Beginning the week of February 8, McGill gradually began in-person “Tier 2 activities”, with safety measures in place to satisfy provincial guidelines. The transition will happen gradually throughout the month of February to ensure it can be done smoothly and safely.
Tier 2 activities are those that do not absolutely require in-person attendance to take place but would benefit greatly from it, such as office hours or conferences. It is up to individual faculties to determine what activities are included. Tier 1 activities, such as clinical training, require in-person attendance and are already taking place.
Christopher Buddle, the Associate Provost of Teaching and Academic Programs, said “Ideally we want all activities to be in person, so it’s a question of how can we plan in a way for some activities to be in person safely and other activities remotely.”
The process of reopening some on-campus activities was supported by the Quebec Ministry of Education, which has been working with many universities in Quebec. Buddle states that “As we know from the Quebec government, they also are prioritizing education and are really looking to help provide opportunities for students. One of the arguments is that some students are really feeling isolated and struggling with a completely virtual semester, so if they are given opportunities for in-person that might help with some of those concerns about well-being for students.”
Tier 1 activities alone, which have been continuing for many months now, have brought approximately 3,500 people to campus. As new activities resume, even more people will be on campus, making this process challenging.
Planning for this transition began in November; administrators had to organize everything needed for proper safety, from designating stairwells for different directions to allow for social distancing to planning extra security for ID card and mask checks.
The capacity for each activity taking place in person will vary based on how many people can be seated while social distancing in the assigned room. Each classroom will therefore allow for a different number of students. Professors running Tier 2 activities will notify their students of the details specific to their course.
Buddle says that “it will be a very different experience for sure, but it will also be an experience that will build some confidence for people worried about coming on campus.”