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COVID update: Masks, Campus Check, proof of vaccination and more

Posted by Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic; Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice-President Human Resources on September 28, 2021 in News

MEMORANDUM

To:                   The Dalhousie University community

From:               Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic
                        Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice-President Human Resources

Date:                Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Re:                   COVID update: Masks, Campus Check, proof of vaccination and more

Follow-up from Sunday’s message re: COVID and street party attendees


Late Sunday night, Dalhousie issued a directive to students who attended large, unsanctioned street parties in Halifax on Saturday strongly urging them not to attend on-campus classes or general activities for one week and to get tested for COVID-19. You can read the full message here.

We ask this in the interest of our shared health and safety. As evidenced by the exposure notices that have been issued, we have had cases on campus — though, thankfully, no signs of broader outbreaks as of yet. But with the significant increase in cases among 20-to-39-year olds in the Halifax area, we owe it to one another to take measures to protect our health and safety and to allow us to safely, successfully continue our fall term.

We are pleased to see that there has been a significant uptake in on-campus rapid testing this week. Thank you to everyone who is getting tested.

Additionally, Dalhousie and its community partners continue to investigate Saturday’s events and will provide a further update once available. Again, we thank the majority of students who have and continue to follow safety protocols.

A reminder that on-campus rapid testing is available to all students, faculty, staff and subcontractors. As of last Friday, we had distributed 7,750 take-away test kits alongside completing 833 tests at our two clinic sites. Learn more about where to get tested or how to pick up your take-away test kit.

We also need more volunteers to help with assembling rapid test kits and support our two test centres. Sign up to volunteer here and help us keep our Dal community safe.

Mask guidance extended to December 31


Our current mask guidance is being extended to December 31, 2021. We will continue to ask people to wear masks in indoor common spaces (including classrooms and residence common spaces) through the end of the fall term, subject to any changes in epidemiology or public restrictions that would require further changes.

This guidance will continue regardless of whether or not the Province of Nova Scotia removes its own mask requirements (which could happen as early as next week). Even if the provincial mask mandate is lifted, we expect Public Health to continue recommend mask wearing as general practice, especially in spaces where people gather in large numbers. For this reason, extending Dalhousie’s own mask guidance through the end of the semester is in the best interest of both the safety and continuing comfort of our Dalhousie community.

We have been pleased, overall, with how our community has followed our mask guidance this September. Most students, faculty and staff have been diligent in bringing masks to campus and wearing them when around others. We continue to remind everyone that wearing your mask in common spaces is not only about your health; it's also about respecting one another and our shared efforts to complete a safe, successful fall term. We are grateful that most of our community has shown and is continuing to show that respect. Let’s keep it going.

If you have questions about our mask guidance, please consult our safety plan FAQs.

Campus Check vaccination and testing update


Here is a summary of where we are in the Campus Check process:

  • We have been working through some data integration challenges with our Campus Check system that makes specific data reporting not possible at this time. We will provide updated stats as soon as we are able to.
  • The vaccination data of those who have completed the Campus Check process and indicate they intend to be on campus remain strong — approximately 97% fully vaccinated.
  • We estimate that we have some significant pockets of our Dalhousie and King’s community (roughly 20-25%) who have not completed the Campus Check process.
  • All faculty, staff and students must complete the Campus Check process. If you have not done so yet, do so here.
  • Individuals who have not completed their Campus Check by 9 a.m. on Friday, October 1 may be subject to additional remedial measures, including suspension of access to campus and university services. Failure to comply may also result in additional consequences under the Code of Student Conduct or under contracts of employment with the university, including collective agreements and handbooks.
  • Those who have indicated through Campus Check that they are not fully vaccinated are being provided with instructions for uploading their twice-weekly test results.

Provincial vaccine requirements for select events and gatherings


Beginning Monday, October 4, Nova Scotia is requiring people who are 12 and older to provide proof of full vaccination to participate in many events and activities that bring groups of people together, including but not limited to restaurants, fitness facilities, and indoor and outdoor festivals and special events.

These provincial requirements will not apply to Dalhousie’s core activities (classes, research, on-campus work), as they are covered by our Campus Check requirements.  

However, Dalhousie activities that invite the general public to gather will need to require participants to provide proof of full vaccination for entry. These include but are not limited to: visitors to our fitness and recreation facilities; spectators at Dalhousie sporting events; attendees at ticketed or public events or lectures on-campus, including at the Dalhousie Arts Centre; participants in campus tours; and attendees at on-campus conferences or receptions. Participants in these activities will need to provide proof of vaccination even if their vaccine status has already been captured through Campus Check.

We are awaiting further details from the province before formally advising Faculties, units and departments on how to implement proof-of-vaccination procedures where required. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through these new requirements.

Reminder of procedures for COVID cases


We are seeing a growing number of cases in Nova Scotia (Halifax area). We continue to remind our community about the importance of getting vaccinated and following Dalhousie and public health guidance.

When COVID cases are identified among our Dal community:

  • Dalhousie works closely with Nova Scotia Public Health on contact tracing and support. If you don’t hear from Public Health about a positive case in your work or learning environment, it is because they have determined you are not at risk.
  • If you are a student who tests positive, please contact Student Health and Wellness on either the Halifax or Truro campuses for support, and seek guidance from your health care provider. Also ensure you follow your instructor’s and/or program's policy on absences due to illness and missed classes.
  • If you are a faculty/staff member who tests positive, seek guidance from your health care provider. All COVID cases among staff and faculty must be reported to Accessible Employment (accelemp@dal.ca).
  • If you are made aware of a COVID case in our Dal community, please follow these instructions [PDF].

We are confident in our safety plan — in our vaccine and testing requirements, in our mask guidance, in our ventilation reviews, and in all the different layers that, together, work to keep our Dal community healthy and safe. This multi-layered approach to safety will help prevent and limit outbreaks. But we can still expect to see cases and exposures in our community so long as COVID continues to spread more broadly. Please get vaccinated if you have not done so and are able to, and please continue to follow all health and safety guidance.

Continue to visit the COVID-19 Information and Updates website for more details on our safety plan and the fall term.

Sincerely,

Frank Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic

Jasmine Walsh
Assistant Vice-President Human Resources

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.