Feb. 13 update
Memorial is continuing to analyze the impact of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s move back to alert level five across the province. Work is ongoing throughout the weekend to ensure the health and safety of the Memorial University community is protected.
The university is now determining how students and employees can safely return to the campuses to retrieve essential items needed for remote work and study, as well as how to manage access for critical research, teaching and learning that cannot be postponed or conducted remotely. More information on these topics will be shared as it is available.
Until that time, please do not access campus facilities unless you have been identified to do so to deliver critical services or have made arrangements to shut down your research space or access materials per the Feb. 12 research update.
Keeping campus density at a minimum helps to protect those who have to be on campus to deliver remote teaching, feed or care for animals used in research, service critical research equipment, maintain building operations and deliver key administrative functions that cannot be handled remotely.
Information about decision-making process
At this point in time, Memorial’s decisions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are being made by the Pandemic Strategy Team (PST). This committee is comprised of all vice-presidents, supported by representatives from finance and administration, the academic portfolio, research, marketing and communications, and convened by the chief risk officer. Through the PST, the vice-presidents authorize strategic, financial, operational and policy decisions related to the pandemic. Decisions are made in consultation with the president, operationalized through normal lines of operations and communicated to the university community. Senate continues to have authority over academic decision making.
This group is meeting daily to analyze new information, consider issues and make sure that the health and safety of students, faculty and staff is protected. With that goal in mind, the PST is working closely with Public Health to ensure decisions are aligned with provincial directives.
The university has chosen this approach based on the current situation. If changing circumstances of the pandemic require a different approach (i.e. an urgent or critical issue arises that overwhelms current capacity and capability), Memorial may establish an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) as guided by the Emergency Management Policy and detailed campus-based plans. More information about how Memorial manages an emergency using the EOC incident command model is available online.
Impacts for students
As noted above, decisions related to academic programming are made by Senate, with input from Deans Council. Any changes to current operations will be communicated as soon as they are available.
Memorial has encouraged academic leniency and flexibility since the start of the pandemic. This remains true today, particularly given the impact of the recent outbreak in the St. John’s region on young people.
Updated mask recommendations
With the emergence of the B.1.1.7, also called the U.K. variant of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), we remind our campus community of the importance of health and safety controls. These new variants of concern include mutations that seem to make the virus more contagious, allowing it to spread more easily. They may also affect the severity of the disease. At this time, the use of all controls is important, but especially the use of non-medical face masks.
Memorial requires everyone on campus to wear a non-medical face mask while in public spaces and common areas on campus, offices or while conducting fieldwork.
A non-medical face mask should be worn at all times except if you are alone in an office or when eating and drinking. A two-ply face mask is the minimum standard while three-ply is recommended and will be worn by staff performing critical operations on campus. During this alert level, three-ply masks will be supplied to those required to work on campus. Updates to this will be communicated to impacted individuals as needed. If you have any questions regarding masks, please contact Memorial’s industrial hygienist, Kelly Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note that face shields do not replace a mask, masks with exhalation valves should not be worn and neck gaiters, scarves and bandanas are not acceptable. Further information can be found here. Anyone who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons should not come to campus. Please contact your supervisor.
Information Technology Services (ITS) has experienced a significant increase in requests for service in recent days. As this unit works through and prioritizes the requests, please have patience in the event of longer than anticipated response time. Please also consider whether or not it is possible to continue in the short term without additional support from ITS.