UWindsor Together: Student Mental Health and Remote Learning Services

Update on Planning for the Winter 2021 Semester

Dillon Hall is pictured in this file photo.

From the Office of the President

As the Fall semester begins, I want to take a moment to celebrate the efforts of our University of Windsor campus community in preparing for this challenging and unpredictable academic year. Throughout the summer, faculty, staff and students have made extraordinary efforts to master new technologies, find new ways to connect, solve the problems of this unfamiliar environment, and create the high-quality learning experiences that inspire passion for learning and lasting connections. We are ready for the Fall semester, and together we will make this year supportive, engaging, and successful. 

Although much has changed over the past six months, our priorities have not. They include:

  • Safeguarding the health and safety of our campus community through close adherence to the rules set out by governments and health authorities, such as physical distancing, limits to the size of gatherings, heightened levels of sanitation, and the use of community protective equipment;
  • Delivering high-quality educational experiences in a responsive learning environment;
  • Supporting the continuation of knowledge creation, community engagement, innovation and collaboration; and
  • Serving the needs of our local and global communities. 

After careful analysis of several options and scenarios, we have made the decision that in Winter 2021 the majority of University of Windsor courses will continue to be offered through online delivery, with face-to-face offerings being provided where in-person interaction is integral to meeting program learning outcomes.  This is essentially a continuation of our current approach, but with the possibility that additional co-curricular face-to-face activities will be mounted as COVID-19 conditions permit.

Given current health and safety considerations, physical classroom space is a critical factor. We have fewer than 15 classrooms that, under current health authority guidelines, can house more than 30 people.  Current provincial health guidelines, which are subject to change, also prohibit classes of more than 50 students. Heightened sanitation and social distancing guidelines require transit time between classes, which further limits the number of courses that can be offered.

Because of these limitations, most courses will be online during the Winter 2021 term. In consultation with faculty members, who are best placed to identify courses and course components that are critical within specific programs, all of the Deans at the University of Windsor have led a collective effort to determine which courses must be offered in-person focusing on the following priorities:

  • Courses where face-to-face interaction is required for graduation or accreditation; 
  • Opportunities for first-year students to have on-campus experiences;
  • Face-to-face experiences for identified international student cohorts;
  • Laboratory sections;
  • Research courses that require access to laboratories for data collection and analysis;
  • Studio courses that require access to specific equipment and spaces; 
  • Required practicums, internships, and work experience that primarily take place off campus; 
  • Co-curricular programming that enables experiential opportunities for students; and
  • Faculty-specific priorities.

A detailed list of Winter 2021 face-to-face offerings will be available once finalized.

These decisions are being made with collective care and a constant focus on the student experience, student learning, and campus safety. Whether courses are face-to-face or online, faculty and staff across the University of Windsor are investing an enormous amount of time, effort, and creativity into making them engaging, effective, and as safe as possible. This is a community-wide effort, and we are truly grateful for all of your support.

Determinations about course format, once made, will not be changed mid-semester, unless COVID-19 conditions require a return to online delivery. As always, instructors of face-to-face courses will provide academic accommodations to students who are unable to attend class for medical reasons or because of health risks. Many buildings and service units on campus will begin gradual and limited reopening over the course of the Fall and Winter semesters. Up-to-date information about campus service provision can be found here.

I have every confidence that we will face the challenges of the coming months successfully. I encourage you to continue to be kind and patient, with others and yourselves, as we address the many unknowns that are sure to arise. Please reach out as necessary to your peers and the campus community for assistance, encouragement, and conversation. No matter what the challenges, we are UWindsorTogether, and together we go on.

— Robert Gordon

President and Vice-Chancellor