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

Last updated: Dec. 17, 2020

During the global COVID-19 pandemic the University of Alberta community has 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.

Please take the opportunity to learn more about the structure and scope of the U of A’s response to COVID-19 below.

We ask University of Alberta community members to stay up-to-date on essential COVID-19 university information by regularly checking the updates section of this site.

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.

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 at least as long as we are under city and provincial states of emergency.

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 an Academic Impact Group and a Research Impact Group.

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 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 co-chaired by the Associate Vice-President of Risk Management Services and the Assistant Dean, Health & Wellness. 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 within Risk Management Services that supports the Crisis Management Team during an emergency. The team also supports university planners through operational continuity planning for emergency response and recovery.

Information about 2020-21 Planning

Campus 2020-21: A Framework for the University of Alberta provides a guide for our community to tackle the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic through remote resources and a gradual and safe return of activity to our campuses. Together, we will continue to share vibrant learning and engagement experiences regardless of our physical location.

To access the latest information available, what you need to know, and what you can expect for the academic terms, please visit the U of A’s Campus Life page.

The 2020-21 Planning Group continues its efforts to ensure U of A students, faculty and staff are in the best possible position this year, and beyond. Learn more about the 2020-21 planning process and group.

Response Timeline

31 Dec 2019

China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province

22 Jan 2020

World Health Organization to China issued a statement saying that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission

23 Jan 2020

U of A Public Health Response Team activated

5 Mar 2020

Government of Alberta confirmed first presumptive case in province

7 Mar 2020

U of A issued travel directive and restrictions

11 Mar 2020

World Health Organization declared the pneumonia outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic

12 Mar 2020

Government of Alberta activated aggressive new measures, including suspending 250+ mass gatherings

13 Mar 2020

U of A suspended in-person classes and exams; full U of A Crisis Management Team activated

14 Mar 2020

U of A announced move to remote learning

15 Mar 2020

Government of Alberta declared prohibition of student attendance at schools, cancels all in-person post-secondary classes, and closed daycare facilities. (Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Order, March 16, 2020)

17 Mar 2020

U of A remote class and exam delivery began; Government of Alberta entered a state of emergency

20 Mar 2020

City of Edmonton entered a local state of emergency

22 Mar 2020

All possible U of A research and operations moved to remote work

25 Mar 2020

City of Camrose entered a local state of emergency

27 Mar 2020

U of A Butterdome serves as a secondary assessment and treatment centre

Government of Alberta started regulating essential services and non-essential work in the province

30 Apr 2020

Government of Alberta announced Relaunch Strategy

14 May 2020

Government of Alberta lifted the public health order prohibiting in-person classes at post-secondary institutions, with some exceptions in Calgary and Brooks. (Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Order, May 14, 2020)

25 May 2020

Research activities started to resume on our campuses

4 Jun 2020

City of Edmonton lifted local state of emergency

12 Jun 2020

U of A virtual convocation

The Alberta Relaunch Strategy & the U of A enter Phase II

15 Jun 2020

Government of Alberta lifted provincial state of public health emergency

City of Camrose lifted local state of emergency

24 Sep 2020

24 Nov 2020

Government of Alberta declared provincial state of public health emergency

14 Dec 2020

Strict temporary safety measures in effect on all campuses

21 Dec 2020

U of A Butterdome on-call if needed as an Alternative Care Centre

11 Jan 2021

Delayed start to Winter 2021 term

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, racing to develop a vaccine 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. Hear more about what our experts are doing on our currently featured COVID-19 response News site.

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 been producing hand sanitizer, medical students have been arranging childcare for front-line responders, and the Universiade Pavilion transformed into a secondary AHS assessment and treatment centre facility

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.

See all stories »


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.