About the plan

The MSVU Fall/Winter 2020/2021 Operational Plan was developed in compliance with the approved return to campus guidelines for Nova Scotia Universities. MSVU is committed to following Nova Scotia public health directives and guidelines in evolving this plan.

The plan addresses the status of all aspects of University operations for the rest of the summer and for the fall. This plan also reflects our unique operating context (e.g. physical footprint, PPE supply, custodial capacity, etc.), while ensuring the safety of all members of the University community. See the July 28, 2020 message from Dr. Mary Bluechardt, President and Vice-Chancellor at MSVU, introducing the plan.

A PDF of the full MSVU Operational Plan is available, as well as the below highlights:

Guiding Principles

The university has created a set of principles to guide our decision making and to support our campus plans along with an evolving roadmap. Implementation will be supported by clear and regular communications with all of university stakeholders.

These guiding principles are:

  • The health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are paramount and our planning will consider all reasonable precautions, as directed by the public health guidelines, to guard against the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 is an Occupational Health and Safety risk and working remotely helps to reduce this risk.
  • Our planning will consider both the potential for a second wave of infection and the impact of transitioning back to a full virtual mode of operations.
  • We will take a phased approach to on-campus activities to provide an opportunity to assess the impact of incremental changes and to enable us to respond appropriately.
  • Our approach will recognize the specific needs of those members of the university community who may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of contracting COVID-19.
  • Our approach will recognize the specific needs of those members of the university community who may not be able to work effectively from home.
  • Students, faculty and staff share responsibility for the safe use of university facilities, ensuring they abide by public health protocols including physical distancing, necessary hygiene practices and cleaning protocols. Those attending campus will be required to follow an identified set of precautions before, during and after their time on campus (see Appendix A).


Classes will continue online for the fall 2020 semester. A decision about the mode of academic program delivery for the winter 2021 semester (starting in January) will be made later in fall 2020 in accordance with public health directives.
MSVU’s physical capacity makes it difficult to hold classes on campus with physical-distancing measures in place. In very exceptional circumstances, there may be a need for face-to-face instruction on campus. Proposals for doing so will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the MSVU Vice President Academic & Provost and the Vice President Administration in consultation with the university safety office and facilities management.

Work arrangements

In compliance with the approved framework, the University’s preferred mode of operation is working remotely. To determine which employees should be on campus, the University undertook a comprehensive analysis of its physical space in consultation with the university leadership team. The consultation resulted in an inventory of required engineering and administrative controls. Please see Appendix C or a check list.

Each member of the university leadership team provided an operational plan for their administrative and operations teams detailing which employees may be on campus and how often. The operational plans have been used to develop a schedule for on campus presence of various departments and to establish a baseline number of employees who will be on campus daily. Based on the operational plans, the university is anticipating no more than 25% of staff to be on campus until January 2021. Each leader will review their department specific plans with their teams. Please see Appendix E for an example of a departmental plan.

Staff who have their supervisor’s approval, may continue to work from home and will review their agreed upon plan with their supervisor at regular intervals. These reviews will ensure they have appropriately considered the work task and health and safety requirements and that they are regularly connecting with their colleagues, team members, direct reports, supervisors and students.

Human Resources will work with Managers and Supervisors to support the health, safety and well-being of our faculty and staff.  Continued awareness training will be a priority for faculty and staff working virtually and on campus.

There may be times when a workplace accommodation is necessary.  Workplace accommodations are unique to each individual and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  The process of accommodation is a cooperative one which shall be undertaken in compliance with Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act.

The University has comprehensive protocols in place to minimize and guard against the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.  If you have a concern in the workplace, please contact your Manager, Dean or Chair, Human Resources or your Occupational Health and Safety representative (OHS).  Through the process of consultation, the University may conduct a risk assessment to determine the provision of a temporary accommodation to enable the University to respond appropriately.

Awareness and training

For staff working on campus, our training program consists of COVID-19 awareness education and departmental safe work practices.

For students in residence, in addition to their new Code of Conduct, our training program consists of COVID-19 awareness education and personal care practices. University will provide masks, hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies to students in residence.

Students, faculty and staff will be required to acknowledge completion of a self assessment, and an understanding of safety procedures (training video to be shared) as part of the approval to come on to campus. Please see Appendix A for a ‘Coming to campus’ document.

Precautions to take before, during, and after visits to campus

If you are coming to campus please ensure you are approved to be on campus. If you’ve been approved for a trip to the MSVU campus, the following are required precautions* to help keep you and all members of the MSVU community safe:


  • For each day you will be on campus complete the online sign in
  • Assess your health – do you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19? If you’re feeling unwell, don’t come in.
  • Have you travelled recently? If so, be sure you are following current COVID-19 related travel advisories, including the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days if you’re arriving in NS from certain destinations.
  • Have you come in close contact with someone confirmed to have, or suspected of having, COVID-19; or are you awaiting COVID-19 test results for yourself? If so, you are required to self-isolate and, therefore, shouldn’t be coming on campus. Please review Nova Scotia’s self-isolation guidelines.


  • Follow physical/social distancing requirements, keeping a distance of at least 2 meters between you and someone else.
  • Follow directional requirements – some buildings may require you to go in one door and out another. Or certain regular entrances may be off limits (keeping traffic to a particular entrance only). If directional requirements are in place, these will be marked.
  • Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in indoor common areas.
  • Keep your hands clean, either by washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer (available on campus).
  • Follow coughing and sneezing etiquette guidelines – cover coughs and sneezes (ideally with a tissue that can then be thrown away).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Ensure gathering limits are adhered to (note: many common areas and classrooms on campus now have maximum occupancy limits assigned in keeping with public health directives; these will be marked).


  • Before you leave any room in which you have been working, wipe down work areas with sanitizing wipes
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer (available on campus)
  • Assess your health – do you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19? If so, call 811 for guidance.

Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting on campus

Facilities Management has created a cleaning and disinfecting protocol and service levels are noted in the detailed document in Appendix B of the Operational Plan.


MSVU will follow public health guidelines and supports the use of non-medical masks or facial coverings such as non-medical cloth masks. The university requires non-medical masks or face coverings to be worn in indoor common areas on campus in accordance with public health protocols. The University will supply masks to those who require them. It is also understood that some students, faculty and staff may not be able to wear masks, for example for medical reasons.

Learn more about mandatory masks and face coverings on the MSVU campus.


Access to research labs is based on approved applications. The applications for access to labs are reviewed by the Research Approvals committee. The committee is comprised of Director of Facilities Management, University Safety Officer, AVP Research and the Dean of Arts and Science.

The committee recommends proposals to the Vice President Academic & Provost and Vice President Administration for approval.

Department/area specific guidance

Individual units/facilities are developing their own implementation plans in support of the University’s fall operational plan. Please contact your head and/or dean for faculty/department-specific operational details.


In order to ensure the health of students, faculty, and staff, the University will have signage and information available that details the prevention of contracting COVID-19 and how to recognize the symptoms.

Signage will be in place by August 21, 2020. Signage will include COVID-19 symptoms, directional signage, floor signs for 2 meter distancing, hand washing guidelines, room capacities, seat spacers, guidelines for use of non-medical masks and physical distancing reminders.

A robust communications approach will support implementation of this plan throughout the summer and fall.