Communication Updates – Archive

Update May 21 - 12:00 p.m.
Dear Brescia community,

The last few weeks have been a time for a considerate and thoughtful response to the needs of our students. Our academic year ended abruptly with our being distanced from our colleagues, peers and friends. Specifically for our graduating students, their final term at Brescia was disrupted in ways that we never expected. Because of these disruptions and the safety measures in place to respond to COVID-19, Brescia made the difficult decision to postpone our Baccalaureate and Magisterial Ceremonies.

Though we may not be able to gather in person to celebrate at this time, I want the Class of 2020 to know that the Brescia community wishes to acknowledge their achievements and is proud of their hard work and accomplishments.  Even though our current situation is not ideal, we do not want our physical distance to overshadow the joyful and significant moments experienced over their time at Brescia.

We are proud of our graduating students for reaching their academic and personal goals and remaining strong through the finish line, completing their Brescia journey. As well, they have moved through these challenging past few months with exceptional grace and determination. The Class of 2020 will be bound by this moment in history, where they have overcome obstacles that no other Brescia graduating class has ever faced and responded with perseverance and flexibility.

To mark this significant milestone for our graduating students, our community will come together and recognize their achievements by hosting a virtual “Class of 2020” celebration. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, June 20th at 11:00 a.m. EST. All are welcome to join–friends and family who are both near and far. Our Class of 2020 celebration will be easy to access through our website; additional details will be shared with you in the coming weeks.

Please note that this celebration will not replace any official graduation ceremony. Discussions are underway as to how we will mark this occasion in-person at a later date when health authorities advise it is safe.

Brescia’s Class of 2020 is filled with outstanding students. Their academic achievements and contributions to our community are a source of great inspiration for our staff, faculty and students. Our graduating class has displayed a high degree of resiliency and are true examples of the bold leaders Brescia graduates. We are so proud of their accomplishments and know they are prepared to make a positive impact in our world, leading with wisdom, justice and compassion.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil, FRHistS

Update May 8 - 12:30 p.m.
A message to Brescia students from Dr. Susan Mumm:

Dear Brescia students,

I know you are concerned about your academic plans and there is much uncertainty about what the fall and our return to campus looks like. Brescia has begun planning for September and I want to share a few assurances with you today.

You may already know the Ontario government extended the emergency orders until May 19th. While we are all anxious to return to campus, we will only do so once it has been deemed safe by local and provincial health authorities. Brescia has established a working group that will develop a phased approach for our return to campus. The working group will also consider contingency plans so that Brescia is prepared to respond to multiple scenarios.

Alongside plans for a safe return to campus, plans for the fall/winter semester will begin next week. Based on information received from Western and in consultation with other education leaders, I can confirm that for September 2020 at Brescia, pending limited campus reopening is permitted:

1. Some Brescia courses will be moved online, while others will be held on campus. Adjustments will be made to accommodate physical distancing while ensuring a strong, student-centred approach to course delivery.

2. Along with online courses, some of Brescia’s courses will be “blended.” These courses will be offered online with some traditional classroom components, in smaller class sizes where physical distancing is possible.

3. Courses will be required to build flexibility into their format, to ensure we can respond quickly should a “second wave” necessitate a need for exclusive online delivery.

4. Clare Hall will remain open for new and returning students, ensuring physical distancing measures are in place as directed by local health authorities. Since Brescia will offer both in-person and online courses, we will welcome and support you, our students, who choose to live on campus.

Though there are many unknowns, I am confident as a community we can work together to adapt our campus and offer you an experience that reflects what you are accustomed to receiving. Because of our size, Brescia’s staff and faculty are fortunate to have close connections our students, our physical spaces and each other, which gives us a clear advantage for us to excel in this new environment.

I want to be clear that Brescia is working around the clock to provide our students with the student-centred experience you were promised. I realize that it is frustrating to have few certainties as we move into the summer, but can assure you we are committed to providing the bold experience you expect and the exceptional service you deserve. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Sincerely,

Susan Mumm, DPhil, FRHistS

Update April 26 - 10:30 a.m.
A message to Brescia students from Dr. Susan Mumm:

Dear Brescia students,

As the end of the academic year draws near, I want to congratulate you for your perseverance, persistence and strength these last few weeks while you completed your academic year. On behalf of the Brescia community—well done!

While it is not the end of term we expected, I hope that your experience throughout this past year lends moments of gratification to your memories. This was a remarkable academic year, filled with many joyous events, solid achievements, and celebrations—each of you have reached important milestones in your Brescia experience.

I know you have questions about what lies ahead, including when we might potentially return to campus. So do I. We are all anxious to know when these decisions will be made and what our future campus environment looks like.

Brescia continues to work collaboratively with Western as well as local and provincial health authorities to model different scenarios. Discussions surrounding plans for fall 2020 are on-going and several options will be considered. We all want to return to normal operations as soon as the health, safety and well-being of our community can be assured.

I can assure you that this fall, Brescia will be open, offering courses and continuing to provide you with the student-centred and empowering education you should expect. You are an important member of our community and Brescia will continue to make decisions with your needs in mind.

We all have questions about what your academic experience will look like and I understand that online learning is not what any of us had anticipated. Given the uncertainty in Canada and across the world, it’s important for us to consider some form of digital learning—at least for some courses—as it may be a reality for us as we look ahead, towards next term. Though this is a possibility, I assure you it will not compromise our commitment to you in providing you with the best education we can deliver.

I will continue to share updates as soon as decisions are made so you and those closest to you can plan for September accordingly. Please know I am very proud of the way our students have responded over the past few weeks and appreciate your patience and adaptability through these challenging times. Congratulations again on a successful academic year—I hope you take time to celebrate your many achievements.

Sincerely,

Susan Mumm, DPhil, FRHistS

Update April 15 - 10:00 a.m
A message to Brescia students from Dr. Susan Mumm:

Dear Brescia students,

We know you are experiencing uncertain and challenging times. I want to acknowledge your continued hard work as you adapt to our changed circumstances and first online final exam period in the University’s history. Balancing your academic workload with other personal responsibilities can be difficult during these complex times. Please know we are here to support you.

You may have already heard the Ontario government has extended the provincial state of emergency for an additional four weeks. Our initial communication on March 17th indicated Brescia would move to an essential services model “until further notice.” I can confirm that Brescia will continue to follow the governments’ directive and remain operating in an “essential services” model through the coming weeks. Our priority is ensuring you, our students, have all you need to complete the end of the term successfully and that our residents living on campus in Clare Hall remain safe, healthy and comfortable.

I understand we are facing uncertain days and the current situation has changed our life patterns quite rapidly, regardless of where we are in the world. As we look for answers to the many unknowns that exist, I remind myself that the Brescia community is one that responds with compassion and tenacity.  Our strength is in our belief in our community and you, our courageous students. Let us extend care to each other and those around us as we continue to live our Ursuline values and finish out the final weeks of the academic term with strength and determination.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update April 6, 2020 - 4:40 p.m.
The last few weeks has been a time of adjustment as we adapt and respond to the changing needs of our campus community. The realities of COVID-19 are affecting all of us, in ways we may not have fully realized.

We know that many of our students will be facing significant financial and emotional burdens. Some students are already struggling to purchase food, pay rent and find summer employment opportunities.  We are concerned that our students are faced with difficult choices such as staying in school or managing the cost to live. Students living on campus may not have the financial means to return home to the warmth and security of their family home.

In 2007, Brescia faculty and staff established the “Blue Jean Fund” to support the community in times of crisis. This fund has always been available to students in times of need. Given the current situation and the anticipated needs of our students, Brescia has expanded this initiative and renamed it the Brescia Emergency Fund. Now, we are asking you to consider supporting our students in their current crisis.

If you are able, please give to the Brescia Emergency Fund. In a time of unprecedented change, Brescia’s sense of community is more important now than ever before. The generosity and kindness of our community will help us get through this together.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update April 3, 2020 - 2:40 p.m.
As we continue to respond to the changing conditions of our campus community and our broader situation, Brescia remains determined to maintain our mission and our place as Canada’s women’s university.  Though we may feel distanced from each other, I am proud of our perseverance and willingness to adapt and support each other.

Though campus may seem quiet, there is a small but mighty team still working hard in our physical spaces. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge our staff who are working on campus, Brescia’s “front-line workers”, who are devoted to ensuring our students living on campus are being cared for. To our food services team, facilities, residence staff, and all essential student-facing services—we appreciate your efforts and thank you.

There is an abundance of important work being completed remotely and initiatives continue to be advanced by our staff and faculty. For example, a new initiative being coordinated by the Advancement team is a reworked Brescia Emergency Fund, formerly the “Blue Jean Fund” as we know many of our students will be facing significant financial burdens in the weeks ahead. More information will be shared with you next week, if you wish to support this important initiative.

For over 100 years, our Ursuline values have guided the Brescia community. Our resilience strengthens our community and leads us forward.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 26, 2020 - 6:00 p.m.
Brescia has received notification that June convocation has been postponed. In alignment with Western’s decision, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our upcoming Baccalaureate and Magisterial ceremonies. Graduating students have received official communication.

We understand this is disappointing for our community, especially for our graduating class and their families. We recognize the importance of Baccalaureate and its time-honoured tradition as part of our students’ university experience. At this time, facing uncertainty, we must make decisions that ensure the health and safety of our students, their families and our community.

Please be assured this will not affect the timing of your graduation or the conferral of degrees for graduating students. We know how hard our students have worked; Brescia will mark this special occasion occasion in an alternate format this year. Plans are already being developed and we will continue to update the community as details are finalized.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 24, 2020
The Ontario government announced yesterday that all businesses and organizations move to an “essential services” model as of 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020. Essential services at Brescia include those services necessary to enable the University to:

  • Ensure the safety of our students, staff and faculty
  • Maintain our residence community as a healthy living space for our students who are unable to return to their home communities
  • Maintain our facilities and preserve our critical infrastructure
  • Continue the delivery of administrative support functions in order to maintain Brescia’s core operations (mail, courier and deliveries will continue to be accepted)

Brescia’s academic programming and student support services have now moved entirely online, where we continue to support our students through the rest of their academic term and into the summer.  We appreciate the patience and adaptability of our community as we respond to this ever-changing situation.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 20, 2020
We know these are extraordinary times. I want to thank each of you for your flexibility and patience over the last week as we have worked to modify our services to best support your living and learning experience at Brescia.

At Brescia, we know each of you rely on us to prioritize your safety and well-being whether you are here on campus, or in your home communities. At this moment in time, facing uncertainty and world-changing dynamics, I hope you put faith in the strong, student-centred support system that Brescia offers.

As we move to a modified services model, Brescia is upheld by the strength of our community and our commitment to adapt and respond to what is needed for you to be successful. We are carefully balancing our commitment to providing the best experience for all of our students at the same time as maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment. I applaud Brescia’s staff and faculty for their resourcefulness and thoughtful dedication to meeting the many challenges that have arisen unexpectedly over the last week.

Navigating and modifying our services across Brescia is similar to driving through a heavy fog; we can only dimly see what is more than a moment away—our decisions and reactions will need to change with every turn in the road. We will make the best decisions we can, ensuring we continue to support you, our students, while living Brescia’s mission in our suddenly-changed environment.

This isn’t the first time Brescia has faced significant challenges in our history. After 100 years of leading through our Ursuline values of wisdom, justice and compassion, our community will continue to display empathy, kindness and collaboration to adapt together and make decisions that ensure the health, safety and well-being of all, so that our collective dedication to the education of our students and future women leaders will endure.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 17, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.
The health, safety and well-being of the Brescia community is our first priority. Today, based on recent information provided by the Middlesex-London Health Unit and our federal and provincial governments, Brescia will shift to a modified services model effective Wednesday, March 18th at 5:00 p.m. This will allow sufficient time for members of our community to prepare and adjust our services as needed.

I understand that this can be a stressful and uncertain time for all members of our community. I can assure you that Brescia will continue to support our students, faculty and staff through this challenge.

The last few days have given rise to many questions and concerns about the continuing operation of the Brescia on-campus community.  COVID-19 is spreading around the world at a rapid pace and we are working to make the right decisions to protect our community while remaining true to our identity as a university. We have determined that effective 5:00 p.m. March 18th and until further notice, we will move to a modified services model for Brescia’s on-campus services.

To provide you with additional information on what “modified services” means, please note the following adjustments to services:

Residence, will remain open. Where possible, students are encouraged to consider moving home if travel and logistics support this. All residence students will receive a refund schedule to support this decision. Details will be sent in a separate email.

Food Services, including the Mercato, will remain open for those students who continue to live on our campus.

Virtual support services for our students, faculty and staff will be available online and we encourage our students to take advantage of this, including:

  • academic advising and career appointments
  • case management support
  • library and research consultations
  • Brescia’s Writing Centre
  • faculty office hours

The Hive will close to in-person consultation, but can be reached via phone (519-858-5151) or email (brescia@uwo.ca), Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

The Beryl Ivey Library will align with Western Library closures; effective 5:00 p.m. today (March 17th) will close to in-person service. Our library team is working to move support services online, please consult their website for updates.

Our dedicated staff and faculty are working tirelessly to provide continuity of all programming and technical support as we transition to an online format. Brescia’s working group continues to think of new ways to engage and support each of our students through the final weeks of their academic term.

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, I encourage you to visit Brescia’s COVID-19 website for the most current information on matters related to Brescia’s operations.

I appreciate the compassion, flexibility and resiliency that the Brescia community displays on a daily basis and I am grateful for your shared commitment to supporting the health and well-being of those around us. Our community is strengthened through these extraordinary times; in the words of St. Angela Merici, “if you all stand united in heart, you will be strong in adversities.”

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 20, 2020 - 2:30 p.m.
We know these are extraordinary times. I want to thank each of our staff and faculty for your tireless efforts to support our students and the Brescia community in these days of sudden change. At Brescia, we have 1600 students who rely on us to prioritize their safety and well-being and assist them in completing their academic year, whether they are here on-campus, or in their home communities. At this moment in time, facing uncertainty and world-changing dynamics, we know our students put faith in the strong, student-centred support system that Brescia offers.

As we move to a modified services model, Brescia is upheld by the strength of our community and our commitment to adapt and respond to what is needed for our students to be successful. We are carefully balancing our commitment to providing the best experience for our students at the same time as maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment for all. I applaud our staff and faculty for their resourcefulness and thoughtful dedication to meeting the many challenges that have arisen unexpectedly over the last week.

Navigating and modifying our services across Brescia is similar to driving through a heavy fog; we can only dimly see what is more than a moment away—our decisions and reactions will need to change with every turn in the road. We will make the best decisions we can, ensuring we continue to live Brescia’s mission in our suddenly-changed environment. This isn’t the first time Brescia has faced significant challenges in our history. After 100 years of leading through our Ursuline values of wisdom, justice and compassion, our community will
continue to display empathy, kindness and collaboration to adapt together and make decisions that ensure the health, safety and well-being of all, so that our collective dedication to the education of future women leaders will endure.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 15, 2020 - 8:30 p.m.
Brescia continues to work together with Western and the affiliates to monitor and respond to the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19.

On Saturday, March 14th, the Government of Canada announced that all travelers returning to Canada from abroad (including the U.S.) must self-isolate at home for 14 days, whether they are experiencing symptoms or not.

Brescia employees who are impacted by this directive should speak with their supervisor as soon as possible. Middlesex-London Health Unit has resources available to help members of the community learn how to properly self-isolate.

We understand that supervisors across campus may have questions about how this self-isolation requirement may impact operations. If you have questions, please contact Elana Whelan at ewhela@uwo.ca or 519-432-8353 ext. 28394.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together through these challenging times. Let us continue to reach out and offer support to each other and do our part to ensure the safety and health of our community.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, DPhil

Update March 14, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
Late yesterday a decision was made to move all testing, including final exams, to an online format.

Brescia is following Western’s decision; the implications are such that students will not be required to return to campus for the final exam period. Details concerning alternative testing formats will be shared as soon as they become available.

While some students may choose to return to their home communities, at this time, Brescia’s campus and support services will remain operational. This includes our residence and dining facilities, where many of our students may decide to complete their term on campus.

We recognize this is a highly stressful period of time for you. Brescia’s staff and faculty remain engaged in supporting each of our students through the completion of this academic term.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, D. Phil

Update March 13, 2020 - 4:00 p.m.
Message from Dr. Susan Mumm for the Brescia Community related to COVID-19

During this challenging time, we appreciate your positivity and cooperation as we try, first and foremost, to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. At Brescia, we continue to respect and follow the advice of our local health authority. We are acting on all information available to best protect our community and ensure the health and safety of everyone who studies, works or visits our campus. Equally important is our commitment to keeping all students on track to complete their course work for this academic year.

I am writing today to share key decisions made for Brescia’s campus but also in consultation with Western and the other affiliated university colleges, through the end of the term. Our main priority is to support our community. We are quickly responding to concerns as they come forward and will continue to work with our students, faculty and staff to address any of these concerns.

I want to reassure you that Brescia operations remain open and campus services continue to run as usual. Residence remains open; this is our students’ home and our staff are working around
the clock to keep our living space exceptionally clean. Parents, we know you have concerns, please know we are working hard to put the care of your student as our first priority. All non-compulsory/discretionary events held on campus up until April 30th will be cancelled or postponed. On campus events that anticipate less than fifty attendees will be up to the individual event organizer to confirm.

We recognize there are many questions that staff, faculty, students and families will have as a result of the recent announcement. We will continue to share this information and will update
you as we learn more.

As a reminder, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) has indicated the health risk to our community and local area remains low. At Brescia, we are making thoughtful decisions to ensure the continued health and wellness of our community and ensure we maintain the safest and healthiest environment to work and study.

For additional information related to COVID-19 on campus, please visit Western’s website: www.uwo.ca/coronavirus and tips for keeping healthy: www.healthunit.com. Brescia has also created a web page with additional resources relevant to the Brescia community: brescia.uwo.ca/covid19.

I appreciate your continued efforts in supporting Brescia’s community as we navigate uncertain times. I am always impressed with the way Brescia responds to challenging situations like this, with compassion, kindness and care which is in line with our Ursuline values.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, D. Phil

Update March 13, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.
Brescia has cancelled all classes and labs today, and will align with Western’s decision to cancel classes Monday, March 16th and Tuesday, March 17th to provide time for our faculty and instructors to shift to online learning for the remainder of the semester.This includes cancellation of all classes, labs and exams including make-up exams.

On Wednesday, March 18th and for the rest of the term, Brescia will move to online learning. Additional information will be shared as decisions are made, including the outcome of final exams.

Brescia operations remain open and campus services continue to run as usual. Residence remains open; our staff are working around the clock to keep our spaces exceptionally safe and clean. The Beryl Ivey Library, Mercato and other service offices such as The Hive, all remain open.

Brescia will follow Western’s policy on cancelling or postponing non compulsory/discretionary events with a projected attendance of fifty people or more. This will remain in effect up until April 30th and will be reviewed at that point in time. On-campus events that anticipate less than fifty attendees will be up to the individual event organizer to confirm.

We appreciate your continued efforts in supporting our community members as we navigate uncertain times.

Sincerely,
Susan Mumm, D. Phil