Dear colleagues and students,
Welcome to a new year and, soon, a new academic term. Thank you for being an important member of the Acadia University community and joining us in 2021. Together, we made history in 2020 by offering in-person, remote, and hybrid learning opportunities for our students amid a global pandemic.
This week, many students have arrived from outside the Atlantic Canada region and from around the world. Under the supervision of our staff and in accordance with approved public health protocols, they are quarantining (self-isolating) to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19.
As of January 4, post-secondary students are advised to get a COVID-19 test on either day 6, 7 or 8 of their self-isolation. Specific instructions are being provided to Acadia students from our Occupational Health Nurse and Student Services staff in order for them to get their tests. The health and safety of our campus and the community at large are our paramount concern at this and at all times.
To each of our students, I say thank you for taking these precautions. We were able to successfully complete the fall term because of everyone’s cooperation and compliance with the public health regulations, and you are now helping our community to continue to stay safe by your cooperation and by acting responsibly.
While the community spread of COVID-19 has been kept well under control in Nova Scotia, it still exists and the only reason it has not spread more than it has is due to our responsible behaviour. As we welcome students back to our province, travel exposure warnings will inevitably continue. Most recently, there have been positive cases identified at Dalhousie and Saint Francis Xavier universities, but thankfully these individuals were following public health directives to minimize the risks to others. We wish them well as they take steps to recover.
In accordance with public health directives, Acadia University will report any confirmed COVID-19 cases and exposure risks on campus promptly to students, faculty, and staff via a Campus News email or Acadia ALERT. You can also review on-campus confirmed case numbers on our website. Currently, there are zero confirmed cases at Acadia and our intention is to keep it that way, but we are fully prepared for the eventuality of positive cases occurring.
Nova Scotia Public Health coordinates contact-tracing for individuals considered at-risk with our support, and working together we will make every effort to keep our community safe.
Our campus community's health, safety, and wellbeing continue to guide Acadia's response to the global pandemic. As we can see in communities in our region and beyond, this virus can spread very quickly and with more contagious mutations increasing the rate of spread, we cannot be complacent about our relatively safe situation. Yes, we have been successful up to now but that will change very quickly if we do not continue the responsible behaviour that was responsible for that success.
We currently remain in Phase 4 of our Return to Campus Safely Plan. Instruction will continue to be offered as a mix of in-person, remote, and hybrid delivery for the winter term as long as the public health conditions permit. We are prepared to shift to fully remote course delivery if necessary. Faculty and staff members currently working from home will continue to do so, and exemptions approved in the Fall continue. Our remote work plan will be as needed.
I ask that each of you take responsibility for the wellbeing of our entire community, be careful and cautious, and continue to practice required safety protocols. I know that the lessons we all learned during the fall semester will mean an even better educational experience this term when it begins on January 18.
In March of last year, I said that we would get through this pandemic together. Together we have come this far, and together we will get to the end of this pandemic safely and securely.
Thank you for your attention and your vigilance,
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor