MSVU, Dal, NSCC and SMU: COVID‑19 procedures and protocols for Fall 2022

The Covid Chronicle

**** SMU Release

University COVID-19 Protocols (Updated August 18, 2022)

Masks are currently not mandatory at Saint Mary’s University, except for when visiting the Student Health ClinicMask use is recommended in common indoor areas to keep our community healthy. Please continue to follow good health hygiene practices and stay home if you are unwell.

New mask requirements come into effect on Sept. 1, 2022 (Start of Fall 2022 Term)

These new requirements apply to all faculty, staff and students regardless of their vaccination status.

Masks must be worn in:

  • learning spaces including classrooms and labs
  • common areas including Patrick Power Library, Atrium, study spaces, hallways and elevators
  • Student Health Centre
  • all residence/residence complex common areas including hallways, elevators, lounges
  • athletic facilities including the Homburg and Dauphinee Centres
  • large indoor gatherings

Masks may be removed:

  • when seated to eat or drink
  • faculty are permitted to remove their masks when lecturing, provided two metres of social distancing can be maintained
  • residence rooms and apartments
  • when actively
    • playing sports, exercising at indoor or outdoor athletic facilities

    Vaccinations and boosters:

    We are not implementing a vaccine mandate for the Fall 2022 Term but strongly encourage additional vaccinations and boosters as they become available. Our returning students, faculty and staff are already vaccinated due to the high rates of vaccination that our community achieved over the past two years. International students are required to be vaccinated to enter the country as per a federal government measure that remains in place.

    If you are ill or test positive for COVID-19

    Please stay home to recover and protect members of our community. We also encourage everyone to review Nova Scotia Health’s guidance on “Protecting Myself and Others” for more information on how to stay healthy, avoid infection from COVID-19 and what to do if you have symptoms or test positive.

    We remain in close contact with Public Health; therefore, we may update our protocols during the Fall 2022 Term regarding masking and vaccinations depending on the guidance we receive.

 

**** Dalhousie University Release

COVID‑19 procedures and protocols for Fall 2022

The following memo summarizes planned COVID-19 procedures and protocols for Fall 2022, including:

·       Our strong and ongoing commitment to providing in-person learning experiences for our students this fall. Dalhousie will continue to prioritise in-person learning in all Faculties, Schools, Departments and programs, and will work to ensure best practices for staying safe and healthy as we deliver on this important commitment to our students.

·       Masks will be required in all indoor classrooms and instructional spaces, supported by the high-quality ventilation standards set throughout the pandemic. Masks continue to be welcome in other indoor spaces and are strongly recommended in libraries and learning commons as well as gathering spaces where physical distancing may be difficult (for example, hallways, lobbies and elevators).

·       All members of our Dalhousie community are expected to stay home when sick. Dalhousie has procedures in place to support students, faculty and staff in doing so.

Overview of our approach

Input from our COVID-19 Science Advisory Council, which includes several of Dalhousie’s leading experts in disease research and epidemiology, has informed our approach to procedures and protocols for the fall, with all options and health risks carefully considered. The increased transmissibility of post-Omicron variants means the virus now circulates in our broader community, but strong vaccination rates continue to limit serious illness and related health risks.

At this point there is no need to establish a vaccine mandate or re-launch our Campus Check system. Faculty, staff, and returning students are largely vaccinated and we know from the university’s work last year that vaccine uptake is very high. Vaccinations are readily available to individuals who decide to receive the recommended booster doses. The guidance on our vaccine mandates may change in the next few months depending on COVID-19 epidemiology and whether the updated vaccines offer better protection against infection.

Students will be required to follow provincial health authority policies for vaccination to participate in learning activities. Student in the Faculties of Health, Dentistry and Medicine will receive additional guidance from their faculties on requirements for confirming vaccination status.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to consult closely with Nova Scotia Public Health and are prepared to re-implement enhanced COVID-19 safety measures during the fall term and beyond if needed, including but not limited to vaccine requirements and enhanced mask protocols.

Safer spaces – Masks required for the fall

As we return to fully in-person instruction in the fall, Dalhousie will be resuming mask requirements in all indoor instructional spaces during scheduled teaching time effective September 1 until at least the end of the fall term. Students in music classes where it’s necessary to remove face masks in order to properly learn (voice, wind instruments, etc.) are asked to keep masks on in class when not actively training. Outdoor learning spaces, such as the fields on the Agricultural Campus, will not require masks.

This direction aligns with Nova Scotia Public Health’s continued strong recommendation that people wear masks in large indoor gathering spaces. Our instructional spaces and classrooms are the most significant and critical indoor spaces in which we gather. Given the expectation that COVID-19 spread will continue this fall, requiring masks in these spaces is a simple but significant step we can take to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our classrooms and allow participation in in-person learning more safely and comfortably (including those who may be immunocompromised or live with those who are). As was the case previously, instructors or other presenters (student presenters, etc.) may remove their mask while lecturing if they can fully maintain two metres of distance from all others.

Masks continue to be required at Student Health and Wellness clinics in Halifax and Truro and in other health-care contexts and settings on campus (Dental Clinic, Dal Physio Clinic, etc.). The Faculties of Medicine, Health, and Dentistry may have additional health and safety protocols to follow in accordance with provincial health authority policies designed for health-care spaces. Students can expect additional guidance from their Faculties in the coming weeks.

While mask wearing will remain voluntary in other campus spaces such as residences, athletic facilities, and research labs, masks are strongly recommended in libraries and learning commons as well as gathering spaces where physical distancing may be difficult. Lastly, if you are meeting with someone, either in a private office or shared work or campus space, remember to ask if they prefer that you wear a mask.

We continue to recommend three-ply face masks if possible.

In addition to masks, our classroom safety is also supported by the extensive ventilation review work that has been undertaken over the past two years. This included a review of ventilation in every learning space (600+) to ensure all met required standards for air exchange, guided by engineering best practice as well as with COVID-19 guidance from specific ventilation and facilities groups. Our office spaces typically allow for more distance between people than classrooms, but we have also made investments to increase air quality through additional ventilation systems in these spaces.

Staying healthy and avoiding infection

We’ve learned a great deal through the pandemic about what it takes to avoid infection from COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Dalhousie will continue to actively promote and encourage these best practices across our communities during the fall term:

·       Stay home when sick. Don’t come to campus if you feel unwell and seek out testing.

·       Respect people’s space. Keep your distance when possible or requested.

·       Wear your mask. Bring your mask to the classroom and wear it — and we encourage everyone to wear a mask on campus.

·       Get vaccinated and boosted. Protect yourself and others by staying current with recommended shots as they are made available to you.

·       Follow hygiene best practices. Wash your hands and take advantage of widely available hand sanitizer when you’re out-and-about on campus.

·       Be a good neighbour. Respect our shared community, on campus and off, by following rules and recommendations.

We also encourage everyone in our community to review Nova Scotia Health’s guidance on “Protecting Myself and Others” for more information on how to stay healthy and avoid infection from COVID-19 and what to do if you have symptoms or test positive.

Policies and procedures in the event of illness

All members of the Dal community

Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 should stay home (not attend classes or on-campus work) until they are no longer infectious. Even though self-isolation is no longer a Public Health requirement, we continue to ask our Dal community to make the right choice and stay home to avoid bringing COVID-19 and other illnesses into classes, workspaces and campus services.

·       Everyone is strongly encouraged to exercise caution in their activities while absent: maintaining appropriate distancing from others; following standard hygiene best practices; following Public Health guidelines for mask-wearing. For more information on what to do in case of infection, visit the Nova Scotia Health website.

Student illness

·       Courses and coursework: Students are to follow your course and/or program’s policy for student illness and missed classes, including the Student Declaration of Absence process as applicable. Where that process applies, all instructors are encouraged to use it to support students who need to miss class time or course requirements due to COVID-19 illness.

·       Residence: Recognizing that residences are students’ homes, our mask mandate will not extend to residence buildings at this time. Masks will continue to be strongly recommended and welcomed in residence, and our Residence Life and Student Health and Wellness teams will continue to support students with the tools they need to make good health hygiene choices (including providing test kits for students living in residence who are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms). More information will be shared with students moving into residence in the weeks leading up to move-in.

Employee illness

Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 should refrain from working on campus. Employees who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so if they are feeling unwell. If an employee is required to miss work due to COVID-19, they should take sick leave in accordance with the provisions of their collective agreement or handbook.

·       In instances where a COVID-19-related absence exceeds five (5) working days, the employee and the supervisor should engage with Accessible Employment and use available leave banks (sick leave, vacation, time accumulated, family illness leave, if applicable) as per the relevant collective agreement or handbook.

·       The university will continue to provide up to four (4) paid sick days for employees who cannot work from home and who are not covered by leave provisions under a collective agreement or handbook, or where the employee has exhausted all of their existing sick leave. The purpose of COVID-19 paid sick leave is to provide some relief in the form of paid sick days for temporary, casual, Grant-Paid, and student employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are ill and unable to work remotely.

Accommodations

·       Students, faculty and staff whose circumstances require them to seek out a longer-term disability or human-rights accommodation related to COVID-19 are encouraged to do so.

·       Students should contact the Student Accessibility Centre.

·       Faculty and staff should contact Accessible Employment.

Dalhousie is committed to the health and safety of everyone who works, studies, and lives at our university. We all can take great pride in how our Dal community has stepped up to meet that commitment over the past two years — from our incredible vaccination rates through to the broader collective effort to create a supportive, compassionate campus environment. Let’s lean on what we’ve learned these past two years to help our campus and our community stay healthy and well this fall. Please continue to visit dal.ca/coronavirus for the latest information and guidance.

 

**** MSVU Release

COVID-19 protocols for fall 2022 at MSVU

With September nearing, I’m writing to provide an update on COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester at MSVU.

This stage of the pandemic is in some ways our most challenging for the disproportionate impacts it is having. For many, a return to gathering in person is now a reality. But for those for whom the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 is high, the continuing pandemic and evolving protocols pose a significant challenge.

Ensuring the safety of all MSVU community members to the greatest extent possible is in keeping with our institution’s commitment to community and accessibility. Fortunately, there are simple measures we can take to help protect one another.

Masks to be required in classrooms and student labs this fall

One of the easiest things we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a mask. That’s why, for the fall 2022 semester (i.e. effective Sunday, September 4), masks will once again be required in classrooms and student lab spaces.

Masks will continue to be strongly recommended in all other common indoor areas, with the exception of the MSVU Health Office, Counselling Services, Career Services and Accessibility Services where masks will be required in keeping with NS Health protocols.

Instructors may choose to remove their masks to teach (while keeping as much distance as possible) and masks may be lowered to take a quick drink (or if regular eating is required for medical reasons). Plexiglass can also be installed where appropriate. Requests for plexiglass installation can be sent to Tom Strapps, Director of Facilities Management at Tom.Strapps@msvu.ca.

Students/presenters may choose to remove their mask while presenting. Students who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons must register with Accessibility Services – contact accessibilityservices@msvu.ca. Instructors will be advised of the students in their classes who are medically exempt from the mask requirement.

Three-layer masks are recommended. For those in need of a mask, they will continue to be available for pick-up on campus at the following locations: the Assisi Security Desk (Assisi Hall main entrance), Library Circulation Desk (Main floor, EMF), Registrar’s Office (Room 207, Evaristus Hall) or Athletics & Recreation main desk (2nd floor, Rosaria Student Centre).

Most classrooms will continue to operate at 80% capacity for the fall 2022 semester. At the same time, we continue to offer a number of online courses for those who need or want to continue to learn online.

Vaccination

Vaccination helps reduce your chances of severe disease from COVID-19.

Though proof of vaccination will not be required to attend campus this fall, all are still strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (including boosters), in keeping with Public Health guidance.
– Are you in Nova Scotia? Book a vaccination appointment via NS Public Health here.
– Living elsewhere in Canada? Information on where to get a vaccine in each province is available here.

We are working with Nova Scotia Public Health to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus early this fall (including for boosters) – stay tuned for details.

Stay home if you’re sick

Another important means of protecting our community is to stay home if you are sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should not come to campus, even if you have tested negative on a rapid test (you may not get a positive rapid test result until a few days after the onset of symptoms). If you do test positive for COVID-19, you should complete the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Report and Support Screening form. Please also contact your instructor or supervisor to make arrangements for your absence.
– Review common symptoms of COVID-19 here.
Information on when those with COVID-19 are considered recovered is available here.

Questions?

Students with questions about any of these protocols are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Experience at ose@msvu.ca. Employees with questions can contact human.resources@msvu.ca.

These past two and a half years have not been easy; and it’s been a longer pandemic journey than many of us anticipated.

Thank you for your support of MSVU protocols designed to help keep all members of our community learning and working safely.

As throughout all other stages of the pandemic, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our approach as appropriate. If anything needs to change, we will update you as soon as possible.

We are going to have a great fall semester together. And these simple protective measures will go a long way in making it the safest semester possible.

See you soon!

 

**** NSCC Release

Changes to NSCC’s COVID-19 requirements

Our response to COVID-19 is aligned with the provincial government’s easing of public health restrictions.

Safety continues to remain a priority. We’re committed to helping keep each other safe and will adapt our requirements as needed based on public health advice.

Masks

  •  Masks are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
    • Masking is a requirement in some programs and students in affected programs are aware of this.

Vaccines

  • To remain in step with the Province, we no longer require proof of vaccination or testing to enter campus. However, getting vaccinated and boosted is the best way to protect against COVID-19 infection.

Safe travel

General questions

If you can’t find the answer to your question on this site, and it’s not medically-related, please email covid19@nscc.ca.

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