UMSU Statement on Covid-19 Precautions


The following is a transcript of a video statement by UMSU Vice President Advocacy, Sarah Bonner-Proulx, posted on UMSU’s social media platforms. 


Hello to all of UMSU’s 25,000-plus members,

I want to start by saying that I – as well as the rest of the UMSU executive team and staff – know that this past week has been very challenging for everyone, especially for students.

The arrival of Covid-19 here in Manitoba has triggered a chain of events that has affected each of our lives in ways that we are still trying to figure out.

But we do know one thing is certain: we’re all in this together.

Rest assured that ever since Manitoba’s first case of Covid-19 was announced last Thursday, all of UMSU has been actively working behind the scenes with the university, province and other stakeholders to improve the flow of information and pinpoint what the precautionary measures being taken will mean for our members.

I myself have met with the university’s academic planning committee, senate executive and senior administration to figure out how we can protect students’ health and safety while also limiting the disruption the outbreak has on the rest of the winter term, and beyond.

As of today there will no longer be any in-person classes held on U of M campuses for the remainder of the winter term, as well as no in-person final examinations to be held for any courses in inter 2020 term. We urge you to stay in contact with your instructors to see how your courses and evaluation will be shifting to alternate delivery methods as things progress.

Further, registration for Summer Term courses will be suspended indefinitely with no in-person instruction or assessment for any courses to take place until at least September 1, 2020. All summer courses – courses that were scheduled to take place between early May and the end of August – will now begin no earlier than June 1, 2020 and take place online and/or via distance education.

We also want you to know that academic advisors, student supports and other services offered through the university are all still available, even though you may have to access them in different ways. And effective immediately students will not be required to provide medical notes in support of absences from class activities/requirements and from evaluations including final examinations.

Finally, the university has also decided to change the Voluntary Withdrawal date to April 13, 2020 and changes to the Limited-Access ‘Policy’ Section 2.5. (a) of the ‘Repeated Course’ policy be suspended indefinitely – stipulating that any student who has voluntarily withdrawn from, or received a final grade in a course is prevented from repeating the course for the immediately subsequent three consecutive terms.

Please regularly check the university’s website for the latest updates. We’ll also be sharing updates on UMSU’s website and social media platforms as they become available.

As for UMSU, we have taken our own precautions to put social distancing measures in place, including closing all UMSU business and service areas until further notice. We are constantly assessing the situation and will provide updates regularly.

This morning the federal government announced $82 billion in economic measures to help support those in need during the fight against Covid-19. Part of this includes a six-month pause on federal student loan payments. UMSU will be releasing a detailed breakdown of the plan in the coming days to help inform students of the financial supports available to them.

In the meantime, we urge you to follow the advice of public health authorities to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, cover your cough with your sleeve, keep two metres away from the nearest person, and avoid gathering in large groups.

If you start feeling the onset of cold or flu-like symptoms, Manitoba Health recommends you self-isolate for 14 days. Even if you don’t think the symptoms are serious, steps like this are crucial to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, those with pre-existing conditions, seniors, those who are pregnant and those are immuno-compromised.

If you have any questions or concerns, please know you’re always welcome to email us or write us on social media– our executives and staff are here to help you find answers.

This is a time of uncertainty for us all and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this together. In the meantime, we can all do our part by staying informed, listening to the guidance of health experts and supporting each other.

Thank you.

Sarah Bonner-Proulx, UMSU Vice-President Advocacy