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Faculty and Staff FAQs

Last updated: February 24, 2022

Return to on-campus work

The transition back to campuses will be managed at the unit level. There is so much variation across our campuses, disciplines, and roles, that our ways of returning will be different. Many people have already been on campus throughout the pandemic and others, especially those in student-facing roles, will need to be back full-time by late summer.

Does the university allow for hybrid work?

SFU’s Hybrid Work Arrangements (HWA) program is designed for leaders and staff across SFU and is intended to bring structure and certainty to the university’s approach to hybrid work.

HWA involves employees who spend part of their time on campus (typically 50 per cent or more) and part of their time working remotely.

Given the variety of work across our campuses, a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible. Some roles may have the option of hybrid work while others may not. Learn more about the requirements and limitations for staff in the HWA framework.

As more departments consider the potential for hybrid work in their units, SFU’s principle-based approach supports the university’s priorities, enables operational excellence and brings flexibility to the way we support our community.

The program will continue to be monitored over the coming months and adjustments may be made as needed. Read more about SFU’s HWA guiding principles here.

The Human Resources website has been updated to include dedicated pages for employees with tools, checklists, samples and training materials to support implementation and team success.

Requests for accommodation related to physical or mental disability should be made through SFU HR Wellness and recovery by emailing rtwdm@sfu.ca. More information is available on the Workplace Accommodation Procedures page of the HR website.

WHAT IS BEING DONE TO OPTIMIZE BUILDING VENTILATION ON CAMPUSES?

SFU has developed a plan based on guidance from the B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, WorkSafeBC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Specific measures include:

  1. Regularly reviewing ventilation measures, as recommended by public health and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry guidelines.
  2. Regularly maintaining HVAC systems in all buildings.
  3. Replacing centralized HVAC system filters with enhanced MERV-13 filters or the highest filter compatible with existing infrastructure.
  4. Performing air flushing in buildings two hours prior to occupancy each day.
  5. Maximizing outdoor air (and reducing recirculated air) whenever possible.
  6. Actively reviewing all HVAC systems to ensure they continue to operate as designed, and achieve the ventilation and outdoor airflow rates specified by applicable codes and standards.

SFU follows the standards for ventilation set by ASHRAE - the society that governs heating and ventilation equipment - and the guidelines they have developed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is the guiding standard utilized by WorkSafeBC for workplace indoor air quality.

To learn more frequently asked questions around ventilation during the COVID-19 pandemic and a list of areas that have been checked for air quality in preparation for return to campus, visit Air Quality and COVID-19.

Campus Public Safety is starting to open buildings across the Burnaby Campus. Contact patrolop@sfu.ca, if there are rooms or washrooms you need unlocked.

WILL FACULTY BE GIVEN MORE RESOURCES TO HELP WITH AUDIO/VIDEO LECTURE RECORDING, AND FOR CREATING MULTIPLE OPTIONS FOR ASSIGNMENTS?

One of the ways SFU will protect our community is by encouraging students not to come to class if they are feeling sick. As part of that, instructors will be asked to think about ways to make it easier for students if they can’t be there in person.

The suggestions are aimed at what instructors can do in advance when planning courses that will not create the need to make up duplicate assignments or have elaborate systems for students to make up the work. (Example: Prepare five short quizzes and only count the grades for the best four). Recording lectures creates flexibility for students who haven’t been on campus or who are unwell. Contact the Centre for Educational Excellence if you need support.

HOW DO I REQUEST A WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATION?

Workplace Accommodations are adjustments legally required to be made in the workplace by employers for employees to address discrimination that arises from personal characteristics protected under the BC Human Rights Code. These protected personal characteristics are: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or conviction/summary conviction of an offence unrelated to the employment or intended employment.  

The university is under no legal duty to create special workplace arrangements based on an employee’s personal preferences that are independent of human rights protections. Responses to these requests are the discretion of supervisors.

Requests for accommodation related to physical or mental disability should be made through SFU HR Wellness and recovery by emailing rtwdm@sfu.ca.

More information is also available on the Workplace Accommodation Procedures page of the HR website.

STUDENTS ARE ASKING ME FOR ACCOMMODATIONS OR CONCESSIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

As a reminder, accommodation refers only to SFU's legal duty to accommodate under the Accessibility for Students with Disabilities Policy (GP26) and the Human Rights Policy (GP18). Examples requiring accommodation include learning disabilities, chronic health disabilities, and conflicts with religious holidays. Faculty or staff who are approached by students about accommodations should refer them to the Centre for Accessible Learning for assistance.

Academic concessions may be granted when unexpected situations or circumstances prevent students from participating in course-related activities, such as a minor illness of one-to-five days. Such circumstances could result in students missing a class or being unable to complete graded work or exams. Academic concessions are normally given at the discretion of individual instructors, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not to grant one (although some departments and faculties have specified procedures). More information about academic concessions is available on the Student Services website.

IS THERE A PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING FOR OR GRANTING AN ACADEMIC CONCESSION?

Faculty members should let students know how and when they want to be contacted in the case of an unexpected event interfering with a student’s ability to participate in course-related activities. For the 2021-2022 academic year, if you normally require documentation supporting a concession, you should use a new self-declaration form. Although SFU will not be requiring medical notes for minor absences during this period, note that instructors always have the right to seek additional medical documentation. Should students need to be absent for a longer period, they would normally need to obtain additional documentation, including medical documentation. For example, if a student were to need to apply for a Withdrawal Under Extenuating Circumstances (WE) or an extended deferred grade (DE). In some cases, an extended injury/illness (e.g. concussion, or fractured writing arm) may qualify a student for a formal accommodation through the Centre for Accessible Learning’s temporary injury process.

HOW WILL SFU SUPPORT THE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS OF FACULTY AND STAFF?

The pandemic has not only affected our physical health, it has affected our mental health. SFU has a number of mental health resources, tools and information for employees, including crisis intervention, counselling, coaching, online resources, training, apps and more. Visit the Human Resources website for more information.

HOW WILL SFU DEAL WITH RACISM WITH REGARDS TO COVID-19?

SFU needs to create safe and inclusive environments for everyone. The university will roll out key strategies to make it clear that any form of racism will not be tolerated and to ensure people understand what it means to be part of a respectful workplace. Staff and faculty are encouraged to take SFU’s training on bullying and harassment.

I’M FEELING A BIT STRESSED AT THE MOMENT WITH ALL THE ISSUES AROUND COVID-19 AND WONDERING WHERE I CAN GET SUPPORT?

We understand that this situation may be very stressful for you and your family. If you would like extra support, please feel free to connect with our Wellness & Recovery team via email at rtwdm@sfu.ca or our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Homewood Health. To access, you will need to have your employee id number when calling in.

We also have a number of online resources available on the COVID-19 and Your Wellbeing page of the HR website.

Professional development funds can be used for equipment that will enhance an employee's online learning experience. Employees are encouraged to explore the many virtual learning opportunities available at this time. Current professional development policies and collective agreement language remain in effect. However, temporary changes have been made to the Human Resources guidelines regarding reimbursement of professional development funds for APSA/ APEX employees.

For the period of March 2020 -December 31, 2021, the purchase of peripheral equipment to support at home learning will be permitted including: microphones, headsets, noise cancelling headphones, webcams (for video for online sessions), keyboards/mice, and additional monitors up to 27". In addition, the three- year restriction on purchase of a computer/laptop/iPad/tablet has been temporarily removed, allowing for purchase of items in this category within three years. Completed forms and receipts can now also be submitted by email.

More information is available on the:

HOW WILL APSA OR APEX PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS SUPPORT REMOTE LEARNING?

Professional development funds can be used for equipment that will enhance an employee's online learning experience. Employees are encouraged to explore the many virtual learning opportunities available at this time. Current professional development policies and collective agreement language remain in effect. However, temporary changes have been made to the Human Resources guidelines regarding reimbursement of professional development funds for APSA/ APEX employees.

For the period of March 2020 -December 31, 2021, the purchase of peripheral equipment to support at home learning will be permitted including: microphones, headsets, noise cancelling headphones, webcams (for video for online sessions), keyboards/mice, and additional monitors up to 27". In addition, the three- year restriction on purchase of a computer/laptop/iPad/tablet has been temporarily removed, allowing for purchase of items in this category within three years. Completed forms and receipts can now also be submitted by email.

More information is available on the:

Where can I direct students who are looking for supports?

We are deeply concerned about the impact of the ongoing pandemic on students’ mental health and are encouraging students to take advantage of supports if they need help. Below you will find supports and resources available to help students with challenges including  mental health and well-being, personal safety, self-isolation and academic concession: https://www.sfu.ca/students/support-services/support-resources.html

International students are being supported one-on-one as they navigate travel and other considerations. Our CARES program supports students who need to isolate, more information is available here: https://www.sfu.ca/students/support/self-isolation/cares-program.html

If one of my students or staff reports testing positive for COVID-19, what are the next steps?

At this time, post-secondary institutions are not responsible for contact tracing, and should not provide notifications to faculty, staff or students about potential or confirmed communicable disease cases (including COVID-19) unless requested to do so by the local Medical Health Officer.

Individuals are responsible for notifying their close contacts. Using the criteria provided by the BC CDC, close contacts include people you live with and people you had intimate contact with. Based on the above criteria, the majority of in-person classroom and learning settings are not considered close-contact environments. Learn more about how COVID-19 cases on campus are managed.

In the interim, encourage the individual to refer to the BC CDC’s “If You Have COVID-19” guidance, continue daily health checks and follow all of the prevention measures in SFU’s communicable disease plan.

COVID-19 REPORTING + ABSENCES

WILL Employees BE ALERTED OF A CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASE ON CAMPUS?

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to follow the directions of Public Health, who will contact any individuals at risk and provide advice. Public Health will contact SFU if they need our assistance.

Contact tracing is carried out by public health authorities. Supervisors must not disclose health information of employees and must follow the direction of public health.

IF I NEED TO SELF-ISOLATE, WHO SHOULD I INFORM AT SFU?

Contact your supervisor or dean. Working from home may be an option but can be challenging in some instances depending on the nature of work. Options should be discussed with your supervisor. If you have been instructed to self-isolate by public health, please complete the Absence Reporting Form and submit it to the Wellness & Recovery office.

I HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19, WILL I CONTINUE TO BE PAID IF I AM OFF SICK?

It is critically important if you are sick that you do not come to work – for any reason. This will help ensure that you are taking the time to recover, but also to help ensure that the rest of the community is not put at risk.

Regular sick leave entitlements apply. For employees who do not have sick leave entitlements, see the paid sick leave FAQs.

WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO SELF- ISOLATE DUE TO POSSIBLE COVID -19 EXPOSURE, BUT FEEL WELL ENOUGH TO WORK?

Do not come to campus if you have been directed to self-isolate. Your supervisor will consider if working from home is feasible. This will apply to all employees. If working from home is not an option, you must continue to remain at home until the self-isolation requirement is lifted. If you have been instructed to self-isolate, please complete the Absence Reporting Form and submit it to the Wellness & Recovery office.

DO I NEED A MEDICAL NOTE IF I HAVE COVID-19 OR ANOTHER FLU - LIKE ILLNESS?

Although medical notes are part of the normal procedures for sick time, you will not likely be required to provide a medical note for respiratory illness at this time in order to prevent overburdening the medical system. In some cases, medical documentation may be required where deemed appropriate. If your illness is not related to a respiratory illness, and may be of a prolonged nature, medical documentation may be required.

WHAT IF I NEED TO BE ABSENT FROM WORK TO CARE FOR A FAMILY MEMBER WHO HAS A CONFIRMED CASE OF COVID-19?

Contact your supervisor first then inform the Wellness & Recovery office by completing the Absence Reporting Form. As all active COVID-19 cases in BC are presently managed by public health officials, employees are expected to comply with their instructions for self-isolation.

WHAT IF I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS SICK IN MY WORK AREA?

Speak with your supervisor who can contact HR for support as needed. All faculty and staff can take measures to help reduce risk of respiratory illnesses, such as handwashing and regular cleaning of shared surfaces. Employees who are ill with flu-like symptoms should notify their supervisor, stay home and seek medical advice accordingly.

International travel

Can I conduct university-related international travel during the pandemic?

Effective February 28, 2022, the Government of Canada has updated its travel advice and has lifted its travel advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada.

To remain consistent with good practices in community safety, and like other Canadian universities, SFU will continue to rely on its interim university-related international travel policy to better support students, faculty, and staff who travel on behalf of the University. As per the interim policy, SFU will not require or regard any university-related travel to any Level 3 or Level 4 destination to be essential travel and will not approve university-related travel for students or staff members for Level 3 or Level 4 destinations.  

Travelling outside of Canada

There are several mandatory safety requirements that all SFU students, faculty and staff must adhere to under the interim policy when undertaking international travel. Please visit our Travel Safety page to find details of those requirements.

Arriving into Canada

Visit The Government of Canada – Travel, quarantine and borders website for the latest information on traveling to or through Canada during Covid-19.