This Week in COVID-19 News at Concordia

What You Need to Know

  • Photo Emanuele Barbier

A lot has changed at Concordia this past week as the school’s administration, departments, and student associations try to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you may have missed.

Concordia announces measures including emergency fund

In an email sent to students on March 27 as part of the bulletin the university sends three times per week, Concordia President Graham Carr announced the creation of a $500,000 emergency fund for students facing economic hardships.

The email also stated, “The university will also launch a public appeal to the Concordia community and donors to augment the fund, as well as to increase support for other student services.” More details on the fund and how to apply to it were to be released in the “coming days” but as of writing have yet to be announced.

Concordia also announced it would push back the tuition-payment deadlines for the summer 2020, fall 2020, and winter 2021 terms.

Students will now have until Aug. 31, 2020, to pay their summer semesters, until Nov. 1, 2020, for fall, and March 1, 2021, for winter. Students who are currently on a payment plan or who are otherwise overdue for their tuition payments will now have until Oct. 1, 2020 to pay, with late fees and interest being cancelled for all dates past March 25, 2020.

Students yet to pay their balances will also be allowed to register for the summer 2020, fall 2020, and winter 2021 semesters, but must have paid their balances by the Oct. 1 deadline to remain registered for winter 2021.

Concordia will also waive any accomodation fees for the winter 2020 semester, including deferrals, medical leaves, and incomplete courses. As of writing, no other details have been given.

Furthermore, the university also announced the deadline to discontinue a class for undergraduate and graduate students has been extended to April 15. Any courses a student opts to discontinue after March 1, 2020, will be refunded 50 per cent later in the winter semester. Students will still be responsible for the full cost of any courses discontinued before March 1, 2020.

Arts and Sciences Federation of Associations announces emergency bursary

On March 24, ASFA announced a $250 bursary would be given to 20 students currently residing in Quebec. While faculty of arts and sciences students will be prioritized, any student who submits a letter of intent and information about their current situation is eligible for the bursary. More information and how to apply can be found here.

Pass/fail option announced, with little follow-up

In its March 25 bulletin, Concordia announced a pass/fail option would be introduced alongside the usual letter grade for students. The bulletin noted that pass/fail would not be applicable for classes that are “subject to criteria established by professional orders or licensing bodies.” While the university announced the option would be implemented as soon as possible and more details would be available within the week, as of writing little information directly from Concordia has been given regarding the implementation of pass/fail or how to ask for it. Students will be able to see their final grade before deciding on keeping the grade or going for pass/fail.

Meanwhile, Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of the John Molson School of Business, announced all of its classes for the winter 2020 semester will be eligible for the pass/fail option.

Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science students will also be able to select pass/fail for their undergraduate courses, and the option will be deemed satisfactory for prerequisites and the c-rule.

First COVID-19 cases in Concordia community announced

President Carr announced on April 1 that “some members of the Concordia community have tested positive for COVID-19.”

While the message did not specify whether those affected by the virus were students or members of faculty, in accordance with privacy laws, Carr did mention that anyone who might have been in contact with these people would be notified by public health authorities if any steps needed to be taken.

Petition against online proctoring

A petition was launched this week against using online proctored exams, in which software or an extension would record test-taking students through their microphones and webcams and record their screens. The petition argued students should not have to bear the burden of setting up possibly complicated software or purchase a webcam for the purpose of the exam. It also argues that students have a right to digital privacy not worth waiving for exams that could be done another way.

While not all classes currently plan to use these methods, Concordia told Global News about 15 per cent of exams will use the system, which was enough to convince the petition-maker and those who signed to speak up. As of writing, 6761 people have signed the petition on Change.org.

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