Going viral

by | Mar 24, 2020 | News | 0 comments

It’s been quite a month for students at MacEwan University. 

Though the COVID-19 outbreak had been on the public’s radar since January, it wasn’t until mid-March that MacEwan began making official statements about the pandemic. Since then, face-to-face classes have been suspended and the University has moved to deliver the remainder of classes online, with many services following suit. The Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) has also had to make some difficult decisions and cancel a number of events and limit certain services. 

Given the speed with which these changes have been made, it can be hard to keep track of everything. So here’s a breakdown of the outbreak (so far):

March 10

MacEwan sends out an email basically reminding students to wash their hands and practice staying at home if they feel unwell. The creation of a news page devoted to updates on the coronavirus is also announced. At this time, no cancellations or closures are announced. 

March 13 

Another email is sent out to confirm that classes are not cancelled, despite the moves made by other post-secondary institutions to do so. Students are directed to talk with their department chairs to discuss academic accommodations. All university travel to regions under the Government of Canada’s travel advisory is suspended, and students studying abroad in these regions are recalled back home. Anyone having travelled from a region under the travel advisory is asked to self-isolate.

Between March 10 and 13, a number of students express their concern over the decision to keep MacEwan open, with calls to email the Human Rights and petitions to move classes online circulating the MacEwan Used Book Exchange and MacEwan University Student Experience Facebook pages.    

Later on the 13th, an email from the Acting President is sent out, advising students that an update to the university’s response will be made available at 5 p.m. The update, which comes later than expected, states that an Emergency Management Plan will be enacted. While this plan includes a reduction in seating capacity in shared areas such as the cafeteria, it does not include a closure of the school. 

All performances and shows in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications are cancelled, however, as are the remaining playoff games and tournaments for the Griffins athletic teams.

SAMU also releases a statement detailing a number of postponements and cancellations, including the cancellation of grad photos, restricting Peer Support to by-phone-only appointments. The full list of cancellations can be found here: https://samu.ca/cancelled-or-postponed-samu-events/  

At this time SAMU also releases an online poll asking participants to provide input on how final grades should be calculated in the event of a closure of MacEwan. 

March 14

Another update is released from the University, advising that classes from March 16-18 will be suspended in order to give professors time to prepare for online delivery of their material as of March 19. Campus remains open during this time, as do all student services. Students are advised to direct all questions about their courses to their professors and to contact the dean’s office of their faculty or school with questions or concerns about program completion. 

March 15

Students receive word that the MacEwan University Sport and Wellness Centre will close indefinitely as of 5 p.m. 

A separate notice is sent out advising students of Alberta Health’s announcement that face-to-face classes are now officially prohibited. 

March 16

Despite the uncertainty, Fall Enrollment opens as scheduled. 

March 17

Alberta declares a State of Emergency. An email is sent out advising the cancellation of Student Research Days. Students continue to be reminded to practice social distancing, good personal hygiene, and regular handwashing.

March 18

Due to water damage and repair, as of 4:30 p.m., students will no longer have access to classes, labs, and studios in Building 11 (Allard Hall). All equipment is to be returned by this time, and lockers are to be emptied.   

MacEwan University Library has released an official update on their website, available here. All items on loan are now due June 1, and students are implored not to return anything until then — including laptops and textbooks. Late fees from March 13 onward have been cancelled, though fees incurred prior to this date still require payment.

John L. Haar Library remains open with limited hours, but silent study rooms, labs 7-202C and 6-201V, the recording room, and the multipurpose room are closed until further notice.

March 19

As per an update made on March 17, MacEwan’s building hours are reduced, as are operating hours for some service areas. Students are asked to retrieve any items they may have in their lockers.

March 20

Access to the City Centre Campus Library is limited to the Tech Support section (second floor, east side), and may only be accessed via the spiral staircase. 

Griffins Landing and the Sports and Wellness Tim Hortons location is closed indefinitely as of 2 p.m., but the cafeteria Tim Hortons (Building 6) will remain open with reduced hours. 

MacEwan Residence is accepting early move-outs and is offering prorated refunds for those leaving early. Currently, there is no information to suggest students will be asked to leave the residence.  

March 23

An email is sent out to confirm MacEwan University’s commitment to providing letter grades for the Winter 2020 term, despite both NAIT and the University of Alberta announcing their adoption of pass/fail or credit/no-credit scores for most courses. 

Students are also advised of coming building closures and the future release of a schedule for students to collect the contents of their lockers. 

March 27

Students are advised of changes to building access, as promised. Starting Monday (March 30) Buildings 6 and 7 will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., students will only be able to access the Tech Support section of the library via the spiral staircase, and classrooms 7-142 and 7-185 will be open as study spaces — conforming with physical distancing standards. 

Changes have been made to student parking, as well. Students will no longer have access to the City Centre, Robbins, or Allard Hall underground parkades, but parking on all MacEwan surface lots will continue to be open, and is free from March 30 to April 3. Parking passes are automatically cancelled as of March 31. 

March 28

A small bit of good news for MacEwan students: The Canadian National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) sends out an email announcing the suspension of student loan repayment until Sept. 30, 2020. According to this information, interest will not be charged from the period of March 30 to Sept. 30, 2020, and students do not need to take any further action regarding their accounts. 

March 30

The schedule for student locker clean-outs is released on MacEwan’s Coronavirus News page. From March 30 to April 2, students will have two-hour windows each day to collect their belongings from campus. 

Students with personal items in unregistered lockers are asked to contact lockers@macewan.ca to arrange for access. 

April 2

A message from Dr. Craig Monk, Provost and Vice-President Academic of MacEwan is sent out to students explaining that Spring Convocation has been cancelled, without the possibility of postponing or rescheduling. 

However, a note at the end of the email, which states the school is exploring “options to recognize the many accomplishments of the Class of 2020 later this year, potentially at the time of Fall Convocation” suggests some hope for those wishing to celebrate. 

April 6 

SAMU continues to welcome student feedback on MacEwan’s decision to cancel Spring Convocation. Students wishing to express the impact of this decision and suggest possible alternatives are encouraged to fill out a brief survey here.

MacEwan announces today that all Spring/Summer classes for 2020 will be delivered online, and that a number of new courses will also be offered. A complete list of classes will be available as of April 13 as part of the myStudent portal enrollment system.

April 15

Students are advised of a new bursary, the COVID-19 Relief Bursary, which can be applied for under the Financial Assistance tab of the myStudentSystem portal. With a value of up to $2,000 for domestic applicants and up to $3,000 for international applicants, the bursary represents a much-needed source of support, but there are some restrictive criteria:

  • Eligible students must have been enrolled full-time in the 2020 Winter term
  • Demonstrate financial need (a standard requirement for bursaries)
  • Preference will be given to students who experienced job loss due to the pandemic, specifically those students who were employed on a MacEwan University campus who have either experienced job loss or a reduction in hours

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Emily Campbell

The Griff


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