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.

Mandate

To deliver a cross-institutional plan for implementing a hybrid fall and Winter term.

Guiding Principles

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. 

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. 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 understanding the potential to return to stricter limits should the situation require.

Support Student Success.
We prioritize students’ academic progress, provide them with the supports they need, and strive to minimize adverse impacts to their academic progress.

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 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.
 

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.
 

Acknowledge Impact.
We recognize and appreciate that 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.

Communicate and consult with our community. 
We will share and seek input regarding our CoVID-19 status, plans, and actions around increased activity with internal and external.

Criteria

The following criteria are intended to inform and guide decision-making, such that any intended action or decision:

  • Is fully aligned with the principles listed above.

  • Evaluates the potential for public (or potentially public) communication that may be necessary and ensures that any such action/decision is discussed with PEC and Communications.

  • Empowers colleges and units to function effectively, but within defined parameters that provide sufficient guidance, mitigate risk, and ensure alignment.

  • Ensures sound financial management practices are maintained throughout the recovery period.

  • Adheres to all public health directives and the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan regarding allowable timelines for lifted restriction for specific services
    • Directives became more restrictive over time when they were implemented, and we can expect the loosening will look similar in reverse.

  • Allows adjustment of activity, while respecting the limits required by the evolving situation and the potential to return to stricter limits should the situation require. Work that can be done from a distance should be, to protect the health and safety of those required to come onto campus.

  • Protects the physical, mental, and emotional health and safety of our workforce by minimizing risk and potential exposure for all workers on site. Toward that end:
    • The PRT and Crisis Operations Team (COT) must be made aware of all activities within on-site university spaces.
    • Safety must be rigorously maintained, with adequate access and training for use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety-related supplies.
    • People Leaders must identify whom amongst their workforce are considered essential personnel and must take the necessary measures to protect the health and ensure the safety and well-being of the workforce.
    • Faculty and staff who feel uncomfortable about their work situation, for whatever reasons, need to know that they can report their concerns to Safety Resources (safetyresources@usask.ca or 306-966-4675) or call our confidential safe disclosure line.
    • Contractors and other external workers on site should be coordinated through the EPMO and Safety Resources. All contractors must complete the Contractor Safety Orientation prior to beginning any work, registration available at safetyresources.usask.ca

  • Maintains a priority focus on students, both graduate and undergraduate.

  • Factors the impact on our external communities of decisions the university makes.

  • Ensures the process for approving increased activity is informed, fair and transparent (Refer to: Framework for a Staged Approach to Increasing Activity in University Spaces).

Hybrid Scenario Description

The hybrid scenario recognizes that:

  • Academic course delivery will be complex and multi-layered, focusing on three academic program areas: (1) Direct entry (2) Health sciences; (3) Law; and (4) Graduate programs. Classes will be “binned” into one of three categories:
    • Offered in fully remote mode 
    • Delivered (at least partly) using a face-to-face mode
    • Delayed/not offered – in cases where a course could not be mobilized for the fall of 2020 it would not be offered for a term

  • Specific courses are identified for in-person delivery having met the threshold that it is not possible to achieve the required learning outcomes in a remote environment (e.g., clinical skill development). A logistics plan will be developed to ensure safety and adherence to all necessary public health guidelines.

  • Research will occur with defined criteria and approval processes, and a staged approach with stringent mitigation measures will allow for onsite research activities to increase. Further increases in research activity, both onsite and off-site, will depend on public health directives, COVID-19 cases remaining low, sufficient resources and other factors.

  • Necessary staff will be onsite to support the delivery of critical teaching and learning and research work, as well as to support the remaining student body. Non-essential staff will continue to work remotely.

  • Administrative units will be required to support remote delivery and the learning management system (LMS) implementation will be fast-tracked.

  • Comprehensive analysis of overall budget projections, based on student enrolments and changes to revenue streams, as well as additional one-time costs and longer-term impacts, will continue.

  • Approvals of all related expenditures to support the hybrid implementation will follow established approval processes.

  • Safety resources staff will be on-site and engaged in all aspects of preparedness to support the hybrid scenario.

  • Safety and wellbeing of faculty, staff and students will be embedded within all aspects of the plan.

  • Operations will strategically open buildings, but not full access; and provide space configuration to ensure appropriate physical distancing and ability to clean.

  • Continued robust government relations and communications plan that will support fluid channels of information to students, faculty, staff, and external stakeholders.

  • Governance bodies will continue to meet through online, remote channels and decision-making responsibilities will be carried out remotely.

  • We will encourage enrolment; however, we will not expect the typical number of international students.

  • The size of gatherings and number of people occupying a public space will adhere to provincial public health directives.

Planning Assumptions

  • Any increase or return of activities will be done in a conscious, careful, and methodical way based on the Implementation Plan approved by PEC and supported by colleges and Units, and in alignment with provincial public health directives and the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

  • Efforts to construct an Implementation Plan will be purposely complimented and further refined by internal and external consultation. The accelerated development of the initial draft Implementation Plan by the PRT/Advisory Hub is intended to kick-start the process and enable consultation which, albeit hastened because of the pandemic, is both genuine and fully informed.

  • While it is understood that consideration and approval for activities will be undertaken individually, there will be a need for effective and over-riding institutional coordination, and practical consideration of capabilities, resources, and priorities.

  • We need to be prepared for a lengthy and difficult pandemic. Multiple waves and variable risks of transmission are possible, if not likely, and the fall could be worse than the current risk necessitating a re-tightening of restrictions.

  • Despite the many uncertainties, USask remains determined to achieve its strategic plan and realize its goals, and even use this experience as an opportunity to drive positive, long-term change. In doing so, we will need to facilitate and encourage research activity and impact, excellence in teaching and learning, student enrolment and engagement, and community engagement.

  • As the pandemic evolves, it seems unlikely there will be a sudden ‘all-clear’ signal, and it is more apt that a phased lessening of restrictions will occur. We will need to anticipate and address both the impatience and/or anxiety that our community will reasonably experience.

  • It must be appreciated there will be varied and differing responses and reactions to the pandemic amongst students (undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral fellows), staff and faculty. A menu of meaningful supports, practices and programs will be required to assist our community during difficult and uncertain times.

  • Cultural, athletic, recreational, artistic and other facets of an all-encompassing university community have also been significantly impacted. Efforts to enable members of our university, as well as the broader local, Indigenous, and provincial community, to continue to benefit from these endeavors will need to be employed.

  • The impact of the pandemic will disproportionately affect international student enrolment, student and faculty exchange, and international research and partnership activities.

  • Staff absences are possible due to illness, for themselves or their families. We must anticipate appropriate backups, as well as maximum flexibility and potential support.

  • There may be government support programs, some directed to specific initiatives or with directed restrictions, that may become accessible to support the university in response to the pandemic. We will need to be aware and responsive to benefit from these programs.

  • It is unlikely all institutional areas will move forward with the Implementation Plan at the same rate along the same path, and in the same stage. This realistic flexibility must be acknowledged and permitted, as external influences and necessary conditions to allow progression may differ between areas.

  • It may be expected (most likely within the provincial context), and beneficial that USask announces and implements decisions in a unified fashion across the sector.

Development

Following the University’s Phase I CoVID-19 crisis response (rapid move to remote operations in March 2020), a Phase II Task Force (CP2TF) was struck by the President’s Executive Committee (PEC) April 8, 2020, tasked with: (1) developing appropriate scenarios, assumptions, and analyses; and from this, (2) developing a strategy document that provides a recommendation regarding the fall term (i.e. September – December, 2020). The Task Force concluded the process May 4, 2020 with submission of a final report and the Task Force’s recommendation for “approval, preparation, and implementation of the Hybrid Fall Term Scenario” [remote delivery with some on-campus presence where people and activities on campus would need to be prioritized - see below, Fall Hybrid Scenario Description].

The next—necessary and critically important—part of the university’s Phase II CoVID-19 response is to further the recommendation of the CP2TF to develop a Phase II Hybrid Fall Term implementation plan for PEC consideration. The CP2TF also recommended that transparent principles be adopted to guide decision making and implementation, and further, that a newly formed Pandemic Recovery and Response Team (PRT) be constructed to coordinate transition from the current state to the hybrid scenario and construct a Phase II Hybrid Strategy Implementation Plan (at the direction of PEC, the PRT was constituted May 5, 2020). It was proposed the implementation plan include a mechanism to monitor the status of CoVID-19, and a process to coordinate the transition from the current state to the hybrid scenario. In consultation with an Advisory Hub and after engaging internal and external stakeholders, the following was developed to meet those stated expectations.

Pandemic Response/Recovery Team (PRT)
Darcy Marciniuk AVP Research Research; Chair of PRT
Dion Martens Director, Research Services & Ethics Research
Patti McDougall Vice-Provost, TLSE Academics and Students
Preston Smith Dean, College of Medicine SHA Liaison, Deans’ Liaison
Cheryl Carver AVP People & Resources Finance and Resources
Wade Epp AVP Services Operations
Rob Kliewer Manager, Safety Resources Health and Safety/COT
Gord Hunchak AVP Strategic Communications & Chief Communications Officer (CCO) Communications
Shari Baraniuk [Chris Gaschler] AVP Information and Communications Technology & Chief Information Officer (CIO) ICT
Dara Hrytzak Chief of Staff, Office of the President PEC link
Advisory Hub
Sara Daniels AVP, Government Relations Government Relations
Dena McMartin Associate-Provost, IPA IPA
Jackie Ottmann Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement Indigenous Engagement
Chelsea Willness University Secretary & Chief Governance Officer Governance
Ken Wilson Vice-Provost, Faculty Relations Faculty Relations