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COVID-19 Updates

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to provide additional details related to yesterday’s Update on COVID-19 and the University’s response. We thank you for your patience as the University implements several new measures to assist in efforts to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in our community.

As per the President’s message yesterday, University operations continue, and all three campuses remain open.

Self-Isolation Guidance

Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is directing all members of our community and visitors to our three campuses and our off-campus sites to do the following:

  • If you have travelled from anywhere else outside Canada, including the United States, please self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing), please call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your primary care provider’s office.
  • Call ahead prior to visiting any healthcare provider and let them know about your travel history and symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing) so they can make special arrangements to see you quickly, provide testing, and ensure that they use proper infection control measures.

International Travel

Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is advising all members of its community to avoid all non-essential travel abroad and to avoid all cruise ship travel.

International Students

The Government of Canada has advised that study being delivered online on an exceptional basis because of measures related to COVID-19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit Program eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.

Recreational and Sport Facilities

The University of Toronto Athletic, Recreation and Physical Activity facilities will be closed effective Sunday, March 15 at 12:01 AM until Friday, April 3.

Libraries

Selected libraries remain open, with limited hours, social distancing measures, and restricted to only U of T users. More information will be available Monday, March 16 about upcoming library closures and reductions in hours.

U of T Day Care Closures

Based on the recommendation of public health officials, all University of Toronto childcare centres are closed effective Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 6.

Teaching Support

Staff of the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) will be on-call over the weekend to assist instructors in dealing with COVID-19-related changes to teaching.

Email:  q.help@utoronto.ca  

Website: https://teaching.utoronto.ca/

Telecommuting

We are encouraging Managers, Chairs, and Department Heads to be as flexible as possible in proactively implementing or granting requests for telecommuting where operationally possible.

Telecommuting requests may be refused if:

  • Employees cannot perform the core duties of their work from home
  • It is not operationally feasible for an employee to work from home

The COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for employees and managers. Information Technology Services (ITS) has also prepared technical work-from-home resources to support employees accessing work material while telecommuting.

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who are requesting work-from-home arrangements due to being immuno-compromised themselves can work directly with their Manager, Chair, or Department Head. These requests do not need to be reviewed by Environmental Health & Safety, and supervisors should approve these requests wherever possible.

Those Affected by Child Care and School Closures

We understand that many parents and caregivers are experiencing anxiety around childcare considering the many March Break camp cancellations and the closure of many schools and daycare centres across the province.

If employees are unable to secure childcare, they may utilize the following options:

  • Request to work from home and telecommute (if the duties of their job and their childcare responsibilities allow).
  • Use personal / flex days in accordance with their employment policy or collective agreement.
  • Access overtime banks.
  • Request to use vacation days. Any limits on using yet-to-be-accrued vacation are waived at this time.

We ask Managers, Chairs, and Department Heads to approve these requests wherever possible.

Sick Leave Policy

At this time, public health authorities recommend that at-risk individuals, or individuals who have travelled internationally, undergo self-isolation for a period of up to fourteen (14) days. Many of our employees have sick leave provisions in their respective collective agreement or employment policies that sufficiently address such absences. The University has, on an exceptional basis, agreed to temporarily modify and/or improve upon existing provisions for absences specifically related to COVID-19.

Guidelines on Employee Absences Due to COVID-19, including processing instructions for HR professionals and business / payroll officers, will be distributed next week.

Continuity of Pay

The University is committed to ensuring that all faculty, librarians, and staff will continue to be compensated in the event of any event cancellations, programming reductions, government required shutdowns, or any other operational closures for the next three-week period. More details on how this will be operationalized will be shared by the Division of Human Resources & Equity with managers and impacted employees in the coming days.

If you are planning operational changes or need to close due to operational reasons, please advise your Unit or Division Head and contact your Divisional HR Office.

Coping with Stress

We know this is a difficult time. Please know that supports continue to be available to you, including the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. The Division of HR & Equity has compiled a list of other resources available to the community on their website; this list will be updated frequently. As a reminder, students have access to My SSP and other resources.