September 2, 2021
Good morning everyone,
I hope you were all able to enjoy well-deserved summer holidays and to recharge in anticipation of the academic year ahead. September is already here and in about a week we will be welcoming new and returning students back to Carleton’s beautiful campus, as well as to virtual learning environments. As always, I would like to thank everyone for everything you do to ensure a great experience for our students, both on campus and online.
Our community’s gradual return to campus is well underway, and we will continue this process throughout the fall, closely adhering to all public health guidelines. This change may be exciting for some and more challenging for others and I know our community will continue to show care and compassion as we navigate through this transition together.
As was the case throughout last year, adapting to the ongoing pandemic remains our most significant challenge, and recent modelling indicates that the fourth wave could be “substantial” in Ontario. Our first guiding principle, established in the very early days of the pandemic, remains: We will place the health and well-being of students, staff, faculty and the broader community above all other considerations.
A critical element of our safe and gradual return to campus is mandatory vaccination for all in-person university activities, on the strong recommendation of public health and as required by the province. I am pleased to report that since we announced the cuScreen module for uploading vaccination attestations 48 hours ago, over 8,600 members of our community have uploaded their information and the full vaccination rate stands at 96%, with the vast majority of other respondents having received their first dose. I encourage everyone to upload that important information in cuScreen at the first opportunity.
Another important aspect of our fall strategy has been to schedule all our in-person courses in rooms that allow for physical distancing. While the province has recently announced that they would allow flexibility with regards to physical distancing in classrooms, in consultation with local health authorities, we are staying the course with our fall 2021 plan and maintaining planned distancing requirements. We will evaluate whether these measures can be relaxed for the winter term once the amplitude and duration of the fourth wave is better understood.
As per government regulations, masks remain mandatory in classrooms, indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing presents a challenge. We have also insured that we were ready with updated ventilation systems, rigorous water testing protocols, signage, traffic flow, hand sanitizing stations and new cleaning protocols.
As we prepare to welcome students back, you can as always find training and resources for faculty and staff on the Student Support website. In the event you are concerned about a student who you believe is struggling with a range of academic, financial, or psychosocial issues, please submit a Care Report and this will automatically begin the process of creating a confidential file in the Office of Student Affairs who will provide the appropriate support and guidance to the student.
As we plan for the present, we must also always keep an eye on the future. Following the successful launch of our new Strategic Integrated Plan, we are continuing to develop important operational plans. This year will be focusing on three very important consultations: An Academic and Research Plan, the Student Mental Health Framework 3.0 and the Sexual Violence Policy review. These documents are integral to our community and, as always, we will be actively seeking feedback to ensure that they are strengthened by the diverse voices of the Carleton community.
Wishing everyone a wonderful day and a great start to the fall term!
President and Vice-Chancellor