February 4, 2022: Safe resumption of in-person activities

Dear all,

Following the Dean’s memo on Wednesday January 19, I am writing to provide you with the latest information that we have received from the University and additional details related to the operation of our department starting Monday February 7. Please note that as we return to more in-person activities in the coming week, we will be providing you with further updates through CHEM ENG NEWS. In the meantime, if you have any questions or require additional information regarding this memorandum, please contact my office at chair.chemeng@utoronto.ca.

Undergraduate classes

As per the Provost’s memo, we will be welcoming our students to campus for in-person learning on February 7 – this includes lectures, tutorials, and laboratories. Winter instructors are asked to please review the Vice Dean Undergraduate’s email sent to you on Tuesday February 1 (see below) and discuss with their TAs. Furthermore, we have arranged for a box of ASTM 2 medical masks to be available to Winter instructors and TAs for lectures, tutorials, and labs. To arrange for pick up, please contact phil.milczarek@utoronto.ca. Please note that special masks may be required for certain lab activities using flammable and pyrophoric substances.

Research labs

There are no changes to research operations at this time. Per the memo from the Office of the Associate Vice President Research Oversight and Compliance, laboratory activities do however remain subject to 2m distancing requirement. The current plan is for other “instructional spaces”, such as graduate student research offices, to open on Monday February 28, subject to Provincial Government and Public Health directives. A memo will subsequently be issued to provide updates on the University’s plans. Restrictions on weekend access to labs continue. As before, only research groups and researchers with department approval for research activities are permitted to be on site on Saturdays and Sundays.

Building and spaces

The Wallberg building will be unlocked from 8 am-8 pm Monday to Friday and locked (fob access only) on evenings and weekends. Haultain building will be open from 8 am-10 pm Monday to Friday and locked (key access only) overnight and on weekends. Please take time to read all signage posted on doors, as protocols and occupancy limits for each room will vary. Physical distancing (2m) is still required in all washrooms, hallways, and stairwells, except for when passing others.

LSM classrooms (WB116, WB119, WB130, and WB219) are unlocked during the week days. Between classes, they can be used for study space by booking through the Sync Study App.

Meeting rooms can be booked for meetings during business hours (8 am-5 pm) Monday to Friday, provided 2m distancing is maintained, masks are worn at all times, and contact tracing information including personal cellphone numbers are provided in advance and updated after the meeting (no food and drinks permitted). These rooms will remain locked between bookings. Information regarding room access and capacity limits are provided at the end of this memo. Please contact nivetha.pandi@utoronto.ca to book rooms, TA stations, or desks located in WB258.

Support staff

Whenever possible, the department will have at least one staff member present in each of the administrative areas, each day during business hours. We are working on a process to share staff/office schedules more broadly with the community and will update you once this is available. Starting February 7, the following offices will be open Monday to Friday and will serve as the department’s main points of contact:

In cases of key, fob, or general access issues please contact Nivetha Pandi at the number or address above.

Similar to our arrangements in the Fall, the undergraduate and graduate offices will utilize WB215 for individual student meetings from the hours of 9:00 am-11:30 am and 1:30 pm-5:00 pm. Staff will be able to use this room during lunch hours 11:30 am-1:30 pm provided all relevant protocols are followed.

Safety reminders

The University has updated its mask guidance to recommend all personnel wear an ASTM level 2 or level 3 medical mask. Cloth masks are no longer considered to be sufficiently protective. Medical masks are regularly available for purchase on our campuses at the University of Toronto Bookstore (online or in-store) and the MedStore. Visit here for additional details.

Everyone attending campus must complete UCheck prior to their arrival. Proof of UCheck status may be requested by supervisors, instructors, TAs, UCheck Ambassadors, and others. In the event that screening produces a UCheck red screen, please follow procedures provided here. In addition, faculty and staff accessing their offices are required to complete the SharePoint calendar to document time on site. Similarly, graduate students and research staff must complete the SharePoint calendar before accessing research laboratories. This information is needed for contact tracing. See group schedules to enter information into SharePoint.

Room information and capacity limits

  • WB115 – Available for booking. Maximum capacity 4 at the table and lectern, 6 total
  • WB215 – Reserved for staff, not available for booking
  • WB216 – ChemE computer room, will remain closed
  • WB238 – The undergraduate common room will be unlocked as a study space from 9 am-5 pm on weekdays. 2m physical distancing will be required, masks must remain on (no food or drinks permitted) and all students must check in using the QR code on the door sign. Failure to abide by all common room rules may result in the room being locked
  • WB242 – Available for booking for classroom use (e.g., Plant Design scheduled tutorials) and remote teaching via TA workstations
  • WB243 – Available for booking. Maximum capacity 3 at the table and lectern, 4 total
  • WB247 – Opening hours and protocols for the graduate common room will be communicated by Friday February 11
  • WB255 – ECF computer lab will be open 24/7 with T-card access for students, staff and faculty
  • WB258 – Available for hoteling for graduate students who do not have assigned desks in other graduate student research offices
  • WB407 – Available for booking, however, due to high demand, ‘block booking’ for multiple meetings is not permitted at this time. Maximum capacity 7 at the table and lectern, 15 total

Thank you,

Ramin Farnood


Note from Vice Dean, Undergraduate on Tuesday February 1 at 8:16 am

Vaccine Policy: The University’ vaccine policy requires that one must be vaccinated to be on campus unless an approved exemption has been granted. As of now, booster shots are not required but encouraged.

UCheck: You will need to complete an assessment every day you come to campus. If you receive a red screen, please contact the Occupational Health Nurse (OHN) at  ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca and inform the Associate Chair Undergraduate’s office.

Students must also complete the UCheck assessment every day they come to campus. UCheck Ambassadors will be circulating on campus to remind student to complete their self assessment. You may ask to see the green screen of all students but can not single out an individual student in the class. Some instructors have found that showing their green screen to the class first works well. If a student can not or refuses to show a green screen, calmy remind the student that this is UofT policy, not yours, and being present on campus without successfully completing the self assessment may be considered a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. If they still refuse or can not show a green screen, ask them to leave for the safety of the rest of the class. If they will not leave, you should cancel the class and contact your undergraduate office.

Mask policy: The policy states that masks are required in all indoor spaces. For information about masks, including where medical masks may be obtained, please see the UTogether mask page

Instructors: You are required to wear your mask while teaching. Mask exemption requests for pedagogical reasons are reviewed by EHS on a case-by-case basis.

Student refusing to wear masks: The expectation (and experience from Fall) is that the vast majority of students will wear masks as required (covering nose, mouth and chin without gaps). However, you may encounter a student who refuses to properly wear a mask in class. Please do NOT let this slide – ask the student to wear a mask properly or leave. If the student refuses to comply, remind the student that this is U of T policy, not yours, and that refusing to properly wear a mask may be considered a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. If the student still refuses to comply, please cancel class, and inform your undergraduate office. For labs, please consider checking students for proper mask etiquette before they enter the lab. Some students may have a medical exception to wearing masks, although this is extremely rare. Please check/co-ordinate with your undergraduate office if this arises.

Student Accommodations: Students may miss assessments because they are sick or must self-isolate. Students can self-report illnesses (yes, this can be abused, but we cannot have potentially ill students leaving home just to get a doctor’s note). When students miss term tests or other assessments, they should complete an Absence Declaration on ACORN and file a Term-Work Petition. Students whose Term-Work Petition for missed activities is approved must be accommodated, as usual. Missed assessments are preferably accommodated with a deferred assessment, although adding the weight of the missed assessment to other components of the course grade is allowable. Deferred assessments should be of the same format as the missed assessment.

  • Considerations for absence from other class activities may be offered in a variety of ways, with or without an approved petition. These range from providing the student with notes (yours or from a student volunteer) to providing recordings of your lectures or access to last year’s recordings. Given the potential for a higher number of absences than normal, instructors are strongly encouraged to be proactive in preparing to be able to offer considerations widely. We would encourage you to share with your class your plans for offering students considerations.
  • Late Arrivals: Many students left Toronto for the holidays and stayed away when we were teaching in an online format during January. Some may have difficulty returning to Toronto. These cases are being identified by the Registrar’s office. The considerations you provide these students before they return is at your discretion; however, we encourage you to be flexible. No considerations are required for time-zone differences.

Contingency Planning: Please consider contingency plans for your courses in the event you, or your TAs, are absent temporarily during the term. For example: