FAQs

York University Operations During The COVID-19 Pandemic

What changes are being made to York University operations?

On Tuesday March 17, Premier Ford declared an emergency and new public health guidelines were released. To ensure the health and safety of our campus communities and to prevent the risk and spread of COVID-19, we are moving to offer only required services on our campuses.

By end of day on Friday March 20, 2020, the University will begin restricting access to buildings on our campuses and only staff who are required to be physically present on York campuses to deliver services will remain. All other staff will be working in a virtual mode.

All existing access holders will retain their access privileges for approximately one week beginning on March 20, to allow for the transition to this new operating model.

Extended access to buildings and spaces will be prioritized for those required operations and functions that must continue to be conducted on campus.  These include:

  • Access to faculty offices, technology and other services if required to complete courses through online learning and online exams
  • Time sensitive and critical research activities that cannot be moved off campus
  • IT help desk service support
  • Faculty offices
  • Security Services
  • Facilities (Maintenance, Grounds, Central Utilities, Custodial)
  • Stong, Winters and Glendon Cafeterias
  • Student residences and apartments, and
  • Areas designated for student use for Internet access
  • Maintenance, Grounds, Custodial, Energy Management, UIT, and Community Safety staff will retain existing access privileges in order to perform required on-campus functions.
  • Community Safety Centre and IT help desk will have full access so that the community members can access these front desk services.

The rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation could result in building closures at any time. As such, all faculty, staff, students and researchers must take the immediate and necessary steps to secure their work and research areas and make the necessary preparations to work remotely.

For more information and details on restrictions and requests for extended access, please see https://coronavirus.info.yorku.ca/required-services/.

The University is fully committed to helping our students complete the term.

  • Our academic plans to complete the term by shifting to various online learning strategies will continue.
  • Support for faculty moving their courses to electronic formats will continue.
  • Food services and residences will be available for those who cannot return home due to travel restrictions, health, personal circumstances, or various obligations.
  • Those in residences who can return home should do so immediately.
  • York International is encouraging all students currently studying abroad to come home if they are able.
  • Details on final exams will be forthcoming.
  • Further information will be forthcoming on how students can access library resources and services online.

Please read the March 17 message from President Lenton.

Will we be able to access buildings on our campuses if we need to deliver courses or do research, for example?

Extended access to buildings and spaces will be prioritized for those required operations and functions that must continue to be conducted on campus.  These include:

  • Access to faculty offices, technology and other services if required to complete courses through online learning and online exams
  • Time sensitive and critical research activities that cannot be moved off campus
  • IT help desk service support
  • Faculty offices
  • Security Services
  • Facilities (Maintenance, Grounds, Central Utilities, Custodial)
  • Stong, Winters and Glendon Cafeterias
  • Student residences and apartments, and
  • Areas designated for student use for Internet access
  • Maintenance, Grounds, Custodial, Energy Management, UIT, and Community Safety staff will retain existing access privileges in order to perform required on-campus functions.
  • Community Safety Centre and IT help desk will have full access so that the community members can access these front desk services.

All existing access holders will retain access privileges for approximately one week following the closure of buildings, on March 20, 2020, to allow for the transition to a new operating model.

By March 27, 2020 end of day, Faculties, Units, and VPRI will be asked to provide the list prepared during Phase I of all faculty, staff, students, and researchers who require access to campus buildings in order to support the delivery of courses (online), exams, research, and Required Services.

For more information and details on restrictions and requests for extended access, please see https://coronavirus.info.yorku.ca/required-services/ .

What will the University’s transition to only required services mean for students?

The University is fully committed to helping our students complete the term.

  • Our academic plans to complete the term by shifting to various online learning strategies will continue.
  • Support for faculty moving their courses to electronic formats will continue.
  • Food services and residences will be available for those who cannot return home due to travel restrictions, health, personal circumstances, or various obligations.
  • Those in residences who can return home should do so immediately.
  • York International is encouraging all students currently studying abroad to come home if they are able.
  • Details on final exams will be forthcoming.
  • Further information will be forthcoming on how students can access library resources and services online.

More information will follow as it becomes available. If you have questions not addressed on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website please email coronavirusinfo@yorku.ca

What does the decision to move to only required services mean for researchers?

York is committed to continuing ongoing research.

Researchers are encouraged not to start, or submit, any new research protocols requiring on-campus activities. Researchers should also assess the needs for ongoing projects.

Researchers, their staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars should ensure they have the necessary tools, materials and data to continue work remotely where possible.

For information on building closures – access to offices and research labs, click here

More information will follow as it becomes available. If you have questions not addressed on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website please email coronavirusinfo@yorku.ca

What does the decision to move to only required services mean for York employees?

The transition to only required services on our campuses effective by end of day Thursday, March 19, means buildings on our campuses will close with limited access as needed for required services.The University will continue to support our students to complete their academic term — with required employees physically present on campus and all others working off-campus in a virtual mode.

York has continuity plans to guide this shift in operations. Managers will work closely with staff regarding the transition with the goal of having all non-required staff working from home no later than end of day, Thursday, March 19. Implementation details will continue to be communicated to the community through e-mail with follow up from managers, as well as through our website and social media.

We intend to operate virtually as much as possible.

Please note that while the University has moved to a required services model, employees will continue to be paid for any currently scheduled days/shifts. Employees may be redeployed to other critical work priorities.

As always, if you are sick, please stay home.

More information will follow as it becomes available. If you have questions not addressed on York’s dedicated COVID-19 website please email coronavirusinfo@yorku.ca

What is currently open on campus?

Residence, campus security and custodial services are open and services continue to be provided onsite.

Stong, Winters and Glendon cafeterias remain open. A limited number of food outlets remain open for take-out service only. Please go to the website https://foodservices.info.yorku.ca/dining-directory/ to see what else is currently open.

York University Libraries have suspended all in-person services until further notice. For updated information and details about our online and other remote services go to https://www.library.yorku.ca/web/covid-19-york-libraries-services-and-operations-update/

Some University services are being offered remotely, including Student Services - Advising, Counselling, Accessibility, Human Resources and Finance

Gyms, student centres, religious centre and campus Shuttles are closed until further notice.

Can I get a refund on my parking?

Yes. Anyone who is required to attend campus may park at no charge effective Friday, March 20 until further notice.

Anyone who has already purchased a permit, either prepaid or by payroll deduction, will automatically receive a prorated refund or credit.

Visit https://parking.info.yorku.ca/ or call 416-736-5335 for more information.

How will I be informed of any changes in University operations regarding the coronavirus?

In order to get updates regarding University policies and procedures related to COVID-19, keep checking the York University Coronavirus Information & Update page and your e-mail.

Classes, Exams and Convocation

With online classes and no final in-person exams, how will I be able to complete my term?

All face-to-face instruction is suspended as of March 16 and is moving to online formats. We are committed to completing the term and will deploy all of our resources to support faculty and students through this transition.

All in-person exams are cancelled during York University’s formal exam period of April 7-25, 2020, to help stop the community-based spread of COVID-19 and to prevent large gatherings. This decision is in line with Government of Canada community-based measures and decisions made by other Ontario institutions. Based on this decision, students can leave Residence and our campuses and will be able to complete their courses without returning to our campuses this academic term.

In order to ensure students are able to complete their courses within the term, York’s Senate Executive has approved a plan to give instructors flexibility to change the number, type and weight of assignments as well as to revise the course grading scheme and to eliminate a final assignment or exam. There are exceptions to this for Osgoode Hall Law School students who will receive information from their course instructors.

How will students be graded?

In order to ensure students are able to complete their courses within the term, York’s Senate Executive has approved a plan to give instructors flexibility to change the number, type and weight of assignments as well as to revise the course grading scheme and to eliminate a final assignment or exam. There are exceptions to this for Osgoode Hall Law School students who will receive information from their course instructors.
By Friday, March 27, 2020 all students should be informed by their instructors of any adjustments to evaluation and grading schemes.

In order to offer students flexibility, Senate Executive has extended the deadline to withdraw from a course without receiving a grade, to May 9, 2020. The deadline has also be extended to May 9, 2020, for students to opt in or out of the Pass/Fail grading option.

For Communications to students, please visit: https://coronavirus.info.yorku.ca/category/students/

What are the plans for the summer term?

In light of the ongoing pandemic situation and in order to allow students to keep progressing in their programs, the University is proceeding with a Summer 2020 term and plans to offer as many summer courses as possible through online/remote delivery formats.
Academic program planning is underway to determine which summer courses can be offered through online/remote learning, in order to be able to inform students by no later than April 17, 2020 about the final suite of offerings for the summer term. Instructors will be contacted shortly by their Dean/Chair/Director/GPD to discuss planned and possible summer course offerings.
To allow more time for instructors to plan and prepare to deliver summer courses online/remotely, and following consultation with Senate Executive, the SU and S1 terms will start one week late, on May 11, 2020. The S2 term will start on June 29, 2020.

What will happen with Spring convocation?

We are now looking into possible options for June convocation. Unfortunately, it will not be possible for the spring ceremonies to go forward as planned, but we are working on developing a virtual option. While not a replacement, we want to find a meaningful way to celebrate the academic achievements of our graduating students.
We are also planning on expanding Fall 2020 convocation for those who receive their degrees in the spring but wish to attend a ceremony in person at a later time.

Travel

What is the current travel advisory status?

On March 16, the Government of Canada outlined additional measures related to entry into Canada based on the advice received by public health officials to limit the spread of this pandemic and to provide support to Canadian travellers. The Government of Canada strongly urged Canadians to follow these recommendations:

  • All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
  • Canadian travellers should return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
  • All travellers to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.

The University continues to strongly recommend that faculty and contract faculty, staff and students avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

Beginning March 18th, foreign nationals from all countries except the United States are prohibited from entering Canada. The measure would not apply in designated exceptional circumstances, including to air crews, travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, Canadian permanent residents, diplomats, or immediate family members of Canadian citizens.

The above ban includes any international student who is currently abroad on a Canadian University international mobility experiences including exchanges, placements, work experience or coop.

If you have travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, you should self-isolate and avoid contact with others for 14 days beginning with the last day of travel.

Any member of the York Community who is impacted by the above travel restrictions, please contact goglobal@yorku.ca immediately for further guidance.

What are York University’s current travel guidelines?

On March 11, 2020, the University postponed or cancelled travel to a number of areas identified by Global Affairs Canada as having a high incidence of COVID-19 for all York University sanctioned courses, programs, activities until April 30, 2020. The University also strongly recommended that individual faculty research travel to these areas also be postponed or cancelled. For more details about these guidelines please read the complete email sent to the York community on March 11.

On March 16, the Government of Canada outlined additional measures related to entry into Canada based on the advice received by public health officials to limit the spread of this pandemic and to provide support to Canadian travellers. The Government of Canada strongly urged Canadians to follow these recommendations:

  • All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
  • Canadian travellers should return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
  • All travellers to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.

If you are abroad, the Government of Canada strongly urges you to find which commercial options are still available to return to Canada and consider an earlier return than you may have planned as these options are becoming more limited.

The University is also aware that there are international students abroad who may wish to return directly to their home country. Please contact goglobal@yorku.ca and the University can provide guidance and support for your travel arrangements.

I am already abroad or am planning on travelling abroad in the near future for study, co-op, or internship. What should I know?

On March 16, the Government of Canada outlined additional measures related to entry into Canada based on the advice received by public health officials to limit the spread of this pandemic and to provide support to Canadian travellers. The Government of Canada strongly urged Canadians to follow these recommendations:

  • All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
  • Canadian travellers should return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
  • All travellers to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.

If you are abroad, the Government of Canada strongly urges you to find which commercial options are still available to return to Canada and consider an earlier return than you may have planned as these options are becoming more limited.

Only 4 airports in Canada will handle international flight arrivals: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport.

The University is also aware that there are international students abroad who may wish to return directly to their home country. Please contact goglobal@yorku.ca and the University can provide guidance and support for your travel arrangements.

For those currently abroad, please regularly review the Canadian government’s travel advisory.

If you abroad for study, please refer to York International’s travel safe website or contact Beth Alaksa, Coordinator, International Mobility Programs, at York International.

If you’re abroad and need assistance from the Government of Canada:
Call: 1-613-996-8885
Email: SOS@international.gc.ca

I have recently returned from travel abroad. What should I do?

If you have travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, you should self-isolate and avoid contact with others for 14 days beginning with the last day of travel.

As the situation changes, we will continue to keep the York community informed. Please visit our dedicated website for the latest information.

If you have recently returned from abroad, follow the instructions you received at the airport:

  • Monitor yourself for respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if respiratory symptoms develop within 14 days after returning to Canada.
  • Inform your healthcare provider or local public health department about symptoms and travel history before you seek medical care.

Please review WHO’s advice for the public on how to reduce your risk of transmission. The website also offers health and safety advice, including ways to cope with the stress of this situation. Continue to monitor the government travel advisories before, during and after travelling.

These travel requirements have created hardships for me, what can I do?

The Government has committed to providing support for Canadians affected by COVID-19 abroad. To help these Canadians return home or cope with challenges they are facing while travelling, the Government has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. The Program will provide the option of an emergency loan to

Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to help them return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.

Any member of the York Community who is impacted by the above travel restrictions, please contact goglobal@yorku.ca immediately for further guidance.

About COVID-19

What is COVID-19 ( coronavirus; 2019-nCoV)?

COVID-19 (also referred to as coronavirus, or 2019-CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Learn more about COVID-19 at the Ontario Ministry of Health website.

Why does this virus have so many names?

The term “coronavirus” describes a family of viruses. The new strain of coronavirus, first detected in December 2019 was initially called the 2019 Novel (for new) Coronavirus, shortened to 2019-nCoV. On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for this strain, COVID-19. The name is derived from COVI for coronavirus; D for disease; and 19 for the year 2019.

Is there a vaccine to protect against COVID-19?

No, there is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

Is there any one group more at risk of carrying or transmitting COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 like any other illness can spread to anyone. If you have recently visited a high-risk area, you should contact a health care provider or visit the nearest emergency room.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and how to protect myself?

Please see the following websites for the most recent information available regarding COVID-19 and steps you can take to protect yourself from infection:

You can also follow Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Twitter at: @CPHO_Canada

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath /difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia and kidney failure

Many of these symptoms are like seasonal influenza. Should you experience these symptoms AND have recently travelled internationally, avoid contact with others and follow-up with your health care professional. Before seeing your health care professional, advise them of your symptoms and travel history.

If I am sick or have flu-like symptoms, what should I do?

If you feel sick, stay home and avoid direct contact with others. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or generally feeling ill is requested to contact Toronto Public Health (TPH), Ontario Telehealth, or their health care provider, to receive medical support based on their individual symptoms and also follow the advice provided on the Toronto Public Health website.

Protection From Infection

Is COVID-19 on York's campuses?

York University has been informed that a member of our campus community living in Founders Residence has disclosed that they are exhibiting some symptoms similar to those of COVID-19.

York has carefully planned for this scenario and we immediately notified Toronto Public Health to ensure the person is receiving the appropriate care and that proper precautions are being taken to minimize the risk of transmission, including contacting anyone else they believe may be at risk.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has conducted a careful and thorough assessment of risk to our community members. TPH has communicated with those residents who are considered to be close contacts, and these people will continue to be in self-isolation for 14 days.

All other Founders residents are being advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection for 14 days. They are no longer required to be in self-isolation, but should limit contact with others, especially in health-care settings with seniors and/or other vulnerable populations.

How does Toronto Public Health inform people of a confirmed case?

To protect people’s privacy, TPH does not share personal health information externally. When a positive COVID-19 case is confirmed in Toronto, TPH immediately begins an investigation to interview the person and determine where they may have gotten the infection and identify their close contacts. They follow up directly with the person’s close contacts to assess potential risk and provide further instructions, as needed. Contact tracing is a critical part of their response for COVID-19.

What can I do to protect myself and others from COVID-19?

The best way to prevent COVID-19 infection is to take steps to reduce your exposure to the virus.

To reduce exposure to and transmission of COVID-19, public health officials recommend that you:

  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails. Dry your hands completely afterward.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing facilities are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Dispose of used facial tissues immediately. If you do not have a facial tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Stay at home when you are ill
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Familiarize yourself with, and follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for safer food preparation.

This situation can cause anxiety and stress for some people. York’s EFAP has resources specific to this situation; you can explore or request those resources at workhealthlife.com.  The service is free and 100% confidential.

I see people wearing masks. Should I wear one too?

For day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask. However, you may see others on campus wearing a mask; don’t assume that the person is sick. It could be that they’ve made a personal choice to wear a mask. Be mindful not to draw assumptions based on culture or ethnicity as there are more than 178 different countries represented at York U and a multitude more cultures within that.

Check the Toronto Public Health website for advice on how to reduce the risk of influenza and other respiratory infections.

What measures can be put in place at work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

For those who are required to be physically present on campus to deliver required services, the following best practises should be to prevent the spread of any infection, including COVID-19:

  • Politely declining to shake hands. Choose a smile or wave instead.
  • Maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres
  • Cleaning high touch items and surfaces in your work area (e.g. keyboards, telephones, your desk/tables)
  • Staying at home when you’re sick
  • Practicing good hand hygiene – such as frequent hand washing or the use of hand sanitizer – is the most effective way to stop the spread of infection

The University is continuously reviewing and updating the cleaning protocols for university spaces, so there may be increased cleaning in some areas as a preventive measure.

What if I feel uncomfortable or unsafe because someone beside me is exhibiting flu-like symptoms?

As of March 20, 2020, York University has shifted to virtual work for the majority of staff. The University has taken appropriate precautions in accordance with the guidance of public health. Please practise physical distancing and ensure that you are washing your hands frequently.

What if I feel uncomfortable or unsafe because someone beside me is exhibiting flu-like symptoms?

The University has confidence that with good information, practicing prevention and the precautions taken by the University and Public Health Officials in Canada, all academic programming can continue as scheduled.

Disclosures

What if someone discloses that they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms?

If you receive a voluntary disclosure, please ask that individual to contact Toronto Public Health (TPH), Ontario Telehealth, or their health care provider, to receive medical support based on their individual symptoms and also follow the advice provided on the Toronto Public Health website.

Please treat any such disclosures confidentially and recommend the individual stay home (or go home).

 Should I tell others that someone may have COVID-19?

Due to the sensitivity of information surrounding disclosures, please do not share disclosure information. Notifying other employees or students of self disclosures, or possible exposures without receiving direction from Toronto Public Health is not York’s responsibility. Doing so, can lead to confusion, misinformation, as well as the risk of misguidance, breach of privacy, and decreased levels of trust between York and various health authorities.

Will Toronto Public Health tell me who has COVID-19?

If Toronto Public Health determines that there is a community health and safety risk, they will work directly with York, to provide information and direction.

TPH will also provide necessary instructions directly to individuals if required (i.e. self-isolation, self-monitoring, etc.).

If there is no assessed risk, TPH will not be in communication with York as per their privacy protocols.

In other words, no news is good news