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Changes related to new COVID‑19 restrictions – April 22

Posted by Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting); Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President Finance and Administration on April 22, 2021 in News

UPDATE MAY 7, 2021: Please note that the Province of Nova Scotia has placed further restrictions on travel at this time, including restricting travel from PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador and not allowing parents to drop off or pick up postsecondary students. Visit the government's website for the latest information.

MEMORANDUM

To:                   Dalhousie students, faculty and staff

From:               Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting)
                         Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President Finance and Administration

Date:                Thursday, April 22, 2021

Re:                   Changes related to new COVID-19 restrictions – April 22

 

This afternoon, the Province of Nova Scotia announced new restrictions to help address outbreaks of COVID-19 in the greater Halifax area. These restrictions, which take effect tomorrow (Friday, April 23) at 8 a.m., come alongside newly implemented travel restrictions in and out of the province. We recognize the impact these new restrictions have on our community and again appreciate everyone’s support in continuing to be considerate and compassionate to one another during this time. Please know that we are here to support you. Please see the bottom of this message for a list of available community supports.

The arrival of more-infectious COVID-19 variants makes efforts to contain the spread of the virus more important than ever. Dalhousie’s planning for the fall, based on vaccine timelines, continues to focus on a return to in-person learning and work, but our immediate concern must be on increasing our efforts to stem the current outbreaks. Following Public Health guidance and university protocols is the best way to keep one another and our community safe.

The province’s new measures do not impact our academic offerings, research labs/spaces and other employees who are approved to be on campus through Return to Campus (RTC) and/or Return to Research (R2R) plans and strict safety protocols. They do, however, affect some university services and operations, as outlined below.

As some of these restrictions are newly announced today, we ask that our community be patient as we work through the details. The individual services affected will be providing more information in the coming days on their websites and communications channels.

Dalhousie Libraries

Dalhousie Libraries locations in Halifax (Killam, Dunn, Kellogg and Sexton Libraries), the Wallace McCain and Kellogg Library Learning Commons in Halifax, and the MacRae Library in Truro will be closed to general public access starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 23. Bookable study space will continue to be available for Dalhousie students, faculty and staff by appointment, with continued safety protocols in place including contact tracing. Curbside Pickup service is available to Dalhousie students, faculty, staff and community borrowers. Laptop loans are available for Dalhousie students. More information on library services can be found here.

Residence and move-out

Residences are scheduled to close for the winter term as planned at noon on Saturday, April 24. Family members or friends picking up a student in Nova Scotia are exempt from travel restrictions but are required to take students directly home. As was communicated to residence students earlier this week, as a safety precaution, family members or friends will not be able to enter residence buildings. Carts and trollies will be available for student use.

Student information on spring courses and new arrivals in Halifax

Academic activities set to begin in early May will proceed. along with the remainder of winter term activities. Postsecondary students coming to study in Nova Scotia are considered essential and are exempt from travel restrictions. Summer U-Passes will be available for pickup, and the Dalhousie Bookstore will be available to support students looking for materials for the summer term.

Students moving to Halifax for employment (co-op work terms or research positions, for example) are able to do so, provided they have a letter of acceptance dated prior to April 21, 2021 and plan for quarantine. Students who have signed a one-year lease on or before April 21, 2021 can still move to Halifax but must have a quarantine plan. Information on travel to Nova Scotia can be found here.

Support for parents

With grade schools in select communities ceasing in-person learning for two weeks, Dalhousie will continue to operate with compassion and flexibility to support the needs of our faculty and staff who are also parents and who are carrying additional unexpected responsibility.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, Dalhousie will support individuals with extraordinary child-care responsibilities to ensure that they can prioritize caring for their children with as minimal an impact on their employment at Dalhousie as possible. This has generally meant approving flexible work arrangements and in some cases temporary periods of reduced work hours without loss of pay or vacation. Given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, we have not and will not require documentary support to approve these kinds of temporary accommodations.

In addition to discussing your circumstances with your manager or supervisor, impacted employees, Deans and other leaders can also seek the support of Accessible Employment in Human Resources (Accessible.Employment@dal.ca).

Dalplex and fitness facilities

Dalplex and Studley Gym will be closed beginning Friday, April 23 in line with Public Health directives and continuing until the current restrictions are lifted. The Dalhousie Physiotherapy Clinic within Dalplex remains open. The Langille Athletic Centre in Truro remains open. The Sexton Gym remains closed, as does Wickwire Field (due to renovations).

Events, gatherings and on-campus space booking

The province’s changes to meetings and gathering limits impact in-person university events and on-campus meetings (ie. meetings, events and gatherings separate from approved Return to Campus unit plans) that are reviewed on a regular basis through the RTC committee. Changes and cancellations to previously approved events will be communicated by RTC directly to the event organizers and future event approvals will be adjusted to consider the updated gathering restrictions or to postpone the event to a future date.

Faculty/staff are still to work remotely wherever possible, and employees who are not approved to work on campus should not be on campus at this time. All events and meetings should take place virtually wherever possible until such time that the current restrictions are lifted.

Travel

As noted, people from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not allowed to enter Nova Scotia at this time unless their travel is essential or they are permanent residents of Nova Scotia. Post-secondary students coming to study in Nova Scotia are considered essential. Nova Scotians are also advised not to travel outside of Nova Scotia, PEI or Newfoundland/Labrador.

Additionally, Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel in and out of Halifax, as well as the communities of Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar. Accordingly, only approved essential travel between the Halifax and Truro campuses by staff, faculty and students should be taking place at this time.

Get tested

All members of the Dalhousie community are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 — even if you do not have symptoms. Testing is a key part of how we can get these current outbreaks under control and helps protect your community. There are three ways to get tested in Nova Scotia:

Support and care

Finally, we know these new restrictions will bring concern and stress to many in our community during an already challenging time. While vaccination schedules bring hope for a safer future, stopping the spread of the virus in these coming weeks will require all of us to rely on the sense of community and support that has gotten us through this pandemic thus far.

If you have concerns or need support please reach out, whether it’s to an instructor, supervisor, or the appropriate campus service. We are here to help. Staff from our Student Health and Wellness teams in both Halifax and Truro are always available to support our students, at 902-494-2171 (Halifax) and 902-893-6369 (Truro), should they have any health concerns, including mental health. Employees looking for any support are encouraged to speak with their manager/supervisor or connect with supports available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program, which can be accessed at workhealthlife.com or through the enhanced mental health benefit from Blue Cross.

For the latest on COVID-19 information in Nova Scotia, visit novascotia.ca/coronavirus, and visit dal.ca/coronavirus for up-to-date information related to Dalhousie.

Please continue to follow public health guidelines and look out for one another as we all do our part to keep one another safe and get Nova Scotia back on track in our shared efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Frank Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic (Acting)

Gitta Kulczycki
Vice-President Finance and Administration