Looking ahead: Plans for the current and upcoming academic terms

February 04, 2021 10:00 AM

Dear Western Students, Faculty and Staff, 

It’s hard to believe Western’s first COVID-19 campus community update was just over a year ago.

Here we are, starting off February 2021 in a provincial shutdown.

We know vaccines are coming, but there is uncertainty about what life will look like over the coming months.

Just as we couldn’t have predicted where we would be today, we cannot say definitively what is to come.

We continue to take direction from public health authorities and consult widely on campus. Based on what we know today, here is how we’re approaching our current and upcoming academic terms.

Remainder of winter term 2021

As we announced in early January, on February 21 we’ll resume in-person instruction for courses already planned to be that way.

We are committed to helping students succeed through to the end of the term, and we’ll be flexible with their individual needs and circumstances.

We will also continue welcoming students back to residence on staggered dates starting in mid-February. Those returning to residence should watch for more details from the Housing team which will be released at the end of this week.

We will share updated information with the university community about operating hours for libraries, sport and recreation facilities, eateries and other campus services prior to February 21.

Spring/summer 2021

Spring/summer term courses will be mostly online.

Limited exceptions include some clinical in-person learning that supports health-related programs, and approved non-health related programs (i.e. labs, studios, music) that cannot be modified for virtual delivery. These in-person classes will continue to closely follow all COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

We anticipate making a decision about children’s summer day camps in March – we know how important the camps are for families.

Fall 2021

As we look to the fall, we are making plans to return to face-to-face instruction and more of the on-campus experiences we all miss.

The unpredictability that comes with new COVID-19 variants and vaccine distribution plans may mean we have to pivot, again.

We will update you as early and as often as we can.

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While we can’t be sure how the coming months will unfold, please know the safety and well-being of the campus community remain front and centre in all our decision-making.

Given the current provincial orders, Western employees can work from home or campus depending on the nature of their role.

Employees continue to have access to campus including labs and offices.

We will communicate any changes with employee groups and supervisors will connect directly with staff regarding any change in work assignments.

It is difficult to navigate the unknowns – at home, at work, at school.

One thing we can be certain of – this pandemic will end.

Stay hopeful and prioritize your well-being. I encourage you to explore 24/7 support options for students and faculty and staff.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for taking care of yourself, each other and our community.

And finally, a special thank you to our faculty and staff who’ve been working heroically, for almost a year now, to ensure the university is able to fulfill its mission to our students, to the research community, to London, and to the larger world.

Your efforts are deeply appreciated. 

Be safe and be well.

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Alan Shepard
President and Vice-Chancellor