delivery options.

The Alberta Library (TAL) Card will be mailed upon request by contacting lib.illo@uleth.ca. Please contact your local member of The Alberta Library to verify their level of service (i.e., lending policies, hours of operation, etc.).

If you have any questions related to this delivery of service, please email gsd.library@uleth.ca or submit comments or suggestions online. For online assistance and research support, use our Ask Us suite of services.

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Fall 2020 timetable update - experiential in-person classes

June 15, 2020

Dear students,

We know you are eager to learn which of your courses and academic experiences will have an in-person component; your patience throughout this process is gratefully appreciated.

We have carefully considered which courses can be delivered with face-to-face experiential learning activities in the Fall 2020 term and which courses cannot be offered at this time. You can find the interim list online in the Fall 2020 Timetable Update.

We wanted you to have this information as early as possible so you can plan your academic future with confidence. Our top concern is the safety of our students and the surrounding community; these decisions have been made in line with public health requirements.

As you view the list of courses in the timetable update, you may see that you need or want to adjust your schedule for the fall. If you registered in a course that cannot be offered at this time, we encourage you to register in another course instead. Timetable changes, including information about online courses, will be updated in the coming weeks. Check your Bridge Student Detail Schedule, the Timetable and your uLethbridge email often for important updates to course offerings.

We are committed to offering you an exceptional learning experience this September using a hybrid delivery model. Given the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared to offer flexible options, including the opportunity to complete courses with experiential learning components in a future term. We will do everything possible to ensure you can progress toward achieving your academic goals.

You can also be assured you will have access to the full range of student supports.

If you have any questions regarding your program, please contact your Faculty or School academic advisor.

You can also access enrolment advising via Zoom Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at uleth.zoom.us/my/enrolmenthelp.

I invite you to attend one of the Graduate Studies Town Hall meetings happening on Wednesday, June 24 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. MDT, Wednesday July 22 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. MDT, and Wednesday August 19, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MDT. You can find the links for these and other online information sessions at https://www.uleth.ca/graduate-studies/incoming-students.

Stay up to date by visiting University’s COVID-19 resources webpage.

You may wonder why the University has decided not to return to in-person, on-campus teaching of most courses, given Alberta’s transition to phase two of its three-phase relaunch strategy. 

The reasons are framed by two key priorities:

  • Safeguarding the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty, and
  • Ensuring the quality and stability of the academic experience. 

Regarding health and safety, public health directives for post-secondary institutions now allow up to 50 people in one indoor location. However, the University is expected to implement all other health and safety measures, including:

  • Ensuring people on campus and in classrooms and labs can maintain two metres distance from each other at all times (or install barriers if this isn’t possible)
  • Labs, bathrooms, tables, and other facilities are cleaned after every use
  • Managing crowding at elevators and in hallways, and
  • Installing protective equipment in the many service areas on campus at our own cost.

The University does not have the resources required to implement all of the public health directives for thousands of people, so it must limit the number of people on campus to reduce the potential for infection. Our rationale:

  • Many uLethbridge classes have more than 50 students enrolled, so these courses could not be offered
  • Offering only those with fewer than 50 students enrolled would create inequities with students
  • Some students cannot travel to Lethbridge given travel restrictions, and
  • Many students, staff and faculty are immunocompromised and would not be able to attend safely, placing them at an even greater disadvantage.

In terms of the quality and stability of the experience, we made a commitment to you on May 19 that we would start and end the term in the same way, if public health directives permit, and provide you with an outstanding academic experience. This commitment was made to ensure that you would not experience a jarring transition mid-semester if a spike in cases leads to another shutdown.

Our commitment to move online where possible was made early so professors have more time to prepare an outstanding academic experience. Students are also being offered preparatory workshops and support for learning online. After much review, we believe this is the best way to ensure we keep our commitments to you.

Kind regards,

Kathleen Massey
Associate Vice-President (Students)
University of Lethbridge

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Update re: research on campus

June 15, 2020

The University of Lethbridge will open an application process for campus access on June 12, 2020. The application will only be for critical research or time-sensitive research which requires access to on-campus resources and equipment. 

Faculty members can apply for campus access for themselves or members of their research team (including students) if they meet the criteria for time-sensitive research AND the work can be done on campus in ways that align with ALL the mandates provided within the provincial guidance for post-secondary institutions.

Part of the approval process will require that anyone carrying out research on campus, and their supervisor, have completed the COVID19 training offered by Risk & Safety. Training is being offered from June 8th – 12th, each day at 11:00 a.m. via zoom: https://uleth.zoom.us/j/94969359278. Additional training sessions will be planned in the upcoming weeks.

If you have any questions, please send inquiries to covid19.inquiries@uleth.ca.

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Changes to final thesis examinations

June 8, 2020

Due to recent developments, all Final Thesis Examinations will take place virtually. The Examination Chair, in consultation with the supervisor(s), will make the necessary arrangements to move to an online format. The Examination Chair will be responsible for setting up the online meeting and sending the access details to the graduate student and all members of the Examination Committee. A contingency plan will also be developed in the event of technology issues.

Students may invite colleagues, family members, and/or friends to the presentation portion of the Final Thesis Examination. A list of invited individuals (including names and email addresses) must be sent to the Examination Chair a minimum of two days prior to the date of the Examination. Following the presentation, the Examination Chair will ensure that all invited individuals leave the virtual session. The remainder of the Final Thesis Examination will be ‘closed’ with only the student and all members of the Examination Committee in attendance.

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Fall 2020 update

May 25, 2020

The University of Lethbridge has decided that teaching and learning activities at our Lethbridge and Calgary campuses will be held primarily online for the Fall 2020 term. As always, the safety of our students, faculty and staff has been and will continue to be our top priority. We must ensure we are maintaining a safe environment consistent with Alberta’s public safety guidelines and in line with public health directives. The welfare of our students, faculty and staff as they learn, teach and work is of the utmost importance.

Will there be any in-person experiences?

The primary mode of all course delivery will be through an online model, but we recognize some experiential activities cannot be transitioned to an online context.

As a result, some face-to-face experiential learning activities will be permitted to take place this fall, including select labs, studio sessions, practicum experiences and clinical placements. These will occur on the Lethbridge campus and at off-site placements. Other experiential learning opportunities will be offered using online and remote methods.

Students involved in experiential learning courses will be expected to be in Lethbridge but can choose to take those courses in a future term if moving to Lethbridge is not possible. Alternatives will be provided for students, faculty or staff who cannot attend in person, including in future terms. A preliminary list of in-person experiential courses and activities will be available for students by June 15.

Graduate Student support

The U of L recognizes that graduate students are also planning to participate in traditional types of learning in classrooms and labs as well as carrying out their own research. Graduate classroom activities, either as a student or as Graduate Assistants (GAs), will fall under the guidelines outlined here. Faculties will provide further information as to which courses will be offered remotely, and which may be face-to-face. As indicated above, alternatives will be provided for students who cannot attend in person. As well, training and support will be offered over the summer months to help prepare GAs who may be involved in the remote delivery of courses. 

What student supports will be available?

All student services will be accessible, whether online, via phone, or in person, as appropriate. Mental health support will be offered online throughout the fall term, with group and one-on-one options also available. If public health directives permit, in-person counselling will also be provided. We have also developed a series of virtual workshops to support students’ online learning success and professional development.  

Research activities

While we do not yet have a timeline for a return to research activities, we are very much aware of this need for our graduate students and will do our best to support them when we are able to return to campus and as they continue to progress through their programs.  

When we are advised by public health officials, we will develop a process for the gradual relaunch of further research and creative activities.

Enhancing the student experience

While we will be utilizing a primarily online delivery, our campus will still be central to the student experience. We will create a sense of connection and support and reduce isolation through community-building initiatives. These will include small group gatherings, the opening of our library for restricted in-person services and the utilization of our residence spaces and food services to support the full student experience.

We appreciate that our students had different expectations of what their university experience would entail. This expectation has changed for all institutions and students around the world and yet it should not dampen excitement for our fall semester. A sense of normalcy will eventually return and until that time, the University of Lethbridge will continue to offer the robust, high-quality learning experience for which it is known.

To read the full message, please visit the following page.

International students, make sure to visit the FAQ page prepared by the International office.

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Update on taking a leave of absence

April 17, 2020

During these extraordinary times, we wanted to remind you that a Leave of Absence (LOA) may be an option for some graduate students. If you are considering this option or have any questions about LOA implications on your graduate program, we encourage you to contact your program-specific administrator.

Keep in mind, an approved Leave of Absence starts at the beginning of a term only. During an approved Leave of Absence, the following conditions apply:

• Graduate students are not required to register in their program;
• No fees are assessed;
• Assistantships, grants, awards, scholarships, and other financial aid provided by the University are put into abeyance, where applicable;
• The time granted for the Leave of Absence is not counted toward the residence requirement;
• Residence requirements must still be met;
• Graduate students do not have access to University of Lethbridge resources and services (e.g., Library privileges) as a student; and
• Graduate students are not actively engaged in coursework or the research requirements of their degree program

Important Considerations for International Students
A Leave of Absence (LOA) may affect your eligibility to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit. International students are not eligible to work while on a Leave of Absence. We strongly encourage international students to contact your International Student Advisor before formally applying for a LOA.  

Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
School of Graduate Studies

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Important message from the Dean of Graduate Studies

April 15, 2020

Dear students,

I know that this has been a stressful time for you, and that you have not heard much from me.  I apologize for that.  I know that communication can go a long way to reducing stress, so I’ll try to do better in the future.  

Right now let me bring you up to date on a few things:  as you are aware, the university has moved as much of its operations as possible off-campus.  Only critical continuing research has been approved to continue on-campus.  No undergraduate course work will be approved to take place on-campus until and unless the current restrictions are lifted or relaxed by the government.  It is my hope that many of you are able to continue writing or other remote activities during this time; however I know that many of your graduate programs are being negatively impacted.

We have heard from NSERC and SSHRC that grants held by many of your supervisors will be automatically extended by a year.  This should ease some of your minds, as those of you being paid out of grants should find some flexibility at the end of your program, if you need an extension to complete.  We have NOT yet heard about NSERC and SSHRC scholarships supporting graduate students.  I will communicate any new information as soon as I receive it.

We are working on a few things that may help some of you out:  firstly, I am trying to get the university’s zoom licence extended to you.  I hope that might help out with remote meetings, including defences, and with other activities such as office hours for courses, or interviews for your research.   We’ve also added flexibility to requirements around defences so that they can take place entirely online, and of course all of your forms can be submitted electronically.  Secondly, we are working on making leaves of absence easier to access, and as well we are exploring options for the possibility of ending a leave early if the university is able to re-open part way through the summer.  A leave of absence does have financial implications, however, so it is important to talk to an advisor to see if this is the right option for you.  Lastly we are working on ways to ease the financial burden for you in a variety of ways, including an emergency bursary and as well a reduction in non-instructional fees while our facilities are closed. 

Our main concern is the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.  No member of the University community should feel pressured to work on campus if they are not comfortable to do so. If any individual is feeling inappropriately pressured to carry out on-campus research, scholarship, or creative work, they should contact Suzanne McIntosh (suzanne.mcintosh@uleth.ca) in the Wellness and Recognition office at the University of Lethbridge. 

If you have any questions about your graduate program please contact us (see email addresses below) so that our program specialists can help you.  As well if you have any other concerns or questions please feel free to reach out to me at avpr.dsgs@uleth.ca or to the Associate Dean of the SGS, Dr. Helen Kelley: helen.kelley@uleth.ca.

Contacts:
Faculty of Education:  matis@uleth.ca
Faculty of Health Sciences: Jodie.flamand@uleth.ca
Dhillon School of Business: tammy.rogness@uleth.ca
Faculty of Fine Arts:  liz.piquette@uleth.ca
Other faculties (Arts & Science):  sgs@uleth.ca

Other resources that are available include the university’s general student FAQ.  As well don’t forget that the university has mental health and counselling supports available to you, and these are all available right now.

We all are in this together, and we will continue to do our best to support you.

Sincerely,
Jackie

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jacqueline Rice, PhD
Dean, School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs
Associate Vice President (Research)

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COVID-19 student finance FAQ

April 14, 2020

The COVID-19 Student Finance FAQ is designed to answer some frequently asked student-aid questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This page also outlines some of the support available from the City, Province, and Federal governments available for graduate students at this time.  Please consult this page frequently as it may be updated accordingly.

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Update on deferrals for summer 2020 term

April 9, 2020

The School of Graduate Studies understands that due to the current situation concerning COVID-19, it may be difficult for graduate students to begin their program this Summer 2020 term. 

Considering this, we are reviewing deferral requests on a case-by-case basis. To request deferral, please email us (sgs@uleth.ca) your wish to request to defer your Summer 2020 start to a Fall 2020 start. Please have your (co)-supervisor(s) also send an email to us confirming their support of the deferral request.

Please Note: Since classes are being delivered in an online format for the Summer 2020 term, not all Summer 2020 starts will require a deferral to Fall 2020. Some students and (co)-supervisors may decide that it is best for the student to start their program in the Summer 2020 term, as planned.

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Important update from School of Graduate Studies

Friday, March 27, 2020

Effective March 18, the School of Graduate Studies office is closed for in-person services. We will remain open for providing services remotely Monday to Friday, 08:30am-4:30pm.

Student Advising
All student appointments will be conducted virtually (via email, phone or Zoom). If you’d like to book an appointment with an advisor, please email us at sgs@uleth.ca providing your name, program of study, ID #, and topic you would like to discuss with an advisor (e.g., program completion, comprehensive examination, thesis proposal submission, etc.).   

Final Thesis Examinations, Comprehensive Examinations, Transfer Examinations, and Thesis Proposals
In light of recent developments, all of the above degree requirements will be moved to an online delivery format. We ask that supervisors in consultation with the examination chair, if applicable, make the necessary arrangements to move to an online format. Student presentations will be given to members of the relevant examinations committee or supervisory committee only - no public presentations will be given. As part of the planning process, please prepare a contingency plan in the event that technology problems are experienced.

If graduate students have concerns about examination delivery formats, please contact your supervisor.

Student Forms and Degree Requirement Documentation
Please submit program-related forms and degree requirement documentation digitally by emailing us scanned/digital forms at sgs@uleth.ca. We will not be able to take any physical forms at this time.

Graduate Assistantships
Students with current GAs (Teaching, Non-Teaching, and Research) will continue to be paid, and we ask that Graduate Coordinators, Chairs, and anyone supervising/co-supervising a student with a GA (Teaching, Non-Teaching, and Research) look for flexible ways to continue to assign work for those students who cannot continue their previously assigned duties.

Student Funding
Please ensure you are registered for the Summer 2020 term before the add/drop deadline to ensure there is no disruption in scholarship payments.

The deadline to submit a graduate scholarship application for internal scholarships remains May 15, 2020. If you have any questions regarding your funding, please contact us at sgs.awards@uleth.ca. Please see the following page for additional financial tips during these extraordinary times.

Available Resources
Here are some resources for your reference regarding COVID-19 and online support:

Please be reassured that the success of our students is our number one priority. We will strive to provide the support you need during these difficult times.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at sgs@uleth.ca.

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