FAQs

Updated March 27, 2020 at 3:30 p.m.

If you have questions not answered by the FAQs, please write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

Coronavirus and your health

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

Symptoms are similar to the flu: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

What should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

  • Please isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible 
  • Immediately call Montreal’s coronavirus hotline at 514-644-4545, or 1-877-644-4545 if you are elsewhere in Quebec
  • Describe your symptoms and travel history  to the health professionals on the hotline
  • Follow their instructions carefully
  • Stay at home until your Public Health Authority advises you that you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others

How do I report that I am self-isolating, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

  • Students: If you have been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) please use the self-reporting form for students on Minerva.
  • Students living in residence: report your status by contacting Student Housing and Hospitality Services at  housing.residences [at] mcgill.ca. Self-reporting will ensure that assistance is provided to you and services are maintained.  
  • Employees: The self-declaration form must be completed by employees who are required to be on campus to provide necessary activities and functions, but are unable to do so because they must self-isolate.

Rest assured that this information will be treated confidentially. The University will only share personal information with the Direction de la santé publique (DSP) as required. Personal information will not be shared with the community.

It is important that people who are ill, have been exposed to COVID-19 or are awaiting test results isolate immediately as per the government of Quebec’s guidelines for home isolation. 

How is the current outbreak being monitored?

McGill University is carefully monitoring the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Working from the recommendations of Canadian public health authorities, members of McGill’s senior administration have been meeting daily and proactively developing plans to prioritize the health and safety of the community, as well as to ensure the successful continuity of our academic mission.

What is the risk to people living in Canada?

The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with the novel coronavirus as low for the general population in Canada but this could change rapidly. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

The risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

Are surgical masks effective protection from the coronavirus?

According to public health officials, surgical masks do not provide effective protection. Masks are not designed to filter virus-sized particles or be worn for long periods of time, and are prone to leakage. It is preferable to practice health precautions to further reduce risk: prioritize hand-washing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, discarding tissues after use, not touching the face and mouth, and seeking medical attention when symptoms arise.

How can I get support if I feel overwhelmed or distressed by the situation?

To get support if you are a student:

  • Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages. To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
  • The Wellness Hub is running programming for students during this challenging time, including a COVID-19 Emotional Support Group and a “Zen in 10” mindfulness meditation.
  • International students covered by Blue Cross have virtual access to doctors via the Maple app. By creating a Maple account, international students covered by Blue Cross can use this service without paying up-front charges. Students with other health insurance plans can use this service, but there may be fees associated.

More details on these services are available on the Student Wellness Hub site.

To get support if you are a staff member:

  • The Employee and Family Assistance Program offers resources to support community members’ mental and emotional well-being.

McGill Operations

Are all classes, exams and other academic activities cancelled?

Yes. Further to Quebec government directives, announced on March 13, the University is suspending all classes, teaching labs, exams and other assessments (except theses defenses) for two weeks.

What facilities and services are open?

  • Residential dining halls remain open with limited hours of service. Take-out meal service is offered but the seating areas are closed. All food service locations on campus are closed.
  • Visit the Student Services website for a detailed list of services that continue to operate either online or by phone during this period of campus closure.
  • Online library services are available, and you can also contact a librarian Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Library is offering a retrieval service for research print materials from downtown libraries. For more details, please consult the Library’s homepage.

What facilities or services are closed?

  • All McGill in-person events, on or off campus, are cancelled until June 5. Only necessary functions and activities will be provided on campus; all other functions and activities are closed.
  • All McGill libraries and athletics facilities are closed until May 1. Online library services will still be available.
  • Starting Wednesday, March 25, shuttle bus service will be suspended between the downtown and Macdonald campuses. This measure is in accordance with the latest directives from the Quebec government. The community will be notified when service resumes.

Will infrastructure services be maintained for essential research?

Facilities Management and Ancillary Service (FMAS) will continue to provide infrastructure services and support for approved research and activities on campus, and to help them do so we ask that researchers/Investigators fill out the following questionnaire.

Will the University resume regular on-campus operations at the end of March?

On March 22, the Government of Quebec ordered all university campuses in the province to close until May 1. The situation is extremely fluid, and this closure may be extended.

What is the parking situation on campus?

McGill University has decided that employees who are required on site in order to perform their work during the COVID-19 suspension period will be offered free parking on the downtown campus in the following lots:
  • Powell West
  • East Faculty Club
  • Peel Laneway
  • MNI/Residences
  • Royal Victoria College
  • 3465 Durocher

Click on the locations in this map for addresses and directions.

Please complete and submit the COVID-19 suspension period parking request web form if this applies to you (login required).

As employee work schedules may change with little notice, please ensure you place a paper on the dashboard of your vehicle indicating the name of your department so that patrol officers can communicate with the office for verifications. Additionally, please ensure you have your McGill ID card with you at all times for identification and building access purposes.

How can I access buildings during the suspension period?

Members of the community may need to access buildings, in order to carry out necessary functions, pick up necessary equipment to work from home, and ramp down research activities. If you are normally able to get into your building during weekends and after hours, you will be able to access it during the suspension period. If you cannot normally access your building after hours, you should contact the Area Access Manager (AAM) for your unit. See the list of AAMs. If your AAM is not available or cannot grant you access, please contact Physical Security Systems at systems.security [at] mcgill.ca or at 514-398-4562. Make sure to have your McGill ID card with you at all times.

Upon leaving, please ensure that:

  • The windows are closed and doors are locked
  • You have all your belongings
  • Any necessary equipment and appliances are turned off or unplugged – for example, space heaters should be unplugged, but refrigerators should remain operational
  • Any remaining valuables are locked away

What should I do if I am expecting a delivery?

Staff who are expecting deliveries during the suspension period should reach out to their suppliers to coordinate deliveries. If you are not on campus, please cancel the delivery or arrange to have the goods delivered to an alternate location. Staff who are authorized to be on campus to provide necessary functions will need to ensure that they are present to receive deliveries of services or goods. Security agents are not authorized to accept deliveries.

Academics and Research

What if I have been assigned new work by my professor or have assignments due during the suspension period?

Teaching, assessments and exams are suspended. Hence, students should rightfully understand that cessation of assessments includes not having to work on an assignment that is due during the suspension period. Suspension means suspension

Will final exams take place on campus?

There will be no in-person sit-down final examinations on our campuses. The alternative assessment plan will be communicated before the end of March. The term will not be extended.

When will courses resume remotely?

All courses that can be taught  remotely will begin on March  30.

What if my course cannot be done remotely?

We recognize that remote learning will not work for some courses and programs, and for some students, and we are therefore evaluating alternatives for these situations. The goal is to ensure that as many students as possible are able to complete most, if not all, of their academic term remotely.

What resources are available for remote learning?

Please see IT’s website, Working Remotely, which provides extensive information. For students adapting to learning remotely, Teaching and Learning Services has put together a suite of new online resources for students that can help you stay on track during challenging times.

Why is research being ramped-down on campus?

The government's and McGill's default position is that all non-essential research activities on campus must be postponed or halted in the short term to preserve the health and safety of our society and “flatten the curve” of the pandemic. Ultimately, we must accept that the current COVID-19 situation is a unique emergency that requires exceptional measures that will inevitably have important impacts on everyone's work. McGill is in communication with funding agencies to address the resulting issues. 

Will biomedical waste and chemicals be collected from labs?

To try to keep staff on campus at a minimum, Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) will not pick up biomedical waste and chemicals directly from laboratories. As research personnel are working to ramp down research on campus, they should put these materials into the waste room, where HWM will collect them

What do graduate students do about their research activities? 

Graduate Students who have questions related to the continuation of their research activities in this context should contact their Graduate Program Directors in their department and/or the Associate Deans in  Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

What should graduate students who have a thesis defence scheduled do?

Please refer to the Oral Online Defences FAQ offered by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option

Do scholarship recipients still need to take 27 graded credits each academic year?

To align with the announcement of more flexibility for students to choose the S/U option, the eligibility criteria to receive and/or renew scholarships has been amended to require 12 graded credits for the 2019/20 academic session (Fall and Winter) instead of the traditional 27 graded credits. This temporary policy is published in yellow alert boxes within the relevant Scholarship Regulations on the Scholarships & Student Aid website.

Is the normal protocol for Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory option still in effect?

No. Because of the exceptional circumstances, the normal protocol for the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option is suspended for Programs and courses which are not already graded on a Pass-Fail basis.

Is the S/U option open for all students and courses?

For this term, all students, whether undergraduate or graduate, may exercise the S/U option for their courses, provided that doing so would not run counter to any requirements, timelines, or policies set by their respective programs of study or external accreditation bodies.

Will the S/U option count toward a student’s GPA?

No. Courses for which the S/U option is exercised will not be calculated in a student’s GPA.

Will the S/U option contribute to credits completed? What about major/minor requirements?

  • Yes, the S/U option will contribute to credits completed.
  • Courses for which the S/U option is exercised this term may count toward a student’s major or minor requirements.

Will the S/U options used this term count toward the maximum number of credits that a student may designate as S/U?

No. Courses for which the S/U option is exercised this term will not count toward the maximum number of credits that a student may designate as S/U (i.e., up to 10 per cent of total degree credits).

What is the latest date that I can exercise the S/U option?

The date by which students may exercise the S/U option is May 22, 2020, reflecting that students’ grades are known by this time.

What is the latest date that I can select a withdrawal from a course in Minerva?

The deadline for selecting a Withdrawal from a course in Minerva has been extended to April 15, 2020 (effective Monday March 23). This will result in a student receiving a notation of “W” on their transcript for the course in question, which means it is excluded from any GPA calculation or to credits completed.

How do I know if the S/U option applies to my program or courses?

Given that the S/U option isn’t applicable to all programs there may be variation in S/U across the University. Students are asked to be patient as more information will come out in the coming days, some of which will come from Faculties and Program Directors.

Is the S/U option available past the Winter 2020 term?

S/U option will be available to students for courses they are currently registered in for this Winter 2020 term only. We are exceptionally suspending the normal S/U procedure. As it stands, we anticipate the normal S/U policy will be in place again for the Fall 2020 term.

Working during the closure

Are staff expected to continue working during the University’s closure?

  • Yes. Where possible, employees will be expected to work remotely, unless otherwise notified. Supervisors will reach out to employees with instructions and next steps.
  • Supervisors may also ask certain employees who need to be on campus to provide necessary services to come into work. If that is the case, your supervisor will contact you.
  • No work is expected for most employees on Monday, March 16 and compensation will be maintained.
  • During the two week closure that began March 13, 2020, all academic and administrative staff, including casual employees who were scheduled to work over the period, will be paid.

What resources are available to work remotely?

Please see IT’s website, Working Remotely, which provides extensive information.

Are tools available to hold virtual meetings or to enable collaboration?

Academic and support staff are asked to use the following tools for meeting and collaborating remotely:

  1. Zoom will soon be available to all instructors for teaching and learning activities   
  2. MS Teams is currently available to all employees for all collaborative work (web conferencing, chat, etc.)   
  3. WebEx has just become available to employees for all Web conferencing needs.   

You can find more information under “Meeting and Collaborating Remotely” in the Tools and Resources section of the Working Remotely page.

Does McGill encourage work from home?

When feasible, supervisors and managers are invited to encourage telecommuting for their employees and to promote social distancing in order to reduce the number of individuals who are physically present on our campuses or using public transport to come to our campuses.

What if it is not feasible to work from home?

Employees will be required on campus to perform necessary functions and activities that cannot be performed off campus. The necessary functions and activities will be determined by the heads of each unit.

What do I do now that daycares and schools are closed?

We ask you to discuss possible arrangements with your immediate supervisor. If working from home is feasible, you will be invited to do so. If working from home is not feasible, because your children require all your attention and care, you will be considered on paid leave of absence during the course of the two-week closing period.

What happens if I cannot be at work because a family member is in self-isolation and requires assistance?

We ask you to discuss possible arrangements with your immediate supervisor. If working from home is feasible while they can assist the person under isolation, you will be invited to do so. Employees who cannot work from home will be considered on paid leave of absence during the course of the two-week closing period.

How will employees required to be absent from work due to self-isolation be affected?

When feasible, they will be invited to work from home. If working from home is not feasible, they will be considered on a paid leave of absence during the course of the two-week closing period.

What is the process to ensure that casual employees are paid during this period?

Casual employees previously scheduled to work over the course of the two-week period will be paid. If the casual employee was working adhoc hours, an average of the hours worked in the previous 4 weeks (excluding Reading Week, March 2-6, 2020) will be taken to determine the hours to be paid for each week of the two-week period.

Casual employees are expected to submit timesheets as if they were at work. Exceptionally during this period, signatures and approval via email are acceptable. Once normal operations resume, paper time sheets must be completed, signed and retained by the unit as a matter of record to ensure compliance.

What if an employee does not want to come into work because they fear for their safety?

Employees should contact their manager to discuss their specific situation and concerns. Please keep in mind that our workplace is still a safe environment. The measures that have been put in place are meant to limit the propagation for the virus. Therefore, we ask all our employees who are coming into work to apply the basic hygiene precautions, such as hand washing and social distancing, as recommended by the authorities. If employees have reasonable grounds to believe the workplace presents unsafe working conditions they may initiate a work refusal process in accordance with the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety. The law provides that an employee has a right to refuse to perform particular work if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the performance of that work would expose them to danger to their health, safety or physical well-being, or would expose another person to a similar danger. This process must be documented by the immediate supervisor. Without reasonable grounds, a work refusal may be considered an unjustified absence.

Can an employee wear a facemask if they are in contact with customers?

Experts advise that masks are not an effective protective tool for the general population to prevent infection from the COVID-19 virus. The use of masks is rather indicated for persons in whom a contamination is suspected or diagnosed as well as for the health professionals who treat them.

What do isolation and self-isolation mean? What does it entail for employees?

  • You are asked to self-isolate if you have returned from abroad since March 12, or experienced close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. In self-isolation, you must stay at home, avoid contact with other people, and monitor for symptoms during the incubation period, which has been identified as 14 days.
  • You are asked to isolate if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, are awaiting test results or have been diagnosed with COVID-19. In isolation, you must stay at home and avoid contact with other people until your Public Health Authority advises you that you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others.

Employees can find out more about the recommended practices of isolation and self-isolation by consulting the Government of Quebec COVID-19 webpage.

Why are employees with a weakened immune system, chronic condition or aged 70 years or older being asked to identify their condition?

Public health authorities recognize that the COVID-19 virus presents a higher risk to those with a weakened immune system, a chronic condition (such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, etc.) or aged 70 years or older.

Employees required to provide necessary activities and functions who have a weakened immune system, chronic condition or are aged 70 years and older, should remain at home and must send an email to disability.hr [at] mcgill.ca to inform them of their situation. The Disability Management Unit (HR) will contact them to document their condition.

Is Monday March 16 considered a Saturday or a Sunday since the weekend was extended?

Monday is not a holiday nor a weekend day. Employees who will have been requested by their managers to work from home or on campus on Monday will be eligible to take the time off later with the prior approval of their immediate supervisor.

We have new hires supposed to start on Monday March 16. It will be very difficult for them to work from home at this point. Are they included in those who will be paid?

Newly hired employees who were supposed to start on Monday, March 16, will be treated as any other employees and will be paid during the course of the two-week closing period.

If I need to work on Monday March 16, will I be eligible to take the time off that was offered to other employees at another time?

Employees who are required to work on Monday March 16 will be eligible for taking the time off at another time with the prior approval of the immediate supervisor. This only applies to Monday, March 16.

Can I come into work on campus between March 17 and May 1?

Unless your manager requires you to come to campus to complete essential tasks or if you are equipped to work from home, you are asked to work remotely.

If I’m working from home, do I need to follow the regular schedule?

Employees are expected to be available during their regularly scheduled hours. For individual situations, please contact your manager.

Am I allowed to work overtime during the closure period?

As per usual practice, overtime must be pre-approved by your manager.

This is a stressful time – how can I get assistance?

If you are feeling stressed, you may contact our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-844-880-9142. You can also visit the following website: https://www.mcgill.ca/hr/benefits/eap Remember that all contact between you and your EAP counsellor is confidential and at no cost to you.

Can I contact Human Resources during the closure period?

Human Resources will continue to serve our community during the March 17 to May 1 period. Please feel free to reach out to us at the following email addresses: hr.hr [at] mcgill.ca or by phone at 514-398-4747. You can also reach out to your local HR Advisor.

Travel

What are the restrictions around travel?

Is Government assistance available to help citizens stranded outside Canada to get home?

On March 21, the Government of Canada announced new help for Canadian citizens stranded outside Canada. Please consult the “Help for Canadian Citizens Stranded Abroad” section of our Travellers page for details.

Can members of the McGill community who are international students or considered temporary foreign workers return to Canada?

On March 20, the Government of Canada announced that international students with a valid study permit and temporary foreign workers will be exempted from the restrictions on entry into Canada. This exemption will begin sometime in the week of March 23. Please consult the “Exemptions to Canadian Border Restrictions” section of our Travellers page for details.

I recently returned from international travel, should I self-isolate?

In accordance with the most recent recommendations, students, faculty and staff who have returned from international travel since March 12, or who have flu-like symptoms should self-isolate for two weeks.

Will I be reimbursed for any non-refundable travel fees for having to cancel research-related travel due to the impact of COVID-19?

The granting agencies have confirmed that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from for projects funded by NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR is acceptable for meetings or other research-related activities impacted by COVID-19. For more information, see NSERC's website.

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