Winter term will be delivered remotely
Although our fall term is barely underway, I’m sure that many of you are wondering about our plans for winter 2021.
Given that the public health crisis is still evolving, we will continue to operate in the winter term much as we have in the fall, delivering our academic programs remotely for the most part and having staff mainly continue to work from home.
I realize that this will be disappointing to many of you, as it is to me and to the whole academic and non-academic leadership team. We miss the opportunity to see each other and to teach, learn, work and meet in person.
Since the outset of the pandemic, our decisions have been taken with a view to protecting the health of our own community and behaving responsibly as a large civic institution in Greater Montreal. We’re in regular contact with civic public health authorities and with colleagues at other institutions who are all equally determined to maintain Montreal’s stature as one of the world’s greatest and safest university cities.
Across our two campuses over the past four months, we’ve opened more than 220 research labs, our libraries, faculty offices, some art studios and teaching labs, and made our green spaces available to support activities. I’m relieved to say that, to this date, the prudent approach we’ve taken, together with the collective responsibility shown by all who have come to campus, have resulted in very few COVID-19 cases affecting members of our community.
Looking ahead, however, public health authorities warn that subsequent waves of COVID-19 will be complicated by the seasonal re-emergence of other viruses and by cold weather that will drive more activities indoors. Mindful of these additional considerations, the most reasonable course of action is to continue to deliver the vast majority of our academic and non-academic work remotely.
As we did in May, we’re announcing this decision now to give everyone — faculty, staff and students — maximum time to prepare for a successful winter remote term. Students and faculty should plan for classes delivered remotely, with some exceptions for activities, such as lab experiments and studio work that require a physical demonstration of competency. These activities will be conducted with fewer participants than usual, attending on a rotating basis.
In the next few weeks we will identify which course activities may require some in-person component, taking into account lessons learned from the fall term. We will share this information with you as soon as it is finalized.
Although the past six months have been unprecedented, many students are giving appreciative feedback about our remote delivery of courses and the services we’ve created to foster socializing at a distance. I’m proud of how hard our faculty and staff are working to accommodate and inspire our students under the circumstances.
Nevertheless, we also need to be sensitive to the special demands that come with working constantly in a virtual environment. We all need to find better ways, both individually and collectively, to manage the pace and intensity online. We will work to address this issue as our period of remote activity continues.
Finally, a word for international students currently living outside Canada. Even though our winter term will largely be distance education, we understand that many of you would prefer to be physically located in Montreal to ease some of the logistical challenges you are facing. Concordia continues to work closely with the governments of Quebec and Canada to safely address issues that are making travel difficult at this time.
We will continue to share information as we have it, through emailed notes like this one and regular updates to our extensive COVID-19 FAQs. If you have questions in the interim, you can direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I appreciate your continued patience and perseverance during this unprecedented situation. Whether you’re in Montreal or somewhere else in the world, we’re all Concordians and we’ll get through this together.
President and Vice-Chancellor