C/O Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University
"Masking is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of COVID"
McMaster University has announced that the mask mandate will continue to the end of May 2022.
"The sixth wave of COVID continues to unfold and the most recent modelling indicates that it will be several weeks before the peak of the wave is seen. As a result, we have decided to extend
McMaster’s mandatory mask mandate to the end of May 2022. This means that everyone at a
McMaster site must wear a mask in all indoor settings including classrooms, libraries, crowded
spaces and close workspaces," reads a letter from President David Farrar and Provost Susan Tighe.
All COVID-19 measures currently in place will continue until the end of May. This includes MacCheck and both the vaccine and mask mandates.
This announcement comes only a few short weeks after the university announced that mandates would end on May 1.
"We are able to take this step, which allows us to align with government requirements, because of the respect that people across the University have shown to each other by getting vaccinated and wearing masks," reads the original statement.
Farrar and Tighe did state on March 25 that if the pandemic were to get worse, they would not hesitate to reinstate all mandates to protect the McMaster and Hamilton communities.
"If pandemic circumstances and public health advice shifts and government requirements change, we may need to quickly re-instate a mask requirement and a vaccine policy."
Frankly, we aren't terribly surprised by this extension. On Monday, Ontario's top doctor Kieran Moore stated that he "strongly recommends" all Ontarians to continue wearing their masks.
This is a developing story.
C/O Faculty of Engineering, McMaster University
Keep your masks on because it’s not over yet.
On March 21, 2022, Ontario will end most mask mandates, according to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore.
“Ontario will remove the mandatory masking requirement for most settings on March 21, with the exception of select settings such as public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings,” read a statement issued by Moore.
Does this mean McMaster students can remove their masks starting March 21? No, it does not.
According to an email statement from McMaster’s Media Relations Manager Wade Hemsworth, “McMaster will maintain its longstanding mask requirement at all indoor sites until at least the end of the winter semester, including exams.”
The maintenance of McMaster’s masking requirement follows a similar announcement regarding the continuation of the school’s vaccination mandate.
When can students expect a relaxation to health and safety measures? Publicly assisted post-secondary institutions in Ontario, like McMaster, have jurisdiction to develop policies that govern academic and administrative matters, including health and safety measures such as masking or vaccine-
If public health guidance remains the same, it is expected that the masking requirement and vaccination mandate will remain-in-place until at least the end of the 2022 winter term.
C/O Ollie Take, Contributor
Got yesterday’s lecture notes?
As McMaster University students prepare to return to in-person learning, the school issued new guidance on how students should handle absences.
On Feb. 1, McMaster Daily News posted a guide on what to do if you get COVID-19.
“Staying home when sick or isolating when required is one of the most important ways our community members can contribute to making in-person learning and working as safe as possible,” wrote McMaster Daily News.
Everyone in the McMaster community is reminded that they must complete MacCheck before attending campus.
If you have symptoms or have tested positive, stay home!
For those who are not well enough to learn, the university has increased how long the MSAF lasts. Instead of only covering three days of missed classes and assignments, you will now be able to MSAF five days. This ends in April 2022.
“Students are encouraged to use the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) through Mosaic if their screening results recommend that they isolate and are not permitted to come to campus,” said the post.
DeGroote School of Business students received a flowchart that explains what to do if they miss class. Students who are not cleared to attend classes are instructed to contact their peers, TAs or instructors to stay on top of their work.
The Daily News article also spoke to students who are currently living on residence, encouraging them to check with their community advisor or residence life area coordinator for more details on what to do if they show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
According to Housing and Conference Services, if students live in residence and need to isolate, they may be asked to move to an isolation room for up to 10 days, unless they have a private ensuite washroom, live in a suite or apartment style room, or isolate at home.
Students have pointed out on the McMaster sub-Reddit that the university has not said whether or not classes will be required to be recorded. This confusion has caused some heated debated amongst users.
“This doesn’t confirm that they won’t record right? Or does it? Honestly idk lol,” user Lord_of_Wessex wrote about the flowchart sent by DeGroote.
In a MacDiscussions roundtable with the Silhouette and 93.3 CFMU, Vice-Provost (Academic) Kim Dej said that most medium to large lecture halls would be equipped with recording technology.
“[W]e have really invested in our learning spaces over the last 20 months. Most of our medium and large lecture halls have Echo 360, which is a capture tool that the MSU has been advocating for many years pre-pandemic and it means that live lectures can be streamed or they can be recorded,” said Dej.
McMaster University has not publicly stated whether all in-person classes will be recorded for students who are absent. Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Susan Tighe stated in a post on McMaster Daily News that the university is committed to helping those who cannot come to campus due to isolation.
“Our university is committed to being supportive, compassionate and flexible for our community members who are required to isolate,” said Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Susan Tighe.
Despite Tighe’s commitment, many students remain confused as to exactly what supports are available should they get COVID-19 and cannot attend in-person classes.
By Elisa Do, Staff Writer
For many of us, the last few weeks have certainly been a novel experience. The spread of COVID-19 has caused in-person class cancellations and the disruption of our typical day-to-day lives. As with most universities across the globe, McMaster University has moved courses and examinations online. Although the transition is necessary due to the current circumstances, it is also important that we take a closer look at what this change can mean for students and the impact it can create on our learning.
Online courses require students to have access to the Internet in order to complete coursework. However, not every household can afford internet costs, and not everyone lives in areas with access to the Internet. In 2017, only 37 per cent of rural households in Canada had access to internet speeds considered standard for regular Internet usage and approximately only 24 per cent of households in Indigenous communities had access to standard-speed Internet service.
This can prevent students from frequently participating in their online classes; especially for online tests or examinations that require stable and continuous Internet access. Also, classes may require students to tune in to video conferences or watch lectures online, activities which require high speed Internet.
This is compounded by another change that students are currently facing: students no longer have access to public libraries or study spaces that were once available to them. Even if Internet access is a problem at home, libraries used to provide students with the resources to maintain their studies. Without libraries, finding Internet access can become an even greater challenge. With all this in mind, it would be beneficial for instructors to permit greater flexibility within course structures. Depending on the course itself, making alterations such as options to opt out of final exams or to complete presentations via alternative methods like telephone, could provide the necessary support for students during this time.
Also, without public study areas, not only do students lose out on possible resources such as hard copy books or technology, but they are also unable to study in an environment that is not their home. Many students go to libraries in order to be in an environment that encourages focus and motivation. Speaking from my personal experience, I often find it difficult to focus on work-related tasks in places such as my home, which is designed for comfort and relaxation. I realize that when studying at home, it is natural to feel less motivated as the environment also plays a role in conditioning me to be at ease.
Furthermore, many campus resources are only available in person. For example, peer support resources from McMaster Students Union services such as the Student Health Education Centre, the Women and Gender Equity Network or Maccess can only operate in-person. With these services closed and the volunteers at home, students who may wish to access support no longer have that opportunity.
Aside from peer support, many students also visit the Student Wellness Centre to access counselling services. With the current circumstances, students can no longer access counselling in-person, and group programs within the Student Wellness Centre have also been cancelled. Being away from all the mental health support that had previously been offered on campus can negatively affect how students are dealing with their mental health at home.
That is not to say that folks at McMaster are neglecting support options for students. Many educators are working hard to continue course office hours and the Student Wellness Centre is also providing appointments online and by telephone. However, without in-person communication, there is still a barrier to how accessible these services can be. Through social distancing, individuals are forced to take the initiative to reach out to others via virtual options or online messaging. It means that students can miss out on engaging in social interaction if they do not proactively seek out others. And it can also mean that those who may want mental health support don’t know who or where to turn to with these sudden changes.
Because of how novel this experience is for so many of us, it is crucial that we remember it is okay to feel overwhelmed. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, so it is fair that students may also feel uncertain at times. Although I think it is wonderful that many people are encouraging one another to partake in productive activities throughout the day, I think it is also super important that we are reminded to accept that there has been a change. It’s all right for our day-to-day schedules to look different and it is totally fine if everything seems to be going at an unusual pace.
Studying from home poses a variety of barriers and these barriers impact each and every student differently. During these times, it is essential that we are more considerate of how physical distancing can affect our learning. Students should not have to feel guilty about taking time to adjust to these new changes and instructors should also keep in mind that students are most likely in a different headspace as they adjust. As we all work together to continue figuring out how we can make this difficult time a little more easier, let us encourage greater flexibility in students’ learning and do our best to minimize any additional distress being away from campus may cause.