About

Stages of reopening are guided by Provincial recommendations and guidelines, but USask may decide to move more conservatively in some areas to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.

USask is currently in Stage 3 of reopening.

To support the reopening implementation plan, a framework has been developed that outlines a staged return to all activity at the university including research, teaching and learning, and support service operations that must be conducted in university spaces, including our physical campuses and university-operated properties and sites. The framework applies to activities involving faculty, staff, and students as well as any contractors and given the broad range of university activity, will reference or highlight specific areas as needed.

The Framework speaks to varying activities undertaken:

References to teaching and learning are meant to include access to campus in order to develop learning resources (faculty, instructors, support staff). Within the domain of academic programming, the process for making decisions about which classes will be delivered remotely and what exceptions will be made for face-to-face delivery.

References to operations are meant to include operations, administration, capital projects and support services (in general). The term operations is used to cover a wide range of activities across colleges and administrative units.

As one exception to this Framework approach, research at field locations outside of our physical campuses and university-operated field sites continues to be subject to Field Work Expectations During the Pandemic, which continues to be updated as the situation evolves.

Stages

Mid-March to Mid-May

External Conditions

  • COVID-19 cases rising.
  • Ongoing concerns about PPE shortages.
  • Public health directives remain stringent.
  • University resources needed to support Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).
  • Other universities continue to strictly limit on-campus research activity.
  • Caregiving services, including childcare centres, are not available.

Research Summary

  • Campus activity allowed for research on COVID-19, clinical care, and ongoing animal/plant/living organism studies.
  • Research activity allowed in other exceptional cases, as approved by deans and the VPR.
  • Strict expectations for health and safety plans, including minimum personnel, physical distancing, and disinfecting plans and training.

Operations Summary

Campus activity allowed to support essential operations related to:

  1. maintaining safety and security of campus infrastructure (heating plant, protective services), regulatory or financial requirements (waste disposal, stores, treasury).
  2. teaching, learning and student supports (residence, on-line instruction).
  3. research supports (COVID-19, clinical care, and ongoing animal/plant/living organism studies).

Activity allowed in exceptional cases, as approved by VPFR on advice from PRT. Strict expectations for health and safety plans, including minimum personnel, physical distancing, disinfecting plans and training, and exposure control plan.

Teaching and Learning Summary

  • Faculty and support staff involved in the development and delivery of the academic programming all working remotely.
  • Academic programs for spring and summer delivered remotely.
  • All student supports and services offered remotely.
  • Any incremental oncampus activity allowed in exceptional cases, as approved by the Provost on advice from PRT.
  • Strict expectations for health and safety plans, including minimum personnel, physical distancing, and disinfecting plans and training.

Preparations for next stage:

  • COVID-19 Safety Manual completed and available (including requirement for all faculty, instructors, staff, students, and contractors returning to campus to register for and complete the COVID-19 Health and Safety Course online, and incorporating clear information about the Occupational Health and Safety obligations and liability)
  • System established for screening and monitoring on-campus personnel for symptoms
  • Proper (necessary) PPE and other safety supplies not needed by the healthcare system are made available and personnel trained on proper use
  • Necessary operational staff and resources in place (e.g., Maintenance and Custodial; Facilities; Procurement; Safety)
  • Approved process in place for determining which activities can resume or begin
  • Approved process in place for determining which services and supports are required on campus in the next stage

Mid-May to Mid-June (estimated)

External Conditions

  • COVID-19 cases within the province are low and largely flattened.
  • Sufficient PPE and other safety supplies available.
  • Public health directives remain stringent but do not explicitly impede or conflict with approved activities on campus proceeding.
  • University resources still needed to support SHA but not to the extent that some increased activity on campus will present problems.
  • Other universities moving in the direction of allowing more activity on campus.
  • Caregiving services, including childcare centres, remain largely unavailable.

Research Summary

  • Restriction on campus activity loosened to allow more time-sensitive and deadline-driven research, where continued delay jeopardizes viability of the research, but with significant ongoing limitations.
  • Priority given to graduate students and postdocs close to completing their degree or term of appointment.
  • Priority also given to projects involving funders (including industry partners) that have not granted leniency and whose end dates are within three months
  • If access to facilities (e.g., lab space) needs to be scheduled, consideration of primary caregiving responsibilities as well as individuals with disabilities who may require accommodations.
  • Some increased library research supports (e.g., the Library is working on a plan to provide access to physical materials, including the creation of procedures for contact-less pick-up of requested material and potentially a “scan-and-send” service for portions of books following fair dealing guidelines).
  • Researchers must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Operations Summary

  • Restriction on campus activity loosened to allow more time-sensitive and deadline-driven operations, where continued delay jeopardizes viability or contractual obligations, but with significant ongoing limitation.
  • Consideration of supporting bookstore and retail service in accordance with Provincial timelines.
  • Priority also given to projects with contractual obligations or those that directly support the infrastructure for remote delivery.
  • Expanded on-campus safety resources to support preparations for increased on-site operations and conduct fire and life safety system equipment inspections.
  • Strict expectations for health and safety plans, including minimum personnel, physical distancing, and disinfecting plans and training and exposure control plan.

Teaching and Learning Summary

  • Restrictions on campus activity are loosened to allow for increased opportunities to visit campus (e.g., office, lab, classroom, studio) to develop learning resources that cannot be done remotely.
  • Access considered only for those preparing to teach classes in the fall of 2020 (includes faculty, postdocs, graduate students) where campus access is deemed essential, and access considered on a request/approval basis only for discrete visits
  • Access to physical library material (e.g., allowing faculty to order books and materials with contact-less pick up, “scan and send” service for portions of books following fair dealing guidelines).
  • Faculty and staff must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Preparation for next stage:

  • System for screening and monitoring on-campus personnel for symptoms can be scaled up
  • PPE and other safety supplies are increasingly available
  • Approved process for determining services and supports needed in next stage updated and support/services (e.g., maintenance and custodial, student-focused, research-focused) have capacity to accommodate needs associated with increase campus activity in the next stage

Late-June to TBD

External Conditions

  • COVID-19 cases in the province remain low.
  • Significant testing and identification of new cases, with appropriate self-isolation.
  • PPE and other safety supplies increasingly available.
  • Public health directives loosening somewhat more.
  • University resources still supporting SHA in some respects, but able to support increased activity on campus.
  • Caregiving services, including childcare centres, increasingly available. Other universities moving in the direction of allowing more activity.

Research Summary

  • Additional time-sensitive and deadline-driven research approved as circumstances allow for more on-campus activity.
  • Requested and approved access to office space to collect needed materials that enable continued remote work including research, scholarly, and artistic work. All such access handled within the provisions of appropriate physical distancing, disinfecting practices, and minimized exposure protocols.
  • If access to facilities (e.g., lab space) needs to be scheduled, consideration of primary caregiving responsibilities as well as individuals with disabilities who may require accommodations.
  • Researchers must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Operations Summary

  • Activities approved that did not quite make the cut in stage 2 (similar decisionmaking guidance as #2, but with increased capacity compared to scenario #2).
  • Requested and approved access to office space to collect needed materials that enable continued remote work. All such access handled within the provisions of appropriate physical distancing, disinfecting practices, and minimized exposure protocols. 
  • Library providing services including contactless pickup of books along with scan and send or portions of print materials (chapters or articles) upon request.
  • Re-opening of some services with appropriate protocols such as physical distancing, disinfecting plans, exposure control plan and training.

Teaching and Learning Summary

  • Requested and approved access to office space to collect needed materials that enable continued remote preparation of fall delivery. In addition, opportunities to request and schedule access to campus spaces for the purposes of developing digital material for remote delivery in the fall (e.g., video capture of lab demonstrations). All such access handled within the provisions of appropriate physical distancing, disinfecting practices, and minimized exposure protocols. 
  • Library providing services including contactless pickup of books along with scan and send or portions of print materials (chapters or articles) upon request.
  • Faculty and staff must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Preparation for next stage:

  • System for screening and monitoring on-campus personnel for symptoms can be scaled up
  • PPE and other safety supplies are increasingly available
  • Required services and supports are in place (e.g., maintenance and custodial, student-focused, research-focused) and have capacity to accommodate needs associated with increase campus activity

TBD

External Conditions

  • COVID-19 cases in the province remain low.
  • Widespread testing and identification of new cases, with appropriate self-isolation.
  • PPE and other safety supplies widely available.
  • Public health directives increasingly relaxed though precautionary measures remain.
  • Childcare options available for parents.
  • Continued international travel restrictions anticipated.

Research Summary

  • Continued expansion of research on campus to now allow non-time sensitive research, while maintaining physical distancing and disinfecting practices.
  • Researchers must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Operations Summary

  • Continued expansion of operations on campus, while maintaining physical distancing, disinfecting plans, exposure control plan and training.

Teaching and Learning Summary

  • Continued expansion of teaching and learning activities on campus, while maintaining physical distancing and disinfecting practices.
  • Remote provision will be the norm for academic programming enabling access for international students or those wishing or needing to remain resident in communities without access to a physical U of S campus.
  • Approval of on campus teaching and learning activities anticipated to be undertaken by course type or level, rather than for each individual course.
  • Faculty and staff must be prepared for the need to modify, scale back or shut down, if needed.

Preparedness for next stage

To be determined

TBD - Likely not until 2021

External Conditions

  • Effective vaccine widely available and used in combination with widespread testing and identification of new COVID-19 cases, with appropriate selfisolation.
  • Full lifting of international travel restrictions.

Research Summary

All types of research allowed on campus.

Operations Summary

All types of work and activity allowed on campus.

Teaching and Learning Summary

  • All types of on-campus teaching and learning activities allowed on campus.
  • Anticipated that remote activities will continue where tenable, for the remainder of the academic year to enable access for students unable to relocate to U of S campus.

Goal and Principles

The goal is to keep everyone involved in university activity healthy and safe, while increasing activity in a staged approach as health and safety becomes easier to maintain.

(1) Value, protect and support our people.

We will seek and implement the best guidance possible for the health and safety of our students and employees, and to ensure the return of people to campus will be done in a conscious, careful, and methodical way. We will strive to minimize financial hardship to employees when contemplating reward and employment strategies, and ensure that all legal and regulatory obligations are fully considered. In doing so, we will:

  1. Adhere to all relevant public health directives and the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan regarding
    allowable timelines for lifting restrictions for specific activities.
    • Directives became more restrictive over time when they were implemented, and we can expect the loosening will look similar in reverse, only much slower.

  2. Allow re-activation of necessary activity, while respecting the limits required by the evolving
    situation, and while understanding the potential to return to stricter limits should the situation
    require. Work that can be done from a distance should be, in order to protect the health and
    safety of those required to come to campus.

  3. Protect the physical, mental and emotional health and safety of all faculty, staff, students, and
    those external members involved in university activity (e.g., clinical patients, research
    participants, contractors) by minimizing risk and potential exposure.

    Procedural requirements/rules stemming from this principle include:

    1. Only activities approved through the prescribed process outlined in Appendix A will be permitted on campus. The Pandemic Recovery Team (PRT) and Crisis Operations Team (COT) must be made aware of all activities within on-site university spaces and university-operated properties and sites.

    2. Safety within buildings and grounds on campuses must be rigorously maintained, with adequate access to, training for, and use of PPE and other safety-related supplies, or the activity will shut down.

    3. People Leaders must identify whom among their workforce is considered essential personnel, and they must retain responsibility for their workforce.

    4. Similarly, Principal Investigators are expected to limit their on-campus workforce to essential personnel only and ensure they fulfill their obligations as supervisors under The Occupational Health and Safety Act.

    5. Faculty, staff, or students who feel uncomfortable about their work situation, for whatever reason, need to know that they can confidentially report their concerns to Safety Resources (email to safetyresources@usask.ca or 966-4675) or call the confidential safe disclosure line (1-844-966-3250). These concerns will be appropriately addressed through engagement with the PRT.

    6. In matters involving research, the Research Services and Ethics Office (RSEO) can also be accessed if there are concerns about safety in conducting research.

(2) Deliver the academic and research mission of the University of Saskatchewan.

We continue our important academic, research, and community engagement work as the University the World Needs.

  1. Continually strive to allow as much core mission activity as possible to proceed without disruption, while respecting the necessary limits required by the evolving situation, and while understanding the potential to return to stricter limits should the situation require.

(3) Support Student Success.

We prioritize students’ academic progress and providing them with the supports they need, and we strive to minimize adverse impacts to their academic progress.

  1. For research activity, priority for approval will be given to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers. The current disruptions will present challenges to researchers at all seniority levels, but will have the greatest impact on graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers. We need to mitigate these challenges by prioritizing their research projects whenever possible.

    1. Principal investigators are encouraged to assess the scheduling needs of their trainees, recognizing that many of these individuals have families and may be primary caregivers, and may therefore need flexibility with scheduling, if possible.

    2. While undergraduates are students first and researchers second, many students start building research skills through summer internships and other research experiences, so this cannot be overlooked.

(4) Ensure the University of Saskatchewan’s long-term excellence and financial sustainability.

We are responsible not just for the university’s success today, but for its long-term sustainable future, and we will actively seek opportunities to improve the way we deliver on our mission. CoVID-19 will have a significant negative impact on the university’s financial situation on both on a one-time basis and ongoing. Significant and immediate actions are required that support long-term cost reductions and revenue enhancements to protect the university’s longer-term financial sustainability and reputation.

(5) Engage and Contribute.

We will effectively contribute to the province’s efforts to respond to the rapidly shifting public health situation and the province’s recovery, while also contributing to global efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic.

(6) Acknowledge Impact.

We recognize and appreciate that the decisions the university makes and the actions taken may have an impact on our external communities. We are committed to factoring that impact into the ongoing decision-making on our staged approach to increasing activity.

(7) Communicate and consult with our community.

We will share and seek input regarding our COVID-19 status, plans, and actions around increased activity with key internal and external stakeholders to ensure transparency and timeliness.

  1. Ensure all information required to keep all USask stakeholders appropriately informed of activity status and approved changes is shared and available on a timely basis.

Campus Activity

Request for campus activity

You can make a request for increased activity on campus related to specific research, teaching and learning, or critical campus services only.

Decision making process and criteria

Given anticipated (and already encountered) requests to increased activity within stages 2, 3 and 4, we will follow structured processes. The process outlined below covers much of the university’s activity.

A flow chart mapping this process can be found. Recommendations and finalized decision-making processes for delivery mode of courses and increased research activity will follow slightly modified streams.

Decision-making flowcharts:

  1. Normally, a request for increased activity comes from a Dean/Executive Director or AVP/Vice-Provost signalling that the request is considered, by that leader, to be of sufficient priority at the time of submission to warrant the compilation of material and necessary review.

  2. Applications for increased activity will proceed as follows:
    1.  A common approach for research, operations, and teaching and learning development activity will be used, which requires application for the resumption or commencement of activity, using a form (See Appendix C) outlining the following:
      1. The location of the activity;
      2. The nature of the activity;
      3.  The reason it should (re)start without delay;
      4. Any consequences of further delaying the work;
      5. The members of the team (where applicable);
      6. The amount of on-campus time required by each individual and in the case where additional individuals are needed, information about whether there will be overlap in time on campus;
      7. Service requirements (Facilities (e.g., custodial), Safety, Procurement, Student Services, etc);
      8. Agreement to follow the COVID-19 Safety and Expectations Manual (or explanation of why deviation is necessary and the associated mitigation strategy); and
      9. A contingency plan in the event the work must end (e.g., due to renewed government restrictions or illness amongst team members).
    2. Additional requirements for applications to increase research activity will request the following information be provided:
      1. For increased research activity, college/schools/centres may also have a more detailed forms that technical staff and/or lab managers can use to prepare labs for resumption of research activity.
      2. Key prioritization criteria checkboxes. Examples include:
        1. Involvement of trainees;
        2. Projects near completion;
        3. Grants or industry contracts that cannot be extended;
        4. Need for preliminary data to prepare for a critical grant application; and
        5. High-risk to study materials, organisms, or data accuracy if research is delayed.
      3. Any special scheduling needs or accommodations of all research team members may have (e.g., caregiving responsibilities or accommodations for disabilities).
      4. Required acknowledgement of faculty-supervisor obligations and liability under Occupational Health and Safety legislation

  3. The application for increased activity is then submitted for a formal review and sign-off by the Crisis Operations Team (COT). This review may require additional information be collected.
    1. Applications for increased research activity must also include confirmation from the Research Services and Ethics Office that there are no valid impediments to the activity proceeding prior to the VPR’s final approval.

  4. Following the sign-off from COT, the Dean/Executive Director or AVP/Vice-Provost (or other unit lead) conducts a review, prioritization and makes a recommendation to the PRT regarding direction for action.
    1. As noted above, the role of PRT is modified, with representatives included in advisory committee processes, for decisions regarding delivery mode of classes or increased research activity (Appendix B and Appendix C, respectively).

  5. The PRT (or a delegated subgroup) reviews, prioritizes and makes a decision (unless otherwise noted). An affirmative decision from PRT confirms that there are no valid impediments to the activity proceeding and to set a target date for resumption of activity, to ensure proper coordination across campus.

  6. In some instances, it may be appropriate for PEC to consider an appeal of a PRT decision.

  7. Approved applicants will be provided with a “COVID-19 Safety Permit”  that confirms they have been approved to resume or commence activity.

  8. Communication of approved activity to be communicated where appropriate.
  1. Government restrictions do not impede the activity from proceeding

  2. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety supplies available for the individuals and the team (where applicable).

  3. The activity complies with the COVID-19 Safety and Expectations Manual (or, if deviation is absolutely necessary, an acceptable mitigation strategy is clearly articulated and approved by Safety Resources)

  4. With respect to approval of research activity, specific priority will be given to research projects:
    1. Involving trainees;
    2. Near completion;
    3. Involving grants or industry contracts that cannot be extended;
    4. Needed for preliminary data to prepare a grant application; and
    5. Presenting high-risk to study materials, organisms or data accuracy if the research is delayed.

  5. With respect to approval of teaching and learning activity, specific priority will be given to activity focused on the development of learning resources and preparation for classes delivered in the fall 2020 and winter 2021.

Reopening Plan Overview

USask's Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) has developed a Reopening Implementation Plan which provides the process for determining the details of a primarily remote (hybrid) delivery of classes for fall and winter terms with limited on-campus activities and people.


Acknowledgments

The Framework approach has been developed alongside the Saskatchewan Re-Open plan. We gratefully acknowledge insights from many other institutions in shaping this framework, including other U15 institutions, the University of California system, the University of Washington, and King’s College London.

Questions?

Questions about the Framework can be sent to:
danette.stang@usask.ca