McMaster community, December 2021
December 14, 2021
Dear Members of the McMaster Community,
As we head towards the end of the year the pandemic continues to evolve at an accelerated pace. While concerns are mounting there are still many unanswered questions about the overall impact of the COVID Omicron variant.
As part of our ongoing commitment to the health of all members of the McMaster community, the University is being proactive to enhance safety and to provide as much certainty as possible as we move towards the holiday break and the beginning of the winter term.
While our plans for an in-person winter 2022 term remain in place, we are making some short-term modifications in response to guidance from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer.
The remaining virtual exams and any programs still in session will continue as originally planned. Classes for the winter term will maintain their current schedule and will begin January 10. We are asking instructors, with limited exceptions in clinical settings, to hold classes virtually for the first week with in-person instruction beginning January 17.
We want to thank our community for all the planning and work to date to keep the University operating so well and to bring our community back together. Thank you for making the following adjustments to help keep each other as safe as possible.
• Remote work first: Employees who are able to do so are asked to work 100% remotely as of December 15. Areas providing direct student services will continue to ensure that student needs are met. Any hybrid or other work arrangements scheduled to start on January 3 will be paused and begin on January 17.
• Research: The Vice-President Research Office is monitoring Public Health advice and the VPR will notify the research community if any changes to current research activities are required.
• Gather and meet virtually: Formal and informal university related social gatherings, both on campus and off campus, are suspended between now and January 17. This includes events planned by recognized student clubs. Business meetings should be held virtually wherever possible between now and January 17.
• Providing space: Libraries will remain open with physical distancing recommended whenever possible. Mandatory masking and no eating rules are currently in place. Students should expect to be asked for their MacCheck (vaccination proof + symptom screening) upon entry.
• Residences: Students will be welcomed back to residence on January 14 instead of January 7. Students, including international students, should contact the housing office if there are individual circumstances that would require the original move in date.
• Athletics on pause: The Pulse and other athletic facilities will close as of December 20 and re-open on January 17. Exceptions will be made for structured varsity activities and elite athlete training.
Although temporary, these modifications will be important safety measures as we go through the next few weeks. By planning in advance, we hope that everyone is able to enjoy their upcoming holiday time and we encourage all members of our community to disconnect from work and classes over the holidays and take time to rest and rejuvenate for the year ahead.
The success of our fall term was made possible by the commitment and hard work of people across the McMaster community. Vaccinations are our best defence against COVID and there was an outstanding response to the Vaccine Policy with over 99% of faculty, 97% of students, and 98% of staff now fully vaccinated. As your opportunity for a booster shot arises, we encourage you to sign up to continue to protect yourself, family, friends, colleagues, and students at the University.
We will continue to monitor the province and our local health unit and will provide additional planning updates early in the new year when we should have a clearer picture of the path the pandemic is taking.
Please stay well and again thank you for your thoughtfulness and support as we move through the pandemic together. Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful holiday season.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Susan Tighe, Provost and Vice-President (Academic)