Dear Members of the University of Saskatchewan community,
The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to change and respond in ways we would not have imagined more than a few weeks ago. These changes have been made to protect the health and safety of our students and staff, and to comply with government health directives. I believe our USask community’s response has played an important role in helping the province to flatten the curve.
Our faculty, staff and students have been challenged with new ways of teaching and learning, students and staff have banded together to help the community and our frontline workers, and researchers are searching for better treatments and for a coronavirus vaccine. And while we all miss the day-to-day rituals and working together on our beautiful campus, we are still finding ways to connect and be productive from home as we deliver on our core mission.
So, what is next? I am sure many of you are wondering what the University of Saskatchewan will look like in the fall term, and beyond that. And now that the provincial government has announced its Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, we are looking at how the university can cautiously resume some activities in a safe and effective way.
The spring and summer terms are being delivered remotely. Outside of limited activities under consideration, including some research activities, the university is not planning large-scale re-opening of its operations within the next several weeks. Staff who work on campus in operations essential to its physical functioning will continue to do so. Some work activity in isolated areas of the campus or sites outside the main campus might partially re-start. Work that is being done remotely will continue to be done off-campus.
While we are currently providing our academic programming remotely, regular operations in several areas on campus have been significantly reduced or stopped completely, including areas where employee work cannot be done from a distance. As communicated to the campus community yesterday, the university has made the difficult decision to implement temporary supported layoffs of employees in these areas where operations have been paused as a result of current health directives, as many other organizations have done.
I want to reinforce that the temporary layoffs are not a reflection of performance or value to the university, but rather of the unique temporary operational situation we are currently facing. We all look forward to the resumption of more “normal” operations in the coming months.
By at least mid-May, we will need to identify what our teaching, research, workforce locations, and operations, will look like for September. Significant work is being undertaken by a task force to model our fall operations, and to determine whether the academic term will be offered online, in-person or in a hybrid model of both.
In these challenging times with seemingly constant change, it is more important than ever to stay connected. I will continue to provide regular updates on how the university is navigating through these unique circumstances.
The post-COVID world will likely not be the same, but there will be an opportunity for our university to emerge stronger, to be even more creative in what we do, to have a greater positive impact on the province, region and country, and to reach more people around the world.
Our university community has risen from this initial crisis knowing that, together, we respond to change very well. We need to all take confidence from that. We now know we can adjust and begin the path of setting our priorities and new ways forward in an uncertain environment, while continuing to be the University the World Needs.
With best wishes,
Peter Stoicheff, President and vice-chancellor
University of Saskatchewan
As a community it is critical that we support each other and remain respectful during what is a difficult time for all of us. Please follow all guidelines and take all precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.
How you can help our students during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://alumni.usask.ca/news/2020/covid-19-how-you-can-help-our-students.php
For the latest developments and information about the University of Saskatchewan's response to COVID-19, please go to www.usask.ca/updates.