Update regarding fall 2021 and Step 3

As Ontario enters Step 3 of its re-opening, McMaster continues to prepare for the fall term with planning that is committed to health and safety including physical and mental health, is student-focused and supports the best possible student experience and creates a gradual and smooth transition back to campus.

The university continues to work with its public health partners who have advised that our planning for fall can be done without the need for physical distancing. The province is indicating that masks will continue to be required for indoor settings. This step forward relies on the continued improvement in vaccination rates and confirmation of government guidance for requirements following Step 3.

Of those who responded to a recent survey, 94% of McMaster students and 97% of students admitted to residence indicated that they have received or intend to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before the fall. A similar, confidential one question survey has been distributed to faculty and staff to help the university better understand vaccine intentions and to inform planning.

For Students

What can I expect for the fall term?

  • Spend more time in the classroom, lab or studio: Courses that were marked as “in-person” during course registration may have more frequent opportunities for students to learn on campus. Undergraduate students who have chosen a schedule with entirely virtual or online courses will remain entirely virtual/online for the fall term. If you have questions about your courses, reach out to your instructor or academic advisor.
  • Access more meeting and study space: There will be opportunities come fall for even more space to study, do group work, or catch up with friends. Spaces will be easier to access with fewer restrictions and more drop-in options.
  • Borrow a book or chat with a librarian: Libraries will be open and there will be staff available on-site to help with reference and research questions.
  • Make use of in-person services: Campus resources like athletic facilities, the wellness centre and other student services will have more options for in-person appointments and drop-ins.
  • Meet other first-years through Welcome Week and residence life: Welcome Week will have more on-campus events than previously possible, and there will be an increased number of in-person residence life activities. First-year students will hear more in the coming weeks.
  • Get to know Hamilton: Events, services and amenities around Hamilton are likely to have fewer restrictions, so it will be easier to grab a bite, go to a movie, or go out with friends.

For Faculty and Staff

What can I expect for the fall term?

  • Department and unit plans will facilitate a gradual and thoughtful return to campus for staff with the priority for returning to campus in areas that directly support the student experience (i.e., student-facing services; learning activities; academic supports).
  • Supervisors will be encouraged to be flexible and to pilot new working arrangements within their teams where possible and to incorporate the benefits of remote work where appropriate. Supervisors will be provided with updated guidelines and will work with senior leaders in their area to determine workplace plans.
  • Faculty members and instructors will have access to their offices once we move beyond Stage 3, as long as public health measures allow.
  • Staff will have increased opportunities to reunite with colleagues, connect with students and enjoy campus spaces and amenities. The libraries, food services, athletic facilities, meeting and gathering spaces will be open.
  • There are great new outdoor seating areas on campus to allow more outdoor interaction.
  • The university will continue to assess and upgrade our ventilation systems across campus to maximize fresh air intake.
  • The campus cleaning plan will focus on disinfecting high-touch areas.
  • All McMaster community members will continue to be required to stay home when sick.

The Winter 2022 term is still expected to allow for on-campus teaching, learning and work, while benefitting from some online and hybrid elements to support the best possible programs and workplace experience.

We will be sharing more information about what to expect for the fall term throughout the summer. Additional Back to Mac Town Halls will be held on August 10th for students and August 11th for faculty and staff, with more details to come. Make sure to regularly check the Back to Mac website for updates.

We know that this change will be a shift for many and encourage our community to seek out support, as needed, from our mental health support services.

We will continue to put the safety of our community first and watch for continued and evolving guidance from the province and local health authorities.

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