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COVID-19 information and updates

Find the most recent updates here, as well as FAQs and information for students, faculty and staff.

A message to Political Science Undergraduates on “Back to Mac” COVID planning for Fall 2021

Our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the health and safety of every member of our community. As the University plans for select in-person opportunities in the 2021 Fall term, we want to provide you with information specific to the Faculty of Social Sciences and your program of study within Political Science.

Jun 21, 2021

Dear Political Science Undergraduate students,

Our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the health and safety of every member of our community.  As the University plans for select in-person opportunities in the 2021 Fall term, we want to provide you with information specific to the Faculty of Social Sciences and your program of study within Political Science.

All of us at McMaster and in our Faculty are being guided by Ontario Public Health guidelines. As the provincial government reviews its data and as we await the finer details of its plan for the safe reopening of Ontario, we still do not know how many people can be safely accommodated in our classrooms with required physical distancing protocols. As we await this information, we have had to go ahead and complete academic scheduling so that students can choose their courses and prepare their timetables for Fall and Winter. Our choices about the Fall term reflect a desire to give students greater certainty regarding what the learning environment will be and what will be expected of them. We also aim to reduce the risks of disruption associated with a need to switch modes either just prior to the term or during the term in response to evolving COVID risks and protocols. Finally, we understand that many learners will, for a variety of reasons, not be able to come to campus; we aim to ensure accessible, equitable learning opportunities for all students whatever their circumstances.

Our planning decision for Fall 2021 is that most medium-sized and large lectures (>50 students) in Political Science will be offered in an entirely virtual or online format. For the Winter 2022 term, we will continue to follow Public Health guidelines but are cautiously optimistic that we will return to regular in-person learning.

In the Department, and in the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) as a whole, we commit to the following:

  • For Fall 2021, we will ensure your learning will continue (either in-person or remotely) as permitted by Public Health authorities in Ontario.
  • We will offer flexible and accessible academic options for students in Fall 2021, recognizing that there may be ongoing limitations preventing students from coming to campus. In particular, there will be online or virtual options for all required course components for the Fall 2021 term. This may not be the case for required courses offered by another Faculty. Please check the ‘Notes’ section in Mosaic for further details on each course you select.
  • We will make every effort to ensure that there are options for some in-person experiences in the Fall, while continuing to follow Ontario Public Health guidelines. Political Science courses with in-person options are POLSCI 1AA3 (plus select tutorials) and select Level IV seminars. There will also be opportunities to interact in-person with your peers outside the classroom in sheltered outdoor spaces (with wi-fi) where students can meet with physical distancing.

We know you are looking forward to interacting with your classmates, professors, and teaching assistants. As instructors, we also very much look forward to the day when we meet you again in person. However, we need to be clear that for Fall 2021 there is no requirement for instructors to teach their courses in person. We will continue to share further information as it becomes available throughout the summer so that you will feel comfortable about the enrolment choices you make, and confident in the safety of your environment, for the on-campus opportunities that are available to you.

On behalf of all of us here in the Faculty and Department, we wish you a safe and enjoyable summer.

Dr. Karen Bird, Chair, Department of Political Science

Dr. Tracy Prowse, Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Social Sciences

Please note the following for course enrolment and delivery:

  • In Mosaic, you’ll be able to see how a course is offered (e.g., in-person, virtual, online) when you enroll in your Fall and Winter 2021-2022 courses this month.

Virtual = synchronous (live)

Online = asynchronous (pre-recorded lectures or other posted content)

  • If you are enrolling in a course or course component (e.g., tutorial) designated as in-person, there will varying levels of in-person engagement throughout the Fall term.  You are expected to attend all in-person components of such courses on campus for the duration of the term.
  • If you are not able to attend in-person components of a course (or section), it is recommended that you select another course (or section) that is offered virtually or online.  If the in-person course is a degree requirement where you have no other course options (e.g., an in-person course offered by another Faculty), please contact the Office of the Associate Dean Academic at socscfac@mcmaster.ca where you may request consideration based upon extenuating circumstances.  Please note that not all programs are able to offer consideration and that you may have to defer your enrolment in the course to a future term (Winter 2022, Spring/Summer 2022, Fall 2022) if you are not able to come to campus.
  • Details regarding the nature and frequency of in-person components in individual courses will be included in course outlines, which will be posted on our department website and on Avenue to Learn by mid-August.
  • For all Fall 2021 courses (in-person, virtual, or online), the first week of classes will be delivered virtually.

If you have any questions, please contact the Academic Advising Team in the Office of the Associate Dean Academic for assistance at socscfac@mcmaster.ca.  Updates on ‘Back to Mac’ will continue to be posted on the University’s COVID-19 website as soon as they are released.