Deans Community Update - August 17, 2020
Dear OISE Faculty and Staff,
With the fall term just weeks away, I want to provide an advance update to all OISE faculty and staff pertaining to some operational details in preparation for the new academic year. I anticipate sending a few additional updates heading into September to provide further guidance to the community.
Foreshadowing the Fall
As we prepare for the fall term, it is important to begin by noting that working and learning remotely will continue to be the default. While the public health situation remains fluid, protecting the health and safety of our community, and in turn the community at large, continues to be our key priority. OISE department and unit level management have been working alongside Helen Huang, our Chief Administrative Officer, in planning for operational considerations with support for remote activities and very occasional, limited, and coordinated access to the building. Almost all OISE-wide and department/unit-level operations plans have now been approved by the University of Toronto and we expect to share these details with the entire community within the next few weeks after a few remaining operational matters are put in place.
These plans continue to be based on the core assumption that we will be working and learning remotely. With few exceptions, all of our service and support activities will take place on-line. Almost all of our courses, our orientation and co-curricular programming, and special events will take place on-line.
Given the importance of physical distancing in protecting the health and safety of our community, the number of individuals who are in the OISE building must be minimized and closely monitored. At the same time, our plans recognize that there will be specific types of activities and exceptional circumstances that will require a small number of faculty, staff, and students to periodically enter the OISE building. A faculty member may need to retrieve an item from the office, a staff member may need to enter the building once a week to collect and sort department mail, and a member of the Education Commons may need to enter the building to repair a computer issue. Our plans try to address this reality by reinforcing that, with few exceptions, our work should take place remotely, but also outlining detailed steps designed to protect the health and safety of those who enter the building. These steps will include, for example, using an on-line platform to schedule a visit to the building, entering only through the west side entrance (the subway entrance will remain closed), signing in with security, wearing a mask in all public areas (unless there are medical reasons why you cannot where a mask), and abiding by the new signage, which will help visitors navigate hallways and other public spaces. Detailed information on these protocols will be distributed later in the month and will take effect in September.
The need to minimize our use of the building and coordinate building utilization becomes particularly important because there are other users, such as the daycare, present in the building. Steps have also been taken to physically prepare the building through the provision of additional hand sanitizer stands, signage, checking air ventilation systems, improved cleaning, etc.
I want to thank Helen Huang and Andrew Maksymiw, along with the entire leadership team, including managers and business officers, for their tireless effort and dedication during this summer period to move things along. While we are confident that we are well prepared, we do recognize that the situation will likely continue to change and we will need to adapt as necessary.
Please remember that as of August 10th, to further help limit the spread of COVID-19, the University of Toronto requires non-medical masks or face coverings to be worn in common areas inside buildings. Learn more here. The University of Toronto has ordered reusable cloth masks for all staff, faculty and students. Masks for faculty and staff (2 for each individual) have arrived at OISE and are ready for distribution. Please remember that there is no need to visit the OISE building just to pick up masks. The masks are reserved for you and are ready for you when you are next on campus. The distribution will remain in place as necessary and throughout this academic year. To pick up your masks, come to OISE between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday to Friday. Call Security at 416-978-3636 and provide your UofT ID for verification; they will provide you with your two masks.
Distribution of masks to students will be managed centrally by the University of Toronto and students will receive information on this process at the beginning of the term.
In line with the public health guidelines, University Caretaking services will be increasing cleaning frequency and providing additional disinfection of high-touch surfaces in shared areas. See further details regarding the caretaking reentry strategy. In order to meet the increased scope and maintain the quality level of services, the university will utilize third party vendors to complete the cleaning work in eighteen buildings, including OISE, effective August 17. No caretaking staff at the university will lose their jobs as a result of this change but some will be assigned to other buildings on campus in order to fulfill the additional cleaning needs at those locations . The University has selected top- tier, long established companies that employ unionized staff.
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study
The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School is preparing to resume school based operations in September under significantly modified conditions. Since the MA CSE program will operate on-line, the school will expand to use the graduate classrooms in order to reduce class sizes to ensure appropriate physical distancing measures for students, teachers and staff. My thanks to Rhonda Martinussen and Richard Messina for their leadership in ensuring that extremely stringent and detailed protocols will be in place for the beginning of the school year, and for their hard work in coordinating the multitude of details needed to make the school a safe space, such as daily screening protocols, and creating and furnishing the new classrooms.
My thanks to all faculty and staff for their continuing hard work and support of our students during these challenging times. I will provide additional updates on fall arrangements in the coming weeks.
Glen A. Jones, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean