STATEMENT REGARDING JANUARY 2022 RETURN TO IN-PERSON LEARNING
JANUARY 17, 2022
To the McGill community,
On Friday, January 14th, McGill announced its plan to return to in-person learning on Monday, January 24th. SSMU objects to this rapid transition. We believe that such a move is reckless with the health of our community members given the current public health situation. Further, we regret that we were not consulted about reopening plans in a meaningful way and that we were accordingly unable to voice student concerns. While we recognize that many students are anxious to return to in-person learning, we do not believe that the current situation in Quebec and the measures in place by McGill can ensure an appropriately safe campus for students, staff, or instructors. Additionally, SSMU would like to draw the attention of the McGill administration to an open letter created on Friday. It has garnered over 12,000 signatures– the overwhelming majority of whom are students, staff, and instructors at McGill. The SSMU Executive Committee endorses this open letter and encourages students to sign onto it.
In the interest of providing better protection against COVID-19 for students in the absence of leadership by McGill, we would like to let you know that we will be offering respirator-style (CA-N95 and FN-N95) masks on a pay-what-you-can basis. We have purchased over 4500 of these masks, which we will be offering to students who are at a higher risk on a pay-what-you-can basis. Details about distribution will be forthcoming in an email, and we expect distribution to start within a week.
SSMU rarely addresses our statements directly to instructors, but today, we would like to do so. It has become clear that McGill is unwilling to take steps towards student safety, and administration has made it clear that they expect a great deal of student and instructor absenteeism. Simply put, instructors are our last hope for a safer semester. As such, we are asking instructors to please do everything that you can to make classes accessible to students remotely. Please don’t require in-person attendance or in-person participation. Please make it as easy as possible for students to take your class remotely. We know that asking this means extra work for you, and we know that this isn’t fair. However, in the absence of university leadership in the matter, instructors have the power to stop sick students from feeling compelled to attend class and to protect students who cannot safely attend class while cases are surging. In the absence of leadership by the university, we’re asking you to step up for community safety. If you are an instructor or teaching assistant and want to make your classes more accessible to students remotely but need assistance with it, please reach out to SSMU at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help with this however we can.
While this is in no way a perfect solution, SSMU has created a peer-sourced spreadsheet with information on course delivery. This spreadsheet has information on course delivery, including courses where students can participate completely remotely.
We are disappointed that the university has chosen to reopen under these conditions with little care for the health of our community and the greater Montreal community. SSMU condemns this reckless behavior and we hope that the university will reverse its plans and apologize to vulnerable community members who have been harmed by these plans and by the university’s indifference to their health and lives.
The SSMU is committed to advocating for student safety and accommodations, and at the same time, we recognize that there are students who are struggling with remote learning. We hope that in the future, a gradual return to campus with proper safety measures and built-in accommodations will be made available to students, but given the absence of such measures, the SSMU strenuously objects to McGill’s reopening plans as they stand.
Yours in Solidarity,
The SSMU Executive Committee