Update on planning for the Fall 2020 semester

A message from president Robert Gordon to the University of Windsor campus community:

COVID-19 has challenged all of us over the last few months, and the dedication, commitment, and collaborative efforts of faculty, staff, and students have been fundamental to how successfully we have navigated this difficult period so far. The situation continues to evolve: the Ontario government has begun to operationalize a stage-by-stage approach to loosening emergency measures as we all find our way to a new normal.

Although there is evidence that Ontario is succeeding in flattening the curve collectively, there will be limits to how we operate on university campuses for some time. Universities are complex collaborative environments and UWindsor is no exception. Students live, learn, work, and socialize in many campus spaces, in residences, and off-campus, and these conditions pose significant risks for the transmission of COVID-19. Even after emergency restrictions are lifted, we need to be prepared for the possibility of new outbreaks and the return of strict social distancing or other emergency measures.

The health and well-being of students, staff, and instructors remain our foremost concern. We are continuing to respond to the changing conditions and guidelines in the province as we plan for the resumption of on-campus teaching, research, and associated activities.

While there is still considerable uncertainty about how the next months will unfold, we have been working hard to plan a pathway forward for the upcoming Fall semester that will foster safe, enriching, and rewarding educational experiences for both new and returning students. This pathway is based on the priorities that are intrinsic to our mission and values, now and always:

  • Safeguarding the health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff;
  • Delivering high-quality educational experiences; and
  • Supporting, in an inclusive and equitable environment, the continuation of knowledge creation, community engagement, innovation, and collaboration with partners across our region and beyond.

We want students to be able to pursue safely and successfully the academic goals they have chosen, no matter where they are, what their situations are, or how health risks evolve. A decision has therefore been made to deliver UWindsor courses, including their final exams, primarily online in Fall 2020. This will include a continued focus on the strong faculty-student relationships, peer collaboration, and community service partnerships that have always been a hallmark of the UWindsor experience.

Decisions about the Winter 2021 semester will be made over the Fall semester, including determinations about how the second half of full-year courses will be offered.

The primarily virtual approach we have chosen offers students the most stable and flexible avenue for engaging with academic opportunities and new experiences during this uniquely challenging time.

UWindsor faculty and staff are busy preparing for the Fall semester, and we are looking forward to working with all of you. We will continue to offer high-quality engagement, teaching, and mentorship, and create environments where students are well supported, work with friends and colleagues, meet new people from across the street and around the world, and explore new ideas and opportunities.

As public health restrictions are relaxed, the University will explore possibilities for on-campus student life and co-curricular learning activities, with careful attention to all necessary safety protocols. Keeping health and safety as our primary consideration UWindsor will, where practical, encourage those planning such activities to provide a virtual option to allow maximum participation by all.

We recognize that you will have many questions about plans for the Fall semester, and more information will be available in the coming weeks. We know that this is important to you, and we will do our best to make sure you all receive clear, accurate information as it becomes available related to your program.

The Fall 2020 semester is but one chapter in our students’ overall story of their experience at UWindsor, a temporary detour in the full arc of their educational journey. We still have years together as teachers and learners! And one thing will not change: our commitment to providing the best education possible and to helping students succeed.

The next chapter awaits — let’s write it now! And when we’re on the far side of all this, we will look back and say that we did it together, at the University of Windsor.