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Victoria University continues to monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and responses, including the responses from the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto Public Health and government travel advisories. The University follows the advice of public health authorities. 

Victoria University is requiring all students to move out of Victoria residences by Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. unless otherwise approved by the Office of the Dean of Students. Find more information on the Residence Life page

As of March 16, 2020, all non-essential events and in-person undergraduate and research-stream masters and doctoral courses across U of T’s three campuses, are cancelled. Teaching will be provided by other means (which may include existing online platforms). This decision is effective until the end of classes on Friday, April 3. 

It is important to continue to check travel and public health advisories, which are listed below, as this is an evolving situation.

Victoria University Self-Declaration Form

Spring Convocation 2020 Details: A Message from U of T President Gertler - April 3

The following message was sent to graduates and all members of the U of T community on April 3, 2020.

To our graduating students, and to all members of the U of T community:

When the University took the necessary, but deeply disappointing decision to cancel in-person Spring 2020 Convocation ceremonies, I committed to providing details about alternative means of celebrating your graduation. We have been exploring different ways to recognize this important milestone, and I am pleased to share more details with you today.  

Over the past few weeks, the Office of Convocation, in collaboration with the Offices of the President and the Chancellor, has led an extensive review of possible alternative celebrations that would respect the guidance from public health authorities, while acknowledging the achievements of our graduating class in an appropriate and fitting manner.   

Accordingly, we are planning a celebration that pairs a virtual Convocation with in-person, graduation ceremonies hosted by our academic divisions. 

The Chancellor, who is the Chair of Convocation, will convene a virtual Convocation to be broadcast on or before June 2, 2020, incorporating the core elements of a Convocation ceremony. Following the legal requirements under the University of Toronto Act, the Chancellor will confer degrees on all graduates. In these exceptional circumstances, all degrees will be conferred in absentia. Diploma parchments will then be couriered to graduates over the course of the next few weeks following the virtual ceremony.

When the public health situation stabilizes and it is possible to gather safely, individual academic divisions will then be able to host in-person graduation ceremonies, complete with many of the core elements of a traditional Convocation, including academic regalia, congratulatory remarks from academic leaders, a graduation speaker, and presentation of the graduates. 

Of course, the uncertainties surrounding the present crisis make it impossible to provide firm dates for these in-person graduation ceremonies at this time. It is likely they will take place sometime after September 1, 2020 – as safety, availability, and space permit. Principals and Deans will be in touch at a later date with more details as soon as they are confirmed.

The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for our community, and perhaps especially so for our students. I want to take this opportunity to thank you – for your dedication, your commitment, your perseverance, your support of one another, and the many contributions you continue to make to the entire University of Toronto community. 

As we approach the end of the term, we are all looking forward to recognizing your accomplishments. While a virtual Convocation may be more subdued than normal, I hope the exuberant graduation ceremonies that take place once the present crisis abates will be an opportunity for you, your families and friends, and your instructors to celebrate your achievements fully. 


Meric S. Gertler
University of Toronto

*For more information about Convocation, please consult the Office of Convocation website and their Frequently Asked Questions.

HR Update - April 1

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dear Victoria University Faculty, librarians and staff,

Thank you for your continued flexibility and commitment. Your dedication and work have been outstanding as our University continues to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The University is extending the period of keeping faculty, librarians and staff “whole” until April 30, 2020. Staff will receive pay continuity until April 30 and are expected to continue to work either remotely, or in limited circumstances, on-site as directed by their manager or supervisor.

Staff Working Remotely
• Employees who can work remotely are expected to continue to work at full capacity.

On-site Essential Staff
• Employees performing on-site work at full or reduced capacity are expected to follow
the schedules outlined by their managers and will continue to be paid their regular
salary until April 30, 2020.
• Parking, taxi chits and lunches will continue to be available for on-site essential
staff until April 30, 2020.

Casual/Term Employees
• Casual/term employees will be paid until April 30, 2020 unless their contract/term
comes to a natural end prior to April 30. In these cases, the contract will not be
renewed, except where the employee continues to be performing their usual duties and
those duties continue to be required.

COVID-19 Absences
• Paid sick leave for COVID-19 related absences in accordance with public health
authorities/guidelines or as directed by healthcare providers will be available for the
period April 6, 2020 to April 30, 2020. For the purpose of absences related to COVID-19,
the requirement to provide a doctor’s note will continue to be waived.

As always, our University is committed to human rights, equity and inclusion and acknowledge the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on various parts of our community. We encourage you to connect with Victoria University’s Human Resources department for support and advice on these matters.

Please stay safe and healthy.


Joanne Evans
Director, Human Resources

Staff Update: Gratitude for your work in these extraordinary times - March 23

The changes affecting Victoria University’s community are no different. The University’s response to safeguard the health of every employee and student continues to evolve as we work with our partners at the University of Toronto, as we learn more from all levels of government, and as we receive new directives from our public health authorities.

As each new plan has grown, you--the faculty and staff at Victoria--have responded with remarkable flexibility and understanding.

This is especially true for the front-line staff who continue to work on campus, particularly members of the housekeeping, maintenance, mail room, grounds, food services, dean’s office and residence staff.

As you are most likely aware, Victoria University’s residence community is usually made up of four residences buildings that are home to approximately 800 students from across Canada and around the world. Four full-time staff live in these residences, along with a student team of more than 20 residence dons who ensure that these students are well cared for physically, socially and emotionally. Vic’s grounds, cleaning and maintenance team ensures our campus is clean, beautiful, accessible, safe and comfortable. Our food services team ensures our community is well fed at every meal, every day.

The global COVID-19 pandemic response has created enormous upheaval for these staff teams in particular. Residences house many students living in close proximity; it is sometimes difficult to socially distance and it takes extra diligence to maintain health protocols. These teams have risen to the challenge.

By this morning (Monday, March 23, 2020), more than 720 residence students will be safely back home. Staff have devised self-isolation, physical distancing and community-building plans for residents who remain. Food services staff have worked out how they will continue to feed the remaining students who no longer have an eat-in dining hall. Housekeeping staff, maintenance staff, grounds staff, mail room staff, cleaning staff, front desk staff and residence life staff—all of these teams continue to work every day on campus—sometimes putting in extremely long hours—to ensure that our campus community continues to be cared for and provided for.

To those working on campus, we recognize what you are doing and we are thankful. The students see you and are thankful. A few days ago, one of the cleaning staff found a Post-It note left by an Annesley resident before she left which reads:

“Thank you for sticking by Annesley and its residents through these difficult times, and thank you for taking care of us throughout the school year. You are greatly appreciated, and we will miss you. Love, Annesley.” 

While COVID-19 has threatened to turn our lives upside down, you have remained committed to Vic’s students and community.

We know the entire Vic community sends to you the message so well expressed in this student’s note. Thank you for rallying around Vic, now and always.

From all of your managers and supervisors to all of you…

Thank you.

HR Update - March 23

As the University response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues, core staff continue to be required on campus. To support on-campus staff, the following measures will come into effect on Monday, March 23, 2020.

Travelling to and from campus


Victoria University has temporarily suspended parking enforcement except for accessible spaces and fire routes. Until further notice, free access to parking is available to all critical on-site staff required to work on campus until further notice. 

Staff who do not currently have parking permits, but have been designated critical to business operations, are asked to speak with their manager to receive a free on-campus permit.

Parking is permitted in the following lots:

  • In front of Annesley Hall
  • Margaret Addison Hall North
  • Margaret Addison Hall Courtyard 

Taxi or ride-sharing service expenses

If staff are required to work on campus and cannot drive their own vehicle, the University will reimburse the cost of the taxi fare or ride-sharing service. Keep your receipt and submit the expense to your manager for reimbursement.


All critical on-site staff can receive a free bagged lunch through Victoria Food Services. Please let your manager know if you would like to receive a lunch and they will coordinate with the Director, Ancillary & Operations.

Masks for on-campus staff

Several core staff who are currently working on campus have asked to use masks while perform their duties.

While most staff are able to maintain the recommended physical distance of two metres (six feet) while performing their duties, we recognize this is not always possible. The University will provide masks to staff when it has been determined that this is an issue.

For example, some team members who are in elevators helping students move may find it difficult to limit two to three people per elevator. Or, some staff members may be in close proximity to each other when performing specific tasks, such as housekeeping staff who are cleaning a resident suite in tandem.

Please speak to your manager or supervisor if you are concerned that you are unable to practice physical distancing while on campus.

HR Update: Residence concerns from staff and students - March 19

To: Victoria University staff 

We have become aware that there are concerns circulating among students and staff that there might have been a positive case of COVID-19 in our residences today. At this time, there are no positive cases of COVID-19 on the Victoria University campus. 

 Late last night, the Office of the Dean of Students received an unverified report that a student who had moved out of Margaret Addison residence subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Until we had more information about the report, we felt it was important to practice social distancing measures for our students and staff, particularly around Margaret Addison Hall. 

Dean’s Office staff worked around the clock to try and verify this report. After contact with the student and the parent, we learned later today that the student is NOT COVID-19 positive.

Physical plant and residence staff ensured that students in Margaret Addison Hall who were feeling ill at the time, had access to their own bathroom. As a precaution for the safety of students and staff, an “out of order sign” was placed on the door of the bathroom to keep others from entering. 

At this moment, there are a small number of students in residence who are self-isolating. This does not mean that these students have COVID-19. Self-isolation is a voluntary precaution taken for many reasons including: travel history, possible contact with a COVID-19 positive person, having an underlying health condition, or feeling ill in any way. This is part of the Toronto Public Health protocol. 

As an extra precaution, physical plant staff are engaging an external vendor that will come onto campus to provide a hospital-grade disinfection to the bathrooms that were placed “out of order”. This practice will continue as needed and you may see an outside company in cleaning suits disinfecting areas of residence. Physical plant will notify staff before this happens; do not be alarmed. The University will update staff with information as it becomes available.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and the vital work that you do in this stressful time.

Joanne Evans
Director of Human Resources
Victoria University

A Message from President Robins to the Victoria University Community - March 18

To all members of the Victoria University community,

I write today to say thank you. Thank you, for collectively adopting social-distancing measures across our campus. Thank you for your adaptability and your support of each other. And thank you for maintaining the strong sense of community that characterizes Vic.

Most residence students have headed home, events and gatherings have been cancelled, and many operations have moved online. And yet we are still Vic. We are an amazing community of kindness, resilience and compassion. Let’s make sure that social-distancing measures do not get in the way of our ability to be present for one another. I encourage you to find time each day to check in with each other: text a fellow student, e-mail a colleague, connect by phone with a member of our community.

While Victoria University’s response to COVID-19 is adapted to our specific circumstances, it is part of the University of Toronto’s response, and we continue to work closely with U of T as this situation evolves. I encourage you to read the latest update from the Provost of U of T, which is posted on the U of T COVID-19 updates page.

Let me update you on the current state of operations at Victoria University:

  • Victoria University remains open. Employees who can work from home have been asked to do so. For the University to deliver on our commitments to teaching and residences, some employees will be required to come to our campuses, and we remain committed to their health and safety.
  • Residence students who can leave have been told to do so. Our operations will adjust to meet the needs of international students and others who cannot go home.
  • Classes and exams for the remainder of the session will take place remotely, not in person.
  • Access to all campus buildings is restricted.
  • Special provisions for pay continuity and for expanded sick leave have been communicated to our staff. 

These have been days of indescribably rapid change. Thank you for playing your part in introducing appropriate social-distancing measures, in keeping our core operations functioning smoothly, and in staying connected with each other.

We will continue to post all updates on the Victoria University website.

Above all things stay well, stay connected, and take care of each other.

Best wishes,


Message from the Dean of Students - March 17, 2020

To: All students in residence at Victoria University 
From: Dean of Students, Kelley Castle
March 17, 2020

Victoria University in the University of Toronto is committed to the health and safety of the students in our residences, and the staff who administer and work within them. In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we have had to make some difficult decisions. 

Victoria University is requiring all students to move out of Victoria residences by Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. unless otherwise approved by the Office of the Dean of Students.

We appreciate how difficult a time of year this is for students even under normal circumstances, and these are certainly not normal circumstances. We are committed to supporting you through this process. We also recognize that some of you will be unable to move out, and for those who have clear exceptional circumstances (outlined below), you may be permitted to stay on a case-by-case basis.

The information below will guide you through the check-out procedure.


Only under exceptional circumstances are students permitted to remain in residence beyond Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. Students who may be able to remain in residence include:

  • International students;
  • Students with travel restrictions;
  • Out-of-province students who need extra time to move out;
  • Students who are currently self-isolating; and
  • Students with other complex personal circumstances.

To inquire whether your situation warrants an exception, or if you require additional assistance, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at

If you are an international student staying and cannot return home by Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m., the Assistant Dean, International Students, Bergita Petro and her staff are available for consultation and support at


  1. E-mail Wanda Hughes at and indicate your departure date.
  2. Please take all belongings you can.  We do not provide storage, but will communicate with you at a later date about significant belongings left in rooms.
  3. Leave your keys at the front desk of Margaret Addison Hall.
  4. Confirm via e-mail ( when you have left your room.  
    If you have questions or concerns please contact the front desk (416-585-4494) and we will return your call.


Students who have already moved out of residence, please notify Wanda Hughes at immediately if you have not already done so, and your refund will be processed accordingly.  


In order to help expedite the goal of getting residence students home where possible with no financial barriers, all students who leave Victoria University residences by Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. will receive a partial refund of their room and meal plans. This includes students who have already properly checked-out of residence. Details about refunds will follow later this week.


Food Services in Burwash Hall are pick-up-and-go only. Dining and congregating in Burwash Hall is not permitted. Further information about Food Services will follow in a separate message.


Until the move-out deadline, and to further keep our community safe and support social distancing, the following changes have come into effect:

  • There will be a No External Guest / Visitor Policy for all students (short-term guests assisting with moving out are exempt from this policy).
  • Common rooms and other large residence spaces will be closed to discourage group gatherings. 


Please treat each other with kindness and respect during this time of constant change and increased stress. Vic is a caring community and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. We will do our best to support you in this transition. 

Kelley Castle
Dean of Students
Victoria University in the University of Toronto 

Building restrictions and changes to student services across the Victoria University campus

March 17, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

Dear Victoria University community,

The health and safety of our community is our primary concern during this global pandemic. In light of the recent urgent announcements from federal, provincial and municipal governments, access to several University buildings is restricted.

Building Restrictions

The following buildings are restricted to Faculty, staff and librarians who require access for core operations:

  • Birge Carnegie
  • Emmanuel College building including the library
  • The Goldring Student Centre
  • E. J. Pratt Library
  • The Victoria College Building
  • Northrup Frye Building
  • The Isabel Bader Theatre

Only residence students and core staff are permitted in the following building:

  • Burwash Dining Hall

The university continues to remain open, and we are taking seriously our responsibility to help in the crucial goal of reducing transmission of COVID-19.  

Mailroom operations are continuing at reduced level of service.

All student services have made provisions for online and phone advising.

The Dean of Students Office

The Office of the Dean of Students will remain open, available by appointment, phone 416-585-4494 and e-mail

Staff will return messages as soon as possible.

Victoria College Registrar’s Office 

The Vic Registrar’s Office operations continue and can by reached by phone (416-585-4508 x 0) or by e-mail ( 

In response to the cancellation of on-campus activities, the Registrar’s Office will provide phone or videoconferencing options for one-on-one appointments, including any previously scheduled in-person appointments.  The Registrar’s Office can be reached by phone and e-mail and for appointments at the following times:

  • Monday to Thursday: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Thank you so much for your cooperation as we work together to support our community needs.

COVID-19 Update #5 - March 17, 2020 - Temporary COVID-19 Sick Leave and Continuity of Pay

March 17, 2020 – 9 a.m.

Dear Victoria University Faculty, staff and librarians,

This an extremely difficult and challenging time for Faculty and staff.  

We are writing to provide additional updates on several new measures that the university is implementing to support you through this period. 

Temporary COVID-19 Sick Leave 

The University is implementing Temporary Sick Leave that will provide 100% wages for regular hours worked for 14 days that is due to an absence related to COVID-19.  

Temporary sick leave applies to all full time, part time, and casual employees who are in any of the categories below:  

  • Employee has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Employee is ordered by Public Health to self-isolate
  • Employee is required to self-isolate due to travel or flu-like symptoms
  • Employee is immuno-compromised (i.e. underlying condition, immune system low, not comfortable being at work due to health conditions)

The requirement for a doctor’s note for these types of absences is waived. Employees are still required to report their absence to their manager or supervisor. 

An Employee Absence Self Declaration Form is being developed for employees to complete and return to HR in order for us to track the absences. The code in Dayforce for these absences is SickCOVID.

Continuity of Pay

Managers are making every effort to support employees with flexible work arrangements including telecommuting wherever possible. Employees who can work remotely are expected to be working. 

The University is committed to ensuring that all faculty, librarians and staff will continue to be compensated in the event of any cancellations, programming reductions, government required shutdowns, or any other operational closures for the next three-week period.

Human Resources will  work directly with the unit head of each area that may be impacted. For other individuals who need to be away from work or who are not able to work remotely, the University is committed to providing support.  

Scenario Appointed Employees Casual Employees
  • Paid regular salary
  • Employees in roles suited for working remotely are expected to be working
  • Paid for scheduled shifts during isolation period
Sick leave
  • Paid for sick days
  • Attendance management programs waived
  • No requirement for medical notes
  • Paid for scheduled shifts during period of illness
  • No requirement for medical notes
Caregiver Issues Due to School and Daycare Closures
  • Paid regular salary
  • Employees in roles suited for working remotely are expected to be working
  • Paid for scheduled shifts for period from March 23 to April 3, 2020
COVID-19 Program or Unit Closures
  •  Paid regular salary
  • Employees in roles suited for working remotely are expected to be working
  • Paid for scheduled shifts for period March 14 to April 5, 2020

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

Take good care,

Joanne Evans
Director, Human Resources
Victoria University

Message from the Dean of Students: Residence Departures and Fee Refunds - March 16, 2020 at 10:30 p.m.

Your health and safety are paramount during this global pandemic. In light of the recent urgent announcement from the Prime Minister of Canada, which says that Canadians should be at home, we strongly advise students to make travel arrangements to return home to their permanent addresses if they can, and as soon as they can.

In order to help expedite the goal of getting residence students home where possible, with no financial barriers, all students who leave Victoria University residences will receive a partial refund of their room and meal plans. Details about refunds will follow later this week.

We recognize that many international students will remain in residence.  We also recognize that many students will not be able to return to their permanent addresses due to travel restrictions, or serious personal circumstances.

Please note that, for your safety and the safety of our entire community, students who remain in residence may be relocated to a different room in the residences at any time.

Students with special circumstances may apply for emergency relief funding from the Dean of Students’ Discretionary Fund at

We appreciate how difficult a time of year this is for students even under normal circumstances, and these are certainly not normal circumstances.

How to leave residence:

  1. E-mail Wanda Hughes at and indicate your departure date.
  2. Please take all belongings you can. We do not provide storage, but will communicate with you at a later date about significant belongings left in rooms.
  3. Leave your keys at the front desk of Margaret Addison Hall.
  4. Confirm via e-mail ( when you have left your room. 

If you have questions or concerns please contact the front desk (416-585-4494) and we will return your call.

Please take good care at this difficult time.

Kelley Castle
Dean of Students
Victoria University in the University of Toronto

March 16, 2020 at 10:30pm

COVID-19 Update #4 - March 14, 2020

Dear Victoria University staff,

Please find below the latest communication from the University of Toronto.

This weekend, Victoria University’s senior leadership continues to work with leadership at the University of Toronto on this rapidly evolving situation.

We will continue to update you over the weekend via email and online at the Victoria University COVID-19 updates web page.


To:         Faculty, Librarians, & Staff 

From:    Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost and Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives 

Date:     March 14, 2020 

Subject: COVID-19 Updates 

Dear colleagues,  

We are writing to provide additional details related to yesterday’s Update on COVID-19 and the University’s response. We thank you for your patience as the University implements several new measures to assist in efforts to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in our community.   

As per the President’s message yesterday, University operations continue, and all three campuses remain open. 

Self-Isolation Guidance  

Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is directing all members of our community and visitors to our three campuses and our off-campus sites to do the following:  

  • If you have travelled from anywhere else outside Canada, including the United States, please self-isolate for 14 days.  
  • If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing), please call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your primary care provider’s office.
  • Call ahead prior to visiting any healthcare provider and let them know about your travel history and symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing) so they can make special arrangements to see you quickly, provide testing, and ensure that they use proper infection control measures. 

International Travel  

Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is advising all members of its community to avoid all non-essential travel abroad and to avoid all cruise ship travel.  

International Students 

The Government of Canada has advised that study being delivered online on an exceptional basis because of measures related to COVID-19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit Program eligibility for a post-graduation work permit. 

Recreational and Sport Facilities 

The University of Toronto Athletic, Recreation and Physical Activity facilities will be closed effective Sunday, March 15 at 12:01 AM until Friday, April 3. 


Selected libraries remain open, with limited hours, social distancing measures, and restricted to only U of T users. More information will be available Monday, March 16 about upcoming library closures and reductions in hours. 

U of T Day Care Closures 

Based on the recommendation of public health officials, all University of Toronto childcare centres are closed effective Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 6.   

Teaching Support 

Staff of the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) will be on-call over the weekend to assist instructors in dealing with COVID-19-related changes to teaching. 




We are encouraging Managers, Chairs, and Department Heads to be as flexible as possible in proactively implementing or granting requests for telecommuting where operationally possible. 

Telecommuting requests may be refused if:  

  • Employees cannot perform the core duties of their work from home
  • It is not operationally feasible for an employee to work from home

The COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for employees and managers. Information Technology Services (ITS) has also prepared technical work-from-home resources to support employees accessing work material while telecommuting. 

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who are requesting work-from-home arrangements due to being immuno-compromised themselves can work directly with their Manager, Chair, or Department Head. These requests do not need to be reviewed by Environmental Health & Safety, and supervisors should approve these requests wherever possible.

Those Affected by Child Care and School Closures 

We understand that many parents and caregivers are experiencing anxiety around childcare considering the many March Break camp cancellations and the closure of many schools and daycare centres across the province.  

If employees are unable to secure childcare, they may utilize the following options: 

  • Request to work from home and telecommute (if the duties of their job and their childcare responsibilities allow).
  • Use personal / flex days in accordance with their employment policy or collective agreement.
  • Access overtime banks.
  • Request to use vacation days. Any limits on using yet-to-be-accrued vacation are waived at this time. 

We ask Managers, Chairs, and Department Heads to approve these requests wherever possible. 

Sick Leave Policy 

At this time, public health authorities recommend that at-risk individuals, or individuals who have travelled internationally, undergo self-isolation for a period of up to fourteen (14) days. Many of our employees have sick leave provisions in their respective collective agreement or employment policies that sufficiently address such absences. The University has, on an exceptional basis, agreed to temporarily modify and/or improve upon existing provisions for absences specifically related to COVID-19. 

Guidelines on Employee Absences Due to COVID-19, including processing instructions for HR professionals and business / payroll officers, will be distributed next week.  

Continuity of Pay 

The University is committed to ensuring that all faculty, librarians, and staff will continue to be compensated in the event of any event cancellations, programming reductions, government required shutdowns, or any other operational closures for the next three-week period. More details on how this will be operationalized will be shared by the Division of Human Resources & Equity with managers and impacted employees in the coming days. 

If you are planning operational changes or need to close due to operational reasons, please advise your Unit or Division Head and contact your Divisional HR Office. 

Coping with Stress 

We know this is a difficult time. Please know that supports continue to be available to you, including the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. The Division of HR & Equity has compiled a list of other resources available to the community on their website; this list will be updated frequently. As a reminder, students have access to My SSP and other resources. 

If you have broader questions relating to COVID-19 and the University’s planning, we encourage you to visit the University’s COVID-19 website. If you have HR-related questions about COVID-19, please visit the HR & Equity COVID-19 website. 

Message from the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science: Changes to the Winter 2020 Session for A&S Undergraduate Students

Dear Victoria University community,

The following message was sent this afternoon (Sunday, March 15, 2020) by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto, Melanie A. Woodin.

This message may raise questions for you about operations at Victoria University. The President and other senior leaders at Victoria University are currently working through the impact of this announcement and will provide follow-up communication as soon as we are able.


Dear Arts & Science Undergraduate Students,

We understand that many A&S undergraduate students are faced with difficult decisions regarding whether to return home, given the increasing challenges with international travel. We have decided that Faculty of Arts & Science undergraduate students will not be required to return to the St. George campus for the Winter 2020 session. More information to follow regarding completion of term work and exams. Students registered with Accessibility Services should continue to contact Accessibility Services to receive accommodations and supports.


Melanie A. Woodin
Dean, Faculty of Arts & Science
Professor, Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto

This message was posted on: 

A message to Victoria University Staff from the Director, Human Resources

Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update – A message to Victoria University Staff

From: Director, Human Resources – Joanne Evans

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As President Robins communicated in his message to the Victoria community this morning, while the seriousness of the situation regarding COVID-19 increases, and as we receive more information, new announcements and decisions are being made on a daily, even hourly basis. While this work continues, we understand that there is concern and uncertainty among employees across campus. Your health and well-being are critical to the university.

While you, your team, and your families prepare for next week, please continue to practice the good health guidelines that have been communicated on the University’s COVID-19 web page. In addition, Victoria University will be implementing the following guidelines until further notice.

Food services

Employees will notice changes to food services. Burwash Hall will no longer offer High Table and the Senior Common Room will be closed. Burwash Hall will be restricted to students and will no longer offer self-service options. Ned’s Café and Caffiends Café will also close.

Meetings and events

Until the end of April, all external and non-essential internal University meetings and events will be cancelled. Any essential University meetings and events are to be arranged by tele- or video-conference.  When in doubt about whether an event or meeting is essential, please err on the side of caution and cancel.


All University-related travel is prohibited unless President Robins grants permission. All travellers should be aware that there are health risks when they travel. It is important to check the destination before departure to know the risks and to be prepared.

While away and upon return, it is important to monitor individual health. If an employee becomes sick while travelling, the Government of Canada is asking individuals to call ahead to a health professional to explain symptoms.

An employee who has traveled outside of Ontario must contact their manager or supervisor before returning to the workplace.

Telecommuting, flexible work hours and social distancing

All managers and supervisors will encourage staff to telecommute and adjust work schedules whenever possible, taking into consideration operational needs while safeguarding private and confidential information. Please follow the University of Toronto special telecommuting guidelines. The University continues to devise ways to increase social distancing for staff on campus wherever possible.

We encourage all managers and supervisors to speak with their staff and have an open dialogue. Because every employee’s life situation is different, employees should feel comfortable in speaking with their managers and organizational leaders about their concerns or questions.

Employee Absences

Employees who are unable to work because of illness caused by the COVID-19 or the flu are asked to report their illness to their manager or supervisor and self-isolate. Please follow the Government of Canada’s Public Health isolation guidelines. Employees will not need to submit a doctor’s note.

Employees who are in self-isolation after a high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 (i.e., through close contact with a symptomatic person or their body fluids) are asked to follow the Government of Canada’s Public Health guidelines and report their absence to their manager or supervisor. They will be asked to work from home if possible. They will not need to provide a doctor’s note.

Employees who are unable to work to care for a child or children not at school due to school closures, may request an absence from their manager or supervisor. These requests will be assessed on an individual basis, and managers and supervisors are asked to be as flexible as possible. Your manager or supervisor may ask employees to work from home when possible.

We recognize that some employees may be concerned about using sick days, vacation days or suffering financial penalties because of self-isolation or illness. The President and the senior leadership are committed to creating as much flexibility as possible in response to this situation. At the moment, this will be dealt with on an individual basis. Over the coming days, we will be working on guidelines for managers and supervisors. Personal and community health remain our priorities. 

While we do not have all of the answers for what will happen with COVID-19, many people across our University are working diligently to plan for multiple scenarios and keep our entire community informed. Continue to visit the university’s COVID-19 page for the latest information and updates.

More information for staff will be available early next week.

Joanne Evans
Director, Human Resources
Victoria University

COVID-19 Update #3 - March 13, 2020

Dear Victoria University colleagues,

Please find below a message from the University of Toronto to the University community.

Please review the COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline prepared by Human Resources and Equity at the University of Toronto.

Victoria University will have additional information for students in residence and HR-specific information for staff later this afternoon.


 From: Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost 
Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives 
Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity
Date: March 13, 2020
Re: Update on COVID-19 and the University’s Response (PDAD&C #51)

Dear Colleagues,

This message is in follow-up to the President’s statement earlier today about the COVID-19 pandemic. We are putting in place several new measures designed to slow the rate of infection and interrupt the chain of transmission for the whole community. These steps are without precedent and we are working to put in place the supports you need.

We will continue to carefully assess the global situation, consider the advice of public health authorities and the interests of our community, and update you with any changes. We want to assure you that our response is guided by the need to ensure the health of our community, and the continuity of our academic and business activities.  

University operations continue, and all three campuses will remain open with the following measures in place:


Starting on Monday, March 16 and continuing until April 3, all in-person undergraduate and research-stream Masters and Doctoral courses across U of T’s three campuses are cancelled. Teaching will continue through other means (which may include existing online platforms).  Every instructor should implement their plan to complete their courses by alternate modes. The Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI) has information to help instructors with continuity planning, including a checklist and quick guide, as do many divisions. 

This measure does not apply to professional programs. Decisions regarding these programs will be made by the Deans of each Faculty taking into consideration the specific requirements of individual programs as well as professional and accreditation bodies. Professional students as well as faculty members, other instructors and staff in these programs will be advised by Monday, March 16.

Residences and Libraries

Residences and libraries remain open. We know that some students may be unable to return home and, for these students, it is important that they continue to have a welcoming place to live on our campuses during this unusual time. We are encouraging all students in residence who can go home and return easily for exams to do so.

Research Operations

The University’s research operations continue. Faculty members have a responsibility to maintain the operations of laboratory and research environments. If you would like assistance in conducting a health and safety assessment, please contact Environmental Health and Safety. 

Teaching Assistants

All Teaching Assistants currently under contract will continue to receive their full pay. Their roles may need to be modified in response to the cancellation of in-person classes, in accordance with collective agreement provisions. 

Child Care Supports for Parents and Caregivers

The Ontario government is closing all publicly funded schools across the province for two weeks following March Break due to concerns about COVID-19. Many private schools are doing the same.

As of today, all three locations of the University’s Early Learning Centre remain open. We will continue to consider the advice of public health authorities and will advise you as soon as possible of any changes. 

If You Are Sick or in Self-Isolation

At this time, no employee is required to have a doctor’s note or medical certificate for cold or flu-related absences, or for self-isolation. Individuals who are not symptomatic for COVID-19 but meet the criteria for recommended self-isolation based on public health advice should work from home during this 14-day period. If symptoms of illness arise during self-isolation, please follow the sick leave procedures as outlined.

In order to track COVID-19 related absences as advised by public health, we request that all faculty, staff and librarians who are absent due to flu-like symptoms or are self-isolating complete the Employee Absence Self-Declaration form, available in the HR Service Centre and linked below:

Please continue to inform your Manager, Chair, or Division Head through normal processes if you will be absent due to illness, including cold or flu-related absences.


Employees who meet the criteria for recommended self-isolation based on public health advice should work from home during the 14-day period. We also recognize that many parents and caregivers may need to work from home while schools are closed to balance their child care needs. We ask Managers, Chairs, and Division Heads to be as flexible as possible when considering flex-time and telecommuting requests based on this need. 

COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for any employees who need to work from home.  Information Technology Services (ITS) has also prepared technical work-from-home resources to support employees accessing work material while telecommuting.

We know this is a difficult time. Please know that supports continue to be available to you, including the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. If you have broader questions relating to COVID-19 and the University’s planning, we encourage you to visit the University’s COVID-19 website.

We want to thank each of you for your continued commitment to the University, especially as we navigate our way through this difficult period. Please know that your efforts, dedication and hard work are appreciated.

Important announcement from U of T President Gertler regarding COVID-19


Coronavirus (COVID-19) and U of T's response

Latest message: March 13, 2020, 10am EST

To all members of the U of T community:

RE: Cancellation of classes and delivery of teaching through other means

As you know, since late last year, governments and institutions around the world have been responding in various ways to the threats posed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The situation is now accelerating very rapidly. Two days ago, the World Health Organization determined that COVID-19 has reached the level of a global pandemic. Yesterday, among many other developments in Canada, the governments of Quebec and Alberta advised that indoor gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled, and the Ontario government announced that all public schools will remain closed for two weeks following the March break.

Continually since early January, the University of Toronto has been monitoring the situation very closely and taking action as necessary in light of the global situation, the advice of public health authorities and the concerns of our community. We have also been liaising regularly with other post-secondary institutions and sector organizations, as well as Toronto Public Health, while consulting with our own U of T experts in public health. We have been informing members of our community accordingly, through a website we created as a clearinghouse of authoritative information.

Yesterday we sent a memo directly to all students, faculty, librarians and staff on our three campuses, to update everyone on our planning for future contingencies. We announced the cancellation of all University-sponsored learning programs abroad. We advised that non-essential travel should be reconsidered and we recommended the cancellation or postponement of all discretionary events. We indicated the steps we have taken to support instructors in planning for the possible cancellation of in-person classes and examinations. We reiterated our advice that those who are sick should stay home, and we reminded community members of where they can find more information online.

After careful consideration of developments over the past 24 hours, we have made the following additional decisions.

  • We have decided to cancel all in-person undergraduate and research-stream Masters and Doctoral courses across U of T’s three campuses, and we will provide that teaching by other means (which may include existing online platforms).
  • This decision is effective this coming Monday, March 16 and continuing until the end of classes on Friday, April 3. (Please note that all in-person teaching scheduled for today, Friday, March 13, will continue as planned.)
  • With respect to professional programs, each of which has particular circumstances and accreditation requirements, consultation is ongoing today to determine the appropriate course of action.
  • Professional students as well as faculty members, other instructors and staff in these programs will be advised by this coming Monday morning, as soon as decisions have been made.
  • University operations continue, and all three campuses will remain open.
  • Libraries, residences, food services, health & wellness centres, athletics and recreation facilities and other public spaces on all three campuses will remain open.

One of the key factors in these decisions is the need to foster a degree of “social distancing”, as recommended by public health authorities. On that front, our goal is to help interrupt the chain of transmission in the wider community, thereby protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that our health care system will not become overburdened.

I would like to extend special thanks to those faculty and staff members who have been involved in monitoring and analyzing this evolving situation and in charting the way forward for the University at this difficult time. Your dedication is remarkable and deeply appreciated.

I salute our U of T clinicians and researchers who are making crucial contributions to the collective efforts to find solutions on the local, provincial, national and international levels. You make us proud.

I would also like to thank all members of the University of Toronto community – our students, faculty and staff members alike. We appreciate that the global COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly worrisome, and that the changes I have just announced will require very significant adjustments on everyone’s part. But, based on the strength of our bonds as a community and the good will that characterizes its members, we are confident that we will meet this challenge successfully.


Meric S. Gertler

President, University of Toronto

COVID-19 Update #1 – March 10, 2020

Victoria University continues to monitor the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and responses, including the responses from the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto Public Health and government travel advisories.


Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health continues to advise that the risk to Toronto residents is low. At this time, no one on the University of Toronto campus, including Victoria and Emmanuel Colleges, is prohibited from attending classes, events or work. The assessment of risk is based on travel and exposure history and not on race or ethnicity.

We recommend that you stay informed about the latest information regarding symptoms and treatment, including how to protect yourself and the status of COVID-19, by reviewing the credible information sources that are listed at the bottom of this message, sources which are updated regularly.

This web page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Below this message, there is a link to FAQs about COVID-19 from U of T as well as additional online resources. 


Working with the University of Toronto, Victoria University has begun preparing contingency and precautionary plans for all University activities, in order to safeguard the health of our community while supporting the continuity of academic courses, programs, and events.

Disruptions to campus academic and business continuity will be monitored and managed in accordance with U of T’s academic continuity policy and business continuity plan, and notice of any disruptions will be communicated accordingly.

All communications about disruptions that affect Victoria University employees will come from the Victoria University Communications Office.


  • Stay home or stay in your residence room if they exhibit flu-like symptoms, whether or not you have traveled internationally to an affected region;
  • Follow the precautions and guidelines;
  • If you live in residence on the Victoria College campus, you are asked to inform Victoria’s Office of the Dean of Students if you are unwell;
  • For students who have questions or concerns, who have travelled internationally to an affected region, and do not have symptoms, you are asked to call Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007);
  • For students who learn or work in health care settings, please follow the directions of the administration of the facility and contact your academic department if you have questions;
  • Check Quercus and your U of T email regularly for any updates to class changes or cancellations.


  • Stay at home if you exhibit flu-like symptoms, whether or not you have travelled internationally to an affected region, advise your supervisor/manager, and seek medical attention accordingly;
  • If you have additional questions or concerns, or have travelled internationally to an affected region and do not have symptoms, call Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007); 
  • Under the guidance of your supervisor/manager, plan to maintain access to any physical files you might need from your office in the event you need to work from home;
  • Ensure that you have appropriate IT equipment to work from home if possible and your work allows (e.g., camera, mic, VPN or the use of OneDrive, ensuring your shared drives are mapped);
  • Speak to your supervisor/manager if you are concerned about someone in the workplace who is ill and exhibiting flu-like symptoms or have concerns about safety in your workplace. Supervisors/Managers are advised to contact HR.


There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Prevention measures include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill;
  • Stay home when you are ill;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands;
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Frequently asked questions about COVID-19

University of Toronto COVID-19 Updates

Toronto Public Health

Ontario Ministry of Health

Public Health Ontario

Public Health Agency of Canada

Government of Canada Travel Advice (COVID-19)

World Health Organization

Victoria University’s Employee Assistance Program
phone number: 1-800-663-1142

A message from President Robins regarding COVID-19 - March 13, 2020

To students, faculty, staff, and members of the Victoria University community,

Like all of you, I am watching reports of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) daily, concerned about the impact it can have on every person in the Victoria University community and on our loved ones. The situation we find ourselves in is a powerful reminder of how interconnected we all are, and of how the decisions of today can impact us tomorrow. Today our response to the spread of COVID-19 will be involving new measures. I would like to share with you what that means:

 1       Victoria University’s Response is part of the University of Toronto’s Response

Victoria is part of the University of Toronto family, even if we have local differences in some practices and processes. Our response to COVID-19 will be part of U of T’s response, adapted when necessary to our specific circumstances. We have been working closely with our partners at U of T on all aspects of contingency planning.

President Gertler has just circulated an important message to the U of T community announcing new measures, including moving all undergraduate classes to remote delivery. Further messages from U of T will follow today and over the coming weeks. Victoria’s Office of Communications will be forwarding these messages to affected members of the Victoria community right away. We will also be communicating any Victoria-specific modifications of U of T’s measures in as timely a fashion as is possible. Please stay abreast of these announcements.

 2       Social Distancing at Victoria University

I want to reassure you that protecting our community is my top priority. This means looking out for the health and well-being of our students and employees. It also means that Victoria must do its part to reduce the rate of transmission of the COVID-19. Health authorities recommend hygiene (especially frequent hand-washing) and social distancing as important risk mitigation strategies.

“Social Distancing” refers to practices that will reduce the number of persons who come into contact with each other, so as to slow the spread of the disease. We are actively identifying which social distancing measures we can put into place on our campus, from cancellation of events, to working remotely.

 3       Dealing with Uncertainty

I am acutely aware that this is a time of uncertainty and unease. As the seriousness of the situation has increased over the last few days, new announcements and decisions are being made on a daily, even hourly basis. Without a doubt, this situation is stressful and challenging for our students, staff, and their families.

I have asked all managers to be flexible in devising ways for employees to work from home, where that is possible. We will be working with managers and union representatives to understand the implications for scheduling and staffing. If you feel ill, we urge you to please stay home. We are aware that the closure of the Ontario’s publicly-funded schools for the next three weeks will present challenges and difficulties for many staff and faculty members. We will be sharing more in the days ahead on how we can work together to ensure that you are supported.

For the time being, Victoria University remains open. I ask for your continued patience and help as we introduce new measures, and plan for any potential issues

It will take cooperation and good will to disrupt the spread of this virus. I am aware that all of you are already going above and beyond. I continue to encourage each of you to take care of yourselves and one another by practicing self-care, watching for updates, and following the individual precautions highlighted above and on our website.

I am always impressed by the resilience and compassion that characterize the Victoria University community. In these challenging days, we will be drawing upon these values as much as at any time in Victoria’s 184-year history. We will continue to work together respectfully and generously as we support each other through this unprecedented situation. I want to thank all of you for your composure, your resilience, and your compassion.




President Gertler’s Message:


University of Toronto COVID-19 Updates:

Victoria University COVID-19 Updates:

COVID-19 Update #2 - March 11, 2020

Travel Advisories and Green Shield Benefits

Yesterday, the University of Toronto advised all members of the University community to carefully consider any non-essential business and personal travel that is planned in the coming weeks. Victoria University is asking its community members and staff to do the same.

For those employees covered by the Green Shield Canada benefits plan, please read the memo below and this FAQ on the coronavirus and travel implications.

The most recent Victoria University COVID-19 updates can be found on the Victoria University website.

University of Toronto community updates can be found on the University of Toronto website.

University of Toronto COVID-19 Workplace Memo


March 10, 2020


University of Toronto employees traveling to COVID-19 affected areas 


Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity


Divisional Human Resources Offices; Division of Human Resources & Equity


COVID-19 Workplace Operational Update – Green Shield Benefits 

The University advises all members of the community to carefully consider any non-essential business and personal travel that is planned in the coming weeks. The situation is evolving rapidly in many parts of the world and travel restrictions may be imposed on short notice. Up-to-date COVID-19 related travel advisories can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Please be advised that Green Shield Canada (GSC) has issued an update to all individuals covered under their policies traveling to COVID-19 affected areas. 

GSC has prepared this FAQ, which provide the latest information on travel implications and health-care coverage related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Please note that if you travel to an area after a travel advisory has been issued by the Government of Canada, any medical claims related to that travel advisory (i.e. COVID-19) will not be eligible for reimbursement. To receive updates from GSC directly, please login to the GSC Plan Member website and provide your e-mail address under “My Profile.”

Please read the FAQ carefully for more details regarding travel implications due to COVID-19. If you have further questions regarding the travel benefit, please contact GSC directly at 1-888-711-1119.

All information regarding the University’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus can be found on the University of Toronto website. Frequently Asked Questions from the U of T community about the coronavirus are also available. We encourage employees to check these websites frequently for up-to-date information.

Additional Links and Resources