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March 17, 2020
Good morning everyone,
I hope this finds you all well as we continue to adapt to the exceptionally challenging circumstances that have come to our university, our country and indeed the whole world.
As you will have seen, this morning Premier Ford officially declared a state of emergency in Ontario, banning public events of over 50 people and closing public spaces including restaurants and bars. The Premier was careful to clarify: “I want to be very clear about what this means and what this doesn’t mean. This is not a provincial shutdown. I repeat, this is not a provincial shutdown. The vast majority of businesses including those most vital to day-to-day life will not be affected by this order.”
The proactive and preventive measures we have taken at Carleton until this point have prepared us well for this situation and when I think of all the changes we have had to implement in the past week, I am so impressed by our community’s capacity to adapt and to keep going.
I am truly glad that most of you will be reading this message from home today. Let me start by thanking all faculties, sectors, departments and units for working proactively to define the minimum staffing plans for the safe continuity of university operations. Our goal has been and continues to be to keep required services open while having as many people as possible working from home. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the few of us who have to remain on campus and would ask that we continue to follow our safe meetings and social distancing guidelines.
As we take steps to reduce our on campus operations and to move most of our activities online, I want to explicitly reassure everyone that the university is committed to ensuring that no one is financially disadvantaged. Most notably, staff who are paid on an hourly basis will be fully compensated for all anticipated hours of work.
In addition to these measures, I would like to strongly recommend that everyone be proactive in postponing non-urgent and non-essential meetings or activities in order to focus on safely and successfully completing the winter semester remotely. Our students need us to carry the term to its successful completion, and I am confident we will come through.
Tomorrow, as classes resume through alternative modes of delivery, we have anticipated a significant increase in Internet demand, and we have proactively increased our Internet bandwidth by 50 per cent. To further mitigate potential performance issues as classes move online, Information Technology Services (ITS) and Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) are working collaboratively to implement several enhancements to our systems, to augment cuLearn’s capacity and to increase support to teaching staff.
To better support people working online from home, we have also expanded our current VPN capacity from 150 to 500 concurrent connections, and ITS has prepared information to assist everyone in this transition.
Decisions continue to be made in real time every day. Notably, you will have seen that yesterday the University has circulated stricter international and domestic travel advisories in line with travel advisories from Global Affairs Canada, yesterday’s announcement from the federal government, and public health guidelines. Later today, the Office of the Vice-President (Research and International) will circulate important information about the continuity of research support services.
Please ensure that the information you read and share online comes from credible sources like Ottawa Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health or the Public Health Agency of Canada, as the spread of misinformation poses a significant risk to the health and safety of our community.
As we continue to find our sea legs in these uncharted waters, please take care of yourselves and each other.
President and Vice-Chancellor