Acadia University, the Acadia Students’ Union (ASU), and the Town of Wolfville are working together to welcome students to the start of a new, fully in-person academic year.
Many students have already started to arrive as they move into their off-campus accommodations, and Acadia’s Orientation Week will commence this week as residence students arrive over the weekend. The first day of classes will be September 8.
Throughout the challenges of this global pandemic, the three parties to the MOU between the University, Students’ Union, and the Town have collaborated to ensure the entire community has stayed safe as the University has maintained in-person operations. This unique partnership, combined with the willingness of everyone to do their part, kept our community safe last year and will do so again for the upcoming academic year.
In accordance with the advice and recommendation of Nova Scotia Public Health, Acadia has taken a voluntary approach to reach a high level of vaccination in the campus community, combined with a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan for this fall. This plan encourages everyone who is able to get fully vaccinated before arriving in our community, and where that is not possible to access vaccinations as soon as possible after arrival. Those who are not fully vaccinated are being directed to get tested twice a week at on-campus rapid testing clinics, and follow multiple layers of core public health measures to ensure health and safety.
Acadia’s vaccination policy was reviewed and approved by our provincial public health authority as being a comprehensive and balanced approach to a very complex issue.
Surveys of students and employees show that Acadia is well on the way to achieving outstanding vaccination levels on the campus, and it is anticipated that more than 90% will be fully vaccinated at the beginning of September, climbing to above 95% as partially and unvaccinated students become fully vaccinated. With current full vaccination rates in our region at 65%, the Acadia community will be at a much higher level of vaccination and the arrival of students will increase the level of vaccination in our community.
All out of province students, except those from PEI and NL, will be fully vaccinated or subject to self-isolation and testing. A residence building has been set aside as a self-isolation facility so that any residence students needing to self-isolate during the term can do so away from the rest of the community.
But vaccination alone is not the answer, and Nova Scotia Public Health advises that vaccine policies must be looked at as part of a “package” of COVID-19 prevention steps rather than in isolation. Acadia’s plan includes such a package of measures.
The core measures include multiple layers of protection:
Acadia’s comprehensive pandemic policies and protocols, including its stance on vaccination, can be read in full by visiting the University’s COVID-19 Information website. While no vaccination policy can achieve 100% vaccination in a university community, Acadia continues to monitor the developing pandemic situation and is prepared to take more prescriptive measures where it is deemed that they are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes of a highly vaccinated and safe community.
The ASU is working closely with the University and the Town to promote safe and healthy behaviour of all students both on and off campus. The University, Students’ Union, and Town continue to meet with the RCMP weekly to review items of mutual concern. That includes COVID-19 health and safety measures and new measures to allow better information sharing between the entities.
The Town of Wolfville continues to strongly encourage all residents to get vaccinated and follow public health measures, especially as we begin a new school year and welcome many students into the community. Working together, the Town and the University continue to take every effort to keep our residents and our neighbours safe from the COVID-19 and its variants.
Because of a student health and safety pledge and the Student Code of Conduct, Acadia can investigate and respond to off-campus violations by current Acadia University students where the complainant is a member of the Acadia community and/or a matter has been referred by the Town of Wolfville and/or RCMP.
The ASU is telling all students that the unique opportunity to live and study in Wolfville should not be taken for granted and is asking them to take their pledge seriously and get vaccinated and continue abiding by the safety guidelines required by the University and the province.
As was the case last academic year, we are counting on everyone to share the responsibility for keeping the Wolfville and Acadia communities safe – both on and off campus. It is important that those who can be vaccinated, get vaccinated, and we must continue to follow protocols like physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand washing, limiting non-essential contact, and getting tested.
We are looking forward to the full return of students and we know that together we can again make sure that we keep healthy and safe in our unique and wonderful university town.
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mr. Matthew Stanbrook
Acadia Students' Union