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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

This page details examples of practice and approaches that have been taken by institutions in Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in areas such as learning and teaching, assessment and feedback, and student support.


Emergency Funding
  • COVID-19 Financial Assistance
    An emergency fund, the Emily Cares Student Emergency Find, has been created by the University to provide students in urgent financial need with a non-repayable bursary of $200CDN. These funds are intended to help contribute to essential living costs and act as a modest buffer while students seek additional sources of support. The University's webpage also signposts to relevant provincial and federal government financial assistance programmes.
Support for Remote Learning; Assessment and Grading; Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Information for Current Students
    Emily Carr University has decided not to impose a singular approach to the delivery of teaching, because of the diversity in styles of curriculum delivery. The University asked teaching staff to determine the way in which they can complete delivering the planned curriculum in a way that maintains its integrity and ensures that students are able to achieve the planned learning outcomes. Alternative modes of delivery might include e-mailing students course content, posting slides or lecture notes online, streaming or uploading video content, and hosting discussions or critiques using the institution's virtual learning environment. Teaching staff have been empowered to change the weighting of projects and assignments, modify projects that require technical assistance, and add new assessment components. Students who receive a final grade of D or higher will have the option to choose to have a 'Pass' grade recorded on their academic transcript, rather than their assigned letter grade. A 'Pass' will still earn students the course credit but will not count toward their GPA. Students will have ten days following the receipt of their letter grade to opt for a 'Pass'. The University is also now offering its counselling services online for students. The webpage also signposts to relevant provincial mental health services, online services for victims of family or sexual violence, and online mental health supports for indigenous peoples.
Support for Remote Teaching
  • Teaching and Learning Centre
    The University's Teaching and Learning Centre has developed a webpage, which hosts a variety of online resources to support online learning. In addition to guides on strategies for online learning, tips on taking an asynchronous approach to online teaching and instructions on the use of digital tools to support teaching, the Teaching and Learning Centre offers weekly seminars focused on supporting learning and teaching during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre also offers a mentorship programme for staff to learn more about aspects of online delivery from experienced colleagues.

  • Ontario's Ministry of Colleges and Universities
    The Canadian HE sector is regulated on a provincial, rather than federal basis. University's receive degree awarding powers through provincial government regulations - the receipt of these powers (also referred to as receiving 'government recognition') results from the conclusion of a quality assurance process. As Universities Canada is not an accrediting body, but a membership body, it has remained silent about the need to secure quality and standards during the pivot to online teaching. The approach to securing standards may be different across each province, but little has been publicly stated about Ontario's, which holds Canada's largest number of universities and colleges, approach to securing quality and standards. A news item from Ontario's Ministry of Colleges and Universities notes that they will work with each institution to ensure that development of a robust institutional strategy to supporting students during this crisis.

Support for Remote Teaching
  • Keep Teaching
    With the move of Canadian universities from in-person teaching to online delivery, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) has developed a curated list of resources on alternative approaches to support online delivery in the midst of this crisis. STLHE also offers a weekly webinar on emerging topics via Zoom.

Assessment and Grading; Support for Remote Learning
  • Information for students - frequently asked questions
    The University of British Columbia (UBC) has taken the decision to complete its Spring and Summer 2020 semesters online. Decisions on flexibility or variations of academic regulations are to be taken at the faculty-level, by the Dean of Faculty. Students have been encouraged to speak with their Home Faculty Academic Advising Office about the options available to them. Students can choose to accept their assigned percentage grade for courses that end in April 2020 or to opt for Credit/D/Fail grading or a late withdrawal from a course with a W (withdrawn) standing. All exams for the Spring and Summer 2020 semester will take place online. Where students feel that their academic accommodations are not being met, they are being asked to inform their module coordinator/programme leader and request that the appropriate changes are met, and also to include their accessibility advisor in that request. The University has cancelled all upcoming overseas programmes for students and the Vancouver Summer Program for June and July 2020.
Emergency Funding
  • Student resources during the COVID-19 outbreak: Access supports and resources available to you
    Students can contact Enrolment Services Advisors by phone, who will work with the student to review the resources available to their individual situation. They may be able to help with: financial hardship due to COVID-19; barriers to accessing online classes and exams; an unexpected change in living situation; devaluation of a country's currency; inability to have funds transfer out of the country; illness or death in the family; an exceptional medical situation; other unforeseen circumstances they could not have planned for.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Placements/Work-Based Learning
  • COVID-19 and UBC PGME
  • UBC has developed a dedicated webpage to provide information to students on their Postgraduate Medical Education programmes. UBC Students, who are Residents at Canadian hospitals, are expected to continue caring for patients according to the guidelines and recommendations provided by Public Health and the Healthy Authority in which they are working.
Support for Remote Teaching
  • Information for Faculty and Staff - Frequently Asked Questions
    UBC has developed a dedicated webpage to provide information to its faculty and staff to support the transition to online delivery. The resources from the Keep Teaching website have been signposted to staff to aid them in transitioning from in-person to online teaching. There is no signposting to in-house developed resources as part of this webpage.
Support for Research
  • COVID-19: Curtailing Research Activities on UBC Campuses
    UBC has taken the decision to stop all on-campus non-essential research and directed their research community to work remotely. Where individual researchers feel that they need to continue their research on-campus, they may apply for a critical research exemption to continue on-campus research. Where an individual's research involves fieldwork, they must provide a compelling explanation to multiple questions to demonstrate the necessity of completing research at this current moment in time.
Student Support

Academic Integrity
  • Academic integrity for students
    The University of Calgary produced a statement on academic integrity, and also developed a webinar on academic integrity in online courses as a result of COVID-19.
Assessment and Grading
  • Academic integrity for students
    The University implemented a change to final grades on March 22, giving students the option of their usual letter grades or CR/F. This has led to an increased amount of requests for deferral of final assessments and anticipated increases in requests for re-appraisals of term work and student appeals. 
Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Teaching continuity
    The University was the first university in Canada to develop and implement a Campus Mental Health strategy. Other universities have subsequently followed suit. Its institutional commitment to mental health and well-being guides many of its policy and day-to-day decisions, including its response to COVID-19.
Support for Remote Learning
Support for Remote Teaching
  • Teaching continuity
    The University has developed an online resource to support staff in preparing for course disruption and transition of their courses to being taught remotely. The webpage includes a curated list of online resources, a checklist for teaching remotely, guides to adapting courses, and information for Graduate Teaching Assistants.
  • Educational leaders in residence
    In 2019 the University created an innovative suite of roles called Educational Leaders in Residence (ELRs). The University was the first in Canada to create these roles, with others now starting to follow suit. 
Student Support; Support for Remote Learning
  • Dr Sarah Eaton in an email to QAA noted that every change they make in response to the crisis in an effort to be student-focused and compassionate has also had unanticipated consequences. Changes have a ripple effect. 

Academic Integrity
  • Academic integrity and remote teaching
    The University of Saskatchewan has developed samples and templates of academic integrity statements that can be used to support the continued integrity of its institutional assessment processes.

Assessment and Grading
  • Faculty of Arts and Science: COVID-19 - Student FAQs
    All courses (S or Y) completed in Winter 2020 term with a final status of Credit (CR) can be used to satisfy programme requirements. This provision will hold for these courses until students complete their studies. The Winter 2020 deadline to drop an S or Y course has been extended to 12 May 2020 to allow students to see their final mark before making a decision about cancelling their course. Students who have already select CR/NCR for an S or Y course will be able to remove that designation once the University has updated the necessary technical systems.
Support for Remote Learning

Academic Integrity
  • Keep Learning with Integrity
    The University of Waterloo's Office for Academic Integrity has developed a webpage dedicated to supporting staff and students to ensure academic integrity in online learning. It includes an academic integrity agreement, webinars on considering academic integrity in the transition to online learning, tips and additional resources for students and staff to use.
Assessment and Grading
  • Information for students
    Teaching staff have been empowered by the University to choose whether to use CR (credit) or NCR (no credit) in place of numeric grades for Winter Term 2020. Where the staff member chooses this alternative grading plan, it applies to all students. Students will be able to request to convert numeric grades to CR or NCR for a specific period of time following the end of Winter Term 2020.
Placements/Work-Based Learning
  • Information for students
    The University continues to engage with students enrolled in co-op programmes, and their employers, to help manage through the remainder of the term. All students who chose to end their Winter 2020 co-op work term now will still earn their co-op credit. 
Support for Remote Learning
  • Information for students
    The University has developed a dedicate webpage to provide students with essential information relating to their studies. The webpage includes the notice that the University has had to transition to online delivery and that an online module will be made available to students to support their transition to online learning. 
Support for Remote Teaching
  • Support for teaching remotely
    The University has developed a website to support staff who teach remotely. It includes strategies for remote teaching, tools and technology to be used, resources, workshops and events. Importantly, it also emphasises the importance of accessible course design, teaching practices, and learning resources in online delivery.