Return to Campus FAQ

Western University has been given clearance to return fully to in-person classes and on-campus activities while prioritizing the health and safety of our campus community. We continue to work closely with provincial and local public health authorities and will update the campus community as plans develop.

For more Faculty and Staff FAQ surrounding COVID-19, visit

Faculty and Staff FAQ

1. How many members of the Western Community are vaccinated?

As of September 1, 2021, a significant number of individuals have uploaded documents, with the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals in the high 90s. Uploads are still rapidly increasing ahead of the September 7 deadline. To date, a very small number of students, staff, and faculty have applied for and been granted medical or religious exemptions for the vaccine policy.

2. How is Western ensuring campus is safe?

Western University has taken multiple measures to ensure the safety of classrooms on campus prior to the return of students, staff and faculty on September 7, 2021. Specific measures include:

  • Health Screening: All those coming to campus continue to be required to complete the return to campus’ questionnaire each day.
  • Ventilation: Extra steps are being taken to ensure ventilation systems in buildings and classrooms are maintained and optimized to maximize health and safety. Thorough analysis has confirmed that ventilation in classrooms meets, and in most cases exceeds, the standards to prevent potential airborne spread. View the online classroom-by-classroom analysis.
  • Masks: Those on campus must continue to wear a three-layer non-medical mask while indoors. These are available to undergraduates at The Great Hall; Faculty, staff and graduate students can collect masks from their department.
  • Cleaning and Sanitation: Continued enhanced efforts focused on dining, washrooms and high-traffic areas.
  • Vaccinations: As part of a strengthened COVID-19 vaccination policy, all students, employees and visitors will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination, except under rare exemptions.

Furthermore, students and faculty who are not compliant with the campus access rules, including the vaccination policy, will not be permitted to be on campus. Those who attend campus in defiance of these rules will be sanctioned either with employment rules or via the student code of conduct, as appropriate.

3. What specific safety measures are available for instructors?

All classrooms with enrollments greater than 20 have “Proftector” shields installed. It remains policy that instructors may teach unmasked behind these shields, but must be masked otherwise.

Teaching safety kits have been made available with wipes, microphone covers, hand sanitizer and dry-erase markers. These will be distributed through your department. If you want additional PPE, such as gloves and wipes, they are available at the Chem Bio Store.

4. What is the Building Ambassador Program and how will it work?

The Building Ambassador Program is an initiative being launched to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. Building Safety Ambassadors will be present around campus and will provide reminders about physical distancing, the use of masks, and good hygiene practices, as well as distribute masks to students and visitors who may have come unprepared. They will also assist instructors, as needed, with students not adhering to the required safety guidelines (e.g., wearing of masks) and will often be the first point of contact for questions related to the 'new normal'.

If you see an individual who is not masked, you may contact the building lead or the building ambassador on duty at that time. 

More information on the Building Ambassador Program to come.

5. What accommodations will be made for students with COVID-19 symptoms?

If a student has symptoms of COVID-19, they will be required to stay home after filling out the daily ‘return to campus’ questionnaire.  Instructors are encouraged to provide makeups for all significant tests, and to be flexible around grading policies for assessments which are of very low weight. It is important to consider the essential elements that must be completed in a course – e.g., in some courses, a typical requirement is completion of a minimum number of labs. These should be clearly specified in the course outline, along with remedies to ensure that students are not penalized for circumstances beyond their control (e.g., perhaps make-up labs can be scheduled or an online lab provided, but in a worst-case scenario, the student could be permitted to complete the lab component with a future offering of the course).

We remain in an unprecedented term and expect discussions to be ongoing as to how academic considerations will be handled along the term – while flexibility is open to abuse, safety is of course paramount.

6. What accommodations will be made for Graduate Teaching Assistants?

If a graduate student cannot fulfill a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) assignment, the student should go through the HR process to request an "employment accommodation" in the same way a staff member would. A decline of GTA assignment without HR accommodation is considered a voluntary decline of that part of the funding package, and Western is not obliged to make up the GTA income through other sources.

7. What do instructors do if they have COVID-19 symptoms and cannot come to campus?

If an instructor is unable to come to campus because they have COVID-19 symptoms, or have a school-aged child who is temporarily unable to attend school due to COVID-19 symptoms or quarantine, they should follow the same protocols as with any other type of illness: ask a colleague to teach the class or cancel the class.

8. How can I access mental health support during this time?

Faculty and Staff requiring mental health support can contact Western's Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) at any time - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As well, a new counselling service is now available free of charge for all Western employees. The service is completely confidential and includes up to 12 virtual sessions with registered Master of Social Work and psychotherapist Alison (Keeney) Watt. Appointments are available two days a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 12 and 7 p.m. More information and booking link.

Students requiring mental health support can visit the University’s Health & Wellness site or reach out to Care Zone members.

9. How will the University conduct contact tracing?

In the event that a COVID-19 case is traced to campus, it remains the case that the Middlesex-London Health Unit is responsible for contact tracing.