For Staff

Lakehead University is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and students. We recognize that this has been an incredibly challenging time, as all aspects of both job and home life have been disrupted with nothing remaining routine.

This page is dedicated to supporting you during this time, providing information and access to resources, and links to the University’s COVID Transition Working Groups.

As we navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic, there are many questions that arise. Check here for answers to commonly shared questions.

Will I be able to continue working remotely in a part-time, full-time, or flexible capacity?
In order to meet the needs of our University community, it is expected that all faculty and staff will return to their respective campus and work on-site.  Requests for accommodations should be addressed to the employee’s direct supervisor.
Will students, faculty and staff be required to be vaccinated in order to return to campus?
Yes. Lakehead University will be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy requiring Lakehead students, faculty and staff arriving on our campuses and properties to have received their first vaccine dose by September 7, and be fully vaccinated no later than October 7.
The policy, which is currently being developed and will be shared with our University community upon completion, will address details of its implementation, including guidelines that will apply to any visitors to our campuses and properties. This policy will enhance existing measures we have taken in recent weeks as we prepare to return to our campuses.
Will face masks be required?
While we recognize that face masks play a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19, we also recognize that certain disabilities or medical conditions may prevent some members of our University community from wearing face masks.  Lakehead University will continue to adhere to local public health recommendations.
How will the University handle physical distancing requirements on campus?
Based on government direction, it is anticipated that physical distancing requirements will no longer be in force come the beginning of the Fall semester.  All University stakeholders are expected to adhere to local public health recommendations.
Who do I report concerns about COVID-19 infractions to (i.e. someone feeling unwell, not distancing themselves)?
Report any concerns regarding COVID-19 infractions to your direct supervisor.
Where can I find support for my mental health and well-being?

Lakehead University provides eligible staff and faculty with access to Employee and Family Assistance Programs specific for both campuses. These programs will provide you and your significant others with confidential, professional assistance for issues that affect your well being. Go to Employee and Family Assistance Programs to learn more.

In addition, there are a number of government provided resources available including:

MindBeacon digital therapy (iCBT) is now available free of charge to support Ontarians through stress and mental well-being concerns during COVID-19, funded by the Government of Ontario. Guided digital therapy with MindBeacon is highly personalized to what you're feeling and who you are, as a whole person. Through secure digital messaging, and tailored readings and activities, you’ll work 1-to-1 with a registered therapist. Your MindBeacon therapist is focused on your improvement and will support you all along the way. Go to Mindbeacon for more information.

Togetherall is a free online mental health support network for Ontarians 16+ and is available to Ontarians through Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Togetherall allows for the protective and therapeutic effects of connectedness and healthy social networks in a unique community where people share with, and support each other. Go to Togetherall for more information.

What are the expected plans for Winter 2022?
We anticipate the Winter term will be in-person for all students, faculty and staff as the vaccination rates across Thunder Bay and Orillia increase and COVID-19 cases continue to fall.  Lakehead University will continue to adhere to local public health recommendations in place at this time.
I haven’t purchased a parking pass.  Will there be payroll deduction available prior to returning?  
Yes.  Payroll deduction will be available for the purchase of a parking pass.   
What if an employee or student tests positive for COVID-19?
We will continue to follow the guidance of the respective District Health Units in regards to anyone testing positive
Has the University made any improvements to ventilation systems on campus?
The University continues to regularly review ventilation measures as recommended by public health and HVAC industry standards.  Regular maintenance of HVAC systems on campus remains ongoing.  Centralized HVAC system filters have been replaced with enhanced MERV-13 filters or the highest compatible filter for the existing HVAC infrastructure.  Physical Plant will also perform air flushing two hours before occupancy every morning in every building to replace indoor air with outdoor air.
How do I make an ad-hoc campus booking?

The COVID-19 Classrooms & Scheduling group has developed and implemented revised Ad-hoc Booking procedures for the 2020/21 Academic Year. The following outlines the guidelines for submitting a request: 

General Guidelines

When submitting an ad-hoc booking through the Room Booking Portal (Enterprise) in myInfo, please note the following: 

  • One weeks notice is required for all classroom and meeting room use to ensure cleaning can be scheduled.
  • Centrally booked classrooms/meeting rooms will only be used once per day to allow for required cleaning protocols.
  • Centrally booked meeting rooms require the approval of the Scheduling Office and are no longer considered “self serve".
  • Only select rooms in ATAC and Regional Centre (Thunder Bay Campus) and Orillia Academic Simcoe Hall (Orillia Campus) are available for ad-hoc bookings (with the exception of department owned space - see below). If you require a specific space not listed in the portal, please contact Scheduling at
  • When possible, virtual meetings are recommended; requests must include the purpose and rationale why remote is not an option.
  • Bookings must include an accurate number of attendees. 
  • Please be aware that rooms no longer have the same occupancy as previous years and have been updated based on current government guidelines. 
  • Until further notice, ad-hoc bookings will not be accepted from 5:30 pm Friday to 8:30 am Monday (weekend).

Department Owned Space Guidelines 

If you require use of department owned space, please ensure you submit your request to the Scheduling Office ( so the reservation is added to the room booking portal. Security and Physical Plant rely on this information to know when/where people are located on our campuses.

Some of my employees are uncomfortable returning to the workplace... Can they stay at home? Is continuing to work from home an option? Has there been any discussion for a more flexible model?

The return to our campuses will be guided by all University policies, as well as advice, recommendations, and instructions from public health, and any legislation from the government.

Return to work plans are to be approved by a Vice-President.

The Office of Human Resources and the Office of Human Rights and Equity are standing by to assist supervisors with any specific challenges with respect to their return-to-campus plans.

The University's current priority is to resume on-campus operations for the fall term.

Changes to this approach will continue to adhere to public health and government advice, recommendations, and instructions.

Someone I manage doesn’t want to come to work but they perform a critical service. What can I do if someone refuses to return to work on campus?

For employees who are fearful to physically report to work but provide a service required on campus, it is important that they be provided with all information to demonstrate that we have taken measures to protect their health and safety. The employee should first discuss their concerns with their Supervisor. If a resolution cannot be reached between the employee and their supervisor, please contact Ursula Macdonald, Manager, Health, Safety and Wellness. Should they still not want to report, Human Resources will need to be contacted for further discussion.

I have or live with someone who has a pre-existing medical condition and/or is immunocompromised. What are my options to keep me and my family safe?

If you or someone you live with has an underlying medical condition that presents an increased risk of complications from COVID-19, we encourage you to discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisor to find the best solution to keep you and your family safe. Please discuss your concerns with your Supervisor with respect to current office cleaning protocols and physical distancing. Depending on your position and with further discussion with Human resources, it may be possible to reduce your exposure to other staff or public. A medical certificate will be required for specific accommodations. The university’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy should provide you added comfort on the safety within the campus.

Cleaning personal workstations (keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc) has been the responsibility of the workspace owner. Will cleaning contracts be updated to ensure workspaces are frequently cleaned?

Cleaning will be increased to twice daily in high-touch areas (ex: door handles, entry keypads, washrooms). If you feel the need, you are welcome to wipe down and disinfect you work stations.

What are some things I can do to keep my workspace clean when I return to work?

Coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product when used according to the label directions. Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19. We can all contribute to a healthy office by keeping our workspace clean.

If employees are travelling outside of Northwestern Ontario or the Simcoe-Muskoka district will there be any recommendations to stay out of the office for a number of days?

We continue to follow the advice received from local health authorities. Currently, there is no requirement to stay out of the office if travelling outside of these areas unless you have symptoms. Please follow this link to find latest information from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

What will be the return to work protocol if someone calls in sick with COVID-19 like symptoms? What if a member in the same household is exposed at work or at school. Does the employee then pivot to work from home?

Employees are required to inform their Supervisor if they are sick and unable to work. We continue to follow the advice from local health authorities (which is always changing). If a person is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, we encourage COVID-19 testing and maintaining distance. Please follow this link to find latest information from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit.

What are the protocols for wearing masks?

The University will continue to follow provincial guidelines. As of Sept 8, 2021 the following has been communicated:

Mandatory Masking in all Lakehead University Libraries

Please be advised that masks or face coverings must now be worn at all times in our libraries on both campuses. Exceptions only apply to single occupants in an office or library study room, as well as other exemptions as defined by the Province.

Mandatory Masking in all Lakehead University Classroom Spaces

Following recent sector-wide discussions on the matter, it has been determined that Ontario University instructors and students must now wear masks or face coverings while in their classrooms. The only exemptions are those defined by the Province.

Has the ventilation system in Office spaces been upgraded?

HVAC Assessment is currently in progress for all buildings on our campuses with a target of six air changes per hour (ACH). All air filters will be changed to MERV 13 or the highest compatible with the existing HVAC infrastructure.

Will there be regular disinfection of elevators, door handles, kitchenette surfaces and waste disposal in buildings?

Physical Plant has a cleaning schedule available on their website. Further questions regarding cleaning should be directed to Physical Plant . 

Which buildings have upgraded HVAC systems?

We have 63 major buildings with 398 HVAC units supporting a wide variety of research, teaching and student activities. In July, we accelerated the retrofit of our mechanical infrastructure. The process prioritized teaching spaces (large number of people in a room for significant period of time), study spaces, and dry research laboratories (including computer laboratories).

Plant Operations staff have been inspecting our HVAC units and in response to latest ASHRAE recommendations retrofitted building filtration systems with more efficient filtration products. All major buildings have been fitted with MERV13 filters (some with additional pre-filters) ensuring the high level of cleanliness of indoor air.

Residence buildings that are currently occupied are equipped with operating windows and BAS had been programmed to provide 100% fresh air. 

What should I do if I have COVID-19 related symptoms while at work?

If you have a fever, new cough or difficulty breathing while working, you should:

  • Inform your supervisor
  • Go home if you are working on-site (avoiding the use of public transportation)
  • Follow the advice of the local public health authorities
  • Call the public health authority in the province or territory they are in to inform them. They will provide advice on occupational health and safety.

If you are/were in the workplace and it is confirmed by a health care provider that you are/were infected with COVID-19, as such, you have a duty to report this hazard to management. This information helps the employer determine a time period when you were in the workplace before self-isolation and take necessary steps

Will there be consequences for people who do not follow Public Health guidelines and other protocols in place?

We all share the responsibility for safe workplaces. On site, managers are responsible for ensuring that protocols are followed. If an individual is not adhering to health and safety requirements, normal administrative and disciplinary processes should be followed.

If all daycares are open, do I need to go back to work as I'm scared for my kids and feel safer watching them as I know they are safe. What are my options if I am told to go back to work?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace. Remember, the return will be gradual, and done respecting all public health measures. We encourage you to discuss your personal situation with your manager to determine the best solution for you and your family. Further discussion with Human resources may be had.

If you need to talk to someone for assistance coping with the stress and anxiety of the situation, there are a number of tools and resources available for you.

What should I do if, once back in the workplace, I feel that others around me are not adhering to the Public Health Measures (PHM) that have been implemented for the good of everyone?

If you see that someone is not adhering to the up-to-date PHM that have been dictated, a simple reminder to your colleague can go a long way. Use your judgement to determine when you might just remind your co-worker of a specific measure. When appropriate, it might be necessary to speak with your supervisor

What type of leave am I required to take if I have to self-isolate or contract COVID-19, or take care of a family member who is affected by COVID-19 (child self-isolating, etc.)?

Employees may access paid sick leave, vacation days, Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) (up to 3 days paid), or personal unpaid days.  Employees are encouraged to speak to their supervisor to explore the possibility of working from home during the isolation period, however medical proof may be needed.

My child has been sent home from school/daycare due to COVID-19 like symptoms, I need to stay home from work to care for my child. What type of leave do I use?

Inform your supervisor about your situation. Based on your position, your supervisor may approve you to work from home for a period of time. If your role is not suitable for working from home, you may also consider using vacation time, or banked lieu time, also based on approval from your supervisor. Should none of these be available or appropriate for your situation, you may consider unpaid leave or IDEL (infectious disease emergency leave).

Will I be able to work from home if I am on self-isolation?

Work from home arrangements will be made for employees when possible but it may not be an option for some due to the nature of their position or other factors. Please discuss this option with your supervisor. Medical proof advising self-isolation may be required in some instances.