Dear Faculty and Staff,
As we continue to plan for the fall term and navigate unknowns and uncertainties, we can take cautious encouragement from the apparent flattening of the curve in Nova Scotia and the relaxation of some restrictions. We are monitoring what is unfolding in PSE in our region and across the country. We are also learning from the experiences of neighbouring provinces that are a week or two ahead of us in pandemic response. Some universities have made firm decisions about their fall operations, but most have not. At Acadia, we will continue to follow the guidance of public health authorities, remaining vigilant on matters of health and safety as a partner in the province’s approach to the pandemic. Our decision will be unique to our circumstances, culture, and methods.
Students, faculty, and staff want to know what shape the fall will take. We all share a desire to be back on campus in the usual way, but by any measure, these are unusual times. The Acadia Fall 2020 Task Force is working tirelessly to find a reasonable and safe proxy, leaning on already successful and deeply rooted methodologies found in Open Acadia, our School of Education, the Library, and innovative sources on our campus. We want to make the best decision about the fall at the right moment. Please continue to be patient until we can state with confidence how Acadia will embrace the opportunities and challenges the fall will bring.
I am hopeful circumstances will continue to improve sufficiently in the coming weeks to allow a return to campus in the fall. However, social distancing and prevention protocols will likely remain in place, demanding a blended or hybrid approach to teaching and learning. Despite my hopeful optimism, it is prudent for us to be prepared to operate in a virtual environment should infection rates spike over the summer. The Planning Task Force is discussing the implications of several scenarios that relate to teaching and caring for Acadia students under pandemic rules. The health and safety of students and employees will guide decision-making, as has been the case since the onset of the pandemic.
Our Provost and Vice-President, Academic is closely monitoring admissions and registrations for the fall and, in collaboration with the Students’ Union, is conducting a survey to glean insight into the needs, expectations, and aspirations of our incoming and returning students. This survey will help inform our planning. Once analyzed, we will share the learnings from the study with the university community.
I must restate my thanks to everyone for all you’ve done to support Acadia’s students. Your resilience and creativity have seen Acadia through the successful conclusion of the academic year, including a virtual celebration of the Class of 2020.
Please continue supporting and learning from one another as we find our way back to doing what we do best, which is providing a personalized and rigorous education in a robust and respectful scholarly community, inspiring students to become critical thinkers, lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and responsible global leaders.
I wish you all a happy and relaxing Victoria Day weekend.
President and Vice-Chancellor