Community Update #26 - Supporting the York Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We recognize that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown restrictions and extended return dates for in-person learning have placed a significant toll on many parents, caregivers and members of the York community. Managing uncertainty and adapting to ongoing changes that affect daily responsibilities continue to be a shared experience and many of us are also experiencing different levels of grief and loss, in some cases closer to home than earlier on in the pandemic.

With this in mind, we would like to highlight the supports and resources available to faculty, staff and instructors who are managing childcare, impacts to mental health as well as other caregiving responsibilities during this challenging time.

Last year, a letter from the President offered ideas on how to support balance and maintain reasonable boundaries during working hours. We would like to remind everyone that it is important to stay as flexible as possible around scheduling and timelines for work requests to be completed. We also suggest leaving between 12-1pm unscheduled and free of meetings, to support our wellbeing, especially for colleagues who are caring for young children.

For those facing caregiving challenges, the University’s policy on Accommodating Family commits to ensuring that all York community members receive equal treatment without discrimination on the basis of family status, and allows for a degree of flexibility to be exercised to alleviate the disadvantages that a caregiver may face. The nature of any accommodation will depend on the particular circumstances of individuals and the requirements of their job. Faculty members or instructors should contact their Dean’s/Principal’s Office, and staff members should contact their Manager, to discuss options for accommodating caregiving responsibilities.

Additional supports for caregiving are available to all faculty, instructors and staff through York’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Please visit Work Health Life by Morneau Shepell for more information including resources for caregivers; all services are 100% confidential. Additionally, where you may be caring for dependents with health challenges, we encourage you to explore extended health benefits coverage. Please look at the benefits booklet that is appropriate for you or call Sun Life directly at: 1-800-361-6212.

The Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (REI) is available to discuss, in a confidential manner, questions or concerns you might have with respect to accommodations. More information including a guide to Accommodating Family as well as contact information can be found on the REI website.

We also remind all faculty (regardless of family status) of the University’s commitment that COVID-19 should not prejudice career progression. Pre-tenure faculty have the option to defer applying for tenure or promotion for up to one year. Requests should be made to the Dean or Principal and no reasonable request will be denied. Additionally, for those faculty eligible for the Research Release Programs in s.18.15 of the YUFA Collective Agreement or s.18.18 of OHFA Collective Agreement, applications made in Fall 2020 for the 2021-2022 academic year will be evaluated in the context of the impacts of COVID-19 on research.

In closing, we want to remind you that we are deeply grateful for your dedication and determination to support both our academic mission and students in the face of this tremendous global health challenge. Our collective efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue to be one of the most essential tools for protecting public health and as we continue to pull together, we know that brighter days are ahead.

Sincerely,

Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic

Sheila Cote-Meek
Vice President Equity, People & Culture