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Dal Health Messages Regarding COVID‑19

Posted by Faculty of Health on March 23, 2020 in News

As developments emerge regarding COVID-19 and what it means for our Faculty, Dal Health Dean Dr. Brenda Merritt continues to keep in touch with students, faculty and staff. All of the updates, whether video or written will be housed here.

June 2020: Message from the Dean

Over the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been reaching out to the Faculty of Health community through messages and videos to provide updates on academic and administrative plans, and to check in and stay connected. Over the spring, all of our lives were upended, and very little was known about when things were going to return to the way they used to be. To say it’s been a challenging time is an understatement! I am incredibly proud of the Faculty of Health’s students, staff and faculty who have pulled together to get through the end of a difficult and unexpected academic year while following guidelines around safety and protection during the pandemic. In accordance with all safeguards and recommendations from Dalhousie and public health authorities, planning is currently underway for a graduated return to campus this summer for some of our faculty and staff, and teams are working on an operational plan to host some face to face student learning experiences (e.g., skill labs in our accredited programs) in the fall term.

As we have seen recent racial tragedies occur across Canada, the United States and beyond, it has become imperative that change happens immediately to ensure that our Faculty takes proactive steps to combat anti-Black racism and support our Black students, faculty, staff and community members. I want to say unequivocally that Dal Health stands with our Black faculty, students, staff and community members. We condemn racism and acts of violence against the Black community.

We are committed to change. Here is what we are doing:

  • Reviewing and strengthening our Equitable Admissions Policy to further increase access to our health programs, especially Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian applicants
  • Reviewing recommendations from previously published reports (e.g., Belong Report, Hewitt/Bombay Report, The Lord Dalhousie Report) to identify actionable priorities
  • In collaboration with the Faculty’s Inclusion and Equity committee, reviewing curriculum data that has been collected related to how faculty/programs are infusing or facilitating inclusion and equity in their courses. Actionable priorities to be identified
  • Early this year the Faculty received strategic initiatives funding to host a workshop entitled Building Safe Space for all Students - Supporting Students and Clinicians in Practicum Learning. While this funding has since been withdrawn secondary to financial pressures related to the pandemic, we will determine if there is a mechanism and funding to continue with this initiative.  The aim of this project is to address issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, specifically for racially visible students, and identify strategies of how educators can better understand, be allies to & support their students during practicum learning experiences.

The above measures will not solve complex and longstanding issues; we see it as a start. We’re dedicated to continuing the conversation and doing more to improve inclusion and equity for our community.

I hope you have a safe and restful summer. We will meet the challenges of the fall head-on as we continue to deliver the highest quality health education to our students and work together in a diverse and collaborative academic community.

Brenda Merritt

Dean, Faculty of Health

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SERVICES AND SUPPORTS

Student Supports

Students who require immediate support should contact Student Health and Wellness by phone to book an appointment: 902-494-2171 (Halifax); 902-893-6369 (Truro). Additional e-mental health options for students are available, including Good2Talk – free and confidential counselling for post-secondary students (dal.ca/good2talk); Ask a Nurse – confidential answers to your health questions within 72 hrs; and TAO – an online mental health library.

Faculty/staff supports

Faculty and staff resources are available through our Employee Family Assistance Program, which can be accessed at workhealthlife.com or at login.lifeworks.com. Please also visit our remote working site for employees for additional mental health resources.

Human Rights and Equity Services — Where to go for help:

August 11, 2020: COVID-19 Update

First of all, my thanks and gratitude for the hard work that has gone into the development of our summer and fall phased return to campus safety plan. Our safety and operational plan to resume limited research activities and face-to-face teaching of essential skills labs has been approved, allowing us to continue to move forward with gradually re-opening on-site activities as part of the university’s phased re-opening strategy.  Guided by a commitment to prioritize the safety and well-being of our faculty, staff and students, the Faculty of Health has created a robust and thorough plan, in compliance with our Environmental/Occupational Health and Safety (E/OHS) requirements and public health guidelines.

This process has allowed us to better understand how the coming months will likely unfold and we know that things are going to look different for our Faculty this fall.  The majority of our faculty and staff will continue working from home and a relatively small group of researchers, faculty and staff are approved to return to campus.

This memo is long so please bear with me, as it contains information you need to know regarding this phased return to campus, including important resources and protocols.

Fall Update

Even with the robust on-campus safety measures in place, we must all continue to be diligent in complying with all health and safety protocols. The best approach to limiting the spread of the virus is to limit contact, which is why continuing to work from home wherever possible is the most effective way to keep our Dalhousie community safe while enabling continuity of our academic mission.

For those who are returning to campus, there are a variety of safety protocols in place for the Faculty of Health, including:

  • Watching this mandatory safety video
  • Conducting mandatory self-screening protocols for everyone prior to arriving on campus and staying home if you are at all unwell.
  • Wearing cloth masks when arriving on campus (note you must provide your own cloth masks for entering and exiting buildings). Once in the classroom, as indicated by your instructor, wear the provided surgical mask.
  • Following COVID-19 specific building use protocols, such as dedicated arrival and departure times, and observing the marked traffic flow patterns in buildings.
  • Ensuring frequent hand washing.

Winter Plan

At this time, we anticipate the winter term will operate as the fall term, with the continuation of the above safety strategy. The majority of our faculty and staff who can work from home will remain at home, and those who are permitted to return to campus will continue to do so. If anything changes, we will fully update you as soon as we can.

To date, Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Provinces have done a good job in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 as much as possible, thanks to the majority of people taking the virus seriously and following public health directives. If we stay committed to protecting each other and fostering collegiality in the face of this ongoing crisis, we can continue to help each other stay healthy throughout the fall and into next year. It is up to all of us to do what is needed to protect ourselves and our Dalhousie community – taking extra precautions and minimizing risk will support all of us in being able to engage in our exceptional research and educational programs without additional disruption.

For specific information on how this impacts you and your academic programming, please check your email for messages directly from your School, College or Program. You can find more information and resources below. Stay safe and look out for each other.

Dean Brenda Merritt

Information and Resources:

To provide assistance to incoming students, Dalhousie's Ancillary Services team has confirmed a number of quarantine packages with local hotels where students can self-isolate:

Self-Isolation Registration Info for Students

For more information on health protocols in Nova Scotia, visit the government’s COVID-19 website.

 

COVID-19 Update for Students:


We are working to deliver courses for the fall term. Fall classes will be online with some face-to-face offerings in the Faculty of Health. For specific information on how this affects you, please check your email for messages directly from your School, College or Program.

April 9: Dr. Shaun Boe, Associate Dean Research - Stay Connected

March 30: Dal Health Dean's Message - Changing The Narrative

 

March 23: Dal Health Dean's Message Video

 

March 18: Faculty of Health Student Placements

We understand that the rapid changes happening this week are stressful, as is the uncertainty around COVID-19. We hope you and your families are well during this trying period.

Here is the latest update with respect to COVID-19 and student placements:  

In light of recent developments, we have determined that it is not operationally feasible nor learner-centric to continue any of the Faculty's clinical and practice education courses, effective March 18 until further notice. This includes all practice education courses within and beyond Nova Scotia in all of our academic units:

  • Clinical Vision Science
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Health and Human Performance
  • Health Sciences
  • Health Administration
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Social Work  

This decision is in alignment with placement cancellations by our partners across the country and internationally.

We know how important these placements are in providing exceptional health education to students and preparing them for their careers. That said, Dalhousie and our partners share the view that the health and safety of our community is the highest priority, especially given the current demands of the healthcare system.

Students who are in placements or about to begin their placements can contact their program and placement coordinators for more information. We appreciate your patience as we deal with this rapidly-changing situation. These are exceptional circumstances, so exceptional measures have to be taken so we can all do our part to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 17: Faculty of Health’s Response to COVID‑19 - An update from Dr. Brenda Merritt

Over the past few weeks, I have been working closely with the senior Dalhousie leadership team and our Faculty leaders to prepare for the impacts of COVID-19. Of utmost importance to all leaders is the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. We are also committed to lessoning the academic impacts on our students and to ensure their progression.

We know the following weeks will be challenging; there is still a great deal of uncertainty around COVID-19 and that is stressful. We may not have all the answers right away. Please be reassured that as questions come in to us daily, university and Faculty leaders are working tirelessly to find answers and address concerns.  

We in our Faculty have not been doing a lot of messaging from our channels, in order to respect the principles of clear, consistent communications. We know that 'speaking with one voice' is the most efficient way for a large community like Dal’s to convey important information. We feel the best source of information continues to be the Dalhousie Novel Coronavirus website, accessible from the main image slide on dal.ca and found here as well as the e-mail messages from President Deep Saini and Dr. Teri Balser. We will continue to promote and amplify these centralized messages to our community through our Dal Health channels.

These messages are being developed based on extensive consultation between the senior university leadership and the Deans, as well as the questions that continue to come in from our community. The FAQ section of the above website is being updated continually with these answers.

I have been in constant contact with the Faculty of Health leadership and we are meeting regularly and problem solving on a daily basis to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. To say that this is a rapidly evolving situation is a bit of an understatement — changes have been happening by the hour, and in some cases, minute-to-minute. Our Faculty leadership team has been working night and day to understand and respond to the challenges created by this pandemic, and for that they have my utmost gratitude. I would also like to thank ourfaculty members, staff and students for their extra work, patience and perseverance over the past few weeks.

Please know that all measures undertaken by Dalhousie and our Faculty have public health and safety as our collective top priority, and we are following guidelines established by provincial and federal public health bodies. Above all else, it is critical that we at Dalhousie do our part to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Please continue to watch your e-mail for the latest updates on this situation and check the Dal Coronavirus website. Most importantly, take care of yourself and others in the coming weeks.