Maintaining academic continuity in the midst of COVID-19

Cheryl Regehr, Vice President and Provost and Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education, University of Toronto

Click the button below to download the full text of the article.




Abstract: The delivery of high-quality academic programmes is central to the mission of any university. For this reason, maintaining academic continuity must be a key aspect of their response to a major disruptive event. A previously described model for ensuring academic continuity in universities presented four phases: pre-planning, approaching crisis, crisis and post-crisis. COVID-19, however, has created unique challenges thanks to its global reach, impact on all aspects of societal operations and continuously evolving nature. This article describes the implementation of a model for managing academic continuity in the initial stages of COVID-19, and the continued adaptation of the model as the crisis has continued and work towards recovery has occurred without a clear end in sight. Reflections are offered with respect to: using established policies and processes; grounding decisions in core values; implementing broad and frequent communication; acknowledging and addressing exhaustion; and taking the time mid-COVID-19 to consider lessons learned.


Keywords: academic continuity, higher education, COVID-19, pandemic, academic disruption


Cheryl Regehr is Vice President and Provost at the University of Toronto. She is a professor of social work, with cross-appointments to the Faculty of Law and the Institute for Medical Sciences. Her recent research focuses on the impact of stress and trauma on decision-making in high-risk professions. Her practice background includes over 20 years of direct service in forensic social work, emergency mental health, and in the administration of mental health programmes, including serving as the Director of the Crisis Response Team at Pearson International Airport.


Susan McCahan is the Vice Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education at the University of Toronto, where she is also a professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the recipient of such major teaching awards as the 3M National Teaching Fellowship and the Medal of Distinction in Engineering Education from Engineers Canada. Her current research focuses on engineering education research and on the engineering learning environment as a designed system. In particular, she is currently working in the areas of assessment and educational technology.


Volume Number: 
Read this featured article now.
To read this article and receive further updates on Henry Stewart Publications content please register using the form below.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.