Dear QUFA Members,
The Principal’s message today clarifies the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish to address some matters specific to our Members.
All face to face teaching, including graduate teaching and labs, must be delivered in alternative, i.e. online, formats. Moreover, all assessments, including final summative ones—i.e. exams—will also have to be delivered remotely. The implications of this transition will vary considerably from Member to Member, depending on subject matter, class size, and other variables. We are aware that levels of IT support also vary from faculty to faculty. However, because the needs of different types of teaching differ, we do not know whether these variations pose difficulties or create inequities for our Members in this situation. If you find that requisite support in developing an alternative delivery of your course is not available, please let us know. Please note that the CTL is offering all day drop-ins this week.
In the absence of classroom teaching and face to face committee meetings, many faculty will not need to be on campus and will therefore be presumed to be performing their duties remotely. However, in cases where your Head or Dean has reason to assume your continued presence on campus, perhaps because of the maintenance of a laboratory or the administration of a program, but you decide to work remotely, please ensure that your Head or Dean knows that you are doing so. If you hold a position, as do most librarians and archivists, where your presence on the campus is normally required but you believe that because of underlying health problems or because of the particular vulnerability of persons you care for, it is not advisable for you to be on campus, please begin by discussing these concerns and seeking accommodation from the appropriate Head, Associate University Library or Dean. If you encounter a problem, then please contact QUFA.
We want to underscore a distinction that the Principal has made in his messages. We understand that these measures are intended to slow the progress of the virus so that the health care system has the capacity to respond to cases as they emerge. They are not responses to an immediate danger in the workplace, because, as of this writing, there is not such a danger. Indeed, the danger of infection in the workplace has likely diminished because there are now many fewer people in the place, although that could change rapidly if cases in Kingston were to spike. This fact does not mean, however, that the crisis does not impose special workplace health and safety obligations on the University. In addition to the need to flexibly accommodate in the manner described above, the University needs to be cleaned and the supplies of soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer must be reliably available. Please let us know immediately if you find that such maintenance isn’t occurring.
We have also sent a message to the Principal and Provost alerting them to these matters.
Meantime, stay safe everyone,
Queen’s University Faculty Association