Working in accordance with provincial and federal health guidelines, the university instituted a number of major changes throughout the month of March and into April to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty, and help flatten the curve to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.
“In the face of this complex situation, our campus community has responded with resilience, with leadership, and with courage,” USask President Peter Stoicheff stated. “We have come together, remotely, of course, to support our colleagues, and most importantly, to support our students. We have relied on one another, and have made immense changes in a short amount of time to ensure our operations and processes keep our campus community healthy and safe.”
USask began informing the campus community with coronavirus updates and prevention guidelines back in late January, adding travel advisories and self-isolation protocols in February and cancelling all university-related travel in early March.
In response to the growing pandemic, university officials also quickly moved to implement further unprecedented protective measures—in consultation with health experts and government officials, as well as campus colleagues and other post-secondary institutions. USask closed the campus to visitors and suspended all in-person classes on March 16, while also moving all courses and final exams online to complete the semester. The university also recently announced that all spring and summer courses will be conducted online only.
In addition, university officials postponed or cancelled all spring campus events and recreation programming, and implemented a mandatory work-from-home policy for the majority of employees on March 23, after the provincial government declared a State of Emergency. All campus buildings were closed on March 24, with access limited to those employees deemed critical to maintain core operations of the university.
On March 25, changes were also made to allow for proper social distancing for those who need to remain in a University of Saskatchewan residence. All students who were able to safely return home and do not have special circumstances that may warrant an exception, were required to move out of residence.
While the majority of campus facilities are closed, many supports are still being offered remotely, including student services, employee supports, and university library resources. The Royal University Hospital on campus remains open to patients but not visitors, while the Veterinary Medical Centre at USask is open for emergency cases.
In another necessary move, the university has announced the postponement of Spring Convocation, which was scheduled for June 1-5 at Merlis Belsher Place. This is the first time that the spring ceremonies will not be held, since the university’s first graduation class was celebrated back in 1912. However, graduating students will still receive their credentials in June, and plans to deliver physical degrees are being worked through.
For the latest developments and information about the University of Saskatchewan's response to COVID-19, please go to www.usask.ca/updates.