Updates for the U of A community, week ending January 29

Spring and Summer 2021 terms will be primarily remote; new remote learning task force; new Canadian travel restrictions; new Alberta public health measures plan; and more.

29 January 2021

Posted: January 29, 11:40 a.m.

Updated: January 29, 4:50 p.m.

Spring and Summer 2021 terms: current approach continues

With the current public health environment, the safest approach for our community during this spring and summer will be to continue with a combination of remote and in-person learning. As public health restrictions allow we will continue to explore all opportunities to increase our roster of in-person course offerings to maximize student learning opportunities.

See the full update »

New task force to reduce remote learning barriers

President Bill Flanagan and Provost Steven Dew have heard the challenges raised by students and instructors concerning online learning, and this week assured that:

  • Where students have medical, technological, accessibility, or other barriers, the university is fully committed to providing reasonable solutions.
  • Students, especially those in other time zones and rural locations, with legitimate limitations in their ability to participate in synchronous learning and assessment will be offered reasonable course adaptations.
  • Students who experience barriers due to medical, disability, or other protected grounds must be reasonably accommodated.

In addition, a new Provost’s Task Force will be called on remote teaching and learning effective immediately.

Read the President’s full message »
Read the Provost’s full message »

New travel restrictions from the Government of Canada

Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that starting next week all international flights must land at one of four airports: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. He also announced that in the coming weeks, a new process will be introduced where passengers will be required to take a COVID-19 test at the airport and quarantine in a designated hotel for three days at their own expense while they await results. The U of A will assess how these new processes may impact our community, isolation programs and support services, with more information to come in the next weeks.

Understanding benefits coverage for employees re-entering Canada

Faculty and staff that rely on the university’s supplementary health care plan for out-of-country coverage should note that Sun Life won’t cover the cost of COVID-19 tests under travel insurance benefits, as tests are not a treatment for a medical emergency. If you miss a flight because you can’t get a test for COVID-19 before departure, Sun Life won't cover the cost of the missed flight or other related expenses. Review the plan’s coverage on the Travel Health Benefits web page.

Recognizing misinformation about COVID-19

The overabundance of COVID and related information online and offline can be overwhelming and make it tough to know what to believe and how to respond. This week, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to help stop the spread of misinformation and instead seek and promote content by experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases and public health to help inform and keep everyone safe.

A new social media initiative — #ScienceUpFirst — with health law expert and U of A Professor Timothy Caulfied is also tackling the COVID-19 misinformation infodemic.

Learn more »

Added: January 29, 4:50 p.m.

Government of Alberta plan for lifting health measures starts Feb. 8

Late this afternoon, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the province’s new four-step plan for lifting public health restrictions, with the first step starting on Monday, February 8.

The U of A’s Public Health Response Team will assess how the new approach will impact our community and campus activities, and provide guidance on the February 8 changes (Step 1) before the end of next week.

General inquiries: U of A Public Health Response Team, phrtinfo@ualberta.ca

COVID-19 Rapid Response support for on-campus supervisors, instructors and activity coordinators: U of A Rapid Response Triage Team, phrt.triage@ualberta.ca