President Loreman’s Wednesday Update, July 15, 2020.Posted on: Jul 15, 2020
Dear CUE Community,
I hope that many of you are reading this from a nice local vacation spot, camping, at a family cabin, or perhaps even just day-tripping to a favourite outdoor location. All of this can be done safely, and it is important to take advantage of at least some down time before the fall 2020 semester rolls around. For those taking and teaching summer courses, I hope you are enjoying the experience, and that your learning with us this summer is both engaging and meaningful.
Face-to-face student engagement opportunities.
I am very excited this week to tell you a little bit about face-to-face student engagement in the fall. While most of our courses are online, we recognize that simply sitting in front of your screen does not represent a comprehensive university experience. The social experience of university is extremely important, and for that reason we are working with our student associations and within our administration to plan a significant number of face-to-face social, learning, cultural, and support opportunities throughout the fall semester. These will not be mandatory, and they will be conducted following all of the health and safety guidelines we have established. There is nothing wrong with wanting to connect face-to-face with people, with wanting to have fun, and with engaging with others in-person. We hope that our first-year students, most of whom are new to university, will especially appreciate these opportunities. We will do it with safety in mind. Stay tuned – we will be coming out with opportunities and schedules for this sort of engagement in the near future.
Winter 2021 courses.
We do not know what circumstances we will be facing for our winter 2021 semester. Ideally, we will be able to return to face-to-face classes, but we do not yet know if that is possible or sensible. Our plan is to wait and see how things develop and sometime around the middle of the fall 2020 semester or earlier make decisions about the extent to which we can fully reopen in winter. Perhaps the only positive of COVID-19 is that our faculty and sessional instructors will have gained more experience and expertise in online instruction. We can now imagine a future CUE that has a greater selection of online learning opportunities to complement our predominantly face-to-face approach. Last week in my video update I hinted rather strongly that instructors who are able and interested in teaching some of their courses online in winter 2021 might want to start the process of developing them now, once their plans for fall 2020 have been finalized. Online learning is well suited to some types of courses, and when implemented thoughtfully can represent an outstanding learning experience. This does not necessarily mean that winter 2021 at CUE will be entirely online. As I said, I hope we are back in-person by then and no decisions have yet been made. However, there is clearly some advantage in at least thinking about courses that make sense for online delivery in winter 2021, and moving in that direction as appropriate. Instructors interested in converting courses to online mode for winter 2021 should discuss this possibility with their Department Chair as soon as they feel ready. I also plan to facilitate this discussion with our General Faculties Council.
Understanding that these are difficult financial times for students a funding partnership between Concordia University of Edmonton, the Concordia Students’ Association (CSA), and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) allowed for the distribution of a significant number of COVID-19 bursaries. A total of 98 undergraduate students (including 22 international students) received $500 each, and 33 graduate students, most of whom are international, received $750 each.
Masks on campus
Due to the continued difficulties in containing COVID-19 in Canada and internationally we have made a change to our protocols for on-campus attendance. Mask wearing will be mandatory in indoor public areas at CUE in the fall semester (i.e. starting August 17). This includes hallways, Tegler, bathrooms, classrooms, the library, etc. It does not include individual work areas, so employees do not need to wear a mask while working at their desk. Those teaching also do not need to wear masks while instructing face-to-face, but should take care to maintain a safe distance from students. We are also now requiring people to bring their own masks to campus. By now most everyone owns masks (and if you do not, you should purchase some), and we will have on hand a supply of disposable ones for purchase for those who forget.
Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy.
Tim Loreman, PhD.
President and Vice Chancellor.