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,

As you will have seen in President McCauley’s email to the University of Calgary community yesterday, a decision was made on an approach to delivery of education in the fall term, with instruction to be provided through a combination of face-to-face and online or remote learning. As we head into the long weekend, I would like to share a few updates.

We continue to manage and advance UCVM’s programs and priorities:

  • The expansion of the Diagnostic Services Unit is fully underway with two specialist positions in the process of being posted.
  • DVM Class Expansion: The four faculty positions are already posted (with one offer made and accepted by the candidate), and three of the four staff positions were posted today.
  • At UCVM’s Faculty Council meeting earlier this week, the following major items were approved:
    • A revised Admissions Process, which now will proceed through the approval process of the university with an aim to implement for the selection of UCVM’s Class of 2026.
    • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Gold Medal Terms of Reference.
    • Faculty Guidelines for Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure.

UCVM Leadership:

  • Our leadership team recognizes faculty and staff have questions about when we will be able return to work in person. The timing and requirements for reopening the university and all post-secondary institutions will be a decision made by the Government of Alberta. When the province makes that determination, it will communicate those details to UCalgary’s Crisis Management Team (CMT). Once CMT develops a university-wide process in line with government regulations, the team will then communicate this to UCVM and other faculties and units. In the meantime, a committee within our faculty continues to meet to discuss back-to-work strategies so that we’re ready when a decision is made. This period of waiting and wondering is difficult and I truly appreciate your patience and good humour as we remain in a mostly work-at-home mode. When more information is available, I will share with the entire faculty.

DVM Program:

  • 2020-2021 4th year:  The incoming 4thyear class is heading out to start their first 6-week rotation next week. The schedule of available rotations for the rest of their 4th year is expected to be completed in early June.
  • 2020-2021 Years 1-3: As announced, instruction in the fall term will be provided through a combination of face-to-face and online or remote learning. Anticipated face-to-face learning is expected to be reserved for small classes and experiential learning, e.g. labs. We have received instructions from Provost Marshall on how to proceed with the planning for the 2020-2021 academic year. We are required to submit our plans by May 31. Therefore, we have lots of work to do over the next two weeks to meet this tight deadline.

Research Office:

  • We are pleased to share the Prime Minister’s announcement of $450 million in funding to help Canada’s academic research community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding to support research teams who may have not qualified for prior COVID-19 financial support mechanisms.
  • The UCVM Research Office is pleased to support the coordination of re-opening your research program. We kindly request the return of Table 1 (sent in an email yesterday) for UCVM planning towards the reopening. Please return by Tuesday, May 19th to the UCVM Research Office, Dr. Hermann Schaetzl (hschaetz@ucalgary.ca) and Nicole Stubley (nstubley@ucalgary.ca). This survey is for collecting information specific to the UCVM research activities.
  • Please be reminded that at the moment only approved critical research is allowed, and this will not change until we receive official instructions otherwise from UCalgary leadership. The re-opening process most likely will be staggered, and under the premise that all activities which can be done remotely will continue to be done remotely. The basic principles for reducing the risk of transmission must be strictly adhered to, such as physical distancing, wearing appropriate PPE, and sanitizing/hygiene. The latter are covered by our best lab safety practices (except wearing masks), and the concept of working in shifts is widely used to facilitate physical distancing and reduce the risk of exposition. Finally, we expect that the re-opening process will be on a voluntary basis. 

In closing, it is heartening to see the way our UCVM community has adapted to the unprecedented circumstances we are living today, and in particular how people are supporting each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much uncertainty in our lives, please remember that the university has a great many resources available to support studentsfaculty and staff.  In addition, you may be interested in the following session being offered next week:

  • Join Dr. Todd Hill, PhD, senior lecturer in the CSM’s Department of Family Medicine, on Wednesday, May 20, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., for an online Introduction to Mindfulness session. Participants will learn more about mindfulness and be given the opportunity to engage in easy-to-learn exercises that can be used by anyone, anywhere. Register now.

I wish everyone an enjoyable long weekend.

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

Dear colleagues, trainees, and students,

I’d like to start my update with a big thank you to all of our administrative staff. Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day, and I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation on behalf of our UCVM community to the many administrative and specialist/advisor professionals on our team who work hard every day to make UCVM a better place to work and learn. Thank you for your many contributions! Stay tuned for some special recognition that will be coming your way in May.

We are only a week away from the end of this academic year. I commend all of you for your dedicated and committed work to support our students in successful completion of their academic year! Thank you!

UCVM Town Hall

I will be hosting a town hall on Thursday, April 30 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. This will be an opportunity to connect our entire UCVM community at a time when so many of us are working or studying from home. Information on how to connect via Zoom will follow next week. In the meantime, if you have questions or issues you’d like addressed during the town hall, please email them to vetmed@ucalgary.ca.

Research Office

The UCVM Research Office has been facilitating the transition of research to meet the challenges and changes arising from the COVID-19 environment. We are pleased to confirm that UCVM research continues during this challenging time. Analysis as well as writing for publications and research grant applications is ongoing, and on-site research continues for select projects with Critical Research Designations.

Support for working remotely

It is a priority for UCVM leadership to ensure our faculty and staff have the resources they need to work from home effectively. Please speak with your manager or department head if there are additional resources you require.

Upcoming “remote social” activities for faculty, staff and graduate students

As our winter semester winds down, we are planning some social activities to give our community the opportunity to gather online for some fun and conversation. Please save these dates, further details are forthcoming.

  • TGIF – May 1, 3-4pm: Grab your favourite drink and join us online for a bit of friendly competition!
  • “Guess who you’re meeting for coffee?” – May 6, 9:30-10:00am: Join us with tea or coffee in hand for the opportunity to chat with colleagues in small groups via zoom rooms. 

Weekly notices

Please note that we will be starting weekly notices again as of May 4. If you have a remote event that you think people may be interested in attending or if you would like something advertised (such as graduate seminars and thesis defenses that are taking place remotely), please send them to Lori Buccini, lorella.buccini@ucalgary.ca or to Mary Gilleard, mgillear@ucalgary.ca  

Evolving access restrictions at Foothills campus:

  • The Teaching, Research & Wellness (TRW) Building is switching to card access only at all times. Access is also restricted to the TRW parkade, please contact Catherine McLeod if you require an access code.
  • If you require access to HSC to perform critical research or other essential functions, please make sure you try your access card at the HSC north entrance, located off Hospital Drive across from the Lot 6 parkade, within the next few days to ensure your access is in place. This door currently remains unlocked. However, faculty and staff who enter the HSC are required to swipe their access card on a newly installed card reader located just inside the doors.
    • If the card reader recognizes your card as having authorized accessibility, you may proceed. If it does not recognize your card, you’ll need to show your id to a staff member located at a temporary check-in station just inside the doors.
    • The check-in station will be staffed between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, and from 7 a.m. to noon on weekends.
    • If your card is not recognized, or you have any questions regarding access to Foothills, please contact Catherine McLeod catherine.mcleod@ucalgary.ca

With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the changes it has made to our lives, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever. Please remember that the university has remote mental health support available to students, faculty, and staff, and helpful tips and information on coping with anxiety and stress.

Please take care and 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
E: baljit.singh1@ucalgary.ca
vet.ucalgary.ca

For archived updates from the Dean, click here

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.

We apologize for the change in our messaging and recognize this may be concerning, however we wanted to ensure the amended policy is clearly understood.
 
For students who elect to keep their grades for the winter 2020 semester we will be using them in our GPA calculations providing that all courses taken in that semester have a letter or number grade. If some courses show a ‘CR’ grade we will not use the grades in the GPA semester calculation, but we will give credit towards the four (4 )full-time semesters providing all of the other criteria are met. If any of the ten (10) required prerequisite courses have a letter or number grade we will use the grade received in the calculation of the required ten (10) course GPA. If students choose to take a ‘CR’ for any of our ten (10) required courses, credit will be given to the student that the required course was completed.

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,

The Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU) will begin a staggered reopening on May 20, 2020.  In the first phase, relaunched services will include necropsies and examination of tissues from field/in-clinic necropsies.  Biopsy and cytology services will not be available in the first phase.  We will contact you when these other services become available.

During this time, you may experience slightly longer than normal turnaround times on cases.

For the safety of all involved, we ask everyone to respect the signage and physical distancing measures put in place when dropping off samples to the lab. In addition, we ask that best practices are used when shipping samples to the lab including disinfection of the outer surface of specimen containers.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.  If you have questions, please contact us by phone at 403-220-2806 or by email at dsu@ucalgary.ca

Wishing you and your families health and safety.

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.