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Extension of online learning to Jan 28, extension of residence closure, testing changes and more

Posted by Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic on December 23, 2021 in News


To:                   Dalhousie students, faculty and staff

From:               Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic

Date:                Thursday, December 23, 2021

Re:                   COVID update: Extension of online learning to Jan 28, extension of residence closure, testing changes and more

We continue to see higher numbers of COVID cases in Nova Scotia requiring new Public Health restrictions and significant shifts in the provincial testing mandate. We expect to see additional directives from Public Health as the province continues to manage the growing spread of the Omicron variant.

These new developments have directly impacted our approach to the start of winter term and will require adjustments to key aspects of our Campus Check testing requirements and the transition to our full vaccine mandate. We will need more time for our academic community as a whole to assess, understand and prepare for how best to deliver a safe and successful winter term.

For these reasons, we are making the following revisions to our winter term approach as initially communicated last Friday:

Online learning extended to at least January 28. The earliest in-person learning would resume is Monday, January 31. As previously communicated, the only exceptions at this point in time will be in select courses (or course components) where in-person learning is required (for example, accredited programming in our three health Faculties), and these exceptions will be communicated to those students by their Faculties. If you have questions as to whether this applies to you, please contact your Faculty’s Associate Dean Academic. To support instructors with this transition, both Academic Technology Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching are providing additional hours of operation during the December break — we appreciate their support.

Dalhousie residences will also remain closed until at least January 29. Those students who are staying in residence over the break will be able to continue to stay with us, but we will not be opening for new or returning students until at least Saturday, January 29. We appreciate the challenges these continued changes may pose for some students — please know that we are here to help. Before making travel plans, please ensure that you check your Dalhousie email for the latest information.  If you have concerns, contact our Residence Office.

On-campus asymptomatic rapid tests will no longer be available for general pickup as per recently announced changes to the provincial testing mandate and supply. These changes, designed to ensure rapid tests are available for required symptomatic testing, means our rapid testing program will not be able to function as it did this fall. We have paused most of our test distribution as we work to determine how best to utilize the limited supply we have remaining. This shift also has implications for some aspects of our Campus Check program, as a small number of individuals were expecting to have access to rapid tests as part of their requirements or accommodations. We need more time to work through these changes and will communicate as soon as we can in the new year. If you are unvaccinated, and can get vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to make time this December break to get your first shot. Information on how to do so in Nova Scotia can be found here. And if you are vaccinated, book your booster dose when you are eligible.

As previously stated, research spaces will remain open.

In early January, we will work with Deans, Associate Deans Academic, faculty and leaders across campus to assess the situation and develop approaches for the remainder of the winter term. We expect there may be different models applied in different programs, but it will take time to work through these details. We thank everyone for your patience and promise to communicate more information as soon as we can in the new year.

In the meantime, please be safe over the break. This includes following local gathering limits (10 consistent individuals here in Nova Scotia), limiting your contacts, wearing your mask and seeking out testing if required.

We appreciate these developments are not what anyone would have wanted heading into the December break and the start of our next academic term. But by working collaboratively and relying on our community’s care and commitment to health and safety, we will steer our way through this together.

We hope you and your loved ones, wherever you may be, find time to rest and recharge over the break.


Frank Harvey
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 recognize that African Nova Scotians are a distinct people whose histories, legacies and contributions have enriched that part of Mi'kma'ki known as Nova Scotia for over 400 years.