November 10, 2020
Dear members of the Niagara University community,
We continued to monitor the return of CCOVID-19 tests and have found that, while the increase has not been as significant as it was at the end of last week, we continue to have positive cases. We are also closely monitoring the COVID-19 news in Erie County and the WNY region.
As we track the news in the region and the uptick of cases on campus, we have made the decision to proactively shift to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, beginning on Thursday, Nov. 12. This has been a demanding semester for our students, and we know that moving to remote instruction for the last few days of our face-to-face classes will also allow them to get home for Thanksgiving.
I personally want to thank the Forward Niagara Task Force, faculty, administrators, staff, and students for their commitment to the implementation of the plan and the health and safety of the campus community. The great work done throughout the campus is a prime example of our dedication to excellence every day. We had confidence in our plans, which included a shift in the academic calendar, a comprehensive program of surveillance testing, physical distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, and many other safety measures. While we believe that our innovative planning positioned us for success, we are not immune to what is happening throughout the U.S, Erie County, and the Greater Toronto Area, and it is critical to be proactive and adapt to these factors, which continue to impact our campus.
Our provost, Dr. Tim Ireland, has been in communication with the academic deans and the shift to remote instruction should be seamless for our faculty and students in both Lewiston and Vaughan. Please note that there will be exceptions for academic learning experiences such as nursing clinical placements, practicums, internships, and research. The library will remain open as a resource to Niagara University students, and we will make every accommodation to assist students, including international students and student-athletes, to persist through the semester.
Chris Sheffield, associate vice president for student affairs, has been in communication with our students regarding this shift in instruction. Residence halls will remain open. Students may begin to leave over the next two weeks, and food service will continue for those who are on campus. In addition, we have added COVID testing days, and we will strongly encourage students to be tested before they leave campus. Based on the result, we will assist students with accommodations, if needed.
It is extremely important to note that university offices will also remain open. For those with special accommodations, please contact your supervisor or the Office of Human Resources.
As we move closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded of the blessings in our lives—of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families. Together, they frame our mission and commitment to excellence, and remind us why the engagement in education and in higher education is so important to each of us.
With every good wish,
James J. Maher, C.M.
Niagara University Spring Calendar Update
The "Forward Niagara" task force has continued to meet throughout the semester and is currently finalizing adjustments to the plan for the spring semester. The university continues to be nimble in adapting plans to follow the evolving guidance from federal, state/province, and local health officials, and using lessons learned to improve the spring restart strategies.
The academic calendar is the cornerstone of the university operations, and it has been amended for the spring semester. The academic calendars for both Lewiston and Vaughan are on this link to the Niagara University website. A few highlights are as follows:
- The spring semester will begin on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, for undergraduate students on the Lewiston campus and will continue until Friday, May 7, with a reading day scheduled on Monday, May 10. Final exams will be held in person from May 11-18.
- The traditional spring break has been eliminated and the Easter break has been significantly shortened, as well. BPS students in Vaughan will follow the Ontario P-12 school district calendar for spring break.
- · There will be four “Self-Care” days without classes during the semester, including Good Friday, which will allow students and faculty a moment to pause and relax during the semester.
- · Students enrolled in our graduate programs in both Lewiston and Vaughan will follow the posted calendar, with Saturday offerings that run in five-week cycles starting on Jan. 23, 2021.
- · Commencement for Lewiston graduate students will be on Thursday, May 20, and commencement for Lewiston undergraduate students will be on Saturday, May 22. Commencement in Vaughan is scheduled for Thursday, June 3.
Student Affairs is working now to ensure the safe return of resident students in January, which will include adherence to New York state’s travel protocols and guidance.