COVID–19 Information for Employees

Delivery of the 2020 fall semester 

The 2020 fall semester will take place predominantly through alternative and remote delivery in order to ensure the health and safety of all members of the George Brown College community.  

While there is no roadmap for the challenging times we’re facing, we’ve grounded our decision-making in three guiding principles, which include: 

  1. the health and safety of all students and employees, 
  2. a commitment to delivering quality education, no matter the format, and 
  3. a commitment to follow the guidelines set out by government and public health authorities in determining the pace and timing of our campus reopening. 

We understand there may be questions regarding remote delivery of programs for the fall 2020 semester. Our recently expanded Teaching and Learning Exchange (TLX) will support faculty during this transition. Please see the FAQs below for other questions you may have. 

Moving forward together   

This summer we hope to pilot completion of a few programs where access to college facilities is required. If these pilots can go forward, we expect to learn a great deal to assist in our future planning. 

“Although we are facing unprecedented challenges right now – both as a college and as a global community – this is also a time of incredible resilience, adaptability and problem-solving," said President Anne Sado. “I want to commend you for the many ways you’re supporting our students and each other as we navigate this difficult time together.” 

Supports for employees during a busy summer  

For employees with children, balancing working from home and childcare this summer will continue after the City of Toronto announced summer camps won’t be running. There are mental health supports available to you. 

Employees, both full-time and non-full-time, and their family members needing support can access our Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) provider, Morneau Shepell, at 1-866-833-7690 or www.workhealthlife.com

COVID-19 FAQs for employees and faculty

We know you have many questions and we’re working to provide answers as fast as we can. We appreciate your patience. Please check our FAQs for employees and faculty below. If your question isn’t addressed, please reach out to your manager. 

I'm an employee who recently returned from travel. What should I do?

Employees who have recently returned from any international travel must alert their manager and contact their Safety and Wellness Consultant: 

 Safety and Wellness Consultants

HSW@georgebrown.ca 

Kaley Keefe (Casa Loma) x3607   

Catherine Bergeron (St. James) x3499   

Jacqueline Abel (Waterfront) x4799  

The Government of Canada is warning against any non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. In addition, anyone who has travelled outside Canada is now required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Please note that details related to travel are rapidly evolving. 

  • As a reminder, all college-related travel outside of Canada has been cancelled.
  • Given this advisory, we also strongly discourage employees from any personal travel outside of Canada. If you decide to travel outside Canada or if you are or have returned from recent travel outside Canada, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Please discuss work-related arrangements with your manager for the self-isolation period.
  • Please monitor the Government of Canada website for updates and changes.
  • Should symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing arise within 14 days of travelling, call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.

If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to speak with your manager. 

Can I get into college buildings?

During the closure we ask everyone to stay away from the college. Access to college buildings will be provided only to individuals who are authorized by their respective vice-president. Interim provisions for mail delivery/receiving and distribution are currently under review.

Are employees still able to receive a discounted rate for Con-Ed classes?

Yes. We're extending the employee discount for continuing education courses to all employees for the spring/summer term, including those who are not working during this term. Follow the steps below to register:

  1. Full-time and non-full-time employees (casual employees, temporary support employees, regular part-time support employees, etc.) can email cereg@georgebrown.ca with their employee ID and the CRN they would like to register for. Courses are listed at coned.georgebrown.ca.
  2. Registration will verify employee status with Human Resources database.  
  3. Registration is granted. 
  4. Payment is due on STU-VIEW for the exact discounted amount. 
Will the college still host GBConnects (our annual employee event) in August? 

We will be hosting a virtual GBConnects on Monday, August 31. More details to come.

What supports are available to me?

Employees needing support can access our Employee Assistance Plan provider, Shepell FGI, at 1-866-833-7690 or www.workhealthlife.com. Under these exceptional circumstances, we are making our EAP available to all employees.

Will some students be returning to campus this summer?

On June 10, the Ontario government announced that it is allowing colleges to offer limited in-class instruction this summer to students who were in their final semester when the college closed due to COVID-19 and were unable to complete hands-on clinical or lab work required to graduate.

We are planning and preparing to provide limited access to a very specific group of students this summer at the Centre for Health Sciences and Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies. 


2020 fall semester

What can I expect for the 2020 fall semester?

Programs for the 2020 fall semester will take place predominantly through alternative and remote delivery.

While the transition to alternative delivery is possible for most programs, there are some that require extensive access to campus facilities or clinical settings in order to deliver learning outcomes. Unfortunately, these programs simply cannot be delivered remotely and intakes will be suspended for the fall semester. 

This difficult decision was the result of extensive consultation with our academic leaders. 


2021 winter semester

*NEW* What will the 2021 winter semester look like?

We are working on a gradual and phased approach to in-person learning to ensure we maintain the health and safety of everyone on campus. 

While full-time programs for the 2020 fall semester will be delivered predominantly in an online format, we are hopeful that classes for the Winter 2021 term (starting January 11, 2021), will be delivered fully or partially in-person. However, decisions will be informed by guidelines set out by public health and government officials once available. As decisions are made, we will communicate directly with applicants and students, so that everyone can plan for a safe return to school.


Remote working and tech support

How long will I be working from home?

We’re planning for a gradual and phased return to campus, which will begin when the government and public health authorities indicate it’s safe to do so. 

In the interim, employees working from home should continue to do so. 

Where can I find information about working remotely?

Working remotely will be considered wherever possible. Please contact your manager for details and direction.

Please see the following guidelines to assist you when working remotely: georgebrown.ca/working-remotely.

How do I set up my remote computer access when working remotely?
  • Office 365 - georgebrown.ca/current-students/websites-apps-technical-support/office-365/ - Find clear information concerning all Microsoft Office 365 applications used at the college.
  • Online support help for common tools – Collaboration continues even when we work remotely, and the college uses Microsoft tools to connect for calls, conferencing, sharing files and chatting. Microsoft Teams is a one-stop solution and is enabled for all employees. Easy online training for all Microsoft tools can be accessed at: https://support.office.com/
  • One Drive – Files saved in One Drive can be accessed from any device and any location. We encourage you to move your files to One Drive for this easy and secure access.
  • Apps Anywhere – Common academic software is available through Apps Anywhere. Information on this tool is available at: georgebrown.ca/appsanywhere/. To access the login page, visit: https://appsanywhere.georgebrown.ca/login
  • VPN – a VPN allows a secure connection to the network from outside of the college. VPN is primarily used for connecting to Banner. Most of our other applications (e.g. Office 365, Stu-View, etc) can be accessed directly through the cloud or Apps Anywhere. For detailed VPN instruction, go to: georgebrown.ca/connecting-remotely/
What if I'm having a computer challenge while working remotely?

Please contact George Brown’s IT Help Desk: helpdesk@georgebrown.ca. Please also note that teams from ITS, ITAC, and eLTI are available for your technology needs.

How can I prevent personal injury while working remotely?

Now that many employees have settled into regular routines while working remotely, it’s important keep health and safety in mind.  To ensure that all employees are protected from personal injury while working remotely, managers and employees should communicate frequently and discuss health and safety best practices and potential hazards.

Wondering where to start? Follow these recommendations from the Health, Safety and Wellness team:

  • Similar to when the college was open and activities were taking place on-site, employees should conduct an assessment of their work environment and report any work-related hazards to their manager.
  • Consider ergonomic challenges or hazards and develop solutions to reduce the risk of injury (healthy use of laptops at home and healthy use of laptops everywhere).
  • Managers and employees should discuss protocols for evacuating from the home or temporary workplace to a safe location if needed, and how to contact the employer in case of an emergency.
  • Review safe workplace practices, keeping in mind that some procedures, equipment or supplies may have to be avoided, substituted or modified for a safer alternative.
  • Employees are encouraged to review the process for reporting work-related incidents or injuries, and managers should investigate any incidents so that prevention measures can be identified and put in place.

Please note that employees still have WSIB coverage during this period of working remotely. If you sustain an injury while working remotely, contact your direct manager/department chair to initiate the incident reporting process. Any questions about the incident reporting process can be directed to the Health, Safety and Wellness team:

Kaley Keefe (Casa Loma) – Kaley.Keefe@georgebrown.ca 

Catherine Bergeron (St. James) – Catherine.Bergeron@georgebrown.ca 

Jacqueline Abel (Waterfront) –  Jacqueline.Abel@georgebrown.ca 

If an employee is injured while working from home and then seeks medical attention beyond first aid or requires modified duties, they may be eligible for a WSIB claim. WSIB will review cases on an individual basis, based on incident details and medical information. 

Any questions regarding the WSIB process can be directed to Roanna Moses, Manager of Disability and Accommodation at Roanna.Moses@georgebrown.ca.

 

HR questions and concerns

What about vacation time I want to book this fall or winter?

There are currently no changes to how employees book vacation time for the fall, winter or beyond. You can speak to your manager about vacation planning. 

I'm worried about layoffs or reduced hours. Who should I speak to?

If you have concerns about changes affecting the college due to COVID-19 you should speak with your manager to understand how changes may affect the work on your team. 

Academic and Support staff can also connect with their union representatives.


Faculty

Addressing students' online privacy concerns

HOW DO I HELP STUDENTS SET BOUNDARIES FOR ONLINE COMMUNICATION WITH CLASSMATES FOR GROUP ASSIGNMENTS?

Professors can facilitate a healthy and productive environment for group work by establishing ground rules and expectations for collaborative online engagement among students. Suggestions include:

  • Providing guidance around a chosen online platform for group interactions, rather than having multiple social media channels for communication.
  • Setting clear timeline expectations so that students know when to contact one another and when to expect a response.
  • Coaching students on online etiquette and group work boundary setting.
  • Ensuring students know how to control security settings in online chatsby following the steps laid out here: help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Session_Security.
I HAVE STUDENTS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT BEING TRACKED BY GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE ON THEIR PERSONAL COMPUTERS. WHAT DO I DO?

George Brown College takes privacy and security seriously. We have systems in place that allow us to use student data and information for the sole purpose of supporting teaching and learning.

I HAVE STUDENTS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT VIDEO CLASS CHATS BEING RECORDED BY OTHER STUDENTS. WHAT DO I DO?

If a student has received an academic accommodation to record a class, they must alert their instructor and receive an acknowledgement to proceed with the recording. Faculty are responsible for letting all students know that a class is being recorded for the benefit of another learner, without identifying that learner. Faculty should not announce the name of a student who is recording for academic accommodation purposes.

All students are required to seek permission to record classes, including video chats and conferences. This policy is covered by George Brown College’s Student Code of Behaviour and Community Standards.

I HAVE STUDENTS WHO ARE UNCOMFORTABLE APPEARING ON VIDEO FOR CLASS CHATS AND CONFERENCES. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Faculty are encouraged to consider the various personal circumstances that may impede a student’s ability to engage fully in an online classroom environment. Some students may be facing poor Internet connectivity, a lack of privacy in their home, anxiety or other mental health challenges, or many other factors. As a diverse and inclusive culture, we show mutual respect in all of our behaviour to create a sense of belonging. During these difficult times, we ask that you demonstrate heightened empathy and flexibility and understand that a student may need to step away from an online meeting or may not feel “camera-ready” for a video call.

Faculty can reach out to Counselling or Accessible Learning Services for resources and guidance in helping a student who needs support to participate in the online learning environment.


Remote learning and tech support 

How can I redesign my courses for off-campus alternate delivery?

Please see the resources and tips available at Teaching During a Disruption.

Who can I contact if I need curriculum or technical support?

E-learning specialists, instructional designers, librarians, accessible learning consultants, and technology specialists are among the many people available to support you. Details can be found at georgebrown.ca/academic-continuity/contact-faqs/.

How do I ensure all students are supported through this change in academic delivery?

Suggestions for inclusive design and delivery can be found at georgebrown.ca/academic-continuity/teaching-during-disruption/. For tailored support, please consult one of the professionals listed at georgebrown.ca/academic-continuity/contact-faqs/.

Where can I get Blackboard support?

A dedicated 24/7 phone line has been set up to provide you with Blackboard support.

How can I get support in moving my courses online?

Find key contacts, information and supports for moving classes online at georgebrown.ca/academic-continuity/contact-faqs/.

Are there tips for using Blackboard Collaborate? 
  • Minimize the use of video (web cams) as much as possible
  • Try to limit people talking to one person at a time. Using chat is preferred as you can queue up the questions 
  • When using PowerPoint or an alternative document upload the document before the session and share directly within the application
  • When screen sharing beyond a document, share the application only versus the full screen
  • Consult eLTI or TLx for guidance on the best method to record and post your lecture
  • Use the native app or most stable browser for your collaboration tool. Collaborate recommends Chrome or Firefox 
  • When using break out groups during a session, students can get lost switching and can get locked out. Send the guest link and warn them if they get locked out to can get back in via the guest link
  • Recorded sessions or videos need to be captioned. Please contact Anne Villahermosa at avillahe@georgebrown.ca for captioning services. Please note there is a fee.

Please note: Cloud conference solutions are temporarily suspending non-essential features to protect consistent reliable service, e.g. collaborate dial-in ability has been disabled, timer, non-essential notifications, etc. 

Visit help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Support/Network_Connection for more information. 

For any technical issues contact our 24/7 Blackboard support service. Find details at georgebrown.ca/academic-continuity/ 

How can I best support students who are struggling with anxiety and other issues due to COVID-19?

Remind students that increased anxiety is normal in uncertain times. Increase flexibility around course expectations and communicate general messages of support, such as “We’re all in this together” or “Let’s take some time to get used to this new learning environment.”

Encourage students to:

  • Monitor their news consumption, so that they’re using reliable sources to stay informed but not consuming so much that they become overwhelmed.
  • Use technology to stay connected to supportive friends and family members.
  • Get outside every day, as fresh air and exercise can help with anxiety.

Learn a few deep breathing strategies like triangle breathing or box breathing and teach them to your students. Some faculty are now routinely using these techniques to start each session.

Provide information on how to reach Counselling & Student Wellbeing if needed:

Domestic and sexual violence

With the added need for precautions and physical distancing necessitated by COVID-19, many people living with violence at home are left without a place to go. Our COVID-19 Sexual and Domestic Violence information page outlines what you can do.