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Faculty and Staff FAQs

Where do I go if I have a question not covered in the FAQs?

If you have a question that is not covered here, visit the Faculty and Staff community page or email to covid19@sfu.ca and we'll work to get you an answer as soon as we can.

The transition back to campus

What does a full return for the Fall mean?

Summer and Fall terms will be periods of transition. 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.

Why can't I continue to work remotely in the fall?

Supervisors will make decisions on whether to allow work-from-home requests on a case-by-case basis. We know that people are interested in continuing to retain the best parts of the flexible work arrangements that evolved during the pandemic, we are too. We need time to get this right. Given the enormous variety of work across our campuses a one-size-fits all approach is not possible.

We are currently considering options for employees to work from home and have established a working group that is developing hybrid-work principles for the university we hope to roll out in early 2022. We will be connecting with leaders in the fall to provide more information.

Please note that 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 email to 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.

HOW DO I ACCESS BUILDING SPACES THAT ARE LOCKED?

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 this fall 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 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.

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 disabilties, 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 1-5 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).

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 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 (in development) as SFU will not be requiring medical notes for minor absences during this period. 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 defrerred grade (DE). In some cases, an extended injury/illness (eg. 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 us mentally. It is likely that people will experience anxiety and mental health concerns as SFU returns to campus. A phased return will help people get more comfortable being on campus. SFU has a number of mental health information and resources 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.

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 email to rtwdm@sfu.ca.

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

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 a rtwdm@sfu.ca or our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Homewood Health. We have been advised they have additional staff on board to help meet the need for extra support. Also, during the COVlD-19 crisis we have extended access to our EFAP to all temporary and contract employees. 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.

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:

COVID-19 REPORTING + ABSENCES

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.

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. We will revert to normal practice for the Fall Term. 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.

WILL STAFF 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.

A department can request additional cleaning of areas if there are concerns about a community member who has been on campus that may have been contagious, as per SFU COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol.

International travel

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

SFU is committed to the security, safety, and well-being of its employees and students engaged in University-related international travel and adopted an Interim University-Related International Travel Policy in September 2020 that states that the university will not require or regard any university-related travel to any Government of Canada’s destination-specific travel advisory Level 3 or Level 4 destination to be essential travel. 

Travelling outside of Canada

At this time all international travel destinations are either Level 3 or 4, and therefore until the Government of Canada reduces the risk of international destinations to pre-pandemic levels (TBD) SFU does not support student and staff international travel, and faculty members may choose to travel to international destinations only if they formally acknowledge the risks of such travel. There are a number of 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

According to the latest announcement (July 19) from the Government of Canada on September 7, 2021, provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable, the Government intends to open Canada’s borders to any fully vaccinated travellers who have completed the full course of vaccination with a Government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements. Starting August 9, 2021, Canada plans to begin allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel. Visit The Government of Canada – Travel, quarantine and borders website for more information.

SFU follows the university interim policy and the Government of Canada travel advisories for all inbound and outbound university-related international travel of our students, faculty and staff.