About the U of A's Response to COVID-19

Last updated: Mar. 22, 2021

During the global COVID-19 pandemic the University of Alberta community quickly adapted to extraordinary change and challenges within our everyday work, research, and study environments. Our multifaceted response has included creatively mobilizing teams and resources to quickly adapt our academic and research activities to new working and learning environments while health measures continue to affect our day-to-day activities. Our community is also contributing to response efforts across Alberta, Canada, and the globe — not only through essential research, but also through essential community response resources. It has been and continues to be both a demanding and rewarding time for the U of A as we continue to plan for unknowns in the months ahead.

Learn more about the structure and scope of the U of A’s response to COVID-19 below.

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Governance during a state of emergency

Public authorities and the prioritization of public health and safety guides all Canadian responses and activities during a state of an emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. For the University of Alberta community this means closely following all public health orders, states of emergency and preventative measures outlined by the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta, and cities of Edmonton and Camrose, or any local officials for community members working or studying abroad.

Within our community, our university governance and administration structures remain unchanged. The University of Alberta is a complex community. We operate on all seven continents and employ a wide variety of processes, materials, and equipment. During a state of emergency, the university is supported by emergency policies and procedures to ensure the university can quickly plan for, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies. Our emergency policies and procedures prioritize the health and safety of university community members and minimizing any possible negative environmental impacts to our community.

On behalf of the university’s leadership team, Vice-President (Facilities & Operations) Andrew Sharman oversees the intricate network of planning committees, operational working groups, and action teams that contribute to the university’s response to COVID-19 on a daily basis. Vice-President Sharman is the Executive Lead of the U of A’s Response to COVID-19 and the university’s Public Health Response Team.

Managing a State of Emergency

On March 13, 2020, the U of A’s full Crisis Management Team was activated and the university officially cancelled classes and urgently moved to remote delivery the next day. The Crisis Management Team is a university-wide body. It includes the Public Health Response Team among administrators, the senior policy group, and various subject matter experts and community and unit representatives from across the University. The Crisis Management Team will remain in operation as long as our community and university operations are significantly affected by the pandemic.

The core Crisis Management Team remains largely focused on urgent operational needs and problem-solving for the institution. To support required university leadership, administration, and governance change management decisions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Crisis Management Team aids by forming temporary advising and working groups from across the university — such as Campus Safety Measures Working Group and a Research Impact Team.

University units, offices, and campuses can also have crisis or emergency management teams to manage needs specific to their individual teams or units and as outlined in their unit action or continuity plans


The University of Alberta has a number of groups that are ready to respond and make decisions in an emergency. These groups were mobilized in March 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The primary resource for managing and coordinating the university's response to a major emergency. It is made up of administrators and subject matter experts from across the university.
The physical room where the Crisis Management Team would typically meet in an emergency. Currently, like the rest of our teams, the Crisis Management Team is meeting virtually.

A subgroup of the Crisis Management Team, this group is formed in the event of a public health emergency that threatens the university community and can be adjusted quickly based on the breadth and complexity of the health emergency.

Emergency Management Office (OEM)
An administrative team that supports the Crisis Management Team during an emergency. The team also supports university planners through operational continuity planning for emergency response and recovery.

An active partner in the global fight against COVID-19

The University of Alberta, our researchers, and our critical resources are on the front lines with partners in Alberta, across Canada and around the world.

Our university experts are seeking faster ways to detect the virus, developing vaccines and treatments, and preparing for economic recovery. Our researchers are also sharing their expertise to help people cope with this public health crisis, from having children at home and keeping them safe, happy and healthy, to working from home, adapting to physical distancing and dealing with the mental health consequences of isolation. Learn more about COVID-19 research at the U of A »

At home on our campuses, various U of A teams are also directly supporting COVID-19 response needs in our greater community. A group in Chemistry has produced hand sanitizer, medical students arranged childcare for front-line responders, and the Universiade Pavilion transformed into a secondary AHS assessment and treatment centre facility and then an on-call Alternative Care Centre.

The University of Alberta is proud to contribute to Alberta’s and Canada’s growing response to fight the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate any longer term impacts of the virus. We are plugged into various response and benefits efforts affecting our community, working alongside government, our industry partners, our fellow post-secondaries within the province and across the country.

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Should you have any concerns or questions about crisis and emergency management within your team or unit, please first touch base with your supervisor, dean, director or chair as they will best be able to address any inquiries specific to your team or situation.

General questions and requests regarding University of Alberta crisis and emergency management and our COVID-19 response can be sent to phrtinfo@ualberta.ca.