January 18, 2022
Good morning everyone,
I hope that you were able to enjoy restful holidays and that your winter semester is off to a good start under the circumstances. Let me start by wishing everyone all the best for 2022, in the hope that we will see, over the course of the year, a significant decrease in the disruptions brought about by the ongoing pandemic.
As you know, prior to the holidays, the Omicron variant was accelerating at an unprecedented rate and along with all other universities in Ontario, we made the decision to pause our return to campus plans and to hold the first few weeks of the winter term remotely. As always, I am grateful for the flexibility and compassion our community demonstrated on such a tight timeline to start the term successfully.
Looking ahead, recent modelling confirms that the Omicron spike will be narrow, with cases likely having peaked or being about to peak, and expected to decrease rapidly thereafter. Accordingly, in consultation with public health authorities, the Ontario university sector is moving towards a resumption of in-person activities from January 31 onwards.
In discussion with the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) working group and the Faculty Deans, it was deemed preferable to delay our return to campus by one more week, so as to give everyone additional time to prepare. This additional delay will also allow for a better assessment of the impact of schools reopening on January 17. As such, barring another dramatic change in the trajectory of the pandemic, we will re-open our facilities (following public health regulations) and resume our in-person courses (as per the winter 2022 schedule) and activities on Monday, February 7, 2022.
I am grateful that our in-person activities for winter 2022 were carefully established with the health and safety of our community as our primary concern. Especially given that we have maintained physical distancing in all classrooms in designing the winter 2022 schedule, we are confident that these activities can be delivered safely in the present context. The health and safety protocols previously established will remain in place including mandatory vaccination, masks and reduced capacity limits, as well as completion of cuScreen prior to coming to campus and symptom reporting.
Students who wish to make changes to their course schedule need to do so by Monday, January 24, 2022. Questions regarding course selections or registration can be directed to the Registrar’s Office or to the appropriate department.
Beginning Monday, February 7, 2022, units in Phases 2 and 3 will resume in-person operations on campus similar to Fall 2021. Units in Phase 4 will be contacted regarding the scheduling of their return to campus.
We strongly recommend that all members of the Carleton community get their third dose booster of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Public health officials have advised that individuals should receive their third dose as soon as 84 days after their prior dose. Vaccines are readily available and Ottawa Public Health has announced that walk-ins are available at their community clinics for everyone eligible for any vaccine dose.
I want to take a moment and acknowledge some of the challenges and stressors of the pandemic upon our community. Some of you with young children have been facing the challenges of virtual schooling and now, of the return back to school. Others may be concerned with elder care, or worrying about a loved one who is more at risk. The impacts of the pandemic continue to affect us all. I want to remind everyone that no one has to suffer in silence and that when in need, reaching out to your network or to professional services is a well-advised and courageous act. An array of services are always available to support our students as well as staff and faculty.
In closing, let me thank you again for your flexibility and compassion. We are all in this together, and I am sure that you can think of many colleagues who have epitomized the Carleton spirit in these challenging times. Please consider showing your appreciation by nominating them for a Service Excellence Award before the deadline of January 21. The annual Service Excellence Awards celebration is a truly special annual event that brings us all together and I look forward to seeing you there, virtually, on February 24.
Take care everyone,
President and Vice-Chancellor