Eduvation Blog

Campus Updates

Check out all of our COVID-19 coverage and analysis.

Since March 11 2020, Eduvation has been monitoring coronavirus news and initiatives on a daily basis, at about 90 colleges and universities across Canada, and publishing emerging trends and strategic ideas in a daily email newsletter, the Eduvation Insider. This archive summarizes the “Campus Updates” in reverse-chronological order. See archives of the entire newsletter.  Sign up for free emails yourself!


Friday May 29, 2020

Manitoba Redirects 5% of Funding

uManitoba president David Barnard wrote yesterday that the province has confirmed a 5% cut to its operating grant, potentially offset by a one-time competitive Transitional Support Fund. The province will consider proposals “orienting programs towards labour-market demands,” enhancing online materials and tools, or addressing COVID19 challenges – but UofM will likely need to make budget reductions because of revenue losses and increased costs. uManitoba

Back to School

The inevitable slide of institutions from F2F and blended plans to blended and online plans continues today. Holland explicitly hopes the Winter term will be back on campus, while Red River and Conestoga are planning to bring select students back to campus as early as this summer.


Bishop’s announced last night that it will prepare for either a hybrid or online Fall semester, and will make a definitive announcement by mid-July. Rather than a “primarily online” approach like so many other PSEs have planned, “we will prepare to deliver our courses remotely for those of you who may not be able or who may not wish to travel here… At the same time, we are working hard to prepare to welcome as many of you as possible on campus in September.”

Carleton confirmed yesterday that “all scheduled courses will be online in the fall,” for grad and undergrad students, although they are also “actively preparing to partially reopen our physical spaces and resume some on-campus activities.” Carleton

Conestoga announced yesterday that Winter and Spring students who need to complete in-person work may be returning to campus as early as mid-July. For Fall, “it is our intent to start a gradual return to campus for select programs.” Physical distancing and staggered schedules will apply. Conestoga

Holland has released its academic delivery plan for 2020-21, at an individual program level. Most appear to be blended or distance delivered for the Fall semester, and F2F for the Winter semester – although the plan is subject to revision and the PHO guidelines.  Holland

Laurentian announced yesterday afternoon that the interim Provost and faculty association have agreed on “a mix of in-person courses and online courses this fall.” The plan will next go to a special meeting of Senate on Jun 1 for approval, and then a senate committee will evaluate individual programs and courses. Laurentian

Red River’s interim CEO, Christine Watson, explains that Manitoba’s Phase 2 (effective June 1) means limited access to campus for hands-on learning, in classes of no more than 25. RRC plans to prioritize those students who are close to graduation, or need experiential opportunities to catch up in their programs. The measured approach will take time and patience. RRC



Remote Hands-On Learning

McGill published a 6-min video yesterday that concisely demonstrates a range of remote learning experiences, such as band performances via Zoom, step-by-step lab videos with embedded quizzes, lab and anatomy simulations, apps to share local biodiversity around the world, wildlife trail cams, and more. One challenge is providing dynamic content that can cope with poor internet bandwidth. Many of these tools will continue to be useful once students return to campus.  YouTube

75 Students to Support T&L at Guelph

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that uCalgary is hiring 10 grad students as Learning Technology Coaches, and Western 11 PhDs and 250 summer student interns to assist with preparation for online delivery. Now UoGuelph has announced it is hiring 75 summer co-op students to help migrate courses online for Fall. In addition to earning $5,000-$7,000 for their subject-specific work, the students will earn a certificate in course redesign and remote pedagogy through a series of workshops, and can convert their experience into credit through a Fall elective.  Global


Thursday May 28, 2020


Dalhousie announced yesterday that tuition fees will increase this Fall by 3%, although many ancillary fees will be waived or reduced, and bursary funding will be doubled to $6 M. The budget also commits $1 M to technology, instructor PD and online student supports. Dal

Sheridan president Janet Morrison wrote staff on Tuesday about an $81M “recalibration” of the budget, based on potential Fall enrolment declines of 21% (domestic) and 42% (international). $48M in savings will be achieved from hiring freezes and reduction of discretionary budgets and part-time hours, contracts, and positions. The remaining $33M may be covered from last year’s surplus. Staff are to draw down unused vacation time, and have been offered retirement incentives. Sheridan

Back to School

Algonquin College president Claude Brulé wrote yesterday that they are “in discussion with Colleges Ontario about an opportunity to potentially bring a small number of students back to our campuses in July and August.” He emphasizes that this is “a possibility, not a certainty.” Algonquin

Concordia announced yesterday that all in-person summer camps are cancelled this year. The Quebec government announced on May 21 that summer campus would be opening, but Concordia says it “cannot ensure the safety of camp participants.” Some online summer camps will be offered as replacements. Concordia

UoGuelph has announced a hybrid Fall semester, with some courses in-person and some remote, and some extracurriculars and experiential learning virtually, and some in-person. Detailed planning for the Fall continues, and for a phased reopening of the campuses. UoGuelph

MacEwan has announced the majority of Fall term courses will be offered online. Some labs, clinical work and fine arts programs may need to be delivered in-person or in combination with online delivery; more details to come this summer. Residences will be open, and plans for campus services are still being developed. MacEwan

Quebec has instructed CEGEPs and universities in the province to plan for 3 Fall scenarios: 30-35% of students on campus in a hybrid model, 50% of students on campus, or 100% back in pre-COVID class sizes. (Which they admit would seriously jeopardize academic continuity in the event of a second pandemic wave.) As I’ve mentioned already, McGill, Concordia, Laval and others have already announced a primarily online Fall term. Le Devoir

Selkirk College VP Education Rhys Andrews clarified yesterday that Fall delivery will be blended, with theory delivered off-campus and experiential components in-person. Through the summer, program specifics will determine what will be online (asynchronous), remote (synchronous), in-person, or blended. Selkirk

Trent has announced a “multi-access Fall term” and unveiled “Trent Forward,” a phased approach to reopening the campuses. On-campus academic and social events and activities are being planned, but “at the same time, most courses will be made available through online or remote delivery.” Residences will be operational, on a single-occupancy basis. Trent

uWaterloo clarified yesterday that all first-year courses this Fall will be available online, with a select few also available in-person, and released details of program delivery by faculty. Residences will be fully operational, with single bedrooms, social distancing and other health precautions. Residence deposit refunds will be issued for students who are unable to come to campus. uWaterloo


Wednesday May 27, 2020

Student Guarantees

Many institutions have announced that their first-year student housing guarantees are suspended this Fall, because of occupancy uncertainties due to COVID19. To address applicant anxiety, however, several have unveiled new assurances:

Full Refunds at King’s

For the first time, King’s University College at Western is offering a full refund of student deposits if they change their mind later this summer. Full refunds of residence deposits can also be requested up until Aug 31.  YouTube  |  King’s

Money-Back Guarantee at Ontario Tech

Anticipating largely online Fall and Winter semesters, Ontario Tech has announced a “Student Experience Guarantee” for this Fall. Students “not satisfied with the quality of their university experience” can withdraw by Oct 9 and get a full tuition refund, without penalty. Ontario Tech


Budget Challenges

uAlberta plans a significant administrative and academic restructuring to save up to $120 M by reducing the number of faculties, shifting some administrators back into research and teaching roles, and eliminating underperforming programs. Edmonton Journal

Cambridge U president Stephen Toope, formerly at UBC, has advised staff that the UK’s wealthiest university may need to extend hiring and promotion freezes, lease unused space, delay sabbaticals and create a “voluntary part-time working scheme.” Pay reductions and redundancies would be “the very last resort in a worst-case scenario.” Cambridge faces a reduction in cash flow of “several hundreds of millions of pounds,” although it has assets of about 12 billion pounds. THE

uLethbridge is temporarily laying off or reducing hours for 145 “continuing support staff” from almost all departments, on top of 183 casual, research and student employees who had their hours reduced and appointments end when the campus was closed in March. uLeth hopes to recall the workers if the campus can reopen in September. Lethbridge Herald

Campus Updates

Brock U has announced the cancellation of summer camp programs, which had more than 3,300 registered campers. Camp staff will be launching a free “Camps at Home” website with daily activities for kids. Brock

Ontario Tech plans a blended approach this Fall, with delivery of most of its academic programming online, together with active hands-on learning on campus where possible. Ontario Tech anticipates the same approach to the Winter term – making it one of Canada’s first institutions to announce plans for January. Ontario Tech

St Clair College has suspended intake of international students for 15 programs that require F2F learning this Spring and Fall. International enrolment is down >66% this Spring, and an estimated 50% for Fall. CBC

SaskPolytech announced yesterday that it “has received approval from the Ministry of Health to have a small number of programs return to campus to complete limited in-person learning experiences in shops and labs.” SaskPoly

Selkirk College reports that “we have cautiously started to welcome students back to our campuses using a range of delivery models that are in-person where feasible and safe to do so, and online where required.” Trades students have returned to the shop spaces in Nelson, and Healthcare students are in labs in Castlegar. Teaching methods and campus spaces are being adapted for September, “when the majority of our programs return.” Selkirk

uWindsor provost Douglas Kneale sent a reminder yesterday that the campus is still operating on an essential services basis. “Recently, there has been an increased number of individuals on campus, and while we appreciate that some of you may be returning to retrieve items necessary for your work, we want to strongly remind everyone that only those who have been deemed to be performing essential services should be in workplaces and facilities… If you need to stay more than a few minutes, notify Campus Community Police.” uWindsor

Yukon U has announced 13 online programs, 13 blended programs, and 11 programs with delayed start dates and/or F2F delivery. “Our smaller class sizes allow us to consider more face-to face programming than might have been possible if we had been dealing with classes of 150 students or more.” Details by program will be available by Jun 30. YukonU


Tuesday May 26, 2020

Summer Bridging Programs

“Kickstart Your Degree”

Memorial U is offering incoming HS students the opportunity to take one of 14 spring semester courses (Jun 4-Aug 12), ranging from Calculus to “Hansel, Gretel, and the Big Bad Wolf.” For NL students, the cost is $380. MUN

Bite-Sized Courses for Free

Lambton College has already seen thousands of registrations for its collection of 43 free, hour-long self-paced online mini-courses, called “eBits.” These competency-based modules, on topics from Branding to Food Safety and Patient Advocacy, are designed to help learners explore an interest, prepare for the upcoming school year, or further develop professionally, and include a certificate of completion.Lambton

Summer Engineering Academy

uToronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has launched a new summer “Engineering Academy” for incoming students, to give them a taste of online learning and address any learning gaps from the disrupted final year of HS. Free, self-paced, non-credit modules will be available in math, physics and chemistry, and students can connect with upper-year mentors or HS teachers. UofT

Archway Cohort Support Program

McMaster U has unveiled a new personalized student support program, “Archway,” beginning this summer and continuing through first year. Each student is paired with an upper year student mentor and a staff coach, and placed in a cohort of about 30 students to create a sense of community. “This kind of personalized strategy will provide the continuous, proactive and consistent support needed for success in what could be an unusual first year of study.” McMaster

The picture in Canada is quite different. In the past week, we’ve seen a number of Canadian institutions announcing online or blended delivery for the fall. At this point, three-quarters of universities expect to be online or hybrid, and almost three-quarters of colleges hope to be hybrid or F2F:

George Brown College has determined that “full-time programs starting and continuing in September 2020 will take place predominantly through alternative and remote format.” Students “won’t be on campus” and programs that require “extensive access to campus facilities or clinic settings to meet learning outcomes” simply will not be delivered this Fall. GBC

uLethbridge clarified yesterday that it will be using “primarily online delivery” this Fall, and that students will be able to “transition to a more traditional model when health directives allow.” “Select” labs, studios and clinical placements will occur on campus, but out-of-town students can choose to take them in a future term. Small group gatherings, residence spaces and food services will be used to build community. uLeth

McMaster U announced yesterday that “classes for the entire fall term will be online,” and that students will not need to be on campus “with few exceptions” (such as healthcare labs). Mac is “investing significantly” in the online experience, and encouraging faculty either to find alternatives to labs, or to redistribute courses so that lab work can be completed later.  On-campus residence spaces will only be available “on an exceptional basis.” McMaster

Olds College is still planning for multiple scenarios this fall, from phase 1 (majority remote), to phase 2 (some on-campus with social distancing) and phase 3 (on-campus classes resume). Further information in June. Olds

Ryerson provided more details yesterday about its return to campus plan. The phased approach will continue to use WFH as a core strategy “for some time.” Ryerson

Tyndale U announced yesterday that this Fall, “courses will be delivered online in both live streaming and virtual formats. Plans are in progress to provide co-curricular and extracurricular activities… through blended delivery, both online and where possible in-person.” Tyndale


Presidential Vlogs

In times of disruption and anxiety, campus communities appreciate the opportunity to hear accurate information from their leaders, and video messaging is an opportunity to make that connection more emotional and reassuring. I’ve collected more than 600 examples from the past two months, but as a YouTuber who struggles to maintain a regular schedule myself, I am particularly impressed by some who have been remarkably consistent throughout the crisis:

BCIT president Kathy Kinloch was one of the first Canadian presidents to address the COVID19 crisis in a YouTube video on Mar 12. Since then, she has released 13 “COVID19 Response” videos, once or twice a week. YouTube

McGill Associate Provost Chris Buddle deserves a big shout-out for his persistent video messaging throughout the pandemic, on behalf of McGill’s Emergency Operation Centre. Mar 13-31 he released 14 almost-daily COVID19 updates, from his home or backyard. Every day or two since May 19, Buddle has released videos addressing student FAQs about the Fall term. YouTube

King’s UC principal David Malloy started recording video messages about COVID19 on Mar 14, and since then has released 12 sensitive, supportive updates to the campus community. YouTube

UBC president Santa Ono has delivered 9 polished weekly video updates since Mar 27, in a calm measured tone, from a fireside wingback chair at his residence. Many of the messages have ended with a #SongsofComfort selection, often performed by UBC students or recent graduates. YouTube

Royal Roads president Philip Steenkamp, at the opposite extreme, has delivered 8 very informal“Community Messages” since Apr 3, shot on an iPhone at his home, often wearing a baseball cap. Rather than providing detailed crisis information, his messages have often tried to refocus our attention on philosophical topics like “courage” and “creativity,” or favourite books and albums. YouTube

Red River College interim president Christine Watson has certainly been the most prolificpresidential vlogger in Canada. She launched a dedicated YouTube channel back in late February, “Where’s Watson?”, to update the community from little-known campus locations (like underground crawlspaces). On March 18, her series refocused on the COVID19 response. Since then, there have been 39 episodes of “Where’s Watson?” ranging from 30 seconds to 12 minutes in length, including interviews and updates. YouTube



Monday May 25, 2020

In the third month of COVID19, the pandemic waves are becoming more complex and conditions vary significantly across the country. Western Canada seems to have successfully flattened the curve, from BC through Manitoba, and NB and PEI are down to a single active case between them. At the other extreme, Quebec still has almost 30,000 active cases (85% of the country’s total), but the government nonetheless expects students back in the classroom this fall. As impatience with the lockdown grows, 10,000 COVIDiots packed Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park on the weekend, even as Ontario’s new cases hit an all-time high. A second wave is inevitable.

In the past few days, several Canadian institutions have backed down from promising an on-campus Fall term, joining the majority of institutions in planning for blended delivery (which Ontario’s Minister calls the “best-case scenario”). So far few have joined Cambridge in announcing that the Winter term will also be completely online. In the short term, selected research labs are gearing up to reopen this week, and UPEI management and key personnel are back in the office this morning.

Today, let’s look at some thought-provoking articles about strategic partnerships with tech giants and vendors, the impacts of COVID19 on internationalization and some tactical advice for recruiters. And, of course, a weekend’s worth of updates from across the country…


uAlberta begins the phased return of on-campus research today. Residences will be open, for single occupancy only, this Fall. uAlberta

Assiniboine CC has resolved that this Fall, “the majority of programs will be structured in a blended delivery model,” although each program will be assigned to one of 4 categories. Practical on-campus learning will use “alternative times and days of delivery,” PPE, and social distancing. To date, no Fall programs have been cancelled. ACC

College of the Rockies has announced they are “planning for most classes to be held online, with some on-campus learning for those programs that require specific hands-on learning, with modifications to ensure safe physical distancing for students and faculty.” COTR

UNB is developing operational plans for a return to campus, as NB moves to phase 3 (yellow) of its provincial recovery plan. More details by Jun 1. UNB

UPEI begins phase 1 of its operational ease-back plan today, returning “management and key individuals” to the office, and allowing on-campus research to resume. Construction is also proceeding on a new student residence building. UPEI

Redeemer U has softened its promise for the Fall term; now they are “doing everything possible to prepare for an on-campus experience for students.” “Courses may incorporate online components, but labs, seminars, tutorials and other instruction will aim for in-person learning.” A new COVID19 Management committee is developing a detailed framework, to be released Jun 15. Redeemer

Sheridan is delaying its Fall term by 1 week, to start Sept 14. They are also surveying staff and faculty to measure attitudes towards health and safety, mental health, and WFH.  Sheridan

StFX, on the other hand, is encouraged by Nova Scotia’s progress and still hopes “that conditions will continue to improve over the weeks ahead to the point where we can confidently welcome back faculty, staff, and students in the Fall.” StFX is drafting a plan for a return to campus, but also planning for contingencies. StFX

uWaterloo is in phase 1 of its Research Restart, with an expansion of criteria for on-campus research activities. Over the next 6-8 weeks, criteria will continue to expand, “with the expectation that full access to all on-campus research labs is targeted for mid-July.” uWaterloo



Friday May 22, 2020

To round out your week, we confirm your worst suspicions: Yes, you can fool half of the people with COVID19 conspiracy theories, and they ALL think they’re too smart for that. Yes, spring break partiers brought the virus back from Florida beaches and infected their communities. And yes, we’re all wearing softy pants and won’t go back to business formal anytime soon!

A new survey finds that 6% of students are considering deferral, and 32% will transfer elsewhere if their school goes online this fall. If they can’t find an open campus, perhaps they’ll consider Kaplan’s “Boost Year” bridging program.

And among yesterday’s campus announcements, Brock details its virtual convocation, Seneca its operational details for fall, SFU will open “curbside pickup” at its library next month, and two institutions formerly in the “F2F” column (Laurentian and SaskPolytech) have now clarified that they will be offering blended courses this Fall.

Bow Valley College announced yesterday that its Fall semester will be offered “online and through remote delivery” but that they are “exploring the possibility to offer some labs in-person while maintaining social distancing and sanitizing protocols.” Support services will be virtual, including health and wellness, advising, and library services. BVC

Brock has offered some details about its Virtual Convocation, which launches Jun 19. The web portal will customize videos and content based on a student’s faculty and degree. In addition to a “social media celebration toolkit,” grads will receive their parchment, alumni pin, convocation program and a bag of confetti by mail. Brock

Laurentian announced yesterday that, while it still anticipates “an eventual return to campus in the coming months… the exact modalities for course delivery are currently being finalized.” Like other universities, it will use “remote learning and online mechanisms during the transition.” Laurentian

OCAD announced yesterday that its fall term will be “offered through remote delivery in all programs.” Canadian and international students are guaranteed that they can complete their requirements remotely, although “at the same time, the University is preparing for some in-person learning opportunities, which could include smaller studio workshops or classes.” OCAD

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has announced “a two-pronged approach to education delivery this fall. A combination of online/distance instruction and limited in-person learning experiences where needed.” Program-specific information is still to come. SaskPolytech

Seneca took a while to mention the Fall term at all, but it is one of Canada’s first institutions to provide detailed information about ancillary and support functions. Its fall term will be “a mix of online program and course delivery with some on-campus activities for programs that have significant in-person components.” Winter and Summer students will be given priority to complete their in-person requirements. “What can stay online will remain online,” including most services. Athletics, varsity and intramural sports remain suspended until further notice. Residences will be open, and libraries and computing commons will reopen when permitted. Seneca

SFU will begin to offer “curbside pickup” of physical resources from its library beginning in June. SFU

York plans to open its residences in stages for fall, limiting it to half-capacity in single-occupancy rooms. It has therefore suspended its first-year housing guarantee. York



Thursday May 21, 2020

Today, let’s take a look at mental health, permanent WFH, guidelines for safely reopening campus, and some interesting ideas from down south: fall terms that start and end early, multi-modal courses, executive pay cuts and virtual experiential learning.

We’ve also got four more Canadian institutions planning an online or blended fall term, and a thought-provoking report from Melbourne that explores the fiercely competitive post-COVID world…

Briercrest College & Seminary announced yesterday it “is preparing for either a robust offering of online courses only, or if the conditions permit, a blended model of small classes, in a socially distanced return to campus.” More details Jun 1.  BCS

Dalhousie announced yesterday that “the fall term will be predominantly online, with limited exceptions based on those programs where extensive experiential learning forms part of the curriculum (i.e. medicine, dentistry, select health professions, agriculture) and these can be provided safely in adherence to health protocols.” Full courses will not resume on campus before Jan 2021. More details in June. Dal

uLaval has cancelled all international student mobility stays for the fall, and the hosting of international students on exchange, with some exceptions. Many international partner universities have also suspended their exchanges this fall. Laval

Okanagan College announced yesterday that this fall, “most students can expect programs to be delivered in either a fully online or a hybrid format.” Details will be released when course registration begins Jul 7. For a return to campus, OC is assuming routine daily screening for all staff and students, and frequent environmental cleaning. OC

Red River College announced yesterday that it will deliver programs this fall through a “cautious, but agile” online delivery. Planning is also underway to “quickly pivot” should conditions allow some courses on campus. RRC

uRegina is selling its presidential residence, bought in 1991 and assessed at $875,100, saving $100,000 in annual costs and generating funds for students. CBC

StFX and Sports & Entertainment Atlantic are “exploring the potential of Esports as a competitive gaming program” by surveying university students in Atlantic Canada. StFX


Wednesday May 20, 2020

Good morning from Saskatoon (virtually), where I’m presenting to the Saskatchewan Polytechnic board of governors. It’s great to see forward-looking institutions are ready to start thinking about the long term again, after months of crisis response.

Speaking of which, uToronto and 4 other institutions finally announced a blended fall term, on the heels of 15 others yesterday, and the Ontario government’s decision to keep K-12 closed until September. Two-thirds of the institutions on my list have now decided – see the updated graphs below.

Also today: students in Quebec are launching a class-action lawsuit, college-bound seniors in the US are still hoping for a traditional campus experience, and we need to reimagine “no-frills” online education if we want to attract them… or do we instead pursue more adult education?


Updating my analysis of Fall 2020 announcements, Canada’s colleges are almost three timesmore likely to be still deciding, and twice as likely to be primarily in-person this fall. Universities are considerably more likely to make no mention of Fall plans yet on their website, or to opt for a fully online term.

Those graphs include 5 new announcements in the past 24 hours…

Fanshawe College will offer a blended fall semester in which half of full-time programs will be delivered fully online, the rest through a mix of online and F2F delivery. Student services will continue to be delivered virtually, and the campus will reopen in a limited capacity so that Winter term students can complete remaining in-person labs in late July, and Summer term students in August. Fanshawe

uLethbridge announced yesterday that it will be using a hybrid delivery model this fall, “maximizing the quality of a primarily online experience.” Where possible, “select labs, studio sessions, practicum experiences and clinical placements” will be delivered in-person, and uLeth is planning “small group gatherings, the opening of the library for restricted in-person services and the utilization of residence spaces and food services to support the full student experience.” uLeth

Mount Allison U is targeting May 25 for the first researchers to return to campus, as part of a phased approach. WFH continues. For fall, MTA is planning a blend of online/alternate delivery with some on-campus classes, labs, and studios, subject to PHO restrictions. Residences will be open. More details will be shared by June 1. MTA

NAIT announced yesterday afternoon that its Fall courses will be delivered virtually wherever possible. “We anticipate we will be able to deliver limited in-person learning in labs and shops in the fall, as provincial guidelines permit.” Decisions about which courses cannot be offered will be forthcoming. NAIT

uToronto “is preparing for a gradual, safe return to our campuses, with as much on-campus activity as is practicable, sensible, and safe,” but UofT’s 3 campuses may well experience unique conditions, and the fall term will mix “smaller, on-campus courses, seminars, labs, and experiential learning, with larger online and remote courses and lectures.” “We expect the University’s research mission to return to full force in the fall.” UofT

Tuition Lawsuits Come to Quebec

Quebec students are reportedly launching Canada’s first class-action lawsuit for partial tuition refunds, against 15 universities over the pandemic migration to online delivery this spring. CTV

McMaster U’s DeGroote medical school has highly selective admissions. From >5,000 applicants, about 500 are short-listed for a series of ten mini-interviews (MMI), a method pioneered at Mac in 2002 to eliminate bias. Because of concerns about technology and access for virtual MMIs, and because most of the interviewers are working overtime on COVID19, McMaster has opted for a lottery process this year, for all but the top 100 applicants. CBC

Assiniboine Community College is one of very few institutions in the country allowing students and the public to visit its campus as needed to access services, such as the registrar’s office. Some students are on-campus for labs, but “study groups and socializing on campus is not permitted.” ACC

Carleton U is ready to start broadening the scope of research activities on campus. Instructors are encouraged to start preparing fall courses early, in order to spread demands on T&L staff. Carleton


Tuesday May 19, 2020

Canada’s first COVID19 vaccine trial is beginning at Dalhousie, but Phase 3 won’t determine its effectiveness until the end of 2020 at best. As provinces start to relax restrictions, gatherings of more than 5 or 10 are still banned across most of the country (although Alberta will allow up to 15). Experts agree a second wave is “inevitable.” Settling in for the long haul, the federal government has extended the CEWS wage subsidy program to the end of August.

Since Friday’s Insider, 15 more Canadian institutions have announced some variation of blended delivery for Fall, some with detailed plans. And I’ve got several more student surveys to share…

Hopefully you saw my detailed analysis of Fall Announcements last week. Since Friday, 15 more updates (in alphabetical order):

uAlberta announced a blended approach to fall classes, with the majority delivered remotely online, and small groups in person where possible. By the end of May, guidelines will be in place for the gradual and safe return of employees to campus as needed. uAlberta

Brock U announced late last week that it is planning for fall “primarily delivered online, supported by some limited in-person, on-campus opportunities for students.” Plans are evolving, subject to PHO, more information by the end of May. Brock

uCalgary has announced that the fall term will be mixed, “a combination of face-to-face and online or remote learning,” with only 30% of students on each campus at any one time. Priority will be given to small classes and experiential learning opportunities such as labs, tutorials, and seminars. More specifics will be provided in June. uCalgary

Cambrian College has released its “Re-Open Plan,” a “conservative, gradual approach” starting with “The Incursion,” and progressing through “Hold the Line,” “Inching the Line,” “Advancing the Line,” and finally “Establishing a New Line” (hopefully sometime in 2021). Cambrian

Capilano U announced Friday that “the majority of classes… will be offered via adapted modes of delivery in the fall 2020 semester. This is expected to continue for the 2020-2021 academic year with a combination of online and the reintroduction of in-person teaching and learning where safe and appropriate.” CapU

Huron UC at Western reportedly plans to start the fall with all courses online, with the possibility of returning to campus if the PHO permits. LFP

Kwantlen Polytechnic U released its Academic & Operational Continuity Plan late last week, in which it announced that remote, asynchronous delivery will continue for the majority of classes this fall “and possibly for the Spring 2021 semester.” (It remarks that the cold and flu season ends in April 2021). On campus, there will be “a careful phasing-in of a very limited number of courses that require use of labs, shops, studios, etc.” Kwantlen

Lakehead U announced Friday that fall courses will be primarily online and alternative delivery, with in-person labs and experiential learning where possible. Faculties are assessing individual programs, and a COVID19 Transition Committee will engage with stakeholders across the university. Lakehead

Nipissing U announced Friday that fall term classes will be primarily online. Weekly updates regarding residence life, placements, athletics, and on-campus services and supports will be provided based on PHO. Nipissing

UPEI’s senate approved last Friday a blended delivery framework for the fall semester, “so that our progress is not disrupted by possible waves of COVID19.” Some programs will still be predominantly in-person (such as Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, and Sustainable Design Engineering), and all students will have access to some in-person advisors, instructors, and other services. UPEI

Ryerson is still exploring blended possibilities for fall, but acknowledged that “the majority of course offerings will be online.” The Scenario Planning Group and Opportunities Group are mapping out options for the eventual return to campus. Ryerson

Selkirk College is planning for a “phased return to in-person delivery” on its campuses when BC reaches Phase 3 of its Go-Forward Strategy. Plans detail changes to facility operations, and how >60 credential and accredited programs will be delivered in a “careful balance of in-person and online delivery.” Some trades programs will move into shop spaces in May. Selkirk

uWaterloo announced Friday plans for “a combined approach to learning for the fall term and a measured return to in-person learning.” All large classes will be online, but “we hope” some elements (clinical programs, labs, tutorials) will be available in person. Priority will be given to grad research, and to essential and time-sensitive components that can be safely undertaken. uWaterloo

Wilfrid Laurier U announced Friday that most courses will be online/virtual this fall, with smaller classes and select activities in person, where permitted by PHO. They are “actively planning creative experiences and events” for students. Laurier

uWindsor announced Friday that it will deliver courses and final exams primarily online this fall, to offer students “the most stable and flexible avenue for engaging with academic opportunities and new experiences.” They will explore possibilities for campus student life and co-curricular learning activities, as PHO permits. uWindsor

In the past few days, Yukon University launched a new website and its new brand video, with the tagline, “Together We Thrive.”


Friday May 15, 2020

It’s been a really long week, during which I’ve spent some 60 hours doing nothing but tracking college and university plans for this Fall.  The result is a meticulous analysis of ambiguous pronouncements, and an article for UA in which I outline 9 things I think are certainties.

In today’s campus updates, more announcements of blended or online delivery this fall, budget challenges at GPRC, uncertainty at MRU and Queen’s, and Concordia’s residences will be completely shut down for the entire 2020-21 academic year.

On a lighter note (heading into the weekend), I’ve collected a dozen or so exemplary higher ed commercials in my latest blog!

Schrodinger’s Semester?

I write today in University Affairs that the protracted uncertainty about the fall semester is excruciating for students, faculty, and researchers. Institutions want to maintain the ambiguity as long as possible, but stakeholders “want to know if Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead, if the campus will be open or not.” I summarize 9 certainties we have to accept for the fall, in these “uncertain times.”  University Affairs

#cdnPSE this Fall, in Detail

If you would rather draw your own conclusions, check out Eduvation Bulletin #3, in which I thoroughly document the announcements about fall term thus far, from 87 colleges and universities coast to coast. As of press time, 55% remain undecided, either conducting extensive consultations or ducking the question altogether. Just 6% have optimistically asserted that classes will be back on campus. At the other extreme, 26% have decided to be entirely or largely online, while 13% have explicitly announced a form of blended delivery. In the end, though, any announcement other than going entirely online is a hypothetical exercise that can be overruled by the health authorities at any time…  Eduvation

Grande Prairie Regional College, facing a 13% budget cut from the province of Alberta, has finalized next year’s budget and eliminated 85 positions, 46 affecting current employees. The budget includes the launch of a new Centre for Teaching and Learning. Everything GP

King’s University at Western confirmed that it will also be proceeding with a “blended approach of online and in-person methods, with physical distancing” this fall, informed by PHO guidelines. King’s

Cape Breton U has announced a move to fully online learning this fall. “Online delivery, when done with adequate planning, can be a very robust and engaging learning experience. That is our goal and that is how we will spend the next three months.” (CBU is one of Canada’s most international institutions, with more than 50% of its students from outside the country last year.) CBU

Mount St Vincent U announced yesterday that it will shift to online delivery this fall. “We have a strong and pioneering history in remote program delivery, dating back almost 40 years.” The president also cautions, “We will continue to work… on measures like cost containment – to balance the unprecedented financial challenges ahead with the need to ensure continued delivery of the best possible learning experience for our students.” MSVU

York U announced yesterday a blended approach to the fall term: “larger classes will be offered through remote/online instruction and your instructors are planning innovative ways to engage you actively through digital platforms. To the extent possible and with physical distancing measures in place, we are also planning to offer selected in-person smaller classes and tutorials, experiential activities such as studio and labs, and re-establish access to our research facilities… We understand that not everyone will be able to make it to campus in the fall. Course delivery is being planned with enough flexibility to provide access for all students, considering your different geographic locations and time zones, as well as considerations for health, family status and accommodations for students with disabilities.” YorkU

Queen’s has yet to decide about fall delivery, but president Patrick Deane told 1,300 employees on Wednesday that “The university is planning for a number of scenarios, and our primary concern remains the health and safety of our community. Our hope, of course, is that operations will resume as normal, but this is not realistic. We will most likely see a phased-in approach to our return to campus, with many, if not most courses being delivered remotely.”  Queen’s

Mount Royal U president Tim Rahilly wrote yesterday that “there is no clear answer right now” about the fall, but “it’s highly likely PSE institutions will continue to provide alternative delivery formats… We’re proceeding with plans that the entire Fall 2020 semester will be delivered primarily using alternative formats, not in person. We will make a final decision by June 30th.” MRU

OCAD U’s Academic & Emergency Response Committee “is currently planning for high quality remote learning this fall, building on the spring and summer terms. We are also assessing the feasibility of holding some in-person classes while respecting public health guidelines.” More details will come next week. OCAD

Concordia U announced yesterday that their fall term “will be delivered almost entirely online, accessible anytime, from anywhere in the world. The vast majority of our faculty and staff will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.” They will be suspending all residence operations for the 2020-21 academic year. “We need to make responsible choices both for the Concordia community and for the region of Greater Montreal of which we are such an integral part.” Concordia

Although it won’t announce plans for Fall until July 1, Saint Mary’s University (Halifax) has implemented virtual consultations and webinars for prospective students, and added a LiveChat function to the SMU website. Welcome Weeks will launch much earlier this summer, and many departments have added first-year and prep courses to the Summer term. SMU

For its newly-announced online fall term, Concordia is amping up pre-arrival communications to students, adding virtual orientation and welcome-back events, and adding a new virtual space called “HomeRoom.” Concordia will also be providing more online student advising, mental health counselling, peer mentoring, and more. Concordia



Thursday May 14, 2020

Large-scale PSE layoffs are already happening in the US, were narrowly averted in Australia, and may be yet to come in Canada. More than 7 million Canadians have applied for the CERB, and economists are predicting a “zig-zag” recovery. (That can’t be good.)

Most academic administrators are spending the rest of the month focused on fall scenario planning, so we take a look at the key questions to ask, and some of the real fears beneath our hesitation to decide. A third volley of announcements came out yesterday for 7 more institutions, most of which are more or less planning blended delivery (as permitted). BCIT and Laurentian seem to be leaning towards the in-person side, while uManitoba and UFV are extending the semester into January to permit essential in-person activities to be deferred until 2021.

And btw, kudos to Western, for hiring 11 PhDs and 250 summer students to help instructors adapt for the fall!


BCIT announced last night that it will be “combining teaching, learning, and service delivery methods in adaptive and meaningful ways” this fall. “The necessary safeguards and adjustments will be in place by September to continue experiential learning wherever possible” and BCIT will “supplement face-to-face instruction with alternate and flexible solutions for off-campus learning.” BCIT

U Fraser Valley announced yesterday that nearly all courses and assessments this fall will be delivered online. Classes or hands-on learning that can’t be delivered online will be deferred to January. UFV

uManitoba provost Janice Ristock announced that UM intends to deliver all possible courses online for the fall, “with some select alternate delivery or in-person exceptions.” The fall term will be extended to January 15 for critical in-person activities, so that no students need to be present in 2020. uManitoba

Western announced a “mixed model in which some of our courses (or parts of them) will be delivered virtually, and others face-to-face” for the fall, with a gradual return to campus for faculty and staff. Physical distancing will significantly reduce the capacity of the campus. And although hiring is otherwise frozen, Western is hiring 11 more staff with “doctoral-level educational design support qualifications” for the Centre for Teaching & Learning, and 250 summer student interns to assist instructors. They hope to finalize plans by June 1. Western

Laurentian announced last night planning for a stepwise return to activities on campus. “We are encouraged by the very low number of active COVID-19 cases in the Greater Sudbury region, and hope that we will begin to welcome our community back to campus in the near future.” Laurentian

Sheridan announced on Tuesday a “phased re-opening” aligned with the province-wide framework developed by Ontario’s colleges. “We anticipate that many of our fall programs will continue to be offered in alternate formats,” with F2F only where required. All areas that can function remotely will continue to do so “for the foreseeable future.” “Recovery is a process, not a one-time event.”  Sheridan

Algonquin announced yesterday that “the most likely scenario [for fall], based on current provincial planning, is a restricted face-to-face model” with remote learning wherever possible. The return to campus will be done in a phased manner. “A small number of students may be invited to return to campus to complete Winter Term and Spring Term learning activities in August.” A completely online scenario is still possible. The VP Academic also noted that programs “economic viability” must be considered. Algonquin

UBC is planning for the “phased resumption of on-campus research” starting in June. UBC

uOttawa has banned all university-related travel until 2021. uOttawa

UoGuelph reports a 55% increase in summer semester for-credit distance course enrolments. “Students who have been unable to find employment are taking the opportunity to get ahead in their studies.” ENC

Memorial reports spring term enrolment increases of 9.9% for undergraduates and 4.1% for grad students. ENC

Concordia U is warning staff, faculty and students about phishing emails apparently from their president, with a PDF attachment promising information about COVID19. Concordia

VIU launched a dedicated page for Fall Semester FAQs. VIU


Wednesday May 13, 2020

The COVID19 crisis is intensifying. Australian universities have lost billions and are set to shed 25,000 jobs. Canadian households are deeper in debt, and our PSE institutions are starting to grapple with significant deficits too. Sadly, COVID19 does NOT appear to be seasonal, so we won’t get relief this summer, and the “COVID19 Hangover” will likely leave people unwilling to venture into crowded public venues for years.

This week, institutions are “falling online” like dominoes. On the upside? Young Canadians are falling in love online, embracing virtual romance during the lockdown, using apps like Bumble. Perhaps online courses and extracurriculars won’t be such a stretch after all!


uOttawa’s board approved a pre-COVID budget for 2020-21 that already included a $6 M deficit. Costs to deal with the pandemic will add an estimated $12.3 M, and then there will be any lost tuition revenues… ENC

uToronto president Meric Gertler wrote yesterday that universities are seeking financial assistance from government to help cover losses from campus ancillaries, repatriating study-abroad students, emergency bursaries, and shutting down labs. There is also “considerably uncertainty” about international tuition revenues this fall. “Many major challenges remain, and we will have to make further difficult decisions in the days to come.” uToronto

Carleton’s University Scenario Planning group released its report of 9 guiding principles (health above all else), and 10 recommendations, although they are not final. “Being prepared to deliver our programs online protects the health of our community, ensures continuity of our programs and fosters equity for all students, regardless of current residency.” It also recommends adapting residences for social distancing, designing creative online social spaces for students, and further enhancing pedagogical support for instructors. Carleton

RDC has announced that it will deliver its programs online for the fall term. “Even if the restrictions related to COVID19 are fully lifted by the fall, we believe it is important to establish RDC’s plan now, out of respect for everyone involved.” RDC

uSask announced yesterday that it is planning a “primarily remote approach” for the fall, with “limited classroom, laboratory, clinical, and physical instruction only where warranted and where circumstances permit.” A Pandemic Recovery Team (PRT) has been formed to plan academic delivery and research in September. uSask

uRegina announced a “cautious approach” to Fall course delivery: “a continuation of the remote delivery we are now using offers students in the Fall term the best chance of academic success.” The Academic Incremental Recovery (AIR) group is continuing a comprehensive plan. uRegina

uMontréal has announced that its fall term will be “majoritairement à distance” (mostly remote), with some courses or components (assessments, laboratories, practical work, etc) on campus as possible.uMontreal

uLaval announced yesterday that the fall term will be “a mostly online and distance learning offer,” using their “proven technopedagogical environment.” They anticipate PHO will require “a strict minimum” of students on campus, but if restrictions ease over time, a “cautious return” can be considered for practical activities. uLaval

Memorial announced yesterday that program delivery this fall will be “primarily remote.” On-campus courses will not resume before January 2021. “Limited forms of re-opening of necessary on-campus activity in the fall semester may occur in a gradual, measured and safe manner that adheres to the provincial government’s COVID-19 Alert Level System and aligns with provincial health directives.” MUN


Tuesday May 12, 2020

Yesterday was a busy news day: fully one-quarter of the 87 institutions on my list made announcements about the fall term – most indicating that it would be delivered “primarily online” with on-campus enhancements as possible. (The BC research universities are clearly coordinating their messaging.) Some institutions are calling the approach “hybrid,” although the in-person components will be subject to public health restrictions, so the difference is moot.

uWaterloo is among the still undecided, but they make an important point about ensuring equity by using asynchronous online approaches by default.

The most troubling news yesterday came from Conestoga College, which is anticipating significant enrolment declines and bracing for more employee layoffs. By contrast, several institutions are reporting that demand for online summer courses is UP this year (although that could reflect the fact that there are no on-campus summer offerings available).

Meanwhile south of the border, a shocking 74% of US colleges are stubbornly insisting they will teach on campus this fall. (Most have compelling financial reasons for it.) I’m inclined to agree with William Tierney, who argues that would be dangerous and profoundly immoral. (Of course, if they don’t actually believe it themselves, then it’s merely the old bait-and-switch.)


uWaterloo’s AVP Academic, AVP Grad Studies, and Registrar have written faculty to clarify that summer and, if necessary, fall courses delivered online should first and foremost be asynchronous, since students will be scattered in time zones worldwide, and may have very slow internet access. Any synchronously delivered material must be made available to students who cannot participate. If an entire class is able to participate synchronously, then an instructor may schedule an agreed meeting time, but classes will not be centrally scheduled. Instructors should seek alternatives to timed exams whenever appropriate. uWaterloo

McGill announced yesterday that “Fall 2020 courses will be offered primarily through remote delivery platforms… As the situation evolves… the University will examine possibilities for on-campus student life and learning activities, which will respect careful safety protocols. These may include activities such as small classroom-based seminars, conferences, tutorials, workshops, or reading groups as well as various campus life and engagement activities. Keeping health and safety as its primary consideration, the University will aim to replicate virtually these activities to allow maximum participation by all.” McGill

Conestoga College president John Tibbits has advised the campus community that fall courses will be delivered “primarily in remote format” and that this approach may continue for 2-3 semesters. Some essential in-person instruction will occur in accordance with PHO restrictions. Conestoga will be investing heavily in new simulation platforms, but enrolment is declining, particularly for international students. Conestoga has already frozen hiring and administrative salaries, and laid off part-time workers, but “will need to make further reductions in our full-time workforce” as well. Conestoga

SFU president Andrew Petter explained yesterday that “most courses will continue to be offered by remote delivery this fall,” but “we will endeavour to deliver in-person instruction in those courses whose learning objectives cannot be achieved through remote means,” such as labs, field trips and graduate seminars. Youtube

uVic president Jamie Cassels announced yesterday that the university will offer programming “predominantly online for the fall term.” Where possible, in-person instruction may support “essential experiential learning, graduate education and work-integrated learning.” A gradual return of researchers, and academic, administrative and support employees is also being planned. uVic

UNBC interim president Geoff Payne announced yesterday that the fall semester will be delivered “predominantly via alternative modes of delivery,” with “a phased approach to delivering in-person learning and on-campus services” as the PHO permits. UNBC

UBC announced yesterday that this fall it “will primarily offer larger classes online with selected smaller classes conducted in-person, adhering to physical distancing and other public health requirements.”  UBC

Royal Roads U announced last week that all courses and residencies will continue to be delivered entirely online until the end of 2020. RRU

Fleming College announced yesterday that it will begin the fall term online, but will be ready to “swiftly” transition to face-to-face applied learning as safety restrictions are lifted. Decisions regarding residence and other campus services will be shared “in the near future.” Fleming

uOttawa has announced a “flexible approach” for fall, “to ensure that you can start or resume your studies no matter what situation we face regarding the pandemic…. All our courses, with some exceptions, will include a distance-learning option…. We are working on innovative approaches to offer students an in-person learning experience should public health guidelines change.” uOttawa

VIU announced yesterday that it will move to a “hybrid” program delivery model for the fall semester, including “robust online educational technologies” and “reimagined experiential learning opportunities” (complying with PHO directives). VIU

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced that they will decide the format for Fall by July 1, but that they “are preparing for the possibility of delivering courses in a way that provides a remote or online option for students, or perhaps is a hybrid of in-person and online delivery. This will support physical distancing and students who need more time to travel to Halifax can continue with their studies uninterrupted.” SMU

Mount Allison U has indicated that, although NB has advanced to Phase 2 (Orange), the campus remains closed to all but critical services. By May 15, MTA hopes to have details for a phased return by employees and students working on campus this summer. MTA

MUN president Vianne Timmons shares in her message this week that spring semester enrolments are up almost 10% (undergrad) and 4% (grad). YouTube

Queen’s reports that “demand has never been higher” for online summer courses. Online enrolments have risen by 50% in Arts & Science, and doubled in BHSc and Aboriginal Law courses. ENC

Saint Mary’s (Halifax) also reports that spring/summer registrations are “higher than last year” for the “largest ever offering of courses for these terms.” SMU


Monday May 11, 2020

The polar vortex saw to it that it was a wintry weekend in many parts of the country, but hopefully you enjoyed some time to rest and recharge.  If you were watching the news, you already know that we’ve exceeded 4 million COVID19 cases worldwide, that Canada lost 3 million jobs in March and April, and that Germany held its first drive-in rave.

A number of institutions have started making “firm-ish” declarations about fall course delivery. Some (like StFX) insist they are planning on in-person classes, while others (like Mohawk, Okanagan College, and SNHU) are planning on a blended approach – but all acknowledge the decision remains subject to change based on directives of public health authorities.

I spent some time this weekend pulling together the results of 18 surveys to try to answer the question: what will happen to fall enrolment? See the answers in the first Eduvation Bulletin (although you probably won’t like it).


McGill announced that it will begin the progressive phase-in of research activities, and resumption of some construction activities, today, and has started planning the second phase.

StFX interim president Kevin Wamsley wrote to the campus community on Friday that “we are preparing for classes to restart in September 2020, on-campus and in-person. However, we must also be prepared for the possibility that physical distancing, moratoriums on group gatherings, and other health and safety-related protocols may continue into the fall… Because the current situation regarding the pandemic is fluid and uncertain, we are also taking the prudent step to begin contingency planning to account for the possibility of online and alternative-format course delivery.” A task force on Remote Teaching and Learning Preparedness is focused on preparing for fall should distance education be necessary. StFX

Mohawk announced Friday that it has “made the decision to deliver the Fall 2020 semester through a combination of remote/virtual learning (for all lectures) and in-person delivery (for labs, simulations, assessments etc).” The announcement warns that “the situation can change very quickly, and we may be forced to alter or change our plans unexpectedly in the weeks and months ahead.” Mohawk will be launching a free module on learning in a virtual/remote environment, by Aug 8. Mohawk

uCalgary announced on Friday that “we expect to have a decision on the fall term before the end of May. We want to assure everyone that the fall term will be held – we are just running scenarios to determine the final format for the fall term.” uCalgary

uAlberta has published a summary of the implications of Alberta’s 3-phase Relaunch Strategy. In phase 1, gatherings of 15+ are still not permitted, gradual reintroduction of on-campus research will begin soon, and some on-campus service points (such as food and retail) may be allowed to reopen soon. “It is unlikely the university will be able to significantly relax public health restrictions prior to September 2020.” Physical distancing will continue through all 3 phases, and “some on-campus activities may not be able to return to their regular routines until well into 2021.” uAlberta

Okanagan College announced on Friday that “we are hard at work planning for a number of different options for this coming fall that revolve primarily around a blend of online and face-to-face delivery of classes, labs and shops.” Okanagan

UNB announced Saturday that, as the province moves to phase 2 (orange), PSE institutions can open subject to physical distancing requirements. UNB campuses remain closed until safety protocols are determined. UNB


Friday May 8, 2020

For many of us, we’ve now made it through 8 weeks of confinement. If you’re lucky enough to live in BC, Manitoba, or New Brunswick, perhaps you can even look forward to getting a professional haircut! Hairstyles aside, though, the repercussions of the Great Pandemic are projected to persist until 2022 – on the economy, household debt, and on campus health restrictions. In the past few days, we’ve started to see very detailed campus reopening guidelines, from the ACHA and the BC government. Read on – I’ve saved some positive news for last!

BC has released an evidence-based “Go-Forward Management Strategy” to “safely and sensibly reboot the economy” by moving from the current “30% social interaction” to no more than 60%. It encourages office staff to WFH part of the time, use staggered shifts, create smaller teams and forgo meetings. Retailers are encouraged to extend business hours to reduce density. In K-12 settings, routine daily screenings of all staff and students, smaller class sizes, no high-contact sports, and increased online learning. Gatherings of more than 50 people remain banned. BC

Memorial is reviewing its scenarios for a phased resumption of academic, research and administrative activities, in light of NL’s five-level approach announced last week. MUN

UNB is preparing various scenarios for fall and is aiming to provide more detailed information on June 1. UNB

York is advising instructors, “as you plan and develop your Fall academic curricula, given that the need for physical distancing will likely continue for some time, it is clear that most courses will need to be delivered to students at least in part using remote/online/flexible teaching techniques.” York’s Teaching Commons is offering one-on-one support, intensive PD, and web resources. York

Tyndale University announced yesterday that “there is not yet enough information to make a formal announcement concerning course delivery for the Fall. Tyndale will be ready to deliver its programs whatever the circumstances… Planning for in-person, online and multi-access models are being considered.” The same announcement indicated “several temporary staff layoffs,” suspension of new hires, and deferral of non-essential operating expenses. Tyndale

UFV responded to the BC Go Forward plan last night by indicating: “We understand the pandemic will change how programs and services are delivered. For many programs, alternate forms of delivery will continue. Time and resources have been dedicated and will continue to be dedicated to ensure you have the support needed to effectively study, teach, and work remotely as required in September.” UFV

TRU president Brett Fairbairn explained yesterday that the BC Go Forward strategy means “many of our programs will no doubt continue to be offered in alternate format” but “where appropriate there will be increased numbers of face-to-face classes, particularly where experiential hands-on learning is required.” TRU


Thursday May 7, 2020

In times of turbulence, institutions need to stay agile, flexible, and demonstrate “strategic dexterity.” Today I share some sound planning advice, take a sneak peek at likely campus precautions, and revisit the idea of blended delivery. Tony Bates thinks 80% of courses will be hybrid by 2030, and argues that we need to expand instructional support and faculty PD. uCalgary seems to have anticipated him, hiring 10 new learning technology coaches just last week. And Trinity Western has just unveiled “multi-access delivery” for their entire campus!


Trinity Western U announced “a bold, multi-access delivery model” to provide “education without borders” – in what sounds a lot like hyflex delivery. “Our multi-access approach will allow students to move dynamically between educational modes as we progress towards fully returning to a safe on-campus learning environment.” Signature extracurriculars like chapel, learning cohorts, mentoring, and other services will also be available via multi-access delivery. “You can start your courses this September from anywhere – and continue in that location or move closer to campus – without any interruption in learning.”  TWU

uCalgary has just hired 10 grad students to work as Learning Technology Coaches, to assist course instructors with the adoption and use of learning technologies throughout the spring and summer terms. uCalgary

uLaval announced yesterday the beginning of “deconfinement” as campus prepares for some researchers to gradually return to their labs the week of May 11. The post waxes almost poetic: “our campus will come back to life in a gentle and gradual way, in harmony with the society that surrounds us.”  Laval

Cambrian College has announced “academic completion plans” for Winter courses in dental, fitness, trades and other programs: “In-class labs and assignments have been planned based on the re-opening of our main campus by July 13, with proper physical distancing measures in place, including limits on the number of students per session. Therefore, spots in sessions will be booked on a first-come, first-served basis.” Cambrian

Thompson Rivers University announced yesterday that alternate delivery will continue this fall for many programs, but it is “planning to move forward responsibly with face-to-face course delivery where possible—especially for courses where experiential learning is required—understanding that these classes will look and feel different due to mandatory physical distancing and group size controls.” TRU



Wednesday May 6, 2020

South of the border, state politicians are using higher ed as a “budgetary release valve,” especially in Ohio, where institutions are slashing urgently. Canada looks pretty good, too, for international students, who are prepared to wait for us to get through this pandemic. Campus leaders seem to be preparing for a frustrating return to campus, but are also urging students to enrol this fall with the promise of better semesters ahead.

Yesterday was #GivingTuesdayNow, and many Canadian institutions joined in to encourage donations to support emergency relief funds for students and others.  YukonU  |  CNA  |  UFV

UoGuelph: However you feel about the energy sector, it is always encouraging to see an institution make a tough decision in alignment with its values, rather than muddling along in hypocrisy. (You know it was a tough call because Canadian Tire magnate Martha Billes stepped down as chancellor over it.) Fossil Free Guelph has been lobbying the board for years, but the energy sector crash this year made a financial argument too. Although more than 35 Canadian universities have faced calls for divestment, only about 5 have done so.  Globe & Mail

Ontario’s relaxed restrictions on essential PSE construction projects come into effect this week, and several institutions have mentioned that construction will be recommencing on campus.  Humber  |  Carleton  |  Algonquin

Carleton president Benoit-Antoine Bacon expects a slow return to campus in progressive stages, starting with some research activities under social distancing protocols. The library has a plan to progressively reopen when the time is right. Scenario planning for the fall will be driven by safety first, equity and fairness, and academic excellence.  Carleton

Queen’s is preparing for multiple scenarios this fall, likely varying by Faculty. “Our goal will always be the full return of our students, staff and faculty,” said principal Patrick Deane yesterday, “But if we are to be realistic, this is likely to be achieved in stages as we see public health restrictions being lifted.”  Queen’s

Sheridan president Janet Morrison wrote to students last week that, until there is a vaccine or clear evidence of immunity, we can expect the number of people on campus to be kept to a minimum, with strict physical distancing, closed common areas, and mandatory face masks and temperature checks.  Sheridan

uLethbridge president Mike Mahon is preparing for 3 scenarios this fall: in-person classes; a blend of online courses with hands-on practica, studios, labs and clinical settings; or a purely online experience (with practica etc provided in as timely a way as possible). Mahon urges students not to defer: “Continuing with your coursework throughout the fall 2020 semester will help free up time for extracurricular learning experiences like co-op, volunteer work, independent studies and research opportunities in your future semesters.” YouTube

George Brown College launched a new, streamlined website yesterday, perhaps one of the first major redeployments during the COVID19 WFH. The new “experience-centered enterprise architecture… sets us up for customizable and personalized communications and experiences.” Responsive design adjusts for mobile and widescreen use, and navigation and search have been improved.  GBC



Tuesday May 5, 2020

I’m not sure what world we just woke up in. We have overstated CDC projections and understated Canadian statistics. “Murder hornets” invading the west coast. Conspiracy theorists burning down 3 cellular towers in Quebec. And now a polar vortex bringing subzero temperatures back to Ontario? Meanwhile, President Trump announced Sunday night that he wants educational institutions at all levels to reopen in September, because “we can’t do this forever.” (See what some Canadian marketers make of that, below!)

Monday May 4, 2020

May the Fourth Be With You! You could be excused for feeling like the forces of darkness are in the ascendant, with all the dismal economic forecasts and student recruitment polls out there. (“I’ve got a bad feeling about this…”)

But even if you’re not the “chosen one,” you can still make a difference, by focusing on proactive student re-enrolment campaigns, redesigning courses that struggled with the migration to online this spring, cultivating a student pipeline for 2021, and rethinking course delivery to be even more flexible in ambiguous times.


uSask announced last week that it will lay off 500 employees unable to work from home for 12 weeks, and will top up the CERB to 85% of their salaries.  Star-Phoenix

University Canada West reports that international enrolments for the summer term are down 25-50%, and that they do not expect to admit students physically on campus. “It’s going to be messy for quite a time,” says president Brock Dykeman. Business Vancouver

Like all art and design universities, OCAD U had many students in hands-on studio courses when COVID19 shut down its campus. The Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre developed 9 online workshops for faculty, covering asynchronous learning, adapting studio projects for online delivery, flexibility and accessibility. ITS had an advantage because all OCAD students were already equipped with standardized laptops and software. OCAD

Back on April 6, I observed that blended courses were increasingly inevitable for the way they improve learning outcomes, provide flexibility for non-traditional students, and cost savings over physical classrooms – but also for their capacity to provide academic continuity during campus disruptions, whether floods, wildfires, earthquakes, or pandemics. I also mentioned that a handful of institutions have been experimenting with a hybrid/flexible model they call “HyFlex,” in which students can choose on any given day whether to attend in class, tune in synchronously online, or interact with the course later, asynchronously. (ICYMI, you can read my full argument in “Lasting Impacts of COVID19”.)

That prompted me to follow up with Dr Jenni Hayman, Chair of Teaching & Learning at Cambrian College, about their experience so far with HyFlex courses. Our interview makes for an interesting new episode of Ten with Ken!

McGill announced Sunday directives for a safe and efficient transition back to on-campus research activities, set to start May 11. The Quebec government has prioritized health, natural sciences, forestry and engineering research. McGill

Concordia (Montréal) president Graham Carr reported on Friday that “our academic leadership is in deep planning mode, anticipating that we might have to deliver the term remotely…. I’m sure we can all recognize that fall 2020 will not resemble the start of a normal academic year.”  Concordia

UPEI is responding to the province’s 4-phase reopening plan by developing academic approaches for a variety of contingencies, from in-person to online, and an “operational ease-back plan” that moves to Stage 1 on May 25. (Management team and key individuals return to campus, with physical distancing.) Stage 2 will begin June 15, and Stage 3 in August will plan for the fall semester. UPEI

Sheridan president Janet Morrison observes in her message last week that “we’re in this for the long haul,” and it will be “a marathon, not a sprint.” As they plan for safety and optimal student experience, Sheridan also will “avoid cycles of opening up and shutting down” by allowing staff, researchers, and some students to return to campus in phases. Sheridan

Brock U announced on Friday that it will be opening 27 two-bedroom townhouses in its Village Residence to frontline healthcare workers.  Brock

Laurier is accepting residence applications for fall, but waiving the usual deposit in case physical distancing requirements reduce residence capacity and impact the residence guarantee. WLU

StFX has scheduled the class of 2020 convocation ceremony for May 7-9, 2021. StFX


Friday May 1, 2020

Hopefully April was the “cruellest month,” as we hit new milestones for COVID19 cases and deaths around the world, the economy hit record lows, Nova Scotia experienced the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, and we saw plenty of ominous enrolment indicators from dozens of surveys. With any luck, many regions in Canada are seeing the pandemic curve flatten, and today the Senate will approve $9 billion CESB funding for an estimated 1 million students.


Fanshawe president Peter Devlin hopes to offer a 2-week “recovery period” as soon as possible, to allow winter term students to complete any necessary lab work, and potentially also some 8-week compressed programs in July and August, if students can return to campus. Fanshawe’s plans for the fall remain undetermined. YouTube

Laurentian has been on the leading edge of the COVID19 pandemic in Canada, since it reported its first case on campus on March 11. Its deficit has grown significantly, to a projected $6 million in the current fiscal year, and it estimates a shortfall of $15 million in 2020-21. President Robert Haché says, “if we don’t take action, the combination of a potential enrolment drop, our pre-existing financial challenges and new impacts of COVID-19, could be the tipping point that threatens the financial viability of the University.” All new hiring has been suspended, vacant positions eliminated, part-time and contract jobs reduced, and all non-essential operating expenses cut. Laurentian

UNBC interim president Geoff Payne advised staff yesterday that the institution is “working with our unions in a collaborative nature to ensure we can keep as many people as meaningfully employed as possible.” If no work remains for specific employees, redeployment is ideal, followed by “vacation banks, leaves, and other measures.” UNBC

UBC’s executive urged staff to “minimize all discretionary spending” because the budget challenges are still unknown, depending on social distancing requirements, domestic and international enrolment.  UBC

Sheridan president Janet Morrison wrote this week to reaffirm the institution’s commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), “even in the face of unprecedented disruption and turmoil.” Students from low-income backgrounds are being most affected by COVID19, and individuals from East Asian backgrounds are reporting experiences of racism and xenophobia. Sheridan is also hosting a series of webinars to address the needs of Indigenous Learners, Students with Disabilities, and individuals exposed to Sexual Violence. Sheridan

McMaster president David Farrar wrote yesterday to share a 7-point decision-making framework “for September 2020 and beyond.” The top priority is to maintain the academic and research missions, “while prioritizing” health and safety. When students can return to campus, priority will be given to programs “where physical access is necessary to complete academic requirements.” The framework reaffirms institutional values, EDI, and collegial decision-making processes. It also warns that “We will continue to make fiscally prudent decisions that support our ongoing stability and success as an institution, balancing risk with opportunity.”  McMaster

Red River College interim President Christine Watson advised staff this week that “our fall term will be largely directed by public health protocols.” Restrictions on large gatherings for the foreseeable future have implications for PSE, “as we are mass gatherings by design.” Planning is underway for multiple contingencies, but “we need to move forward based on the information we have right now – and that means assuming we will still be providing alternative delivery of programs and services this fall.” RRC

Ontario university presidents issued a joint statement this week emphasizing that “Ontario universities are planning for a fall term and are focused on finding ways to create an enriching university experience. While each institution will develop its own approach to the fall term, we are united by the common goal of delivering university programs that will support student success.” OntUniv

Students in OCAD U’s Drawing & Painting program have created an online exhibition of sensitive, emotional work completed since the mid-March shutdown. The works highlight themes we’re all experiencing: anxiety, insomnia, burnout, isolation, empty cities, and dependence on technology.  OCAD



Thursday April 30, 2020

Well, Japan has acknowledged that the Tokyo Summer Olympics, already postponed until next summer, may have to wait until 2022 because of COVID19. And in Canada, business confidence is at an all-time record low with no hope for improvement for at least 6 months. Canadian farmers have frozen 200 million pounds of potatoes because restaurants won’t need french fries. Why should higher ed be any different?


New Brunswick has already started easing some restrictions, allowing 2-household “bubbles,” and some students back on PSE campuses in certain circumstances.

PEI will allow some medical services, construction and outdoor activities starting May 1, although gatherings are still limited to 5 people.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have announced reopening plans starting May 4, with some medical services and recreational facilities. Gatherings will stay restricted to 10 people for some time.

Quebec will begin reopening elementary schools, daycares, and selected research labs in mid-May, but PSE remains closed until September.

BC may allow elective surgeries and partially open restaurants as early as May.

Ontario has unveiled its roadmap but with no indication of a start date, and schools and non-essential businesses remain closed.

Alberta, Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador still haven’t unveiled reopening plans at all. CTV


Wednesday April 29, 2020

The world just surpassed 3.1 million COVID19 cases, and the US 1 million. (Notably it took the US 80 days to get the first 500,000, and just 18 days to double it.) Canada is relatively fortunate to have just 50,000 cases so far, and several provinces are anxiously wondering if the pandemic wave has crested.

Around the world, prospective international students also seem to be holding their breath. A new survey finds 86% are postponing, cancelling, or unsure about their study abroad plans. As institutions launch virtual open houses online, geopolitical tensions threaten Australia’s recruitment of Chinese students. Some US residential colleges seem determined to open their campuses this fall at any cost to privacy, and the surveillance state envisioned by George Orwell may be getting a rapid boost from COVID anxiety, testing and contact tracing.


Contingency planning: More and more institutions are making explicit that they are planning for a range of contingencies this fall, from purely online to blended to traditional on-campus delivery, but that the decision will ultimately rest with provincial health authorities. In the past few days statements have been made by Dalhousie, MSVU, uOttawa, UoGuelph, Ryerson, Redeemer, and uVic.

Dalhousie president Deep Saini described the significant uncertainties about fall enrolment, and hence budget, in his message on Monday. All budgets are being reviewed to ensure that only required new spending is undertaken, and to identify measures to reduce costs where possible (including travel, utilities, on-campus supplies, external contracting, and non-essential hiring or renewal of contract employees). Facilities work is being deferred where possible. Dal

Quebec will allow some academic research labs (in health, natural science and selected fields) to reopen as early as this week, prompting McGill and uLaval to start preparing campus for the return of some researchers.  McGill  |  Laval

NBCC has finally announced that its June graduation ceremony cannot take place as usual. The president is inviting suggestions for other ways to celebrate. NBCC

Brock U launched its “Virtual Open House” this weekend, complete with introductory speeches, 360° virtual campus tours, faculty-specific videos and information, live recruiter chats, and door prizes. Recruiters will continue to connect with prospective students using webinars, chats and Instagram Q&As throughout the week. The site will come down June 1, the deadline to accept offers in Ontario. Brock

St Lawrence College launched a “Virtual Showcase” of program presentations this week, including recorded presentations, live Q&A, advising appointments and campus tours, in what its president calls “one of the biggest innovative pivots for the college.” SLC

SFU has launched a weekly video series, “Change Makers,” in which VP Research & International Joy Johnson interviews (remotely) researchers, particularly related to the COVID19 pandemic. SFU



Tuesday April 28, 2020

With about 60,000 COVID-19 deaths in North America, and funerals prohibited by social distancing requirements, it’s no wonder we’ve gone from toilet paper shortages to sold-out “sympathy” cards. Ontario’s Stratford Festival cancelled its entire 2020 season yesterday, while (shockingly) Quebec announced it would re-open daycares and elementary schools starting May 19.  “Life needs to continue,” said premier François Legault.

Current PSE students might agree, although not if it’s online: their summer internships are evaporating and half are not sure they want to return to online classes this fall. Campus leaders are growing more concerned about the low-income and underrepresented students being left behind by the abrupt shift to online instruction, while online tools help them negotiate increases in financial aid, and the move to online examinations may actually improve their learning outcomes.


Ontario Tech has launched a new series, “Working Apart, Coming Together,” to highlight the ways in which students, faculty and staff have been stepping up to help the community cope with COVID19. YouTube



Monday April 27, 2020

As some provinces start to flatten the COVID19 curve, Canadians are starting to relax – although our kids still seem plenty anxious about being confined at home with their parents!  SK, BC and NB have started to map out multi-phase plans to “reopen,” although there’s no expectation that things can be back to normal by September. South of the border, US colleges are starting to play dirty to recruit the class of 2024. And in my latest blog, I share 10 tips to be more professional in your next webconference!


UNB’s campuses remain closed to the public, but limited practicum and research lab activities are now permitted to resume, if they serve essential programs, under strict guidelines. UNB

Redeemer UC implemented temporary layoffs a few weeks ago, but has suspended those layoffs since the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover up to 75% of those wages. Redeemer

Nipissing U will provide temporary residence accommodations to North Bay Regional Health Centre workers, to allow them to self-isolate from their families. (So far 7 institutions on my list have announced emergency housing.) Nipissing

Red River College has transitioned trades and technology programs to online delivery, using simulated CNC milling, automotive repair videos, and other online tools. RRC

uVic president Jamie Cassels provided some detail of contingency planning in his video on Friday: “The good news is that the provincial health authorities have invited organizations to begin to think about plans for the next stage of managing through the COVID-19 crisis, and in a very careful and phased way opening up a little bit from the restrictions that we’ve all been experiencing for the past several weeks. The bad news is that that is not going to happen quickly and it’s not simply a return to business as usual.” uVic

With just 11 active COVID19 cases in the province, the government of New Brunswick announced on Friday the first steps to move from “Red Alert” to “Orange Alert,” opening up golf, fishing and hunting, parks and beaches, outdoor religious services, “two-household bubbles,” and limited PSE. (Large gatherings are still prohibited through December 31.) UNB clarified that at the moment, only practicum and research labs are reopening, under strict guidelines. NB  |  UNB

Last week, 500 participants from across Canada took part in a 48-hour hackathon, #TogetherVsVirus, to co-develop useful and creative technology solutions to community COVID19 challenges. From 23 finalists, the jury selected 6 projects: Allyship (trauma-sensitive care website), E-safe (AI approach to social distancing in manufacturing), Heropool (carpooling app for frontline workers), My Health Risk(burnout survey), Spring Out (for victims of domestic violence), and Soci’s Hunt (a blockchain volunteer rewards platform). Sponsors of the hackathon included BCIT and UFV. (Dalhousie plans a similar COVID19 Hackathon on May 4-6.) TogetherVsVirus


Friday April 24, 2020

The pandemic is prompting layoffs and campus closures in Canada now, causing PTSD and generalized anxiety, impacting UK enrolments and US budgets – and a second wave is almost a certainty this fall. Parents and CFOs alike are uncomfortable, while campus leaders are learning they need to measure their words carefully – or invent entirely new “coronaspeak.” (I’m probably not alone in gaining “the COVID 19.”)


Seneca College reported its first COVID19 case on Wednesday, a residence staff person. Seneca

NorQuest College has announced it is closing 2 satellite campuses in Whitecourt and Drayton Valley AB, citing increased demand for online courses. NorQuest

Université Laval has temporarily laid off 600 contract employees in campus services, events, athletics, and career placement services. Le Journal

Ryerson’s COVID19 Student Relief Fund has dispersed $3 million to 4,000 students. Ryerson

Mohawk College launched a COVID19 Emergency Bursary this week. Mohawk

Algonquin College admitted Wednesday that a return to class by July 6 is “unlikely,” but still hope to do so “on a case-by-case basis much later this summer or in early fall.” Algonquin

Saskatchewans “Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan” will allow gatherings of up to 15 people in phase 3 (date TBD), but waits until phase 4 to raise the limit to 30. (Phase 5 contemplates lifting all remaining restrictions.) SK

A uSherbrooke study of 600 Canadians April 8-11 reports that 25.4% already suffer from probable generalized anxiety, and 25.5% from probable PTSD, as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Even though Quebec has been hit harder by the disease, Quebecers apparently experience lower stress, possibly because they trust authorities more. uSherbrooke

Congratulations to Sheridan College, which was just ranked #1 in the Animation Career Reviewinternational rankings – and also to their graduating Music Theatre Performance students, who happened to be rehearsing the ideal musical when the world got shut down by COVID19. In Real Life is set in a dystopian society in which citizens are confined to cubes – so it lends itself perfectly to production via Zoom, and takes on a whole new resonance. Sheridan



Thursday April 23, 2020

Yesterday we saw $9 billion of good news for students in the new CESB and CSSG. Hopefully that gives us all sufficient resolve to look squarely at the challenges we’ll be facing this fall, and some of the strategic options available. Clearly we will still be social distancing, in some fashion, throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year. And as I’ve pointed out previously, many applicants will opt to defer enrolment until they can expect the full student experience. But check out 15 different ways in which we could attain a “low-density campus,” and some promising non-traditional program ideas…


Instead of the typical presidential message video (of which you can see hundreds on my playlist here), NBCC president Mary Butler released an interview video yesterday with Student Union president Lexi Keast. The effect, of course, is more dynamic and of course they address some top questions from students. NBCC



Wednesday April 22, 2020

It’s Earth Day, and also “Wellness Wednesday” on many campuses. I’m particularly impressed that OCAD University is encouraging its employees to take Wednesday afternoons as an “offline” time to take care of personal matters. OCADU

 Layoffs at Conestoga, uCalgary

Conestoga College has just laid off 119 permanent part-time employees, largely front-line workers. uCalgary has reached an agreement with AUPE regarding reduced hours and temporary layoffs.  Conestoga  |  uCalgary

Multiple Scenarios at Carleton

Benoit-Antoine Bacon observed in his message yesterday that the pandemic may be reaching its peak in Ontario, but that Carleton will be planning for “a broad array of scenarios” this fall. “While it is too early to speculate about what September will look like exactly, it is difficult to imagine a return to full international mobility, and a complete lifting of physical distancing measures that would allow the return of large gatherings in confined spaces.” Carleton

Algonquin hopes for July 6

The same day across town, Algonquin College president Claude Brulé wrote in his message to campus, “While we still hope that we will be able to return to face-to-face instruction on July 6, our Academic teams are meeting regularly to discuss possible alternative dates and scenarios.” Algonquin

uLeth Cuts Hockey

Citing budget issues, the University of Lethbridge announced yesterday that it is eliminating its Pronghorn men’s and women’s hockey teams. CBC

OER Textbooks at UPEI

The UPEI Student Union convinced the province to provide $25,000 for a one-year OER textbook pilot project. UA

98% of Libraries Closed

Thank you to Kwantlen’s Chris Burns for updating our spreadsheet: virtually all library facilities are now physically closed.

Rise Again, Nova Scotia

Although Cape Breton U planned to share a collaborative recording of their official song, “Rise Again,” at their virtual convocation in May, they decided to release it early as a message of optimism and support to a province reeling in shock from the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. It features solos by honorary degree recipients Ashley MacIsaac and the Barra MacNeils, among others. YouTube



Tuesday April 21, 2020

Globally we’re at 2.5 million cases of COVID19, and Canada at about 37,000. The price of oil is astoundingly now negative, because “there literally isn’t any place to put the stuff.” Welcome to the new normal!

In higher ed, more institutions are openly planning for the worst come September. uMichigan anticipates a billion-dollar loss, and uAlberta has circulated 3 possible scenarios for Fall, which are worth a look.


Draconian cuts in Manitoba?

Manitoba’s PC government has asked its universities to submit scenarios by today showing cost-cutting of 10%, 20% and 30% over the next 4 months. The institutions say they are struggling to meet growing demands from students. Faculty associations call the cuts “draconian,” and observe that the government is proposing to “demolish the storm shelter” when it is needed most. CBC

uWaterloo plans for an Online Fall

Yesterday, uWaterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur advised staff and faculty that, “like every university, college and school in the country, none of us can predict with confidence what the situation will be in September… For now, we must build full plans for the Fall Term to happen at a distance.” Staff

Likewise York U advised students that “classes for the 2020-2021 academic year will begin in September even if courses need to be delivered wholly or partially through remote instruction.” York

3 Scenarios for uAlberta

uAlberta announced a Fall 2020 Planning Group and 6 subgroups to begin planning based on 3 scenarios. All 3 assume “some form of physical distancing” in the Fall, multiple enrolment declines, economic challenges, and government support for infrastructure renewal but not emergency financial assistance. Two scenarios assume NO international students on campus. The document notes the difficulty of shifting delivery mode mid-way through a semester, and the intent to “share and create programming” with peer institutions across Canada.  uAlberta

On the other hand, uOttawa’s update yesterday said they are “developing scenarios to be ready to return to normal or near-normal operations on campus as soon as circumstances permit. Again, we do not know how long the crisis will last, but the University must be ready to resume when public health directives allow.” uOttawa

Yesterday afternoon, Centennial College announced a pass/withdraw grading option for students in select programs. (Now 58% of institutions) Centennial



Monday April 20, 2020

American institutions have been announcing billions of dollars in COVID19 losses, and furloughed or laid off thousands of employees – and now Canadian institutions are starting to discuss similar measures. Some students are refusing to pay full tuition for online courses, and half a dozen Canadian institutions are starting to admit that may be how we deliver classes this Fall. Plus, I’m not alone in suggesting we might see a “double cohort” bulge in Fall 2021…

Temporary Layoffs at uAlberta

uAlberta has reached an agreement with its Non-Academic Staff Association for temporary layoffs of up to 120 days, during which employees can access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. uAlberta

George Brown College updated their FAQs last week to say: “We are currently modifying our on-campus activities to ensure your experience will continue to meet our high standards. In the fall, some classes and services may be delivered fully or partially through alternative delivery, for example.” GBC FAQs

UBC president Santa Ono announced on Friday that summer terms 1 and 2 will be delivered online only, and that “we are actively planning for how we might teach in the Fall semester.” UBC

Brock president Gervan Fearon observed in his message Friday that “We are close to completing an academic plan for the Fall term and expect to be in a position to announce this soon.” Brock

Kwantlen president Alan Davis observed on Friday that “We have settled into a “new normal,” and we don’t anticipate significant change any time soon.  That is why we decided to deliver all our summer programs remotely.  And it is why we are now undertaking scenario planning for the fall semester.” KPU

Laurier noted in an announcement on Saturday that “on-campus activities may be modified” this Fall, and “classes may be delivered fully or partially through remote instruction” but “your Laurier experience will continue this September.” WLU

(See our Full Datasheet for details. New additions: Athabasca University, UNBC, and Fleming College.)

NSCC president Don Bureaux observed in his update Friday night that there have now been “a few” confirmed COVID19 cases within their community. NSCC

uSask is prepared to commit its 120,000 sqft Merlis Belsher complex to become a field hospital for 250 patients. uSask

Several more institutions have announced COVID19 emergency student bursaries. (Now 54 on our list, or 62%)

Red River College announced a credit/not complete grading option on Saturday. (Now 56% of our list) RRC

Hopefully we’ll have some more upbeat ideas to share tomorrow. Stay tuned… and stay well!


Friday April 17, 2020

We’re now at more than 2 million COVID19 cases in the world, 672,000 in the US and 30,000 in Canada, and the pandemic lockdown has led to 22 million unemployment claims in the US, and almost 4 million applications for the CERB. But it’s Friday, so let’s focus on more positive stuff…

Student Wellness Care Packages

VIU’s student wellness promoters are delivering 225 care packages to students in residence and in local homestays, including stress balls, granola bars, popcorn, tea, sudoku games, colouring sheets, and more. VIU Cares

“Convocation in a Box”

This June, uLethbridge will ship graduates their parchment, a cap and tassel, a commemorative program, alumni pin, Indigenous stole if requested, and honour cords for those graduating with distinction. Students are encouraged to post photos to social media with the hashtag #uleth2020 (and to attend a convocation ceremony sometime in the next 3 years). uLeth

Scenario planning at Queen’s

Yesterday, Queen’s U announced a new COVID19 steering committee to do scenario planning for the 2020-21 academic year, and 7 sub-groups looking at key operational areas like academic regulations, research impacts, enrolment and remote delivery. They are to meet throughout April and provide strategic recommendations for the Principal and SLT to review in early May. ENC

UoGuelph announced yesterday that they will open residence spaces for emergency and healthcare workers looking to live apart from their families. (They join 4 institutions on our list who have announced, and 3 who are assessing.) UoGuelph

Yesterday, AUArts announced Pandemic Financial Relief Bursaries for current or graduating students, and scholarships for commissioned artworks. McMaster announced a new COVID19 Student Emergency Relief Fund. (Now 61%)

Yesterday MUN announced that it will be locking more buildings and tightening access, starting April 21. MUN

MUN’s Senate also announced yesterday that it is waiving the 70% grade average requirement for incoming NL undergraduates this coming academic year. MUN

NSCC announced yesterday that their spring and summer term will be delivered through online or distance learning. Work experience courses are under review. (Now 85%) NSCC

SAIT announced yesterday that students will in fact be given the option to convert a letter grade into CR, or withdraw from the course. (Now 57%) SAIT

(See our Full Datasheet for more.)



Thursday April 16, 2020

There’s a lot to share today: economic forecasts are gloomy, students are antsy, MOOCs are booming, and the NCAA could make a $4-billion fumble – plus continued turmoil in online delivery, challenges posed by the Great Firewall of China, and the socially responsible way to advertise during a pandemic! 

Savvy marketers fight COVID: Socially responsible advertisers are focusing on contributing to efforts to fight the pandemic, observes OCAD U prof Sandra Kedey. Some are merely playing with their logos to reinforce messages about social distancing, but others are putting their money where their mouths are: Rogers donated a million meals to Food Banks Canada, Ford is producing face shields at its Windsor plant, Canada Goose is manufacturing hospital scrubs. Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” campaign donated $1 million of personal care products to front-line healthcare workers. OCAD U

Centennial College announced a new COVID19 Relief Bursary program (joining 58% of schools).  Olds College announced it is postponing June commencement (joining 95%). See our Full Datasheet



Wednesday April 15, 2020

This morning I want to share some clear indicators of future budget pressures and responses, consumer behavioural changes, and my first instalment on the impacts of WFH. I’m still experimenting with the format and structure of the Insider – let me know if you have suggestions!  

Manitoba is discussing “Rae Days”: The Manitoba government is reportedly meeting with union officials to discuss ways to reduce government spending for PSE and other public service sectors. Some options being discussed include a reduced work week (and reduced pay) to avoid layoffs (rather like Ontario’s 1993 austerity measures). Manitoba anticipates going “billions” into debt over COVID-19. CBC

Sheridan maps “Road to Recovery”: Sheridan College announced a taskforce yesterday to assess strategies and promising practices for academic innovation, particularly regarding enrolment and pedagogy, to adapt its new strategic plan for the new normal. Digital transformation will require organizational and cultural transformation, observes president Janet Morrison, “and we don’t have the luxury to do it gradually.” The Road to Recovery

Sadly, the first announced COVID-19 death connected to a Canadian campus was reported at McGill, where emeritus Biology professor Robert Carroll died on April 8. (These announcements may be infrequent, or overwhelming – for now, I have added a column to the COVID-19 Google Sheet.)

#ICYMI, ESDC’s temporary changes to the Student Work Placement Program will subsidize wages for PSE institutions who hire students to work remotely. CICan



Tuesday April 14, 2020

As St Lawrence College president Glenn Vollebregt put it wryly yesterday, welcome to “week five of our alternate reality…” 


Brandon University has introduced a pass/no credit grading option for students. (Sorry, I missed that last week. Now 56% of institutions)

Laurier and Conestoga have launched COVID Emergency Relief Funds to support students. (Now 57% of institutions)

Mohawk and UFV postponed June convocation, while Capilano and Centennial have decided to take their ceremonies virtual. (I think only 5 institutions have yet to make an announcement.)

(See our Google Sheet for COVID-19 data on 84 Canadian colleges and universities, now including OCAD University too.)

Volunteer at your own Risk: It’s telling that Ryerson posted a page of caveats for students volunteering or working during the COVID pandemic. (Other institutions may well have posted similar warnings.) Essentially: you’re volunteering independent of the university, no academic credit can be provided, and it’s at your own risk.

Contingencies for Fall: Lisa Young, former Vice-Provost at uCalgarysuggests that if students return to campus this fall (a big ‘if’), we’ll need to increase cleaning schedules, deliver large lecture classes online, convert double dorm rooms to singles, block off many classroom seats, replace dining hall buffets with single-serving prepackaged meals, and distribute face masks instead of condoms during orientation week. Institutions will also need to clearly communicate contingency plans to everyone on campus, in advance, in case another campus closure occurs.

CultureWorks, a Canadian EAP pathway provider for international students, released a new video describing their “U First” online platform. Colleges and universities can also deploy a “white-label” version under their own brand, if they want a turnkey solution right away.

Community Hubs: So institutions sharing positive stories about volunteerism and community engagement are on the right track, it would seem. I’ve mentioned previously the blog at LaurierSheridan’s curated social media posts, and Carleton’s Hub for Good,” focused on inspirational stories of kindness and compassion.

We’re also seeing initiatives to connect with employees, and try to overcome WFH isolation. VIU has a Facebook group for employees, “Keeping Connected VIU,” and UoGuelph a “Gryphon Family” portal for staff and student supports. Now there are two more:

Laurier has launched a Community Hub to share resources on education, staying fit at home, online music performances, virtual events, and other PD, as well as stories about how the community is pulling together.

uVic has launched a microsite they call “The Great Indoors” to provide wellness and upbeat content to the community at home. Some catchy posts include the “uVic Bounce Project,” “Digital Recess,” and “Buckets of Sunshine” – like Vikes Soccer players practicing individually at home.

Let me know if I’ve missed other good examples!



Monday April 13, 2020

Over the Easter weekend, Canada reached 24,000 cases of COVID-19, half of them in Quebec.

BCIT announced the postponement of June convocation, to be replaced with a virtual celebration. (We’re now at 89% of the institutions I’m watching.)

Conestoga finally announced that its Spring semester will be offered by remote delivery. (Now 84%.)

New student emergency support funds were announced at CBU, Acadia, BCIT, Queen’s, and Ontario Tech, among others. (Now 54%.)

On Friday night, Concordia U (Montréal) discovered security issues with its online proctoring tool, COLE, and announced on Saturday that it will not be using COLE for exams this week as originally planned.

uAlberta has launched a “new News website to highlight the stories of our community’s efforts to handle COVID-19.”

Concordia has launched a new microsite, “CU at Home,” to help its entire community cope with “many facets of life in the time of COVID-19.” Regular contributions will include stories about research and community engagement, virtual workshops and fitness sessions, and webinars on leadership, mindfulness and wellness.

Vancouver Island University’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning is organizing 8 weeks of “virtual social strengthening activities” for students, from daily “VIU Cares” Zoom chats to a special online edition of “VIU’s Got Talent.”

So far the only mentions of budget challenges or cost containment in public announcements among the Canadian institutions I’ve been watching have been at UBC, Laurentian, and Sheridan. South of the border, though, we continue to see inklings of what might be coming:

Easter Greetings: A few more presidential greetings from Western provinces came out after we “went to press” on Friday afternoon: Mike Mahon of uLethbridge, Philip Steenkamp of Royal Roads (who says he is growing the equivalent of a “playoff beard”), Kathy Kinloch of BCIT, Santa Ono of UBC, Deb Saucier of VIU, and Joanne MacLean of UFV. (UBC’s video ended with a virtual duet of “What a Wonderful World” by two music students.)

Check out my “COVIDeos” blog for some highlights of the more than 500 higher ed videos I’ve seen in the past month.



Thursday April 9, 2020

Canada is approaching 20,000 COVID-19 cases, and lost more than 1 million jobs in March – and the pandemic is just getting started. (The Conference Board anticipates more than a million more jobs will be lost next month.) Ottawa announced an expanded Canada Summer Jobs program yesterday, which will now subsidize 100% of summer student wages (up to minimum wage).

A few more announcements in the past 24 hours: Capilano U will offer flexible grading options (we’re at about 53% now). SaskPoly and NAIT have confirmed their summer terms will be online only (82%). Emergency bursaries were launched at Capilano, Red River College, Fanshawe and Ryerson (48% now).

As most campuses wind down classes and prepare for exams next week, presidential messages are everywhere, generally thanking everyone for their effort, celebrating the renewal of springtime, wishing everyone a Happy Easter, and reminding us all to keep our social distance.

Laurentian president Robert Haché noted in today’s message that Ontario has deferred the signing of Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA3s) until the province has “reasonably moved past” the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the past two days, I have seen 14 presidential videos, including MSVU president Mary BluechardtuVic president Jamie CasselsTRU president Brett FairbairnRRU president Philip SteenkampCCNB president Pierre ZundelWilfrid Laurier U president Deborah MacLatchy, and Sheridan president Janet Morrison. (I appreciate the way St Lawrence College president Glenn Vollebregt makes his videos and the full text available as options.)

Memorial University’s new president Vianne Timmons introduced herself to the broader community and invited them to donate to the new student emergency relief fund.

Centennial College president Craig Stephenson  emphasized the importance of recognizing the stat holiday even while working from home, and urged staff to switch off their emails (before now!).

Mount Royal University president Tim Rahilly  announced the first draft of the new strategic plan, with the mission of “opening minds and changing lives.”

uSask president Peter Stoicheff delivered a 24-minute address to the General Academic Assembly, starting with a thoughtful reflection on the 1918 pandemic at UofS.

The greetings from Saint Mary’s U president Robert Summerby-Murray and uWindsor president Robert Gordon featured pretty good lighting, sound and background instrumental music too. Kudos!

Also, just a reminder that I have been maintaining a Youtube playlist of all the COVID-related videos on the 800 higher ed channels I follow. Currently there are more than 460 videos, in chronological order. (One of these days, I hope to get the time to review the videos and share some highlights…)

Finally, announcements about Convocation are still coming too. Brock announced that its convocation is postponed. Queen’s has been surveying students on their preferences for a virtual ceremony, which apparently caused some to “react with grief and anger.” Since many of you have been asking, I have compiled some examples of alternative convocations for the Class of 2020…



Wednesday April 8, 2020

Trinity Western U announced last night that the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago has now fully recovered. (There have been so few new cases announced, that I’m starting to think it would be more accurate to count the web pages that don’t specifically state there have been no cases.)

Yesterday and today, many institutions across the country updated their FAQ information for international students, based on IRCC’s assurances that online courses will not harm their eligibility for the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), and that in fact many of them can complete up to 50% of their program online from abroad and still qualify.

More and more institutions have been announcing specialized emergency financial aid programs for students. (Now up to 42% of the list.)

AUArts has announced that students will have the option to convert grades to Credit/No Credit this term.Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) has responded to student requests and added a Pass/No Credit option, upon request to the Associate Dean.

George Brown College has updated students about the Respondus proctoring software they will be using for final exams.

At institutions across the country, student recruitment for Fall 2020 continues as usual, although the in-person outreach and campus tours have been replaced with online alternatives. Post-Secondary BC, a collaborative of 30 college and university recruitment offices, has started adding COVID-19 details to each institutional profile.



Tuesday April 7, 2020

While many institutions had no updates today, these were notable:

Today, SAIT and Okanagan College announced they are postponing convocation. (We’re now at 87% of my sample of institutions.)

Windsor’s St Clair College announced it will be temporarily converting its Sportsplex into a 100-bed COVID-19 field hospital.

Algonquin College clarified today that while students may receive pro-rated refunds for some ancillary fees (residence, parking, fitness and meal plans), there will be no refund for any portion of tuition.

Here in Canada, two more college presidents started to address major budget issues today:

Sheridan president Janet Morrison emailed employees about “preserving Sheridan’s financial well-being.” Beyond a temporary freeze on new hiring and discretionary spending (such as PD), the executive is apparently modelling scenarios that project a 30-55% decrease in revenue for 2020-21. Managers will be scheduling mandatory vacation for employees currently underutilized.

Likewise, Conestoga president John Tibbits wrote staff today that “Conestoga will need to make significant adjustments in response to lower student enrolments, reduced revenues and increased cost pressures… Staffing levels, discretionary spending and non-essential activities will all need to be carefully examined and adjusted in light of our altered circumstances.”



Monday April 6, 2020

Online Teaching:

Mohawk College announced today that their campus closure has been extended another month, until May 4. CNA, Mohawk and MacEwan have announced that Intersession/Spring/Summer courses will be online/distance only (joining 80% of the list). To support online delivery, uVic announced today new university-wide licenses for Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and BlueJeans (for videoconferencing), Kaltura (for video streaming), Microsoft Teams (for collaboration), and CrowdMark (for large-class marking).

Rez Living:

As of today, York has increased precautions in residence: students are being assigned specific toilets, sinks and showers in communal washrooms, and meals will be available by delivery only, by online pre-order the previous day.


Today, uAlberta announced that it will not include Winter 2020 grades when calculating admission GPAs for PSE transfer students, and will accept interim documents. Okanagan College has announced that students will be able to choose Aegrotat (grades based on work completed without the exam) or Deferred standing (work to be completed when possible).


UBC has circulated a memo to hiring managers and administrators, warning that “given the current circumstances, departments should carefully consider whether to begin job searches or post new positions,” urging them to reconsider any existing searches, and revoke offers that have not been accepted. They are encouraging conditional offers wherever possible.


Fleming College released a music video, #TogetheratHome, recorded by dozens of musicians and local citizens from home, in support of their COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund.



Sunday April 5, 2020

Late last week, the provinces of BC and New Brunswick announced emergency funding for students impacted by COVID-19, so institutions have been updating their websites to advise students. This weekend, I noticed new announcements at Royal Roads and Mount Allison.

Last fall, I visited Carleton University and learned more about their therapy dog program. (I have footage for an upcoming Ten with Ken episode, in fact.) Their therapy dogs have business cards, office hours, and social media accounts. During the campus closure, they’re taking their puppy-like enthusiasm to Instagram and Twitter to support students.



Friday April 3, 2020

The world has passed 1 million Coronavirus cases. On Friday, Ontario released some sobering statistics about projected cases, deaths, and the duration of the pandemic, which they now expect to be 18-24 months. (This fits with the projections I shared a couple of weeks ago.) On Thursday, the BC government announced $3.5 M in emergency funds for PSE students, prompting a cascade of financial aid announcements at half a dozen BC institutions.

Also in the past 24 hours, Sheridan and Red River College announced that spring/summer courses will be delivered remotely. (Now 76% of institutions.)  Beyond that, Western and Laurentian have indicated that they are “planning for multiple scenarios” this Fall.

Royal Roads and College of the Rockies announced they are postponing or cancelling spring convocation. (Now 84% of institutions.)

Laurentian, McMaster, George Brownand Olds College announced Pass/Fail grading options for students. (Now 52%)  Humber (like Sheridan and some others) will replace failing grades with a late withdrawal note, but will notconvert passing grades to a credit.

Adding to the omnipresent warnings about phishing scams, in the past few days some Canadian institutions started posting advisories about “Zoom-bombing” too (including SaskPolytech, uAlberta, and UFV).

Western announced that they are making rooms available for front-line hospital staff who want to protect their families at home.

On the communications front, Vancouver Island University has started a new Facebook group for employees, “Keeping Connected VIU.”  Carleton’s “Hub for Good” is collecting inspirational stories of kindness and compassion. UoGuelph launched a “Gryphon Family” portal for staff and student supports.

Laurentian observed in two announcements this week the need for “immediate actions necessary to ensure the financial stewardship of the University during the pandemic,” and added yesterday that “our leadership team has also put forth significant cost reduction measures to adjust to our decreasing revenues in several areas including ancillary services.”

In a video message yesterday, Mount Royal president Tim Rahilly remarked that there are currently “more questions than answers” about the budget, and therefore he has postponed MRU’s budget town hall pending discussions with the province about the proposed new performance-based funding metrics.



Thursday April 2, 2020

Queen’s and Bishop’s both reported today that members of their communities tested positive for COVID-19, bringing us to cases on 21 of 83 campuses (25%). (Most institutions have indicated that they will announce the first case, but not necessarily any further cases.) Of course that’s still nothing compared to south of the border, where there are reportedly 100 cases at Vanderbilt, and the presidents of Harvard and Martin Luther College have both tested positive. (But it’s only a matter of time.)

Today Brock, uManitoba, Emily Carr and UNB announced credit/no credit grading options for winter term courses. (Now 47% of institutions.)

Bishop’sMacEwan, SFU and Trent have announced they are cancelling or postponing convocation. (Now 82% of institutions.)

UNB, Okanagan College, Emily Carr and St Lawrence College have announced that their spring/summer semesters will be offered using alternative delivery. (Now 76% of institutions.)

I’m sure contingency planning and emergency budget sessions are happening at every institution, but Laurentian is one of the first to hint that an announcement is coming. Today, president Robert Haché ominously said in his message, “shortly, we will be providing the community with details on the immediate actions necessary to ensure the financial stewardship of the University during the pandemic.” (Insert dramatic music)

On the upside, though:

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) has a new “Virtual University” landing page with audience-based navigation to further information. Check it out, if you’re wondering how to transition away from a relentless emphasis on COVID-19 on your website.

uWaterloo announced today a new Teaching & Learning support team for faculty, as a single point of contact for 4 units (essentially the CTL, ConEd, IT and Library). I think we’re going to see many institutions expanding their teams to support faculty preparing for online delivery this summer and fall.

Graduations “Up in the Air”:  Shout-out to Briercrest College & Seminary, in Caronport SK, for the international exposure they got when a WestJet crew held a mid-air graduation convocation for 4 of their students, down the aisle of the aircraft, humming “Pomp and Circumstance” to boot. (I’ve added Briercrest to my spreadsheet, which seemed only fair.)



Wednesday April 1, 2020

We made it through March, which came in like a lion and went out… even worse.

Canada has now surpassed 9,600 COVID-19 cases, and 100 deaths. Today, Concordia (Montreal) reported that “some members” of their community tested positive yesterday, bringing the total on Canadian campuses to at least 29 confirmed or presumptive cases.

Thanks to Jamie Leong-Huxley, VP Advancement at Alberta University of the Arts, for providing data on AUArts to add to the spreadsheet. We’re now at 83 institutions.

The march of the inevitable continued today:

Bishop’s U, MSVU, Humber and UoGuelphannounced that Spring/Summer terms will be online only. (Joining at least 69% of institutions.)

VIU, Lakehead and Bishop’s also announced a pass/fail grading option for students. Sask Polytech will allow instructors to decide when AEG (Aegrotat) is appropriate instead of a grade. (Now 43% of institutions have offered a pass/fail option, and even more have offered late withdrawals after final grades.)

Humber and Assiniboine announced they will be postponing June convocation, as did AUArts (bringing us to 77% of institutions).

Hiring Freezes: In the US, colleges ranging from Ivy-league Brown to state flagships and smaller regional institutions have announced hiring freezes. And considering how bleak the financial picture looks for Canadian institutions this fall, everybody should probably be considering it immediately. Karen Kelsey is maintaining a crowdsourced list of more than 200 US institutions that have frozen hiring.

On the somewhat brighter side:

Centennial College announced that it has taken delivery of 5,000 chromebooks to loan out to students.

NSERC has announced $15 million for new Alliance COVID-19 grants to fund collaborations between researchers and external partners.

eCampus Ontario has announced it will provide an AI exam proctoring tool for Ontario PSEs.

Dalhousie has a Tumblr feed, One Dal, focused on how the university is supporting the community during COVID-19. And their latest presidential message video has much higher production values than many of the ad hoc vids we’ve seen lately.

I’m continuing to see institutions telling positive news stories about student volunteers, donated medical equipment and supplies, etc. I’m trying to track offers to contribute physical facilities, from sports stadiums to residence rooms, to the COVID emergency – let me know if you know of any I’ve missed. (So far the spreadsheet includes uAlberta, Trent, and uOttawa.)

Stay tuned… and stay safe!



Tuesday March 31, 2020

On the eve of April Fool’s Day, I suspect there will be very little organized silliness on campuses tomorrow. (Your 4-legged and 2-legged co-workers at home may have other plans.)

We’re at 8,500 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 170,000 in the US, with best-case projections of about 200,000 deaths in North America. In Canadian higher ed, Carleton has just announced that an employee tested positive, bringing the total of announcements to 27 cases.

Today, Manitoba announced that K-12 schools would stay closed “indefinitely,” and Ontario extended school closures until at least May 3. In response, Nipissing announced today that it would extend employee WFH (work from home) until May 1. Likewise, China announced today that they are postponing the gaokao, the 9-hour university entrance exam, one month until July 7.

On the upside, Ontario also committed $25 million this morning to help PSE with COVID emergency expenses, and Alberta has pushed back the start date for their new performance-based funding model by two months, until the end of May.

Grading: TRU is giving students the option to withdraw from a course after receiving a failing grade, but cannot offer a pass/fail option because of software limitations. Algonquin College announced that students can convert a passing letter grade to “aegrotat” (Latin for “he/she is ill”).

Also today: MRU closed its campus to the public; uRegina and TRU cancelled spring convocation; and uLethbridgeand Ryerson announced that spring term courses will be offered exclusively online.

Researchers at McGill and UofT launched COVID-19 Resources Canada to coordinate volunteers and donation initiatives, research and expertise, with a primary focus on researchers and government policymakers.

Campus Spaces: Trent and uOttawa have offered up empty residence rooms for the use of front-line healthcare workers, who want to self-isolate or stay away from their families. Queen’s and St Lawrence College are reportedly considering it, and there may be others (please let me know – I wasn’t recording this until today). In a similar vein, uAlberta’s 64,000 sq ft “Butterdome” will be used as a secondary assessment and treatment centre by Alberta Health Services.

On the COVID Communications side:

Sheridan has been sharing thankful messages with students on Twitter and Instagram, from “we know this wasn’t the way you wanted to end the school year,” to a video of mascot Bruno practising physical distancing.

Western has a “Digital Student Experience” microsite, which centralizes access to academic and learning supports, career development, fitness and nutrition, health, leadership and social connection supports, and lists upcoming “events” (webinars) in a sidebar.

Algonquin College launched a redesigned COVID-19 microsite today.

uMontréal will be illuminating its bell tower with rainbow lights “as a sign of solidarity and hope.”



Monday March 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues apace, with about 170,000 cases in North America (7288 in Canada). My spreadsheet and daily scan continues to grow, too, now reaching 82 Canadian institutions with the addition of Yukon College and Tyndale University. (You can check out the full spreadsheet on its new page.)

Today the Ontario government extended its state of emergency by another 2 weeks, and Manitoba ordered all non-critical business closed April 1-14.

Almost two-thirds of institutions have now announced that their spring/summer terms will be delivered online, with the addition of Seneca and StFX today.

Almost three-quarters of institutions have now announced they will postpone convocations (now including Fanshawe, Laurier, Waterloo, uVic, VIU, and Yukon College). The announcement is always delivered with regret, but VIU president Deb Saucier had a lovely metaphor:

“A university journey is never a straight path; there are many twists and turns along the way, and this time the universe threw in a major curve. Navigating through this unforeseen turn of events has taken courage and forced us all to face unexpected challenges.”

Speaking of curve balls, while McGill discontinued their COVID-19 self-reporting process this weekend, today Sheridan announced that they were about to launch one. There’s plenty of variety across the country, even when consensus seems to be forming.

For another example, almost 40% of institutions have now announced temporary flexible grading policies and/or academic forgiveness for students. Today 4 institutions in Nova Scotia announced (Acadia, StFX, MSVU, and NSCC), as well as York, Windsor, and uRegina. Some institutions have indicated that they are still considering the issue, while many others have been silent on the matter. But what is striking is that two Alberta institutions (MacEwan and SAIT) have announced the opposite: that they will NOT adjust grading, citing academic rigour and credit transfer concerns.



Sunday March 29, 2020

It really was a quiet weekend for COVID on Canadian campuses, thankfully.

By request, I have added Capilano, Okanagan College, Trinity Western, and Redeemer data to the spreadsheet, bringing the total to 80 institutions now.

Since my update Friday night:

Algonquin and Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced that they are postponing convocation, bringing the total to 51 now (64%).

SAIT announced that their spring/summer term will be delivered online only. Algonquin has indicated that they will start online, but hope to be back in the classroom by the end of June.

Mount Royal, uVic, uLaval, Saint Mary’s and Mount Allison all introduced credit/no credit options for students instead of grades. (Bringing us now to 25 out of 80, or 31%, offering some form of grading flexibility). Only uAlbertahas gone so far as to say that NO letter grades will be assigned, but that all students will be graded as credit or no credit.

McGill announced that they are discontinuing the self-reporting form requirement, now that the campus has been closed for 14 days.

The Office of Co-Curricular Engagement & Learning at Vancouver Island U is holding “online social strengthening events” using Zoom. Maybe public events don’t have to come to a complete stop!



Friday March 27, 2020

There were quite a few end-of-week messages and updates today, and decisions made yesterday by academic senates.

Convocations: Another 9 institutions announced the cancellation or postponement of spring or summer convocations (UBC, Red River, SaskPolytech, Western, Laurentian, Guelph, Ryerson, Carleton and uOttawa). That brings the total to 47 so far, 63% of the list.

Grading: 6 more institutions announced that they would be giving students an option to convert poor or failing grades (Dal, Laurier, Queen’s, Carleton, Ontario Tech, and Sheridan), bringing the total to 20 now, or 27% of the list. Generally, students can make the decision after their final grades are decided, for as many courses as they wish from this term. Failing grades can be converted to unsatisfactory, illness, withdrawn or fails so that they do not impact the calculation of GPA or progression within the program. In many cases, they also will not count as a course attempt.

Returning to Campus? Almost all institutions have either announced that their spring/summer terms will be delivered exclusively online, or that a decision has not yet been made. A few Ontario colleges are still hoping students will return to classes for hands-on labs when K-12 classes resume, although that is looking further and further in the future all the time. Last I heard, Ryerson was still “planning” on a normal summer term. Today Cambrian College announced that their spring term will include online courses and some on-campus class work with appropriate social distancing.

A growing number of institutions are starting to focus on positive news stories in their COVID pages, from new supports for students to equipment donations, volunteer hours, and COVID vaccine research. Laurier is maintaining a blog of “stories of sharing, helping and kindness.” Sheridan has curated social media posts on their COVID page.



Thursday March 26, 2020

Thank you all for your continued encouragement as I monitor the good, bad and ugly of the coronavirus pandemic across Canadian higher education. I’m glad to be doing something useful for you, as the sector copes with the nation’s biggest societal and economic upheaval in decades. Last night I was asked to add ECUAD and Olds College to the list, so we’re now at 75 institutions.

Cases: In the past 24 hours we have seen massive increases in the reported COVID-19 cases in Newfoundland & Labrador (now at 67) and Quebec (now at 1,339). Canada now reports more than 3,500 confirmed cases. The only new case among the 75 PSE institutions I’m watching was at York University, where a student in Founders Residence “is neither presumptive nor confirmed as COVID-19” but has led to the entire residence self-isolating and monitoring for symptoms. (I’m treating that as a presumptive case, since it sparked a residence lockdown.)

Grading: Most of the announcements today were about changes to grading practices for this term. Concordia is offering students the option to convert a grade to pass/fail. Ryerson students can choose between letter grades or CRD, or can drop the course after receiving their final grade for a “NCR” designation. uManitoba will let students choose to exclude any course grades from the calculation of their GPA. SFU students can choose a “Pass” grade, and failing grades will not count towards their GPAs this term. That brings us to 13 institutions on the list who have announced grading options for students (17%).

Convocations: This morning, both Nipissing and Lakehead announced that they will be postponing convocation. This brings the total to 39, or 52% of the list.  (My apologies to folks at SAIT by the way. The spreadsheet has always been correct, but I misspoke in my March 24 newsletter when I included them in the list who had decided – I should have said NAIT.)

Also in the past 24 hours, Concordia announced that their summer term will be delivered online only, Brandon University that its campus will close Friday at noon, and uLethbridge that the campus is moving to “restricted access” starting Monday.

Some other trends appearing among announcements in the past few days:

Online Fitness: The athletics departments at many institutions are offering online fitness courses, videos and resources for staff and students. UoGuelph and Conestoga, for example, are offering workout classes on Instagram Live. uManitoba’srecreation department is posting workouts on YouTube. (I’m certainly glad that I bought a treadmill for Christmas!)

Financial Supports: In addition to the emergency bursary programs and loaner laptop programs on many campuses, McMaster has just announced another bright idea to support students: for the next 3 months, there will be no interest or late fees on student accounts. (Others may be doing similar things, quietly.)

Cybersecurity: Now that most institutions’ staff and faculty are working from home, I’m also noticing an increasing emphasis on cybersecurity. Quite a few institutions are warning employees about phishing scams and VPN security.



Wednesday March 25, 2020

The past 24 hours have been relatively stable on Canadian campuses. 74% posted no COVID-19 updates at all, and the rest often focused on minor administrative announcements, such as details about meal plan credits (uWindsor), travel reimbursements (uWaterloo), or grad studies oral exams (uManitoba). Collège Boréal announced today that they will no longer issue daily updates. Carleton’s President and Red River’s Elder shared messages focused on mental health and wellbeing, rather that operational updates.

Unfortunately Bishop’s has just reported their first confirmed case, a subcontractor’s office worker who had not been on campus for 12 days prior to symptoms emerging.

Health Services: In the wake of provincial declarations and essential service models, more and more institutions have been announcing that drop-in student health services are shifting to a telephone-based approach, as a first point of contact.

Spring Terms: 5 more institutions have now announced that their spring/summer terms would be delivered online only (NBCC, MtA, York, UFV, and UBC), bringing the total to 51%.

Grading: McGill and uLethbridge announced that students would have the option of taking a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (or credit/no credit) instead of course grades. They join 8 other institutions, mostly universities, who have made similar announcements in the past week.

Convocations: UNB and uToronto announced that spring convocation was cancelled or postponed (bringing the total to 49% now). Several institutions are planning to livestream athletics awards ceremonies online on Twitter or Instagram. Maine’s Kennebec Valley Community College is reportedly planning a graduation ceremony at a drive-in movie theatre.

Financial Supports: So far we’ve seen 10 institutions announce emergency bursaries and student relief funds; last night VIU announced that its Foundation and Student Union have jointly launched a $250,000 fundraising campaign as well.

Internet Access: I mentioned previously that institutions are attempting to provide internet access on campus for students, through lounges or computing labs. UFV has taken a different approach, providing wifi hotspots in parking lots for staff, faculty and student use.

Privacy: And in the past few days, institutions are starting to address issues of privacy and confidentiality for remote workers, from encrypted devices and locked file drawers to using care that confidential phone conversations are not overheard by others.



Tuesday March 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, with almost 2,000 confirmed cases across Canada, and almost 800 presumptive cases in Quebec alone. So far, I have recorded 23 confirmed or presumptive cases on campuses, including two new cases at McGill and uLeth. (Now that campuses are closed, institutions may no longer be asked to disclose every case.)  

Essential Services: Ontario is forcing all “non-essential” workplaces to close tomorrow, prompting institutions in the province to review their own operations. As a result, Cambrian, McMaster, Nipissing, and OntarioTech explicitly announced a move to an “essential services” model today. Further west, similar announcements were made by NAIT, SAIT uRegina, uSask, and Red River as well. In addition, SaskPolytech, uAlberta, and uLethbridge announced new measures to restrict access to buildings.(By my count, that makes at least 56 institutions out of 73, or 76%, who have moved to essential services only.)

Convocations: In the past 24 hours, 7 more institutions postponed or cancelled spring convocation (including NAIT, Cambrian, uWindsor, Ontario Tech, McMaster and York), and Red River announced the postponement of their Graduation Pow Wow. (That brings us to 34 out of 73, or 47% of the institutions I am watching.) The Brock Badgers (Athletics) Awards Gala will be held on Instagram Live tomorrow, instead of in person.

Spring Terms: 6 more institutions have confirmed that their spring and/or summer semesters will be delivered online only: UPEI, uOttawa, uCalgary, SFU, Kwantlen and McMaster confirmed today, and George Brown announced that they would not be accepting any new full-time first-semester students in May. (That brings us to 29 thus far.)

Grading: With uWaterloo’s announcement yesterday, a total of 7 institutions have announced the option for students or faculty to choose pass/fail or credit/no credit instead of numeric or letter grades for current courses. Most strikingly, UoGuelph appears to have moved its drop date to May 20, after final grades are awarded (so students can choose pass/fail, numeric grade, or to drop the course entirely).

PPE: Quite a few institutions with health programs but not hospitals on campus have announced that they are donating face masks and personal protective equipment to local frontline workers.

Financial Supports: 5 more institutions have announced a variety of emergency relief funds for students, some managed by the student union, and some using existing bursary funds.

IT Strains: Sandra Gabriele, the Vice-Provost of Innovation in Teaching & Learning at Concordia (Montreal), observed this morning that 1,300 faculty have participated in daily Zoom webinar training sessions, and that ITS received 2,250 help tickets in the first day of online teaching. No doubt most campuses are experiencing similar challenges in making a massive migration!



Monday March 23, 2020

Across the country, provincial states of emergency have been tightening restrictions for several days. Most now include forced closure of non-essential and personal service businesses, dentists, sit-down dining, schools and daycares. Increasingly they are imposing 14-day isolation on travellers from any other province, as well as other countries. They establish fines and police enforcement for social distancing requirements, and in some cases now cap gatherings at no more than 5 people.

In Nova Scotia, heightened restrictions led Dalhousie, Cape Breton U, and NSCC to announce Sunday night that they are closing their campuses and moving to virtual operations. In Saskatchewan, several institutions moved to close more of their campuses and impose additional precautions.

Yesterday I shared an analysis of the epidemiological and economic forecasts, suggesting that the true Scale of the Pandemic would extend this shutdown well into the fall. Right on cue, the provinces are starting to admit that a two-week state of emergency was just for starters. On Sunday night the province of Quebec extended its 2-week closure of schools by an additional 5 weeks, until May 1. (Most PSE institutions will begin online instruction by the end of March, but other staff will now be working remotely.) Likewise earlier today, the premier of Ontario admitted that K-12 schools will not reopen on April 6 as planned. (The province unveiled an online learning platform last week.)

In a message to the Queen’s community today, principal Patrick Deane made a provocative observation I’d like to share:

“It is easy to overlook the momentous shift that has occurred over the last seven days as over a million university students across Canada have moved their learning online or onto other remote platforms…  [H]ad we planned to do the same thing outside of the context of a public health emergency, we would have been hard pressed to manage it in less than a decade!”


Saturday March 21 – Sunday March 22

Like VIU and uLaval, I thought I would give you a two-day respite from relentless COVID-19 news, but here’s my recap of the past 48 hours:

14 campuses now report 21 confirmed or presumptive cases. Western and George Brown reported cases on Friday night, uAlberta on Saturday, and poor uCalgary added 4 more cases to the one reported earlier. (These numbers are going to quickly become a blur as cases proliferate exponentially.)

This weekend, Manitoba and Nova Scotia joined all the other provinces in declaring states of emergency, prompting uManitoba and Saint Mary’s to announce campus closures starting Monday. On Sunday (Mar 22), uCalgary and College of the Rockies also announced that their campuses would be closed effective immediately, although staff could retrieve items on Monday (Mar 23).

Across the country, we’re now at about two-thirds of campuses (47 of 73) who have transitioned to essential services models.

Looking forward, one-third of institutions (24 of 73) have also now announced that spring/summer classes will be delivered online only. TRU even notes, regarding its Fall Semester, that “face-to-face classroom instruction will remain suspended until health officials advise social distancing measures are no longer required.”

Even more institutions (27 of 73) have now postponed or cancelled spring convocation, and a dozen more will be making announcements this week. And finally, in the past few days I’ve seen about 20 institutions announce immediate or gradual shutting down of campus research labs (with some exceptions, such as COVID-19 research).

This is all part of a growing awareness of the Scale of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is explored in a series of new blog posts. Check out the latest projections of epidemiologists and economists — but be warned, it’s bad news if you’re clinging to the hope that on-campus classes might resume in September.

If you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat for bedtime reading on a Sunday night, my collection of Inspiring Words from college and university presidents has become my most-shared blog of the year.



Friday March 20, 2020

As Sheridan’s Janet Morrison said this morning, “a week is a really long time in a pandemic!”

With increased traffic to my COVID-19 on Campus page (thanks University Affairs and Alex Usher, among others), it has been pointed out that I was omitting plenty of institutions. I have been able to expand my daily scans to 17 more institutions, so now the spreadsheet includes 73 colleges and universities across Canada. I really appreciate those of you who are providing reverse-chronological archives of updates in your COVID-19 microsites… it’s making this job much easier!

Canada is now at 846 confirmed cases, and 10 confirmed cases and 4 presumptive ones are on 11 PSE campuses. (I imagine this will get much more difficult to track very soon.) Yesterday, Dalhousie announced their first presumptive case, and uVic their first confirmed case.

Although technically “open” (outside Quebec), half of all institutions have now moved to an essential services or virtual service model, and 5 more plan to do so by Monday. (Some have moved most employees to remote working from home, without using the terminology.) Campus mail delivery has been stopped at most schools. In some cases, door locks are being changed to ensure that staff do not return to access their offices. York has announced a two-phase approach to campus access, becoming increasingly restrictive March 27.

We’re seeing a continued acceleration and intensification of orders to vacate student residences, except in extenuating circumstances. As a result, campus food services are winding down even more, and in some cases (like Sheridan) they have closed completely, with alternative arrangements for delivery to students still in residence.

Alternate delivery of classes has already begun at half of institutions, with the rest scheduled to begin next week. Many institutions are posting tips and guides, or entire microsites, to support students and faculty making the migration. So far, 25% of the institutions have announced changes for spring/summer/intercession courses, ranging from delaying registration, to offering online courses only.

In the past few days, more and more institutions have announced suspension or scaling back of on-campus research. (I have noticed 10 announcements so far, across the whole country.

Academic senates have started meeting to resolve outstanding academic issues. Add/drop deadlines have been pushed back, in many cases until the final day of classes. MUN has announced “academic forgiveness” for undergraduates and graduate students next term: no student will be required to withdraw. Students will also have the option of accepting a pass/fail grade instead of numerical grades. uManitoba has announced the indefinite suspension of the “repeated course” policy, allowing students who underperform in a course to re-take it.

The comparatively good news has been in terms of student supports. Several institutions (eg. Laurentian) have announced student emergency support funds, and are inviting donations with matching funds. Many institutions are establishing wifi lounges or computing labs on campus for students without home internet access, with appropriate social distancing measures. I noticed two announcements today of initiatives to provide laptops to staff or students who need them: York reports they have secured 1,500 laptops to loan, while some Sheridan staff are surrendering redundant laptops, which are being cleaned and temporarily re-issued to other staff and students.

There’s growing anxiety across North America as the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic starts to sink in. There will be substantial increases in cases and fatalities, and isolation and remote work will likely persist for months, not weeks. But many cope with anxiety through humour and music, and those working in higher ed are no exception.

On this Friday, if you need a smile, here are a couple of the many Coronavirus music videos I’ve spotted this week:

Jason JW Grant, manager of the Cultiv8 Agricultural Sandbox at Dalhousie, has created a charming remix of the Barenaked Ladies’ “If I had a million dollars,” designed to convey key health information. “Do I have the COVID virus? Do I have to self-isolate?”


Thursday March 19, 2020

By now most of you are working remotely from home, for institutions that have officially closed their campuses and moved to virtual operations and essential services only. The torrent of COVID-19 updates that began on Friday the 13th has slowed to a trickle, as colleges and universities settle into a “new normal.”

Over the past 24 hours, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland joined almost every other province in declaring a state of emergency. (Manitoba is still holding out, but their confirmed cases of COVID-19 doubled from the day before.) The federal government has announced $82 billion in emergency funds to prop up the economy, including a six-month interest holiday on student loans.

Fully one-quarter of institutions have now reluctantly announced that spring convocations will be cancelled or postponed, and institutions have started suspending registration for their spring/summer/intercession terms, or acknowledging that they will be delivered online only. NAIT announced that they will be cancelling in-progress apprenticeship programs that are less than half completed, and refunding 100% of tuition for those programs.

Alex Usher is among the analysts now suggesting that students may not return to campus before January 2021, and that the professoriate needs to start taking online instruction seriously. He predicts an economic hit that may rival the Great Depression, international enrolments that will take several years to bounce back, and the prospect of years worth of provincial budget cuts ahead.

In the face of pandemic, panic and pandemonium, some campus leaders have shared uplifting words of optimism and hope, from Benoit-Antoine Bacon at Carleton and Janet Morrison at Sheridan, to Andrew Petter at SFU, Claude Brulé at Algonquin, and Alan Shepard at Western. I share the most inspiring passages from these and ten other campus leaders in my third COVID-19 blog, “Inspiring Words in a Crisis.” (Let me know if there are others you would nominate to rival these.)

In addition to the daily video updates from presidents and senior crisis managers on campuses, several have mounted Facebook Live Q&A sessions for students (such as VIU), or announced online town halls for today or tomorrow (for example, uCalgary).



Wednesday March 18, 2020

Wednesday saw a tide of campus closings sweep across Canadian campuses, with PEI’s Holland College and NSCC joining almost all institutions in Ontario. One-third of the 55 institutions I’m tracking have announced a shift to an “essential services” model, with many employees working from home to support students online or by phone. This is most widespread in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and PEI, with no examples yet in western Canada – but uAlberta, uCalgary, uSask, uRegina, and Red River College have released remote working guidelines (and they have been promised shortly by uVic).

Even more institutions have announced that they are closing to the public, requiring staff and students to produce ID to enter campus buildings. Most fitness facilities and childcare centres are closed on campuses across the country, except in BC, Manitoba, and Newfoundland. Outside BC and Manitoba, most campus libraries have closed their physical facilities and counter services, offering online access only, often with staff working from home.

100% of institutions had already announced a migration to online and alternate delivery of instruction, but yesterday several institutions (such as Holland College) pushed back the start of classes, recognizing the technical and training challenges of the shift. Although many institutions were trying to maintain clinical and field placements for their students, yesterday more and more, particularly in Ontario, announced those placements would now have to be suspended.

In the past 24 hours, institutional commitments to keep student residences open until the end of term have started to collapse as well. Across Ontario and eastward, institutions have moved from “urging” students to return home, to announcing residence closures and mandatory move-out dates. The kindest announcements (like Western’s) say “students in residence are welcome to stay if this is the best option,” while the harshest (like Laurier’s) assert that “only under exceptional circumstances will students be permitted to remain in residence.”

The scope and duration of this disruption is gradually being felt. One-fifth of the institutions have announced that May and June convocations have been cancelled or postponed, reportedly including all 26 institutions in Alberta. Brock has announced that the spring term will be online only, uManitoba has suspended registration for next term, and College of the Rockies has indicated that all international students are being deferred to fall 2020.

I think these words from Sheridan College president Janet Morrison, included in a broadcast voicemail message to all staff (thank you for sharing, Christine!) help to instill hope and optimism:

“This is an experience that we are going to reflect back upon for years to come and the days ahead will require us to experiment and be flexible. We certainly won’t get everything right on the first try. It is incumbent upon all of us to focus on what we can control, to remain open-minded and positive, and to plan for various scenarios in a situation that is both disruptive and unfamiliar. Now is the time for all of us to lead the way by engaging in evidence-based decision-making and by modeling resiliency, agility, and courage. That is what leaders and educators do.”



Tuesday March 17, 2020

The COVID-19 situation has continued to accelerate since yesterday, when Canada announced it was closing the borders and the city of Calgary declared a state of emergency. Health Canada now reports 424 confirmed cases in the country, mainly in Ontario (177) and BC (103). This morning, the government of Ontario declared a state of emergency, and institutions are still determining how to respond. Quebec and Ontario have also ordered bars, restaurants, and fitness clubs closed. The provincial health authorities in BC have capped gatherings at 50 people, leading to event policy changes on campuses there.

In higher ed, uCalgary and College Boreal’s Toronto campus both reported their first confirmed COVID-19 cases, and UNB Fredericton reported 2 presumptive cases. (Previously St Lawrence College, Laurentian, and University Canada West also reported confirmed cases.)

Quebec institutions essentially closed their campuses by provincial order March 14, for two weeks, but I count at least 9 institutions that have now announced they are closing campus to all but emergency staff, particularly in Ontario. Even more are indicating that they are moving to an “essential services” model, delivering student services online or by phone (again, particularly in Ontario, but also for UNB starting March 18).

More than half of all institutions across the country have now announced the closure of their fitness and recreation facilities and campus childcare centres. Campus food services are taking additional precautions, reducing hours, and closing some locations on most campuses. Most student counselling is moving to phone or online delivery.

Student residences have been rapidly changing their policies, with most now encouraging students to leave if possible, or setting deadlines, or in some cases making move-out mandatory (Brock, Laurier, and MUN). In all cases, it is intimated that exceptions are possible for students who cannot find alternative accommodation. Some institutions promise refunds or credits towards residence next year.

In general, institutions are doing their best to help their students complete as much of their term as possible before the inevitable campus closures begin. 100% have announced a migration to online classes now, and most have started announcing there will be no in-person final exams. In the past day, Ontario colleges have started suspending clinical placements, internships and co-ops. More and more institutions are moving back their deadlines for voluntary course withdrawal.

We are starting to see some progress on remote working protocols, in addition to the uToronto example I shared yesterday, I now have links on the blog and in the table to remote work guidelines from uAlberta, uCalgary, uSask, Red River, and George Brown.

And finally, there is some growing concern about the possibility of unsanctioned St Patrick’s Day parties getting out of hand. St Lawrence College issued an early warning, and the president at Wilfrid Laurier has a particularly good message for students.

Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a public health emergency for months, not weeks. Estimates range from June to August before things will get back to normal in Canada. We can probably expect some emergency measures from government to support employees and institutions in these truly unprecedented times.



Monday March 16, 2020

An hour ago, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would be closing its borders to anyone not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. All travellers arriving in Canada will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, and required to self-isolate for 14 days. If they show symptoms, they will not be allowed to enter the country. This policy announcement will presumably prevent international students from returning to Canada from travel abroad, and further impact the enrolment funnel of international students for this fall.

As of March 12, all Quebec institutions have been required to suspend intake of new international students until further notice.

Sunday evening, VIU and Holland College announced they were suspending classes Mar 16-20, and then migrating to online delivery. This morning, Kwantlen announced a pause March 17-18, followed by online instruction except for the faculties of Trades & Technology, and Horticulture. This afternoon, CNA, SaskPolytech and Assiniboine have all announced they are migrating to online delivery of classes.  (ACC with no suspension, the others will suspend classes this week). That makes everybody in the country now, I think!

Apparently a few institutions still hope to return to in-person delivery: Fanshawe by April 6, and Humber by April 17. Seneca plans to resume in-person practical elements on April 6, when K-12 schools are expected to reopen.

So far all residence halls remain open, although many have instituted strict “no guest” policies, and a growing number are encouraging students to move out and go home to complete their studies online. Some are offering partial refunds (Dalhousie), while others are not (uGuelph).

Childcare centres have been mandated closed by provincial authorities in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and New Brunswick.

A dozen institutions have now announced fitness closures (SAIT, uSask, Cambrian, George Brown, Humber, Laurentian, Mohawk, Sheridan, uToronto, York, Concordia and McGill), while others are reducing hours and introducing social distancing strategies. Some will be available only for academic purposes. (Goodlife Fitness just announced the closure of hundreds of locations across Canada, effective March 16. Can campus gyms be far behind?)

Although almost half the institutions (24) are reportedly open to the idea of remote work from home, or exploring the possibilities, or developing guidelines, they will be leaving it up to the discretion of managers subject to standard policies. uToronto has already released special “COVID-19 Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guidelines”. But in general, institutions are not ready to ensure business continuity in the event of a campus closure.



Saturday March 14 – Sunday March 15, 2020

uRegina’s 2 presumptive cases tested NEGATIVE, but St Lawrence College had someone returning from the US test POSITIVE, prompting them to close their Cornwall campus immediately. (Otherwise, University Canada-West and Laurentian University are the only institutions in Canada to report on-campus COVID-19 cases so far.)

Most institutions are now urging all students and staff abroad to return to Canada as soon as possible, since the federal government is warning it may close the borders to entry. The 14-day self-isolation protocol now applies to everyone returning from anywhere outside Canada, including the US.

Fully 87% of the institutions (46 out of 53) have suspended in-person classes and/or announced they will be transitioning to alternative modes of delivery, either with a firm date or a gradual transition planned. The 7 hold-outs are now notable: Kwantlen, VIU, SaskPolytech, NSCC, Holland College, CNA and Memorial University.

Almost every institution has cancelled large events on campus, with a handful of exceptions, and two have even cancelled spring convocation (Dalhousie and Kwantlen) or presidential installation ceremonies (Dalhousie).

A dozen institutions have now announced campus fitness facilities are being closed (SAIT, uSask, Cambrian, George Brown, Humber, Laurentian, Mohawk, Sheridan, uToronto, York, Concordia and McGill), while others are reducing hours and introducing social distancing strategies.

Some institutions have closed entire campuses to the public (Red River, George Brown, Mohawk, Laurentian, St Lawrence in Cornwall, Concordia, and McGill) or even shut them down entirely, to all but a few designated employees (Mohawk, Concordia)

Many institutions are encouraging students to leave residence and move home, but some are offering refunds (Dalhousie) and others are not (uGuelph).

A couple of institutions are even hinting that a complete shut-down of operations could occur in future, depending on the recommendations of provincial health authorities.



Friday March 13, 2020 – PM

As of today, the COVID-19 responses have been strongest in Ontario and Quebec (where the provinces have closed K-12 schools for 2-3 weeks) and in BC and Alberta (where the provinces have banned gatherings of >250 people). More and more institutions are suspending face-to-face classes, and preparing to migrate to online delivery for the remainder of the term. So far, no-one has closed residences or campus services, although some adaptation of food services is being done. uLethbridge is making meal delivery service available to residence rooms to reduce exposure.

It is still challenging to determine how to handle labs, work placements and practicums. Some are also worried about federal policy on study visas for international students, should programs move entirely online. The question is starting to arise, too, about refunds for students who do not wish to switch to online delivery.

Several institutions have dedicated COVID email addresses (uLeth and uVic), and their social media personnel are attempting to respond promptly to queries. One has instituted a hotline phone number for questions.

Geez, I turn my back for a moment… This afternoon, 20 of the 51 Canadian colleges and universities on my list announced that they would be suspending classes next week, or for several weeks, and generally intend to switch to alternate delivery for the rest of the term.  Many of these announcements were  prompted by the Quebec government, but 12 Ontario institutions seem to have decided to follow the 8 institutions that announced similar plans last night. (I think uWindsor is the only one in Ontario yet to announce.)In Manitoba, the UofM has announced it is cancelling all classes March 16-16, and thereafter will have very few delivered in person. Red River College notably announced an immediate “Study Week” in which to assess and plan for alternative delivery, exams, and work-from-home arrangements. (How refreshingly calm!)

In Alberta, where UofA, UofC, and UofL all announced that they were cancelling classes for today, they have extended the cancellations through the weekend. But UofC has explicitly announced that classes will resume Monday through alternative delivery, while the others will be making further announcements later. SAIT, NAIT, Mount Royal and Bow Valley are following the province’s direction by cancelling gatherings of more than 250 people, but continuing with classes uninterrupted. (It helps if your class size is below that threshold, doesn’t it?)

In Saskatchewan and BC, no institutions have announced changes to classes yet – although the day isn’t over in BC yet!  So far, all are still proceeding with business as usual.

Many institutions are worrying about the impacts on IT systems and internet bandwidth this shift to “alternative delivery” will have.  The suspension of classes may also have an impact on the completion of term: UoGuelph has already indicated that the term will be extended by a week.  Other institutions are proposing to end the term on time by eliminating the exam period.  Almost all have indicated that they are working to eliminate in-person exams, and in some cases are encouraging faculty to grade students based on coursework already completed instead.

So far, all residence halls remain open, although campus services may be reduced. That situation may change if multiple cases of COVID-19 are confirmed on campus, at which time Canadian institutions may need to follow the lead of US schools, who have started closing dorms.

The situation is bound to get worse for a couple of weeks yet, before it gets better. It’s exhausting me just trying to keep this blog up-to-date!


Friday March 13, 2020 – AM

Although many Canadian institutions have not made any new announcements since March 11, others have been intensifying their response to COVID-19. It is apparent that more and more, institutions are meeting with their provincial health officials and deciding upon coordinated measures. Recent provincial changes have been to intensify travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, and to stipulate no public gatherings larger than 250 people. In general, institutions have been moving from travel bans, to event cancellations, to moving all classes online. That progression looks inevitable; it is simply a question of when the changes get announced.

At 8:00pm last night, Western University and its affiliates (Brescia, Huron, King’s) announced that all classes would be cancelled March 13-17, to give faculty time to adapt for online-only delivery from March 18 until the end of term. All buildings and offices would remain open. Clinical placements would continue. Contingency plans for exams were still being developed.

At 10:30pm, Ontario Tech U announced that in-person classes would be cancelled for March 13, while they assess the potential for switching to online instruction for the rest of term. Large on-campus events until April 3, including Open House, have been postponed, along with mid-term exams scheduled for this weekend.

Around midnight in Alberta, the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge all announced that all classes would be “temporarily suspended” on Friday March 13, to allow consultation, but were expected to resume Monday March 16.

Also last night, NAIT announced that classes would continue but any large events (over 250 people) would be cancelled, in keeping with the provincial direction. On-campus eateries would be limited to 225 seats. All employees would be allowed an additional 10 days of paid sick leave for COVID-19 related absences. All international travel is now restricted.

At about 5pm in BC, Kwantlen Polytechnic U announced that it would be cancelling all large events (over 250 people), including spring convocation, and cancelling all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the US. Likewise BCIT announced all travel outside Canada was cancelled or suspended.

Notably UBC does not seem to have cancelled or banned any travel, or cancelled any large events, as of 5:00pm March 12.


Thursday March 12, 2020 – PM

It has been a busy day on the COVID-19 front, as institutions have continued to update their policies and precautions.

In a nutshell, travel restrictions have gotten tighter, and events have been cancelled more broadly, often until the end of April or even September.

I have switched from a series of excel documents to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, which I think we can all edit collaboratively.

Since my last note a couple of hours ago, we’ve seen:

Memorial University has suspended all international and out-of-province travel until further notice, and is considering event cancellations.

University of New Brunswick has cancelled all student travel to countries with any level of risk, 1-4.

Western University is “advising” that all discretionary events with more than 50 people scheduled between now and April 30 be cancelled, postponed, or offered virtually. (They are waiting to make a decision about Congress 2020, May 30-June 5, one of the biggest conferences in Canada.) They have also indicated that a decision will be made before end of day tomorrow (March 13) about flexible options for online-only learning.

Mohawk College has cancelled all events and facility rentals until the end of April, and is asking faculty to move as much content as they can online, and warns that the college “may need to close” if the situation escalates further.

Red River College has announced that it is suspending all events and large gatherings until the end of April.

The University of Saskatchewan announced it is currently considering remote/online learning methods and work-from-home options, should they become necessary.

The University of Calgary has extended its travel ban to 11 affected countries until September.

Today I’ve also come across campus videos from a number of US schools, as well as BCIT, St Clair College, and King’s University College. (They’re in my playlist).



Thursday March 12, 2020 – AM

The Coronavirus pandemic is a fast-moving story, and it clearly will continue to accelerate.

This morning I finished my review of selected Canadian institutional websites for COVID-19 policies and announcements, and have posted an updated version of the Excel sheet.

Notably, the University Canada West website seems to be offline entirely, after closing their campus for 3 days to disinfect after 2 cases among their community. (Anyone know what’s up there?)

As I mentioned last night, Laurentian University has cancelled all classes after 1 case, although their business offices continue to operate as usual.

(At the other extreme, I can’t find ANY mention of COVID-19 on the NBCC or CNA websites yet.)

Some institutions are indicating that they are starting to plan for “flexible options” (Western) or “academic continuity” (Humber) in the event that their health unit advises cancelling in-person classes.

While most institutions defer to their local health unit on quarantine protocol, and to the federal government on travel advisories, quite a few have taken the step already to cancel all student travel abroad, and suspend all work-related travel. A few include the US in their travel ban. Algonquin, Mohawk and uAlberta seem to be the only ones prohibiting domestic travel for work purposes, at this point.

So far only Laurentian and Seneca have published that they have cancelled events, but several institutions are cancelling events on a case-by-case basis, or signalling that they may be taking this step soon. While half a dozen are moving their campus open houses to “virtual” ones this weekend, others are still promoting the traditional campus visit approach. (Sorry I have just started tracking this, so my spreadsheet is not complete).

As I mentioned in yesterday’s note, most institutions report an increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, or even “fogging” (at Humber).  Only uVic and Humber have indicated that they are waiving the requirement that students obtain a doctor’s note for absences — although that seems like a good idea.

George Brown College has the only sign-language video on COVID-19 that I have seen so far.

St Lawrence College has reproduced a memo from their health unit encouraging students to stay away from St Patrick’s Day parties next week.

Conestoga College has declared all campuses “handshake-free environments”.

I’m apparently not the only futurist to have thought about this; Bryan Alexander is keeping a running list of hundreds of US closures in this Google Doc.

Alex Usher reports that Austria has ordered all its universities to halt lectures, Greece closed all its universities for two weeks, and many other institutions across Europe have closed for the next two weeks.

It’s likely going to be impossible to keep entirely up-to-date on this, but I’ll do what I can.



Wednesday March 11, 2020 – PM

FYI, in the past 2 hours, some institutions have intensified their responses to the Coronavirus, particularly around travel restrictions and campus events:

Western has postponed its March Break Open House (scheduled for March 14)

Conestoga has cancelled study abroad and put all employee travel on hold.

George Brown has suspended all travel until the end of April.

Sheridan has suspended all domestic and international travel until September.

College of the North Atlantic has suspended all inbound/outbound international travel, and all out-of-province travel, and cancelled all large gatherings.

NAIT is discussing business continuity and work-from-home arrangements.



Wednesday March 11, 2020 – AM

COVID-19 has been turning airline schedules, conference and study-abroad plans upside-down — and at an increasing number of institutions, has led to classrooms being moved online, residence halls being emptied, and even complete campus shutdowns.

Thanks to all who have started to share their own web URLs regarding COVID-19. I have started assembling some comparative stats in an Excel spreadsheet.

What I have noticed so far:

I have not found any institutions reporting any cases of COVID-19 yet.

Most are reporting they have increased the frequency of cleaning on campus, and are recommending people self-quarantine per federal guidelines.

Most institutions have started broadcasting messages about hygiene and discretionary travel. Some have suspended or banned travel on behalf of the institution. Many are forbidding sanctioned travel to countries under a federal level 3 or 4 travel advisory. Some (Humber, Mohawk, SAIT) seem to have banned all international travel, at least for students. A few (Algonquin, Mohawk, uAlberta) seem to have banned non-essential domestic travel too.

uVic has the most comprehensive page, describing many details such as sick days, conference expenses, etc.

So far, only Mohawk has said it will be making decisions about cancelling events on a case by case basis going forward. No other institution seems to have mentioned it yet.

uVic and Humber have indicated that they will waive the requirement for students to get a doctor’s note for absences up to 14 days.

uVic and uCalgary have indicated that they will ensure employee pay continues uninterrupted, even if their sick days are exhausted.

So far, no one seems to be encouraging remote work or online meetings.

An increasing number of US institutions are switching live classes to online delivery for at least a few weeks after spring break. Humber reports that “academic continuity kits” have been prepared for faculty – which sounds like the first mention of moving classes online (?).

No one has yet closed a residence or campus, among these institutions.

The situation south of the border is more extreme. Harvard, Stanford and others have announced their campuses will be closed after spring break, and students are being evicted from some dorms.

I’m building a playlist on YouTube of institutional updates and messages, town halls etc.


I spoke too soon. Laurentian University just acknowledged its first case of Covid-19, and announced that it would be suspending all classes.

All the predictions are that cases of COVID-19 will skyrocket in the next week in North America, as they did in Italy.

Hang tight everybody!


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