As the Government of Ontario continues to take steps to slowly lift COVID-19 restrictions, Brock University is making preparations for its own operations that put the health, safety and wellness of its faculty, staff and students at the highest priority.
Brock's Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon announced this week that the University's research labs would open for a wider range of approved users starting on Monday, June 15. The Plan for Expanded Access to Research Facilities and Sites During Pandemic was drafted following input and proposals contributed by more than 400 researchers and graduate students.
Last month, Brock announced plans for the 2020 Fall Term, with the vast majority of courses being offered online. Only a small number of courses will be in-person; primarily upper-year and those with small-sized classes requiring specialized labs or other on-campus equipment.
Faculty/Staff Health and Well-Being
Since the early days of the pandemic, an Emergency Management Group consisting of dozens of representatives from across Brock University have been meeting on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
Over the past three months, the EMG has been tasked with providing guidance to the University through these unprecedented times — while working within the framework of the regulations set at the regional, provincial and national levels.
As the province begins to carefully take steps to allow more activities to resume, Brock is also turning to what operations will look like in the recovery phase with a number of sub-committees examining things such as research activities, the academic plan, student experience and general recovery including on-campus operations. Officials with Niagara Region Public Health have joined Brock in weekly meetings to provide input and updated guidance on an ongoing basis.
Similar to the province's staged resumption of commercial, social and recreational activities, Brock will take a staged and measured approach to bringing employees back to campus.
Plans are being finalized to implement health and safety measures that will be in place for the fall for the limited number of students, faculty and staff who may need to be on campus. This includes measures such as community protective equipment (non-medical face coverings), limited campus entry points and restricting the number of people allowed in small areas to follow public health guidelines on physical distancing. For example, a limited residence offering that follows the guidelines established by public health is being considered to provide housing to some students who are required to be on campus or who have extenuating circumstances.
Today was originally supposed to mark the final day of Brock's 107th Convocation inside Ian Beddis Gymnasium. Instead, the Class of 2020 will be celebrated in a much different way.
Spring Convocation will be delivered in a virtual format for the first time. Graduating students will receive an invitation from the Dean of their respective Faculty on Friday, June 19, when the Virtual Spring Convocation portal will go live.
Rather than a single livestreamed event, Virtual Convocation is an online portal that is personalized for each individual graduating student. Although the portal will launch on June 19, graduands and their friends and families will be able to enjoy their Convocation experience whenever they choose. While the portal will include the official conferring of their degrees by Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, and video addresses from a number of special guests including former Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin, it's not meant to replace an in-person celebration, which will be planned in the future when it's safe to do so.
Watch the Brock News for information on how to view the Virtual Convocation portal when it goes live next week.
Keeping the Brock community safe while still conducting groundbreaking research and delivering a high-quality education to its students — wherever they might find themselves — remains the focus of the University.
Information will continue to be communicated to faculty and staff as it becomes available. For more details about plans for the Fall Term, visit brocku.ca/fall and for the latest updates on Brock's COVID-19 response, including a full FAQ section, please visit brocku.ca/coronavirus