March 13: Update on COVID‑19
To: The Dalhousie University community
From: Deep Saini, President & Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University and William Lahey, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of King's College
Date: March 13, 2020
Re: Update #4: In-person classes suspended next week, university remains open, update on residences and travel
In the interest of ensuring alignment between our affiliated institutions, we are sending this update jointly to our respective Dalhousie and King’s communities in Halifax, Truro and elsewhere. Please review this entire message carefully as there are several new developments.
Over the past several weeks, we have been preparing diligently for the impacts of COVID-19. We know our community is large and complex, with significant mobility of our people. Given the current public health situation, and in consultation with both Nova Scotia Public Health and government officials as well as our other postsecondary partners, it is time for our institutions to take concrete measures to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of the virus. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is highest priority, and it is vital we do our part to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. These measures reflect our unique circumstances for Dalhousie and King’s. We recognize the situation for other institutions may be different and those institutions may need to respond differently.
We have taken many measures to date and are announcing additional measures today in response to the latest information from Public Health. We ask your patience as we work through additional details and decisions and will share more next week.
In-person classes suspended next week
In-person classes and labs for Dalhousie and King’s students will be suspended next week (March 16-20) as a preventative measure to increase social distancing and allow instructors time to shift to alternative means of teaching.
We are working to ensure that, despite these disruptions, students will be able to complete their academic year. Our intention is to begin transitioning classes into a temporary remote teaching environment (such as online, etc.) for the remainder of the term. We expect classes will be suspended at least a week before they recommence. Instructors will receive further instructions through their deans or programme directors in the coming days. In-person exams will not take place on campus. More details to come next week. We will be consulting with CONSUP (Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents) and NS Public Health on next steps.
Clinical placements, research activities and co-op work placements are continuing.
Residences — those who can move out are encouraged do so
Residences remain open. We request those students who are able to move out to do so by Sunday, March 22. Please be assured that anyone who cannot return home for reasons such as international travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations will continue to be provided accommodation. Those who move out by March 22 will receive a prorated refund (room and meal plan) deposited to their student account. Please note, for students’ continued safety we reserve the right to move students to another residence. Students in residence can expect to receive additional information by email shortly.
University remains open
University offices and buildings remain open. Our decision to suspend classes represents a measure to reduce large gatherings of people in line with public health advice. Research operations will continue.
Further information on HR procedures for employees are being provided to leaders across the university shortly. Please consult with your director, department chair or supervisor for more information.
Cancellation of events and activities
In line with Public Health advice, non-essential university-sanctioned events must be cancelled or postponed at this time. The Dalhousie Presidential Installation (March 30) is also cancelled and may be rescheduled to a later date. The situation with campus events will be reassessed as we go forward.
All non-essential university travel suspended, self-isolation for travellers
All non-essential student, faculty and staff travel for university purposes is now suspended. Any exceptions must be approved by the Provost, or in the case of King's, the Vice-President.
All those who have travelled internationally or from any provinces with confirmed cases of COVID-19 should self-isolate upon their return for 14 days. For employees, this time will not be taken from an employee’s vacation or sick leave bank; employees are expected to work from home, where possible.
A reminder that the Public Health Agency of Canada and Nova Scotia Public Health remain the best source for up-to-date public information on this rapidly changing situation. More information related to Dalhousie can be found at dal.ca/coronavirus and related to King's at ukings.ca/coronavirus. In the coming days we will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions on those sites to address common concerns.
These are exceptional times, unprecedented in the modern history of our institutions. We know these measures represent a significant disruption to our operations. No aspect of our mission is unaffected. We are, truly, all in this together.
To our students… we are doing everything we can to limit the impact on your studies, and we are here to support you. We know this is a stressful time. Practise empathy with your peers and reach out if you need support of any kind.
To our faculty, staff and instructors… your commitment to our students and their academic experience is what makes Dalhousie and King’s such great institutions. We know that commitment remains strong. We’re here for what you need in making this difficult situation work for our students.
To everyone in our shared community… Ours is a strong community — and that strength is grounded in our compassion for one another. Now is the time to draw on that strength as we come together and prepare to come through this situation even stronger and more compassionate. Be kind to each other.
President & Vice-Chancellor, Dalhousie University
President & Vice-Chancellor, University of King's College