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Planning for winter term courses

Posted by Dalhousie University on August 17, 2020 in News


To:                   Dalhousie students

From:               Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting)

Date:                Monday, August 17, 2020

Re:                   Planning for winter term courses

As we approach September and the start of the fall term, planning is underway in our Faculties for the winter term (January to April 2021).

We remain in the midst of a global pandemic that continues to evolve, but we can say with confidence there will still be significant public health measures required in January to limit the spread of COVID-19 — particularly given the possibility of a second wave of the virus and the absence of widely accessible treatments or a vaccine.

To ensure we provide our students, faculty and staff with sufficient time to plan ahead for the winter, Deans and Associate Deans Academic are beginning to engage in discussions with Chairs and instructors on delivery formats for courses and programs. This planning aligns with consultations with Senate and its approved motion in June 2020 on determining mode of delivery for Fall and Winter 2020-21 courses.

Our goal for the winter term is to provide a mix of online and in-person instruction:

  • A significant majority of our courses will continue to be delivered online, considering the health and safety of our university community as well as the need to support students unable to travel to Halifax or Truro to continue their academic programs.
  • Some courses with particular accreditation requirements or significant experiential learning components will be delivered in person, provided this can be done safely.
  • A limited number of additional courses will be delivered in a hybrid or blended format, with online lectures paired with smaller face-to-face tutorials or labs where these can be delivered safely.

We appreciate many of you are eager for details on how specific courses and programs will be delivered. Faculties will be working with departments and instructors to develop academic plans for the winter term, following the model above, that will be approved by the university’s Return to Campus committee. We are aiming for final decisions on Winter 2021 courses to be made by early fall.

The Academic Timetable will be updated regularly to reflect academic delivery information for Winter 2021. Our goal is for all updates to be posted by mid-September. You can also expect to receive further communication directly from your Faculty or program in the weeks ahead.

This mixed approach to winter term instruction will continue to prioritize the health and safety of everyone in our community, along with ensuring academic program quality and continuity, a quality student experience, and the continued availability of key supports for both students and instructors. In addition to continued course development support through the Centre for Learning and Teaching, Dalhousie Libraries (Academic Technology Services) and Information Technology Services, Deans and Chairs are working on strategies to manage specific workload concerns in their Faculties through curriculum and other changes while continuing to deliver a high-quality academic experience.

We continue to work very closely with Nova Scotia public health officials. Should changes to our instructional plans be required we will communicate them as soon as possible. In the meantime, our collective success depends on all of us continuing to follow public health protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Here in Nova Scotia, this means maintaining physical distancing, wearing non-medical masks in public spaces, following cough and handwashing etiquette, staying home if you feel unwell, and self-isolating when required (such as entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada).

For more details about courses, services, safety and supports, please visit Dalhousie’s COVID-19 Information and Updates website. And for more information on health protocols in Nova Scotia, visit the government’s COVID-19 website.

We look forward to having you as part of what will be a truly unique and rewarding academic year at Dalhousie.

Stay safe,



Frank P. Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting)
Eric Dennis Memorial Chair of Government and Politics

Dalhousie sits on the Traditional Territory of the Mi'kmaq. We are all Treaty People.