We have written to you on a couple of occasions over the past year to highlight the personal and professional challenges that faculty members and librarians have been facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to all of you for your hard work in supporting your colleagues, especially in light of the considerable challenges that you yourselves will be facing.
The intent of this guideline is to provide you with practical advice in fielding requests for flexibility and/or formal accommodation from faculty members or librarians in your unit. It outlines the supports available and the pathways for requests for accommodation.
Please reach out to our offices, or to your Dean’s Office or the Office of the University Chief Librarian if you have questions or need advice on these matters.
Guideline for Requests for COVID-19-Related Flexibility and/or Accommodation
Faculty members and librarians may make requests for flexibility and/or formal accommodation related to COVID-19 for a variety of reasons including:
- medical circumstances, including in relation to individuals who are at heightened risk from COVID-19 with whom members cohabitate or for whom members are the primary caregiver
- childcare responsibilities (including when there exist disruptions to daycares, schools, and camps, or where a child is attending school via online learning)
- elder-care responsibilities
Pathways for Requests
Medical Conditions, Illness, or Disability
Faculty members and librarians who wish to request an accommodation related to medical conditions, illness or disability should contact the Health & Well-being Programs & Services Office.
Faculty members and librarians who require information and guidance with respect to potential requests for flexibility or accommodation related to childcare or eldercare may contact the University’s Family Care Office.
Making a Request at the Faculty or Unit Level
Faculty members and librarians may also contact their Dean’s Office or Divisional Human Resources Office for advice on a confidential basis.
Unit heads or offices responsible for advising and/or making decisions about requests for flexibility and/or accommodation should consider a variety of approaches to responding to COVID-19-related requests for flexibility and/or formal accommodation including, but not limited to:
- Referring any requests for accommodation related to medical conditions, illness or disability to the accommodation;
- providing as much flexibility as reasonably possible when scheduling meetings or workshops;
- adopting creative approaches to the distribution and assignment of workload in view of caregiving responsibilities, including alternative scheduling/timing of teaching and service assignments, redistribution of workloads across the academic year, and asynchronous teaching where appropriate;
- temporary redistribution in the balance of duties where appropriate;
- working remotely where appropriate;
- offering increased TA/grading support as appropriate;
- offer increased access to, and assistance from, post-doctoral fellows as appropriate;
- extending deadlines for the use of start-up funds, applications to internal funding competitions, and nominations for internal awards where appropriate;
- reminding early career faculty and librarians about the possibility of requesting delays to tenure, continuing status, and permanent status reviews where the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their work;
- a temporary shift to part-time status, as set out in below
Temporary Shift to Part-time Status
In exceptional circumstances, faculty members and librarians may request a temporary shift to part-time status based on accommodation needs. However, since a reduction to part-time status results in a reduction in income for the faculty member or librarian, it is understood that this option should be considered only once other options have been explored, consistent with the faculty member or librarian’s right to be accommodated, or if it is the preferred option of the faculty member or librarian.
Timelines for Response
Individuals or offices responsible for advising and/or making decisions about requests for flexibility and/or accommodation will provide timely responses to faculty members and librarians who make requests for accommodation once they have received any necessary documentation to support the request, recognizing that faculty and librarians require reasonable, advance notice prior to the beginning of each term in order to prepare for teaching.