Winter 2020 Semester Amid COVID-19

Dear APUO members, 
 
On March 13, President Jacques Frémont announced that “as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, all in-person classes and labs in the current (winter 2020) term will be moved to distance and online learning formats for the rest of the semester.” In light of this decision and the many problems it poses for members of the university community, particularly students and professors, we are informing APUO members that:
 

  1. On March 17, the APUO submitted four letters of understanding to the Employer by which, if signed by both parties, the rights and responsibilities of APUO members in the performance of their duties would be recognized and assured, notwithstanding exceptional circumstances. One of the more urgent letters states that it is up to APUO members to determine how best to complete their courses and to evaluate their students, including but not limited to deciding whether or not to: (i) deliver all or part of the final portions of their courses via the internet; and, (ii) change the structure of evaluations – including final exams and assigning a Pass/Fail grade for the course. On March 19, we are still negotiating with the Employer about the terms of this proposed letter of understanding.

 

  1. Please also be advised that academic freedom and good professional judgement remain our best guides when it comes to determining the terms and conditions for the completion of courses that up to recently were taught in-person, while respecting students’ rights and upholding the professional standards of our various disciplines. It is equally important to note that APUO members are not required to adopt or adhere to a specific or narrow definition of what “distance education” means, nor are they required to report to their respective deans for the decisions they make in this regard.

 

  1. We invite our members to consult the Collective Agreement, in particular, Articles 9 (Academic Freedom) and 22.2.3.1 (Provisions applying specifically to certain types of teaching). 

 
This means: (i) you are not required to create online courses if you think that this is not appropriate for your teaching; and (ii) you have full flexibility in the choice of teaching methods, in the adoption or in the amendment of ways to appropriately evaluate students, and in the format in which the teaching is delivered.
 
In summary, we encourage you to exercise, in the decisions you make about the completion of courses in the winter session – and possibly in the preparation of courses in the spring and summer semesters if the exceptional circumstances we are experiencing continue – your full rights, guaranteed by the collective agreement.
 
In the difficult exceptional circumstances that we are currently experiencing, we wish to reiterate that we fully trust our members’ professional judgment and want to assure you of our unconditional support. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
 
The APUO Executive