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Fall term update for students ‑ June 2021

Posted by Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic on June 8, 2021 in News

A message from Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic

With the academic timetable now online, and course registration open for returning students (and for new students this coming weekend), our plan for the fall is becoming clearer. On June 2, Nova Scotia began Phase 1 of its reopening plan, reinforcing our confidence in returning to on-campus learning in September.

Below is a summary of our approach to the fall, including the measures that will be in place to keep you safe. You can learn more about our Fall Plan at dal.ca/fall2021. Please continue to refer to these pages for the most up-to-date information regarding fall planning, and to your Faculty pages for course and program-related information.

Nova Scotia's COVID outlook

By the time students return to campus for the fall term, most Nova Scotians are expected to be fully vaccinated. The province’s five-phase re-opening plan anticipates a wide re-opening later this summer and population immunity achieved by early September. Those of you who have not been fully vaccinated prior to arrival will be able to get vaccinated in Nova Scotia.

This outlook shapes the informed optimism driving our fall term planning and explains our confidence in welcoming you back to campus this September.

With Nova Scotia’s phased reopening plan, we are beginning to see restrictions lifted, including travel to and within Nova Scotia. While international travel restrictions remain unchanged, both international and domestic students are still able to enter the province.

Domestic students are allowed to enter two weeks before the start of the fall semester, which begins on September 7. The Canadian government determines when International students are allowed to enter Nova Scotia; the current advice is four weeks before the start of classes. However, we know in the provincial government’s phased plan (phase 4) that this will continue to evolve as the summer progresses, and we expect fewer restrictions in place by September.

We promise to keep you updated on any changes to travel restrictions, specifically requirements for self-isolation/quarantine, as soon as the government releases that information. We know that many of you are trying to plan for the fall and that this uncertainty, while unavoidable, makes it more challenging to plan your arrival to campus and to Nova Scotia. But we feel confident in the provincial plan and for our ‘return to fall 2021’ and welcoming you back to campus.

Our fall term plans

Our plans have been developed in coordination with Nova Scotia Public Health and the provincial Department of Labour and Advanced Education. They are based on a framework that will apply to all Nova Scotia’s universities and is currently with Public Health for final review.

  • Most courses will be offered in person. We know how important it is for both our learners and instructors to be able to return to a more robust in-person learning environment, and we are excited to be able to do so with appropriate safety measures in place based on public health guidelines. A small number of courses will continue online.
  • We expect to resume most on-campus activity, including on-campus events and programming, library access, food services, study spaces, access to fitness facilities and more.
  • Residences will be open this fall (single occupancy only with restrictions based on current Public Health guidelines), as will our residence dining halls.
  • Our New to Dal orientation program will be for first- and second-year students this year, which will allow all our new-to-campus students the chance to discover everything student life has to offer with a mix of in-person and virtual activities.
  • Multiple layers of safety protocols will be in place to keep you safe. See more detailed information below.
  • All on-campus research will also resume.

For more information and further updates, visit dal.ca/fall2021

Our safety plan

Dalhousie’s safety plan for the fall and our return to campus is focused on providing multiple layers of protection — layers that, combined with province-led vaccination, will help protect our Dal community and allow you to return to the classroom and to research.

Some of these layers may be modified or no longer necessary by the time we reach September; others may last into the fall and beyond. Our plan will continue to evolve based on the latest public and occupational health guidance for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

You can review a summary of our plan on our Health & Safety page, but here are a few examples of the layers of protection we expect will be in place for the fall:

  • Masks recommended based on the size and occupancy of classrooms/common areas
  • Physical distancing at a reduced level (1 metre where practical)
  • Daily COVID-19 self-screening check-in using the DalSAFE mobile app
  • On-campus asymptomatic testing
  • Regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfection
  • Ventilation reviews of all learning and student spaces
  • While vaccination will not be required to return to campus, we will be actively and enthusiastically encouraging, promoting and helping make vaccination accessible to everyone.

We will also have a strong student support plan in place in the event of COVID cases in our student community or in residence, working with local health staff in supporting both safe recovery from illness and the continued health and well-being of our students.

Where to go for help

We know the start of a new academic year can be a stressful time. That is especially true this year with the return to in-person learning and many uncertainties around travel and COVID in general.

If you have specific questions or are seeking support, here are some helpful resources to find what you’re looking for:

We are excited to welcome you safely to campus this fall and promise to keep you continually updated through the summer. Please continue to visit dal.ca/fall2021 for the latest information and continue to follow public health guidance — from masks and distancing to testing and vaccination. Doing so will help bring our Dal community safely back together again.

We look forward to seeing you in September!


Frank Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic