Update for faculty and staff: Thank you, time off, and brighter days ahead

March 12, 2021 9:00 AM

Dear Colleagues,

This week marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.  

As we pause to reflect on this challenging year, I want to thank you for your dedication and hard work.

The long hours, uncertainty, and isolation have tested us in so many ways.

It’s impressive how we have pulled together as a community, continuing to fulfill Western’s teaching and research mission despite everything the pandemic has thrown our way.

I hope you are proud of what we have accomplished collectively.

It’s been a lot of work.

We have each been affected by the pandemic in different ways, grappling with unique challenges on top of our work responsibilities.

Many of us have young children or aging parents to care for, responsibilities that have been complicated due to ever-changing restrictions and protocols.

Some of us have lost loved ones during the pandemic, sometimes leaving us to grieve without the comfort of family and friends nearby.

For some of us it’s simply the emotional exhaustion of being in these strange circumstances for a year now. I think we’ve all felt that in some measure. 

For this reason, it’s so important that we all make time to take a break, to rest and recharge.

With spring in the air and summer around the corner, I am encouraging everyone to plan a vacation.

To help acknowledge our collective efforts, the university will declare two additional days of holiday: May 21 to create a four-day Victoria Day weekend, and June 30 to create a five-day Canada Day weekend. 

If you’re unable to take these specific days, there will be flexibility to ensure you can use this extra time when it best fits your schedule.

I also want to encourage you to separate work time from home time however you can. Personally, I’m looking forward to spending more time on campus. I’m craving more engagement with other people and I can imagine you might be too.

With the roll-out of the vaccine, we expect to be able to firm up our plans for fall 2021 a bit later this spring.

The unpredictability of the pandemic has made so much of our lives uncertain, but we are hopeful that a return to normalcy is on the horizon.

Finally, I encourage you to make your personal wellbeing a priority. We’re all just human.

If you need support, please remember to explore the confidential services offered by Western through Morneau Shepell called LifeWorks—some helpful resources there for everyone.

Thank you again for all your work,

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Alan Shepard,
President and Vice-Chancellor