NAIT's Response to COVID-19

Information for NAIT Staff

Posted: Mar 13, 2020 7:35 PM   |  Updated: May 29, 2020 8:48 AM

NAIT's relaunch planning is well underway and aligns with the Government of Alberta's Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions. 

This page provides important information for staff about access to our buildings, working from home, taking absences and the requirement to report your working location and status. We also have answers to some frequently asked questions, which are being updated regularly.

We are committed to keeping you informed as things change and as we have new or updated information to share. 

All NAIT staff should review the information on this page and also the information on NAIT’s guide to working from home.

If you have questions or want to discuss your personal circumstances, please contact your Human Resource Consultant or Human Resource Assistant, or reach out to your supervisor or department head.

Understanding COVID-19 health directives

The provincial and federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change daily. It is important that all staff who have travelled recently, are returning from travel, or who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 follow the provincial public health directives

If you believe you have contracted COVID-19:

  • AHS has developed a simple online assessment tool that will guide you through questions about your symptoms and help determine whether you need to call 811 to be tested for COVID-19
  • It will also provide reassurance to those who don’t require further testing and will reduce call volumes to Health Link at 811 for those whose symptoms are not serious at this time
  • If you do need to contact 811 to speak with AHS, they will assist you to determine appropriate next steps 
  • Continue working from home if you are able to do so
  • You are entitled to use your 10 additional paid days if you are unable to work 

We also recommend you download ABTraceTogether, Alberta Health Services’ mobile contact tracing app that helps to let you know if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Alberta Health Services advises that you are legally required to self-isolate for: 

  • 14 days if you returned from international travel or are a close contact of a person with COVID-19, plus an additional 10 days from the onset of symptoms, should they occur 
  • 10 days if you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition 

If you are under mandatory self-isolation, please do not go to school, work, other public areas or community settings.  

To adhere to federal requirements under the Quarantine Act, Albertans who are under mandatory self-isolation must stay inside and can no longer go for walks in their neighbourhood. You may go outside on your own private property if it is not publicly accessible by others. If you live in an apartment building or high-rise, you cannot use elevators and stairwells. If you have a private balcony at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour, you may go outside on the balcony. 

Further, staff should understand the travel advisories that the Government of Canada has now put in place. Canadians are asked to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

If you choose to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • you will be required to self-isolate when you return as per the federal and provincial directives
  • you will not be eligible to use the 10 paid COVID-19 days, since the trip was your choice and was taken after travel advisories were issued. 

For more information about COVID-19 and the federal and provincial response, please visit:

Building access

In keeping with direction from the Government of Canada and Alberta Health Services, we have closed several campuses, buildings and wings and have restricted access to others. Only staff whose jobs require them to be on site and who have their supervisor’s permission are allowed on campus. 

Staff can find refer to the Facility and Service Status for ongoing updates on the status of buildings and services on campus. This includes a map that shows the status of buildings on Main Campus. Souch, Patricia and Spruce Grove campuses are closed.

All staff were required to collect essential items by March 24. If there is something essential staff need to retrieve, they should contact their supervisor to determine if access is available.

Guidelines for brief visits to work on campus

To maintain a safe work environment, Health and Safety Services (HSS) has developed an online form COVID-19 Response – Visit Registry for Staff and related guidelines to support staff and supervisors’ short-term visits to conduct work on site.

If staff need to work on campus for a duration not to exceed four hours, they must do the following prior to visiting campus:

  1. review the guidelines
  2. inform and coordinate their visit with their department head/director
  3. receive approval from their dean/associate vice-president/executive director
  4. complete the registration form

Staff who are required by their role (such as security, maintenance, etc.) to work on campus on a scheduled basis are not required to complete this form.

Working from home during COVID-19

Unless your job requires you to be on campus and you have permission from your supervisor, all staff who are able to work from home should now be doing so. To ensure NAIT aligns with direction from the Government of Canada and Alberta Health Services, we have closed most campuses, buildings and wings, and have restricted access to others.

To help support this transition and make sure working from home is done responsibly and safely, all staff are required to review:

Absences related to COVID-19

NAIT understands that these are exceptional times for staff, and absences may be required for a variety of reasons – including childcare, self-isolation, illness, and/or not being able to work from home.

All salaried (full-time, part-time or temporary), sessional and casual staff at NAIT are entitled to take 10 paid days during the COVID-19 pandemic for absences related to COVID-19. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • requirement to self-isolate, as per the Alberta Health directive, and unable to work from home 
  • childcare or dependent care due to school or daycare closures, or illness, and unable to work from home
  • unable to work from home for other reasons

These 10 COVID-19 days are in addition to the 10 days casual illness leave and 80 days general illness leave outlined in our collective agreements and our HR procedures for MAE staff, and align with changes to the Employment Standards Code. 

If staff are sick and need to access general illness for any COVID-19 or non-COVID related illness or injury, they are not required to provide medical notes until further notice. NAIT does not want to put further stress on our health care system during the pandemic. 

For staff who are trying to balance their personal and work situation due to COVID-19, there are a number of options for taking time off if working from home isn’t an option (or is only an option some of the time). In addition to the 10 paid COVID days:

  • Salaried full- and part-time employees can use their 2020 wellness day (AUPE and MAE only) 
  • Special leave days can be used; we’ve relaxed the rules to allow staff to access these days if you need them 
  • Vacation days can be used 

Tracking working location/status and recording absences

All staff, regardless of current working status, are required to record COVID-related absences through the online absence management system and report work location and status (including any changes) through the COVID-19 Tracking System

This includes staff who are:

  • working from home 
  • home caring for dependents and not working
  • working at NAIT
  • self-isolating, quarantined out of country, or sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 Tracking System

All staff are required to update their status and work location using the COVID-19 Tracking System. This is an important health and safety tool being used by the EOC. Updates only need to be made when your working status or location changes (e.g. you are not able to work, or you have started working from home).

There are a few fields that staff need to fill out in the tracking system:

  1. Effective date: this is the date that the status takes effect  
  2. Reporting status: this is your primary reason for reporting (e.g. NAIT Closure/Office Relocation, for those who have been asked to work from home)  
  3. Work status: select whether you are working or unable to work  
  4. Work location: where you are working (e.g. home) – we do not require a physical address  

For staff who are taking some time off to deal with childcare issues, you will be required to update your status every time you are not working. For example, if you are working half-days, you would make two updates per day, such as:

  • Morning: NAIT Closures/Office Relocation & Working Remotely 
  • Afternoon: NAIT Closures/Office Relocation & Unable to Work 

If you are not able to update the tracking system, please contact your supervisor. They can make entries on your behalf. 

Talk to your Human Resource Assistant if you have questions about your specific circumstance and how to use the system.

Entering absences

Please make sure you enter all absences, regardless of the reason, through the online absence system (accessible through MyProfile) as you normally would. Use the appropriate leave codes.

  • If you are unable to work (e.g. taking time off to care for children) and are using some of your 10 COVID-19 days, you must select “pandemic” as the absence type and “COVID-19” as the absence code. This is important for tracking purposes.

Absences not related to COVID-19

Absences not related to COVID-19 (e.g. annual vacation, illness not related to COVID-19) should continue to be reported as usual, including notifying your supervisor. 

If you are working on campus

If you are one of the few staff members who are still required to work on campus and have the permission of your supervisor to do so, you may find yourself working alone and should follow safe working alone practices. 

If you need to work on campus:

  • ensure you coordinate a check-in procedure with your supervisor
  • additionally, you can use the NAIT Alert - Work Alone feature

Staff should also follow these safety precautions:

  • Close all doors fully as you exit 
  • Do not give unauthorized access into NAIT buildings 
  • Know what to do in an emergency
  • Know how to call for help 
  • Download the NAIT Alert mobile app, where you can access safety features
  • Report your working location through the COVID-19 Tracking System

It is also important to remember that many Emergency Wardens are now working at home and you may need to act as an interim Emergency Warden. Staff who remain on campus should:

  • Review the guidelines for Emergency Procedures  
  • During an Emergency, sweep and clear workspaces and common areas
  • Review your primary and secondary egress routes and know where you muster location is
  • Review assistance plans for those staff still in the area who have mobility issues

Update your contact information

In an emergency, NAIT’s Emergency Operations Centre may need to reach you to confirm you are safe, or to reach your designated contacts. Please take a few minutes to update your contact information and emergency contact information on the My Profile section of the staff intranet. 


Frequently asked questions for Instructors

How can I get help teaching online and making the transition?

The Teaching Services website should be your first stop in finding resources to support you as you do this work. It has been modified to ensure resources and the latest information is front and centre on the site. 

Teaching Services and the equivalent area in Department of Corporate, International and Continuing Education (Instructional Design and Online Learning) teams are providing instructors with support for online delivery on an ongoing basis. 

An educational technology site in Microsoft Teams has also been created for instructors. This site allows for collaboration and sharing of ideas and resources. We encourage everyone to help their colleagues through this transition. Please share best practices, resources and learnings with others as you go, and answer questions where possible.  

Will my students be able to complete their courses and graduate?

Our intention is for students to complete their courses, including final assessments, in line with the current academic calendar or potentially sooner where possible.  

To ensure this happens, your immediate approach should be to assess what’s left to teach in your courses and prioritize what will be sufficient for students to complete the course with an adequate grasp of the learning outcomes. Determine whether enough learning has occurred for you to be able to assess for a final grade. 

We recognize there may be some instances where it will take longer than originally scheduled to complete course work. Please advise your school leaders if you identify these instances. 

How will students know how to proceed in my class?

Instructors are responsible for communicating the approach they have decided on and what will be expected of students. We recommend you communicate via email or Moodle as soon as possible to let them know you are planning and will share more when you can.  

Be patient with your students, recognizing online learning will be new to many of them. Learning Services will be posting resources and opportunities for support for students through their site. Student are encouraged to check back regularly for new resources. 

Do I need to be on campus?

Unless your job requires you to be on campus, and you have permission from your supervisor, staff should be working from home where possible. Further, to support NAIT's efforts to help "flatten the curve", many campuses, buildings, and wings are now closed and others have restricted access.

Leaders and staff are asked to use NAIT's guide to working from home during COVID-19 to support work-from-home arrangements. The guide outlines technical support, equipment and safety considerations.  

Will exams still take place?

Our intention is to have as many students as possible to complete their courses in line with the academic calendar. Some instructors have decided to continue with exams for the final assessment and other instructors have decided to not use exams. Please connect with your instructor if you have any questions about the final assessment for your course.

How are apprenticeship programs impacted?

NAIT is committed to helping apprentices with options to complete their training during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. More details on the decisions made on cancellations, distance delivery, exams and the attendance policy can be found in NAIT's COVID-19 Update #9.

What do I do if a student contacts me to pick up personal belongings?

With the exception of students who need to access the Computer Commons in CAT, students should not be on campus. They were asked to remove their personal belongings by March 20. 

If they did not do so, and they have belongings that are essential, they need to make an appointment be emailing protectiveservices@nait.ca

Instructional staff are asked to help coordinate the retrieval of essential student belongings from labs and shops. Students should contact you by email first to identify what they need and from where. If you can reasonably verify that they are the property owner, please coordinate with the student and Protective Services.

What mental health supports are available for students?

Student Counselling remains open for student appointments via phone and videoconference. If you believe a student could benefit from a conversation with a counsellor, please refer them to nait.ca/counselling to request an appointment through our contact form. Counselling staff monitors email from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

If you believe a student is in crisis, please refer them to:

  • The Distress Line: 780.482.HELP (4357)
  • Kids Help Phone: live chat online, text 686868 or call 1.800.668.6868
  • myWellness for strategies and 24/7 access to video counselling in over 30 languages
  • Access 24/7: 780.424.2424 or walk-in at the Royal Alexandra Hospital

If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm, they should call 911 or go to their nearest emergency room.

What will happen to students’ financial aid as classes transition online?

NAIT’s Student Awards and Financial Aid office wants to ensure students are aware of any financial aid updates during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have answers to frequently asked financial aid questions in COVID-19 information for students.

How will students be graded?

We have informed all credit students that we are changing the grading system for the Winter 2020 term to an honours/pass/fail (H/P/F) system, instead of percentage grades. We believe this new grading system will help our students progress, while ensuring equity and preservation of academic integrity during these exceptional circumstances. You can read more about the changes on the microsite.

NAIT will return to the regular grading system with percentages for Spring and Summer 2020 classes.

NEW - Will support be available for instructors to further develop skills to teach virtually?

Yes. School deans have worked with Teaching Services to create a schedule to ensure all instructors have access to support between now and September. Instructors should reach out to their school leaders for more information.

NEW - What if I don’t have access to technology I need to teach?

NAIT recently sent a survey to collect information about staff technology needs as work from home continues. In addition, NAIT’s Information and Technology Services department has a record of equipment assigned to each staff member.  We are using all of this data to ensure we are able to purchase and supply any additional technology needed by NAIT staff.  We anticipate having some equipment available as early as this week. In addition, NAIT recently announced a monthly stipend to offset costs of working from home, to cover things like supplies and necessary internet upgrades.