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Fall 2020 Operational Plan (July 28, 2020)
I write to share with you details of Mount Saint Vincent University’s fall campus operational plan. Student, faculty and staff well-being remains at the core of our pandemic response, as does our commitment to the delivery of an exceptional educational experience.
Our fall operational plan adheres to Nova Scotia Public Health directives and is based on a provincially approved framework jointly submitted to the Province a little earlier this summer by Nova Scotia’s universities. Our University-specific fall operational plan was submitted to the NS Department of Labour and Advanced Education on Monday, July 27 and remains subject to possible change based on the Province’s feedback or if required due to a shift in the pandemic’s trajectory.
Our plan also reflects our unique operating context (custodial staff complement, overall footprint, etc.), broad consultation across our campus community, and our commitment to accessibility. Further to recent discussions at Senate, a new committee has been struck to help ensure that the University’s COVID-19 response is considered through an equity lens. The Pandemic Equity Advisory Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Julie McMullin, VP Academic & Provost and Dr. Gabrielle Durepos, Chair of MSVU’s Faculty Association’s Equity Action Committee. I’m grateful to members of this group and all those across the MSVU community who continue to inform and support our response to the pandemic.
Finally, it is of note that our fall operational plan is a living document – in others words, changes may be made as needed. We will update you should significant changes be made.
Fall 2020 campus operational plan
As you know, we will deliver MSVU academic programs online this fall, with a very limited number of small on-campus classes in exceptional circumstances, and with approval. Though most student services will continue to be offered only through virtual means, Residences will re-open at no more than 54% capacity, on-campus Health Services will continue to be available (appointments required), and there will be limited library and fitness centre access by appointment.
For faculty and staff, working remotely continues to be the best approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and so should continue this fall to the greatest extent possible. That said, there will be increased (yet still limited) capacity to work from campus where required, and our approach will recognize the specific needs of those members of the university community who may not be able to work effectively from home.
Individual units/departments are developing their own implementation plans in support of the University’s fall operational plan. Staff should contact their department head and/or dean for department-specific operational details. A system for providing faculty office access on a limited basis is being developed – additional information will follow.
Also of note, since events won’t be possible on campus this fall, Convocation will be held virtually. Work is underway to ensure a wonderful virtual celebration of both our spring and fall graduates’ accomplishments. Details to come.
You can read our fall campus operational plan in full on the MSVU website. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with it, note changes in on-campus services for this fall and procedures for coming on campus – including a new health self-assessment that must be completed online each day you are coming to campus (to be added to the website soon).
We will continue to update our website with the latest information – msvu.ca/coronavirus – and be in touch directly when there are important updates to share. As always, please direct any questions you have to email@example.com and we will endeavour to get you answers.
Travel – An update regarding university travel was published on July 27. You can read it in full here.
MSVU SAFE App – We have recently launched a new, free campus safety app called MSVU SAFE. The app is a one-stop safety shop that connects users to a variety of new and existing safety and security tools and resources. Particularly beneficial for those students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus this fall, the app will soon also include a “working alone” feature (more information to come). To download the app, visit the MSVU website or search MSVU SAFE in the app store of your Apple or Android device.
Masks – Non-medical masks or face coverings must be worn while in common indoor areas at MSVU, starting July 31. This is keeping with a new Nova Scotia Public Health directive issued last week. More information is available here.
Flourish at MSVU – A reminder to both new and returning students that we have many services in place to support you at each step of your university journey. We recently launched a new website hub featuring the supports available to help you thrive in your new virtual university environment. New this year: every single student will be assigned a Personal Advisor who will reach out to you over the summer to answer questions and make sure you have what you need to succeed. Check out the Flourish hub and our A to Z list of student services and supports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required that we all navigate extraordinary challenges – at work, at study, and at home. I am deeply respectful of the diversity of our pandemic experiences, and extend my sincerest gratitude for the admirable perseverance that you – the students, faculty, and staff of MSVU – have demonstrated.
As we look to the start of the fall semester, we will ensure that our new students have a compelling first-year experience and that our returning students will progress through their degrees. We have a strong and pioneering history in remote program delivery at MSVU, dating back almost 40 years. It’s a history that will serve us well as we navigate these next several months (primarily) online together.
Dr. Mary Bluechardt
President and Vice-Chancellor
Use of non-medical masks or face coverings on campus (July 27, 2020)
In keeping with Nova Scotia Public Health’s new directive that non-medical masks be worn in indoor public spaces, non-medical masks or face coverings will be required to be worn in common indoor areas on the Mount Saint Vincent University campus effective July 31, 2020.
Wearing a non-medical mask/face covering is one way we can help keep each other safe. When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of their own infectious respiratory droplets; current evidence suggests that COVID-19 can be spread by infected individuals whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Where non-medical masks/face coverings are required on campus
Masks or other face coverings must be worn at all times in indoor common spaces on campus, including, for example, in all hallways, washrooms, building lobbies, elevators, the library, the dining hall (except when eating or drinking) and fitness centre/gym. Though some of these locations may not yet be open to large numbers, please remember that some staff do remain on campus and limited changes to our on-campus operations are expected as we move into the fall (e.g. opening of Residence at 54% capacity).
Masks will not be required in classrooms, labs, offices or residences, though some may choose to keep them on in these spaces.
Masks are not required outdoors.
Type of non-medical mask/face covering to be worn
From the Public Health Agency of Canada:
Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:
• allow for easy breathing
• fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
• maintain their shape after washing and drying
• be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
• be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
• be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
• be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping
Some masks also include a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter, for increased benefit.
Non-medical masks or face coverings should:
• not be shared with others
• not impair vision or interfere with tasks
• not be placed on children under the age of 2 years
• not be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
• not be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
• not be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
• not be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing
Accessing a non-medical mask
All those attending campus should bring their own non-medical mask or face covering whenever possible. Students returning to Residence this fall should plan to bring a mask/face covering with them. The University has a limited supply available. Those requiring a mask can get one at the Security Desk in Assisi Hall.
What if I can’t wear a mask for medical or other reasons?
We understand that some members of our community are not able to wear a mask, for example for medical reasons. The University and NS Public Health are requiring all those who can safely where a non-medical mask or face covering to do so while in common areas on campus.
How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly
Health Canada has created a video detailing proper use of a non-medical mask or face covering.