Message to Faculty of Medicine Appointed Staff from Acting Dean Spadafora

March 13, 2020

Dear Colleagues –  

This has been an unprecedented week in our working lives.

We are all feeling the effects of uncertain times; some more than others. We need to recognize that and support each other through that. These are challenging times to be sure, but overall let’s remember Canada is in a good position.

Close to home, leaders and staff across the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) have been hard at work proactively preparing while remaining responsive to a situation that is rapidly evolving. This collaborative, nimble approach stands us in good stead.

Similarly, the University of Toronto is working hard to ensure the health and safety of all of its learners, faculty and staff. Information is being evaluated hour by hour, day by day.

I hope you’ve all seen President Gertler’s message today and this HR message as well. 

There may be more decisions to come. I assure you: minimizing the spread of the virus – and the viral spread of anxiety – will be the primary focus in all sectors and all facets of Canadian life in the weeks ahead. Some reminders:

If You Are Sick or in Self-Isolation

At this time, no employee is required to have a doctor’s note or medical certificate for cold or flu-related absences, or for self-isolation. Individuals who are not symptomatic for COVID-19 but meet the criteria for recommended self-isolation based on public health advice should work from home during this 14-day period. If symptoms of illness arise during self-isolation, please follow the sick leave procedures as outlined.

In order to track COVID-19 related absences as advised by public health, we request that all faculty, staff and librarians who are absent due to flu-like symptoms or are self-isolating complete the Employee Absence Self-Declaration form, available in the HR Service Centre and linked below:

Please continue to inform your Manager, Chair, or Division Head through normal processes if you will be absent due to illness, including cold or flu-related absences. 


Employees who meet the criteria for recommended self-isolation based on public health advice should work from home during the 14-day period. We also recognize that many parents and caregivers may need to work from home while schools are closed to balance their child-care needs. We ask Managers, Chairs, and Division Heads to be as flexible as possible when considering flex-time and telecommuting requests based on this need.  A COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for any employees who need to work from home.  Information Technology Services (ITS) has also prepared technical work-from-home resources to support employees accessing work material while telecommuting.  Additional information will also be provided by the Faculty of Medicine’s IT Director.

We know this is a difficult time. Please know that supports continue to be available to you, including the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. If you have broader questions relating to COVID-19 and the University’s planning, we encourage you to visit the University’s COVID-19 website.

Stay well. Take proper precautions. And be kind to one another.


Sal Spadafora
Acting Dean, Faculty of Medicine