COVID-19 Updates

Information for the UCVM Community

UCVM Updates

This webpage is for information specific to UCVM.

UCVM's emergency response group continues its planning efforts to deal with this fluid situation. We will keep the entire UCVM community updated as we learn more.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

During the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, please refer to the UCalgary COVID-19 Response Page for current campus-wide institutional updates.


Updates from the Dean of UCVM

Dear colleagues, trainees, and students,

After another long week of changes and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to start my Friday update with an enormous thank you to everyone at UCVM.

You have all stepped up in this unprecedented time of crisis. And you’ve done this while navigating the choppy transition to working and learning from home, as well as coping with the stress and upheaval in your personal lives that this new way of socially-distanced living is causing.

Please know that your efforts and great work on behalf of UCVM are very much appreciated. In a Zoom call today with our student leaders (DVM and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows), they clearly expressed their appreciation for the huge effort that our staff and teachers have made to ensure continuity of their education. 

Update on parking at Foothills campus

  • A recent UCalgary announcement stated that payroll deductions for parking fees for university staff would be suspended beginning April 2020.  However, the announcement did not apply to those parking in Lot 6 at the Foothills campus because the lot is owned by Alberta Health Services (AHS).  AHS has now informed the university that it is able to cancel Lot 6 parking permits for staff who want to discontinue their payments.
  • Details on how to are explained in this notice from the university’s Parking and Transportation Services.
  • To proceed with permit cancellation, you will need to complete this cancellation form AND you will need to return your physical parking pass to AHS. While the completed form can be emailed to AHS (parkingcalgary@ahs.ca)the parking pass must be returned to AHS by mail or in person.

DVM Program Updates

2019-2020 4th year: All previously scheduled rotations for April have been canceled. Under the revised syllabi for the 4th year courses, a few students have completed the requirements to graduate. Many students have not yet completed the requirements for VetM 580. To facilitate their completion of that course, an 80-hour online course offered in April in either food animal or small animal (depending on where they are deficient hours) has been assigned. Completion of this course will enable these students to graduate.

2020-2021 4th year: The DVM Program Office appreciates that there is much anxiety about how the 4th year program will function for the new class slated to begin in May. This presents as a complex problem involving Public Health Officials, the University of Calgary, the members of our DVLC and the students. It is being addressed and while no decisions have been made at this time it is anticipated that there will be some relevant communications to all involved late next week. 

2019-2020 Years 1-3: Current courses are continuing online. The Remote Teaching Support Group (RTSG) has been formed to provide additional support to all instructors with the additional tasks related to teaching online and online examinations. RTSG was formed from the Faculty Assistants group and other staff who have current capacity. An RTSG member has been assigned to each instructor, including sessional instructors, currently involved in teaching a course. In addition, a Zoom session “Writing final exam questions” was held for all instructors on March 25. The instructors can find both the RTSG assignments and the recroding of the March 25 session on D2L under the course UCVM Teaching and Learning Journal Club.

Mental Health During COVID-19 pandemic

The mental health and well-being of our UCVM community is my highest concern as this pandemic unfolds. Mental health supports continue to be available for University of Calgary students, faculty, and staff during this difficult time. The university has created a Mental Health During COVID-19 webpage with more information on how we can take care of ourselves and each other.

Please stay well and let us continue to support each other during this crisis.

Baljit

Dr. Baljit Singh, FCAHS, BVSc&AH, PhD
3M National Teaching Fellow
Dean and Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary           
Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6
Canada
T: 1.403.210.3961
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca

Dear colleagues, trainees, and students,

With the evolving COVID-19 situation, I would like to keep our UCVM community updated on changes being made as part of UCalgary’s continuing efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.

Access to UCVM campuses

  • First, a reminder that the university has issued a directive for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students to work/study/learn from home. Until further notice, only those who are performing functions that require them to be on site should continue to work on campus.
  • As our research programs move to a controlled hibernation period with regard to hands-on research, all non-critical research activities must be discontinued. In addition, only selected research activities registered and approved by the University will be allowed to continue onsite. Dr. Hermann Schaetzl, our ADR, has worked with researchers to compile a list of critical research projects/personnel which was sent to senior university leadership for final approval on Tuesday.
  • All research activities that can be done at home or remotely will continue, including data analysis, preparing for examinations, writing proposals, grants, papers, and reviews.
  • Similarly, Catherine McLeod, our Director of Operations, has worked with management to create a list of people whose work on campus is critical to ensure the safe functioning of our faculty.
  • These lists help us be prepared in case there is a decision that the university will fully close the campuses, which could happen at any time. If the university campuses close, only those who have been approved to perform critical onsite work will have card access for the location(s) they are performing their critical functions. Card access for others will be temporarily revoked.

Foothills Campus Parking

  • The announcement in Monday’s UCalgary COVID-19 Update that payroll deductions for faculty and staff parking permits will be suspended effective April 1 is being clarified with AHS for faculty and staff parking in Lot 6. A notice is forthcoming.

DSU Closure

  • As of last week, the Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU) has temporarily closed to routine diagnostic and research cases. 
  • However, in order to support our veterinary community during these difficult times, DSU email (dsu@ucalgary.ca) will be monitored during regular business hours.  In addition, phone consultations to direct sampling and testing for those veterinarians performing field post-mortems will be provided.

DVM class expansion

  • Preparations continue for the class expansion and construction work is scheduled to continue at CSB at this point.
  • The Admissions Committee is considering the options available for the MMIs, given the current situation.

External requests for COVID-19 supplies

  • The Office of the VPR is coordinating institutional contributions in response to requests from external agencies for COVID-19 supplies, including reagents and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Dr. Ashley Whitehead is coordinating the inventory of items at CSB that can be provided to Alberta Health Services. She is facilitating through Eoin O’Grady, the university’s manager, laboratory safety, so there is only one point of contact.
  • If you receive any requests for COVID-19-related supplies, please send them to Dr. Whitehead before responding. 

Changes to Distribution Services operations at Foothills campus

  • Foothills Distribution Services is still receiving shipments as usual, however in order to minimize the potential risk to staff, shipments need to be picked up from Distribution Services, HSB808 as they won’t be delivered.
  • If a shipment that is deemed perishable is received, they will notify the end user by email. As fridge and freezer space is extremely limited, they cannot guarantee the integrity of any perishable shipments and we are asked to pick up those shipments ASAP.
  • Hours of operation have been reduced to 8:30 - 3:00 daily. When picking up items at Distribution Services, please practice social distancing.

Stay updated

This is an uncertain and stressful time for our entire UCVM community. However, I’m heartened by the efforts everyone is making to work together and support each other. Please continue to take all possible steps to stay safe and healthy and connected with colleagues, friends and family.

And as always, if you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Baljit

Baljit Singh, FCAHS, BVSc&AH, PhD
3M National Teaching Fellow
Dean and Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary           
Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6
Canada
T: 1.403.210.3961
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca
vet.ucalgary.ca
Twitter:  @UCVM_Dean

Dear colleagues, trainees, and students,

With the rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic situation, I hope everyone in our UCVM community is staying well. Please take care of yourself and adhere to recommendations to reduce the spread of this virus: frequent hand washing, not touching your face, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible, especially if you feel unwell.

At this time, we must be prepared should the University of Calgary move to a full closure. It is time to take proactive, measured steps to prepare. However, it’s critical these steps are taken with a sense of purpose, not panic.

On March 21, the university issued a directive for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students to work from home. Those who need to go to Foothills campus or CSB to pick up items from their offices or lockers should do so on Monday, March 23rd. Please ensure you practice social distancing when picking up your items. In addition, all doors at CSB will be on card access only until further notice.

While the work from home directive has major repercussions on our entire faculty, it has particular impact on our research programs.

Our ADR, Dr. Hermann Schaetzl, is taking immediate steps for our research operations to go into a state of controlled hibernation and has communicated directly with UCVM faculty researchers. Accordingly, all research teams and units must do their utmost to follow this directive to work remotely. However, it is possible for allowances to be made for critical research, scholarship and creative activities to continue on site.

Researchers are being asked to assess what are critical and non-critical research projects and research infrastructure. The situation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the operation of UCalgary remains fluid, and our response evolves on a day-to-day basis. Please visit research.ucalgary.ca/covid-19 for guidance specific to researchers and updated information.

A few key points for research teams: 

  • If you believe you have critical research activities and infrastructure which cannot be shut down and has to continue, you must complete a Critical Research Designation From and send it to Dr. Hermann Schaetzl (cc: Nicole Stubley and Brenda Moore) and your department head for review. 
    Dr. Schaetzl will then send it to the VPR/AVPR for their assessment.
  • Until a decision is made on your request, please reduce all activities to the minimum and shutdown non-critical research as soon as possible.
  • File only for what is absolutely essential/critical to go ahead, and also reduce this to the absolute minimum. Non-critical research must be discontinued. 

These are unprecedented times and I am proud of the way our faculty has pulled together to adjust to a new way of working and living. We will do our best to keep everyone informed, and one way is to visit our COVID-19 response page for updated information.  

Please stay well and if you have any concerns, let me know.

Baljit

Baljit Singh, FCAHS, BVSc&AH, PhD
3M National Teaching Fellow
Dean and Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary           
Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6
Canada
T: 1.403.210.3961
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca
vet.ucalgary.ca
Twitter:  @UCVM_Dean

Dear colleagues, trainees, and students,

Further to the email you just received from President McCauley, we’ve just learned that two individuals – one associated with the Haskayne School of Business and the other with our Spy Hill campus – have tested positive for COVID-19.

The individual at Spy Hill was NOT faculty, staff or a student of the University of Calgary, and was last on-site March 10.  This individual is now in self-isolation and, as per standard practice for all cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health Services has directly contacted any individual considered exposed to these cases.

As President McCauley’s note explained, effective Saturday, March 21, all faculty and staff who can perform their work from home should do so until further notice.  Additionally, those who need to come to Foothills campus to pick up items from their offices should do so on Monday, March 23rd.  Please refer to the president’s note for further details.

These new cases emphasize the need for our entire community to take the steps needed to stay safe - social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home if you feel unwell.

Please stay well and reach out if you have any concerns or questions. 

Baljit

Baljit Singh, FCAHS, BVSc&AH, PhD
3M National Teaching Fellow
Dean and Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary           
Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6
Canada
T: 1.403.210.3961
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca
vet.ucalgary.ca
Twitter:  @UCVM_Dean

Dear members of our UCVM community,

These are unprecedented times. The rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic situation is disrupting the normal operations of our faculty. It’s also significantly affecting our day-to-day lives and those of friends and family. With all this uncertainty, I want to stress that the well-being and safety of UCVM community members is our top priority.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we work together and support each other. This will require digging for that extra measure of patience as we adapt to the online delivery of teaching programs, reworking examination methodologies, and working remotely.

Teaching, learning, and working from home

  • While the university remains open, I want all faculty and staff who are able to work from home to do so. All employees should discuss their work-from-home plans with their supervisor.
  • Please refer to this information provided by the university on preparing to work remotely.
  • I recognize that some of you perform duties that must continue onsite due to their essential nature. Your managers will be working with you on plans to minimize the risks associated with being on campus and performing your duties. I thank you for your continued efforts on behalf on UCVM.
  • The DVM Program Office has assembled excellent resources and support for the teaching and assessment of students remotely. And both the Research Office and Office of Graduate Education have revised information for researchers and graduate students/supervisors. You will find these resources and helpful links on our new UCVM COVID-19 Updates webpage, and more information will be added as required.
  • In-person DVM student classes have been suspended. DVM students should not come to either campus until further instructions are provided.
  • Face-to-face graduate student classes have also been suspended. Course instructors are required to use Zoom or similar online technologies for teaching graduate classes. All planned Field of Study and thesis defenses should be conducted remotely. Presence of graduate students on campus to conduct their research and learning should be discussed between supervisor and student.

Fourth-year clinical rotations shutting down

  • After thoughtful consideration, we are shutting down all fourth-year clinical rotations immediately. This decision was reached in order to ensure the health and safety of our students and DVLC partners, and in consultation with teachers. I understand that you may be concerned about the loss of nearly six weeks of clinical training. Dr. McCorkell’s office will be in contact with you early next week to communicate the learning plans for the remainder of the term. Also, I would like to assure you that this will not impact the requirements set by Council on Education, the accrediting body.
  • I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the teachers and staff in the DVLC for their important role in the education of future veterinarians and their ongoing support of our program.

Staying informed in an ever-changing situation

  • While there are no plans at present to close the university, that is an eventuality for which we need to prepare. Please do continue to read and follow directives and information coming from the University of Calgary to manage and respond to the evolving situation. We have developed Emergency and Business Continuity Plans to ensure orderly shut-down, if needed, and to ensure the safety of our people, programs, and infrastructure. The plans also include measures to ensure the continuity of essential services.
  • Because circumstances can change quickly, it is important for us to have updated contact information for all faculty and staff. The most efficient way is to ask everyone to update their personal information in Peoplesoft by navigating to All AboutMe – My Info – Phone/Email/ Emergency Contacts in the MyUofC portal. Please make sure your home address and emergency contacts are accurate, and provide an alternate cell phone number and email address if you have these.
  • Starting March 19 and until further notice, there will be no staff presence in the Dean’s Office. Phones and emails will be monitored for messages by staff working from home should you have questions or concerns.

Knowing the UCVM community, I am confident that together we will get through this difficult time and learn a lot from dealing with a major crisis. Please reach out to colleagues and offer support when you can. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please contact me (baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca) , any member of Leadership Council, or your manager.

Stay well.

Baljit

Baljit Singh, FCAHS, BVSc&AH, PhD
3M National Teaching Fellow
Dean and Professor
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary           
Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6
Canada
T: 1.403.210.3961
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca
vet.ucalgary.ca
Twitter:  @UCVM_Dean


DVM Program

Yes, the MMIs have been postponed. More information will follow in the coming days.

After thoughtful consideration, we are shutting down all fourth-year clinical rotations immediately. This decision was reached in order to ensure the health and safety of our students and DVLC partners, and in consultation with teachers.

Dr. Rob McCorkell’s office will be in contact with students to communicate the learning plans for the remainder of the term. Students should know that this will not impact the requirements set by Council on Education, the accrediting body.

UCVM classes are suspended for Monday, March 16, and students have been notified. When classes resume on March 17, and until the end of the semester, all instruction will be delivered online. Faculty have received job-aids from the DVM Program Office and will be sent more information and links to helpful materials in the coming days, including how to deliver online exams.

DVM students have been advised to monitor D2L for updates.

Graduate Studies

Face-to-face graduate student classes are suspended. Course instructors are required to use Zoom or similar online technologies for teaching and assessing graduate classes. All planned Field of Study and thesis defenses should be conducted remotely. Presence of graduate students on campus to conduct their research and learning should be discussed between supervisor and student.   

All public seminar requirements will be waived (prior to candidacy and thesis defenses). For thesis defences only, students will be offered an opportunity to give a brief (15 minute) presentation to the exam committee, summarizing the thesis in addition to the two-hour examination time. 

ALL incoming international graduate students (including visiting international graduate students) with May 1 program start dates are being notified by the Faculty of Graduate Studies that they are subject to a mandatory deferral to July 1st. 

Travel plans of current graduate students should be discussed with UofC Risk Management (riskmgmt@ucalgary.ca). International students should follow the guidance of their home countries. 

For comprehensive information and guidance to help graduate students during this outbreak, please visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies web page.


Research

On March 21, the University of Calgary issued a directive for faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students to work from home. Our research operations will now go into a state of controlled hibernation.

Accordingly, all research teams and units must do their utmost to follow this directive to work remotely. However, it is possible for allowances to be made for critical research, scholarship and creative activities to continue on site.

Researchers are being asked to assess what are critical and non-critical research projects and research infrastructure. The situation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the operation of the University of Calgary remains fluid, and our response evolves on a day-to-day basis. Please visit research.ucalgary.ca/covid-19 for guidance specific to researchers and updates.

Specific to UCVM:

  • If you believe you have critical research activities and research infrastructure which cannot be shut down and must continue, you HAVE to use the form (available here) and send it to Dr. Hermann Schaetzl (cc: Nicole Stubley and Brenda Moore) and your department head for review.  Dr. Schaetzl will then send it to the VPR/AVPR for their assessment.
  • Until a decision is made on your request, please reduce all activities to the minimum.
  • File only for what is absolutely essential/critical to go ahead, and also reduce this to the absolute minimum. Non-critical research must be discontinued.

Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU)

Dear Valued Clients,

Considering the escalating COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU) will temporarily close to routine diagnostic and research cases.  The last day for submission of diagnostic and research cases including whole bodies, tissues from field post-mortems, biopsies, and cytology samples will be March 20, 2020. 

The lab will continue to finalize all cases submitted up to the end of day March 20, 2020. Results will be sent to you through normal channels; however, the turnaround time may be longer than normal.

In order to support our veterinary community during these difficult times, we will continue to monitor the DSU email (dsu@ucalgary.ca) during regular business hours.  We will also provide phone consultations to direct sampling and testing for those veterinarians performing field post-mortems.

While these are unprecedented times, we also know that they will be temporary.  We look forward to serving the veterinary community again in the near future.

We wish you and your families health and safety during these challenging times.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Davies, DVM, MVSc, DACVP
Director, Diagnostic Services Unit


Working from Home

There are some excellent resources available to help make the transition to working from home easier and ensure you are able to do your job efficiently.


Travel

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all UCalgary students and non-academic staff in Europe are required to come back to Calgary. Academic staff are strongly encouraged to return.

UCalgary has suspended all university-related travel outside of Canada for undergraduate students, graduate students, and non-academic staff until further notice.

Academic staff and post-doctoral scholars are strongly encouraged to avoid international travel as well. 

As of March 12, UCalgary has suspended travel to France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran until September 2020.

As per Alberta Health Services, all individuals currently outside of Canada should self-isolate on their return for 14 days, independent of the country they were visiting.

The following are guidelines from Human Resources regarding employees who have travelled outside Canada recently, or are about to return.

  1. Employee has traveled to one of the seven countries listed above since December 2019.

    The employee should follow advice from Alberta Health Services, self-isolate, and inform their manager or Department Head and Staff Wellness.

  2. Employee is self-isolating (following AHS guidelines) and does not have any symptoms.

    We expect employees to work at home for the duration of the self-isolation. Employees will continue to receive pay and benefits without interruption.

  3. Employee with no symptoms is self isolating, but their job cannot be performed at home

    Employees who are self isolating (following AHS guidelines) but do not have any symptoms and their jobs cannot be performed at home (for example, a caretaking job) - these employees will continue to receive pay and benefits without interruption during a period of self-isolation at home.

  4. Employees that are sick/unwell.

    Employees should follow the advice from Alberta Health Servicesself-isolate, and inform their manager or Department Head and Staff Wellness.These absences will be treated as a sick leave and these will continue to receive pay and benefits in accordance with the sick leave provisions.

  5. If someone else at the employee’s home is unwell.

    Employees should follow advice from Alberta Health Services, self-isolate, and inform their manager or Department Head.

    For individuals self-isolating and who do not have any symptoms, we expect they will work at home for the duration of the self-isolation. These employees will continue to receive pay and benefits without interruption.


Events

All planned, in-person university events on our campuses are cancelled immediately. Until further notice, the scheduling of future campus events is on hold.

For events that will be cancelled, below is recommended language you can use:

EVENT CANCELLED – [NAME OF EVENT]

Given the recent escalation in COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases, the University of Calgary has adopted a framework based on Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines to determine whether previously scheduled events should proceed as planned. Upon review of the specifics of this event, it has been determined that this event will be [cancelled/postponed until X].

We apologize for any inconvenience [and will look to reschedule this event at a future date]. [REFUND INFORMATION IF APPLICABLE].

This cancellation was not done due to a specific risk, but rather because of the weighting of risk factors around COVID-19 such as event size, nature, audience composition and travel considerations. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact [EMAIL], and we wish you the best of health.

Mental Health

Yes. The University of Calgary has many resources to help students, faculty and staff during this difficult time.

Please click this link for information.