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Utogether: Faculty of Dentistry Updates

UPDATED: APRIL 1st, 2021

Dear students, faculty, staff, and instructors;

As we are about to begin this long weekend, I wish to provide you with a brief update.

We have all seen the rise in COVID-19 counts in the community, and we are awaiting an expected announcement from the Premier today. The presence of this third wave reinforces the need for each one of us to continue to strictly adhere to the safety measures we already have in place. These include: wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and doing the UCheck self-assessment if coming to the Faculty. While it is so easy to let our guard down, we must continue to be patient and follow these protocols. 

Many of you read President Gertler’s letter of March 8th to the U of T community, where he said that the university is preparing for a gradual and safe return to in person activities for the fall 2021 term. We are preparing our own plans that will see us carrying out much more in person than we experienced this past year. It is encouraging to keep this in mind as we continue with our current safety requirements.

This year, once again, UofT’s spring convocation and our own Licensing and Awards ceremony will take place virtually, both on June 23rd. Our virtual Licensing and Award event will take place at 10:00 a.m. and the convocation ceremony will take place at noon. Further details will be forwarded in the future.

Vaccinations have been progressing well. The earlier supply issues now appear to have been resolved, and we should anticipate an accelerated roll-out so that, hopefully, everyone can get their first injection in the not-too-distant future. As you know, faculty, instructors, staff, and students involved in patient care can register to be seen at the UHN clinic held at the MaRS building. Details on the requirements to qualify and how to pre-register can be found here.  Students treating patients also have the opportunity of being seen at the UofT site, which is at the Test Centre on McCaul St. We are seeing the age requirements for the general population gradually being lowered. Currently, anyone who is 60 years of age or older can arrange for vaccinations at many pharmacies. I strongly encourage everyone to pursue the opportunity to receive the vaccine as it becomes available. 

As part of UofT’s fall preparedness and planning, an on-site rapid screening for COVID-19 is being piloted, and our clinic has been selected as one of the sites. The plans are still being finalized, but at this point in time it is intended to be offered on a voluntary basis to staff, faculty, instructors, and students who are active in our clinics. The screening will be conducted twice a week, at fixed intervals, by a clinician from Health and Wellness. The results will be reported directly via an online portal to the person 15 minutes after the test is completed. More details will be forwarded in the near future.

A separate endeavour was seen earlier this week when our office sent out a notice regarding a national study being conducted on the incidence rate of COVID-19 among trainees, faculty and support staff in Canadian dental schools. The results will provide valuable information on COVID-19 and I encourage you to participate. Details are described in the email sent from my office on March 29th.

There is no question that the past year has been very difficult for everyone. We are all feeling exhausted and perhaps a sense of isolation. And, although the end of the pandemic appears to be in sight, we are not there yet, and have to continue to remain patient. As a result, it is certainly understandable that a number of us will experience significant anxiety or stress. As always, please know that you should not hesitate to speak to any of us at the Faculty, and please access the help and resources that are available. Students can find support at all times through My Student Support Program (MYSSP) or Good2Talk, as well as the UofT Student Mental Health Resource for mental health services. Faculty and staff can access support through the Employee Assistance Program.

This is the time of year when Easter, Passover, and Ramadan, are upon us. As we experienced a year ago, how we take part in these observances will be different than in the past, but I still hope that you will be able to connect with your loved ones in a manner that is warm, yet safe. As well, please take advantage of this long weekend to rest and relax.

As always, I want to thank all of you for your hard work and understanding. We must continue to remain vigilant and follow all safety protocols for a while yet, but we should be heartened to know that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

Take care,

________________________

Daniel Haas, DDS, PhD, FRCD(C)
Professor and Dean
Arthur Zwingenberger Decanal Chair

 

UPDATED: FEBURARY 11th, 2021

Dear students, faculty, staff, and instructors;

As we are about to enter this Family Day weekend, I want to take this opportunity to provide you with a brief update.

This past week I had the pleasure of taking part in 2 activities that confirmed my sense of great optimism for the future of our profession. On Tuesday, I attended our annual Research Day, and it was truly a delight to see the quality and breadth of research taking place at our Faculty. The day’s success was further supported by the presence of prestigious keynote speakers, as we heard from the Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the President of the International Association for Dental Research, and the President of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. 

This past weekend I took part in virtual ‚Äúcoffee breaks‚ÄĚ with our applicants to the DDS program as they awaited, or just completed, their interviews. I was joined by our Director of Student Life and our Registrar, as well as quite a number of our current DDS students, where we answered the applicants‚Äô questions about our program and dentistry itself.

Seeing our talent in Research Day bodes well for the future of academic dentistry and our goal of advancing our profession through the creation of knowledge. Sharing the coffee chat with our students during the interview weekend, and witnessing their character during these discussions with our applicants, confirmed my confidence that our graduates will be caring and conscientious professionals.

As we know, February is Black History Month. UofT is offering a number of events that can be found on its Black History Month website.  Please consider participating.

I have a few updates regarding our infrastructure projects. Our current projects in the building are progressing well, which include the installation of the new MDR, as well as the renovations to upgrade our Auditorium. We have a working group who meet regularly to plan for future renovations of Lab 4 and Clinic 2. 

I am also pleased to announce that we have very recently made arrangements to construct a satellite dental clinic, which will be within walking distance of our building at 124 Edward. A clinic of 40 enclosed dental operatories will be built at the southeast corner of Bay and College, on the 22nd floor of 777 Bay Street. This clinic will provide extra capacity for our students and patients, and allow for swing space for future renovations in our building, such as that for Clinic 2.  We are aiming to complete this clinic for September of this year.

Our DDS program continues to undergo modifications to its schedule, as we try to mitigate the effect of the current restrictions. The continuation of the 10-student gathering size limit for the time being necessitates that our DDS-1, DDS-2, and IDAPP students will return in the summer for sessions in Lab 4. The details are still being finalized, but the plan is for our DDS-1 students to return from May 10th to June 18th.  The plan is for our DDS-2 students to return from June 21st to August 28th.  Our IDAPP students will be returning from June 28th to August 28th.  For DDS-3 and DDS-4, we are continuing with our 3 clinics per weekday schedule. For DDS-4, we will commence having Saturday AGP clinics beginning on March 13th, which is the weekend following the NDEB exams, and these clinics will run until May 1st, with the exception of the Easter long weekend.

It is still early to predict how our programs will be scheduled for the fall, but the university is currently preparing a number of contingency plans.

Regarding the vaccine, there is little to update as the recent supply issues have delayed plans for implementation. We continue to work with others at UofT to arrange for the vaccination of our own community and will advise everyone as soon as we have more details to share. 

The recent decline in COVID-19 counts in the community gives us a basis for optimism for the future.  Yet, their numbers are still not at a level where we can begin to relax our precautions, and there is the concern over the variants. Therefore, each one of us must continue to strictly adhere to the safety measures we have in place that include: wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and doing the UCheck self-assessment if coming to the school.  As challenging as it is, we must continue to be patient and do our part.

As before, it is certainly to be expected that a number of us may experience significant anxiety or stress. If so, please do not hesitate to speak to any of us at the Faculty, and please access the help and resources that are available. Students can find support at all times through My Student Support Program (MYSSP) or Good2Talk, as well as the UofT Student Mental Health Resource for mental health services. Faculty and staff can access support through the Employee Assistance Program.

I wish to thank all of you for your continued patience, remarkable understanding, and hard work during these difficult times.

This Family Day weekend, and for those entering Reading Week, as well as those in our community celebrating the Lunar New Year, please take the time to relax and connect with your family in a warm, yet safe, manner.

Stay safe and take care,

________________________

Daniel Haas, DDS, PhD, FRCD(C)
Professor and Dean
Arthur Zwingenberger Decanal Chair

UPDATED: FRIDAY JANUARY 15th, 2021

Dear students, faculty, staff, and instructors;

I trust that everyone was able to find time to relax over the holiday break and I wish you all the best for the new year that has begun.

As we know, on Tuesday, the premier declared a provincial emergency in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes a stay-at-home order with some exceptions for essential purposes. The Faculty has continued to function under the lockdown measures previously in place so, at the present time, it appears that our current measures are already aligned with this new directive. We should continue to come to our building for essential activity only. This includes research that has received prior approval, required in-person teaching and learning, provision of patient care, and other work deemed to be essential.

The unfortunate continuation of high COVID-19 counts in the community underscore the importance of each one of us to continue to strictly adhere to the safety measures we have in place. This includes wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and doing the UCheck self-assessment if coming to the school. These measures are essential to support the health and safety of us all.

Last evening the RCDSO sent out a message to all dentists, in light of this new directive. It is important to note that there is no change in the scope of practice for dentistry. We must continue to use enhanced precautions in place for patient care.

With respect to teaching and learning, all lectures and seminars will continue to be delivered online for this term. At the present time, the 10-student gathering size restriction brought in at the end of November remains in effect. We are currently advocating to be included in the amendment released on December 4th by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, that allowed most other health profession training programs to return to a 50-person limit. Since that time, we have worked with other organizations to have them advocate to have dentistry included on that list. We have worked with the Registrar and President of the RCDSO, as well as the Executive Director and President of the ODA, who have all been very helpful in communicating with the government on our behalf. We have also communicated with the President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, who also has advocated on our behalf. Our student leaders created an online petition, that has received over 2,000 signatures to date, and was sent to the Ministry. On Monday, TVO Online published an opinion piece on this matter that I wrote in an attempt to raise public awareness.

All this said, we must remain in compliance with the restrictions currently in place. On Monday, our DDS-1 and DDS-2 students will be attending the Lab 4 simulation sessions under a new modified schedule that we expect will be in place at least until Reading Week. Since we have been given no indication when the 10-student restriction will be lifted, we are now preparing plans for DDS-1 and DDS-2 classes to return in the summer to make up the lost time. This will have consequences for many things, including the summer research program. In discussion with Dr. Ganss, we are trying to mitigate its impact on the program as much as possible. We are hopeful that DDS-1 students will still be able to take part, but it will be challenging for DDS-2, given the limited time available. We are working out the details now and will let everyone know the outcome as soon as possible.

Regarding the vaccine, dentistry has very recently been included in the Ministry of Health‚Äôs ‚ÄúPrimary Priorities‚ÄĚ category. We are working with others at UofT to arrange for the vaccination of our own community. We will advise everyone as soon as we have more details.

At this week’s Faculty Council meeting, Professor Joe Desloges, as one of the leads of UofT’s Mental Health Services Redesign Team, provided a presentation on the action items from the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. This is a very important initiative for us all. As such, our students should be aware of the new UofT Student Mental Health Resource for mental health services available to them.

It is an understatement to say that the past 10 months have been incredibly difficult. And, this morning’s projections from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the near future on the impact of COVID-19 are very troubling indeed. Yet, although the next few months will be challenging, today we are at a point where there are other signs pointing to a brighter future on the horizon. Many of us may feel that the vaccine rollout is not moving as fast as we would like, yet all signs point toward marked improvement by the early spring. Canada will have more than enough doses for everyone. If the population can avoid significant vaccine hesitancy, we should be able to reach herd immunity. This should allow for a gradual, incremental, relaxation of the current restrictions at some point in the spring. 

Until that time we must remain patient, and continue functioning with the measures in place. We have shown the resilience to do it and we just need to continue for a little while longer. Yet, as we still need to work under these challenging conditions, it is so understandable that a number of us may experience significant anxiety or stress. If so, please do not hesitate to speak to any of us at the Faculty, and please access the help and resources that are available. Students can find support at all times through My Student Support Program (MYSSP) or Good2Talk. Faculty and staff can access support through the Employee Assistance Program.

I want to thank all of you for your continued patience, understanding, and hard work during these trying times.

Stay safe and take care,

________________________

Daniel Haas, DDS, PhD, FRCD(C)
Professor and Dean

UPDATED: DECEMBER 3rd, 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff, and instructors;

As we enter the last few weeks of this fall term, I wish to briefly touch base with you.

While we continue to deal with the many challenges that the pandemic has brought us, it is a pleasure to be able to share some good news. This week the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) announced the winners of the prestigious Gies Awards for 2021. Our Faculty won the Gies Award for Achievement ‚Äď Academic Dental Institution. As the ADEAGies Foundation has noted, these awards exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research, and leadership.¬†As you likely know, William J. Gies published the landmark report that established the importance of dentistry as an essential component of higher education in the health professions. This recognition of our many years of achievement is a delight to see. The award will be presented in conjunction with the ADEA annual meeting in March 2021.

As we carry on with our research, teaching, and patient care commitments as best as possible under the COVID-19 restrictions, we continue to pursue the Faculty’s goals as stated in our Strategic Plan. The Wellness working group continues to meet virtually with consideration of a number of initiatives, including the development of a framework to guide action for students, staff, and faculty. The Houses initiative, aimed at giving our students a sense of belonging, is now being rolled out beginning with our DDS-1 and DDS-2 students, with the plan to extend it to all undergraduate and graduate students in the future. The DICE working group members have begun their meetings and are considering ways to develop a positive and inclusive culture that promotes diversity and equity at the Faculty. And, the other Strategic Plan working groups continue their efforts on their respective goals.

I want to thank everyone for continuing to follow the safety measures we have in place, such as the UCheck self-assessment, wearing a mask, and maintaining physical distance. Again, I cannot overemphasize how important it is that each one of us strictly adheres to these steps at all times.

The restrictions as a result to Toronto‚Äôs designation of being in the¬†grey zone¬†have certainly impacted our ability to carry out our in-person teaching and learning.¬†The¬†university continues to work closely with the provincial government to seek clarity on the application of these restrictions in the training of health professionals. We continue to engage with the RCDSO and Public Health Ontario. We will keep you updated as we receive new information. In the meantime, we are increasing our ability to carry out clinical teaching and patient care¬†for January. We will be adding 3 sessions per week, with a 4:30pm ‚Äď 7:00pm session on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays. There will be some additional modifications, and specific¬†didactic and clinical schedules will be forwarded to respective classes in the near future.¬†We are also converting 3 rooms on the third floor into enclosed operatories to allow for more aerosol-generating procedures, and these will be ready for January. In addition, we continue to pursue other plans to help everyone achieve their academic goals, while concurrently making the health and safety of all our top priority.¬†

These past 9 months have brought on challenges that, at times, seem never-ending. Yet, concurrently, we see promising news of vaccines and point-of-care testing. We know that this pandemic will end ‚Äď as they all do ‚Äď yet, the uncertainty of when this will be is particularly taxing on us all. It is somewhat akin to running in a race but not knowing where the finish line is. As a result, our patience is being tested, and I want to thank all of you for your remarkable resilience during these very trying times. I want to thank everyone for working so hard and rising to the challenge. Staying focused on the fact that we will all eventually get through this, together, is what we need to remember. We should remain confident in knowing that better days are ahead.

Nevertheless, with all of this uncertainty persisting, it is so understandable that a number of us may experience significant anxiety or stress. If so, please do not hesitate to speak to any of us at the Faculty, and please access the help and resources that are available. Students can find support at all times through My Student Support Program (MYSSP) or Good2Talk.  As well, please know that there is now the new UofT Student Mental Health Resource that you can access.  Faculty and staff can access support through the Employee Assistance Program.

The holiday season is not far off. Please enjoy this upcoming break, take this time to benefit from a well-deserved rest, and I hope that you are able to connect with your loved ones in a warm, yet safe, manner.

Please stay safe and take care,

________________________

Daniel Haas, DDS, PhD, FRCD(C)‚Ä®
Professor and Dean

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 10, 2020

2021 Winter Term

Please find the following information about each program’s plans on offering the Winter 2021 Term.

Overall, it is expected that the Winter 2021 term will be delivered predominantly online across all our professional and graduate programs for didactic courses.

The Faculty plans to continue in-person lab-based research, hands-on simulation training and clinical activities, as public health, dental regulatory and University of Toronto safety guidelines allow.

Program

Winter 2021 Term Planning

Doctor of Dental Surgery

Winter 2021 didactic courses will be delivered online. In-person simulation and clinical education will be offered to student, as public health, dental regulatory and University of Toronto safety guidelines allow.

 

International Dentist Advanced Placement Program

Winter 2021 didactic courses will be delivered online. In-person simulation and clinical education will be offered to student, as public health, dental regulatory and University of Toronto safety guidelines allow.

 

Research-based PhD/MSc programs

Winter 2021 didactic courses will be delivered online. In-person lab-based research will be offered to student with restricted laboratory occupancy and physical distancing measures in place, as public health and University of Toronto safety guidelines allow.

 

Research-based PhD/MSc programs with Advanced Dental Specialty Training

Didactic and non-patient related seminar courses will be delivered online in the virtual space. Research-based laboratory activities as well as clinically-based laboratory activities such as the oral pathology biopsy program will continue on-site, but with restricted laboratory occupancy and physical distancing measures in place. In-person clinical education will be offered to student, as public health, dental regulatory and University safety guidelines allow. Clinical rotations will continue remotely, as TAHSN hospital and University safety guidelines allow.

 

Dental Specialty Assessment and Training Program

Winter 2021 didactic courses will be delivered online. In-person simulation and clinical education will be offered to student, as public health, dental regulatory and University of Toronto safety guidelines allow.

 

 

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff, and instructors;

Today all members of the university received an e-mail from the Provost that included the following statements:

Provincial regulation and public health guidance now require that post-secondary institutions implement COVID-19 health screening for anyone coming to campus. In order to comply with these directives, a health screening is now required for all members of our community, including faculty members, librarians, staff, and students, each day they visit any one of the three U of T campuses or any other property owned or operated by U of T. 

Instructions on the use of UCheck are included in the message from the Provost.

As you know, prior to the implementation of UCheck, persons attending the Faculty of Dentistry were required to self-assess daily by completing the Government of Ontario questionnaire and to keep a record of the results as proof of the process. Now that the university is implementing the use of UCheck for all, we will transition over to this system.

Therefore, commencing Monday November 2nd, it will be mandatory for all students, staff, faculty and instructors who are present on-site at the Faculty of Dentistry to self-assess on a daily basis using the UCheck system. 

UCheck meets the requirements for self-assessment outlined by the RCDSO. In addition, UCheck has several advantages over the Government of Ontario questionnaire:

  • Ease of access from a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop, through the U of T portal.
  • It takes less time to complete the questionnaire.
  • The result is immediate. Your final screen will either be green (not at risk) or red (potentially at risk, therefore stay home and seek further direction).
  • The result is automatically logged for you for a 30-day period. ¬†There is no need to save your own results.¬†¬†

Please access the portal and make use of the electronic version of UCheck at https://www.utoronto.ca/utogether2020/ucheck

If you are unable to access the portal for whatever reason, you can access an offline or paper-based log. If you use the paper-based log, please inform as follows:

Thank you for your compliance with this university directive in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our Faculty of Dentistry community.  

Sincerely,

Daniel Haas, Dean