The University of Saskatchewan has just announced that courses will move online starting Thursday, March 19. Until then, classes are suspended to allow time for faculty to prepare for remote delivery.
The U of S released their new COVID-19 prevention guidelines for the campus community on Friday evening. The measures aim to minimize risks and interruptions to academic programming.
“We understand that there is uncertainty and concern at this time, but be assured that our preparations and planning processes are in place to protect the health and safety of our campus community,” University President Peter Stoicheff said in the press release. “That is our top priority.”
The announcement came several hours after the Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer officially banned gatherings of more than 250 people as the provincial government confirmed a second presumptive case of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
While in-person classes will be suspended for the rest of the Winter Term, the university is not closing. Campus locations such as the libraries, residences, food services, research facilities and health services will remain open to the public for the time being. Staff and faculty members are still being asked to “continue to report to work as usual.”
Any exams between Monday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 18, will be rescheduled. There is no information available yet on how final exams will be conducted as the university is currently reviewing alternatives. Not much is known yet for the U of S regional colleges though the press release states that there is more information to come.
As the situation develops, the university is encouraging the campus community to continue practicing social distancing protocols. All non-essential events hosted on campus have been cancelled, effective immediately, as well as all international travel for students, faculty and staff.
“I can’t stress enough that if you are sick, please stay home and help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses,” the release reads.
Researchers at the U of S are currently developing a vaccine for the new strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The prototype vaccine is now in the animal testing stages.
“I thank our USask researchers who are making significant contributions to national and international efforts to find a solution to this global health threat,” the release reads. “You make us proud.”
UPDATE March 15, 2020:
The University of Saskatchewan announced the closure of all campus recreation facilities in a press release on Sunday morning.
This includes the Physical Activity Complex, Education Building, Merlis Belsher Place, Griffiths Stadium and any other areas of recreation. All U of S Rec programming has also been suspended until further notice.
The U of S is now also encouraging all university employees to work remotely.
“While the risk still remains relatively low in Canada, we will all help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if we each do our part and work together,” the release reads.
This is a developing story. The university website usask.ca/updates will have the most up-to-date information. Questions about the university’s response to the pandemic can be sent to email@example.com.
Ana Cristina Camacho | News Editor
Nykole King | Editor-in-Chief
Photo: Riley Deacon/ File