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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note that student IDs are required to accompany your U-Pass – please see the next section below.
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.
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.
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.
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.