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Updated on July 24, 2020
Redeemer University’s mission is to educate the whole person – body and mind, heart and soul – by integrating faith in the classroom and fostering community as foundations of the Redeemer experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced tragic loss, anxiety and a jarring interruption to plans, hopes and personal journeys. We believe God has a calling for everyone and following him in uncertain times is a part of that journey, and so we present our plans for how we will continue to help students learn and explore their futures in these contexts.
The Ontario government’s recent announcement indicated that in September, students “will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.” This corresponds with what Redeemer students asked for in a recent survey indicating that over 80% of returning students would prefer an in-person education this fall.
The following framework describes what it will look like for Redeemer to provide the best quality Christian university education that maximizes the potential for on-campus, in-person learning while providing the most enriching virtual experience for those participating remotely. The entire framework is developed around a dual delivery model with a commitment to protect students, faculty and staff by following current and evolving public health guidelines.
There will be many more detailed questions that come forth from this document. With this framework in place, Redeemer will be able to plan more fully and will provide more information as it becomes available over the coming weeks and months.
Health & Safety Guidelines
There is still limited information from public health officials about what the guidelines will be in September for higher education. This framework was updated July 24. Changes may be required as more information becomes available. Restrictions may be reduced gradually, or re-instated at a later time. We are making efforts to communicate with provincial and local governments and public health authorities to the fullest extent possible and we await further announcements about education in Ontario for September.
Committed to the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the wider community, the framework is supported by these public health principles and guidelines:
- Physical distancing is promoted and applied wherever possible
- Face masks are required indoors, in all public areas and classrooms regardless of physical distancing
- Good hand hygiene is promoted, with hand sanitizer widely available
- Extensive sanitization, screening and monitoring practices are in place
Classroom and gathering sizes set in accordance with provincial regulations. Students are distanced whenever possible
- Close contact is maintained with public health officials
Healthy Campus and Culture
The health and safety of all members of the Redeemer community is top of mind during the re-opening of campus and start of the fall term. Considerable investment and planning, including a new health clinic on campus directed by a medical professional, are being employed in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
In accordance with the City of Hamilton bylaw, masks must be worn in public, indoor spaces at Redeemer. Campus will be divided into personal, public and special areas. Personal areas such as private offices and residences are safe zones where individuals are not required to wear a mask. The academic building, including hallways, classrooms and bathrooms, is considered public. Physical distancing and barriers will be applied wherever possible, but cannot be guaranteed. Special areas such as labs may have additional requirements and corresponding instructions.
Redeemer is characterized by its caring community and this is especially relevant during the uncertainty and disruption of a pandemic. The guidelines will change the normal way of doing things, will be inconvenient at times, and there will be differing opinions on how necessary or strict they are. To help maintain a healthy culture, Redeemer will educate the community about the framework and promote the guidelines, emphasizing the need to care for each other by complying, irrespective of our personal feelings or opinions about them. We will avoid fear-mongering while enforcing the guidelines to foster a positive culture with strong mental and physical health for everyone.
As part of Redeemer’s effort to reopen while making safety a key priority, the university has developed an Interim Policy for Campus Visitors. Redeemer will not be permitting visitors to campus except in exceptional and necessary circumstances such as to host prospective students and key donors, for off-peak campus rentals, soccer facility rentals and for physical plant contractors.
For optimal learning this fall, Redeemer University will deliver the vast majority of its courses on campus, through in-person classes. In most cases, students will have the choice to participate in their program in person or remotely. Redeemer is investing in the latest technologies and approaches to ensure the availability of online participation. This will allow for the maximum number of courses to be streamed in real-time with in-person and virtual interaction. Provision for asynchronous accessibility will be provided where appropriate for learning outcomes and when in compliance with privacy and intellectual property rights.
Students will choose “in-person” or “remote” as their enrolment option for the fall term before fall classes begin. “In-person” students may elect to, or be required to transition to “remote” during the term for a variety of reasons; these students may later return to “in-person,” if the conditions leading to the need to go remote have been removed. Only in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of all instructors and the Provost/VPA, will students who initially chose “remote” be allowed to transition to “in-person” during the term.
The primary mode of course delivery will be live, in-class. Hand sanitizer and other sanitization materials will be available at classroom entrances for individual use and personal protective equipment (PPE) will be available as part of a fall campus package and also be available in the Redeemer store. Students choosing in-person delivery may take advantage of asynchronous resources that are made available after class, but class attendance will be based on the delivery mode chosen.
Students may elect for health or travel reasons to participate remotely, and classrooms will be set up to enable synchronous learning such as live streaming of classes with interaction between instructors and students together in class and online, where possible. Live streamed classes may also be recorded and made available for asynchronous learning to accommodate students with technical and other challenges.
Course Requirements & Scheduling
Some courses will require live and in-person interaction (e.g. some labs, theatre) and will only be available to students attending classes in person. Some courses may have enrolment limitations for in-class or online learning. Redeemer is committed to working with every student to help them find a pathway that avoids disruption of their degree program. At the same time not all undergraduate courses and programs will fit a remote model, and in some cases undergraduate students may have to delay a course or switch majors if they choose the remote option.
Student Services & Technology
Office hours and other services such as financial aid, program advising, etc. will be available in person with physical distancing and barriers, or virtually (e.g, Google Meet, Zoom, etc.).
Reliable computer resources are required for students choosing remote, as well as a secure and stable internet connection. The same computer resources are also recommended for on-campus students to prepare for all scenarios. A Required Student Technology List will be made available before the fall term.
Major tests and exams will be taken at Redeemer. Students taking them remotely will be responsible for ensuring they have additional software necessary for secure invigilation (see the Required Student Technology List).
Redeemer’s vibrant campus community flows out of a holistic approach to education that integrates all of life and learning. Giving students a meaningful campus experience this fall is a top priority for the university, though things will look different.
This fall, residences will be open with each unit, typically of six to eight students, considered to be a “household” that operates like a family, living and eating together. Dorm dinners will continue and groceries will be purchased at The Market by using a “shop ahead” system. Redeemer is exploring various options to safely enjoy weekly communal meals in smaller groups spread over several evenings. Refresh and Tim Hortons will be open with prompts to ensure physical distancing.
The townhouse or apartment for each “household” will be a designated safe space reserved only for the members of that “household.” Students will be able to connect with each other outdoors, in class and at public areas on campus with physical distancing encouraged and masks required. Redeemer will continue to monitor the public health guidelines and will adapt these procedures as they change.
Student activities like chapel, discipleship groups, orientation, clubs and other aspects of the extracurricular experience will be modified. They will use or combine online elements and smaller groups to meet health guidelines. The weekly chapel service may operate with a 30% capacity limit, similar to the provincial guidelines for churches. Student Life staff are thinking creatively about how to provide and maintain a vibrant campus life experience and more information will follow over the summer. Professional counselling and support will continue to be available through the Shalem Mental Health Network, Christian Counselling Centre and the Mobile Mental Health Team.
The Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) and its members have made the decision to suspend the varsity schedule for the fall term. The OCAA will monitor the situation on an ongoing basis and make a decision during the fall semester on the status of the winter 2021 schedule.
Athletic staff are considering what a fall season looks like for a Redeemer Royal without varsity competition. This may or may not include: individual training, small group training, new student-athlete initiatives, investing in online technologies, leadership development, nutrition workshops, etc. There will be a recreation and intramural plan developed for all students to use the weight room, gymnasium and soccer dome to train, to keep active and remain healthy, while adhering to applicable provincial and municipal regulations.
Students Crossing International Borders
All students that cross international borders to attend Redeemer, regardless of citizenship, must follow a “return to campus” protocol to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine period based on guidance from Immigration Canada. If possible, students will complete the quarantine period at a trusted family/friend’s place and for those who cannot, arrangements will be made for them on the Redeemer campus.
Redeemer is taking a flexible approach to a gradual return to campus that accommodates and adapts wherever possible in an effort to re-open safely. All employees will be expected to carry out their work within public health guidelines and Redeemer will enforce them in an effort to keep everyone healthy and able to play their role in Christian higher education. As part of Redeemer’s plans, the institution has made the POST Promise, a self-declaration to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to educate employees about workplace safety, consistent with what has been recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Return to Work
Measures are being implemented to limit the spread of the virus and follow a phased-in approach, starting with employees voluntarily willing to return. Working from home will be an ongoing option for the time-being if it can be carried out completely and successfully. On-campus work will apply physical distancing principles and include masks. As more employees return, strategies for maintaining distance will be worked out by managers in consultation with their team and may include rearranging workspaces, staggering shifts, partial on-campus days/hours, etc.
Work From Home
Redeemer’s existing work from home policy will be applied more broadly and with increased flexibility. Arrangements will be made by managers with staff around expectations, performance, availability, time-tracking, equipment and supplies.
Redeemer’s existing sick leave policy provides 12 days of paid leave. At the same time, the pandemic presents several new challenges and Redeemer wants to ensure that employees do not come to work for fear of not getting paid, should it be more prudent to stay home.
Employees may need to stay home due to minor symptoms, a suggestion to self-isolate or a government-directed quarantine and will be asked to work from home until symptoms are gone to avoid using sick days when they are able to work. For those who are ill and cannot work, normal sick days will apply. If an employee must stay home due to illness, or for any reasons related to COVID-19 (e.g. lack of child-care, caring for an ill dependent, quarantine, etc.) and are unable to complete their work from home, extended sick leave and other leave alternatives will be considered.
Education and Training
Training around how to work within the guidelines will be provided around topics such as respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, use of PPE and physical distancing. Employees will also be asked to stay home if ill or symptomatic.