Dear University of Guelph Community:

As you are likely aware, the Government of Ontario announced yesterday that all non-essential businesses must close by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24. These closures will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of an extension.

During the past few weeks, the University of Guelph has taken a number of measures that are consistent with the intent of the government’s announcement. The goal is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our community and the general public.

On March 13, we made the decision to suspend classes. On Monday, we began delivering academic courses in an alternative way to eliminate face-to-face classes and exams while ensuring our students are able to complete their semester.

At the same time, we made the decision to move a majority of our operations online and asked employees to work from home where operationally possible. Remote operations continue to expand and will remain in place until further notice.

We helped more than 4,000 students move out of residences and have significantly reduced and consolidated services and accommodations for a small number of students who are unable to leave campus.  Additionally, we have greatly reduced our general campus operations, including closing most buildings and limiting access to those that remain open, and reducing food services to one central location.

The University has significantly scaled back research in a way that maintains research support systems while enabling critical and time-sensitive research to proceed during the crisis. Examples of critical and time-sensitive research include research and testing that supports agriculture and food production, safety and security, and research supporting health outcomes, including research on COVID-19 itself. More information is available on the Office of Research web page.

Based on guidelines from the province, we have determined that the limited, in-person operations currently offered at the University are deemed essential under the government’s list of essential workplaces. If you have question or concerns, you are encouraged to reach out to your supervisor.

We want you to know that we are taking this situation very seriously and are committed to maintaining operations in a way that is safe and responsible. As we adjust to operating in new ways, we are focused on ensuring the health and well-being of our community members and on protecting those whose job duties require them to remain on campus.

Employees who are on campus for work are encouraged to follow best practices for social distancing and hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our custodial staff have also enhanced their regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout workplaces.

Under the leadership of the vice-presidents, units across campus will continue to assess all in-person functions on an ongoing basis.

As you know, this is a dynamic situation. The University will continue to work with Public Health and governments as things evolve. U of G’s COVID-19 website will be regularly updated with current information, so please continue to monitor that site as well as the University’s social media channels.

We realize that these challenging, rapidly changing times may be causing feelings of uncertainty. We thank you for your continued patience, co-operation and understanding as we work together to ensure the health, safety and operations of our University.