Update on COVID-19: Finishing the term

March 13, 2020 - University of Victoria

Message from President Cassels

Along with other universities, governments and institutions around the world, the University of Victoria is planning and responding to the global progression of the COVID-19 virus. I want to start by thanking you for your patience and understanding at this difficult time. I know there are many members of our university community who are extremely concerned about the potential impacts of COVID-19, and I want to assure you that the university is monitoring the situation and adjusting our response on a daily basis.

I am now able to update you on our latest response to this evolving and extraordinary situation and our efforts to protect the health and safety of the university community based on the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The PHO has recommended a measured and evidence-based approach to institutional responses to COVID-19. At this time, universities are encouraged to continue to take steps to remain open while promoting strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. Yesterday, the PHO provided new advice regarding the cancellation of large events and a more robust approach to social distancing. We are following that advice and at the same time ensuring that students are able to complete their term.

Classes and examinations

To achieve the above goals, the Provost, in consultation with the Emergency Operations Centre, is recommending, effective Monday, March 16, transitioning from face-to-face to alternative modes of instruction and evaluation for the remainder of this term.

With over 5,000 credit course sections, almost 3,000 courses and hundreds of Continuing Studies offerings taught on campus using a variety of instructional formats, we recognize that it would be inappropriate to require a single approach to completing courses and final exams this term. As a result, we are asking faculty and instructors of undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies courses to use their best judgement regarding the delivery and completion of courses.

Faculty and instructors should assess whether sufficient learning outcomes have been achieved for their courses at this time. In cases where content remains to be delivered, faculty and instructors can choose the most appropriate alternative delivery method for their pedagogy, such as emailing students with course content, posting slides or lecture notes online, uploading video content, and/or using online learning platforms, at their discretion. In terms of assessing whether learning outcomes have been met, in these exceptional circumstances, faculty and instructors are authorized to do the following:

  • Change the weighting of assignments/tests to determine a final grade.
  • Assess any remaining final projects, essays, assignments, etc. that do not require in-person delivery or attendance.
  • Add a new assessment component.
  • Determine an alternative means of assessment to an in-person final exam (please contact tilhelp@uvic.ca if you are considering administering a final exam online through CourseSpaces).

Resources have been created to support faculty and instructors in planning the completion of their courses and assessments this term (https://oac.uvic.ca/teachanywhere/).

Faculty and instructors are asked to communicate their plans for completing courses and assessment to their students and chair or director by Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Please contact the Centre for Accessible Learning if you have any questions related to accommodating students with disabilities (250-472-4947 or calfrontdesk@uvic.ca).

University services

The university remains open. For example, research laboratories, administrative offices, campus services, libraries and recreation facilities are all open at the current time though services and times may need modifying going forward. Additionally, university residences and food services remain open, and other key services, including campus security, will continue for students remaining in residence. More details will be available in the near future.

We know these decisions will require some adjustments, and I thank all members of the university community for your patience, flexibility and cooperation during these extraordinary times. I also want to reassure you that we will continue to provide updated information as it is available. In the weeks ahead, our focus will remain on the health and well-being of our community and our students’ academic success.

The most current information for students, staff and faculty is posted and regularly updated on the university’s website at uvic.ca/covid-19/.