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Fall 2020: Latest updates for MSVU students (September 2, 2020)

It’s hard to believe that the first day of fall classes is just around the corner (September 9, 2020). Across MSVU, we are hard at work preparing for the start of this exceptional semester. In short, our goal remains the same as always: ensuring a rich and rewarding learning experience for you.

But before we get back to the books, we have a few important updates to share. As always, I encourage you to visit the MSVU website for information about all aspects of the University. In particular, we have a section dedicated to sharing COVID-19 related news, including answers to frequently asked questions. I encourage you to check back often for new information.

Orientation

The Orientation Committee has been hard at work planning a virtual orientation for students new to MSVU this fall. The program includes a mix of real-time virtual sessions, accessed through Mount 101 and several online events to kick off the school year. You can find more orientation information on the MSVU website. Returning students, we have a module to help you to navigate all things online learning: Your virtual MSVU.

Library

We are pleased to share that the MSVU Library & Archives will be open for student access by appointment starting September 8, 2020 (including 3 study rooms available for solo use). Hours of on-campus operations will be Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The Library continues to provide full virtual services as well – for a quick overview check the Library & Archives Guide to Resources & Services.

To access the Library, you will need to book an appointment in advance – you can book a Library appointment online. You will then need to complete an online health assessment on the day you are coming to the Library (including Residence students). Those with appointments to access the Library will need to check in via the McCain Centre main entrance [map]. Residence students will use Assisi access through Rosaria and McCain. Masks will be required.

Library materials can also be requested from the Library website for “curbside pick-up” at the McCain Centre entrance effective September 8. When your materials are ready for pick-up, Library staff will contact you with a link to a health assessment form – items will then be available for pick-up for 48 hours. Materials can be returned via the existing indoor bookdrop in the Library (advance booking required) or via any Nova Scotia university, college, or public library book return. (Good news: a new outdoor bookdrop is also in the works for MSVU – stay tuned.)

Fitness centre

In keeping with our commitment to student wellness, we will also be providing students with limited and pre-booked access to the on-campus gym and fitness centre (weight room), effective September 8. Hours of operations will be Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The team has worked hard to put together a plan that will enable limited use of their facilities while protecting health and safety. This service for students is being provided at no cost this fall; athletics fees are being waived for the fall semester.

Access will be by appointment; you can book a gym/fitness centre appointment online. You will then need to complete an online health assessment on the day you are coming to the gym/fitness centre (including Residence students). Just as for the Library, those with appointments to access the gym or fitness centre (weight room) will need to check-in via the main entrance to the McCain Centre [map]. Residence students will use Assisi access through Rosaria. Masks will be required, except during work-outs. There will be no access to locker-rooms or showers.

Aboriginal Student Centre

Patrick Small Legs-Nagge, Special Advisor to the MSVU President on Aboriginal Affairs, will be available to meet with students in the Aboriginal Student Centre for limited hours on Wednesdays, starting September 9. Appointments must be made directly with Patrick in advance and completion of an online health assessment form will be required before each visit. Patrick can be reached at Patrick.SmallLegs-Nagge@msvu.ca. Masks will be required. Drop-ins are not permitted at this time. Priority during Patrick’s weekly time in the ASC will be given to supporting Indigenous learners at MSVU, including students enrolled in the Aboriginal Academic Access Post-Secondary (AAAPS) program.

Bookstore

The MSVU bookstore remains open virtually. Currently, students are able to order their textbooks online for either shipping or curbside pick-up. The bookstore is covering shipping up to $10 per order or sending Digital Access Codes via email. Our shipping partner, UPS, has been quick and reliable throughout the pandemic and is providing us with reasonable rates. Check the bookstore’s social media pages for updates (Facebook / Instagram), or contact bookstore manager Karen Mathieu with questions: Karen.Mathieu@msvu.ca.

U-Pass Update

As in past years, the University and your Students’ Union have partnered with Halifax Transit to bring MSVU students the U-Pass service for the fall and winter. The U-Pass program gives eligible MSVU students (i.e. full-time students taking at least 1.5 units of credit in the fall or registered in co-op) unlimited and affordable access to Metro Transit bus and ferry services (with some limited exclusions and fare conditions). All students should have recently received an update from Financial Services including information on the U-Pass fee and the need to opt out of the program by September 16. You can click here to either opt out or confirm that you will be taking the U-Pass. Students who select to get the U-Pass will then be contacted with further instructions on how to pick-up the U-Pass.

  • Eligible returning students will have a new student ID card issued with their same picture from last year and with the U-Pass sticker – a time will be arranged for curb-side pick-up at the Seton Academic Centre. Financial Services will contact students to make these arrangements.
  • Eligible new students will need to book an appointment at the library to have their picture taken and a bus pass issued (see student ID information below).
  • Note: all eligible students need to respond to confirm whether you would like a U-Pass or are opting out; if you are getting a U-Pass, you will then be contacted about pick-up arrangements/next steps.
  • All Residence students will be provided their student ID card, Meal Plan sticker and U-Pass (if eligible) by housing staff as part of the check-in process.

Should classes be delivered on campus in the winter term, students will be able to get a U-Pass for the winter term even if they opt out for the fall.
Questions about the U-Pass can be directed to financial.services@msvu.ca.

Note that student IDs are required to accompany your U-Pass – please see the next section below.

Student IDs

If students need an ID card (new or replacement) they can make an appointment via the Mount Library booking system. Note that access for this service will also be via the McCain Centre main entrance [map] and a health assessment form must be completed online on the day of your appointment. If students are unable to get to campus for a photo, you can make a request for an ID (no photo included) by filling out the distance card request form.

If you’re living in Residence this term, there is a separate process in place for new student IDs.

Online health assessment form (for those coming on campus)

Accessible via the MSVU website, this new health assessment form must be completed each time you are coming to campus (before you come) on the day of your pre-arranged visit. It only needs to be completed if you will be on campus that day. A reminder that you should not come to campus if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing requirements for students from outside Atlantic Canada

Nova Scotia Public Health is requiring COVID-19 testing for all students returning to study in Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada. MSVU’s Health Services Manager Maxine Brewer, RN, will be conducting the testing for MSVU students affected. Students to whom this applies are being contacted directly. There is more information about this COVID-19 testing program available on the Nova Scotia government website.

Safety reminders

The safety of all members of the MSVU community is of utmost importance. As we gradually increase our on-campus operations, we want to be sure you have the information you need to protect yourself and those around you. To that end, the University has created this safety video which is essential viewing for any student coming on campus this fall. As well, the Nova Scotia government website features public health information for post-secondary students. You can find it at: novascotia.ca/coronavirus/education.

A reminder that masks are now required in common indoor spaces on campus. Those coming on campus also need to ensure physical distancing between themselves and others, practice coughing and sneezing etiquette, and ensure frequent handwashing. We strongly recommend washing your hands when you arrive on campus. Though hand washing with soap and water is best, additional hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout campus.

Residence students should follow the guidance/protocols provided by Residence Life.

We have also 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 and is particularly beneficial for those students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus this fall. To download the app, visit the MSVU website or search MSVU SAFE in the app store of your Apple or Android device.

Parking

Students, faculty, and staff approved to be on campus can park on campus. A current parking pass is not required in these cases, however, if a previous year’s pass can be displayed, please do so. As well, there should be no overnight parking on campus, except for Residence students. Residence students are being provided parking passes for display.

Learning supports

New to online learning? Good news: we’re not new to online teaching. In fact, MSVU has long been a leader in remote course delivery which means we have a really solid foundation from which to build for this fall. We have many supports available to help you make the transition to learning online. The University’s Teaching and Learning Centre and Online Learning (or TLCOL) offers support for students learning online. As well, Accessibility Services at MSVU is committed to promoting an equitable learning environment through self-advocacy, and helping students to identify and access supports and accommodations unique to their needs. Their services are being provided remotely for now. Lastly, MSVU’s Learning Strategist can help you hone your learning skills, including online learning skills. Connect with our Learning Strategist and other academic supports via MSVU’s Centre for Academic Advising and Student Success. (A full list MSVU student services – from A to Z – is available on our website.)

If you’re new to MSVU, don’t forget to complete Mount 101. In a nutshell, it’s an interactive online program that introduces students new to the University to all they need to know to have a successful start. it really is a new student’s survival guide for first year.

And lean in to your Mount Mentor or Personal Advisor – they are here for YOU! Never hesitate to get in touch if you have a question or need help. (If you haven’t heard from your advisor or mentor, please contact OSE@msvu.ca to be connected.)

Lastly, stay tuned for additional updates as September begins. In the meantime, I hope you soak up what’s left of summer. And I wish you a wonderful fall semester. At the outset of 2020, none of us anticipated being in the midst of a global pandemic a matter of months later. And though the circumstances are complex, I assure you that your University is committed to rising to the challenge this fall.


Previous Updates

COVID-19 requirements for students entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada (August 21, 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working closely with public health officials to help ensure our MSVU community is safe for our students, staff, and residents of the surrounding community. We all have a role to play to ensure Nova Scotia continues to be safe.

To prevent the spread of this virus in our communities, the Nova Scotia provincial government has established rules for post-secondary students arriving in the province from outside Atlantic Canada. These rules are the law in Nova Scotia as part of the public health order under the Health Protection Act.

Required Travel Form

All students entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in. This includes students coming from all other Canadian provinces/territories and from other countries.

Once you submit the form, you will be given directions about steps you need to take as required under the public health order.

Required Self-isolation

All students entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Required COVID-19 Testing

All students entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada must get three COVID-19 tests during their self-isolation period. This includes students who arrive in Nova Scotia on or after August 20, 2020, as well as students who are already in the province and self-isolating.

After you complete the travel form, Nova Scotia Health will email you three COVID-19 test appointments and tell you the location for them. It will either be on campus or nearby. Nova Scotia Health may also call you to give additional instructions.

Canadian students are reminded to bring their provincial health card when they come to Nova Scotia.

Other Public Health Measures

There are many other mandatory public health measures in place in Nova Scotia, such as staying 2 metres/6 feet apart from others and wearing a non-medical mask in indoor public places. Please familiarize yourself with the rules in Nova Scotia. For more information specifically for students and their parents, please read the COVID-19 post-secondary fact sheet. We encourage you to also follow @nsgov and https://www.facebook.com/nsgov/.

Everyone has to play their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students have a responsibility to protect each other, the staff at their institutions, and the communities where they live. Thank you in advance for your cooperation with the self-isolation and testing requirements, and all the public health measures in place to help keep us safe.

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 feedback@msvu.ca and we will endeavour to get you answers.

Additional updates

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.

Thank you

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

Do’s and don’ts of wearing non-medical masks and face coverings [Public Health Agency of Canada]

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.

Important updates for MSVU students (June 30, 2020)

Hello from your MSVU Student Experience team who are hard at work planning for your start or return to studies this September!

While the university will offer all courses online this fall due to the pandemic, we continue to detail our summer and fall campus/operational plans and wanted to share a few updates with you.

Fall timetable

The most updated timetable outlining courses to be offered in the fall 2020 semester has now been posted – you can find it on myMount or in the MSVU App. Timetables are subject to change, but the only anticipated adjustments are the addition of courses as circumstances permit. Use the MSVU App or the Registration Centre in myMount to register for courses. A reminder that you can contact the Centre for Academic Advising and Student Success (advising@msvu.ca) or Registrar’s Office (registration@msvu.ca) for course advice or assistance registering.

Summer Advising event July 6 – New MSVU students

Do you still need to register for fall and winter courses? Join the Recruitment and Academic Advising teams as they co-host a webinar all about selecting and registering for your first-year courses. The webinar will start at 10 a.m. AT and the access link and login information will be available on our Summer Advising and Registration webpage. Academic advisors will then be available from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for same day academic advising support through email, telephone, or Skype for Business. Contact advising@msvu.ca for more information. Be sure to check out the New to MSVU 2020/2021 Facebook group and @NewToMSVU Instagram account – these are great places for incoming undergraduate students to ask questions, get helpful information, and start to build a community with your peers! Graduate students should contact their academic advisor listed on their letter of acceptance.

Residence

In consultation with Nova Scotia Public Health, and with student safety at the forefront, we have determined that we will be able to safely operate our student residences at 54% capacity for the fall 2020 term – or 214 students. A message was sent last week to all those who have applied to live in residence this fall. You can read that message in full here.

Library

Due to the pandemic, the MSVU Library & Archives switched exclusively to virtual operations on March 18, 2020. Most of the ­­services and resources they have always offered are still available via online delivery and online formats. A phased-in approach will be used to return to on-campus Library operations to enhance the support for teaching, learning, and research. These efforts are ongoing and may change as determined by the Province’s health directives. At present, the Library is now offering all MSVU students the ability to borrow physical material (books, DVDs) by making these available via on-campus pick-up and home mail delivery.  You can learn more about the current status of library services here.

Bookstore

The book store is one of the on-campus operations being considered as part of phase one of our return-to-campus planning. In the meantime, they are working on a curbside pick-up program which they hope to announce soon, and the bookstore remains open virtually. Currently, students are able to order their textbooks online. The bookstore is shipping orders, or sending Digital Access Codes via email. The bookstore is covering shipping up to $10 per order. Our shipping partner, UPS, has been quick and reliable throughout the pandemic and is providing us with reasonable rates. Check the bookstore’s social media pages for updates (Facebook / Instagram), or contact bookstore manager Karen Mathieu with questions: Karen.Mathieu@msvu.ca.

Flourish at MSVU

At MSVU, we believe that to truly flourish, you need to be nurtured – meaning you need the right environment and the right supports. We’re committed to supporting you at each step of your university journey and 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 new and returning 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 here.

Also, in our new video, learn more about next steps and meet some of the folks who are working hard to ensure your start at MSVU goes as smoothly as possible!

Got questions?

We have answers! Check out our A to Z list of student services and supports. And don’t hesitate to get in touch: ose@msvu.ca and kim.kienapple@msvu.ca for graduate student inquiries.

Message from the President - Fall 2020 course delivery at MSVU to shift online (May 14, 2020)

As our Public Health experts begin to share plans for the cautious re-opening of our province, it has become increasingly apparent that organizations will need to practice physical distancing into the fall.

I am writing to advise that Mount Saint Vincent University will shift to online course delivery for the fall 2020 semester.

By making this decision now, we are ensuring that we have the time needed to plan for a quality experience this fall. In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to engage our faculty, staff and Senate in a fulsome discussion of the implications of this shift.

As well, we will explore what our on-campus operations might look like based on the latest Public Health advice (e.g. residence, library, art gallery, fitness centre, registrar’s office, staff and faculty offices and more), and work with our Research Office to address the needs of our researchers.

We are fortunate at MSVU to be a leader in online education. We have a strong and pioneering history in remote program delivery, dating back almost 40 years. It means we have a really solid online foundation from which to build.

To our new and returning students, remember that the situation we find ourselves in will be short lived, while your MSVU experience will be a long and rich one. The need to be physically distant from one another and avoid gatherings won’t last forever. In the meantime, our Student Experience team is planning some exceptional online orientation and support programs designed to enable your success through this period.

We will also continue conversation about our University’s 2020/2021 budget. This dialogue started much earlier this year, but budget approval was deferred as we sought to focus on our response to the pandemic. Certainly, these are fiscally challenging times across our sector and beyond. We will continue to work with members of our representative University Budget Committee and the Board – and indeed across all facets of our organization on measures like cost containment – to balance the unprecedented financial challenges ahead with the need to ensure continued delivery of the best possible learning experience for our students.

No doubt you have many questions. While we don’t yet have all the answers, we will work to provide more information as soon as possible. Please continue to visit our website for the latest, and stay tuned to your MSVU email account.

It goes without saying that these are unusual times. And while the road ahead will not be without its challenges, I have no doubt about the power of the MSVU community to make it through.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the long weekend.

Cyber safety and COVID-19 - A message from IT&S March 21, 2020 (4:30 p.m.)

At times of intense distraction or major crisis, cyber criminals see opportunity.

We have become aware that phishing campaigns, spam, and malware scams are circulating that use COVID-19 response as their basis. In fact, it has been reported that one circulating cyber scam targeting some MSVU users appears to be coming from an @MSVU.ca email address.

You are reminded to be vigilant in monitoring for cyber-attacks and report any suspicious activity to the Help Desk (helpdesk@msvu.ca). Protecting MSVU information and systems, as well as your personal information, is critically important.

Please take the following precautions:

  • Avoid clicking on links and opening email attachments in unsolicited emails
  • Beware of warning messages that appear to come from leaders/managers stating that your MSVU email or any other account is about to expire or requires verification
  • Beware of urgent (“Are you available?”) or unusual requests that appear to be coming from university representatives, like requests to purchase gift cards
  • Be aware of incorrect email addresses and subject lines with an unusual sense of urgency
  • Verify the source of a message or request before responding
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information
  • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations
  • Ensure you have antivirus software installed on your home computer. See the Antivirus and Malware Protection web page for advice on selecting one for home.
  • Use trusted sources—for example www.msvu.ca/coronavirus or government websites—for up-to-date, reliable information about COVID-19
  • A reminder that there is free cyber security awareness training available to MSVU students, faculty and staff (access it here)

For faculty and staff

  • Only use MSVU VPN for accessing administrative systems that require it (Colleague, Informer, Student Records, and network drives). Disconnect from the VPN when not using it for that purpose. Consider using SharePoint or OneDrive to manage your files instead.
  • Avoid using MSVU VPN on shared/family devices.
  • Protect your device – ensure that devices like laptops that you are using to work remotely are kept secure. If you are concerned that your data privacy may have been breached (for example, if a device is lost, left somewhere, or otherwise compromised), please notify IT&S immediately.

Resources

Help Desk

A reminder that the MSVU Help Desk is available to support members of the University community (helpdesk@msvu.ca and 902-457-6538). Please understand that there may be a delay as our staff work to support significant and evolving IT&S needs at this time.

COVID-19 Update - March 18, 2020 (2:40 p.m.)

Shift to virtual operations

A reminder that the University will shift to virtual service delivery ASAP this week (in addition to remote academic program delivery already underway). This means that ALL faculty and staff will no longer be permitted on campus as of 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19, with the exception of a very limited number of essential operational on-campus service providers (for example, Residence Life, Health Services, Security, some Facilities staff). Employees who have been deemed essential on-site operational personnel have been contacted by their managers.

For safety and security purposes, after the end of day Thursday, March 19, anyone requiring access to campus (for exceptional circumstances) will need to contact their supervisor or Dean at least 24 hours before access is required to explain what space must be accessed and why. Requests will then be sent to the Vice President Administration for review/triage. Sign in/out will be required via the Security Desk in Assisi Hall. Outside building locks have been changed to support implementation of this temporary safety protocol. FOB access will be removed by end-of-day Thursday, March 19.

Summer Session 1 Update

Undergraduate and graduate (all faculties): Summer Session 1 online courses will continue as planned. Face-to-face delivery courses will not take place in Summer Session 1. However, the number and range of online courses will be expanded. Additional online courses that will be offered in Summer Session 1 will be added to the timetable next week. Please be aware that in cases where a face-to-face delivery course is cancelled, registered students will be contacted by Registrar’s Office staff. Students will be able to register for new online courses if they wish.

Summer Session 1
graduate education cohorts will also be delivered online.

Residence

Students who remain due to extenuating circumstances will be provided modified food services and support as needed. Students remaining will be relocated to Westwood soon. Residence Life continues to be in direct communication with Residence students.

A reminder that you can visit the regularly updated FAQ, which also contains links to NS and Canadian health authority resources.

COVID-19 Update - March 17, 2020 (4:30 p.m.)

Canadian organizations and businesses are being strongly urged by both provincial and federal governments to find ways to have their employees work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Our goal is to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our community while virtual operations continue as best as they can.

By end of day Thursday, March 19, the MSVU will be operating essential operational services on campus.

Those employees delivering essential operational services have been contacted by their managers/supervisors.

All other MSVU employees must begin working from home as soon as possible – by end of day Thursday, March 19 at the latest. Information Technology & Services has developed a new “Working From Home” intranet page featuring tools and links to support resources. This page will be updated regularly, so check it often if you are working from home. We thank all employees for your cooperation as we navigate these challenging times.

The University has closed residence as of 12 p.m. on March 21. We continue to support students who cannot return home at this time.

Our Health Services Office will remain open, and requires appointments be made by phone in advance.

The Deans will be following up with faculty to address their plans for the remainder of the academic term.

A reminder that you can visit www.msvu.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the University, including a regularly-updated FAQ, as well as links to NS and Canadian health authority resources.

And if you haven’t already seen it, we encourage you to view this video message from MSVU President Dr. Mary Bluechardt.

COVID-19 Update - March 16, 2020 (5:30 p.m.)

The health and safety of MSVU students, faculty, staff and broader community is of utmost importance to us. In an effort to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, please see below for some important updates:

Events

• All events at MSVU are cancelled until at least June 1, no matter the number of participants.

Facilities

• The following MSVU facilities will be closing until further notice:

Fitness Centre, effective immediately. Visit the centre online at www.msvu.ca/fit, on Facebook or Instagram for updates.

Art Gallery, effective immediately. Visit the Art Gallery online for updates.

Library, as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. Visit the Library website for more information. During this closure, the Library & Archives team is working to ensure our research community has the ability to access the resources and services they need remotely via the Continuity of Library & Archives Services website.

Curriculum Resource Centre, effective immediately. Find them online.

Registration and Financial Services joint counter, effective immediately (located in the main hallway on the 2nd floor of Evaristus).

Residence will be closing at noon (12 p.m.) on Saturday, March 21. Students who are able to move out before then are encouraged to do so. Students who cannot return home due to extenuating circumstances (for example, international travel restrictions or exceptional personal circumstances) will be able to stay and should be in touch with Residence Life as soon as possible. Students who stay in Residence may need to be relocated. Students who move out will receive a pro-rated refund for room and meal plan fees.

• Food services continue in the Rosaria Dining Hall at this time, though with restricted hours and menu changes. Seton Cafe and McCain Cafe have closed. Updates from Chartwells are available here.

• Because EMF is closing due to the Library closure, those needing the following services will require an appointment: Teaching and Learning Centre and Online Learning, Counselling Services, Accessibility Services, Information Technology & Services and Writing Centre.

Counselling and health services

Counselling appointments will be conducted over the phone. A reminder that we also have new online mental health tools available to MSVU students 24/7.

• The Health Services Office remains open to students and existing community patients. Appointments are required.

Human Resources

• Further to the NS government directive to facilitate working from home to the greatest extent possible, Human Resources has developed an FAQ for MSVU employees. Employees should speak to their managers to make working arrangements. The university will focus on continuing to provide critical services to students.

• Information Technology & Services has developed a new “Working From Home” intranet page featuring tools and links to support resources. This page will be updated regularly, so check it often if you are working from home.

This afternoon, the Federal Government announced new travel restrictions. You can read more about that here.

Public health authorities continue to advise on the importance of personal protective measures, such as social distancing (staying about 6 feet away from others and avoiding crowds/gatherings), frequent and thorough handwashing and cough/sneeze etiquette.

A reminder that you can visit www.msvu.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the University, including a regularly-updated FAQ, as well as links to NS and Canadian health authority resources.

Please take care. And if you haven’t already seen it, I encourage you to view this video message from MSVU President Dr. Mary Bluechardt

COVID-19 Update (March 15, 2020, 8:15 p.m.)

These past few days have been challenging for us all. We know there are many questions about next steps and how to prepare for the remainder of the academic term. We are working closely with our sister institutions, as well as Nova Scotia Public Health, to chart the best possible path, and are providing updates as quickly and frequently as possible. Important decisions – ones that come with significant impacts – are being made with careful consideration and with the best interests of our students, faculty, staff, and all Nova Scotians in mind. We thank you for your continued patience as we respond to this rapidly evolving situation.

At a media conference held this afternoon, the Province of Nova Scotia announced that there are now three presumptive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the province. Public Health has been in contact with these individuals and they, as well as those they have come in close contact with, are being directed to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

A number of new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 were also announced, including the following that impact the MSVU community directly:

  • Organizations and businesses must practise social distancing of two metres (or six feet) and keep gatherings below 150 or much smaller if possible. After careful consideration, we have decided to cancel spring convocation. We will ensure that all graduating students are awarded their degrees, certificates and diplomas, and we are committed to giving students the opportunity to celebrate this important milestone by crossing the Convocation stage at a later date, possibly in the fall. We are currently working out those details and will communicate them as soon as possible.
  • All childcare centres must close as of March 17, and remain closed until at least April 3. Therefore, the MSVU Child Study Centre will be closed for this time period.
  • All public schools in Nova Scotia will remain closed for at least two weeks following March Break. We understand that this (together with the closing of child care centres) will present challenges to MSVU students and employees with young children at home. We encourage students with issues to connect directly with your course instructors, and employees to speak with your supervisor to establish a work arrangement.

The University remains open, though changes may be required to ensure social distancing. All MSVU employees who were regularly scheduled to report to work on Monday, March 16 are expected do so. Supervisors will work with you to establish an appropriate work arrangement.

The Province’s full media release with more information on further preventative measures is available here.

A reminder that you can visit www.msvu.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the University. We are updating the FAQ available there as new information becomes available.

COVID-19 Update (March 13, 2020, 6 p.m.)

The health of our community is our biggest concern. Thank you for your patience as we work through this. Although there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, it is only a matter time before this happens. This is a rapidly evolving situation with many unknowns.

What you need to know – March 13, 2020 – 6 p.m.

Classes: As a preventive measure, effective March 16, 2020, in-person classes and labs will be suspended until the end of term. Classes already being delivered online will continue. Faculty are asked to move to different modes of delivery where possible and are encouraged to be in touch with the Teaching and Learning Centre and Online Learning, Department Chairs or Deans for support. By mid next week, students will be hearing about any modifications to their courses from their course instructors.

The University remains open and services will continue. Employees should attend work as usual. Though in-person classes are suspended, faculty can continue to work from their offices. While Residences remain open, students living in residence are encouraged to go home if possible.

Co-op, practica, internships: Students in the midst of a co-op, practicum, internship or other placement at a location not affected by this situation can continue to attend their placements as normal. If you have any questions, please speak to your workplace supervisor and/or your MSVU advisor.

Exams: We will not be running face-to-face exams this term. Faculty are being asked to revisit their assessment plans and consider whether take-home or digitally-delivered exams are feasible for a particular course.

COVID-19 Update (March 13, 2020, 2 p.m.)

This is a complex and rapidly developing situation. We will continue to keep you updated as it evolves. In many ways, this is also uncharted territory, and we need to be patient with one another as we navigate these challenging times. As always, the well-being of our university community remains our top priority. All measures the university is taking are based on that strong commitment and the expert advice of Nova Scotia and Canadian Public Health authorities.

What you need to know – March 13, 2020, 2 p.m.

  • Any students, faculty or staff who have travelled outside of Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days. This is based on a new directive from Nova Scotia Public Health issued this morning.
  • All events on campus involving 150 participants or more are cancelled, effective immediately.
  • NS Public Health is advising that if you have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a person you suspect may have COVID-19, self-monitor your health. If you develop a fever greater than 38 C or a cough with 14 days of your return to Canada, call 811. For more information, visit the NS Government’s “COVID-19: What Should I Do If…” webpage.

We will provide an update later today about classes, exams, and searches.

The university has also developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help address your many questions. Please note that it will be continually updated. If you have any questions not address in the FAQ, please email feedback@msvu.ca and we will respond as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Update (March 12, 2020)

We are writing to share an update on coronavirus preparedness and prevention at MSVU.

We know we are in a challenging time, and the well-being of the MSVU community remains our top priority.

Preparedness

The University’s senior leadership team continues to actively monitor the situation. We will keep you updated via direct email and the MSVU website.

Please note that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. However, this is a challenging and rapidly evolving situation. We continue to follow public health advice on issues like prevention, preparedness, and travel advisories.

We have activated pandemic planning across all facets of the organization. A group of MSVU senior leaders is meeting daily to review the situation and continue to advance planning efforts. This week, we were in touch with Deans, Department Chairs and Faculty to encourage preparedness in the event we are unable to offer courses on campus – i.e. how courses might otherwise continue and how assessments would be managed. And while that planning is important, there has been no indication from Public Health authorities that on-campuses classes or events should be suspended at this time. In line with public health recommendations, another measure we are taking currently, is to increase the frequency with which we are disinfecting and cleaning high contact surfaces on campus.

We also continue to collaborate on this issue with our colleagues provincially and nationally, including Universities Canada, the Atlantic Association of Universities, and Council of Nova Scotia Presidents.

Travel

Given the rapidly evolving situation, MSVU has decided to cancel all university-related travel to all of the countries with active Canadian government issued travel health notices (levels one through four) – this applies to all university-related travel to these countries by students, faculty and staff (e.g. for research purposes, conferences of study abroad).

This week, Global Affairs Canada expanded its list of countries with travel advisories due to coronavirus, adding France, Germany and Spain (all with level 1 advisories – or “practice usual precautions”). This takes the list of countries with travel advisories to 10 as follows:

  • China (mainland) – Level 3
  • Iran – Level 3
  • Italy – Level 3
  • Japan – Level 2
  • South Korea – Level 2
  • Hong Kong – Level 1
  • Singapore – Level 1
  • France – Level 1
  • Germany – Level 1
  • Spain – Level 1

Should you have concerns about university-related travel to a country for which an official advisory has not been issued, you are encouraged to speak to your primary MSVU contact (for students) or your dean/chair/manager (for faculty and staff). You can also reach out to one of the travel contacts noted in the “Resources” section below. We will do all we can to support you and minimize any impacts.

All travelers, whether heading out on university-related or leisure travel, are reminded to take appropriate precautions – you can review the Government of Canada’s travel health advice here. As well, the Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19 because the virus can spread quickly on ships due to the close contact between passengers. Lastly, as per usual, if you are travelling abroad, you are encouraged to register your location with the Canadian government at this website.

NS Public Health has advised that anyone who has travelled outside Canada may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus and should closely monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the country. Travellers who start to feel unwell, should stay at home/self-isolate away from the public. Individuals who develop fever, with a temperature 38°C or higher, and/or cough should call 811 for assessment.

Call 811 if you’ve traveled and are experiencing symptoms. They will direct you to the nearest testing site. If you are just looking for information, you are asked not to call 811; instead, please call the Government of Canada’s novel coronavirus information line at 1-833-784-4397 or visit their website.

Prevention

Personal protective measures are very important to avoid getting and spreading viruses.

The NS Department of Health recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • Limit contact with other people when you’re sick
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Don’t share drinking glasses, utensils, bottles, mouth guards or cosmetics
  • Disinfect surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Get your flu shot (Flu shots are also still available at the MSVU Health Office. Please call 902-457-6354 to make an appointment to get yours.)
  • Note that wearing a face mask if you have no symptoms is not necessary. In fact, some evidence suggests that it may increase the likelihood of acquiring an infection due to contact between your hands and face.

Resources

University-related travel advice:

As always, Counselling Services are available for students in need of support.

Faculty and staff support is available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program.

 

Academic planning for coronavirus situation (March 11, 2020) -- A message to Deans and Department Chairs

Please note that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. However, this is a difficult and rapidly evolving situation. We continue to follow public health directives for advice on issues like prevention, preparedness, and travel advisories.

The University is working to be prepared and we’re reaching out to you in that capacity. As we are nearing the end of our semester and entering exam season, we ask that you consider how we can mitigate, to the best of our abilities, any negative effects that this situation might have on students. The ultimate goal of this planning is preparedness toward responding to possible Public Health directives aimed at protecting the health and well-being of the MSVU community, our students, faculty and staff.

Please consider how you might adjust course delivery or assessments in the event that we are unable to offer courses on campus. Please focus on how courses might otherwise continue and how assessments in your classes would be managed. This may involve moving courses online or amending some of the remaining assessment tasks. To help in this regard, attached is an infographic provided by the TLCOL that outlines possibilities for on-line course delivery and assessments. In the near future, the TLCOL will be offering training workshops on these subjects.

We appreciate that this is not necessarily easily done – there are many complexities at play from course content/program variability, to labs, cohorts across multiple provinces (perhaps even countries) and more.

The University will do all it can to support you – please reach out to your Dean with queries. Please also refer to the following Senate policy, Academic Implications of a Significant Disruption of Operations. Attached is the TLCOL’s recommendations for Preparing For Disruptions to On-Campus Teaching.

Travel advice (March 9, 2020)

As circumstances surrounding the current COVID-19 outbreak rapidly evolve, I am writing to remind MSVU travelers of the associated risks.

Faculty and staff

The University’s travel insurance provider for faculty and staff (SSQ) has indicated that travel insurance may not be valid when travelling to countries under a Government-issued travel advisory. Specifically, they will not reimburse expenses, including medical expenses, incurred during travel to countries with level 3 or level 4 travel advisories, as issued by the Government of Canada. A level 3 advisory indicates a recommendation to “avoid non-essential travel” while a level 4 advises travelers to “avoid all travel.” As well, our insurance provider has noted that in places where governments or public health authorities have taken control of the local COVID-19 situation, the support they will be able to offer will be very limited – they will not be able to refer to a provider, nor provide evacuation assistance.

The University encourages all faculty and staff to consider cancelling non-essential university-related travel to all countries currently on the Government of Canada’s list of countries affected by COVID-19, particularly those with level 3 and 4 advisories. These currently include:

  • China (mainland) – Level 3
  • Iran – Level 3
  • Italy – Level 3
  • Japan – Level 2
  • South Korea – Level 2
  • Hong Kong – Level 1
  • Singapore – Level 1

Note that this list could change and travelers should visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information.

If you are planning university-related travel to any of these countries, please speak to your department Chair or supervisor/manager, or contact Human Resources: Stephanie.Girard@msvu.ca or 902-457-6368.

All travelers, whether heading out on university-related or leisure travel, are reminded to take appropriate precautions – you can review the Government of Canada’s travel health advice.

Students

We are working to support any students currently abroad, though none of our students on exchange right now are in an “affected country.” All outbound students are required to purchase insurance through guard.me; guard.me has advised that students already abroad will continue to be covered, but no new policies will be issued for travel (originating in Canada) to the above noted locations, except Hong Kong. Please note that this is a rapidly evolving situation and this information could change at any time. We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with students who are studying abroad for the 2020-2021 academic year.

If any student has travel concerns, including travel concerns outside of study abroad (e.g. conference or research related), please contact Amy Braye in the International Education Centre: Amy.Braye@msvu.ca or 902-457-6130.

COVID-19 Update (March 4, 2020)

I am writing to share an update on the University’s continued monitoring of the COVID-19 situation. (Note that COVID-19 was previously referred to as the novel coronavirus.)
I appreciate that this may be a concerning situation for some members of the MSVU community. I encourage you to access the resources noted below as you need them. I want to reassure the MSVU community that we continue to be in touch with public health officials (including the NS Department of Health’s Public Health branch) and take our guidance from them. As always, we will also work to ensure organizational readiness should a more significant response be required.

Risk in NS remains low

A reminder that at this point there are no cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and public health authorities continue to advise that the risk in Canada and in our province remains low.

Affected countries

The Government of Canada has updated its list of affected countries. In addition to mainland China, areas affected now include: Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. You can access the government’s latest list of affected areas at any time here. As well, all travel health notices are posted here.
The Government of Canada is directing those travelling to Canada from Hubei, China and Iran to self-isolate for a period of two weeks, even if you have no symptoms.
And while only travelers from Hubei, China and Iran need to self-isolate at this point, travelers coming to Canada from any of the affected areas should closely monitor their health for 14 days after their arrival in Canada. (COVID-19 symptoms usually appear within two weeks.) If you have travelled to an affected area and develop a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call 811 for an assessment. You can also contact Maxine Brewer, Registered Nurse and Manager of Health Services at MSVU, for health advice: Maxine.Brewer@msvu.ca, 902-457-6353. Please advise the MSVU Health Office (902-457-6354) office of your situation before visiting so that your case can be managed appropriately.
We will continue to monitor impacts on MSVU students, faculty, and staff, and be in touch with anyone directly affected.
As conference season approaches, we encourage MSVU travelers to monitor Canadian travel advisories. And while there has been no directive to avoid large gatherings in Canada, some conferences in our region could be impacted should large numbers of attendees be unable to attend from other countries or should situations change locally.
  • Students with travel questions should contact the International Education Centre at Amy.Braye@msvu.ca or 902-457-6130.
  • Faculty and staff with travel questions should contact Human Resources at Stephanie.Girard@msvu.ca or 902-457-6368.

Importance of prevention

Personal protective measures are very important to avoid getting and spreading viruses. The NS Department of Health recommends the following:
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • Limit contact with other people when you’re sick
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Don’t share drinking glasses, utensils, bottles, mouth guards or cosmetics
  • Disinfect surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Get your flu shot (Flu shots are also still available at the MSVU Health Office. Please call 902-457-6354 to make an appointment to get yours.)
  • Note that wearing a face mask if you are asymptomatic does not necessarily help prevent infection. In fact, some evidence suggests that it may increase the likelihood of acquiring an infection due to contact between your hands and face.
Please be reminded that it is flu season in Canada, so it’s likely that someone experiencing a cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat or fever (who hasn’t returned from one of the affected countries within the past two weeks) may have the seasonal flu or common cold.

Resources

Students, faculty and staff with health-related questions or concerns about COVID-19 are encouraged to contact Maxine Brewer, RN and MSVU Health Services Manager. She can be reached at Maxine.Brewer@msvu.ca or 902-457-6353.
The Government of Canada has established a COVID-19 information line which can be reached at 1-833-784-4397.
As always, Counselling Services are available for students in need of support. Faculty and staff support is available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program.
More information:

COVID-19 Update (January 28, 2020)

I am writing further to the current outbreak of Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan, China. I want to assure members of the MSVU community that University leadership is closely monitoring the situation.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the virus in Nova Scotia. While one case has been confirmed in Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low for Canada and for Canadian travelers. Should a specific risk to any individual be identified, Public Health would make direct contact.

Noted Maxine Brewer, Registered Nurse and Health Services Manager at MSVU: “There is no reason for alarm on campus. While we should be vigilant in our monitoring and prevention activities, there is currently no need for any changes in our regular routines.”

As a precaution, students, faculty or staff who have flu symptoms and who have travelled to or from China in the past two weeks should contact the MSVU Health Office or their family physician immediately for guidance. For the MSVU Health Office, telephone 902-457-6354 or email Maxine.Brewer@msvu.ca. Please advise them of your situation before visiting so that your case can be managed appropriately.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Note that coronavirus symptoms usually appear within two weeks. Also, it is flu season in Canada, so it’s likely that someone experiencing these symptoms (who hasn’t returned from Wuhan within the past two weeks) may have the seasonal flu or common cold.

Prevention measures include:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

It’s also not too late to get a flu shot. Flu shots are still available at the MSVU Health Office. Please call 902-457-6354 to make an appointment to get yours.

For more information :