March 16, 2020
The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Administration has made effective and responsible decisions to protect the health and safety of our communities to suspend regular activities on campus. These measures are recommended by Public Health Canada and supported by OCADFA.
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all face-to-face classes, as well as physical access to studios, laboratories and libraries, are suspended until April 24, 2020. In the meantime, there is no expectation of holding classes online in real-time at the regularly scheduled class time. At this point, there is no intention to extend the term.
A number of you have reached out with questions. Broadly they fall under these categories:
Course delivery: You have all received communication from Caroline Langill, the VPAP and your respective Deans on how to deliver the remaining portion of your classes online. Let’s clarify what is meant by online delivery format. In some cases, faculty are emailing powerpoints or pdfs of lectures to students and then making themselves available via email or phone. Developing effective online learning takes significant time and is challenging without adequate training. There is no expectation that you become Zoom experts in three weeks. Use Canvas and online tools you are comfortable with. The operative words right now are flexibility and accommodation. FCDC sessions have been organizing to support and training for online delivery of courses. Please visit their site to see the extensive resources being offered. There is an online session:
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (1.5 Hours)
The communications from the VPAP and your Deans have effective suggestions on alternate forms of delivery and ways to finalize grades. The recommendations give you latitude to direct the remaining portions of your class. We have reviewed the communications with our legal counsel, OCFUA and CAUT and believe, given the extreme circumstances, the guidelines outlined by Administration allow our members to individually author alternate delivery modes of course content that best suits your practice, curricular focus and pedagogical concerns. None of these are ideal, but these are not ideal circumstances. Our overriding priority is the health and safety of our members and our communities’ collective health.
Workload: We are monitoring workload issues. Yes you are being asked to work outside of ordinary expectations, but this is best understood once we have members reporting to us what the transition is like.
Health and Safety: OCADFA stands with any members who exercise their right of refusal under the Occupational Health and Safety Act which allows for members to refuse work if they feel their health is compromised from workplace conditions.
Pay: OCADFA expects all our members should be paid what they would have been without the closure and have communicated this to Administration.
Expenses: Online delivery of courses assumes digital access for all members. Some or our members do not have access at home and this is a concern we will raise.
Access: In the interest of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements, please use approved methods for communicating with students, including OCAD U email, Canvas and Microsoft Teams, and avoid sharing personal phone numbers or using social media.
The situation is rapidly changing. We are the frontlines of this pandemic to our students. All the support offered by Administration is in fact, only scaffolding. I recognize that ultimately it is you who will be carrying the burden of delivering classes under the lockdown of COVID-19. Our students are scrambling to finish their projects, some are seeking ways to secure travel home and others are now facing financial jeopardy because they are precarious workers whose jobs are being cut. Of all the industries impacted, it is arts, design and creative industries that will be hit hardest. We know this and are looking at ways to support cultural workers broadly but also specifically, to ensure the precarious workers in our community are protected and supported.
As the world closes rapidly around us, please remember social distancing is currently the recommended practical tool to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Lets practice this alongside the principle of social solidarity. The most vital lifeline right now is finding ways to support each other, stay connected and reach out in particular to the most vulnerable in these times.
Please contact me if you have specific concerns.