The onset of the global Coronavirus pandemic has challenged us to improvise and adapt to new ways of living our lives, conducting our business, and relating to one another. Our personal wellbeing, and the health and safety of our neighbours and loved ones has been in sharp focus over the past six months.
The Town of Wolfville, Acadia University, and the Acadia Students’ Union have kept this in mind as plans for the start of the new academic year have been developed and implemented. We value our shared community and have taken steps together to protect our collective safety.
Acadia University’s return-to-campus plan is based on a community harms reduction strategy that focuses on caring for self and others, community focus, and compliance with health directives. To help make the campus and the broader community as safe as possible, Acadia, in partnership with the Students’ Union and Town, has implemented comprehensive practices, policies, and protocols to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Visit the University’s website to learn more.
Town officials meet regularly with representatives of the University and Students’ Union, including a weekly standing meeting to enable rapid discussion on matters of mutual interest or concern. All parties are committed to working collaboratively to support a safe community, where residents and students alike can enjoy the amenities and activities that remain accessible under pandemic rules.
The Town has heightened its physical presence in neighbourhoods where off-campus housing is common and Acadia and the ASU are working to educate students about expectations of good neighbourly conduct and the consequences of failing to meet them. Students and long-time residents alike are encouraged to make connections in support of one another in this time of uncertainty and worry.
The Students’ Union, working in partnership with the University and local vendors has supported students required to self-isolate by coordinating volunteers to deliver groceries and other necessities. Beyond isolation, several residents have rolled out the welcome mat offering students neighbourly support, baked goods, home-cooked meals, physically distant social activities, and assistance with small home improvement projects.
To help impede the spread of the coronavirus, the University has implemented a series of health and safety measures for all employees, students, and visitors that include physical distancing, pedestrian traffic flow routes and signage, use of non-medical masks, physical barriers, such as plexiglass screens, and handwashing and hand sanitizing stations to name a few. As a safety precaution, the campus remains closed to members of the public, with a few exceptions (i.e. appointments to private businesses operating in the Athletics Complex).
Acadia University is pleased to support the Province of Nova Scotia’s August 20, 2020 directive to test asymptomatic post-secondary students entering the Province from outside the Atlantic bubble. Further Acadia is proud to host a COVID-19 test centre available to all students and citizens when an 811 assessment deems a symptomatic test be conducted. The test centre is located on the edge of campus at 17 Westwood Avenue.
Students arriving at Acadia University (and all institutions) from outside of Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days and submit to three COVID-19 tests, even if they are feeling well. Visit novascotia.ca/coronavirus to see the guidelines provided by Public Health.
Approximately 500 Acadia students, evenly split between on-campus and off-campus accommodations, have been required to self-isolate and participate in the asymptomatic testing initiative. Each have received a daily check-in by phone to monitor physical and mental health and will have the opportunity to connect with peers through programming provided by Acadia Students’ Union.
Official communications pertaining to policies, procedures, restrictions, expectations for conduct behaviour, and compliance have been shared with students by email, though instructors, via the Student Life website, through social media, and during special virtual orientation activities held in concert with the ASU. Employees receive information via email and through the University’s COVID-19 web page.
Educational resources and materials created by the provincial government have been posted and shared and online training for staff and students concerning the risks and mechanisms of COVID-19 control have been undertaken.
A small number of Acadia courses, about 9% are offered in person only, while roughly 49% are offered in a blended model of both in person or remotely. Approximately 42% of classes are fully online (remote). Masks are mandatory in classrooms in which social distancing cannot be achieved, and classrooms will have a reduced capacity to accommodate physical distancing. Classrooms will also be subject to increased cleaning, and staggered class times. New traffic flow patterns will further minimize contact.
During the semester, the meal hall will ensure the continuation of physical distancing. Enhanced cleaning practices have been implemented, as have signage and labelled routes. All Residence (dormitory) rooms are single occupancy only and students have been given a clear explanation of the rules and expectations for residence living.
Acadia has enacted stringent pandemic-related safety practices and protocols to comply with all public health directives, including directive and information signage, and the wearing of masks. Acadia’s mask policy requires anyone entering publicly accessible buildings on campus to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
The global coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to adopt new practices and to become more deliberate in their actions. This year students are committing to personal safety practices, both on-and off-campus, that promote the health and well-being of both the campus community and citizens of Wolfville by signing the Student COVID-19 Safety Pledge through which they accept the responsibility to do all that is required to comply with policies, procedures and directives to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus and to preserve medical resources by practicing physical-distancing, wearing a mask when necessary, and monitor their health for reportable COVID-19 symptoms.
Town of Wolfville
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor
Acadia Students’ Union