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Updated vaccination and testing requirements for students, faculty and staff
To: The Dalhousie University community
From: Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Re: Updated vaccination and testing requirements for students, faculty and staff
Our thanks to the more than 10,000 students, faculty and staff who have completed our vaccine survey. In combination with other sources of information, this survey is an important source of additional information in helping us shape our plans for the fall. If you have not yet completed the survey, please do so here.
As we learn to live with COVID-19 and adapt to the spread of new variants, the Dalhousie community needs to continue to do its part to prioritize our collective safety and well-being as many of us return to campus.
Conversations have been ongoing with Nova Scotia Public Health on a variety of topics, including vaccine requirements. Last week, and subsequently at a meeting on Monday with university presidents from across Nova Scotia, Public Health officials and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education confirmed they will allow universities and colleges to make their own decisions regarding vaccine requirements as a measure above and beyond the safety measures in the current postsecondary framework.
Considering this new Public Health guidance, reinforced by input from the Dalhousie Faculty Association and faculty, staff and students, we are preparing to implement additional vaccination and testing requirements for all students, faculty and staff accessing university campuses this fall (including but not limited to attending classes, using university facilities, working on campus, living in residence, participation in athletics, etc.):
- Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to accessing university campuses.
- Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated, or choose not to provide proof of vaccination, will have to undergo COVID-19 testing twice a week and will be required to provide proof that the testing has taken place. (Testing will also continue to be encouraged for fully vaccinated individuals.)
- All personal information provided, including information regarding vaccination status, will be handled in compliance with appropriate privacy legislation. We will also work to ensure EDIA (equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility) concerns related to both vaccination and testing are addressed in our planning.
- As this requirement will also apply to King’s students and other members of the King’s community on Dalhousie’s campuses, we will be working closely with King’s on the operational details
This is a complex issue, and the university continues to work to finalize the details of how these requirements will be implemented and operationalized. We appreciate our community’s support and more detailed information will be provided shortly on process, timelines, etc.
We continue to have great confidence in vaccination rates among our Dal community; preliminary results of our vaccine survey show that more than 95% of respondents are or plan to be fully vaccinated this fall. However, several factors make these extra measures prudent at this time. The first is the more-infectious Delta variant and the emerging fourth wave across North America — largely among un- or under-vaccinated individuals. The second is that details of final phase of Nova Scotia’s re-opening plan have now been shared, in which most public health restrictions (excepting travel) will be lifted as we move into “living with COVID” in an endemic rather than pandemic model. This increases our responsibility to help protect less-vaccinated individuals and prevent outbreaks and breakthrough cases. Finally, as noted, these new vaccine and testing requirements align with revised guidance from Nova Scotia Public Health and Labour and Advanced Education, confirming that universities can consider and implement such measures.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, our approach to health and safety seeks to align with evolving Public Health guidance; maintain flexibility by adding or removing layers of protection as required; and support both broader community safety and the specific needs of our Dalhousie community. As previously announced, one additional layer we are adding this fall is continuing mask usage through September, and we are currently exploring extending this mask direction even further into the fall term. More information will be shared in a future update.
We remind everyone to review our revised safety guidance and FAQs on the COVID-19 website. We also want to make clear that the news that Nova Scotia will not be entering the final phase of its reopening plan until mid-September does not impact our fall plans for instruction, general university operations, etc. as the Public Health-approved postsecondary framework and Dal’s fall term guidance continue to take precedence.
We know you’ll have many questions about our new vaccination and testing requirements, including procedures for disclosing vaccination status, information on accessing rapid testing on campus, and others. We’ll aim to answer all of these questions in the days ahead. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through these details and thank all students, faculty, and staff for doing their part to keep our community safe.
Provost and Vice-President Academic
Dalhousie University is located in Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi`kmaq. We are all treaty people.
We acknowledge the histories, contributions, and legacies of the African Nova Scotian people and communities who have been here for over 400 years.
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