Monday, March 29, 2021

Message from the President – Planning for a Significant Return to Campus in Fall 2021

March 29, 2021

Good morning everyone,

I hope this finds you safe and well as we approach the end of the winter term and the end of one of the most challenging academic years on record.

With regards to COVID-19, we are not out of the woods yet, with Ottawa reverting to the red (control) zone and a third wave rising, but with the vaccine rollout accelerating in Ontario and across Canada we are starting to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Indeed, the COVID landscape will be very different in September than it is now and Canadian universities, including Carleton, are planning for a safe and gradual return to campus in fall 2021.

As I mentioned in my previous update to the community, we have started to prepare draft guidelines, plans and procedures towards that goal. In line with the process we have followed for the fall 2020, winter 2021 and summer 2021 terms, the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) working group has been tasked with considering all relevant factors and consulting with stakeholders in developing recommendations for fall 2021. At Senate last Friday, CUSP presented draft guidelines for the fall term that would see a significant proportion of courses – and in particular seminars, labs, experiential learning and smaller classes – return to campus in a safe way in fall 2021, while also ensuring the availability of online options to provide flexibility. Over the next few weeks, CUSP will be conducting further consultations with the aim of returning to Senate in April with a full report and detailed recommendations.

I would like to sincerely thank the leadership teams in departments and faculties that are now reflecting on how to design a course schedule that best meets the needs of students in this complex environment. My thanks also to all the teams supporting this critical process, notably but not limited to, Scheduling and Examination Services, the Registrar’s Office and Teaching and Learning Services. I am confident that we will create a fall 2021 schedule that will reflect our deep care for excellent pedagogy and a fantastic student experience.

Our gradual, safe and successful return to campus will demand careful planning and coordination. Prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our community, we are looking to optimize all mitigating factors, including ventilation, PPE, cleaning, campus signage, traffic flow and overall preparation of buildings and student study spaces. We are also aware that for an array of reasons, some members of our community will need more time to safely return to campus, and Human Resources is leading a process looking at flexible work arrangements. Let me reiterate that we are still in the planning phase and we have started consulting with our community on these important issues. We will remain flexible in this changing environment, and all units and departments will be supported throughout this process.

Emerging from times of crisis always presents opportunities to rebuild in a better way, and Carleton is well positioned to do so in the wake of launching our new Strategic Integrated Plan (SIP) last September. One of the key commitments of the SIP is to further integrate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in all aspects of our activities, and it was a wonderful highlight of the year last Tuesday when we launched our ambitious new EDI Action Plan with over 500 members of our community in attendance. In the same vein, our second annual Kinàmàgawin Symposium was a tremendous success. Preliminary work has also begun on the New Names for New Times initiative, which aims at naming three main campus buildings in a way that reflects and honours our diversity and commitment to inclusion. More to come on this exciting initiative!

To further enhance our pedagogy, Carleton’s Learning Management System (LMS) will be changing this spring. After months of planning and preparation, Brightspace by D2L will replace cuLearn in May 2021. This is an important and much needed upgrade as Brightspace offers exciting new ways to engage our students, a better interface, faster performance, greater reliability, extended support and new features designed to help our community succeed.

Finally, later this week the important Reputational Enhancement Project will be seeking everyone’s input on options to revitalize Carleton’s visual identity. Please keep an eye out for this opportunity and take the time to provide your thoughts and input on this important process.

As always, any questions you may have that are not answered by Carleton’s COVID-19 information website and its FAQ section should be forwarded to covidinfo@carleton.ca.

We are coming to the end of March – arguably the toughest month of the year even under the best of circumstances. As always, I am thankful to everyone for the creativity, flexibility and compassion our community has shown throughout this truly challenging year. We are also heading into a long weekend! The university is closed for the Good Friday statutory holiday, but open on Easter Monday, with classes taking place and with reduced university services. As always, if you are required to work on Easter Monday, you will receive an alternate day off with pay.

In case you missed it, this fantastic Service Excellence Awards video – featuring some of the people who make our community great – will bring a smile to your face. Congratulations to all Service Excellence Award winners and nominees!

Have a wonderful day!

Benoit

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor
Carleton University

Monday, March 29, 2021 in , , , , , , , ,
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