Today the Ontario government declared a provincial emergency and issued a province-wide stay-at-home order with enhanced public health and workplace safety measures. This step was taken in consultation with the Chief Officer of Health and other health experts. The stay-at-home order comes into effect on Thursday, April 8 at 12:01 a.m.
We will review the updated regulations carefully to assess their impact on the University’s operations. Under the stay-at-home order, the University requires all employees whose work can be performed from their homes to continue doing so until further notice. We will continue to deliver courses and exams remotely, with exceptions for those identified as essential. As a reminder, anyone who is required to come to campus must complete a COVID-19 self-assessment prior to doing so.
Earlier this week, it was also announced that all schools in Toronto and Peel Region will be closed to in-person learning effective immediately, up to and including April 18, 2021. Ontario regulations also prevent school-aged children from attending daycares, either during the regular school day or for before- or after-school care, during the closures.
Parents and guardians in the U of T community, with little notice, will be making rapid changes to care for children at home, while also trying to fulfill their job responsibilities. Striking a balance between these responsibilities will be especially challenging as schools temporarily shift back to full online learning.
Leaders should continue to prioritize the well-being of their teams and colleagues, while being mindful of the fact that many of our faculty, librarians, and staff are not simply working from home but working from home during a pandemic with an unusual mix of distractions. Managers, Chairs, and Division Heads are asked to be as accommodating as possible by permitting requests for flexible hours, vacation time, and/or lieu time (if applicable), staff wellness days, and ultimately unpaid leave if necessary. Academic administrators may consider alternative approaches to the distribution of workload including alternative scheduling/timing of teaching and service assignments for faculty members. The Family Care Office is available to employees as a resource to consult, advise, and support on these matters.