The following message was sent to all employees on January 24 on behalf of Dean Bulloch, Associate Vice President, Human Resources.
Winter 2022 Semester Update
I am writing to provide you with an update about the Winter term and the steps Conestoga is taking to balance the learning needs of our students with the need to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We are planning for a safe and gradual return to campus. Our students have told us how important physical presence on campus is to them - both for their academic studies and for their mental well-being.
Throughout the pandemic, Conestoga has continued to work closely with public health authorities and the government to ensure that our plans prioritized the health and safety of our community and were consistent with provincial guidelines. We know that there is uncertainty and apprehension around returning to in-person work. We know that this transition from remote work to on campus will concern some employees. In deciding to return to in-person experience, we are striving to meet the needs of our students to have a meaningful college experience. We also want to make sure that the transition for our employees is clear and transparent.
Gradual Return to Campus
Since July 2020, Conestoga has welcomed close to 30,000 students to participate in essential, in-person learning activities. There has been no evidence to date of any COVID-19 transmission on our college campuses during this time.
To reduce the density of people on our campuses and help limit the pressure on strained community and health system resources, the college will continue a phased approach to return to campus in the coming weeks.
The next phase is restricted to essential in-person learning activities resuming January 31 for some programs, with further essential activities for additional programs returning February 7. It is anticipated that our final phase will return all programs designated as on-campus or hybrid starting the week of March 7.
As a result of this change in our plans for full re-opening on January 31, we will have fewer employees on campus until the week of March 7. Please confirm your work arrangements (faculty, support staff and admin) regarding your return to campus with your manager.
Details of the revised academic delivery plans for all winter 2022 programs will be posted online this week. Program areas will communicate directly with students and employees to confirm revised return-to-campus dates. A student communication will be issued this week regarding the revised academic delivery plans.
Employees and students can continue to park on campus without a parking pass until March 7, 2022. Additional information regarding the issuance and purchase of parking passes will be provided in the upcoming weeks.
Conestoga’s COVID Community Safety Policy ensures only fully vaccinated individuals are coming on campus. Everyone in the Conestoga community must assess their health daily in order to help keep everyone safe. If you are visiting a Conestoga campus/location, you must complete the COVID-19 screening questions on Conestoga’s Mobile Safety App as part of the campus/location entry process.
As an added layer of protection, we encourage all employees to receive their booster vaccination dose as they become eligible. At this time, proof of booster vaccinations is not required under Conestoga’s COVID Community Safety Policy. The college will continue to monitor government and public health direction and will align our vaccination policy requirements accordingly. Research shows that vaccines and boosters prevent those who contract COVID-19 from being hospitalized and becoming severely ill.
Students and employees who are required to be on campus must wear the college-issued, three-layer disposable mask. Individuals may request a second mask.
Frequent handwashing and sanitization remain expected behaviours across all our campus locations. Although our locations have been enhanced with air filtration systems, please respect others, allowing as much distance as possible until you establish a mutual understanding of comfort.
Physical and Mental Health and Well-being
We understand the stress that these rapidly changing circumstances may have on our employees. As a Conestoga employee, you are eligible to receive support through our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider Homewood Health. Confidential short-term counselling services are available to employees and their eligible family members who may need support. There is no cost to you or your family members to use the EFAP. You can call toll-free at 1-800-663-1142 to request confidential counselling. This line is staffed 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. You can also access their website at homeweb.ca to find useful resources.
Questions & Resources
Prior to returning to campus please view the videos about the actions departments are taking to keep us all safe (Safety & Security, On Campus Protocols and Human Resources) on All Things Conestoga at What to expect for Winter 2022?
For the latest information and updates related to Conestoga’s COVID-19 response, visit https://www.conestogac.on.ca/covid-19
For those who have been or are currently considered essential and are working on campus, thank you for adhering to our COVID Community Safety Policy and protecting each other by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and maintaining physical distancing. We appreciate all your efforts in keeping our college community safe.
As we plan for an in-person experience for our students, we will continue to adjust and adapt our plans based on the guidance of our community of experts. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding through these extraordinary times.
I’d also like to thank our faculty and staff for your ongoing dedication and commitment to supporting our students in their learning.
Stay well and stay safe!