Community Update — Phased easing of campus access restrictions

In line with Alberta’s relaunch strategy, the University of Lethbridge is preparing to gradually ease restrictions for access to its Lethbridge campus over the summer months.

Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions

The provincial guidance for post-secondary institutions still directs us to “limit in-person attendance on campus as much as possible” and requires that any increased access meets all public health mandates provided in the document. Our priority is the health and safety of the campus and local community, so strict access guidelines will remain in place. Faculty, staff and students who can work from home must continue to do so. We recognize the significant disruption this has caused, and appreciate everyone's continued efforts to do their utmost to limit the spread.  

Easing of Access Restrictions for Teaching, Research, and Learning

However, we understand that the need for campus access continues to become increasingly critical as the weeks pass, and many faculty, staff, and students are understandably anxious to return to campus.

The Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) was reconvened to coordinate expanded access, with a number of working groups building processes for a staged easing of criteria related to research, teaching, learning, and operations. The coordination of increased access across these categories is necessary, as public health mandates require that we address health and safety not only within contained campus spaces (labs, studios, offices, etc.) but also address requirements within common areas (access points, high touch surfaces, traffic flow, stairways and elevators, bathrooms, etc.).

In support of research, teaching and learning an application process for some expanded access to the Lethbridge campus will open on Friday, June 12, with approval processes to follow. Approval timelines will depend on the volume of applications and complexity across the requests.

Faculty members will be able to apply for campus access if they meet one of the following criteria AND their work can be done on campus in ways that align with ALL the mandates provided within the provincial guidelines above.

  • Critical research that requires on-campus equipment or facilities (as per criteria previously provided)
  • Time-sensitive research that requires on-campus equipment or facilities, including:
    • Graduate and undergraduate student work, regardless of where they are in the program (application is made by the supervisor, not the student)
    • Work that is required to complete publications, prepare for grants, or other creative or research work that is imminently time-sensitive in nature.
    • Teaching preparation that requires on-campus equipment, spaces, or materials that are not available at home. Examples might include recording the demonstration of a lab technique with materials not available at home or use of software that cannot be remotely accessed.
    • When on-campus equipment, spaces, or materials are required to support summer or fall 2020 program completion for graduating students as determined by the Faculty (application is made by the supervisor, not the student). Examples might include a graduating exhibition for an MFA, a group music recital required for graduation.
      • Intermittent one-time access to retrieve materials from campus continues to be available.

Recognizing that experiences of working from home are more challenging for some than others, applications will also be accepted for the criterion outlined below. In this category, applications will initially be used to better understand the demand. The feasibility and implementation (full or rotating office access) of approval here will depend on the volume of requests.

  • Research- or teaching-related office work that can be done remotely, but where the home space is not optimal or causes undue hardship and thus access to one’s campus office is necessary (for example personal reasons such as lack of privacy and noise in the home environment, sub-optimal working space, or sub-optimal end product).

Faculty members applying in all the above categories, including on behalf of students, will be asked to specify how the requested access will comply with public health workplace requirements and all requests will be subject to health and safety assessments and training prior to approval being granted. Committees are being convened to ensure there is faculty (and student, where appropriate) representation in the assessment of these requests.

An email will be sent when the application process opens and more detail will be provided at that time.

Easing of Access Restrictions for Staff

Many staff members continue to work remotely. Staff may feel they need increased access to campus in limited circumstances, particularly where necessary to support shifting operational requirements with respect to the increased access of academic staff or evolving departmental demands to support business continuity or the transition of student services over the summer months. Requests are to be submitted to their supervisors, who will identify such needs and work with Deans and Executive Directors to increase access as necessary. 

Common Spaces  

Common spaces on campus will remain closed (food vendors, atriums, lunch spaces, lounges, etc.), and those approved for access will be required to limit their movements on campus to those areas identified in their application.

University Library

Information will be made available next week about the potential for expanded library operations, though the library space itself will remain unavailable at this time. 

Future Messaging

In the days and weeks ahead, you can expect regular communications as decisions are made about increasing access to campus. In addition to email messages, information will also be posted to the Notice Board and the COVID-19 webpage.

Your cooperation is essential to the success of this plan. All members of the campus community are reminded that wherever possible work that can be done remotely, should continue to be done remotely. The past few months have been a stressful time with the shut-down of campus and the transition to working from home. As we look ahead to summer and the upcoming fall semester, we want to assure our community we continue to prioritize health and safety.

For further inquiries, contact COVID19.inquiries@uleth.ca.


Contact:

COVID-19 | covid19.inquiries@uleth.ca | uleth.ca/covid-19