University-related updates for students
COVID-19 Update for MSVU Students (November 25, 2020)
As provincial regulations change due to increasing COVID-19 case numbers, we wanted to touch base with you about impacts at MSVU. Fortunately, our early shift to primarily online learning this fall, and careful restart of on-campus activities, means we are well positioned to respond. We have also established the proper protocols to reduce risk and protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, and these continue to serve us well.
In keeping with updated Public Health restrictions announced this week, the MSVU fitness centre/gym will be closed to all in-person activity effective end of day Wednesday, November 25th to at least December 10th. Note that this change will not impact virtual fitness and recreation program offerings – the team in Athletics & Recreation is still here for you and their virtual fitness program is FREE for MSVU students. Sign up today by emailing email@example.com and visit them on social media (Facebook / Instagram).
Students can continue to access the MSVU Library, the Aboriginal Student Centre and Bookstore by booking an appointment. Masks must be worn at all times in these spaces.
There can be no food or drink in the main library areas, but students can continue to book study rooms, where food and drink are permitted.
A reminder that all of the above noted services remain available to you at a distance. You can find each of them online – as well as many other student supports available remotely – via the Student Service A-Z list.
Residence remains open and the Rosaria Dining Hall remains operational for residence students though with modified seating. We have plans in place to safely support any residence students who may need to self-isolate, while continuing to protect the health and safety of all others living on campus. All residence students have been sent a separate email outlining a few additional updates required to help ensure everyone’s safety. Any students in residence with COVID-19 related questions are encouraged to contact Lynn Cashen at Lynn.Cashen@msvu.ca.
Provincial exposure advisories
Over the past couple of weeks, Public Health has issued a number of “exposure advisories”; these are notices to the public of possible exposure to COVID-19 at specified locations, dates and times.
Please ensure that you are monitoring these advisories and following related Public Health guidance. As well, we ask that you do not come to campus if you have been to an exposure site during the affected time period. If you need support to follow isolation guidelines, please reach out to OSE@msvu.ca and we will do our best to identify supports for you.
It’s up to all of us to help keep our community safe.
Public Health continues to remind that there are several things we should all be doing to stay safe, help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and protect others and our community:
- Stay home if you feel sick and contact 811 for guidance;
- Wear a mask;
- Follow physical distancing guidelines (keeping a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others);
- Wash / sanitize your hands frequently;
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly;
- Download the COVID Alert App;
- Adhere to gathering limits;
- Avoid all non-essential travel outside the Halifax area for the next two weeks at least; and
- Follow self-isolation requirements if you must travel.
Nova Scotia Public Health has announced that COVID-19 testing is currently available for individuals who have been in any restaurant or bar in the Halifax area after 10 p.m. within the past two weeks (even if no symptoms are present).
It’s a good idea to refresh your understanding of all COVID-19 prevention measures and restrictions set out by the Province as they do change. It’s up to all of us to help keep our University and broader communities safe.
For international students
International students traveling to Canada are required to complete their 14-day quarantine in our approved hotel (or on campus for residence students) and to work with the International Education Centre on their plan. It is important that you attend an IEC webinar on traveling to Canada. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information and support.
At this point, the winter term will continue as previously indicated – mostly online, with the following courses to be offered via both on-campus and virtual options (i.e. in a “multi-access” format):
- GFSG 6606 (Research Methods)
- HIST 3305 (Gender in Historical Perspective)
- HIST 4480 (History seminar)
- HIST 3370 (Selected Topics in European History)
- RELS 3380/PHIL 3380 (Selected Topics in Philosophy/Religious Studies)
- WOMS 3310 (Women’s Studies Methodologies)
- PSYC 1120.02; PSYC 1120.03 (Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science)
- PSYC 3360 (Science and Knowing)
- PSYC 4417 (Developmental Neuroscience)
- PSYC Lab 102
- School Psychology program classes (graduate)
- Five chemistry labs
Of course, our approach will continue to be in keeping with NS Public Health guidelines. We will pivot as needed and advise should a change in approach be necessary.
As always, our student supports are here for you. With final exams and paper deadlines nearing, you might want to be in touch with the following teams:
Missed the town hall last week? Watch a recording of the presentations featuring some of the above-noted services.
Also, don’t forget about the Virtual Crow’s Nest offering students a variety of fun and interactive online activities.
With non-essential travel not recommended and gathering limits reduced in Halifax, your holiday break may look different this year. We encourage you to finds ways to connect with family and friends while staying healthy and safe. For those of you traveling for the holidays, please let us know if you need support to meet quarantine requirements (if applicable).
As always, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions or concerns: email@example.com.
New student survey, student townhall and other updates (Oct 30, 2020)
I’m writing to provide a few updates/reminders and to invite you to our Fall 2020 Student Townhall. The student townhall will be an opportunity to learn more about the Winter 2021 term, supports available to you, and to ask any questions that you may have. The townhall will take place on MS Teams on Wednesday, November 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. To attend, please RSVP by November 12 to firstname.lastname@example.org. An RSVP is required to receive the meeting link the afternoon prior to the session.
New student pulse survey
We want to hear about what your University experience has been like so far this fall so that we can make any changes needed in the months ahead. To that end, we’ve launched a very brief check-in survey to gather your feedback in three areas: (1) the challenges of COVID-19, (2) academic experience, (3) non-academic student experience. The survey will take just a few short minutes to complete – I encourage all students to share your thoughts. The more people we hear from, the better! Complete the survey
I know it has been a challenging term, with the impacts of COVID-19 and our transition to virtual classes. A reminder that there will be no classes November 9-13 and I hope you have a chance to take a break as well as get caught up on coursework. Learning Strategist, Venus Bali, will host a workshop on November 4 titled “Getting Started 2.0”, focused on rebooting, regrouping, and finding the support needed to finish the semester on the right foot. All students are welcome and can join the session through the Virtual Crow’s Nest – in fact, you can see all scheduled events and workshops there.
Please remember that campus is open to you. You can book an appointment to spend time in the Library, the Fitness Centre, or the Aboriginal Student Centre. The Health Office is also open to you (call 902-457-6354 to make an appointment) and all other student supports are available to assist you virtually. A reminder that masks must be worn at all times while in common areas on campus, including the library (even once seated), hallways, washrooms, building lobbies, elevators, the library, the dining hall (except when eating or drinking) and fitness centre/gym. Note that those booking study rooms at the library are not required to keep masks on once in those particular rooms. Find out more information on the use of masks on campus.
As you learned in our earlier announcement, we will continue in a primarily online environment next term. We anticipate having very few in-person classes and all classes (including in-person) will be available to you online. If you haven’t already done so, please register now for your Winter classes. We will provide more information on classes and modes of delivery at the student townhall.
And… a few more reminders:
- In-course bursary applications are due on November 6, 2020.
- Today, Friday, October 30th is the deadline to put your name forward to serve as a student-at-large on the new MSVUSU Mentorship Team. Get more information through MyMount (log-in required).
- Remote access to lab computers – Secure access to lab computers on campus (i.e. including the software on them) can be achieved remotely using the MSVU Remote Computer Access Portal from your device with your MSVU login credentials through a browser window. Learn more on the IT&S website or contact the IT&S HelpDesk for assistance.
- Your mental health matters – The pandemic has brought with it many challenges, including impacts on mental health. A reminder that there are supports available to you:
- Our Counsellors provide free confidential counselling to MSVU students and continue to meet with students virtually. To book an appointment, call 902-457-6567 or email email@example.com.
- Online mental health resources are available around the clock via Healthy Minds NS.
- If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.
Please continue to stay tuned to your MSVU email inbox and the MSVU website for pandemic related updates. And, as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residence update (June 26, 2020)
Earlier this spring, the University advised that all programs would be delivered online for fall 2020, in keeping with public health directives and MSVU’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff.
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. Unfortunately, this means that not every student who has applied will be able to live in residence this fall.
Here’s a summary of our fall Residence plan:
- The following areas will be open and fees will remain the same as 2019:
- Westwood – Apartments (fee $7,008)
- Westwood 3rd Floor – Traditional Rooms – limited space (fee $6,683)
- Assisi Hall – Traditional Rooms – limited space (fee $5,850)
- Bathrooms will not be shared by more than two residents.
- As per usual, students assigned to traditional rooms will be on full 7-day meal plans with 3 meals/day. Westwood Apartment students will be able to choose an enhanced Flex plan with dining swipes or upgrade to a full 7-day meal plan. These options will ensure food access for all residence students and will allow for adequate meal provisions in the event that self-isolation or quarantine measures are required. We are working to finalize the meal plans with Chartwells and we expect to be able to send an update on pricing next week.
- As per usual, trained Resident Assistants (RAs) and Dons will be part of your on-campus residence support team.
- Common areas (shared lounges, kitchens, etc.) will be open with reduced maximum capacities; however, they be unavailable for periods of time based on the status of public health directives at the time.
- We want your residence life experience to be a supportive and engaging one in the midst of these unusual time. We’ll be implementing a new virtual program to help build that strong sense of community for which we’re known.
Our new, MSVU Residence Life Caring Communities Plan will be built around three community “blocks” who will each be led by their own RA. An online community will be created so that students can engage virtually with each other and within these community blocks, and through which we will deliver Residence Life programming. As well, an online orientation is planned for all students who are new to MSVU.
Additional details to note:
- Students moving into Residence this fall will receive room assignments for the full academic year (i.e. for the fall and winter terms).
- All students will be asked to sign a modified rental agreement that outlines changes for this year and an individualized Plan for Student Success and Wellbeing identifying an emergency contact.
- Unfortunately, visitors and overnight guests will not be permitted (no exceptions), both due to physical distancing requirements and social gathering limitations and enhanced cleaning protocols associated.
- We have not confirmed full campus plans for fall 2020 just yet, but are working towards being able to give you limited access to some campus areas such as the gym and library.
- Students are required to bring their own PPE (masks, face shield, etc.).
- Cleaning supplies will be provided by Facilities for cleaning of common spaces and shared surfaces (including bathrooms) after each use.
- Security will be on-campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as per usual.
- Move-in dates may need to be adjusted based on physical distancing rules (e.g. to manage elevator traffic, etc.).
All students must follow the latest recommended public health protocols; as of June 22, 2020, this means:
- Physical distancing of at least 2 meters or 6 feet
- No gatherings of more than 10 people
- Ensure frequent and proper hand washing
Next steps – IMPORTANT
All students who have applied for Residence for this fall are asked to complete this FORM by Friday, July 10, 2020 indicating whether you are still requesting a space under this modified approach.
If we have more students interested in remaining in residence than we have space to accommodate, the Residence Life Office will contact students the week of July 13th, 2020 to help us identify those with a priority need to live on campus. Priority will be given to students who must be in Halifax due to an academic requirement (i.e., co-op, practicum or internship), students with a concern about internet connectivity at home, students with no other housing option and students whose personal circumstances create challenges or barriers to their academic success in a remote learning context.
Anyone who chooses to withdraw their residence application will be refunded their deposit in full. Should you wish to cancel your application and receive a full deposit refund, please select that option on the FORM by Friday, July 10, 2020 and we will process your refund as soon as possible.
Students may also choose to defer their deposits to January or September 2021.
While it’s too soon to say what the Winter semester will bring, we can’t wait to have all our residence students back on campus and sincerely hope it happens soon.
Fall 2020: A message from MSVU Vice President Academic and Provost (April 28, 2020)
I write to you today to share an update on the fall 2020 term.
As the winter semester draws to a close, I’d first like to extend my congratulations to you on the completion of what was one of the most unique semesters we’ve seen in some time. True to form, MSVU students, faculty and staff rose to the challenge in exemplary fashion.
As you look to the fall, I want to reassure you that MSVU will offer a full slate of high-quality programs starting on time this September.
We are fortunate at MSVU to be a leader in distance education. We have a long, strong and pioneering history in remote program delivery, dating back almost 40 years.
With that solid foundation from which to build, we are actively planning for various teaching and learning scenarios for fall 2020 – from online to face-to-face delivery and hybrid scenarios. Across our academic programs and support services we are working on innovative programming to ensure you feel supported no matter how we roll out the fall term. Of course, final decisions about mode of delivery will be made based on guidance from Nova Scotia Public Health.
We appreciate entirely that the uncertainty is challenging. We will share another update as soon as we can, but please be assured that your program at MSVU will continue.
For those still considering summer study plans, I encourage you to explore the many online courses being offered by MSVU faculty this spring and summer.
As well, our Centre for Academic Advising and Student Support has moved its operations entirely online and continues to be available to advise current and incoming students. You can connect with them through the Centre’s webpage.
Rest assured, MSVU will be here for you this September as you continue or begin your studies. The strength of the MSVU community will shine through no matter where we are.
COVID-19 related financial supports for students (April 6, 2020)
COVID-19 has brought financial hardship to many. Please see below for a summary of financial supports available to help MSVU students.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (provided by the Government of Canada)
If you have lost income because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide you with temporary income support of $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. The CERB is available to students (domestic and international) who also meet the following criteria (as set out by the Federal government):
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
Applications are being accepted starting April 6. More information can be found on the application for CERB website.
Also, please note that the Federal government has indicated that they are working on additional supports specifically for post-secondary students and more information will be shared soon.
NS Worker Emergency Bridge Fund (provided by the Nova Scotia Government)
Intended to help the self-employed and those laid-off workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. Government will provide a one-time, $1,000 payment, to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Visit the government of Nova Scotia website for more information.
Student loan updates
Government is suspending payments of Nova Scotia and Canada student loans from March 30 to September 30, 2020. The suspension is automatic – in other words, you do not need to apply.
The Nova Scotia Student Assistance office remains operational, applications are being assessed, inquiries responded to and funds are being issued. They have moved to online services only (no phone calls). Use the ‘Ask Us’ feature in MyPATH for secure inquiries. If you don’t have a MyPATH account, you can send questions to email@example.com.
MSVU President’s Student Relief Fund
The MSVU President’s Student Relief Fund has been established to help students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g. loss of income) cover urgent and immediate costs associated with housing, food, technology, health services and transportation. The amount a student may receive is based on the student’s demonstrated financial need directly related to Covid-19, to a maximum of $1,000 for full-time students and $500 for part-time students. Preference will be given to students who have exhausted other emergency funding options and/or do not qualify for support from the Federal CERB program.
Applications for this emergency funding are currently being accepted; students in need are asked to complete the President’s Student Relief application form (log-in required).
To be eligible to apply you must be:
- An MSVU student registered in the Winter 2020 term
- Have taken a minimum of 1.0 unit since September 2019
- Have urgent and immediate demonstrated financial need
The President’s Student Relief Fund is being supported by University-led fundraising efforts. Our priority is to support immediate student need and our hope is that remaining funds could establish a bursary available to impacted students returning or beginning their studies in the fall of 2020. Applications for these bursaries will be available in the future.
Please take care.
Update on Summer Session 2 and online course offerings from Dr. Julie McMullin, VP Academic & Provost – April 1, 2020
In an update to students sent on March 24, I announced that there would be no Summer Session 1 face-to-face courses. We have since made a decision on Summer Session 2 based on the latest information from public health officials both provincially and nationally.
Face-to-face delivery of courses will not take place in Summer Session 2. However, the number and range of online courses will be expanded, where possible. Courses planned for online delivery will continue. 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.
Support for online learners
Whether you are brand new to online learning, or you have taken online courses in the past, please know that we are here to support you as you navigate this process. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Online Support for Students section of our website.
Update on Final Winter 2020 Course Grades for Students – March 26, 2020
As we work to respond to the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been discussing the University’s approach to final grades for the winter 2020 term. We have also been reviewing all student feedback received. Based on that input, and with the approval of the University’s Senate Executive, we are implementing the following final grade guidelines towards helping to alleviate the anxiety that many in our campus community are enduring.
Undergraduate students will have the choice to accept their final course grade or request a grade of “Pass” (for grades of “D” or higher) for each of their courses in the Winter 2020 term. Graduate students will have the choice to accept their final course grade or request a grade of “Pass” (for grades of “B-” or better) for each of their courses in the Winter 2020 term.
Students are advised that “Pass” grades for the Winter term 2020 will be GPA neutral, meaning they will not negatively nor positively impact a cumulative grade point average and those courses will still count towards a student’s degree completion requirements. “Pass” grades also won’t affect GPA calculations for scholarship renewal purposes.
Course instructors have been advised to submit course grades on or before May 8th. Once students receive their final grades, you can accept your grade or choose a grade of “Pass” instead. Students will have until 4:30 p.m. on May 15th at the latest to request their grading preference through a process to be determined by the Registrar’s Office. These decisions will be final. More details on this process will be made available shortly.
This decision will apply to grades for the Winter 2020 term only. Students are asked to wait until all their grades are recorded before submitting their request to use the “Pass” grading option. This decision does not alter the revised learning and assessment plans that academic staff have developed for their courses. We sincerely appreciate all the hard work that MSVU course instructors have put in to redesign their courses to maintain high-quality learning experiences and to develop alternative assessments. Students with unique personal circumstances or course-specific concerns are encouraged to connect directly with their instructors.
All Course Grade Options
Regular Grading – Unless otherwise advised, the Registrar’s Office will record grades for students as has been the practice in previous academic terms. Recognizing that there are factors that have made this term uniquely challenging, course instructors have been respectfully asked to consider alternative ways to assess student learning this term. Course instructors were advised that one option was to forego a final exam and, where they are confident that most of the learning outcomes have been covered in their courses, they could opt to assess students on work completed to date. Course instructors were asked to show some flexibility, remembering that students may have been counting on the final exam as an opportunity to increase their course grade.
“Pass” Notation – All students receiving a grade of “D” or higher in undergraduate courses or “B-” or higher in graduate courses in Winter 2020 academic term courses will be able to request that the Registrar’s Office record grades for either an individual course or all courses with a transcript notation of “P” (Pass). Further details regarding the process to request the “P” notation will be communicated soon.
Grade of “INC” – A course instructor can submit a grade of “INC” (Incomplete) for any student for both medical and non-medical reasons (please refer to page 30 of the undergraduate academic calendar and page 22 of the graduate academic calendar). Arrangements for course completion are made between a course instructor and a student. If a course instructor grants a grade of “INC”, all outstanding work must be completed and graded by May 29th (deadline to clear grades of “INC”). If a grade of “INC” is not cleared by completing outstanding work and with the submission of a grade, the grade of “INC” will be replaced with a grade of “F” immediately after May 29th.
Grade of “DEF” – A notation of “DEF” (Deferred) can be given through the Registrar’s Office in exceptional cases when a student is unable to complete course requirements due to medical or other reasons during the time frame provided for completing outstanding work while a grade of “INC” is noted (i.e. work cannot be completed by May 29th). Grades of “DEF” require the approval of a course instructor and the relevant Dean. Students must petition for a grade of “DEF” before the “DEF” Petition deadline of May 14th. Petition forms can be found here.
Course Withdrawal – Recognizing the challenging circumstances all students are facing at the end of the Winter 2020 academic term, the Mount has extended the deadline to withdraw without academic penalty (transcript notation of “W”) from March 9th to April 3rd. It should be noted that students who withdrew from courses after March 9th and initially received grades of “WF” have now had these grades changed to grades of “W”.
These are most certainly unprecedented and very challenging times. Please know that every decision we have made has been done with the best interests of our diverse student body at heart.
Message to students from Dr. Julie McMullin, VP Academic & Provost –
March 24, 2020 (6:30 p.m.)
First and foremost, I want to recognize and thank you for your incredible resilience and understanding during a challenging and stressful time. I know this isn’t how you envisioned wrapping up the academic term. None of us could have imagined a situation like this unfolding so dramatically and so quickly. I have been inspired by the many stories of students supporting one another, and staying socially connected during this time of physical distancing.
The health and safety of MSVU students, faculty, staff and the broader community is of utmost importance to us. At this time of uncertainty, it is important for us to pay attention to our mental health. I encourage you to watch a great video put together by Jillian Rankin of MSVU Counselling Services, which includes Jillian’s top five tips for wellness. If you need mental health support during this time, Counselling Services has phone and video appointments available with our counsellors. These appointments can be booked by calling (902) 457-6567 or by emailing email@example.com. Also, additional mental health resources can be found on the Counselling Services website.
I also want to provide you with the following updates and helpful information:
- Students will not be suspended or placed on academic probation this year.
- Withdraw Fails (WF) from Winter 2020 will be removed and changed to Withdraws (W), so that if you do choose to withdraw from a course, you will not have an academic penalty
- We are extending the withdrawal deadline. Students may now withdraw from courses until 4:30 p.m. on April 3.
- We are currently exploring the potential of adopting a Pass/Fail model. We are considering offering students the option of requesting a pass/fail assessment if there are extenuating circumstances that would justify this approach. ·
- Government is suspending payments of Nova Scotia and Canada student loans from March 30 to September 30, 2020. The suspension is automatic.
- The deadline to file your income tax and benefit return has been extended from April 30 to June 1, 2020. The deadline to pay any 2019 balance has been extended to August 31, 2020.
- The Nova Scotia Student Assistance office remains operational, applications are being assessed, inquiries responded to and funds are being issued. They have moved to online services only (no phone calls). Use the ‘Ask Us’ feature in MyPATH for secure inquiries. If you don’t have a MyPATH account, you can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) website is a great resource for information related to the federal government benefits and services. Many of you may be eligible for new support programs.
Summer Session 1
- 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.
Transitioning to online courses
If you are transitioning from face-to-face classes to online courses, please know that we are here to support you as you navigate this new process. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com. You can also visit the Online Support for Students section of our website.
International students are encouraged to check their MSVU email account for a message from Amy Braye, Manager of the International Education Centre (IEC). The message includes information about the most recent immigration update, a new Facebook group created by the IEC, and off-campus housing.
All student services have successfully transitioned to virtual service, so please do get in touch with an academic advisor, counsellor, Accessibility Services, etc. should you need any support. See our A-Z list online.
Student supports: A message from the AVP Student Experience –
March 14, 2020 (7:25 p.m.)
All student services at MSVU are available online and our team is eager to help you successfully complete the term. Our team in Accessibility Services, Counselling, the Writing Centre, and the Health Office are just a few of the many staff here to assist you as you navigate these next few weeks. For a full list of services, please check out our A-Z list online. A reminder that we also have new online mental health tools available to you 24/7.
- Practice social distancing: avoid close contact with other people (stay about 6 feet apart and avoid crowds and gatherings)
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
- Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Don’t share drinking glasses, utensils, bottles, mouth guards or cosmetics
Please take care of yourself at this challenging time. And be in touch if there’s anything we can do to help.