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Important updates on masks, vaccination requirements and more
To: The Dalhousie University community
From: Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Re: COVID update: Important updates on masks, vaccination requirements and more
The following memo summarizes Dalhousie’s planned adjustments to COVID safety measures in the weeks ahead. It includes updates on:
- Vaccination: Requirement for students, faculty and staff scheduled to be lifted after April 30
- Masks: Continue to be required in most indoor common spaces through until Arpil 30
- Campus spaces: Occupancy and distancing restrictions set to lift March 21; some enhanced measures continuing for the rest of term
- Guidance on indoor events, gatherings and meeting/office spaces
Overview of our approach
The Province of Nova Scotia has announced plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions over the next few weeks, with a target date of March 21 for lifting all remaining restrictions. Soon, many of the restrictions Nova Scotia has had in place throughout much of the pandemic are set to become recommendations instead of requirements.
This will be a significant change, one that everyone will react to differently. But what has not changed is our responsibility — as individuals and as a university community — to look out for one another. We have said from the beginning that we are “in this together” and that is every bit as true now, with provincial restrictions ending, as it was when they were first put in place two years ago.
For Dalhousie, this means some university COVID measures will remain in place a little longer as we help our diverse and complex community transition into a lower-restriction model of work and study. In other cases, we will shift plans to more closely align with provincial timelines. As we move through our own phased approach, we will continue to strongly encourage and promote health and safety best practices that are in our collective interest as a Dal community.
As with the province’s phased approach, we understand there will be different views about Dalhousie's transition strategy. Our plan, as with previous stages of the COVID pandemic, is to adopt a balanced approach that will allow us to move forward together with even greater confidence while giving us flexibility to adjust our approach if required.
The following is our summary of current plans and associated dates, pending any changes in the direction of the pandemic, shifts in the health risks associated with emerging and evolving variants of concern, and any relevant adjustments to Public Health directives.
Proof-of-vaccination requirements for students, faculty and staff scheduled to be lifted after April 30
After April 30, we plan to lift our current proof-of-vaccination requirements for students, faculty and staff and suspend the Campus Check program. Students, faculty and staff will no longer need to provide proof of full vaccination (or have an approved accommodation) to work or study on campus.
Until then, there is no change to the previously announced vaccination requirements or accommodation decisions (i.e. if you are not fully vaccinated, do not have an approved accommodation, or have not been permitted to continue testing, you are not permitted to be on campus). For students, this means that action taken under the Code of Student Conduct will be continued (and current interim measures, including the prohibition from being on campus, are still in place). For staff and faculty, disciplinary consequences consistent with the terms of their contracts of employment (including collective agreements) also remain in place.
Please note that in select health Faculties, vaccine requirements to work and study in health-care settings may still apply after April 30. Please consult your Faculty's Associate Dean Academic or program administrators for details.
Our Dal community’s vaccine enthusiasm is well proven, with vaccination rates far outpacing the public at large — 99.1% of on-campus students, faculty and staff have provided proof of full vaccination, and our Campus Check program now has a nearly 98% completion rate. Dalhousie continues to strongly encourage all members of our university community who can do so to get vaccinated and boosted. We will be prepared to re-implement vaccine requirements in the future if required.
Proof-of-vaccination to attend campus events and gatherings is no longer required as of February 28, as this requirement was based on provincial Public Health protocols that have been lifted.
We will be keeping our original commitment to continue with a mask directive until the end of the winter term. Faculty, staff, students and visitors must continue to wear masks in most indoor common spaces through end of day April 30. This includes:
- Classrooms, labs and exam spaces
- Research spaces
- Hallways and lobbies
- Libraries and common study areas
- Fitness facilities (except while exercising)
- Indoor events and gatherings (with provisions, after March 21, for masks to be removed in spaces where physical distancing [6 ft / 2 m] can be maintained)
The one exception to this will be in residence: we plan to lift the requirement for residence students to wear masks in residence hallways and common areas, as well as dining halls, when the provincial requirement lifts on March 21, though masks will continue to be strongly encouraged. This approach reflects the unique needs and concerns of the community of students who call campus their home. Residents will receive more specific instructions in the coming weeks.
We plan to lift our mask requirement for all indoor common spaces end of day April 30. However, masks will continue to be encouraged for anyone who wishes to wear them. Individuals will be allowed to wear masks in all settings at Dalhousie where it is safe to do so (provided they do not interfere with other safety equipment or requirements).
Any occupancy or distancing restrictions currently in place are planned to be lifted as of March 21. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Room/space occupancy
- Dining hall restrictions
- Elevator occupancy
- Vehicle occupancy
- Furniture orientation in shared spaces
Some enhanced COVID safety measures — including the use of plexiglass barriers, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, enhanced hand sanitizer availability — will continue until at least April 30, and some may continue further.
Campus events and gatherings must continue to abide by any provincial restrictions, which are set to be modified on March 7 and then lifted fully on March 21. Proof-of-vaccination to attend discretionary events and gatherings on campus is no longer required as of February 28, as this provincial requirement has been lifted.
After all provincial restrictions are lifted, the only remaining Dalhousie restriction affecting indoor events on campus would be that masks must continue to be worn until April 30 except in spaces where physical distancing (6 ft / 2 pm) can be maintained. Once provincial restrictions are lifted, food and drink can be served if distancing can be maintained.
For meetings and office spaces, we ask that participants respect their peers and colleagues when it comes to mask wearing. Between now and April 30, even if physical distancing (6 ft/2m) is possible, we strongly encourage everyone to ask and make sure all participants are comfortable with you or others removing their masks.
A continued focus on health and safety
Even without formal restrictions in place, all of us have a responsibility to look after our own health and safety and the health and safety of our fellow members of the Dal community. This may mean choosing to continue to wear a mask in some settings. It means checking yourself for symptoms, seeking out available testing for COVID, and staying home if you feel at all unwell. It means keeping up the hygiene habits that help all of us stay well, particularly during cold and flu season.
Our Dal community deserves credit for an incredible job working together through the challenges and tribulations of the past two years. Let’s all keep that in mind in the weeks ahead as we transition to this new way of studying and working and bring the winter term to a close with the same spirit of cooperation, compassion and community.
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.
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