Happy New Year and welcome to the Winter 2021 Term. I hope everyone had an opportunity to rest and recharge over the holiday break.
Following yesterday’s announcement by the Ontario Government and our initial assessment of its implications, most of our academic and research operations will continue to take place virtually with few exceptions for essential in-person activities. These enhanced public health and workplace safety measures are in effect for all of Ontario and are anticipated to be in place until at least Thursday, February 11.
A reminder that the building remains locked 24/7 and is accessible by activated FOB only. If you are not sure if your FOB is active, please contact Tina Harvey-Kane at least 24 hours before coming to the building.
For those with approved, essential on-site activities, you will need to scan the posted QR code upon entering the building to complete an online contact tracing form. A paper form is also available at the sign-in table. Students must also continue to complete a self health assessment either through UCheck or by completing the paper form. Both forms must be completed each day you are on-site.
Please visit our Reopening: Plans and Procedures webpage for the latest building access and safety protocol, policies and procedures.
Academic and Research Activities
All experiential training — including EPE and APPE rotations — are continuing as scheduled; however, most lab-based course instruction will be deferred or paused. In thePharmD program, most in-person activities will be deferred or paused. Students who had scheduled in-person activities will receive communication directly from their course co-ordinator with further details.
For our research community, our current research protocol adheres to the new public health regulations and at this time we do not anticipate any changes to in-person research policies. As additional information is provided, it will be assessed and the Research Office will communicate any changes to the guidelines.
As we enter this term, the COVID-19 vaccine is top of mind for many of us.
Today, the Ontario Government declared new regulations that pharmacists, pharmacist interns, registered pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians can administer the COVID-19 vaccine. This exciting news is very welcome to ensure pharmacists can play an active role in Ontario’s vaccination campaign.
I believe our pharmacy community is ready to step up to this challenge and I will continue to share information about pharmacists’ role in the vaccine rollout as it becomes available. We are also preparing new education tools to ensure students in all our programs are ready to play a role in the COVID-19 vaccination response.
It is critical for our students to be knowledgeable about the vaccine and able to clearly communicate with other health professionals, patients, family and friends. To support vaccine knowledge translation, we are creating new COVID-19 curriculum and learning opportunities for students. For example, some courses have updated materials to reflect the current landscape, including practical injection training and customized lectures on mRNA technology.
Another critical issue is when members of our community will receive the vaccine, particularly those entering institutional health-care settings. Pharmacists, pharmacy students and interns are considered essential health-care providers and will have priority access to the vaccine. I am pleased that faculty and students working in high-risk health-care environments have begun to receive the vaccine.
The University of Toronto has been working closely with TAHSN partners to ensure that students providing on-site care are considered as eligible within the priority guidelines for vaccine roll out. I expect opportunities for all faculty, staff and students to receive the vaccine will increase as Canada receives larger quantities of vaccine and approves additional vaccines.
We are also working with stakeholders on rescheduling the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada’s Objective Structured Clinical Examination. A number of meetings took place in the last few weeks and I will provide an update on our progress in the coming days.
We have also launched a student mental health campaign. Wellness Wednesday — led by Jamie Kellar, Associate Dean, Academic — will include regular health, wellness and resiliency-building communications to help create a culture of wellness among our entire student community.
Strategic planning and the integration of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles into the fabric of our Faculty is another top priority for our leadership team this term. We will be announcing plans to assemble an EDI working group shortly, ensuring all those who wish to be involved have the opportunity. We will also be reflecting on virtual learning and curriculum renewal.
With the support of our fantastic student community, I believe that we are ready to tackle the Winter Term.
Professor and Dean
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto