COVID-19 Updates

Here you will find updates to CUASA members as the COVID-19 situation continues to develop.

During the COVID-19 situation, CUASA operations are continuing in an online capacity. The Steering Committee and Council are continuing to meet using GoToMeeting, and CUASA Staff are working from home.

The information on this page is specific to what we feel is relevant for CUASA members. For Carleton’s page on COVID-19, click here. For Ottawa Public Health’s, click here.

Messages to the Membership

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last updated: Friday, March 20

What is the status of classes at Carleton?

Classes are cancelled Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, to give teaching staff time to prepare alternative modes of delivering their content. Beginning Wednesday, March 18, all instruction will be delivered online and through other means for the remainder of the term.

On Thursday, March 19, Carleton announced that summer term courses will also be delivered online or through other methods of distance learning. Some CUASA members, scheduled to teach in the summer, are asking how this will affect those plans. Rest assured, we will seek those answers when we meet with University officials on Monday, March 23.

What does this mean for how I teach?

Face-to-face classes are not allowed, nor will face-to-face examinations proceed for the winter term. Beyond that, the University has assured CUASA that our members have full autonomy over how they choose to complete their courses. Your Chair/Director or department administrator may suggest preferred methods, but remember it is entirely at your discretion how you choose to proceed.

What are some options for completing my courses?

The Provost’s office has put together some resources on how to keep on teaching and alternative forms of final assessments. Teaching and Learning Services has been declared an essential service, and is open for the time being, meaning TLS staff remains available to assist teaching staff with questions. You can reach TLS at tls@carleton.ca. Remember, how you choose to approach this is entirely up to you. From emailing slides to students, to quizzes or discussions on cuLearn, or holding class via online services like BigBlueButton or Zoom, the decision is yours to make.

What about tutorials and labs?

In-person tutorials and labs are also suspended. CUASA members can best determine how to replace these methods of assessment as part of completing their courses.

Do I have to complete the term by working from home?

As of Monday, March 16, the University is closed except for essential services, and is encouraging all employees who can work from home to do so. CUASA also strongly encourages its members to work from home and follow Ottawa Public Health’s recommendation to limit non-essential trips outside the home.

What if I’m taking care of my child(ren) and am unable to complete work from home?

The University has said it may offer further flexibility to employees in these situations. You are encouraged to seek accommodation from your Chair/Director. Please also keep CUASA informed should any issues arise. The provincial government announced legislation on March 16 that includes job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine, or who need to be away from work to care for children. Based on this announcement, members who are required to also tend to children during this specific of time need to communicate their accommodation needs to the University. CUASA remains deeply concerned that there have been no workload reduction processes expressed by the University to date. Many of our members will be facing unprecedented at-home challenges trying to meet the same level of teaching, research and service demands while simultaneously tending to familial obligations.

What will happen with teaching evaluations?

The University has decided that, in light of the unprecedented situation and unplanned shift to complete the remainder of this term in an online forum, student teaching evaluations will be suspended for all winter term courses. As announced by the Provost, anyone needing official documentation regarding teaching performance for the purposes of upcoming professional opportunities will be provided with a letter from their Dean.

What about office hours?

We encourage members to remain in communication with their students. How you choose to do so is up to you: whether via email, telephone, or online conferencing.

What about committee meetings and other service requirements?

The University has recommended postponing non-urgent and non-essential meetings or activities in order to focus on safely and successfully completing the winter semester remotely. It is CUASA’s opinion that all service requirements, including departmental and other committees, fall into the non-essential category and all in-person meetings or committee work should be suspended during this time.

I’m out of the country. Will the health plan still cover me for COVID-19-related illness? How can I get help?

The University has communicated to us that CanadaLife (previously Great West Life) will treat any claims from the coronavirus as they normally would according to plan coverage. Members with specific questions can contact CanadaLife here, or Carleton’s Benefits Officer Lori East at lori.east@carleton.ca. Employees who are travelling also have access to Carleton’s SOS program to assist individuals who are stranded or find themselves in difficult situations. You can find information on the SOS program here; you can find Carleton’s International SOS membership number and a list of phone numbers here. If you encounter any issues while travelling, please inform your Chair/Director and CUASA immediately. You can reach us at cuasa@cuasa.ca. Members who are abroad and need of assistance should also contact the federal government’s consular services at +1(613)-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca. Toll free numbers are available for certain countries. A list can be found here.

Can I use my research grant to cover cancellation costs? What about hotel costs if I’m stranded?

The University has communicated that costs incurred to cancel university-sponsored travel plans can be claimed with appropriate receipts and documentation, and charged to all funds (including Tri-Agency funded research). Claims, with scanned supporting documentation, can be made through the Travel and Expense reimbursement system. Travellers must make every effort to recover costs from airlines, hotels and travel insurance before making a claim for reimbursement from the University.CUASA asked specifically about funds incurred while stranded abroad, or from having to cut short longer-term trips (e.g. rent on sabbatical, research experiments abroad, etc.). The University said anyone with specific questions about using research grants for reimbursement should contact the Carleton Office for Research Initiatives and Services (CORIS) at coris@carleton.ca.

Can I expense COVID-19-related costs?

The University has set up a dedicated code in Banner to track COVID-19 related expenses through your PER or internal research funds (i.e. buying a web conferencing tool to deliver courses online, conference travel cancellation, etc. The activity code is COVID.

What about accreditation for Engineering programs?

CUASA has been advised by the University that a message was sent to Engineering Deans from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board indicating accreditation decisions will not be affected by COVID-19 accommodations.

How is the work of CUASA continuing?

All CUASA operations have shifted online. The CUASA Office is closed, and staff are working from home. The Steering Committee and Council are continuing to meet, as are CUASA committees, like the Grievance Policy and Administration and Collective Bargaining Committees. We are looking to have Council pass an emergency bylaw in April to allow the April General Meeting to be held online and allow the annual budget to be passed. More on this can be found here.

I’ve emailed CUASA, but haven’t heard back yet. When can I expect an answer?

We are currently experiencing a high volume of emails from members, so our response time may be delayed. Rest assured, we are reading each email and are aware of the issues and concerns being raised. There are questions we don’t have answers to yet, but we are working on getting those answers. Any and all relevant information will be communicated to all CUASA members through daily updates or this FAQ list.