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Coronavirus Information

News

A message from Steve Nachtigall, RRCSA

March 19, 2020

Dear RRC,

The campuses are currently closed to students, but RRCSA staff are still working on a limited basis at our campus offices. We are monitoring and responding to student needs through our website, which is the best way to connect with our student leaders and staff.

If you are a student who has an issue with your Winnipeg Transit Peggo Card, please go to the RRCSA website and fill out the online form there.  This information will be sent directly to our Store Staff, who will evaluate the Transit Peggo Card issue and respond to you accordingly.

Regards,

Steve Nachtigall
Executive Director
Red River College Students’ Association

A message from Dr. Christine Watson to Red River College students

March 18, 2020

Today the College announced it is moving forward with the transition to alternative delivery models for programs and services starting Monday, March 23. All classes on campuses will be suspended until the end of winter term (up to and including May 1, 2020).

We believe this is the best way for us to contribute to preventing the spread of COVID-19 is to align our strategies and timelines with those of our larger community. By staying closed and enforcing social distancing measures, we are acting in lockstep with local schools, which are closing for the same period, and according to the advice of our health authorities.

We hope that by taking this step now, we can curb the impact this pandemic will have on your studies, including your ability to graduate. This means drawing on some of the very values we hold most dear at Red River College. By tapping into our spirit of innovation, flexibility and problem-solving, we’re building solutions to help you meet the requirements of this term and continue into the next.

Each of our programs is different, so solutions may vary for each. This could mean end dates and program or term completion timelines may also vary more than usual. Whatever decisions we make, whatever solutions we come up with, we will share with you as soon as we’re able.

Like you, we’re in uncharted territory. We’ve always had plans in place to deal with disasters and other major disruptions to the work we do as teachers and learners. Those are in motion.

That said, each day, the COVID-19 pandemic makes poses new problems and makes new demands, and the needs of our College community are complex. We may not always get things right. But we are committed to being open-minded, to making decisions based on the latest evidence from reliable authorities, to planning ahead as far as we’re able for every possibility we can imagine.

I know you have questions and our FAQs are being updated continually and posted at www.rrc.ca/coronavirus –  so please read the information there. Additional questions can be sent to Safety@RRC.ca and we will answer those as quickly as possible.

We will get through this the way all communities get through trying times: by being open, agile and creative.

Dr. Christine Watson
Interim President and CEO, Red River College

Red River College to implement alternative delivery of programs and services

March 18, 2020

Students will resume their studies next week; classes on campus are suspended until May.

Red River College is moving forward with the transition to alternative delivery models for programs and services starting Monday, March 23.

This means education and training will continue for RRC students, who are currently on a study break. However, no classes will be held on campus until the end of the winter term (up to and including May 1). All practicums are being cancelled for this term as a result of widespread disruption in workplaces across the province.

This approach will help bring greater consistency and certainty to the operational planning that is underway and meet the directive for social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Developing alternative delivery models for our many diverse programs is a significant undertaking that can only be done on a program-by-program basis. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that we can adopt in this unprecedented situation,” said Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC.

“We are working very hard to find the balance. We want to protect our students, faculty and staff and meet public health guidelines for reducing the number of people on campus. We also want to support students so they can continue their studies.”

Watson said RRC faculty and staff have pulled together quickly to work on transition plans.

“I cannot say enough about the hard work, dedication and creativity of our workforce here at Red River. This is a very difficult and stressful time for everyone and it is incredible to see so many people rise to the challenge before us. We are very fortunate to have such a strong College community to rely upon during trying times.”

Watson stressed that the transition to alternative delivery methods will require patience and flexibility. Because each program is unique, no two transition plans will look exactly alike. All options are being explored including utilizing online learning, simulated training, overlapping terms, and adjusting curriculum to delay practicum and lab work.

While academic programs will resume next week, all RRC campuses remain closed for classes and closed to public events. Faculty and staff are either working remotely or in small numbers on campus in order to practice social distancing and help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

As news and information regarding the virus becomes available, the College will continually update faculty, staff and students. The latest information will always be available at www.rrc.ca/coronavirus

Operations update from Dr. Christine Watson

March 18, 2020

Addressing the challenges arising from COVID-19 and the rapid pace of changing information coming at us has been unlike anything I have ever been a part of in my career. And I imagine it is the same for all of you. These are unprecedented times.

Which is why we are taking an unprecedented step today to move to alternative delivery models for our programs and services starting next week. There is more information in the attached news release that will go out to media shortly.

This is not an easy undertaking – it would be a huge job in normal times, never mind doing this in a time of great disruption and personal stress. I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I am by the hard work being done by College faculty and staff to help us to continue to operate and ensure academic continuity for students. I simply cannot thank you enough.

I know today’s announcement will bring even more questions – we will be following up with additional information. Please work directly with your department and supervisor to implement this transition. We understand the plans will look differently from program to program and department to department. Together, we will make this work to the best of our abilities in very challenging circumstances.

We are continually updating material for faculty, staff and students and using communications tools like Staff/Student News and the RRC website. Information is changing rapidly and our website will be updated as often as required so please check it out regularly.

Our FAQs are also being updated continually so please review them on our website – the answer to your question may already be posted there as our communications and safety staff have answered hundreds of questions over the past few days. Additional questions can be sent to Safety@RRC.ca – and we will answer those as quickly as possible.

Be careful and safe everyone, and thank you for your continued support of the College, our students and each other during this difficult time.

Christine

Managing Stress during this Uncertain Time

March 16, 2020

During this time of uncertainty it’s natural that our stress response will kick in. We are likely being bombarded with constant updates from the news, social media, our workplace, and our friends and family.

Our routines along with the expectations placed on us are changing quickly. We may also be in a state of waiting for answers or direction, which can be unsettling. With this heightened state of stress, it’s not surprising that our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours will be affected.

In addition, people who have experienced traumatic medical or other experiences in the past may have some of those feelings, memories, and fears come flooding back.

Here are some common ways that experiencing this stress can effect our body, mind, spirit and emotions.

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tearfulness
  • Frustration
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Desire to use drugs or alcohol
  • Hopelessness

Everyone is different and your response is neither right nor wrong, it is simply your response. You may be experiencing something that is not listed above and that’s okay. What matters is that we are not helpless in the face of this stress; we can do our best to actively manage it.

Think about what you normally do to manage stress and reflect on how you can adapt that to the current circumstance. If you usually spend time with friends, can you chat on the phone or have a video call? If you usually go to the gym, can you walk or run outside? Or stream an online workout video?

Over the next days and weeks, we will be sharing a variety of resources to support you through this difficult time. Be sure to subscribe to the Wellness newsletter.

Here are some immediate actions that can be helpful at this time.

Limit news and social media consumption. Stay informed, but be sure to take breaks from the feed and focus on information from reputable sources like the RRC newsletter and Manitoba Health. Is there someone in your feed who is triggering extra anxiety? Don’t be afraid to mute or unfollow them for now.

Remember the basics. Be sure to eat nutritious food, get fresh air, move your body, and get enough sleep. Without those basics, it’s hard to manages stress well.

Connect with others. Telephone, text, or video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. Instead of rehashing all the details, try to focus your conversations on how you are feeling and how you are coping.

Practice kindness. Everyone around us is likely experiencing heightened stress as well. Be kind, be patient, and leave space for people who are not at their best. We can get through this better if we work together.

Breathe. Taking slow, deep breaths that fill you belly can reverse the stress response and bring some clarity to your thoughts and actions. You can find a helpful video tutorial here.

Reach out for support. Sometimes, in order to be at our best we need to consult a mental health professional. There are several people ready to assist you.

Mental Health and Counselling Resources at Red River College

For Students and Staff

  • Mental Health Coordinator

Breanna Sawatzky, the Mental Health Coordinator provides supportive listening, connection with resources, and consultation. Services are available for all students and staff, over the phone or via web conferencing.

Appointments can be made by sending an email to Breanna.

For Staff Only

  • Homewood Health (EFAP)

Homewood Health is an Employee and Family Assistance Program for RRC employees. It’s part of your employee benefit package and comes at no cost to you or your dependents.

Homewood offers short-term counselling and support related to a wide variety of issues.

The EFAP is completely confidential; they will not release any personal information to Red River College.

Connect via the 24-hour toll-free access number at 1-800-663-1142. You can also access support and information online.

For Students Only

  • Counselling Services for Students

Counselling is available for students during study week and for upcoming weeks as may be necessary. At this time, counselling is available by phone. Additional ways to offer counselling are currently being considered. Please check back for updates!

If you are already have a counsellor, contact your counsellor by email.

If you wish to connect with a counsellor and book a first time appointment, please complete our online form.

For students attending Regional Campuses, counselling is available through a local provider.

Please contact your Regional Campus counsellor directly for appointments. They will advise regarding their current mode of service delivery.

  • Indigenous Student Supports

Please email the Indigenous Student Supports counsellors directly. They will set up an appointment to talk with you by phone. Brin at brmitchell@rrc.ca and Nolin at nturenne@rrc.ca

Temporary “Working From Home” Guidelines

March 16, 2020

A message from Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer:

We know that many of our students, faculty and staff will be impacted by the recent announcement of the closure of public schools for three weeks starting March 23, 2020. This is extremely stressful for all of us as we try to balance health and safety and increasing social distancing, taking care of our families, and trying to maintain College operations.

It is our goal to accommodate, to the greatest extent possible, those staff, faculty and students who have to care for their children. We will use all the tools at our disposal in order to help the Red River College community through this unprecedented time.

This means that staff will have the option to work from home, and/or use other forms of approved leave to support childcare needs during this period. We recognize that flexibility will be needed to accommodate different requirements, and the College is prepared to work with staff and faculty to find this balance. We also know that not all employees will be able to work from home due to the nature of their job and we are continuing to explore accommodations to support those employees as well.

In the event you are required to stay home to care for sick family members or to care for children whose school/daycare are closed please work directly with your manager to discuss the appropriate plan for your specific circumstances. These situations will be managed as follows:

  • Work from home where appropriate (see working from home guidelines).
  • Build flexibility in hours of work to allow for childcare responsibilities. This could include working evenings and weekends to account for the time.
  • Where it is not possible to work, use family related leave; vacation, Voluntary Reduced Work Week (VRWW); overtime; sick leave and/or other forms of approved leave.  *sick leave will only apply when all other leaves, and flexible options have been explored*

All policies, procedures, and provisions in the collective agreement apply, with the exception of a requirement to produce a doctor’s note if you are required to use sick leave. We are taking this step in order to reduce pressures on Manitoba’s healthcare system.

People who have scheduled vacation are expected to continue their vacation leave unless their roles are necessary to support operations during this time. If individuals would like to take additional vacation time and it is feasible in the current situation, please do so.

We are asking employees to work closely with their managers to establish an appropriate balance of family responsibility and work, including taking reasonable steps to share family duties with other caregivers in your family or friend network. In rare situations where individuals do not have sufficient paid leave as outlined above, we will track the hours required for leave and develop a schedule at a later date to make up the time required.

As you know, the situation unfolding around COVID-19 is changing rapidly. We are monitoring all developments and implementing policy decisions as needed. This means that the options here are intended to cover next week and the period of time that public schools will be closed (March 16 – April 13, 2020). This policy may be revised or updated as required as the situation evolves.

With so many factors coming to bear on our workforce, our operations, and our families, there isn’t a one size fits all solution for an organization as large as ours. We are committed to providing as many flexible options as possible in order to promote safety, support the RRC community and continue operating to the best of our abilities.

I want to thank all of you for your support and patience as we continue to address the ongoing changes that we’re facing. This message will be sent to all staff tomorrow morning.

We know that there will be many questions, please take the time to read the FAQs.  Please send your additional questions to humanresources@rrc.ca.

Red River College implements Study Week for students in response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Measure immediately reduces numbers on campus; allows faculty and staff to develop alternative program delivery models

In order to reduce the number of people on campus and help protect students, faculty and staff, Red River College is implementing a Study Week for students, effective end of the day today and extending through all of next week.

This Study Week for students will allow the College to undertake several critical functions:

  • Reduce the overall number of people on campus, in accordance with public health recommendations to increase social distancing and reduce both the size and frequency of crowds and gatherings.
  • Review College programs and services, and plan for alternative delivery models for when classes resume, including increasing online learning. Not all programs can be fully delivered online, but increasing online or alternative methods of delivery where possible will help RRC manage the return to classes.
  • Determine which staff can work remotely without impacting the College’s core operations.
  • Perform a deep clean of campus facilities – an operation that is scheduled for next week and will be easier to conduct with fewer people on site.

“One of the key recommendations from public health is to reduce the number of people at gatherings – and this includes our campuses,” said Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC. “Study Week for students will allow us to immediately reduce our numbers and allow staff and faculty to focus on developing plans for alternative delivery when classes resume.

“We recognize that many programs cannot be delivered remotely. However, the goal is about limiting and reducing personal contact, so there are changes we can make that will reduce this contact overall while ensuring students are able to complete their studies.”

During Study Week, the campus will be closed to students and the public. Only those visitors doing approved business with the College (such as contractors and vendors) will have access. Senior Leadership and RRC’s Incident Management Team will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with public health authorities and may extend Study Week if that is deemed necessary.

Students are encouraged to use Study Week to work on assignments, prepare for upcoming course assessments and exams, utilize online resources and other avenues to research and complete academic term papers, and hold web-based team meetings to work on and complete assigned projects.

This step announced today by RRC is in addition to other recent measures including the suspension of all international and domestic travel outside of Manitoba; cancelling of all College events and large gatherings; and restricting the number of meetings to only those that are essential to core operations.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and faculty are paramount, so we are trying to find creative ways to operate in a fluid, rapidly-changing environment. As public health authorities note, social distancing practices are a vital part of preventing the spread of COVID-19 so this step is also about RRC doing its part for the community at large.”

Watson said as news and information regarding COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College will continue to ensure that staff, faculty and students are informed and that RRC takes the necessary steps to help reduce the transmission of the virus.

The latest information will always be available at www.rrc.ca/coronavirus

A message from Dr. Christine Watson re. Study Week

March 13, 2020

Each day brings urgent headlines and fresh anxieties about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. I understand how concerning this pandemic is to all our students, faculty and staff – I share the same concerns.

Above all, I want you to know that the safety of our College community is our highest priority.

For that reason, Red River College will implement a Study Week for Students, effective at the end of today, and continuing through next week.

This will help us follow public health advice to reduce numbers on campus and give faculty and staff time to develop alternative delivery models for College programs and services. We need to work together to find creative ways to operate during this uncertain time, where information is changing constantly and decisions are being made in real time. Supervisors will be working with staff and faculty to determine work plans during this time.

Our Senior Leadership and Incident Management Team will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with public health authorities and may extend Study Week if that is deemed necessary.

For more details, please review our full announcement, which we will be sharing with media shortly.

I know many of you have further questions – please check out our website RRC.ca. We will be posting Q&As there and the site will be updated continuously in order to keep you posted. If you have unanswered questions, send those to Safety@RRC.ca – our communications and safety and health staff will be answering those and providing information as quickly as possible.

Be careful and safe, everyone, and thanks for your support and cooperation during this difficult time. What we are doing is working differently, and I look forward to continuing to meet the challenges of this unprecedented time together.

Dr. Christine Watson
Interim President & CEO, Red River College

Red River College COVID-19 Media Update

March 12, 2020

Red River College (RRC) is working closely with public health authorities and is focused on providing timely information, reassurance, and support to our staff, faculty, and students as we continue to take necessary measures to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at all of our campuses and to our broader community.

Our campuses are currently open and our classes, labs and exams have not been cancelled, however, our Senior Leadership Team is working with academic program areas to determine alternative program delivery approaches and models that could be implemented in order to further reduce the numbers of students, faculty and staff on site.

Additionally, RRC has suspended all international and domestic travel outside of Manitoba; cancelled all College events and large gatherings; and restricted the number of meetings to only those that are essential to core operations.

RRC’s Incident Management Team continues to monitor the situation closely in concert with our response plans, and in conversation with our colleagues at other post-secondary institutions across the province, and with advice and direction from our provincial and federal public health authorities.

As news and information regarding COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College will continue to ensure that staff, faculty and students are informed and that we continue to take necessary action to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.