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 August 21, 2020

CdnPSE Enrolments

Universities sound fairly bullish about enrolments this Fall, although things won’t be entirely clear until after the course withdrawal dates…

Overall, Ontario universities report a 2.26% increase in confirmed first-year students this fall (107,001 this year, 104,635 last fall). This does not reflect upper-year or graduate enrolments, and of course it is not spread evenly across the province. Global

Laurier reports “very strong” interest in its 2020/21 programs, and an increase in the number of incoming students who considered WLU their first choice. Enrolment is “in line with our expectations,” although students are “now in the process of making their final decisions in unusual and challenging circumstances.” Global

uLaval reports preliminary data that shows a 4% increase in CEGEP graduates enrolling, although the data won’t be confirmed until Sep 30. Courses will be delivered in 6 modes, with the majority hybrid or co-modal. Laval

uWaterloo reports that “fall enrolment appears to be up,” although they won’t have official numbers until Nov 1. Global

With far more hands-on, trades and technical programs, many Ontario colleges are more anxious about enrolment declines this fall. (In the past few months we’ve heard some brutal scenarios being considered at Sheridan and Conestoga, for example.) It has always been true that universities can lower their admission cut-offs and scoop students out of the college pool, whereas colleges have no such option.

CdnPSE Updates

Face mask policies are being intensified on campuses in BC, QC and PEI, while remote working is being extended to the end of 2020…

uAlberta’s new president, Bill Flanagan, advised the community that “most of us who are currently working remotely will continue to do so until at least Dec 31,” and that a decision about the Winter term will be made by November. uAlberta

BCIT is now “strongly recommending” masks in all indoor common areas. BCIT

uCalgary reports an employee in “Science B” tested positive for COVID19 4-7 days ago, but they “were not on campus when they were infectious.” uCalgary

Holland College (PEI) launched Phase 3 of its Ease-Back Plan on Thursday. Face masks are now “strongly recommended” and a daily self-assessment is mandatory. More than half their full-time programs will be blended. Holland

Montréal’s 12 CEGEPs plan a “variable” approach to resuming classes this fall, with some students in class regularly, others purely online, and others taking hybrid courses (particularly at Dawson College). On campus precautions will include physical distancing, face masks, and even goggles “where necessary.” Some institutions are aiming for 30% of students back on campus, while others “want a maximum presence.” (Thatsounds worrying…) Montreal Gazette

Selkirk College (BC) announced yesterday that face masks will be mandatory on all its campuses in all indoor common areas and “where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.” The College ordered 6,000 masks from a local quilting shop for staff. Selkirk

Testing, Testing…

Several provinces have imposed new testing requirements on students in quarantine. In Ontario, students who have been outside Canada need to quarantine and test negative once. In Nova Scotia, students from outside the “Atlantic Bubble” have to quarantine and get THREE tests…

Acadia U announced yesterday that the provincial government now requires all students arriving in Nova Scotia from outside the “Atlantic Canada bubble” complete an online check-in, self-isolate for 14 days, and get 3 COVID19 tests during that time. There will be a testing facility on campus. Acadia

Dalhousie U announced the same requirements yesterday, although the testing will be scheduled by Nova Scotia Health, and may be off-campus. Dal

Queen’s U provost Mark Green emphasized yesterday the important role of students in containing the pandemic, and their responsibility to test negative before leaving home to move to Kingston. Quarantine is “strongly recommended” for Canadian students upon arrival, and mandatory for international students. (Ontario is requiring students arriving from outside Canada be tested at least once during the quarantine as well.)  Queen’s Gazette


Thursday August 20, 2020

In-Person in Canada

In addition to StFX, Providence and Bishop’s, CdnPSEs Acadia, CMU and Redeemer have ambitious plans to deliver much of the traditional campus experience next month…

Acadia U has almost 25% of its staff back on campus now, and will be “returning to full operations” on Sept 21. Chronicle Herald

Canadian Mennonite U in Winnipeg has released a detailed 30-page framework for 2020-21 education and operations. Courses will be delivered in-person, virtually, and hybrid – although should the PHO return Manitoba to Phase 0 or 1, CMU would likely close dorms, move all classes online, and request students return home. CMU

Redeemer U expects 85% of its 850 students back on campus this fall, but has invested $800,000 in technology to move classes online if necessary. University Affairs

Reductions in Residence

Probably influenced by US coverage, this week Canadian news reporters have been covering plans for campus and residence…

uGuelph expects 500 students in campus housing this fall, rather than 4,000+, so it will be operating at about 12% capacity. Only in “special circumstances” will students be accepted to residence. CBC

Laurier has halved its residence capacity this fall to just 1,800 instead of 3,700, but expects to admit even fewer students than that. Record

uWaterloo expects 2,000 students in its dorms this fall, rather than 5,750, so it will be operating at about 35% capacity. Move-in will take place over 2 weeks instead of 2 days. Record

CdnPSE Updates

In other news, an animated reopening video, an extension of the Fall status quo through the Winter term, and new policies for academic compassion…

uAlberta will be largely online this fall, but this professionally animated 2-min video is for those who might need to visit campus, albeit briefly. There’s something calmly reassuring about the style. YouTube

Okanagan College has just announced that courses in the Winter 2021 term will continue the Fall approach: “a blend of online and hybrid courses.” Okanagan

Ryerson’s senate has approved new policies for the fall term, allowing students one undocumented request for academic consideration per term, and streamlining processes for appeals. Ryerson


Wednesday August 19, 2020

Briercrest College (SK) announced yesterday that they will delay the start of their fall semester to Sep 7, to align with the province’s change to the K-12 schedule. (Briercrest also operates a Christian high school.) Briercrest

St Clair College reported on Monday that a student has tested positive for COVID19. “Several hundred” stranded students have been back on campus since early July. The risk of spread on campus is “low,” although classmates have been asked to self-isolate. Windsor Star

Ontario Police College, in Aylmer, reports that 4 recruits (1% of the class) tested positive for COVID19, and their contacts are self-isolating. Classes have resumed. Global

Cape Breton U has published a colourful 18-page handbook for students, Thrive at CBU, to serve as “a starting point and checklist” as they begin an online year. (Ironically, it looks as though it’s intended to be a print piece.) CBU

uWaterloo has launched a very visual Welcome Back Waterloo guide for employees on the web, and a matching 2-min video about COVID19 precautions for students, complete with slick infographics. YouTube

Tuesday August 18, 2020

The Inevitable

Call me a pessimist (or “the prophet of doom” – I answer to that, too). Based on the patterns we’ve seen unfold around the world over the past 6 months, it’s pretty safe to assume we will see the following in the months ahead too: Campuses will gradually reopen in phased manner, slightly behind the regional PHO guidance, with extensive attempts to maintain dynamic social distancing. All campuses will require masks in public indoor areas, at least part of the fall. (As a last nod, I will mention that uRegina has now announced mandatory masks effective Sept 1 – joining the 64% of institutions who have already made it policy.)

Many institutions will likely encourage use of the national COVID19 contact tracing app, and all will ask staff and students to screen for symptoms on a daily basis (although 40% of those infected experience no symptoms). Some may publish their results to dashboards, like uCalgary or UT Austin – who with 450 cases on campus is currently the national leader. To minimize campus density, large classes will remain onlineand many staff will continue to WFH. When they open at all, student residences will operate at half capacity, dining halls will provide prepackaged meals for take-out, and fitness centres will require booked appointments, spaced equipment, and showering at home.

Youth infection rates will continue to rise, as they have been doing in BC, Alberta and Manitoba in recent days, and some percentage of students will arrive on campus asymptomatic but infected. Parties on- and off-campus will meet with public outcry, administrators and student leaders will try to rein in student behaviour, but the inevitable outbreaks will result in extensive quarantines and potentially campus closures. (You would think it would take 14 days for symptoms to show, but UNC proved if you do COVID testing you can be overwhelmed even sooner than that.)

I suspect almost all CdnPSEs will hold firm on their tuition fees, although most are discounting part of the ancillary fees that relate to campus-only services. (I haven’t been reporting those because I’ve been assuming it will be pretty consistent.)

Plans for Winter 2021 Term

Although it’s starting to look inevitable too, I will keep an eye on early announcements for the winter 2021 term, at least for a while yet. Some outliers like Cambridge, NSCC, OntarioTech, Queen’s and York made the declaration early, but most CdnPSEs are still actively considering it. Dalhousie U’s acting Provost announced yesterday that the winter term (Jan-Apr 2021) will see “a mix of online and in-person instruction… provided this can be done safely.” He observes, “we can say with confidence there will still be significant public health measures required in January to limit the spread of COVID19 — particularly given the possibility of a second wave of the virus and the absence of widely accessible treatments or a vaccine.” Final decisions on specific courses will be made by mid-September. Dal

uCalgary’s summer Vet Camp for kids went virtual this year, with interactive video content on the anatomy of cows, horses, cats, dogs and birds, and a range of veterinary skills like bandaging, wildlife rehabilitation, disease monitoring and biosecurity. The students running the program created hours of video content, and hosted Zoom calls with the campers from all across the country – who got swag bags, scrubs, and a stethoscope. uCalgary

King’s UC at Western has launched a “virtual Student Life Centre” to allow the campus community to take part in online gatherings, virtual O-week, lectures and research seminars. It includes an event calendar, wellness resources, gift shop, information about student clubs, and a new online meeting room. King’s

Mount Royal U (Calgary) has a wonderful library staffed by some talented folks – you may recall I visited them for episodes of Ten with Ken about the evolving role of libraries, and the MakerStudio in particular. This week, they’ve released an upbeat 4-min video tour of the library’s services for the fall term, from contactless pickup and digitization services to online research support. YouTube


Monday August 17, 2020

Controversy at Laurentian over a threat to 17 programs, no change in the waivers at StFX, limited dining options at STU and MtA, part-time “COVID ambassadors” at Bishop’s, and reopening details at uToronto and uWindsor. Plus SaskPoly joins the mandatory masks movement…

Bishop’s U student services and the students’ council are jointly recruiting “COVID Ambassadors,” to work 2 hours per week to support “Protect BU” efforts in social media, events, outreach and community organizing. The job description says it is seeking “difference makers” who “inspire and encourage peers.” BUSRC

Laurentian U has suspended admission to 17 programs this fall because of low enrolment, including Archaeology, Anthropology, Geography, Modern Languages, and Music. The “shocked” faculty association says Senate was not consulted. The university argues that the programs have not been suspended, only admissionsto them. LUFA and CAUT are seeking a judicial review. CBC

Mount Allison U is planning “pop-up barbecues” each week, and a “golf cart food truck” which will also deliver meals to students who are in isolation or quarantine. CBC

St Francis Xavier U is unique in Atlantic Canada for requiring students to return to campus, and requiring them to sign a liability waiver. Legal experts question whether the waiver will be enforceable, because the students are in an unequal bargaining position, but StFX will not be insured against COVID19 losses past December. Residents of the 4 nursing homes in Antigonish are reportedly anxious about the potential for an explosive outbreak. “There is no duty of perfection… it’s always measured on standards of reasonableness.” Chronicle Herald

St Thomas U (NB) will require all students in residence to purchase a $3,995 meal plan this year, with fewer locations, limited hours, and fewer options. “Based on students’ sleep schedules,” STU will not offer breakfast at all this year. CBC

SaskPolytech will require face masks “at all times while on campus” starting Aug 24. Twitter

uToronto’s Athletic Centre will reopen for September with 4m distancing between gym machines, reduced pool occupancy, outdoor fitness classes, and advance bookings required. An eSports league, introduced this summer, will return for fall. Libraries will offer curbside pickup of physical materials (quarantined for 3 days), and physically distanced study areas. Dining services will offer quick service and grab-and-go meals, which can be preordered using a mobile app. Larger seating areas will be reconfigured for “physically distanced eating,” and they are exploring the use of greenspace for outdoor dining (“while the weather is good”). uToronto

uWindsor is preparing for a gradual return to campus. “Classes will be primarily online, and most of our staff and faculty will continue to work remotely — at least for now.” A COVID19 self-assessment will be added to the “SafeLancer” app, a “Zone and Flow” analysis is being done of campus, and students and staff alike will be provided with 3 reusable cloth face masks. uWindsor



Friday August 14, 2020

Staying Virtual

uAlberta has advised most faculty and staff that they will continue to work remotely until “at least” Dec 31. uAlberta

Ryerson, Seneca, uToronto and York U have all decided not to hold in-person fall convocation ceremonies this year. Global

uToronto Mississauga students have painstakingly built a virtual replica of Deerfield Hall, the main home of UTM computer science students, in Minecraft. The recreation used publicly-available floorplans and photos to recreate the building room-by-room. An impressive 5-min walkthrough video appears on the UTM Youtube channel. UTM

Mandatory Masks

My list of 92 CdnPSEs now has 51 at which masks are mandatory, and 10 where they are recommended or optional. So we’re at 66% and rising! Here are two new additions…

Lethbridge College will require face masks in on-campus indoor public spaces, effective Aug 17. Lethbridge News Now

MacEwan U now requires masks or face coverings be worn in all public spaces on campus where it is not possible to be distanced by at least 2m. MacEwan

Other Updates

uCanada West is offering international students a “Refund Guarantee”: if their study permit is denied, they will receive “a full refund, except for administration fees.” Twitter

Georgian College reported Wednesday that a member of its Barrie campus community has tested positive for COVID19. The College’s COVID19 protocols activated additional safety measures including entry screenings, mandatory masks and enhanced cleaning. Georgian


Thursday August 13, 2020

Ontario, UK Enter Recession

Ontario’s finance minister finally accepted what was pretty clear to most of us back in April – we have entered a recession. Somehow, the drop of 6.6% projected for the year is nothing compared to the UK’s unprecedented 20% crash in economic output in Q2.

Chatbots Deployed at Laurier

Wilfrid Laurier U launched 3 new “Hawkbots,” online chatbots to assist future students (and selected current students) with academic advising questions about admissions, registration, exams and academics. AVA, RAVA, and ISAAC will provide immediate responses to students, redirect them to web resources, and reduce the number of routine inquiries coming to staff. WLU

Durham launches DC Ready microsite

Durham College has just launched a new “DC Ready” microsite, to help students get settled and guide them through changes to operations and course delivery. “Full of helpful links and resources, the site is also home to our DC Ready Guide, a valuable academic success tool preparing students for their fall semester.” Durham

Campus Updates

Assiniboine CC was previously in my list as a “masks encouraged” campus, but now they are “Masks Expected.” ACC

Brandon U has made masks mandatory indoors effective immediately. (The city has experienced an outbreak associated with at least 22 cases at the local Maple Leaf Foods processing plant.) Brandon

Conestoga C emphasizes that “all employees (and students) must always wear college-issued face masks while inside college facilities… Some employees may choose to wear personal face masks while approaching the entrance or waiting to enter the building, but a college-issued face mask must be worn inside and while performing college work.” These measures “will be strictly enforced.” Conestoga

Kwantlen Polytechnic U president Alan Davis has launched a weekly video message in the lead-up to September. YouTube

UNB requires face masks in the presence of others in common areas and shared spaces, in addition to maintaining a 2m physical distance. UNB

Sault C has extended the withdrawal period for full-time first-year students this Fall until Oct 9, with no financial or academic penalty. “We understand the complexity of this decision particularly given the current COVID19 situation and the changes to the way we will be delivering programming in the fall semester.” (The announcement studiously avoids the word “guarantee,” but this seems very similar to those announced by other Ontario colleges in the past month.) Sault

Selkirk C studio arts students have returned to the Victoria Street campus in Nelson to complete projects from the abruptly suspended winter term. The college features a student in the Blacksmithing program, who has eagerly returned to complete a “bronze pour.” Selkirk


Wednesday August 12, 2020

Virtual Orientation

More and more institutions are promoting online orientation programs for incoming students, typically including videos, webinars, or self-paced online courses. Here are a few recent examples…

Cape Breton U is launching its “StartSmart!” program Aug 17, for new and returning students to learn study skills and digital tools, and connect with faculty, staff and students. A series of videos are available all summer, and some scheduled virtual events are planned starting the last week of August. CBU

uManitoba has launched summer programs to welcome its incoming class of Bisons, including UM Essentials (online orientation), and UM Commons (an online hub to connect students to resources, services, peer tutors, 7 student communities and “countless” clubs). UM is also offering a 3-week Math Boot Camp (Aug 10-28), Prep Week (Aug 31-Sep 4) and Welcome Day (Sep 8). As students complete modules and participate in discussions, they accumulate badges and entries into draws for bookstore prizes and $500 tuition vouchers. uManitoba

North Island College has launched a virtual orientation including “a full suite of online videos, webinars, tours and other resources.” Prerecorded sessions went live last week, and webinars are planned throughout August. Even prospective students can attend, and there’s a chance to win a Google Chromebook. NIC

Yukon U provided more details to students yesterday about the “primarily online” Fall semester, which will be delivered synchronously via Zoom and asynchronously via Moodle, and protocols for returning to campus. “At this time, we anticipate the Winter and Spring 2021 semesters will be the same.” A new Connect2YukonU team brings together staff from Admissions, Student Services and the Academic Support Centre to serve current and prospective students in one spot. YukonU

Campus Updates

UBC has ordered 25,000 reusable cloth face masks and will distribute them on campus, but it is taking PHO direction and therefore not mandating masks on campus at this time. CBC

uOttawa has launched mandatory online training regarding self-assessment, hand hygiene and social distancing “for the limited few returning to campus this fall.” Masks are required in all enclosed public spaces, and a new COVID19 testing facility “may be in place during the first weeks of return to campus.” uOttawa

Queen’s U expects just 6,600 students on campus this Fall, rather than the usual 24,000, or about 27%. Residences will operate at about half capacity. Queen’s is using WFH and online delivery to decrease density on campus wherever possible. Whig-Standard

Queen’s U is making tuition and fee payments, award disbursements and course registration processes more flexible, including extended payment deadlines (Sep 30) and fall course drop dates, and waiving late fees and interest on unpaid balances. Queen’s

Simon Fraser U “requests” that all visitors to campus wear non-medical masks indoors, starting this week. SFU-branded cloth face masks will be made available soon. CBC

uVic is not requiring masks be worn on campus at this time, “unless physical distancing cannot be maintained.” Masks are “a matter of personal choice and may help to protect others.” CBC

A 3rd-year pre-med student at uWaterloo says she was alarmed by the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID19, so she created a game called Quarantrivia, in collaboration with the UW Faculty of Science. “The player follows Dr. Pixel through three rounds of multiple choice-questions, which must be answered correctly to destroy COVID-19 and save the Pixel World. KW Record

York U’s Senate executive has extended the Fall course planning principles to include the Winter 2021 term: preparing for remote delivery by default. “We expect most employees will continue to work from home throughout the Fall and Winter terms.” YorkU


Tuesday August 11, 2020

Quebec “Adjusts” K-12 for Fall

Quebec’s Education and Health ministers announced yesterday that parents will in fact have the option to keep their children studying from home this fall, provided they obtain a doctor’s note. Masks will be required for students in grade 5 and up in common areas. Students within a class will be considered a “bubble” who do not need to social distance. “An absence of cases [at school] is impossible” but “depriving [students] of school has very severe effects on their future life.” Montreal Gazette

Edmonton campuses of uAlberta, NAIT and MacEwan U are preparing for a fall of primarily remote learning, and intensified campus health precautions. UofA estimates that 12% of students will require in-person classes. NAIT reports a slight drop in enrolment for credit programs. CBC

uGuelph has announced $4M in new initiatives to support international students, faced with an increase in tuition this fall. Full-time international students will automatically receive a one-time $750 credit, and those in need can apply for a bursary of up to $1,250 per semester. International entrance scholarships have been enhanced to provide a $4,000 renewal in years 2-4, and emergency bursaries were expanded earlier this year. International grad students will automatically receive a $2,500 bursary, and may deferred tuition payments. uGuelph

uToronto is advising international students to obtain documentation that attendance on campus is “non-discretionary,” and to fly directly to Toronto Pearson so that the university can provide transportation directly to quarantine. The ArriveCAN app will simplify the process of submitting a quarantine plan. UofT

Trent U has advised 38,000 alumni and donors that their data was involved in the Blackbaud ransomware hack, which also affected Western U, uManitoba, uRegina and St Lawrence CGlobal


Monday August 10, 2020

Assiniboine CC is a “mask supportive environment,” meaning that “students, staff and the public will be encouraged to consider wearing a mask on campus, but will not be required to do so.” ACC

Brock U has just launched a new graphical tool for tracking the status of more than 20 categories of campus operations across 5 stages of activity. Currently in Stage 2, Brock hopes to advance to Stage 3 from Sep 1 “until at least Jan 2021.” Brock

Georgian College has published a “What you need to know” page for stranded students returning to campus, including a video walk-through, link to COVID19 protocols, and a handy one-page poster with 10 icons for student responsibilities. Students will need to complete an online training module, download the Safe@Georgian app, complete daily screening assessments, and wear face coverings indoors. Georgian

Mount Allison U and the town of Sackville NB are working together on the “MtA Sackville Bubble,” recognizing that COVID19 needs to be managed both on and off campus this fall. The Community Commitment “calls for everyone to stay informed, remain vigilant on and off campus, and to uphold COVID-19 regulations.” (The Mayor of Sackville starred in an Allisonian Update video on Friday.) “We’re all in this together,” says the student union president. Chronicle Herald

Mount Royal U established a mask policy in July, while uCalgary and SAIT imposed them in early August, and the City of Calgary’s bylaw requires masks in indoor public spaces as of Aug 1 – likely meaning that AUArts and Bow Valley College will follow suit. Calgary Herald



Thursday August 6, 2020

Campus Saint-Jean Threatened?

uAlberta is reportedly studying 9 restructuring scenarios to reduce its campus footprint and achieve more efficiencies – and 6 of those scenarios could lead to the closure of Campus Saint-Jean, UofA’s francophone satellite. Plans already call for 77 of CSJ’s 410 courses to be discontinued. Supporters of CSJ fear assimilation into UofA would amount to “cultural and linguistic genocide.” They may have a legal avenue, based on a 1976 agreement. CBC

Pass/Fail Grading

Although surveys find that at least three-quarters of students believe they should pay less for a “primarily online” academic semester, in Canada at least their protests have not had much impact. (Yes, some ancillary fees have been reduced or eliminated, but tuition fees have stayed stable or even increased.) In the past few days, students have been coming forward with a new demand…

uSherbrooke Summer Students seek Pass/Fail

Students at uSherbrooke are apparently lobbying for a return to the pass/fail grading option for summer courses this year. More than 2,000 Sherbrooke students have signed a petition – nearly half the students registered for the summer session. CBC

SFU Students seek Pass/Fail for Fall

More than 3,000 SFU students have signed a petition asking the university to offer a pass/fail grading option again this fall, arguing that “the quality of education… has decreased but expectations have stayed the same.” Global

Both UdeS and SFU have responded that the pass/fail grading this spring was offered because the delivery mode changed abruptly and without warning. The same is not true, they argue, for the summer and fall terms. Clearly students have a very different sense of the rationale to justify a change in academic assessment.


To reassure anxious students facing an online Fall term (and discourage them from deferring enrolment), several Ontario institutions have offered guarantees…

In late May, Ontario Tech announced a money-back “Student Experience Guarantee,” allowing students to withdraw by Oct 9 for a full tuition refund. Ontario Tech

Shortly thereafter, Sheridan announced a “Fall Experience Guarantee” with very similar terms. Sheridan

At the beginning of July, Fanshawe launched a 4-part “Experience Guarantee,” which allows students to defer tuition and fees, but not recoup them. Fanshawe

Now, Confederation College has unveiled a “Commitment” to first-year, first-semester students this fall. Those students can withdraw by Oct 7 and receive a full tuition refund. “These unprecedented times call for an unprecedented approach.” Confederation

Campus Updates

Algonquin College has “renewed and broadened” its partnership with Orient Education Services, which delivers 6 Algonquin diploma programs in Kuwait under the AC-Kuwait brand. The new agreement, which runs until August 2025, will see the branch campus operate under a new name: “The Canadian College of Kuwait – Algonquin.” Algonquin

U Canada West announced yesterday a blended delivery approach to Fall courses, which will see them reopen their West Pender and new Vancouver House campuses for “limited on-campus learning.” Masks will be mandatory, and “Student Health Ambassadors” will help ensure students maintain physical distancing. UCW will provide $455,000 in financial relief to international students required to self-isolate for their first 14 days. uCanWest

Laurentian U will begin Phase 2 of its Return to Campus plan on Aug 12, bringing more researchers to campus, opening more student services, and preparing to welcome nearly 500 students to residence. Laurentian

uRegina and St Lawrence College alumni and donor data was also involved in the Blackbaud breach in May. uRegina  |  SLC

SaskPolytech plans a “two-pronged” approach to delivery in the Fall, with “some limited in person learning opportunities,” particularly for apprenticeships, nursing and health sciences programs. The institution was in the late stages of finalizing a new strategic plan when the pandemic hit. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix


Wednesday August 5, 2020

Reopening Plans

I’ve shared many campus reopening plans in the past few months, but here are some released in the past few days…

Mount Allison U has just released a comprehensive 26-page COVID19 response plan, Back on Track, as a resource for students while the campus reopens. It emphasizes the commitment to protect a “MtA Sackville Bubble,” and includes information about self-isolation, updates to the student code of conduct, and changes to residence and dining.  MTA

Red River College in Winnipeg is already in phase 2 of its reopening, with some student supports resuming on campus, and is planning to commence Phase 3 on Aug 31, “to safely bring back as many employees and students to campus as public health guidelines allow.” There will be a “staged and deliberate shift from remote to on-campus work.” RRC

Trent U will begin a phased approach to reopening its Athletics Centre, starting Sep 1, including its pool. Staff, faculty, and others will be welcomed back in phase 2, possibly in October. Trent


Ontario Tech has published a new page of “What to Expect on Campus,” from enhanced cleaning protocols (at least 2-3x daily) to mandatory masks. All staff are responsible to disinfect their own computers and desk items, and shared equipment. Areas that have been left unoccupied for 7+ days do not require enhanced cleaning. OntarioTech

uToronto reports that it is inspecting and upgrading ventilation equipment in its academic and administrative buildings, to “meet or exceed industry and public health standards.” UofT is now using higher-rated MERV-13 filters, and ventilation will run for an extended period before and after building occupancy. uToronto

Trinity Western U has developed building safety plans, revised classroom capacities, planned new outdoor gathering spaces, and implemented new protocols for “daily deep cleaning” and regular sanitization of high-touch surfaces. Profs and TAs will clean classrooms between each use. The campus bookstore will sell facemasks at cost. Touchless sliding doors have been ordered for the main student building. TWU

Face Masks

As I outlined yesterday, the potential for aerosol transmission means that face masks are much more important than surface disinfections. Despite the innumerable, incredibly heated confrontations between violent anti-maskers and the poor retail clerks, waitresses or even police officers who confront them, more and more jurisdictions in North America are announcing mandatory mask policies to stem the tide of COVID19. Alberta announced last night that students in grade 4 and above will be required to wear face masks when they return to school next month, joining Ontario. (Quebec and Saskatchewan, on the other hand, are hold-outs.) The federal government will be issuing guidelines later this week, recommending face coverings for all children aged 10+, which should have implications for K-12 schools across the country.

As I pointed out several weeks ago, mandatory mask policies are proliferating on CdnPSE campuses, often reflecting local or provincial PHO orders. We’re now at 45% of my sample, and another 9% who recommend masks, including these new ones:

uLethbridge is making masks mandatory on campus beginning Aug 10, in “hallways, washrooms, elevators, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.” Masks have been ordered but will not arrive until late August. uLeth

NAIT now expects everyone coming to campus to wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces, including classrooms, labs, study spaces, public meeting rooms, washrooms and underground parking areas. Exceptions will be made for staff working in private offices, for those eating or drinking in designated areas, or engaging in athletic activities. NAIT

Trent U will be releasing a policy this week regarding the use of face coverings while on campus. All staff and students will be issued a reusable mask. Trent

uWaterloo has extended its mandatory face covering policy to include classrooms and teaching labs, not just common areas. uWaterloo


Most institutions have announced protocols that will require staff and students to self-screen each day before coming to campus, typically by answering a checklist of symptoms in the campus safety app, or perhaps taking their own temperature. (Some orientation packages include an inexpensive thermometer.) This summer, some colleges have instituted screening stations for those entering campus:

Centennial College will reportedly be pilot-testing temperature screening upon entry to its Morningside campus, this week.

Fanshawe College welcomed 1,000 “stranded” students from 34 programs back to campus last week, as a “soft launch” for health and safety protocols to be implemented in September, when 8,200 students will be studying in a hybrid format. This month, everyone entering campus must stop at one of 4 screening stations to answer questions and receive a colour-coded wristband. In September that will likely be replaced by an online screening tool. Interrobang

Contact Tracing

“Testing and Tracing” is the PHO refrain, so that once a new COVID19 case is identified, everyone who came into close contact with them can also be put into self-isolation. The process demands a sharp memory from the patient, and hours of time for trained health professionals to make the calls, but some technologies may accelerate the process…

Canada’s Contact Tracing App

The Canadian government released its COVID Alert app for iOS and Android last Friday, and within 3 days more than 1.1 million had downloaded it (including me). The app does not track location or personally identifying information, but keeps a log of Bluetooth “handshakes” with other devices also running the app. (You need to spend 15 minutes within 2 metres to be considered a “handshake.”) If one of those people tells the app they have tested positive for COVID19, your app will notify you of potential exposure. Initially pilot testing in Ontario, the app will roll out to Atlantic Canada next. (Obviously, to be truly effective everyone would need to have a capable smartphone, install the app, and carry it on their person.) iPhoneinCanada


Friday July 31, 2020

StFX Won’t Waive the Waiver

The St Francis Xavier U Board of Governors announced yesterday that “the new Student Community Protocols and the legal waiver remain the best way forward and a necessity in order for the University to welcome students to campus in the fall.” As currently worded, the waiver absolves StFX of responsibility for any “loss, damage, illness, sickness, expense or injury including death” of students or their kin, including due to negligence. 2 weeks ago, the NS Minister of Advanced Ed seemed to suggest that the waiver would be reworded, in response to a student backlash. Global

Blended Winter 2021 at Queen’s

Back in mid-May, Cambridge was perhaps the world’s first higher ed institution to announce it would deliver lectures online throughout the winter 2021 term. Most CdnPSEs have been silent on the issue, although several colleges have expressed the hope that things will return to normal in January (including Olds, George Brown and Holland College). Several have promised to make a decision in September or October. 2 have already announced a blended approach (Ontario Tech and NSCC), while Carleton has signalled as much. (You can see my realtime list here.) Yesterday, Queen’s U provost Mark Green announced that several faculties and schools have finalized plans for the Winter 2021 term, to deliver most first-year lectures remotely, with some academic activities (such as labs) on campus. Queen’s

Health Canada Reopening Guidance

Health Canada has published Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions during the COVID19 Pandemic, including risk assessment, travel restrictions, outbreak response, and mitigation strategies for the classroom, residences, student services, food services, and student life. Canada

Live Dashboard of Campus Cases

uCalgary has launched a “live dashboard” mapping any known cases of COVID19 on its campus. (Currently there is a single case of exposure 8-14 days ago in Zone 4.) President Ed McCauley says, “This will allow community members to choose their on-campus activity based on the level of risk with which they personally feel comfortable.” (It looks like a streamlined approach to issue updates in real time, without issuing media releases for each one.) uCalgary


Thursday July 30, 2020

Transnational Delivery in India

In collaboration with North American Business College (based in Mississauga ON), Loyalist College (in Belleville ON) has “established campuses in Chandigarh, Punjab and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India” to allow students to start 3 diploma programs in September. The small classes will be taught by NAB instructors, using Loyalist curricula, and the students will transition “seamlessly” into in-person classes in Canada once it is possible. Loyalist

Mask Updates

Dalhousie U provided a detailed update yesterday that face masks or coverings are required in all indoor common spaces, effective Jul 31, and that physical distancing must also be observed. Where physical distancing cannot be maintained, “appropriately certified PPE” is required. Dal

Masks Update: If you’re keeping score at home, of 92 institutions I’m tracking, 47 do not appear to have made a comment yet about a face mask policy (51%), while 37 have indicated that masks are mandatory in common areas (40%) and 8 have indicated masks are optional or encouraged (9%).

Residence Updates

Fanshawe College reports that it will house 739 students in residence this fall, operating at 45% capacity. Social gatherings will be “very rare or nonexistent” and masks will be required in all common areas. London Free Press

Lakehead U can accommodate up to 730 students in residence in Thunder Bay, and 229 in Orillia, while observing social distancing precautions. Any student interested in housing for Fall will be guaranteed the opportunity. Residence life activities will occur online and in-person. Lakehead

Laurentian U expects about 500 students to move into residence this Fall, most in mid-August for 2 weeks of self-isolation before classes start Sep 9. Double rooms will be converted to single occupancy, and masks are mandatory. Less than 1% of courses will be delivered on campus. CBC

St Lawrence College will welcome some “stranded students” back to campus Aug 4, and has posted new health and safety guidelines. Residences will reopen at about half capacity, with priority given to students with on-campus classes. Face masks will be mandatory. SLC

Western U plans to run its residences at 80% capacity, with about 4,000 students this Fall. Gatherings may occur more often outdoors than in the past. London Free Press

Creative Marketers

Memorial U has launched a new student tools and resources hub, “MUNUp,” to “support students in every way.” The microsite includes transition and orientation programs, services, virtual events and community engagement opportunities. MUN


Wednesday July 29, 2020

Cyber Headaches

Dispersed campuses with WFH students and employees leave institutions open to a whole range of IT security risks. This week we learned that hackers extorted ransom from Blackbaud, unsettling some of their client institutions. And internet trolls (perhaps with too much time on their hands in lockdown) have been creating fake “coronavirus party” accounts…

Ransomware Cyberattack on Blackbaud

Blackbaud, a cloud-based CRM, was hacked in May, putting sensitive information about donors and alumni at a dozen institutions in Canada, the US and UK at risk. The company paid a ransom and “believes there is no evidence” that data was shared. Western U and uManitoba are among the CdnPSE institutions affected. Western has reached out to its contacts, suspended the use of Blackbaud, and established a dedicated email address and phone line for concerns. Blackbaud

Fake “Coronavirus Parties” Accounts

uAlberta has clarified that the Instagram account, “uAlberta_Coronavirus_parties,” is “a fake that may have been created to cause harm.” Similar party accounts appears for uArizona and uAuckland. UofA filed complaints with Instagram, and the account was deleted 5 days later. uAlberta

Fall Planning

As institutions continue to announce more detailed plans for reopening campus, I am impressed by the comprehensiveness of BCIT’s document, developed with engineer consultants…

BCIT released a 90-page COVID19 Go-Forward Plan yesterday, developed with consultants Pinchin Ltd – and a 6-page executive summary. The plan includes all stakeholders’ regulatory responsibilities, best practices, risk assessment, and return to campus protocols. The appendices include some impressive graphics and flowcharts. BCIT

Booth UC (Winnipeg) announced yesterday synchronous online delivery for all courses this fall, with “limited F2F interactions at the instructor’s discretion.” YouTube

uManitoba has developed a phased approach to campus reopening, and the summer is phase 2 (preparing for Fall, limited activity, 3,000 researchers on campus). The Active Living Centre reopened this week, at ~25% capacity. uManitoba

Mount St Vincent U released a 27-page Fall 2020 Operational Plan yesterday. Almost all classes will be delivered online, residences will operate at up to 54% capacity, athletic facilities will be available to students by appointment only, and convocation will be virtual. Masks will be mandatory as of Jul 31. MSVU

Campus Updates

Acadia U’s senior leadership (President, Provost, VPs, and members of the Executive Council and Strategic Leadership Council) will all take an unpaid 6-day furlough in the upcoming fiscal year. Last month, senior leadership salaries were frozen and COLA suspended for at least 6 months. Acadia is projecting a $6.8 M deficit. Acadia

uAlberta student ONEcards will be virtual for those attending classes remotely, and physical for those coming to campus. uAlberta

Mount Allison U is recruiting “AVATARS” (Alumni Volunteers Acting to Assist Residence Students in Self-Isolation) for virtual check-ins Aug 15-29. Check-ins (by video call, text message, or other means) are to support and welcome students, and a brief questionnaire will allow many alumni to be matched based on shared interests. MTA

Tuesday July 28, 2020

Campus Tensions

uAlberta is merging its offices of University Relations and Advancement into an office of External Relations. The roles of University Secretary and General Counsel were merged in early July. The senior leadership team has been reduced in size by 22%, and compensation will decrease by 25%. uAlberta

uToronto’s 6 faculty and staff unions launched a petition last weekend to protest the plan for F2F classes this Fall, due to concerns about health and safety and insufficient consultation. Called “UofT’s Reopening Plan is NOT Safe Enough. We Need to Take Fall 2020 Online,” the petition has garnered 1,000+ signatures. Specific plans about delivery mode are being developed at the Faculty level. Globe & Mail

Web Tools

Fanshawe College has launched a “totally unique, free and easy-to-use… online learning readiness indicator,” to help students decide “if online learning is the right fit for your learning style.” Thousands of students have answered 10 minutes of questions about their self-direction, learning style, study habits, tech skills and computer equipment, and received the results via email. Fanshawe

Ryerson has launched a new student support hub, RU4U, to consolidate orientation, housing, athletics, admissions, wellbeing, and other student supports. Ryerson Ready is an enhanced summer transition program for incoming students. Ryerson

Returning to Campus

uLethbridge reports that 61% of its returning students say they will be back in Lethbridge in September, even though most classes will be online. 30% of their students are local. With social distancing measures in place, uLeth expects it can accommodate 400+ students in campus housing. uLeth

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced Friday that the Sep 25 convocation ceremony will be virtual. SMU


Monday July 27, 2020

200 Layoffs at Mohawk College

Mohawk College is forecasting a 10% drop in first-year domestic students, and a 75% drop in international students – leading to a projected $50 M shortfall. In response, the College has reportedly eliminated 64 full-time positions, and temporarily laid off 120-150 part-time and contract employees, as well as cancelling or postponing a raft of new initiatives and capital investments. Hamilton Spectator

uAlberta for Tomorrow

uAlberta’s new president is consulting the campus community (virtually) on a major strategic restructuring, UofA for Tomorrow (UAT), to include both academic restructuring and Service Excellence Transformation (SET). In all, they anticipate more than 1,000 jobs will be eliminated. “The magnitude and pace of change required have not been experienced by any Canadian university in recent times…. The significant cuts to our budget through the Campus Alberta Grant means that there will inevitably be a reduction in jobs. Contractual obligations prevent cuts and layoffs in certain areas and for certain roles.” But UofA is also looking at new revenue streams, including increased enrolment, a land trust, course-based professional masters degrees, microcredentials, and online or international programs.  uAlberta 1  |  uAlberta 2

New “Self-Funded” York Campus in Markham

The Ontario government announced its approval Friday for a new $275 M York U “Markham Centre Campus,” with construction to get underway “within a few days.” The new 5-acre campus, for up to 4,200 students, is slated to open in Fall 2023, and will focus on “professionally relevant degree programs and micro-credentials with a strong focus on digital technologies, entrepreneurship and experiential education in high demand areas such as business and entrepreneurship, data analytics, new media and communications.” Unlike the $300M Y0rk-Seneca campus, which the Ford government cancelled abruptly in Oct 2018, this campus is “self-funded” under the province’s new “Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework.” The premier said: “instead of the province writing multi-million-dollar cheques, we have developed a system that encourages the development of new campuses with a much smaller cost to the taxpayer.” Capital funding comes from York Region, the City of Markham, donor contributions and York U’s existing capital funds. The province will help support operating expenses after it opens. York

All-Inclusive Isolation at UofA

uAlberta has an isolation accommodation program for students, staff and faculty returning to Edmonton – and for international students coming to Edmonton to attend any PSE institution. The $975 package includes pickup from the airport, 14 days in a single residence room, room service for 3 meals a day and a snack, and medical supports. uAlberta

Mandatory Face Masks

Face masks are now mandatory on campus at uAlberta, Mount Royal, Nipissing U, and uWindsor, and “strongly recommended” at uRegina. Of the 90 institutions I am monitoring, 34 have announced mandatory mask policies (38%) and 7 have indicated masks are optional or encouraged.

Shuttered Rec Facilities at NAIT

NAIT will keep its recreation facilities closed this fall, and all student rec programs will be delivered virtually (such as “Fitness on Demand” and “Mind + Body Connect.”) The pool has been closed permanently, because it “required a significant investment to remain viable and had little connection to student programs, academic or athletics.” NAIT

Campus Prep at uToronto

uToronto facilities staff have installed sanitizer stations, signage about masks and traffic flow, and have shrink-wrapped desks and chairs in classrooms to ensure social distancing. Rooms that previously held 120 students will seat 20-30. Air dryers across 1,300 washrooms on campus have been replaced with paper towel dispensers. Faculty plan to deliver labs in person, but divided into multiple rooms, and simultaneously webcasting them for students who cannot attend. uToronto



Friday July 24, 2020

Reopening Campus

Across the country, to varying degrees and at varying paces, institutions are bringing “stranded” students back to campus, reopening some fitness facilities (and not others), implementing self-screening apps and forms. Somehow it makes it all viscerally clear to me when SAIT insists that pedestrians on campus must take the most direct route, and refrain from holding doors for others…

Algonquin College is 3 weeks into their summer pilot for stranded students, and students in Massage Therapy and Welding have successfully completed their Winter term. Based on that success, and Ottawa’s move into Phase 3 of reopening, Algonquin can invite more students back to campus in August. Algonquin

MacEwan U sport and wellness is preparing to reopen, starting with free outdoor classes and virtual training as of Jul 27. Aug 24, renovations will be complete and fitness facilities will reopen with reduced capacity (35 people), by reservation only. The gym should reopen Aug 31 and the pool Sep 7. MacEwan

Mohawk College is proceeding with its plans for a hybrid Fall term. Masks are mandatory, classes are capped at 50 people, and all events are cancelled until Dec 31. Limited food service and some in-person student services may be offered in September, but athletics and recreation facilities will remain closed. Mohawk

UNB’s “campuses will be open this fall following the guidelines of NB Public Health,” and teams have been working to ensure campus safety and to adapt teaching to include virtual formats. “Students will have flexible learning choices.” More than 600 faculty took teaching and learning PD this summer. UNB

St Lawrence College is preparing to welcome their stranded students back shortly for the summer pilot. All staff and students are urged to download the SLC Safe app, which includes a daily self-assessment tool. SLC

SAIT will require staff and students to complete a daily campus access form on its website, to confirm the self-assessment and gather information for contact tracing. Masks are required and disposable PPE must be discarded upon arrival. Everyone is advised to “take the most direct route” possible, and avoid holding doors for others. Vending machines, water fountains and food services will likely not be available. SAIT

Tyndale U has published a 5-phase reopening plan, and is currently in phase B (limited services), preparing for phase C (expanded services), which it hopes may begin Sep 1.  Full reopening (phase E) is “anticipated” for Jan 1 2021. Tyndale


By coincidence, quite a few announcements in recent days focused on residence precautions, fees, and move-in plans for the Fall…

Acadia U will welcome students back into residence between Sep 2 and Sep 20. Rooms will be singles only, floors will be split into “bubbles,” and students may be assigned washroom stalls. Acadia

uAlberta, uCalgary, and uLethbridge will not offer dorm-style residences this fall, because of shared washrooms and bedrooms. Instead they will offer apartment-style residences, but at a $2,000-$3,000 higher pricetag. Mount Royal U is reducing capacity in their apartment-style units. CBC

Mount Allison U will begin a staggered move-in to residences on Aug 14, to permit 14 days isolation for any students coming from outside the “Atlantic bubble.” Atlantic students will arrive as late as Sep 7. MtA

St Lawrence College residences will be running at 50-75% capacity this Fall, with priority for students with on-campus classes (primarily in the health sciences or skilled trades). Rooms will be single-occupancy with private washrooms. Residence life activities “will start in a digital format.” Move-in will be spread out over 5 days. Global

New Microsites

You MarCom types might want to check out a few of the newest examples of microsites addressing pandemic issues, the return to campus, and plans for the fall term…

Acadia U recently launched a new, highly graphical COVID19 microsite with a mobile-optimized interface. It features a symptom checker, reopening status, a news feed of the latest updates, and 6 tiles for information about academics, student life, health and safety, services, travel, athletics and events. Acadia

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has launched a new Fall 2020 webpage that has updated information about campus access, program status, and support services. SaskPoly

uWindsor has launched 2 “sister” microsites to manage the return to campus and Fall term. Return to Campus summarizes the current status of planning, guidelines for health and safety, and news on the latest developments. uWindsor Together provides students, staff, and faculty with “everything they need to learn and work in an environment that ensures their health and safety remains the paramount concern,” including a news stream, links to COVID19 updates, instructional resources, advice for online learning, and more. uWindsor


Thursday July 23, 2020

Canada Pulls in the Welcome Mat

Canada’s borders remain closed, even to our closest neighbours, until at least August. Foreign students with study permits or IRCC letters of introduction dated prior to Mar 18 can still travel to Canada, but only if it is essential. (CBSA agents at the border will make that decision on a case-by-case basis, but students who are established in Canada, or who are required to attend on-campus classes, should qualify.) IRCC’s guidance, issued Tuesday, says that students with permits dated after Mar 18 “should not make any plans to travel to Canada until the travel restrictions are lifted, as they will not be allowed to travel to or enter Canada.” Clearly the expectation is that most international students will study online for at least the fall term.  IRCC


Wednesday July 22, 2020

Detailed Reopening Plans

I have to admit, I won’t have the patience to read through all the campus reopening plans as we go forward, but I’ll try to capture the interesting new details from those I have the chance to review. As one of a handful of institutions aiming for most students to return to campus, StFX in particular is notable…

St Francis Xavier U is in a relatively fortunate position, located in Antigonish NS, with a community population of just over 4,000 people. It has published COVID19 Response Plans for students and employees, a Return to Research Framework, and a Campus Reopening Framework. (Some of these date back to mid-June, although the student plan was revised Jul 13.) They emphasize “shared responsibility,” the goal to “find new ways to preserve our unique, vibrant campus culture,” and the need to “proactively manage and respond swiftly” to symptoms or positive tests. Students must follow 7 protocols to be on campus, including symptoms checks, hygiene, contact tracing, physical distancing and masks. Although StFX plans to bring students back to campus, “face-to-face meetings should be avoided wherever possible.” The student code of conduct has been amended, and violations are a “major offence” that could result in residence or university suspension for up to 1 year. StFX is considering hiring 16 live-in Community Life Coordinators to monitor and enforce protocols in residence. Attendance must be taken at all F2F classes. StFX

uToronto has just published its Guide to a Safe Return to Work. The City of Toronto remains in Stage 2 of the provincial reopening, but once it reaches Stage 3 some dining and athletic facilities will reopen, and smaller classes may be able to resume. Those employees who can WFH will continue to do so. Managers will develop unit plans and provide PPE as required. Contact tracing will be done via the Occupational Health Nurse. uToronto

Library Innovations

Even before the pandemic, the majority of library subscriptions and new materials were increasingly digital. Particularly at research universities, though, print materials continue to be important – leading to some interesting innovations as research libraries cope with the “new normal”…

Collective Digital Versions

The HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) is an international collaboration between 150 university research libraries that has assembled more than 17 million digitized print items. Students and faculty can access online digitized versions of any print book already in their university library’s holdings, to respect copyright law. Canadian members include UBC, uAlberta, uCalgary, McMaster, uToronto, Queen’s and McGill. McMaster

Video, eBooks, Curbside Materials

York U Libraries are responding to online delivery by permanently adding >22,000 ebooks to the collection, expanding access to streaming video, and offering curbside pickup of print materials for grad students and faculty. YUL are also partnering with the Copyright office to help faculty with digital versions of course readings where possible, including permalinks, acquisition, or scanning under Fair Dealing. York

Bookmobiles at Your Own Curb!

Wilfrid Laurier U Library is making print resources available through a Bookmobile service for contactless delivery and pickup starting tomorrow. “Books to Go” are available to undergrad and grad students in Waterloo, Kitchener and Brantford. Digitization and scanning services to support online and remote learning resumed Monday. WLU

Remote-Controlled Computers

McMaster Libraries are providing students, faculty and staff with free remote access to dozens of often costly computer applications they need, from Adobe Creative Cloud to MATLAB, SPSS and Maple. The software is running on 140 public computers in the Mac libraries, and users can access them remotely. McMaster

Registrar Innovations

Naturally it’s not just libraries that have had to adapt. Ryerson’s registrar, Charmaine Hack, provides plenty of detail in this article for Ryerson Today…

Ryerson’s registrar had to migrate online in just 48 hours this spring, as well as deliver $3M in emergency bursaries, and handle 28,000 requests for credit/no credit grade changes. Open houses went virtual in April, and guided virtual tours launched in May. Email volumes increased 5x, to about 11,000 that month. They issued 14,600 offers of admission remotely. The ServiceHub launched a state-of-the-art remote call centre on Jul 6, capable of monitoring call volumes and routing callers to the right service specialist. They plan to launch a live chat function shortly. Oh, and launched a secure, verifiable electronic transcript system while they were at it! Ryerson

(Let me know if you come across good articles or videos detailing other initiatives!)

Misc Updates

Briercrest Christian Academy & College, in Caronport SK, announced yesterday “a combination of face to face instruction while also accommodating online instruction” for the Fall semester. Courses will be adjusted to “a modified tutorial format” to reduce contact time. The academic year will be delivered as 5 modular, 2-month semesters, with alternate-day classes. Briercrest

uToronto’s academic divisions have now posted details about Fall courses. 90% of undergrad courses will feature online delivery (synchronous or asynchronous) and one-third will also offer “in-person opportunities for connection through instruction, tutorials, labs and experiential learning.” (UofT’s VP Academic, Vivek Goel, stepped down last month to lead the university’s pandemic response.) uToronto

Face masks have recently been made mandatory in indoor common areas at Fanshawe College (Jul 18) and uWaterloo (Jul 27).


Tuesday July 21, 2020

Pandemic Momentum

Canadians may underestimate just how fortunate we have been so far, in bringing the pandemic curve under control. Daily case counts by region, province or state obscure the big picture, which should raise concerns as we plan campus reopenings…

The Pandemic is Still Accelerating

COVID19 has now infected almost 15 million people worldwide, killing more than 600,000 of them – and globally, the pandemic is continuing to accelerate. More than 3 million cases were added in the past 2 weeks alone, particularly in the US (884,625), Brazil (495,334), India (420,630), and South Africa (167,578). The US has in fact broken its own daily records 9 times in the past month, peaking at 77,255 new cases on Jul 16.

Short-lived Successes

The “second wave” was inevitable, but we didn’t see it coming so quickly. Melbourne, Australia, has had to implement fresh restrictions. States including Arizona, California and Texas have reversed course on their reopenings. After almost a month without local transmission, Hong Kong reports the pandemic is again spreading “out of control.” After 5 months without a case in Xinjiang China, scores of fresh cases have arisen and >3,000 people are in quarantine. Just as tourists start to arrive in Europe again, Spain has reported 200 outbreaks (since one of the world’s strictest lockdowns) and France currently has 500 active clusters. As soon as border restrictions ease and economies reopen, infections arrive and start fresh outbreaks.

Young & “Invincible”

As more asymptomatic youth aged 17-29 test positive for COVID19, concerns grow that they will fuel fresh outbreaks across the country – and particularly on PSE campuses…

Carefree Twentysomethings

While children and teens account for just 7.5% of COVID19 cases in Canada to date, those in their 20s now account for 14% – almost identical to the proportion in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. As provinces start reopening bars, restaurants, theatres and gyms, new cases among those aged 20-29 have surged in virtually every province. (They are also surging in the southern US.) Since many are asymptomatic, increased testing could be part of the explanation – but experts fear young people have a false sense of “invincibility” and are failing to take precautions as they socialize. They could become a major vector for the second wave.

Rebels without a Mask

Young people are not the only concern. As regions across Canada announce mandatory face mask orders, a backlash is brewing. On Sunday, protesters gathered to “March to Unmask” in cities across the country, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, London (ON) and Montreal. Many of them believe that “mixed messaging” about the effectiveness of masks is “propaganda” designed to play upon the fears of the public, and demand “freedom of choice.” Yet a recent national poll found 67% of Canadians support mandatory masks, and just 27% were opposed. (For that matter, a new US poll found just 20% of Americans opposed to mandatory masks.) Nonetheless, Republican governors in Florida and Georgiahave tried to override local mask bylaws.

Primarily F2F in Winnipeg

My index of 90 CdnPSE institutions includes just 4 who are still hoping against hope that they can bring the majority of students to campus in September: Providence UC, Redeemer U, Bishop’s U and StFX. Winnipeg’s Canadian Mennonite U isn’t on my list, but is in the news, for the same reason. They intend to offer “a full slate of in-person instruction,” with just a few “virtual extensions to learning for those who request it.” Many of CMU’s classes have <25 students, and they are confident they can implement social distancing protocols. Choirs might have to sing “with their backs to one another… all in different directions.” CBC

Monday July 20, 2020

An Arizona Option for Quest Students

Credit articulation and transfer agreements are so frequent that they hardly seem newsworthy, but this one is explicitly in response to COVID19 and border closures. American students enrolled at Quest U, in Squamish BC, will have the option to attend on-campus classes at Arizona’s Prescott College this fall. In response to COVID19, Prescott is adopting Quest’s 4×4 block plan for course delivery this fall, and both institutions offer interdisciplinary degrees. Quest students can transfer to Prescott and return to Quest on a reciprocal transfer. Prescott

Course Sharing in Canada

There have been several small-scale examples of course sharing in Canada, from Ontario’s Northern Colleges Collaboration to the 4 Maple League universities. As of Jun 30, Acadeum has now entered the Canadian higher education space in a partnership with Christian Higher Education Canada, and its 35 member universities, seminaries and bible colleges. CHEC

Workforce Training across Quebec

Groupe Collegia is a consortium of continuing education departments at 3 Quebec CEGEPs (Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, Cégep de Matane, and Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup), although they also access the provincewide system of 48 CEGEPs and 59 college centres for technology transfer. They collaboratively offer credit and non-credit full-time and part-time study, PLAR, and customized workforce training, online, in-person and in hybrid formats. Collegia

Shared Course Development in Ottawa

Carleton U and uOttawa are working together to develop and share accessible, bilingual online modules and courses for Fall 2020 through the Shared Online Projects Initiative (SOPI). “The initiative will increase institutional flexibility in online course and program delivery, allow instructors to engage in collaborative pedagogical innovations, and provide high quality learning experiences for students at the participating institutions.” SOPI provides instructors with grants of up to $8,000, and support from instructional designers, educational technologists and librarians from both institutions. Carleton

Conestoga has published Campus Access Guidelines for Students that establish student responsibilities including daily safety app screening, mandatory masks, no gatherings of more than 10 people, and 2m physical distancing. Faculty and staff are responsible for “compliance monitoring.” If students pose “an immediate safety threat” they will be immediately removed by security and “temporarily trespassed from campus” pending a conduct meeting with the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office. Conestoga

McMaster reports that its research reopening has gone well, and now faculty can request limited access “for occasional onsite work in extenuating circumstances.” McMaster

Mohawk College launched their Fall 2020 program delivery website on Friday, indicating whether specific programs will be delivered entirely online, or online with some “in-person requirements.” I count 80 programs with F2F components (particularly apprenticeships), or roughly half of the total. Mohawk

Nipissing U is still in phase 0 (restricted access) of its new Return to Campus Framework. Phase 1 (required access) will allow more employees to return under departmental staffing plans. Face masks have been made mandatory by the regional PHO starting Jul 24. Nipissing

Ryerson is circulating planning materials to managers for preparation of the campus for gradual reopening, but remote work will continue until at least September and likely “into the fall.” Face masks are now mandatory indoors, except in private offices, or during fitness activity. Ryerson

Seneca College is welcoming back about 80 “stranded” students, including those in Veterinary Assistant, and Pre-Service Firefighter programs. Seneca



Friday July 17, 2020

Demolishing Old Buildings at uAlberta

With about 1.8 million square metres of infrastructure and 11,000 hectares of land, uAlberta has a physical footprint 50% larger than its peer institutions – and its new president plans to eliminate some buildings to reduce the $150 M in annual maintenance and utility costs. (You may recall UofA already announced about 1,000 layoffs.) Likely on the chopping block: the 1957 Admin Bldg, the 1946 Nurses Residence, and perhaps the 1972 Humanities Centre or 1967 Human Ecology bldg. Edmonton Journal

Less Campus Life at uRegina

uRegina normally brings 20,000 people together in just a few city blocks – and that density is an unacceptable risk during a pandemic. Nearly all classes will be offered online this Fall, and residences will be operating at 56% capacity. The number of international students registered is up from last year, mainly due to returningstudents: applications from new international students are down nearly 75%. Campus life will be “extremely limited” but “students will still find ways to socialize off campus.” Regina Leader-Post

Doubling the Population of Antigonish

St Francis Xavier remains one of a handful of CDNpse institutions determined to bring students back to campus in 6 weeks. (The others include Bishop’s U, Redeemer U, and Providence UC). StFX officials held a virtual town hall this week to describe their plans to bring 4,500 students back to campus in September, effectively doubling the population of Antigonish. 40% of those students will come from outside Atlantic Canada, so they will need to self-isolate for 14 days. StFX requires off-campus students to submit a self-isolation plan, will be subject to random checks, and will be issued a green wristband once their self-isolation is complete. Violation of pandemic protocols is subject to a $1,000 fine in NS, and is a major offence under StFX’s revised code of conduct. The Telegram

StFX Waiver to be Reworked

Nova Scotia’s Advanced Education minister says St Francis Xavier U will reword the student liability waiver circulated last weekend. StFX intends to offer 72% of undergrad courses in person this Fall, but wanted to students to waive any and all claims for illness, expense, injury or death to the student or their close relatives – whether due to negligence, breach of contract, or any other duty of care. Student leaders are reportedly negotiating to have the waiver revised or replaced with a code of conduct.  Global


Thursday July 16, 2020

More Mandatory Masks

As I mentioned last week, mandatory face mask policies seem to be gaining steam on CDNpse campuses. New announcements have been made at Acadia, Bishops, Mohawk, Mount Allison, McGill, Queen’s, and SAIT. Masks are “encouraged” at UoGuelph. Of my list of 90 institutions, we’re now at 24 who have made masks mandatory indoors, when social distancing cannot be maintained – including most Ontario institutions, and all in Quebec (as of Jul 18).

Student Pushback

This year, students have been protesting everything from academic grading policies and residence evictions to racial injustice and police brutality. But as we approach Fall term, many are also expressing frustration with tuition fees, health and safety measures, and legal requirements like StFX’s liability waiver…

Waiving Student Waivers?

After several days of protests and international media attention, St Francis Xavier U has reportedly “relented,” “backing off its demand for students to sign a waiver.” The 3-page form, which waived any and all claims and imposed the terms on heirs and next-of-kin, was apparently imposed due to a lack of insurance coverage. President Andrew Hakin promised to “review this decision to ensure it presents the best way forward.” Although StFX is the first CDNpse example, Ohio State U required its football players to sign a statement acknowledging the COVID19 risk. Various US lobby groups have been urging Congress to indemnify colleges from liability if they resume classes this fall, without success. THE

Justifying Fall Tuition

Sheridan president Janet Morrison has written to students to address concerns raised at town hall forums, dispelling the myth that the College is “profiting” (in fact, it anticipates an $80 M loss), explaining why tuition fees cannot be reduced, describing services and supports for students, and emphasizing the quality of instruction they can expect this Fall. Sheridan

Clarity about Fall

As some hold-out institutions make their plans clearer for the Fall term, and others clarify previous announcements, the general drift is towards more online activity…

Acadia U has published a phased reopening plan, and delivery specifics for Fall 2020 courses, in 5 modes: Virtual Scheduled, Virtual Unscheduled, Hybrid Scheduled, Hybrid Unscheduled, and F2F on Campus. For the latter 3 modes, the timetable allows time for “structured entry and exit practices” and cleaning between classes. Acadia

Bishop’s U is qualifying its fall plan to return to campus. Some O-week activities will be online, large concerts and pub nights will be replaced with outdoor events throughout the term, face coverings will be required indoors, and “we must stand ready” to respond to PHO guidance and “modulate [our] work on short notice (as in Winter and Spring 2020).” Bishop’s

Briercrest College announced this week that they have submitted a revised Return to Campus Plan to the SK Ministry of Advanced Ed but are awaiting further guidance. “This plan would allow students back to campus to live in dorms and to study in a combination of face to face and online instruction.” However, “given the planning and travel required for students,” Briercrest Seminary will offer its courses online this Fall. Briercrest

uRegina has published a 3-page Teaching & Learning Plan Summary for students, including details about platforms, supports, health and safety protocols, limited low-density labs and studios, and student practicums and placements. uRegina

Western U has postponed its fall convocation (Oct 21-23). Degrees will be conferred in October and a virtual celebration will be planned. Currently, Western hopes to hold in-person ceremonies in May 2021. Western

Campus Safety Plans

Clearly BC institutions are all responding to PHO and Worksafe BC directives to prepare and publish written safety plans, but across the country many are detailing precautions and protocols for a safe return to campus…

uCalgary has shared “7 Ways Campus is Looking Different,” including: office kitchens, appliances and utensils are off limits; elevators will be limited to 1 or 2 occupants; furniture has been removed to discourage loitering; and one-way traffic signage. uCalgary

Capilano has published an 11-page COVID19 Safety Plan, outlining a 6-step process with checklists. Building and room occupancy limits have been revised based on 5 sq m per person. CapU hopes that BC will permit mixed-mode activities in September. Capilano

Durham College has released a 6-min video and 22-page “flipbook” outlining expectations of staff and students returning to campus. Durham

Emily Carr U has published a Community Health + Safety Plan which includes safety training, self-assessment, secure entry to campus, and room occupancy limits. Campus dining will be closed, and water fountains shut off. ECUAD

Kwantlen is approaching Stage 2 of its Academic/Operational Continuity Plan, which will allow “a gradual and tightly managed return to campus for a very limited number of students and employees.” This includes 3 activities: limited in-person labs, studios, or workshops; essential work; and short visits to access offices (for less than 2 hours). NO in-person meetings or events of any size are permitted on campus. Kwantlen

Mount Allison has published a health and safety preparedness checklist for students, including medical and health supplies for life in residence (like a thermometer, acetaminophen, masks, hand sanitizer, and flip-flops for the showers). MTA

Queen’s has published a 9-page return to campus guideline document, detailing engineering and administrative controls, cleaning protocols, HVAC enhancements, PPE approaches, and signage graphics. In general, 18.5 sq m will be required per person in labs and non-fixed seating areas; otherwise, hoteling, staggered shifts, or Plexiglas barriers will be employed. Employees will take staggered breaks and use of shared appliances will be discouraged. Many elevators and washrooms will be labelled for single occupancy. Virtual meetings and WFH will continue as much as possible. Queen’s

Returning to Campus

We’re steadily seeing on-campus research resume, “stranded” students back in labs, and in some lucky spots (like Manitoba) even more campus activity beginning…

Red River College entered phase 2 of its return to campus plan yesterday, welcoming more students back to campus for industry training. RRC

SFU has moved to the H2 phase of its impact scale, allowing “limited one-time, episodic in-person meetings, events, or ceremonies with approved safety plans and fewer than 20 participants… for faculty and staff only” in selected buildings. SFU

uWaterloo has commenced phase 2 of its research restart plan. Waterloo

Looking Ahead

Since environmental scanning and strategic planning are my day job, I find it encouraging to see some institutions proceeding with forward-looking plans, even in these challenging times…

York U has published its 2020-25 Academic Plan, emphasizing its “foundational commitment to the arts, humanities, and social sciences,” and to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. York’s plans include a new tech/entrepreneurship campus in Markham, and an integrated health precinct in Vaughan. York has deployed an AI “Student Virtual Advisor” and will use data analytics to enable proactive early interventions and supports. Selected strategies include a broader range of flexible credentials, experiential learning opportunities for every student, enhanced academic advising, cluster hiring to grow tenure-stream faculty, and more focused investments in large-scale collaborative, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects. Key research areas include “Indigenous Futurities,” “Integration of AI into Society,” and “Digital Cultures.” Moreover, York is “well placed over time to establish a medical school.” York


Tuesday July 14, 2020

Liability Waivers

I’ve written before about the legal minefield facing higher ed over the pandemic. Institutions are challenged every which way. If they open the campus, they may be accused of taking inadequate precautions or discriminating against immunocompromised students or older faculty members. If the campus stays closed, students will complain about tuition or ancillary fees, lost experiential learning opportunities, or discrimination on the basis of broadband internet at home.

Many US colleges have bowed to political pressure and announced that their campuses will reopen this fall, although many have also been seeking government protection from liability as a result of their choice. Here in Canada, StFX is the most confident institution that it will reopen campus in September, but they too are making concessions to their risk managers or insurance company. (I expect other institutions to follow suit)…

St Francis Xavier U is reportedly insisting that all students sign a liability waiver by Aug 1, indemnifying the university for any “loss, damage, illness, sickness, expense or injury including death … as a result of COVID-19 risks.” Students who do not sign the waiver will have their student account suspended, and will be unable to return to campus in September. Students are complaining that there are insufficient online courses to permit distance learning. Legal experts observe that a waiver is no defence against negligence. CBC

Returning to Campus

No matter how much their provinces reopen, most CdnPSEs are still directing employees to work from home if possible, to preserve campus capacity for essential research and teaching activity. Plans for students returning to campus this Fall include quarantine periods, face masks and plenty of disinfecting wipes…

McGill is “cautiously” moving forward with the resumption of select campus research, construction and instruction activity. All activities that can be “efficiently completed at home” must continue to be WFH. The EOC is asking all units to submit resumption plans for other necessary activities by Jul 16. McGill

Mount Allison will be reconfiguring residences for single occupancy, with increased custodial cleaning. House meetings will be virtual, and facemasks will be required when you cannot social distance. Students coming from outside Atlantic Canada need to arrive on Aug 14 or 15, in order to allow for 2 weeks of self-isolation before orientation. Parents will not be permitted on campus. YouTube

uManitoba has published a page on “preventing the spread of COVID19” that outlines precautions and guidelines for returning to campus. Everyone is to maintain a density of 1 person per 16 sq meters or lower in workplaces, and to wear a mask if that distancing cannot be maintained. Employees are responsible for disinfecting their own immediate workspace, keyboard, phone, vehicle, and shared equipment between users. “Our workplace is still a safe environment… without reasonable grounds, a work refusal may be considered an unjustified absence.” uManitoba

Summer Camps

While my tracking may not be perfect, out of the list of 90 CdnPSE institutions, I have noted 12 who have cancelled on-campus summer camps, and 6 who have announced they are continuing this summer…

In BC, camps were cancelled at UNBC and VIU (although CampVIU promises an online option.) In SK and MB, camps were cancelled at Briercrest, Brandon and uManitoba, and in ON, camps have been cancelled at Brock, Centennial, Durham, Guelph and Ottawa.

There is more diversity in AB, where SAIT cancelled campus but uAlberta, uCalgary and uLethbridge are proceeding. In QC, there is an urban/rural split between Concordia U in Montreal (which cancelled summer camps) and Bishop’s U in Lennoxville (whose camp is proceeding). Likewise Yukon U and UPEI are proceeding with summer camps, perhaps benefiting from sparser populations and certainly lower infection rates in their regions.

Events & Athletics

uCalgary has announced that on- and off-campus events with 15-100 people may be permitted to resume as of Jul 1, provided that they are entered into the Risk Assessment tool, and receive approval from Risk Management and Insurance. Events require pre-registration and attendance records, physical distancing (masks recommended), and the number of simultaneous events will be managed. Parking fees will be reinstated Aug 1. uCalgary

uRegina is allowing varsity athletes to return to campus starting this week, to train mostly outdoors with a coach. This will allow high-performance athletes to maintain their training and prepare for the resumption of Canada West competitions, possibly as soon as November for some teams. Facilities remain closed to the public, staff, and other students, except those in the Saskatchewan Police College. uRegina

Fall Delivery Plans

Some colleges and smaller universities have resisted the inevitable, but are finally announcing specifics for a largely online Fall term…

Brandon U has announced details of its Fall term, which will see classes and labs almost entirely delivered synchronously online. A small number will be delivered asynchronously online, and a “very small number” will require F2F work on campus (such as in Music, Fine Arts, and Health Studies). Course-level details are provided in the registration guide, published last week. Brandon

Conestoga College shared its academic delivery plan for Fall yesterday. As many courses as possible will be delivered remotely, but some will be offered in hybrid format, and others entirely on-campus. Remote courses will include some form of synchronous activity. Conestoga

Emily Carr U has provided more details for the Fall term, in which the majority of courses will be delivered entirely online. Shops and labs will be open, at reduced capacity and with physical distancing. The library has added thousands of digital resources including streaming video, digital magazines and ebooks. All students will be provided with face masks, and are asked to wear them when physical distancing is not possible. ECUAD

Red River College has published a listing of Fall courses and their delivery models. Whenever possible, courses will use “flexible online delivery,” and a mix of synchronous and asynchronous delivery. Some on-campus activities are indicated for 36 first-year programs (including some trades, aerospace, culinary, and healthcare programs). Intake has been suspended for some cabinetry, aircraft maintenance, library-IT, paramedicine, property insurance and railway conductor programs. RRC

Selkirk College has begun publishing program specifics for online and blended delivery this Fall. Programs like Business, Human Services, Web Development, Music & Technology will be delivered entirely online. Programs like Nursing, Studio Arts, Trades, Environment & Geomatics will require students to live in the region in order to attend some on-campus studios/labs. Other programs will be delivered online for the first term or first year. Selkirk

Wellness Policies

A number of CdnPSEs have begun encouraging “Wellness Wednesdays,” “meeting-free lunch hours” or “meeting-free Fridays” to encourage employee wellness and life balance. (Plenty of anecdotal reports suggest that staff are working longer days than ever, and having difficulty establishing boundaries on weekends too.)

UoGuelph is now also encouraging “meeting-free Fridays” (and weekends) throughout the summer, on which staff should avoid scheduling meetings or sending non-critical emails. Some staff are taking vacation days on Fridays, while some units are closed Fridays as part of a 4-day work week. UoGuelph

I mentioned last week that ECUAD is encouraging faculty to find alternatives to traditional high-stakes, synchronous mid-term and final exams…

uWaterloo has published principles for scheduling Fall mid-term and final exams. Online/remote exams will generally be scheduled with a duration determined by the instructor, but a 24-hour window for students – or 2 or 3 start times and versions of the exam to accommodate time zones. Synchronous high-stakes exams are “strongly discouraged” and instructors are urged to consider alternatives like summative assignments, open-book exams, or no final assessment at all. uWaterloo


Monday July 13, 2020

Credentialing Innovations

TRU accepts OERu Microcredits

In a “giant leap forward” and “an act of trust,” Thompson Rivers U is the first in North America to offer OERumicro-credit transfer towards a university-level credential. Students can study free bite-sized OERu courses or micro-courses through its partner institutions, and pay for assessment only if they want academic credit or Edubits. (Canadian partners include BCcampus, Ryerson, TRU, Kwantlen, and Athabasca U.) At this stage, TRU will transfer credit towards its Certificate of General Studies, but it intends to expand to diplomas and bachelor degrees. TRU

National “Credential Wallet” for Canada

Canada’s university registrars have partnered with Digitary to create a new ARUCC National Network, a platform for secure, digitized, and portable official transcripts and credentials. Digitary’s technology is already used by 100+ institutions around the world, and national systems in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The system will provide “self-sovereignty for learners,” will be password protected, available 24/7, bilingual, and housed in Canada. It will be piloted with World Education Services, 19 PSEs, as well as OUAC, OCAS, NSCAT, and EduPlannerBC – 4 provincial systems that support 90+ institutions. ARUCC

Ontario Colleges want Degree Autonomy

Ontario colleges are urging the province to give them more autonomy to replace diploma programs with new 3-year degrees, expand the range of 4-year degrees without provincial maximums, and to create master’s degrees for college and university graduates in specialized fields like robotics, cybersecurity and animation. They also recommend more government funding for short-term microcredential programs, to provide retraining opportunities for workers displaced by the pandemic. Colleges Ontario

Tuition Increases

From UNB to UNBC, institutions across Canada have been announcing tuition increases to help cope with budgetary challenges. Some of those increases were planned well before COVID19, and UNBC hasn’t yet accounted for the budgetary impact of the pandemic. Politicians in PEI are trying to head off PSE budget challenges there…

Mount Allison has delayed its full budget until October, but approved a 4.5% increase in domestic student tuition fees for 2020-21, and 2.0% for international students. Returning NB students will see an increase of only 2%. MTA is eliminating the Fall reading week, ending the term a week earlier, to allow more time for students to self-isolate if necessary when they return from the holiday break. MTA  As you might expect, the student union has launched a petition and is protesting to the media. CBC

UNB is increasing tuition 2% this year, in the final year of a 4-year agreement with the province, and continuing to charge all student fees. President Paul Mazerolle cites “increased costs” and “additional infrastructure” required for alternate delivery. (The “facilities access fee” will be determined closer to September.) He also offers a lengthy defence that “alternative delivery method courses are not inferior.” UNB

UNBC has addressed a potential $3.4 M deficit in part by eliminating 21 CUPE, faculty, and exempt positions (12 were vacant), and reducing other operating expenses and allocations to reserves. Tuition will also increase 2%, or $109 on average. The budget was developed prior to COVID19, however, and does not fully account for its impact. MyPGnow

PEI opposition (Liberal) MLAs are calling on the provincial government to tap into an $8 M education contingency fund to ensure UPEI and Holland College do not need to increase tuition or cut programs. The Education Minister reports that enrolment of first-year students is down about 15%, mainly international students, and mainly those at Holland. Holland has already suspended 5 programs and laid off 4 employees. CBC

Returning to Campus

Colleges across the country (particularly in Ontario) are welcoming “stranded” students back to complete lab work so they can graduate – but they will face some stringent precautions and protocols. Conestoga details them, and advises people to arrive on campus an hour early to cope with the lineups…

Cambrian College “stranded” students will resume labs this week in some pre-trades, powerline technician, and pre-service firefighter programs. Dental assisting students will resume labs Aug 4. Cambrian

Conestoga College is reopening select facilities this week to “stranded” Winter term students, and preparing for expanded F2F activity in September. Anyone permitted to access campus will need to complete pre-screening on the Conestoga mobile safety app, line up single-file “at least 1 hour in advance of your scheduled activity,” get a temperature check, and wear face masks at all times. They are also advised to bring their own food and water, as on-campus services will remain closed. Conestoga

Fleming College is preparing to welcome back “stranded” students in a series of “bootcamps” starting Jul 13, for Welding, HVAC, PSW and RPN programs. The FlemingSafe app includes a pre-screening tool. YouTube

Red River College has released a 1-page return-to-campus “Quick Guide” with 4 colour-coded phases of reopening, basic precautions and examples of social distancing signage. 1.5 M sq ft have been mapped out for safe occupancy assessments. Phase 2 begins Jul 15. RRC

St Lawrence College is preparing to welcome “stranded” students back to campus in August. SLC

Face Masks

As Ontario municipalities and PHOs start to make face coverings mandatory in public buildings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, more and more Ontario colleges and universities announce parallel policies…

York U, for example, has made facemasks mandatory in all indoor common areas on campus effective Jul 10, and provides detailed information about the rationale and exemptions. Like many institutions, York will provide everyone who has to be on campus with 2 branded masks. York

Mandatory face mask policies have been recently announced at 13 Ontario institutions, including: Algonquin, Brock, Cambrian, Carleton, Centennial, Conestoga, Durham, McMaster, Ontario Tech, Seneca, uToronto, and Western. Across the country, 6 other institutions have mentioned face masks and indicated they are optional (in BC, AB, ON and NL).

Friday July 10, 2020

Trent U announced this week that campus tours have resumed in Peterborough, with some modifications for health and safety. Mondays through Saturdays, at 10am and 1pm, pre-booked groups of 8 will be guided around “spectacular outdoor areas” of campus and select indoor spaces like the Student Centre, a lecture hall, classroom, science lab and residence room. Guests must bring their own facemasks and water bottles for the 90-min tour. Trent

Royal Roads U has nicely adapted its “Up” campaign for pandemic times with messages of support and empathy that speak to prospective students who are recalibrating their lives. “Together, wherever, we can always get back up. All it takes is never giving up.” In July and August, watch for social ads promoting particularly timely program clusters like workplace innovation, global communication, and sustainability. RRU has muted its previous campaign colours with more natural tones. YouTube

Trinity Western U has a 60-sec spot that acknowledges, “the world has changed, but your future hasn’t.” It describes the new “multi-access learning environment,” but promises “we are actively planning for your safe and secure return to our formative community. We’re ready for you. We’re ready for the journey forward.” TWU


Thursday July 9, 2020

Academic Compassion

Most institutions have indicated that the temporary adjustments to academic policies made for the Winter 2020 term will not be repeated for Summer or Fall 2020 – but there have been some exceptions:

Emily Carr U intends to replace timed exams in the Fall term with other methods of evaluation, where applicable. ECUAD

Kwantlen Polytechnic has extended the add/drop deadline until Sep 21, fee payment deadline until Sep 24, and the voluntary withdrawal date until Dec 7, to “allow students more time to decide whether the course format and delivery is right for them.” KPU

uManitoba’s Senate Executive has suspended its “Repeated Course” policy indefinitely, meaning that students who perform poorly or withdraw will not need to wait 3 terms before re-attempting the course. uManitoba

More Fall Plans

BCIT has updated its program delivery for Fall: now 54% will be online only, 39% blended, 6% will not be offered, and 1% remain under review. BCIT

Canadian Mennonite U plans a hybrid Fall term. CMU “will be present on campus for anyone who wants to, and is able to come,” but there will be “virtual ways into classes” should a second wave come about. Classes at the Winnipeg institution are small, and buildings will be secured with RFID card locks. Residences will be assigned as private rooms, with washroom schedules. YouTube

Concordia U of Edmonton plans a “predominantly online” Fall, but some classes will be held on campus. If instructors find they “enjoy” online delivery and wish to continue into the Winter term, president Tim Loreman encourages them to “get a head start” on preparing courses for January. YouTube

Emily Carr U is one of the last institutions on my list to announce plans for the Fall term. All lectures will be conducted online, 70% of courses will be online-only, and the remainder will be hybrid with a maximum of 30% in-person activities. Shops and studios will be operational, but with reduced capacities – therefore ECU is waiving studio and lab fees. ECUAD

January Term Plans

At this point, only 8 of the 90 institutions on my list seem to have mentioned plans for the Winter term, starting Jan 2021.

1 Fully Online: No #CdnPSE institutions have announced that they will be fully online (aside from Athabasca, presumably), but Concordia U (Montreal) has indicated that its residences will be closed for the entire 2020-21 academic year.

4 Largely Online: Half of the institutions have intimated that the blended/hybrid approach to Fall term will likely continue into 2021. NSCC indicated the term would be fully online or blended. Ontario Tech indicated it would likely be blended and largely online. Carleton’s president (as I mentioned yesterday) indicated that courses for the Winter term will need to be designed for flexible delivery, since many students may want to be remote. And SFU indicated they will share a decision about the Spring term by September – but “we anticipate that some instruction will remain remote into 2021.”

3 Hopefully F2F: Olds College, Holland College, and Trent U have thus far indicated that they hope students will be back on campus in January. Trent posted its Fall timetable yesterday, with many Winter term courses marked as “mandatory in-person,” because the U hopes more students will be able to study on campus by January. (If PHO does not permit a full return to campus, programs will use a multi-access approach as much as possible.)

Face Mask Policies

So far I have noted 8 institutions who have announced face mask policies, too:

3 Recommended: Memorial U, UoGuelph, and Royal Roads seem to be encouraging masks in campus buildings. (RRU indicated they were “optional” – but I’ll categorize the mention of optional masks here for now.)

5 Mandatory: Algonquin College, Brock U, Cambrian, Seneca, and uToronto have all indicated that face coverings must be worn inside campus buildings in common areas. (Most say private offices are excepted.)

Please let me know if I’ve missed any!  Has your institution announced expectations for January 2021 delivery, or a policy on face masks?  Let me know!


Wednesday July 8, 2020

On #CdnPSE campuses, we see mandatory face masks, program suspensions and layoffs, and an acknowledgement that we need to assume the Winter term will be online too, at least for some students…

Algonquin College is making face masks mandatory on campus, effective immediately, in all interior spaces other than personal offices. A detailed policy is being developed in response to a City of Ottawa bylaw expected to take effect Jul 15. Security employees will remind incoming students and staff of the policy and provide disposal masks as required. Algonquin  

uAlberta has identified approximately 300 in-person learning experiences for this Fall, largely labs. uAlberta

Carleton U president Benoit-Antoine Bacon wrote yesterday that “we remain hopeful that it will be possible to welcome some students back to campus in January; however, it seems very unlikely that the pandemic will have fully resolved by then.” Since many students may not be able or comfortable to return to campus in January, Winter term courses will need to be developed so that they can be taken remotely. Carleton

Holland College is suspending 5 programs and laying off 29 employees, to cope with COVID19 financial pressures. The suspended programs include Dance, Theatre, Cabinetmaking and Aircraft Turbine Technician. Holland

NAIT will offer student recreation programs virtually this Fall, such as “Fitness on Demand,” and an online version of “Mind + Body Connect.” Campus facilities will not be available for general staff or student use. The mandatory non-instructional recreation and athletics fee will be reduced by 50%. NAIT

Tuesday July 7, 2020

Reopening Updates

uAlberta has released its Campus 2020-21 Framework for a phased and controlled return to campus. Precautions will include a mandatory daily self-assessment, facemasks in indoor common areas, physical distancing and traffic flow signage, hand hygiene and workspace sanitization. 400+ research groups are already back on campus, and activity should return almost to normal levels by September. 900+ students remained in campus residence throughout the summer. This Fall, “there will be access to sports and recreation facilities, student groups and intercollegiate sports” on campus. uAlberta

Cambrian College has published a 16-page Campus Reopen Guide for staff and students. It distils COVID19 health and safety information from 6 other plans and protocols, and outlines expectations for quarantine, pre-screening, masks, and cleaning. Cambrian

U Canada West has published a 27-page Recovery Plan that parallels those of many institutions, with blended delivery, social distancing measures, sanitization, mandatory facemasks, Plexiglas barriers and continuing WFH for staff. Paid Student Health Ambassadors will oversee physical distancing and coordinate traffic in classrooms, hallways and washrooms. UCW

Centennial College president Craig Stephenson released a brief video yesterday to welcome back “stranded” students, and to emphasize the importance of health and safety compliance. Their first day on campus, students must produce the certificate proving that they completed mandatory campus re-entry training, and every day they return to campus, students and staff must show that they have passed a COVID19 pre-screening assessment. YouTube

Mount Royal U: Minimizing campus populations while enforcing social distancing and tracing contacts may lead to more widespread adoption of AI-driven campus surveillance systems. Australian company iCetana uses a machine-learning approach to monitor hundreds or thousands of 360° video feeds, and identify unusual activity in real time. In the control room, video screens are black until an anomaly is detected and displayed. The system has thermal imaging to detect fire hazards, but does not (as yet) use facial recognition. iCetana is already being used by Curtin, Deakin and Swinburne Universities in Australia, and Mount Royal U in Calgary. iCetana

NAIT started resuming limited on-campus activity last Thursday, including some stranded students, corporate training, and applied research. (On average, there will be about 200 people on main campus in July.) Facilities staff and technicians are preparing the campus, installing barriers and signage, removing furniture, and increasing the frequency of cleaning. Masks are “expected” where social distancing cannot be maintained. NAIT

Royal Roads U is beginning “a slow and careful return to campus by some [staff and faculty], starting with senior executive July 6.” Safety protocols include self-screening, hygiene, physical distancing and new room occupancy limits. RRU

uSherbrooke has requisitioned a convent, 3 churches and a performance hall to allow classes to be delivered in-person with social distancing – and is planning a dozen outdoor classes to accommodate 500 students. (The idea of heated tents was abandoned due to costs, and greenhouse gas emissions.) The hope is to deliver 40% or more of many programs F2F, and in some cases more than 90%. Le Devoir

Virtual Convocations

Almost every institution has somehow recognized its grads with a virtual celebration or online convocation. Some take the form of short congratulatory videos, others a permanent microsite. I’ve summarized a range of approaches to virtual or socially distanced convocations. Here are some recent additions:

BCIT launched a 34-min graduating student celebration video hosted by alumna and Global BC Newshour anchor Sophie Lui, with messages from the Governor-General, Premier, and BCIT leaders, alumni, faculty and staff. BCIT

Bishop’s has reluctantly announced that the postponed June convocation planned for Aug 29 will need to be virtual rather than in-person. (The provincial limit on gatherings is currently 50 people, and while it might increase to 250 later this summer, convocation typically brings 1,000 people together in a gymnasium.) Part 2 of the ceremony will be held in-person on Jun 4 2021. Bishop’s

Centennial College held its first virtual convocation last week, complete with formal convocation and congratulation videos, and personalized grad slides. Custom #CentennialGrad Instagram stickers and Zoom backgrounds were circulating, along with a Spotify playlist, and a live social media wall. Centennial

College of New Caledonia shared an 80-min “virtual convocation” video, complete with the national anthem, Indigenous land acknowledgements and greetings, and plenty of remarks from community dignitaries, student valedictorians – followed by slides of award winners and graduates. CNC

UFV shipped out parchments, graduation caps, “Class of 2020” banners, and a “specially-branded package of sustainable, seed-based confetti to match the ‘celebrate and grow’ theme in the box.” UFV

McGill’s virtual convocation attracted thousands of viewers for 10 ceremonies. First Peoples’ House hosted a ceremony for Indigenous students. One-third of the graduands were international students, whose families and friends tuned in from around the world. McGill

SaskPolytech recognized its graduates in a week-long online celebration including video messages, Facebook frames, Instagram GIFs and stickers, and even downloadable lawn signs and posters grads and their families could print. SKPoly

Sheridan held 6 simultaneous “virtual convo” ceremonies on Tuesday morning, and videos of each are available with graduate slides. On social, #SheridanConvo Instagram filters and games, Facebook frames, animated Giphy stickers and Zoom backgrounds were provided. Sheridan

Monday July 6, 2020

Layoffs & Pay Cuts

Announcements continue to emerge about job cuts, temporary layoffs, and pay cuts, furloughs or  voluntary “vacation purchase” programs…

Camosun College is cutting about 50 jobs in ancillary services “currently not required,” and temporarily shutting down its Continuing Education department (affecting 8 employees plus contract instructors). Administrators explain that without F2F classes, CE would not be financially viable. uVic and Royal Roads, also in Victoria BC, plan to continue offering online CE.  Times-Colonist

Dalhousie has asked unionized staff to take a 5% wage cut, as it anticipates a $30.5 M shortfall for the upcoming academic year. The DFA, CUPE and the NSGEU oppose the idea, and warn that collective bargaining will likely last into the Fall. CBC

uManitoba is expanding its “Vacation Purchase Plan” so full-time staff can take up to 15 days without pay, and spread the cost over the remainder of the fiscal year. The days have no impact on seniority, vacation accrual, pension or other benefits. The executive team is taking 5 days each, as have many others – but it remains optional. uManitoba

SaskPolytech has reportedly issued 45 permanent and 48 temporary layoff notices, as a result of campus closures and anticipated declines in enrolment and revenue. 29 positions were academic employees. Global


Across the country, many institutions are reopening some research labs, and in some cases planning for summer camps and outdoor recreation on campus…

uAlberta is reopening some outdoor soccer fields and volleyball courts, and select indoor recreation facilities for members or registered programs only (tennis, gymnastics, pool, and climbing wall). Children’s aquatics and climbing camps have reopened. Plans for other facilities to reopen in August and early September are also outlined. uAlberta

UoGuelph has begun the next step in its “Research Phase-In,” increasing research activity and eventually, supporting instructors who must prepare on-campus for remote delivery this Fall. UoGuelph

Virtual Fall

A range of details are continuing to emerge about the Fall. Laurier and SAIT have shared details about many of their programs, CNA has joined Cambrian in publishing BYOD details, and Mount A is planning virtual drama productions…

College of the North Atlantic has published its BYOD program model for Fall, detailing 4 levels of computer requirements for students by academic program. CNA recommends Windows 10 laptops, webcams and internet access for all students, and estimates costs between $900 and $3800. CNA

Mount Allison U’s Drama Studies program is planning 2 shows this Fall with entirely online rehearsals and performances, and bilingual theatre troupe Tintamarre will mount an original script for delivery online. “We are going to need adventurous actors, designers, and crew to help us prove that no matter what happens in the world, art will get us through.” MTA

SAIT posted details of its Fall programs on Friday, as promised in early June. The majority of courses will be “delivered remotely, supported by virtual meeting technology and simulations.” About half appear to be “blended.” (Start dates for on-campus labs are still TBD.) Some first-year programs have been deferred. SAIT

Wilfrid Laurier U has shared more details about their “primarily remote” Fall term. Some courses have been identified as priorities for F2F instruction, PHO permitting, including off-site experiential learning, lab classes, practical study courses and those that fulfil licensing/accreditation requirements. WLU

Thursday July 2, 2020

Student Promises

2 Ontario colleges have put some marketing muscle into new announcements for the Fall term…

Fanshawe Experience Guarantee

Fanshawe College has unveiled a 4-part “Experience Guarantee” for this Fall. If full-time students are not satisfied with “exceptional online learning,” they can defer their tuition fees and deposit to the next semester. (Not ancillary fees.) Fanshawe is extending all customer service hours to 10am-7pm (and Library Services 6am-12midnight), and commits to responding to all email/phone inquiries within 24 hours. Each student will be assigned a “personal career coach” from the career and co-op team. Fanshawe

BYOD enshrined in Cambrian Policy

Cambrian College has implemented a new BYOD Policy “to enrich the student learning experience” by making them “anytime, anywhere learners” – and not incidentally, to “prepare students to quickly move to a remote delivery should a critical situation occur where the College must shut its doors for a period of time.” Students are responsible for a laptop with webcam, headset, software and other components, and a reliable internet connection. Cambrian

On the other hand…

Trent’s Remote Learning Initiative has raised $96,000 to provide 192 Chromebooks to students in need. (The target is 500.) Trent

Return to Campus

Across Canada, the planning process for returning to campus looks surprisingly different, depending on regional PHOs and institutional cultures…

UBC is introducing a safety planning process for the 4-phase restart plan, with 5 categories to prioritize campus activity: resumption of academics and research, then services that directly support it, then revenue-generating units, then ancillaries, and finally administrative units. Departmental safety plans will need to be approved before any changes to employee WFH. UBC

Cambrian College is preparing to bring “stranded” Winter 2020 students back to campus: in mid-July, those eligible to graduate; and in August, those with incomplete course grades. Cambrian

Laurentian has published its Return to Campus phased re-opening plan. Phase 1A began Jun 8, with the return of some campus research, and Phase 1B will permit the return of some students to campus this Fall for essential labs, and to residences. (Less than 1% of courses will be on campus.) Library curbside service may begin later in July. Later phases depend upon PHO directives. Laurentian

Red River College leaders summarize the 4 phases of campus re-entry and health precautions in a 6-min video released Tuesday. YouTube

uSask is now transitioning to stage 3 of its recovery and reopening plan. The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team has been reviewing >300 requests to resume campus activities. The Library now offers “contactless pickup.”  uSask

Trent is proceeding with its back to campus plan. 137 researchers have returned to 36 labs, 4 pilot teaching projects begin in July, and the library has begun curbside service. Trent


As the scientific consensus swings towards face coverings as a critical tool to contain COVID19, more and more institutions are announcing that they will provide masks – and sometimes even make them mandatory! And despite frantic lobbying by major airlines, institutional travel bans are being extended…

Brock U is requiring face coverings for anyone entering campus buildings, effective Jul 1, particularly in hallways, elevators, classrooms and restrooms. Branded masks are on order, and will be provided free to those who need to be on campus. Brock

UFV has detailed 8 ways it will keep students safe this Fall: nearly all classes will be online, everyone is encouraged to screen for symptoms, there will be less furniture for social distancing and one-way doors to buildings, masks will be provided for certain classes, touchless hand sanitizer stations will be across campus, high-touch surfaces will be disinfected multiple times a day, physical barriers and signage are being installed. UFV

McMaster has extended its ban on all discretionary events until “at least” the end of August. McMaster

Queen’s is “strongly encouraging” employees and students to wear face coverings in all common areas on campus, in response to recent COVID19 outbreaks in the Kingston region. Queen’s will be distributing 2 masks to each employee as they are permitted to return to campus. Queen’s

York U has decided to cancel or postpone all university-sanctioned international mobility programs, inbound and outbound, for the Fall term. “As travel advisories begin to lift,” faculty and grad students should follow federal travel advisories. York

Fall Delivery

Brock is committed to virtual WIL this Fall, Holland plans 2 online weeks to allow for students in quarantine, and uRegina makes a detailed case for reopening with caution…

Acadia has elaborated on their plans for Fall delivery, itemizing 5 course formats: On-Campus, Scheduled Hybrid, Unscheduled Hybrid, Scheduled Virtual, or Unscheduled Virtual. (Specific courses will be identified by Jul 10). Acadia

Brock U has affirmed its commitment to experiential and WIL in 100% of its programs this Fall, albeit with some adjustments due to the pandemic. Some workplaces are beginning to welcome students back in person, while many others offer remote work opportunities. Brock Co-op Director Cara Krezek (who is also president of CEWIL Canada) has a quick video too. Brock

Holland College will deliver course content by distance, for blended programs, for the first 2 weeks of classes (Sept 1-14) to accommodate students who must self-isolate for 14 days upon entering Atlantic Canada. Holland

UPEI has shared more details regarding Fall delivery by Faculty. Programs and courses will be “primarily online,” with exceptions for accredited health and clinical programs (Nursing, Vet Med, Psychology, Sustainable Design Engineering) and for some lab-based Science courses and Arts performance programs (Music, Theatre etc). UPEI

uRegina interim president Thomas Chase has written the campus community to explain that universities are taking a cautious approach to reopening because they have dense campus populations with hundreds of vectors and “pinch points,” drawn from across the country and around the world. As housing providers, universities cannot abruptly close their doors like a K-12 school. And the prospect of a second wave, particularly impacting younger people, is already evident in the US. uRegina

uWinnipeg has clarified that campus access will be limited to essential work in Jul/Aug. In Sept, the majority of courses will be taught via alternate modes, primarily online, with some limited classes and labs on campus. Library, computing labs and study spaces will likely be reopened, but with reduced service levels and hours. uWinnipeg is planning for increased campus activity in Jan 2021, subject to PHO guidance. uWinnipeg

Student Services

MSVU details new advising, mentoring and orientation programs to ensure their students “flourish,” while uWindsor prepares for intercollegiate eSports…

MSVU plans to deliver all programs online this Fall, but nonetheless will operate its residences at 54% capacity. (No guests permitted, and students must bring their own PPE.) MSVU has also launched a new “Flourish” website hub featuring student supports. All students will be assigned a Personal Advisor this summer, a senior student “Mount Mentor,” and access to orientation, which begins with the free “Mount 101” online program in July. MSVU

uWindsor plans to form an intercollegiate eSports team this Fall, “Lancer Gaming.” Since last Sept, >250 students from all faculties have signed on. eSports is a billion-dollar industry with 443 million online fans. There are more than 200 collegiate eSports teams in North America, and the Ontario PSE eSports league will launch this Fall. Windsor Star


Ryerson forbids emails and meetings evenings and weekends – and even makes Fridays meeting-free – to help employees recharge and stay well. While Janet Morrison takes inspiration from a New Zealand recipe for wellbeing…

Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi announced new university-wide practices to support employee wellbeing and encourage WFH work/life balance. All meetings are to be booked in increments of 50 min or less, are to conclude by 6pm, and only urgent meetings are to be scheduled on Fridays for the remainder of the summer. Emails are not to be sent after 7pm or on weekends unless urgent. All employees have an extra “Ryerson Recharge” vacation day to be taken before Sept 4. Ryerson

Sheridan president Janet Morrison shared New Zealand’s “5 Ways to Wellbeing” model with students, which is her “personal recipe” to keep striving to flourish during the pandemic: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give (or volunteer, be kind, express gratitude), and Take Notice.  Sheridan


Friday June 26, 2020

Enrolment & Budgets

Bishop’s reports that confirmations for Fall term continue to increase, but almost all categories are behind last year at this time. The deadline has been extended from Jun 1 to Jul 17, and personal outreach, info sessions and scholarship funding will all be increased. The exception is Quebec undergraduates, where the number of applications, offers and confirmations are all higher than last year. Overall, Bishop’s projects an 8% enrolment shortfall, and a loss of $5M. Bishop’s

Mount Allison U has reportedly laid off 35 employees and reduced the hours of 16 others, in anticipation of fall enrolment drops. (None were faculty members.) Registration numbers currently look “positive” but the pandemic has heightened uncertainty. CBC

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) is expecting international enrolment declines costing about $30 M in tuition (not counting associated ancillary income lost). Non-salary operating expenses have been reduced 25%, all travel is suspended, hiring and administrative salaries are frozen, and some layoffs were made. Nonetheless, SMU is making strategic investments in additional staff for instructional design/educational development, IT support, and lecture production; hiring a team of full-time summer students as “digital TAs,” and a student team of peer coaches to support new students throughout the summer and upcoming academic year. “There will be more tough decisions ahead.” SMU


Returning to Campus

Centennial College will bring “stranded students” back to campus beginning Jul 6, for hands-on lab work they must complete to fulfil their programs requirements for the Winter 2020 semester. Labs for Summer semester students will (hopefully) be offered in August. Centennial

Fleming College will welcome “stranded” students back to campus shortly, and limited campus housing will be available for short-term, weekly stays, starting in July and running through October. Fleming previously announced that the Fall semester will commence online, so residences will become available in the second half of the semester, starting Oct 22. Fleming

Memorial is proceeding to open up more on-campus research in phase 2, based on an updated Framework for a Phased Approach. Academic and non-academic units need to develop building-specific health and safety plans before a return is possible. A flowchart explains the forms and approvals required. MUN

Red River College shared a preview of its socially-distanced campus, with new signage, floor markers, physical barriers and areas blocked off with caution tape. RRC

St Lawrence College will begin the summer pilot in August for “stranded students” who were near graduation in March. SLC

uWaterloo has plans for a 4-phase return to campus for employees: 1 Essential employees (until Jun 30), 2 Research Ramp-Up (Jul-Aug), 3 Selective Expansion (Aug-Nov) and 4 “The Next Normal” (Nov and ongoing).  Final decisions regarding which roles return to campus, which WFH, and which continue in hybrid form will be made towards the end of July. uWaterloo

Western’s “phased return to campus” will allow some employees a “gradual, rotational, and periodic presence on campus as we ramp up for the fall.” Phase 2 (and “research recovery”) begins Jul 2. Western


Fall Delivery

BCIT released a 5-min video to clarify their approach to delivering programs this fall, which is “a little bit more complicated” than other BC colleges and universities. 55% of BCIT programs can be delivered fully online, 34% in a blended model, and 8% are still under review. Cleaning and disinfecting, with spray hoses and robot scrubbers, will be increased in frequency. YouTube

Bishop’s reports that all programs will include a combination of online, in-person, and hybrid courses, experiential learning and co-curricular opportunities. Under 2m social distancing, seating capacity in rooms with fixed seating falls to 15%, and 30% in rooms with moveable seating. Webcams and mics are being installed in all classrooms, and 5 classrooms will pilot test lecture capture tech. An instructional designer has been hired for the summer, along with 25 student online learning and technical associates, to support faculty in preparation. The Maple League of universities also launched a virtual TLC in early June, with seminar series and resources for faculty. Bishop’s

Confederation College has suspended intake for 2 programs this Sept (Digital Media Production and Tourism – Travel & Eco-Adventure) and will “further review” the programs in the coming months. The Sept intake for 2 other programs (Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering Tech and Embedded Systems) will be deferred until January due to pandemic restrictions. Confed

Laurentian U will be able to “communicate the fate of our winter semester’s academic delivery methods” by October at the latest, to allow more time for planning. Laurentian

MacEwan U offered some reassurances about its primarily online Fall term on Wednesday. Most decisions about course delivery will be finalized by mid-July. Some courses and course components (such as labs) will need to be offered F2F. MacEwan

Redeemer U has published a full course list for Fall including modes of delivery. Students in “dual delivery” programs will need to choose either in-person or remote bu Aug 1. By default, those who do not respond will be registered as in-person students. Residences will be open this Fall. Redeemer

Ryerson has provided more details about its “mostly virtual” Fall term. Arts, Science, Engineering and Architecture programs will be offered by online remote teaching. Communication and Design programs will “build on FCAD’s robust virtual infrastructure,” although a few select programs may offer limited on-campus experiential opportunities as an option. Community Services will be taught online (asynchronous), although some classes will be in real time. Management courses will be delivered “virtually.” Ryerson

St Lawrence College plans to welcome back 20-25% of the student body back to campus this Fall, starting with those in programs “with a heavy lab component.” A full list of programs includes details on delivery. SLC


Thursday June 25, 2020

Dal Braces for $30 M Shortfall

Dalhousie U’s fiscal update, released yesterday, assumes the potential of a decline in tuition revenue of up to $37.8 M for the 2020-21 year, and $12.1 M lost from specialized programs and ancillaries. Enrolment scenarios forecast anywhere from a 14-29% decline in enrolment, but ‘the full impact of the pandemic will only be fully realized at tuition payment deadlines in the fall.” (Enrolment declines will continue to be felt for several more years, as those students are missing from upper-year classes too.) To cover the $30.5 M shortfall for next year, Dal plans to reduce operating expenses by $20 M, and use $12.2 M from its reserves. It has frozen senior admin salaries, restricted hiring, and is negotiating collective agreements and potential changes to pensions and benefits. Notably, a pool of $6 M will nonetheless be invested in strategic priorities, including international outreach, enrolment and recruitment. Dal

Quest Struggles with its Primary Lender

Quest U president George Iwama wrote last week that “Quest is at a turning point,” which seems an understatement. In addition to the COVID19 challenges faced by all institutions in North America, Quest’s primary lender, Vanchoverve Foundation, called its loan late last year and sought control of the board. Quest is under creditor protection “until the end of September,” and in negotiation with “several proponents” to pursue “options for long-term financial stability.” No word on who the “academic partner” might be – although Capilano University is also a secured creditor. Quest

Wednesday June 24, 2020


Acadia U has approved a “difficult” $6.8 M deficit budget due to a steep drop in revenue this spring and projected declines in enrolment and income throughout the rest of the year. They are also considering “more severe” scenarios, lobbying government and negotiating with unions. For now, some salaries, all non-essential hiring, and most travel are frozen, and the 10% cut in budgets continues from April. “As the university’s difficult financial reality comes more closely into focus in the coming weeks and months, additional measures may be required.” Acadia

St Lawrence College has approved a $2.7 M deficit budget, which will be covered by reserves. (SLC has $20 M in accumulated surpluses and about $60 M in current assets.) President Glenn Vollebregt says, “I am proud to say that SLC is currently in the best financial position our college has been in since our inception 53 years ago.” SLC

uWinnipeg expects revenues to drop $11.3 M this year, which has led it to hike tuition 3.75% (about $118 for the average student). UofW will also leave job vacancies open, and cut back on discretionary travel, supplies, security and campus services. CBC


Cape Breton U is considering a deficit budget for 2020-21, with monthly recalibrations, and is looking for “creative, innovative ways to cut costs.” CBU has already cancelled all travel, reduced operational expenses by $2 M, discontinued almost 60 term employees, temporarily laid off about 40 staff, and frozen or rolled back wages by up to 10%. CBU

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is reportedly laying off 37 staff and suspending its programs in addictions counselling, cytotechnology, and dental assisting. SaskPoly is “preparing for a decline in enrolment and an anticipated revenue shortfall,” and will “continue to review its staffing levels,” likely announcing some temporary or permanent layoff notices in the coming weeks. CBC

uSaskatchewan has laid off the equivalent of 14 full-time positions in its research office, as part of achieving a 37% reduction in the portfolio’s budget. Apparently UofS faces a “sudden loss of significant revenues from technology transfer royalties.” Since April, UofS has made 315 temporary and 40 permanent layoffs. Star-Phoenix

Fall Updates

uCalgary shared more details about their Fall courses. About 23% of grad courses, and 14% of undergrad courses, will have a F2F component. The rest will be purely online. No more than 30% of students are scheduled to be on campus on any given day. uCalgary

Lakehead U has released details of Fall term delivery by discipline. Most courses will be provided online, synchronously (Zoom) or asynchronously. (For first year students, it looks as though Nursing, and some courses in Chemistry, Physics, and Outdoor Rec have some on-campus expectation.) Lakehead

Queen’s will operate its residences at 50% capacity this Fall, with social distancing, restrictions on gatherings, a no-guest policy, and buildings set aside for self-isolation. Priority will be given to students with on-campus classes (such as Nursing), learning needs, or who require access to on-campus supports. Whig-Standard

uSaskatchewan has developed a draft Fall Implementation Plan “which provides the process for determining the details of” a primarily remote/hybrid  term. uSask

Trent U has published its course list for the “multi-access” 2020-21 academic year, indicating courses with in-person on-campus requirements. “At this point” most Winter term courses are being scheduled as in-person “to assist with our planning processes.” Trent

Other Updates

Algoma U is working to diversify its international enrolment from a heavy reliance on India, to focus on 5 other countries including China and Nigeria. Algoma also hopes to attract greater Indigenous enrolment, and to draw 20% more students from its pathway agreements with Sault, Cambrian, and Northern Colleges this Fall. Sault Star

UoGuelph reports that a grad student conducting essential, time-sensitive research on campus tested positive for COVID19. The student started showing symptoms 3 days after his or her last visit to campus. UoGuelph

SFU has added a 6-level colour-coded “COVID19 impact scale” to its website, with implications for 10 areas of the university at each level. Currently at “High (H1)” is still largely essential teaching, meetings, and services, with on-campus research. The library has shifted from “curbside” to “contactless” pickup. SFU

uToronto reports that >100 educational technologists are “working around the clock” with faculty and staff to ensure 6,000 courses this Fall offer a high-quality experience, “with an increased focus on online learning and virtual engagement.” UofT is also working to ensure all support services, co-curricular activities and community-building opportunities are available remotely. uToronto


Monday June 22, 2020

The University of Regina launched its new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, “kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak – All Our Relations,” via Zoom on Friday. The plan identifies goals in 5 areas of focus (Discovery, Reconciliation, Well-being, Environment, and Impact) to be accomplished by 2025 (“5×25”). These goals include experiential learning opportunities for all students, and a 25% reduction in the university’s ecological footprint. uRegina


Fall Plans

Assiniboine CC has published program-specific details for this Fall. Aside from purely online programs, many blended programs seem to indicate that students should “expect to be on campus” for anywhere from 40% to 60% of their time. ACC

StFX announced Friday that classes will resume largely on-campus on Sept 14, with some classes offered online. This is the most ambitious return to campus announced to date in CdnPSE. Plans have been carefully developed for social distancing, disinfecting and new mandatory “behavioural standards” both on and off campus. StFX


Stranded Students

More institutions are operationalizing Ontario’s plan to bring selected students in essential programs back to campus this summer as a pilot test for the Fall, and Red River College in Manitoba is doing likewise…

George Brown is “planning and preparing to provide limited access to a very specific group of students this summer at the Centre for Health Sciences,” in accord with the Ontario government’s directive to prioritize “stranded” students. GBC

Humber College has announced that limited facilities will reopen for about 350 “stranded” students and apprentices starting July 6. Prioritized students are in the Commercial Driver, HVAC, Electrical, Woodworking, Pharmacy Tech and Paramedic programs. Humber

McMaster will allow more than 100 Rehabilitation students and 70 Nursing students to return to campus starting July 2, to ensure they meet graduation requirements and complete practica, in-person training “boot camps,” and clinical placements. McMaster

Red River College is progressing through phase 1 of its re-entry plan, which focuses on “very limited, essential hands-on learning… for students who are close to graduation.” No more than 25% of the campus population will be permitted until Aug 31, when phase 3 permits up to 40%. Phase 4 is expected to commence Jan 1 2021. RRC


Campus Updates

On the east coast, MUN is gradually reopening buildings to faculty, while on the west coast, VIU is shuttering them. The “new normal” of essential services and WFH is leading to new policies (such as at McMaster, uVic and York) and “curbside pickup” for campus libraries (at uAlberta, York, and previously we mentioned SFU)…

uAlberta libraries are preparing to offer “curbside pickup” by the end of June. UofA launched a new Remote Teaching website for instructors, and a refreshed Campus Life webpage, last week. uAlberta

McMaster has expanded the list of reimbursable WFH expenses to include office equipment and accessories, long-distance charges, printer consumables, and computer equipment. McMaster

Memorial is reopening 8 buildings on its Saint John’s campus for access by individual faculty members (at their discretion), starting today. MUN

Vancouver Island U will be “shuttering” 13 campus buildings, some indefinitely, to reduce energy consumption and custodial services. VIU

uVic provost Valerie Kuehne reminded faculty and instructors last week that they are asked to waive medical documentation requirements for the Summer and Fall terms, at the request of the BC government. uVic

York U shared details on its phased return to campus last week. York will continue WFH for most departments “until at least September,” although over the next few months it will gradually ramp up research (starting this week), introduce curbside library pickup (by Jun 29), and offer “selected in-person smaller classes and tutorials” in the fall term. Residences will remain open with reduced capacity. York


Friday June 19, 2020

Layoffs at RDC

Alberta’s Red Deer College, faced with a $5.3 M government cut and anticipated COVID19 losses, has reportedly laid off 85 employees (cumulatively) and reduced hours for others. Red Deer Advocate


Fall Programs

College of the Rockies announced yesterday that it will offer a “full slate” of programs this Fall. Most students will be learning online, with some socially-distanced hands-on learning on campus where required, such as in trades shops, nursing and dental labs, practica and co-ops. COTR

UoGuelph clarified last week its plan for hybrid course delivery this Fall. Most first-year programs will not require any F2F delivery of core courses. Upper-year undergrads may have some F2F labs or seminars, PHO guidelines permitting, but most courses will be delivered in an alternative format. More details to come in the coming weeks. UoGuelph

Olds College announced yesterday that courses this Fall will be predominantly remote, with some exceptions for F2F classes and/or labs. Specifics from an academic delivery model review will be shared by Jun 30. Phase 1 of the campus re-entry plan (Jul 6) will involve managers and facilities staff. Phase 2 (Aug 24) will gradually return operations and support staff to campus, although WFH will be encouraged where it is effective. “Our hope is that we will all be back on campus for January 2021.” Olds

Trent U announced yesterday that 26 research labs have reopened, and a return-to-campus working group is developing guidance for phases 2 and 3 of the Trent Forward plan. Trent will pilot a small number of F2F classes at each campus this summer, and will post a list of Fall/Winter courses and delivery formats in the coming days. Several dozen frontline healthcare workers stayed in the Gzowski residence this spring, which can now be prepared for student use again. Trent


Physical Distancing

uLaval announced Wednesday evening that new public health directions will allow 1.5 metres between people on campus this Fall, with a maximum of 50 people per classroom. Priority for F2F will be students with essential practical labs, and first-year students. Course delivery modes have now been published to the student portal (subject to change). uLaval

uToronto is preparing its campuses to support enhanced sanitization and physical distancing this Fall. Classrooms will be reconfigured so students sit at least 2 metres apart, and entrances and halls designated for one-way traffic where possible. Libraries and classrooms will be cleaned 5 times per week, while high-touch surfaces, doorknobs and elevator buttons will be disinfected twice daily. Thousands of touchless hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipe dispenses will be installed across all 3 campuses. UofT will provide 250,000 fabric face masks to staff and students (2 per person). UofT



uLethbridge is working to ease public access to shared recreation facilities, while respecting provincial directives to minimize people on campus. The outdoor Community Stadium will open Jun 24 for drop-in use, and group bookings will be accepted starting Jul 6. Select summer campus will be offered outdoors, and UofL hopes it can offer all summer camps in August. uLeth

MacEwan U Sport & Wellness announced earlier this month that they have moved forward with a planned expansion of the fitness facility, with expanded cardio and stretch areas and new equipment. Until the reno is complete in mid-August, the entire facility will not open. MacEwan


Virtual Student Life

Dalhousie ­­­revamped its COVID19 information pages yesterday, with an upbeat theme, “Forward. Focused.” Dal is “spending more than $1 M” on new technology, including “new online environments… so students can connect with classmates from where they are.” “Together@Dal” matches new students with upper-year mentors, one-on-one and in groups, and “Dal Student Life” is a hub gathering stories, events and announcements, created by students on the “Dal Student Life Street Team.” Dal has also “doubled the amount of financial aid” with an additional $3M for undergrads. Dal


Humber Virtual Grad 2020

Humber College launched its virtual grad celebration yesterday, including video greetings, a poem for grads, alumni shout-outs, and musical performances. The website includes a grad list, social media links, “words of wisdom,” and a Grad Shop with diploma frames, class rings, and gift combos. Oh, and a collection of “digital swag” including giphy stickers, frames, banners and stories for Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and more. Humber


Thursday June 18, 2020

Memorial is reopening faculty access to the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, Engineering and Earth Sciences buildings starting today. All should complete COVID19 awareness training, available daily via Webex.  MUN

NBCC announced 15 program suspensions for Fall (back on Jun 4, but not on the COVID19 page). Some in construction trades, welding and French were suspended based on historical trends, whereas others in Child & Youth Care, Electronics Engineering Tech, Energy Systems Tech, Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism are being suspended due to uncertainties created by COVID19. NBCC

Ryerson advises that WFH will continue until at least September, and therefore is encouraging employees to assess home office ergonomic needs and office supplies.  Ryerson

Tuesday June 16, 2020

Centennial has released a “4 Rs of Stability” plan for stability and restoration during and post-pandemic, through 4 phases of recovery, guided by 12 task forces, committees and groups. Centennial

uLethbridge has published an interim list of Fall courses with details about delivery modes. Some students will even have the opportunity to complete experiential learning components of courses in a future term. Some courses cannot be offered this Fall, in Kinesiology, Drama, Music and Art. uLeth

MSVU reportedly directed department heads to cut 30% from salary budgets for part-time faculty this Fall, potentially equivalent to about 100 part-time instructors who will not be rehired. CBC

NAIT apprenticeship training will resume in September via blended delivery, “where virtual learning will be maximized and in-person shops will be offered when learning outcomes cannot be met through virtual delivery and where safety guidelines can be followed.” NAIT

UNB has released a course timetable indicating Fall courses that will be delivered in-person, remotely, or by a combination of the two. Residences and libraries will be open, with restrictions. UNB

Redeemer unveiled yesterday its framework for reopening this Fall, to “maximize the potential for on-campus, in-person learning while providing the most enriching virtual experience for those participating remotely.” Redeemer has opened a new health clinic, and will provide everyone with face masks, face shields, and a “personal, portable barrier.” The “vast majority” of courses will be offered on campus, but students will have the choice to register for in-person or remote versions. Townhouse residences of 8 will be treated as a “household.” Redeemer

Ryerson confirmed yesterday that remote work will continue “until at least September,” although managers are beginning to plan for a future return to campus. Academic planning is “well underway” for Fall, “regardless of the format of fall courses and programming.” Ryerson

StFX has reportedly laid off all its casual employees and has cancelled typical summer hiring. CBC

uWinnipeg has announced that it will deliver “the bulk of its educational instruction through alternate modes of delivery for the fall term.” uWinnipeg

Monday June 15, 2020

Budget Updates

uAlberta held a virtual town hall on Jun 2 (it just took me this long to find an hour to watch it) in which president-elect Bill Flanagan outlined his proposed structural changes to address a $110 M budget cut (although the province has since softened that a bit). “I did not take this job to manage… the decline of a great university.” There is already an “incredible sense of loss” at the university over the layoffs of >1,000 employees. Flanagan proposes a restructuring to save $120 M by streamlining the 18 faculties by spring, reducing low-enrolment courses, and rationalizing and centralizing services. Data suggests UofA should rank higher, considering its research budget, and he believes redirecting administrative costs and encouraging more interdisciplinarity could address that. 57% of staff are administrative and 43% of those are generalists. UofA has a 50% larger physical footprint than its Canadian comparators, driving up maintenance costs. He proposes UofA exit some leased premises to reduce that footprint. YouTube

Brandon U president David Docherty wrote staff on Friday to assure them that they will not be asked to take pay cuts or unpaid days off, despite a 1% budget cut from the province. The budget has reportedly found savings “that don’t involve people.” So far, Fall enrolments look promising, although first-year is down slightly. Brandon Sun


Fall Updates

Acadia U will push back the start of classes until Sep 21, to allow time for students to self-isolate upon arrival, and to undertake preparatory programming to ensure their success in a virtual/hybrid model. Acadia

Algoma U announced that classes will be online this Fall, due to concerns of a possible second wave of COVID19. In-class instruction will be delayed until the Winter term at the earliest. Domestic enrolments are up this year, and particularly from local students. Overall enrolment is expected to decline due to border and travel restrictions: international enrolment is currently down 7%. Campus housing will operate at 50% capacity. Sault Star

BCIT president Kathy Kinloch’s Friday update explained 3 key themes to retaining and recruiting students: academic quality, clarity about delivery, and confidence in health and safety. Recruiters are active in virtual information sessions, recruitment fairs, extended phone hours, and chat technology. YouTube

Capilano U is making progress on its plans for Fall, and details of the 4 modes of delivery for courses (Online, In-person, Mixed, or Off-site) will be published when course registration opens Jul 6. CapU

UBC president Santa Ono shared his weekly update, indicating that details regarding orientation, residences, and academic course delivery will be shared soon. YouTube

StFX will be announcing its plans for Fall on Friday, Jun 19. StFX

St Lawrence College published program details for this Fall. A quick review of Kingston programming suggests that one-third of programs will include on-campus components, and about 5% have not yet been confirmed to be active. SLC

uWindsor administration hosted a one-hour virtual town hall last week, outlining plans for virtual Welcome Week activities, a 4-phase return to campus, and the “zone and flow analysis” to prepare for it. uWindsor is currently forecasting a $20M shortfall, and developing budget measures and reviewing HR needs to ensure a balanced budget. The hope is that it may be possible to switch from “primarily online with rare exceptions F2F” in the Fall term, to “primarily F2F with rare exceptions online” in the Winter term – depending on the PHO, of course. YouTube


Returning to Campus

McMaster U is preparing to allow faculty and instructors to return to campus to prepare for online lectures, in a phased approach over the next few months. A booking system launched last week, to ensure physical distancing. Access to offices for purposes other than research or course preparation is not yet available. McMaster

Memorial U is poised to welcome individual faculty to return tomorrow to the Science, Chemistry/Physics, and Arts & Administration buildings. Doors remain secured, Deans are monitoring density, the return to campus is at the discretion of individual faculty, and WFH continues to be encouraged where possible. MUN

Mohawk College reports that 1,100 students will have the option to return to campus in July and August, to complete the practical portion of their courses. Mohawk

Red River College interim president Christine Watson announced Friday plans for a 4-phase “re-entry” to campus, moving through restricted access, limited access, and ultimately full access. The Academic Re-entry Team (ART) will work with each program individually, with a priority on stranded students and critical industry training and research. At all RRC campuses, directional signage, floor markings, physical barriers, designated entrances and more will be in place by the end of June. Where’s Watson?

UNBC advises that some student services employees will return to campus in September, but people are expected to continue working remotely wherever possible. UNBC

UPEI begins Stage 2 of its operational ease-back plan today. Campus operating hours are extended to 8am-5pm, meetings of up to 15 people are again permitted (with physical distancing), and employees with individual offices or adequate space can return to work on campus. Campus fitness centre and summer campus will also be opening shortly. More students will return for research and clinical practice. Details on fall course delivery, which will be hybrid, will also be shared later today. UPEI


Friday June 12, 2020

Enrolments in Ontario

Over the past few weeks, plenty of institutions across the country have been delighted to report higher than usual spring and summer enrolments, despite courses being moved online. (Of course, this could be driven by student unemployment, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, and the desire to pick up an online course or two in order to take a lighter course load in the Fall.) Now, many institutions are announcing with great relief that their application volumes are on target for the Fall, and in some cases even that their confirmed offers are on track.

Of course, the numbers don’t look nearly as rosy for small northern institutions, or for colleges overall – whose applications are down 9% across the province.

The next challenge will be that many students are still optimistically hoping for a return to normal, and the majority who have indicated they would defer if forced to take online courses might still do so before September. (Some institutions have made it clear that deferrals are available.)

As well, many students would be well advised to take a part-time online course load, instead of full-time – so the impact on full-time equivalent students may not become clear until actual course registrations are complete. (Or in the case of institutions offering a money-back guarantee, the impact won’t be clear until after October 9.)

Ontario universities overall report 103,426 confirmed offers of admission – about a 1% increase over last year’s 102,289 at this time. Globe & Mail

Fanshawe College reports they have received 27,000 first-year applications, a decline of less than 2% in domestic, in-province applications – and international applications are actually up from last year. So far, 7,000 domestic students have confirmed (26%). Many international students will be studying online from home for the Fall term. London Free Press

Laurentian U, where the first on-campus COVID19 cases were reported in the province, indicates that Ontario confirmations are down 14% compared to last year at this time. Globe & Mail

Ontario Tech reports confirmations are down about 10% over last year at this time. (That may have prompted the student experience guarantee, announced last month.) Globe & Mail

uToronto reports that confirmations from Ontario high school students are down 9% from last year, but overall numbers are up 4%, thanks to increased applications from outside Ontario and a nearly 20% jump in international confirmations. Globe & Mail

Western U reports that domestic applications from within Ontario have held steady for this Fall, declining only by 0.2% over last year. Western anticipated some students might defer due to uncertainty, and “made more offers.” Out of province applications dipped 8.4%, and international applications dropped 13%. HS confirmations are up 28% from last year, while international confirmations are down 10%. London Free Press

And outside Ontario…

McGill U reports a “very strong signal from our newly admitted students confirming their acceptance to join the thousands of already-registered returning students in the fall.” McGill is working on virtual welcome and orientation activities, peer networking, mentoring, virtual student interest groups, community engagement and work experiences. McGill


Campus Updates

Algonquin College announced yesterday that it will be offering 94% of its planned programs this Fall, largely remotely or a combination of remote and select on-campus activities. Unfortunately 16 returning program levels cannot be offered, impacting 134 students. Algonquin

Camosun College president Sherri Bell observes that the big challenge will be bringing employees and students back to campus safely. “Safe Start Camosun” allows instructors to make the case for part of their courses to be done on-campus, where necessary. As for finances: “no matter which way we look at it, we’re going to be facing financial pressures.” YouTube

Centennial College is “ready to proceed” with on-campus labs next month for stranded students, and childcare services. Labs

Concordia University of Edmonton president Tim Loreman explains in a new video that CUE’s Fall delivery will remain “predominantly remote,” despite Alberta’s move to phase 2 of reopening. As measures ease, some on-campus social activities may be possible. YouTube

Dalhousie shared more details about Fall yesterday. In-person instruction will be offered only when required to fulfil accreditation requirements, such as in Medicine, Dentistry, selected Health and Veterinary professions. “Every online class will be different” depending on the instructor, but will be primarily asynchronous and based on principles of access, flexibility, interactivity, etc. Residences will be open in a limited capacity this Fall. Dal

Fanshawe College launched an “FAQ” interview video series yesterday (“Fanshawe Answers Questions”), by tackling some key student questions about fees and tuition, student services, and program delivery this Fall. Fanshawe has extended the fee payment deadline to Jul 22, and is encouraging online payment by credit card or Flywire. Students will have the option to defer enrolment to the January intake. YouTube

Fleming College announced yesterday that it is “currently determining when we can schedule selected short-term boot camps to enable stranded students to complete their studies from the Winter and Spring semesters. We are developing plans to run a small number of programs related to essential services during the summer.” Fleming

UoGuelph announced that in-person summer camps and all on-campus events are cancelled until September, that the Fall varsity athletics season is cancelled. The Gryphon Clubhouse will offer online children’s programs this summer. UoG

McGill U reports that Phase 2 of the “research ramp-up” has gone well over the past 2 weeks, and that Phase 3 will begin the week of Jun 22. Only “approved necessary activities” are currently allowed, but the EOC is “beginning to look at selectively authorizing some on-campus operations and practical teaching activities that cannot be carried out remotely.’ Directives and criteria have been published to the site. McGill

Mount St Vincent U announced yesterday that new students can “get a jump start on their studies” in summer session 2 (starting Jul 6). MSVU

Trent U expects “upwards of 50” faculty and researchers to resume critical research operations in 22 labs by next week, in Phase 1 of the “Trent Forward” plan. In the next phase, campus tours will resume with new protocols, and some nursing labs will begin to open in July. Course delivery details will be available by mid-July. Larger common areas will be reopened “to support students participating in summer online classes.” Trent

uWindsor outlined plans for a “primarily online” Fall this week at a virtual town hall. Ten working groups are developing plans to ensure health and safety, analyze traffic flow and establishing protocols for social distancing, cleaning and PPE. UW is bracing for a $20 M shortfall. Windsor Star


Thursday June 11, 2020

Rescuing Stranded Students

The Ontario government announced yesterday that “stranded students” unable to graduate from “essential” programs would be allowed to return to campuses in July, prompting a flurry of college media releases and announcements – although the decision seems to affect universities too…

Ontario Students can Return in July

Ontario’s Minister of Colleges & Universities announced yesterday that winter term PSE students who were not able to graduate due to campus closures can return to campus starting in July for “limited in-person education and training.” The first phase emphasizes essential frontline students such as those in Nursing, PSW, and Engineering programs. “Our students, researchers and postsecondary community in Ontario have stepped up in a big way to support our frontline health care workers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Now, we have to have their backs and make sure our students can keep learning, in class or virtually, and become the next generation of frontline heroes, innovators and community builders.” Detailed health and safety guidance will follow “in the coming days.” Ontario

Algonquin was one of the first to issue a media release “praising” the decision as “tremendous news.” Students will return in July in Massage Therapy, Cardiovascular Technology, Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Welding and Fabrication Technician, Automotive Service Technician and Forestry. Algonquin

George Brown summarized the announcement. GBC

Humber explained that the pilot project will be available to “academically stranded” students, close to graduation except for “a limited number of hours of in-person/hands-on instruction or experience.” Humber

Mohawk warned that “while this is encouraging news, it is important to note that the college is not resuming full operations at this time… The college will be gradually opening up labs and classrooms during the months of July and August for students who were unable to complete the in-person components of their programs during the Winter [and Spring/Summer] 2020 semesters.” Top priority will be given to health care, community services, engineering, skilled trades and apprenticeship programs. Mohawk

St Lawrence echoed the province’s “exciting news,” but cautioned that select students from the Winter term will return to campus only as a “pilot,” and that several more weeks’ preparation will be required to put social distancing measures in place.  SLC  

Seneca observed that “fewer than 300 students” are affected by this announcement, “in programs with significant in-person components that can only be done in labs.”  Seneca


Moving Forward Cautiously

Announcements in Alberta over the past day or so have emphasized that PSE campuses are not affected by tomorrow’s move to Phase 2, and that the goal remains to bring as few people to campus as possible…

uAlberta announced yesterday that, although the province is lifting some restrictions Jun 12, the UofA will move into its own Phase 2 “likely starting in July,” when it will lift some restrictions regarding libraries, indoor recreation, and gatherings on campus. Remote work will remain the norm. uAlberta

Athabasca U announced on Tuesday that it “will not be reopening any of its facilities to the public at this time… As a digital university, Athabasca University is fortunate to have the infrastructure in place to help learners complete their studies from home at their own pace.” AthabascaU

uLethbridge is preparing to gradually ease restrictions for campus access this summer, although the province has directed PSE to “limit in-person attendance on campus as much as possible.” UofL published criteria on Tuesday for faculty members to apply for campus access, starting Jun 12, for critical or time-sensitive research. UofL is also attempting to measure faculty demand for office work “where the home space is not optimal or causes undue hardship.” uLeth

SAIT finally announced yesterday that it will “deliver the majority of Fall 2020 programming online… Classes will be delivered remotely, supported by virtual meeting technology and simulations. We are looking at delivering a limited number of in-person labs and classes on campus, with start dates yet to be determined.” Individual program details will be finalized by the end of June. SAIT


Recruiting Aggressively

Sheridan is budgeting based on a potential 21% decline in domestic enrolment this Fall, and 42% decline internationally. They have identified 4 enrolment recovery strategies: 1) launching flexible microcredentials and grad certificates; 2) engaging stakeholders “to co-create a forward-thinking vision for what higher education needs to become”; 3) creating an array of supports for faculty, staff and students to thrive in remote environments; and 4) establishing a “Fall Promise” or “experience guarantee” and “aggressive marketing and communications campaign.” Students will be offered reduced fees, half the deposit, flexible payment plans, and the option to withdraw without financial penalty until Oct 9. Sheridan


Clarifying for Fall

UoGuelph has “refined” its hybrid approach to Fall, explaining that “the majority of our classes [will] be delivered online or in an alternative format. Nonetheless, we have the capacity for up to 25% of our courses or partial course material to be taught in a face-to-face format.” Residences will only be available to international students and those in special circumstances. UoGuelph

McMaster has published a detailed rationale about “Tuition in the Age of COVID19,” explaining that fees for online learning are not being reduced because of the significant investment in “instructors, technology and experts.” Each Faculty will be assigned educational developers “to provide training and consultation on pedagogy, course design and educational technologies.” McMaster

Saskatchewan Polytechnic president Larry Rosia wrote yesterday that, despite the province’s plan to resume K-12 classes in-person this Fall, PSE will continue with a combination of online/distance instruction and limited in-person teaching. SK’s CMOH explains, “anything that can be done remotely or virtually is better… I think that recommendation will remain as long as there is a pandemic in the world.” SaskPoly


Wednesday June 10, 2020

Dalhousie published guidance yesterday for the gradual return of staff to campus, starting with Phase 1, tentatively to begin Jul 2. Phase 1 will return a maximum of 25% of university-wide personnel. Future phases will be determined by the public health situation. Dal

JIBC launched a “dynamic and informative” new website on Monday, with a responsive, modular, mobile-friendly design, streamlined navigation, and colourful images of diverse students in training scenarios. ENC

Trinity Western plans to double its healthcare staff on campus this Fall, and will set aside some dorm rooms for quarantine and isolation. 12 COVID19 task forces are reimagining programs and delivery, facilities, finance, and more. TWU was fortunate to enter the pandemic with zero bank debt, but did have to resort to layoffs to prepare for a challenging year. YouTube

Institutions are starting to produce videos to help their students imagine what classes may be like this Fall, online or under social distancing restrictions. A couple of them are really helpful for us all:

One of the most helpful videos shows how BCIT Carpentry students have already returned to the campus with enhanced social distancing, hand hygiene, sneeze guards, outdoor shop classes, and smaller projects to be built in 8×8′ cubicles. YouTube

Last month I shared an illuminating 6-min video from McGill demonstrating a range of remote hands-on learning experiences. YouTube

And if you’re looking for some other examples:

NBCC seemed to announce its Fall semester plans for blended delivery first via a slick 1-min video. YouTube

Mount Allison provost Jeff Ollerhead describes 3 types of flexible Fall 2020 course delivery in this 5:30 min video. YouTube

Trinity Western U president Mark Husbands spoke with student union president Daniela Diaz Lombardo to clarify details for “Fall expectations.”  YouTube


Tuesday June 9, 2020


Yesterday, AUS, OUA, U SPORTS and Canada West announced the suspension of competition until Jan 2021 in their conferences, prompting several institutional announcements…

Acadia U reaffirmed its commitment to supporting student-athletes and “developing solutions to address the competition hiatus.” “Acadia Athletics is committed to delivering an alternate sport model that allows student-athletes to develop, train, and compete within parameters provided by public health authorities.” Acadia

Bishop’s U announced yesterday that it “plans to offer varsity sports in 2021-21,” despite the suspension and cancellation of most athletics championships this fall. AUS, OUA, Canada West and U Sports have cancelled national competitions, although RSEQ and CUFLA remain scheduled. Bishop’s will honour scholarships regardless. Gaiters

uCalgary shared the Canada West decision, observing that decisions about individual sports (golf, cross-country, swimming) will be made by Jul 15. Dinos

uSask has cancelled the first term seasons for Huskies football and soccer. “It is important to make this decision now to give Huskie student-athletes certainty as they begin to plan for the fall, including whether they plan to relocate based on the delivery model of their respective colleges. All Huskie student-athletes will continue to receive the supports necessary for their success even without the fall season, including physiotherapy, nutrition, strength and conditioning, mental health supports, access to training facilities as well as academic and coaching supports.” uSask

uWaterloo shared the OUA decision, indicating, “while this provides clarity for the fall competitive season, we will now focus on supporting our student-athletes as they digest the impact of this announcement, and continue to work on their academic success, while preparing next steps, once permitted, to allow student-athletes to return to train, and prioritize their wellbeing.” uWaterloo


Campus Updates

uCalgary launched a new Fall 2020 Term FAQ page. uCalgary

MSVU is cutting part-time instruction by 30% for the Fall term, in anticipation of an expected decline in enrolment. “We’re attempting to balance a high-quality academic experience and student supports with a sustainable and prudent response to our changed operating context.” Chronicle Herald

NSCC announced yesterday that its 130+ programs will be offered either fully online (synchronous or asynchronous) or through a blended format, throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year. (So far only the second Canadian institution to announce plans for Winter 2021 term.) NSCC

Yukon U has approval from the CMOH to proceed with summer kids’ camps starting Jun 15, in groups of eight, with appropriate health and safety measures. YukonU

Monday June 8, 2020

Conestoga laid off about 60 full-time support staff, effective Jun 15 – about half the number originally projected. They hope to bring Winter and Spring students back on campus as early as mid-July to complete hands-on components. President John Tibbitts writes, “Decreased revenue expectations combined with increased costs and an uncertain future create an ongoing sustainability challenge that must be carefully and proactively managed. This is not a short-term issue: the current situation could persist for as long as 18-24 months.” Conestoga estimates the COVID19 budget shortfall will be at least $65M. Conestoga

Fairleigh Dickinson U Vancouver will deliver the majority of courses remotely this Fall, with “selected face to face instruction.” The campus will be open with staff onsite “on a rotating and necessary basis,” and social distancing, PPE and symptom monitoring as required by the PHO.

uManitoba has launched “UM Café,” an online platform powered by Ten Thousand Coffees, to network students, alumni and industry partners, and connect mentors and mentees. (The platform is free for #CdnPSE sponsored by RBC FutureLaunch.)  UM

Memorial has released guiding principles for a phased resumption of campus activity, under NL’s 5-level approach. (The province is scheduled to move to Level 3 today.) “We are cautious, but happy to anticipate resumption of some semblance of normalcy on our campuses.” More details to follow this week. MUN

UPEI has shared details of Stage 2 of its Operational Ease-Back plan, to come into effect Jun 15. Campus operating hours will extend to 8am-5pm, indoor meetings of up to 15 people will be permitted, and employees with individual office space are permitted to return to campus. Some Nursing and Veterinary students will be on campus for small-group teaching. UPEI

Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced Friday that all courses will be delivered online from Sept through Dec, but “it may be possible to have safe and responsible in-person social experiences… from student life programming, campus activities to interactions with researchers and peers.” SMU

Nipissing clarified on Friday that “Fall term classes will be delivered online in asynchronous and limited synchronous (real-time) formats. …Courses will not have set meeting days or times, however some labs and/or tutorials or other course based activities may have scheduled online meeting times.” Nipissing

Western has postponed Phase 2 of its return to campus, originally scheduled for Jun 9, until Jul 2, due to Ontario’s extension of its state of emergency. To recognize the Canada Day holiday, Western will be taking a 4-day “extended weekend” Jun 26-Jul 2. UWO


Friday June 5, 2020

Mount Allison provost Jeff Ollerhead released a 5-min video yesterday explaining Fall term course delivery (a mix of asynchronous online, synchronous online, or blended).  The objective was to be flexible for international or domestic students who cannot get to campus. MTA may still have online courses in the Winter term, but is planning a robust schedule for Summer 2021 and Fall 2021, to allow students to catch up on missed content.  YouTube

Seneca College provided more details about Fall term, “a mix of online program delivery with some on-campus activities for programs that have significant in-person components.” A colour-coded list of 167 programs shows 90% will be delivered online, 7% “online, with some courses on-campus,” 2% will not be offered this Fall, and 1% remain TBD. Seneca

uVic president Jamie Cassels explained yesterday that the institution is winding down its emergency response management by EOC, moving to a “new normal” until at least the end of 2020, and a return to normal planning and decision-making processes.  “This ensures decisions at the university are well-informed, accountable and transparent.” uVic

uWaterloo is hiring >300 co-op students this summer as Online Learning Assistants, largely funded by the federal Student Work Placement Program. WatPD will run a week-long digital training course for the students, in an unprecedented “virtual barn-raising.” uWaterloo



Thursday June 4, 2020

Alberta has postponed the implementation of performance-based funding (originally scheduled for April 1) for at least a year, due to the pandemic and uncertain enrolments. The province nonetheless is cutting funding 20% during the next 3 years. CBC

UBC Okanagan announced yesterday a new 80,000 sqft mixed-use campus in downtown Kelowna, potentially to include office and residential space. The site was purchased from the city for $7.4 M. “It only makes sense that we would create community-facing academic space in the heart of Kelowna, in close proximity to many of our community partners working in health, tech, business, and arts and culture.” Global

Brandon U announced that the Fall term will be mostly online. “We will limit in-person instruction to where it is necessary, and avoid potential mid-term disruption from any resurgence of infection or second wave of cases.” Residences are expected to be open, with limited capacity, and most services will be offered largely online. Details to be shared in early July.  Brandon

uCalgary is one of the few institutions to announce that it is proceeding with summer camps on campus, albeit with “significant revisions” and social distancing precautions. uCalgary

Wednesday June 3, 2020


Budget and risk discussions are doubtless taking place on every PSE campus in North America. What I share in this newsletter is drawn from public sources, and can serve only as a representative selection…

Acadia president Peter Ricketts advised staff that declines in spring and summer revenues necessitate budget revisions. Acadia has “curtailed all non-essential spending until further notice and launched a review of Acadia’s more complex structural costs. We are also in the process of engaging with employee groups to propose and discuss ways of mitigating costs as we plan to work through this crisis and get through the 2020-21 fiscal year.” Acadia

Bishop’s announced yesterday that its residences will have reduced capacity this Fall, because of social distancing and single-only rooms, therefore any further applications cannot be guaranteed campus housing. Priority will be determined by the date residence deposits are received. Bishop’s

uOttawa has announced that in-person Gee-Gee camps have been cancelled for the summer, in part due to delays in sports facilities maintenance. Virtual camps programming will be expanded, and will be available free of charge in both official languages. uOttawa

uSask has announced that average undergrad tuition fees will drop 0.2%, or $18, this Fall, while the average grad student tuition will increase $21. The numbers are negligible, but at a time when students across the country are protesting tuition increases despite predominantly online course delivery, the reduction will be welcome. Star-Phoenix


Back to School

Ontario’s College Application Service surveyed domestic applicants (May 14-27) and found that just over 10% of confirmed applicants were “unlikely” to enroll for online courses this Fall, and just over 20% were undecided. Centennial

NBCC announced its Fall semester plans in a video yesterday (I still haven’t found an announcement on the website). “All hands-on learning will continue on campus and in person,” following social distancing guidelines or face coverings. Classes will be a blend of “instructor-led online,” “connected classrooms,” and traditional classes (depending on the program). YouTube

Queen’s has allowed >300 personnel limited access to research labs on campus over the past month, based on Priority 1 needs (negative impacts by end of summer). Priority 2 requests can now be considered (negative impacts by the end of 2020), subject to physical distancing. Researchers should anticipate that facilities “could again be shutdown at any time.” Queen’s

York U has announced that some grad students, whose research must be conducted in-person or on-campus, and has been unavoidably delayed, will receive a free one-term extension, on part-time status, bearing no tuition or fees. York

Centennial College reports that its survey of 2,500 accepted international applicants (Apr 14-24) found that 51% were willing to take classes online, while the other half would rather delay until in-person classes are possible. Centennial



Tuesday June 2, 2020

Virtual Orientation at Brock

Brock University has launched “BU4U,” a series of “virtual orientation activities” with opportunities to meet other incoming students, an upper-year peer mentor, and free academic skills resources like an online “SmartStart” program in July, and a BrockU101 non-credit course in August. BU4U

Thriving Foundations at Western

Western University has unveiled “Thriving Foundations,” a 3-part optional transition program for incoming students. “SmartStart” and “Summer Academic Orientation” programs focus on academics in a series of online modules and virtual workshops. “Community Connections,” an optional day on campus (July 21 – Aug 10), gives students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the campus, meet professors and make friends in their program. In the Fall, the “Peer Leader Program” will match upper-year student mentors with groups of students in large first-year courses, to help them “build friendships in digital spaces” and succeed academically. UWO

5 more CdnPSE institutions have announced a blended delivery approach for the Fall term:

Acadia has announced a “hybrid approach” for Fall, including “a mix of in-person, online, and remote course delivery.” Further details and consultations are required “before we make a final decision.” More details later in June. Acadia

Alberta U of the Arts announced Friday a “modified mode of remote instruction” this Fall, with “limited access to campus studio facilities and equipment.” Educational Art Technicians are developing protocols for health and safety in home studios. AUArts

Humber College announced yesterday “both interactive online and limited in-person education” for the Fall term, and released a detailed list by program. 60% of programs, and all electives, will be entirely online. Online learning will include “virtual experiential activities” and “opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with their professors and each other.” Winter/Summer students may have the opportunity to complete in-person requirements on campus in July or August. Humber

Mount Royal announced yesterday a “definitive decision” that the Fall semester will be “primarily using alternative delivery… with limited exceptions.” Residence will open with occupancy restrictions and physical distancing. Libraries, theatres and recreation facilities cannot open until Alberta’s Phase 3, which will likely not be in September. MRU

UNB announced yesterday “a blended learning model that includes alternative delivery methods and in-person classes and labs” for the Fall. In Fredericton, in-person instruction will occur where it is required for labs. In Saint John, in-person classes will be offered wherever possible. Most grad and undergrad courses and labs will be adjusted to accommodate off-campus students, but some programs will have mandatory in-person labs. Residences and food services will be open with strict physical distancing and/or limited capacity. More details Jun 15. UNB


Monday June 1, 2020

Returning to Campus

Across the country, researchers and even some students are starting to return to campus in BC and PEI, while GTA institutions will be WFH until at least September. Ontario is starting to recognize that there are vastly different contexts within the province. Sadly, NB has discovered how easily a new outbreak can be sparked by one careless individual ignoring quarantine.  

BCIT welcomed 7 Joinery students back to the Burnaby campus for a week of socially-distanced work, in a shop class designed for 64 students. Sneeze guards, one-way floor markings, additional disinfection, dedicated workspaces and tools, and hand sanitizer stations have all been added. BCIT

McGill will initiate phase 2 of reopening research activities today, adding labs in Life Sciences, Engineering, Physics and Biology under strict COVID19 precautions. McGill

Mohawk is planning for a phased reopening. Throughout Jun/Jul/Aug (Phase 1) access to buildings is by approval only, to retrieve items or prepare for Phase 2. In early Sept, the campus will reopen for staff and students only while required for labs or work. Enhanced screening, cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing will be in effect. “There is still a long road ahead of us and it is important not to let down our guard.” Mohawk

UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz celebrated a week since stage 1 of the return to campus, anticipating stage 2 beginning on Jun 15. “PEI is one of the safest places to be in Canada. If this success continues, UPEI will be an attractive destination for our students’ educational journeys, and our scale will enable us to offer high quality in-person and/or virtual face-to-face experiences, along with world-class education and research opportunities come September.” UPEI

uRegina reports that minimal field and lab work has resumed under health protocols, but in general WFH continues. The University Recovery Planning Group (URP-G) will inform the re-opening process over the coming months. uRegina

York president Rhonda Lenton reports that GTA institutions UofT, Ryerson, York and several colleges are supporting the City of Toronto’s request to continue WFH until September. York


Prepping for Fall

Of the 90 CdnPSE institutions I’ve been monitoring, the last one still promising F2F delivery this Fall seems to have backed down. The “blended” consensus is becoming inevitable, with the recognition that it leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of PHOs.

NSCC president Don Bureaux wrote Friday that the College is preparing a reopening plan for PHO review. Program delivery plans for the Fall will be shared within 10 days. NSCC

Laval plans to “double our co-modal teaching capacity,” in which classes are simultaneously taught F2F and online, and this summer “an extensive training program for teachers to ensure that they have all the tools and knowledge to create the richest and most interactive distance learning experience possible.” Course specifics will be posted mid-June. Laval

Ryerson has cancelled all university-sanctioned international activities and exchanges through Dec 2020. Ryerson

StFX president Kevin Wamsley sounds like the institution has shifted from the “F2F” plan for Fall, to a position of “still deciding”: “We will make the decision about in-person or online delivery by mid-June. This provides us with the time necessary to continue our conversations with the province while still permitting the campus community ample time to continue preparations for the September term once the decision is announced.” StFX

Western anticipates that 25-30% of courses this Fall will have an on-campus experience, because “we continue to believe in the deep value of engaging each other face to face when we can.” Campus spaces will be changed to support social distancing, and there will be “new rules” about gathering – but Western plans to honour its first-year residence guarantee. UWO

New Microsites

Several institutions have shifted from health and safety COVID19 microsites to “Virtual University” or “Fall 2020” sites instead.

uAlberta has launched a COVID19 page specifically for grad students, aggregating news and updates for domestic and international grad students, courses and research. uAlberta

Brock has launched a “Fall 2020” microsite with 6 key points “at a glance,” welcome videos from senior administrators, and links to student resources and the Fall 2020 plan. Brock

Saint Mary’s (Halifax) launched a “Virtual University” landing page back on April 1, with audience-based navigation to further information. SMU

uToronto has launched a new “UTogether2020” microsite to replace its COVID19 page, with updates, a “full roadmap,” and FAQs about the Fall term. UofT

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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