The CMS had to postpone the 2020 CMS Summer Meeting planned for June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of a physical meeting, and in light of the uncertainties in mathematics research, teaching and funding, the CMS wanted to provide a virtual platform for mathematicians to come together, share their concerns, anxieties, suggestions and learn together during this difficult time. We felt that a meeting focused on the changes caused by COVID-19 to the way we plan, teach and do research would be of great benefit to the Canadian mathematical community.

A committee was formed very quickly and the meeting was put together in 2 months thanks to the hard work and dedication of the organizing committee and the CMS office. The meeting was attended by 212 attendees and featured 4 plenary speakers including Stan Matwin (Dalhousie), Daniel Coombs (UBC), Pauline van den Driessche (Victoria), and Jim Fowler (Ohio State University). What made this meeting distinct was the prevalence of education sessions and the large presence of the math education community.

6 sessions and 2 panel sessions were held during the 4-day meeting. One of the panels was a joint session with Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group (CMESG) discussing What COVID might teach us about the broad strokes of student assessment. The CMESG/CMS session was co-hosted by Peter Taylor (Queen’s) and Richelle Marynowski (Lethbridge) and had some focused thinking about student assessment. The other panel Voices of Diversity: Students in a University Math Classroom served as a forum to hear students’ voices and discuss student support in this time of crisis. The panels encouraged attendees to turn on their video and join in the discussion. Indeed many did, and the  participation in the discussion was so large that some sessions will be continued at the 2020 CMS Winter Meeting.

The other sessions included COVID-19 and Public Policies, The creative fallout from the Pandemic, K-12 Education Sessions, Design and Teaching of Online and Remote Mathematics Courses, Academic Integrity in the Remote Classroom, and Modelling in Biomathematics: COVID-19 and beyond.  

To add to the virtual meeting experience, CCREM offered a Math Escape Adventure which came out with a new puzzle each day and a Math Code Names Social. In addition to these, there were virtual lounges set up for breaks and networking and an NSERC information session on NSERC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic including new funding opportunities and changes in policies for the NSERC discovery grants and scholarship fellowship programs.

The CMS would like to thank the lead organizers, Kseniya Garaschuk (UFV) and Julien Arino (Manitoba). We deeply appreciate their enthusiasm and the generosity with which they offered us their time. We would also like to thank the organizing committee for their dedication and hard work in such a short amount of time. Additionally, a big thank you to the sponsors including Fields Institute, Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM), Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), Bolster Academy, Digital Ed and Wizedemy. We hope to see the you all in a few months at the 2020 CMS Winter Meeting, which will be held virtually this year.

We have been inundated with positive feedback from the attendees and are grateful for their participation and their enthusiasm. Below are some of the comments from the attendees the CMS received through our post-meeting survey: 

I prefer the virtual meeting over a traditional meeting! Yes, we lose a little bit, but think how much more accessible the virtual meeting was. An in-person meeting has a strong cost in terms of money, time, and energy. In addition, I was only interested in a subset of the conference. I would not have considered attending if I had to travel (and have big expenses) but as a virtual meeting I was able to attend. I am glad I did.

Great selection of topics, compact scheduling, lively discussions: great event!​

Wonderful way to bring the community together in this challenging time. excellent technical assistance.​

It was pulled off well in the circumstances and I liked that even with the online platform there was still a sense of community.​

I liked that it was all on one platform; my other online conferences this summer often relied on people emailing out links to attendees.​