April 30, 2020
Dear Friends of St John’s College:
Last week I went down to the College to check my mail – just in and out in ten minutes. The meaning of lockdown hit me as I walked through the doors. The buildings are completely quiet and empty. No smiling faces, no noise as people rush from one class to another, lights dim. It was an eerie feeling.
I did not go over to the residence, but I do know we still have about 75 students living in the residence. Ian Park and his team continues to provide nutritious meals to the students now served individually on paper plates and students are encouraged to take their meals back to their rooms. If they eat in the dining hall they are to stay apart. Shirley Mooyman and the housekeeping team keep the entire building sanitized and spotless. As we near the end of term, our students face some tough decisions. Many cannot go home because of the restrictions on travel and yet they had not budgeted to pay the additional residence fees and so are turning to us for help.
We have had to shift the emphasis in the use of the Drewry Funds for Emergency Support for students. Initially we were helping primarily non-resident students giving them small amounts to carry them through their rent and groceries. Now we are having to designate much larger amounts to help out our own residence students as we shift towards a summer of continuing stay-at-home isolation.
We have been able to do this through your continued support. Since we put out our appeal you all have donated a total of $10, 889. We have received 70 requests for help totalling $86, 432 and have been able to help out 43 students to the amount of $15, 932. THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart and thank you from all the students that you have been able to support.
Along with the rest of the University we were asked to find a 10% cut in our salaries by the provincial government. After a weekend of very hard work by our Bursar, Ivan Froese, we proposed not to fill one of our positions that is vacant which allowed us to meet the request. We have not heard anything back from the government so to date have no idea what, if anything, will be implemented.
The work of the College goes on and we are becoming too familiar with ZOOM! Our Membership, Honorary Degree, and Assembly Executive Committees continue to meet and make decisions to pass on to the larger bodies of Assembly and Council. Over the next couple of weeks, they will both be meeting electronically. Wish us well.
Our Development Assistant, Jill Stafford, will be retiring as of May 29. Her last day at work was April 24 and she is now taking her accrued holiday time. Many of you will have been in contact with Jill over the past eight years and will want to join me in thanking her for all her work. Enjoy your retirement, Jill!
The rest of the staff continue to stay connected and working together as well as we can. Everyone is focusing on collaborating on various project work, as well as processing award applications, refreshing our website, preparing for our annual audit and annual report, and keeping our operations going as best we can until some sense of a new normal can be established.
Our Fellows are engaging the research around COVID-19. Prof Esyllt Jones, our Dean of Studies has been appointed to the Royal Society of Canada’s COVID-19 Task Force Steering Committee and continues to speak out in the media about her research on the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Dr Adolph Ng received a Research Manitoba grant for $258,900 to examine supply chain management issues during the pandemic.
Thank you for your ongoing support of the College during these difficult times. Stay home. Stay safe. Be healthy.
April 1, 2020
COVID-19 has impacted all of us, forcing each of us to do our part to combat this unprecedented threat. St John’s College, as an institution, is doing everything it can to support that effort and at the same time support and care for our students, staff, fellows, and the whole College community.
Since the University closed its buildings on March 23rd, the Administrative Staff have been working at home – staying in contact via email and doing their best to stay engaged and on top of all the critical functions that need to continue. A few examples of that include our April 1st scholarship deadline, our March 31st fiscal year end, processing payroll, managing the operations of the residence, and processing summer residence applications and fees. Not to mention all our vendors that still need to be paid.
Fellows are required to work and teach from home, too. They have had to adjust their end of term teaching so that it can be delivered online, and all research is being conducted from home as well.
We are particularly thankful to the Food Service and Housekeeping staff for their dedication and commitment. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to work from home, and they have been critical in allowing our Residence to remain operational.
Led by Ian Park and Shirley Mooyman, Food Services and Housekeeping continue to work on-site and are making sure all our residents are being fed and taken care of. We’ve reduced the number of Food Service staff who are at the College on a daily basis, and have split them into two separate teams who are alternating their shifts. Our food service delivery system has changed dramatically to make safety the number one priority. This means we are no longer using the “buffet style” method of serving food. Plates are prepared and delivered individually and directly to the students who are then encouraged to either take their meal back to their room or sit in the dining room at an acceptable distance from one another. The students have adapted well to this, and everyone is getting comfortable with the new system. The Housekeeping staff have increased their focus on washrooms and common surfaces and are working hard to provide a clean, safe, and sterile environment for our residents.
We have not laid off any staff or reduced anyone’s hours. We are thankful for the wage subsidy program announced by the Federal Government and will take full advantage of it. Those subsidies, as well as the revenues (albeit significantly reduced) from our residence will allow the College to continue to pay and support our staff.
A number of our domestic students have returned home, and so have two of our students from Minnesota. However, we still have 84 students living in our residence. Approximately 75 of them are international. Our continuing challenge is to deliver the message of the importance of social distancing, handwashing, etc. Overall, the students have received this message and are doing their best to implement it, but this is obviously complicated by the fact that it’s a shared living space and students are in close proximity to each other. Our Dons are doing a great job monitoring the situation and overall, we’re doing as well as can be expected.
We have approximately 30 applicants for summer residence and expect that number to grow. There are a lot of international students who had originally planned to return home for the summer who are no longer able to. We are accepting applications from any students currently living in our residence, or in other residences on the Fort Garry Campus.
While the long-term fundraising activities of the College will continue to focus on a new residence, many of our students are in an emergency situation which calls upon our additional support. They are grateful that they are to be able to continue living at St John’s during these uncertain times, but a lot of them are now facing financial hardship and additional living expenses that they had not planned for. And we must not forget that in addition to our Residents, we also have approximately 800 members who are day students and who are also experiencing financial hardship and need our support.
We have already asked the St John’s College Fellows to contribute to an emergency fund for students, and the response has been encouraging. We would like to extend that request to the rest of our community as well. The need is significant. If you are able, please consider donating to the Charles Edward Drewry Bequest Fund. These are funds that go directly to St John’s students who have a demonstrated financial need.
This can be done online:
Please go to http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_johns/alumni_dev/index.html and click on the Donate Now box in the bottom right corner, and specify in the comment box that you wish to donate to the Drewry Fund.
Thank you for being part of the St John’s College Community and for your continued support. We are doing our best to remain engaged and provide whatever help and support we can to our students during these challenging times.
Please stay safe and stay healthy.
March 23, 2020
A message from Chris Trott, Warden at St John’s College:
On Friday, March 20, 2020, President Barnard announced that all University buildings will be closed as of midnight on Monday, March 23rd. St John’s College has decided to close its buildings as well.
However, our Residence will continue to operate and support the international students who are living here, as well as any other student who is unable to return home safely. Food Service and housekeeping will be provided in a way that will most safely guard the health of our residents, and our staff.
Our administrative staff will be working from home as much as possible. Essential functions such as payments to vendors and payroll for our staff will continue.
Scholarship and Bursary applications for the April 1st deadline are all on-line and can be submitted electronically to Sherry.Peters@umanitoba.ca
Residence applications are also on-line and can also be submitted electronically https://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_johns/residence/Apply_now.html
All other face-to-face meetings and gatherings are cancelled. Where necessary, we will arrange to have electronic meetings to ensure necessary business is carried out.
Take care of yourselves during this time. These measures are for the good health of everyone.
March 19, 2020
As of Friday, March 20, 2020, The Daily Bread Café and Pizza Joe's will be closed until further notice.
March 17, 2020
The last number of days have seen significant changes in the spread of the virus and the actions people are being asked to take to limit the impact on all of us.
Classes are being transitioned to online delivery, but our residence remains open and our food service will continue as long as we have students in the residence. However, we will be making a few changes to how we deliver that service that is designed to safeguard their health:
General Residence Precautions
One of the things that makes our residence a community is the social aspect and the close bonds and friendships that are developed. However, in order to be responsible and do our part to limit the spread of the corona-virus, we need to monitor and adapt our own behaviour, practicing social distancing and limiting large gatherings of people in a single area. This applies to gatherings within the residence, but also in the community outside of residence.
The General Office staff will be reduced, and will work on a rotating schedule. Staff will work from home as much as possible when they are not in the office.
As always, people are asked to refer to the Manitoba Health website for specific information regarding the outbreak, and what to do if you feel sick or develop symptoms: https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/
This page will continue to be updated as we have new information to provide.
The University is always providing updates here: http://umanitoba.ca/coronavirus
Letter from the SJC Chaplain
Links to Media Interviews with Dr. Esyllt Jones, Dean of Studies, on COVID-19
Interviewed by Darren Bernardt, CBC radio, How the Spanish flu compares to COVID-19: Lessons learned, answers still being pursued https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/spanish-flu-covid-coronavirus-canada-manitoba-1.5523410
Interviewed by Alex de Boer, CiTR 101.9FM, UBC Campus Radio, Seeking Office Episode March 20, 2020, ”Canada Now and Then: A Look at Two Influenza Pandemics” https://www.citr.ca/radio/seeking-office/episode/20200320/
Interviewed by Drew May, Brandon Sun, “Covid-19 Pandemic Echoes the Spanish Flu” https://www.brandonsun.com/local/COVID-19-pandemic-echoes-Spanish-flu-568989711.html
Interviewed by Josh Aldrich, Winnipeg Sun https://winnipegsun.com/news/local-news/lessons-to-be-learned-from-spanish-flu-in-dealing-with-covid-19
ActiveHistory.ca, “The Distance Between Us: The Implications of Pandemic Influenza in 1918-1919,” http://activehistory.ca/2020/03/the-distance-between-us-the-implications-of-pandemic-influenza-in-1918-1919/
Niche: Network in Canadian History and Environment With Magda Fahrni (UQAUM), “What Difference Does a Century Make? Pandemic Responses to Influenza and Covid-19” https://niche-canada.org/2020/04/01/what-difference-does-a-century-make-pandemic-responses-to-influenza-and-covid-19/