Co-op COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: April 30, 2021

Thank you from Lakehead to Co-op Students and Employers:

We’d first like to thank all of our co-op students and employers for their patience and understanding during this uncertain time. We know the pandemic is creating new questions and we are working diligently to provide up-to-date information. 

Co-op Program Support:

We are available to support you on your co-op journey!  The Co-op Coordinator moved to alternate remote work arrangements starting March 17, 2020, but all services are being offered remotely.  You can book an appointment on https://mysuccess.lakeheadu.ca/home.htm for co-op advising.

The decision to move to remote delivery of services to students and employers was made in order to maximize social distancing and to protect the health and safety of our community members. We thank you for your patience. 

Helpful Resources for Co-op Students and Employers during COVID-19:

  1. How to Work From Home: 20 Tips From People Who Do It Successfully
  2. Employment Insurance (EI)
  3. Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
  4. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  5. Lakehead COVID-19 Student Relief Fund
  6. National Student Loan – Student Loan Repayment Suspension
  7. OSAP – Temporary Deferral of Payments
  8. Government of Canada COVID-19 Webpage
  9. Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
  10. Canada Student Service Grant 
  11. Canada Student Loan Program Adjustments for Fall 2020

WINTER 2021: EMPLOYED CO-OP STUDENTS

How can I best protect myself from covid-19?

Follow the guidelines provided by the Government of Canada on their webpage at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html?topic=tilelink - in particular:1. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.2. When coughing or sneezing:

  • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand

  • dispose of any tissues you've used as soon as possible in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands immediately afterward

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."

  • Avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings and close-range conversation or settings where there's: singing, shouting, heavy breathing (for example, during exercise)

3. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering when you're in:

  • public and you might come into close contact with others

  • shared indoor spaces with people from outside your immediate household

4. Stay home and away from others if you feel sick.5. Keep the number of people you have prolonged contact with as small as possible.6. Stick to a small and consistent social circle and avoid gathering in large groups.7. Talk to your employer about working at home if possible.8. Limit contact with those at risk of more severe illness, such as:

  • older adults

  • those with underlying medical conditions

  • those with compromised immune systems

9. Go outside to exercise.10. Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from people outside of your household.

  • Household contacts (people you live with) don't need to distance from each other unless they're sick or have travelled in the last 14 days."

11. Refer as well to the Thunder Bay District Health Unit's "COVID-19:  Stop the Spread" webpage at https://www.tbdhu.com/stopgerms and that of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at https://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/COVID-19/Stop-the-spread.

What should I do if I feel sick?

If you feel sick, it’s recommended to stay home and let your employer know you feel ill. Please contact the co-op coordinator about this concern.

Can I work remotely for the Winter 2021 work term?

Yes, you are allowed to work remotely if your employer can accommodate this practice. You will still receive your co-op credit. This is a temporary measure put in place in response to challenges students are facing created by COVID-19. For more information about the temporary measures put in place for the co-op program due to COVID-19, please visit our Co-op and COVID-19 webpage: Co-op and Covid-19

What should I do if I'm uncomfortable working on-site?

Have a talk with your supervisor about your concerns and see if they can accommodate you to work remotely or take some time off. Please contact the co-op coordinator if you have concerns.If you must work on-site, there’s some recommendations for minimizing your risk outlined by the Government of Canada on their COVID-19 website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html?topic=tilelink

Will I be penalized by the co-op program if I am sick and can't work from home?

No, you will not be penalized for becoming sick due to COVID-19. Please contact the co-op coordinator if you have concerns.

What do I do if I’m financially impacted by having my employer terminate my contract, lay me off, or the workplace is required to close down?

There are a few options for financial assistance in this case. Please see the list of available financial supports at this time:

  1. Employment Insurance (EI)
  2. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  3. Lakehead COVID-19 Student Relief Fund
  4. National Student Loan – Student Loan Repayment Suspension
  5. OSAP – Temporary Deferral of Payments
  6. Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
  7. Canada Student Service Grant 
  8. Canada Student Loan Program Adjustments for Fall 2020

Do EI benefits apply to co-op students?

Employment Insurance is available to co-op students, including international co-op students, if they have worked the requisite 600 hours to qualify. The federal government has made it easier to qualify for EI sick benefits by eliminating the one week waiting period and removing the requirement to obtain a medical certificate certifying illness.https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

What if I have a specific situation that I'm concerned about and I don't know what to do?

Contact the co-op coordinator at coordinator.coop@lakeheadu.ca

SPRING/SUMMER 2021: EMPLOYED CO-OP STUDENTS

What if my employer has decided not to extend my winter 2021 work term into the spring/summer work term, as I expected?

If your employer has decided not to extend your winter 2021 work term into the spring/summer work term, you will need to contact the co-op coordinator and your faculty advisor to discuss. Faculty is allowing students to postpone or “push back” their co-op work term to a subsequent work term if they are offered co-op employment during a later term due to COVID-19. This is a temporary measure put in place in response to challenges students are facing created by COVID-19. For more information about the temporary measures put in place for the co-op program due to COVID-19, please visit our Co-op and COVID-19 webpage: Co-op and Covid-19

Can I work remotely on my Spring/Summer 2021 work term?

Yes, you are allowed to work remotely for Spring/Summer 2021 work term and still receive co-op credit. We’ve recommended the following for our co-op employers:

  • Allow students to work remotely from home until safe to return to work

  • Delay work term start dates as late as 1 month into the term

  • If they need to be physically present for work, to provide students with information about how to minimize their risk and also implement a safety plan for the workplace

  • If you’re uncomfortable with working in-person, contact the co-op coordinator for assistance on your situation. We understand your concerns and want to work with you and your employer.

SPRING/SUMMER 2021: JOB SEARCHING

We are informing co-op employers that are currently in the process of recruiting co-op students for spring/summer 2021, that they are welcome to decide how they would like to proceed. Employers are aware that students are willing and able to apply and interview (remotely) for co-op jobs. They’ve also been recommended to offer remote work or delayed start dates for students for their spring/summer 2021 work term.

How will the temporary grading scheme affect my co-op eligibility?

Upon receipt of the numeric grade, for each course, you will then have the option to change your numeric grade to a Pass (PCR), Fail (FNC), or Late Withdrawal/drop (W). We are recommending to all co-op students that they discuss with their Faculty Advisor how each of the following options could impact their co-op eligibility for their program. See below a summary of how each option could impact co-op eligibility:

  1. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Pass (PCR), this grade will be a credit towards course co-op requirements, but will not be included in the average calculation for co-op eligibility.
  2. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Fail (FNC), this mark will not count as a credit towards program requirements, nor will it be included in the average calculation. If this course/credit is a requirement in order to be eligible for your co-op program, this may impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.
  3. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Late WIthdrawal/Drop (W), this grade is not considered a mark and will not be considered as an attempt in a course. If this course/credit is a requirement in order to be eligible for your co-op program, this may impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.

Note to Engineering Students: If you were conditionally approved and are expected to complete certain courses, achieve a certain average, or receive a tech diploma and you decide to withdraw from a course that causes the condition not to hold, then this will impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.

I am still interested in doing an international co-op work term, is this possible?

Lakehead University is not allowing any new international physical work terms for spring/summer 2021unless students are able to work remotely from within Canada. If you have questions please reach out to your employer, the co-op coordinator, or the LU International Office with more questions. 

What should I dI am still interested in doing an international co-op work term, is this possible?o if I have an interview coming up?

Please email the contact from the company and confirm if the interview is still going forward. They may suggest having a video call interview or reschedule.  

If the employer would like to continue with an in-person interview, and you aren’t comfortable attending, you can suggest the options above. Before you decline the interview, please contact the co-op coordinator, so we can discuss options.

What if I still want to attend an in-person interview?

Follow the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 guidelines for minimizing your risk if you need to do an in-person interview. We suggest confirming with the employer that it is in-person still or if they are able to accommodate a video call interview.

I'm supposed to be relocating to another city within Canada for my work term, what should I do?

We recommend the following in this situation:

  • Discuss with your employer if they are considering remote work or delaying the start date.

  • Check with the airline policy in respect to flight changes or cancellations, also consider delaying booking any flight.

  • Do not sign a lease for an apartment if you haven’t yet - ensure you are able to travel to the location first.

  • If you have already booked flights, check with the airline to determine what options are available for flight changes or cancellations.

  • If you have already signed a lease, ask your landlord what your options are to make changes. If they are inflexible, please contact the co-op coordinator.

Will I be penalized by the co-op program if I can’t start my Winter 2021 work term when expected?

We are allowing employers to push back their start dates to as late as June 1, 2021 for the spring/summer 2021 work term. If your start date is later than this, please contact the co-op coordinator and your faculty advisor immediately.

Can I cancel my work term if I've already accepted a position?

If you are canceling due to concerns about COVID-19, then yes. But please contact the co-op coordinator before making this decision. There are options you can discuss with your employer.

What if I want to stop looking for a work term for spring/summer 2021?

You can choose to stop job searching for spring/summer 2021 or defer to fall 2021. Please let the co-op coordinator know, as there may be other options to consider.

Should I register for courses as a back-up plan incase I don’t secure employment for spring/summer 2021?

Yes, any students that have not secured employment at this time, please register for courses as a back-up plan. But, please be mindful of the Winter 2021 tuition refund schedule as these deadlines are still enforced: https://www.lakeheadu.ca/students/finances/tuition-fees/refunds/refund-schedule-/spring-summer-refund-schedule

What if I have a specific situation that I'm concerned about and I don't know what to do?

Contact the co-op coordinator through email at coordinator.coop@lakeheadu.ca.

FUTURE CO-OP STUDENTS

How will the temporary grading scheme affect my co-op eligibility?

Upon receipt of the numeric grade, for each course, you will then have the option to change your numeric grade to a Pass (PCR), Fail (FNC), or Late Withdrawal/drop (W). We are recommending to all co-op students that they discuss with their Faculty Advisor how each of the following options could impact their co-op eligibility for their program. See below a summary of how each option could impact co-op eligibility:

  1. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Pass (PCR), this grade will be a credit towards course co-op requirements, but will not be included in the average calculation for co-op eligibility.
  2. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Fail (FNC), this mark will not count as a credit towards program requirements, nor will it be included in the average calculation. If this course/credit is a requirement in order to be eligible for your co-op program, this may impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.
  3. If you choose to change your numeric grade to a Late WIthdrawal/Drop (W), this grade is not considered a mark and will not be considered as an attempt in a course. If this course/credit is a requirement in order to be eligible for your co-op program, this may impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.

Note to Engineering Students: If you were conditionally approved and are expected to complete certain courses, achieve a certain average, or receive a tech diploma and you decide to withdraw from a course that causes the condition not to hold, then this will impact your co-op eligibility. Please contact your faculty advisor to discuss.

Can I still apply to join the co-op program for Spring/Summer 2021?

No, we are not accepting any more applications for Spring/Summer 2021.

Can I still apply for the co-op program for Fall 2021?

Yes! The Fall 2021 applications are now open from March 1st - April 30th, 2021. Applications are available on mysuccess.lakeheadu.ca under the Co-op Program tab.

What if my CGPA after Winter 2021 term is lower than expected and I don’t meet the minimum CGPA requirements for Spring/Summer 2021? Will you ignore Winter 2021 grades and just look at my other terms?

We will be as flexible as we can under the current circumstances and may consider admitting students who were not able to reach the CGPA requirements for their program. Students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and we will do our best to support our students. Please contact your co-op faculty advisor with your specific inquiry.

How will I complete the required Co-op Prep Course - will they all be online?

Yes! We’ve arranged the Co-op Prep Course for Spring/Summer 2021 online through D2L for Fall 2021 applicants. Once your application is reviewed and moved forward to faculty, I will enrol you into the D2L 4 week co-op prep course. The Spring/Summer 2021 course starts on May 1st, 2021.

I am planning on being out of the country for Spring/Summer 2021 - does that matter? Can I complete my co-op program application and new co-op student requirements online?

Yes, as long as you have access to a stable internet connection and have a browser, you should be able to complete the application, and if accepted you will have access to the preparatory material (resume, cover letter and interview workshops, one-on-one meetings online) that you’ll need to get you ready to apply to job postings during the Summer.

I am an international student and will need to apply for a co-op work permit, is it still even possible to get a permit?

Yes, please apply for a co-op work permit in preparation for your work term. The Government of Canada is currently keeping a log of applications and will process them as soon as they are able. You will need a valid co-op work permit before you can start your co-op experience.

Should I delay applying to the co-op program until later in my degree?

We are still receiving postings from employers, students are still interviewing and still being hired for Spring/Summer 2021.

If you are an international student, please ensure you apply for a co-op work permit immediately after applying into the co-op program.

We are also working with academic units to confirm potential options for students who would like to complete co-op but have a high number of credit-hours/units and/or are close to graduation. More information will be available on this shortly.

How can I interact with co-op staff?

Co-op coordinator is still available via email and/or online (Zoom) for appointments and assistance. Please connect directly with your co-op program office to schedule an appointment. Email coop@lakeheadu.ca.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

I am an international student in the Co-op Program. My co-op work permit is ending. What are my co-op options for the next semester?

You will need to submit an application for an extension. International students have implied status as long as they applied for a new co-op work permit. Contact Jennifer Hay, Immigration Advisor at LU International Office with any questions about co-op work permits for international co-op students. She can be contacted by email: immigration.intl@lakeheadu.ca

Please check in with the ISS office and see IRCC for additional details: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/foreign-workers/work-without-permit/authorization-work-without-work-permit-implied-status.html

EMPLOYERS

What if my co-op student indicates that they feel ill?

We have advised our students that if they feel ill, they should speak to their employer and see if they can take time off. Our students are concerned about the financial repercussions of staying home, therefore, if your organization can offer sick pay, we highly suggest this for the students.

Is the Co-op Coordinator still available?

The Co-op Coordinator is still available to support you! However, we are restricting public access to our offices on all campuses, therefore all services are being offered remotely. The Co-op Coordinator moved to alternate remote work arrangements starting March 17, 2020. She is still checking her voicemails and answering emails.

The decision to move to remote delivery of services to students and employers was made in order to maximize social distancing, and to protect the health and safety of our community members. We thank you for your patience in advance as we all determine how this remote work may impact our activities with you.

Is there funding available for co-op student work terms at this time?

Yes! The Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) is now accepting applications for funding for Spring/Summer 2021 and still accepting applications for Winter 2021 co-op students. For more details and to apply, visit: https://swpp.magnet.today/

Should co-op students work remotely during this time?

We highly recommend remote work for the Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 work terms. We also recommend any employers arrange remote work or a delayed start date. If you are unable to provide remote work for students, please share some recommendations for minimizing risk outlined by the Government of Canada on their COVID-19 website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html?topic=tilelink

What is the process if we choose to end a co-op students work term early due to COVID-19?

We understand the need to potentially end a co-op student's work term early due to closures, layoffs, or any unforeseen circumstances due to COVID-19. We ask that you contact the co-op coordinator immediately to discuss next steps and discuss how we can best support the student(s). We are working with faculty and senior administration to determine a solution for students so that there are no academic penalties to their co-op work term grade.

What is happening with Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 work terms due to COVID-19?

 As of February 28th: The following response measures have been put in place for Winter 2021 and Spring/Summer 2021 work terms:

  • Students can work remotely·until advised otherwise, if their organization can support this practice

  • Students with work term start dates as late as June 1st, 2020 will still receive co-op credit

  • Students can postpone or “push back” their co-op work term to a subsequent work term, if they are offered co-op employment during a later term

What are some recommendations if we choose to move ahead with Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 work terms?

We are recommending if you move ahead with work terms with our co-op students to consider the following:

  • Allow students to work remotely from home, until further notice

  • Consider a delayed start date 

  • If students must work on-site, make sure you communicate the measures you have in place for the safety of our students

Is there any flexibility on the number of hours required for Co-op work terms for Winter 2021 and Spring/Summer 2021 work terms?

We are allowing a delayed start date of 1 month into each term, as well as an option for students to do research projects, community service learning, virtual internships and volunteer work in order to receive co-op credit (case-by-case basis). The minimum requirement for co-op hours is 420 hours per term. However, we are being quite flexible with this requirement at this time.

Is there funding available for employers to help subsidize the wages of our co-op students?

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program provides eligible businesses with 75% of an employee's salary to a maximum of $847 per week.  To qualify employers must demonstrate their revenues in March 2020 were 30% lower compared with March 2019.  They will also be obligated to demonstrate a revenue shortfall going forward in order to qualify for payments. 

The program is being administered by the Canada Revenue Agency through the My Business Portal.  Click here to log-in and apply.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) 

Loans of up to $40,000 are available through the Export Development Bank (EDC) and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). The funds are intended to supplement wages and help employers cover expenses like rent, and can be accessed through the private financial institution with which the business has a pre-existing relationship. In cases where a private institution is unable to advance credit, loans may be obtained from EDC or BDC.

Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)

The Student Work Placement program gives post-secondary students in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and business programs across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study. Over 11,500 paid student work placements will be created by this program through 2021.

ESDC works with Employer Delivery Partners. Employer Delivery Partners are a group of recognized associations and organizations that represent the interests of employers in industries.

They work with businesses and post-secondary education institutions to:

  • Provide wage subsidies to employers that offer quality student work placements; and

  • Create partnerships with colleges, universities, polytechnics and CEGEPs to recruit students for these placements.

UPDATES TO PROGRAM DUE TO COVID-19

What if I have more questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the co-op coordinator at coordinator.coop@lakeheadu.ca.