Feridun Hamdullahpur sitting in a chair looking at camera

A message from President Feridun Hamdullahpur

As we navigate the changing realities of education and research during a global pandemic and prepare to return to campus, know that the health and safety of our students and employees will always be our primary focus.

COVID-19 has challenged everyone in the University of Waterloo community, and around the world, to levels we have never encountered before. I am so proud of our community’s response to these challenges. The past few months have not been easy, and we will have to continue to rise to the challenge in the weeks and months ahead.

Whether you are returning to campus or coming for the first time, please remember that we’re all in this together. We must look out for one another and each do our part to keep our campus community safe.

We may not all be together on campus just yet, but we are still a community. I know we will continue to thrive.

Our shared responsibility

Teams across campus have been working diligently to plan for a safe and gradual return to campus, informed by public health advice and best practices. A Central Planning Group (CPG) comprised of University leaders is overseeing the University’s plans. The Safety Office is leading the Return to Campus Resource Team, dedicated to preparing the resources, logistics and safety guidelines for returning to campus. The Office of Research is leading the restarting research enterprise and allowing researchers back onto campus in phases. Every student and employee has an important part to play in limiting the risk of COVID-19 and maintaining the safety of our campus community. It is up to each and every one of us to follow public health guidance and the recommendations in this guide and to respect each other as we return and share the space on our campuses.

Our guiding principles

These principles guide our plans to return to campus:

Health and safety first

The health and safety of students and employees is our primary focus.

Government-informed and evidence-based

Applicable local, provincial and federal public health directives and guidelines will inform our plans.


We will co-ordinate across campus and consider the overall impact of increasing operations and associated risks.


We will consider and recognize equity issues – for example, appropriate accommodation of those at increased risk and those who rely on schools and daycare centres for child care.

Responsive and proactive

We will remain nimble as we adapt to government and public health advice and any signs of a possible resurgence of COVID-19.

Transparent and collaborative

We will ensure that employees are represented and involved in developing plans and recommendations. These will be clear, well communicated and ready to implement.


This work will be appropriately resourced to ensure everyone’s safety. We will use resources efficiently to responsibly manage any incremental costs.

Learn more about our guiding principles.

Our approach to a safe return

Read on to learn more about how the University is planning for a safe return and the steps you can take to help maintain a safe and healthy campus.

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Visit the COVID-19 website's Welcome back Waterloo section for the latest health and safety information and the most recent version of this document.

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