Over the past year, York University has continued to operate safely. Maintaining operations in a fast-moving pandemic is no easy task. It requires careful monitoring of safety requirements, a great deal of logistical planning and professional dedication.
Whether it is housing or security, facilities, community safety, the University Bookstore, Libraries, the YU-card Office or University Information Technology (UIT), all have played an essential role in supporting the York community throughout the pandemic.
More than 120 Community Safety staff have worked on campus and in addition to supporting University operations, they’ve led and co-ordinated the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to keep the community safe. The Community Safety Control Centre, a central hub for safety calls for service, alarm and closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring, continued to operate onsite 24-7 and frontline staff responded to more than 12,000 calls for service over the past year. The CCTV team is made up of students and staff who continuously support campus safety.
With fewer people on campus and the potential for increased risks from isolation, Security Services staff have helped community members and checked on campus buildings to ensure both property and community members were safe and protected. Staff were stationed in student residences and continued to escort York community members across campus at night, as campuses were fairly empty. They also worked with UIT to develop a new automated door access system.
In Ancillary Services, more than 120 staff have worked on campus daily, responding to the needs of the community. Since the start of the pandemic, the department safely accommodated 2,000 students in residence, created over 20,000 health and safety signs, purchased more than 900 pieces of plexiglass for safety barriers and sourced 51,000 face coverings to protect the community from the virus. They also worked in close partnership with groups on and off campus to expedite parking refunds, support student film shoots and launch a new Food Services mobile app for contactless orders.
Alongside the many upgrades and changes made to improve air filtration and ventilation on campus, Facilities Services created a centralized personal protective equipment ordering and approval process to support the community. They have also had over 320 staff on campus to maintain grounds or handle maintenance, with help from staff on the Ancillary Services’ Parking and Transportation Services team.
Helping students during the pandemic
Since the summer of 2020, York International, the Office of Student Community Relations and volunteer quarantine representatives from the York community have assisted over 1,000 international students making their way through the quarantine program. The paid program supports international students through the 14 days of off-campus quarantine with daily wellness checks, complex case management, access to testing and ensuring all students are safe and able to clear mandatory quarantine periods. The program continues until December and it’s expected that the largest cohort of students will be arriving in the fall of 2021.
UIT managed high demands on the help desk for support those who were new to the technologies used to study and work remotely. Support for eClass was also vital, given that the platform came to serve twice as many new users. The team also made big improvements to network performance in the past year.
Community Support and Services helped students with pandemic-related queries in over 8,000 interactions involving case and contact management, recent travel support for international students and general help for those living on campus. Residence Life co-ordinators and dons helped anyone who became symptomatic with COVID-19 and liaised closely with Community Support and Services to seamlessly support relocation.
The work of each of these teams continues today. With plans underway to Welcome YU Back safely this fall, an enormous amount of time and energy is being put into planning efforts, with each of these groups continuing to prioritize community safety.