Dear Colleagues,

I hope that this finds you all safe and well.

As the term winds down and we approach the long-anticipated(!) exam season, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for all of your hard work.  It has been a remarkable journey returning to the office, interacting with our community, and being in the classroom.  The Faculty of Forestry continues to innovate and demonstrate leadership in providing interdisciplinary, student-focused experiential-learning and our students are thrilled to be back to in-person instruction and the hands-on instruction that we are known for.  Thank you for all of your patience, dedication, compassion, skill, and empathy as we charted these murky waters together!

That said, we still find ourselves in the midst of some challenging times.  COVID-19 is still kicking around like an unwanted house guest, and we are now also in the throes of a rather nasty flu season.  I’m sure you’ve all read the UBC Broadcast that went out last week from Deborah Buszard and Lesley Cormack (see below).  In addition to following the protocols laid out in that memo, there are a few things that I would like to draw your attention to.

In the spirit of community care during the winter season, we would like to remind you of the layered approaches used in the Forest Sciences Centre to reduce the transmission of airborne illness.  We have state-of-the art MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, not the 1970s talk show host) filters in our building ventilation system, and have recently added portable HEPA filtration units to most of our classrooms.  We also continue to reiterate our strong support of masking – especially indoors – which is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses.  In addition, we remind you to stay home if you are not feeling well – please use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help guide your decisions.  Finally, we have a number of RATs (and a whole lot of masks!) available at your respective Department Offices should you need any.

As we approach final exams, we want to raise two points.  First, exams typically are held in close quarters and in rooms across campus.  We will shortly be communicating with our students strongly recommending that they wear masks during final exams to keep themselves and others in the Forestry community healthy (we will try to make masks available in our classrooms during the exam period).  Second, we anticipate that some students may not be able to write their final exams due to illness (COVID-19 and the flu).  We encourage course instructors to be proactive by thinking about alternative options for missed final exams and assignments.

For faculty who are new to teaching at UBC, note that there are a number of options for accommodating illness during exams, ranging from online simultaneous options to make-up exams.  If you have questions regarding the best way to handle student requests due to illness, we suggest reaching out to our Associate Dean, Academic (Sarah Gergel), Student Services, or your mentoring committee for advice.

That’s about it.  If you have any questions or concerns, please consult the UBC COVID-19 Campus Rules, and do not hesitate to get in touch with me or any of our Associate Deans.

Once again, thank you so much for all of your amazing work this past term.

All the best,