CBS COVID-19 Information Page

Last updated: March 26, 2020

This page is intended to share updates and information regarding changing to teaching, learning, research and operations at the College of Biological Science and the University of Guelph. Please note that any major announcements or changes to the status of the University will continue to come from University of Guelph communications via email, social media and the dedicated COVID-19 webpage, which also features a list of public health resources and FAQs. If you have questions about the information on this page, or would like to add/update information on it, please contact Hillary Dort, manager of communications at CBS.

As of March 17, the University of Guelph asks that you work from home unless your supervisor/advisor or department chair has indicated otherwise. Employees and students who continue to work on campus are expected to follow preventative safety measures, such as social distancing and frequently washing their hands for 20 seconds, to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus. For more employment information, including temporary and student employees, please refer to the U of G's FAQs on employment.

For more information on academic operations, please consult the U of G's FAQs on academics.

Notable changes to operations/service delivery and closures

  • On March 23, the Government of Ontario announced that all non-essential businesses must close by midnight today. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending the order as the situation evolves. The University remains open and operating and we are currently working through the details of this directive to determine the impacts on our current operations. Any changes affecting the University's current operations will be communicated later today on our COVID-19 web page. We realize this evolving situation has brought rapid changes and feelings of uncertainty. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented challenges.
  • The Office of Research has issued a guidance note for research continuity, scale back, and shut down. In response, CBS has issued specific information and instructions, some of which require immediate action on the part of any faculty member (regular or adjunct) who has an active research program. Please see the Information and Resources for Researchers section of this page for full details.
  • The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has issued guidelines for remote graduate thesis defences and qualifying exams (PDF).
  • For the week beginning Monday, March 23, the MCB Biobar will only be open Wednesday and Thursday. Beginning Monday, March 30, there will be no service from the Biobar.
  • The U of G McLaughlin Library is now closed. Updates from the library are available on their website.
  • The CBS printing facility, operated by Ian Smith, is now closed.
  • In an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, most of the administrative staff in CBS have transitioned to working remotely. The following administrative offices are now closed, with staff members best accessed via email:
    • The Dean's office
    • Office of the Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies
    • Office of the Associate Dean, Academic
    • Department of Integrative Biology
    • Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
    • Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences

Field Courses and Schools

Due to concerns about COVID-19, the University of Guelph has taken recent measures to help ensure the health and well-being of the U of G community. This has raised important questions about the University’s operation of academic field schools and field courses. In an effort to help reduce transmission of COVID-19 in remote locations and to reinforce the importance of social distancing, the University is cancelling all academic field schools and field courses scheduled for May and June 2020. The situation regarding COVID-19 is very dynamic and discussions about academic operations are ongoing. We will provide you with a status update for field schools and field courses with start dates after June once decisions are made. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has issued guidelines for remote graduate thesis defences and qualifying exams (PDF).

As you are aware, on March 16 the University announced that the academic calendar has been extended. The last day of classes is now Thursday, April 9, 2020. The University is actively working to create a new final exam schedule. Details are still forthcoming, but we can confirm that exams will not begin before Monday, April 13. We expect that the revised final exam schedule will be posted online and on WebAdvisor on April 3, 2020. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Student Grades

Final grades that have been received in the Office of Registrarial Services will show on WebAdvisor beginning April 30, 2020. Grades will continue to be updated on WebAdvisor as they are received until May 6, 2020. At that time, students may choose one of the following options:

  • Keep final numeric grade awarded
  • Assign a pass provided the student has achieved a passing grade (The “Pass” designation does not affect your semester average or your cumulative GPA; you will receive credit for the course)
  • Drop the course

Students will have until Wednesday, May 20, 2020 to decide whether to retain the numerical grade, opt for a “Pass” designation or drop the course. Please refer to the U of G's update on March 23 regarding student grades and examinations for full details.

Many resources are available on the Working Remotely web page from Computing and Communications Services (CCS), including installing and using WebEx, accessing and forwarding voicemail, and getting set-up on Microsoft Teams.

Tips on how to work from home securely from the Information Security team at CCS.

As a result of campus closure, student access to Adobe Creative Cloud in labs and classrooms is not available. Adobe has provided temporary at-home access for impacted students and faculty, so that they can continue their work remotely. To enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on your personal device, visit and use your school credentials to sign in. If prompted, select Company or School Account and then enter your password, or provide your credentials in your school’s login screen. From the Creative Cloud website, browse for and download your desired app. Click Apps on the top of the page to view all apps.

Information on, and resources for, academic continuity via the OpenEd website:

CourseLink to Deliver Content for Technology Enhanced Courses

  • Creating a CourseLink site 
  • Creating Quizzes in CourseLink 
  • Courselink's Content Tool
  • Support for CourseLink tools

Video Assignments for Student Presentations

  • Support for Video Assignments 
  • Video Assignments Features

Voiceover PowerPoint to Capture Lectures

Pre-Record Lectures

Host and/or Record Live Lectures

Preparation for Alternative Assessments

CourseLink Support:

Phone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56939
Email OpenEd for CourseLink support

Final Examinations:

Please also consider how you wish provide an alternative to the currently planned final examination. Alternatives may be to:

  • re-distribute the current course grades in lieu of a final examination provided that 60% of the course grades have been completed by the students by the end of classes. Note that under this option, the usual requirement for a final exam in first-and second-year courses will not apply.
  • use a take-home examination or alternate assignment (due on or after April 13th). Students must still be given at least 72 hours to complete a take home exam as they will have multiple exams to manage.
  • use a typical classroom examination via virtual invigilation. This will require the examination to be entered into course link. Your Chair/Director and OpenEd will provide support for this process. If students in every course are examined in this manner, the examination period will be extended by an additional two weeks.

Please complete this survey by March 25th to confirm your intent for the final exam.

Online Reserve Material

Please email this address if you require additional online reserve material (book chapters, articles, media and other materials) for your class.

Student Wellness Services information and FAQs

  • All face-to-face instruction is cancelled for the week of March 16-20. This includes lectures, labs, seminars, poster sessions, presentations, and tutorials. Midterms and deferred examinations scheduled for March 16 to 20 will be rescheduled by one week and will have to be replaced by another form of assessment (i.e., not in person).
  • The semester has been extended for one week and classes (and the drop period) will now conclude April 9.
  • All assignments are delayed by one week.
  • Final exams will all be delayed by exactly one week and will take a different format (i.e., not in person). The registrar will be developing a revised exam schedule.
  • Distance education courses are also cancelled for for the week of March 16-20 and will follow the revised semester schedule.

As a result of campus closure, student access to Adobe Creative Cloud in labs and classrooms is not available. Adobe has provided temporary at-home access for impacted students and faculty, so that they can continue their work remotely. To enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on your personal device, visit  the Adobe Creative Cloud website and use your school credentials to sign in. If prompted, select Company or School Account and then enter your password, or provide your credentials in your school’s login screen. From the Creative Cloud website, browse for and download your desired app. Click Apps on the top of the page to view all apps.

The University will shortly be implementing a campus wide shut down of all research activity in U of G-operated research facilities. At this moment, exceptions will only be granted for research that is critical and/or time sensitive (e.g. research related to COVID-19, or research dependent on the seasonal nature of crops and/or livestock, etc.). Exceptions will also be considered for research that does not impact social distancing. To apply for an exemption to the shutdown policy, please complete the continuation of critical research request form (Word doc) and submit it to your Chair (cc Todd Gillis).

To enable a clear view of all research activity occurring within CBS, all regular and adjunct faculty who are currently running a research program are asked to email their Chair (cc Todd Gillis) to answer the following question: “Is your lab still actively doing research on the Guelph campus?” If the answer to this question is yes, you are also required to complete and email the request form to your Chair (again, please cc Todd Gillis) by 5:00 PM Monday March 23.

In addition:

  • if you or someone from your lab needs to periodically return to campus to complete tasks associated with the maintenance of basic research capacity, such as watering plants, feeding animals, or the maintenance of cell cultures, we request that you describe this in the email to your Chair. This should list the individuals involved, their position (grad student, PDF, Tech), how often this occurs per week and for how long, and what they are doing. Please indicate if this will need to continue for greater than 2 weeks.
  • if you are directing active research that meets the exception criteria and uses campus facilities, please see point 10 of the ORS research directive: “Researchers must develop plans to close down existing research within university facilities on short notice, including but not limited to:
    • plans for waste disposal
    • identification of essential services to maintain research samples
    • facilities and infrastructure affected, where appropriate

If you fall into this category, please provide your plan to the Chair of your Dept (again, please cc Todd Gillis) by Wednesday March 25 at 5:00 PM.

For faculty with field work projects currently underway or about to start, we would also remind you that you must submit a field work safety plan to your Chair for approval. Please also note the new directives (section 4.0) regarding travel and social distancing in your plan. In addition, it is probable that the University will be completely closed down, and as a result, field workers will not be able to return to campus following their field work. It is therefore essential that this is accounted for in research plans.

Please direct any questions to your Chair and/or Todd Gillis.

Research-related COVID-19 Updates and Frequently Asked Questions from the Office of Research.

If you work in a lab on campus, please develop a plan with your supervisor to transition towards remote work. If you are working alone in the lab, please make sure that your team members and/or your supervisor are aware of your location, your activities and when you have left the premises. There are specific guidelines on working alone safely in section 2.1 of the CBS Safety Handbook.

Top 3 mental health resources available through Student Wellness during open hours

  • Counseling Services: Provide individual and group counseling to support students (J.T. Powell, drop-in 12:30 - 3:30 pm M-F)
  • Student Wellness Navigators: Provide service to student who identify as having a mental health concern and are unsure of the best service path for them. (J.T. Powell, drop-in 8:30 am - noon; 1:00 - 4:30 pm M-F)
  • Student Support Network: Confidential peer-to-peer support (J.T. Powell, room 1149, drop-in noon-10 pm M-F, Library, room 111, drop-in 2 - 6 pm M-T, and 4 - 8 pm W-Th )

Top 3 mental health after hours resources for students

  • Student Support Network: Provide confidential peer-to-peer support (JT Powell, room 1149, drop-in noon-10pm M-F, Library room 111, drop-in 4 - 8 pm W-Th)
  • Here 24/7: Local mental health and crisis phone line, available 24/7 (call 1-844-437-3247)
  • Crisis Text Line: 24/7 text-based mental health support (Text UofG to 686868 to start your mental health conversation)

Other Resources for grad students, staff,and faculty

(Thank you to the IB Wellness Health & Wellness Committee for this information.)

Please note due to the evolving COVID-19 scenario on campus, CBS will be curtailing IT activities that require Chayan Chowdhury, CBS IT Officer, to be physically working on computers belonging to others. He will be working remotely as often as possible. Hardware repair requests will only be considered in an emergency during this time. No new computer set ups will be handled at this time. Any existing/new computer set ups, repairs, etc. will have to wait.

A message from Chayan:

All requests should be sent via email to This will create a ticket via the CBS IT help desk system and I will respond from there.

Another way users can get in touch with me is via Microsoft Teams. For those of you that don't know what Microsoft Teams is, it is a collaboration tool that allows for chats and the creation of groups. This comes with Office 365 and can either be installed as part of the Office suite or you can use it via your web browser. The easiest way to use Microsoft Teams from your web browser is to go into your U of G email (aka Gryphmail via your web browser) and then click on the dots icon (to the left of the U of G logo on the black bar at the top). This will open a side menu and you can find "Teams" under "Apps". Users should also be looking at the U of G IT Systems Status page before reporting outages to me.

Other resources:

Free software available to dowload:


Please visit the Financial Services website for the latest updates on interim processes and guidelines during this period of working remotely.

Expense Claim Processing:

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, effective immediately ECS is no longer accepting hard copies.

STEP 1: Please email completed claims and receipts to the CBS purchasing clerks or Ann Stride (HHNS) for initial REVIEW.

  • Log into ECS and complete the claim as you would normally. Save the claim form as a PDF document.
  • Attach copies of all receipts. There are numerous apps you can download for free to take photos of receipts.  These include apps such as ‘Tiny Scanner’ or ‘ScanGuru’. 
  • There should be only one email and one file/attachment for each claim. Where possible, the PDF of the ECS claim and related receipts should be consolidated into a single PDF file.
  • Send the email submission from your UofG account to CBS purchasing clerks or Ann Stride (for HHNS).  Include in your email the name of the individual approving your claim.
  • Ensure the email subject line is formatted as: “Department name – Claim # – Claimant Last name, First Name - Amount;  add “- Urgent” if needed, or add “-Research” if it needs to be processed in March
  • Attach the PDF copy of the ECS claim form and receipts in one file.

STEP 2: CBS Purchasing Staff or Ann Stride (for HHNS) will first review the claim and then forward the claim to the approver.

  • Approver will review the claim, authorize it in the email, and forward to the next signing authority as required.
  • The final approver must email with “I approve Claimant name, Claim #,  in the amount of $X to be processed for payment”. 
  • This email must come from a valid UoG account.  
  • The email must flow directly to ECS from the final approver.  Please cc: the claimant and and either or Ann Stride (HHNS) on the message so they can see the status of the claim.

Please check the ECS homepage for updates.

Invoice Approvals

During the period of social isolation and remote work environments, our financial management team is still working to support you. In order to ensure invoices are paid for the items we are purchasing, please scan a copy of the packing slip over to CBS Purchasing clerks or to Ann Stride if you are in HHNS instead of taking it to their inboxes. This will allow both sides to social distance, and will ensure we receive the approvals we need.

When emailing the packing slip, please state include the vendor name, order number (if it's on the packing slip) and your approval to pay in the message.

If you happen to receive an invoice by mail or e-mail, please follow the same steps as above, including the invoice number in your message and the finance team will ensure your payments are processed.

As we are approaching a number of financial deadlines for grants and the University, we appreciate this being done in a timely manner. Should anything require processing by March 31 for a grant that is ending, please note this in your message and send it as soon as possible and we will accommodate as much as possible.

With many University of Guelph employees now working remotely, the mail room will no longer pick up out-going mail from units or deliver mail to units on campus. This change takes effect March 23.

Incoming mail will be held in the mail room until normal University operations resume. Colleges or departments that need to send mail or pick up mail, should visit the mail room in the University Centre, Room 020.

The mail room is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

If you have questions, please contact Kevin Ecott ext. 52264.