While it has been a pleasure not to have to communicate constantly about COVID-19, I am writing to provide you an update on our fall plans. Like you we have been watching the development of the virus and the changing public health directives and advice. We are now in the ‘life with COVID’ phase of the pandemic, and clearly some form of this virus is going to be present for a long time to come.
With vaccinations remaining effective in reducing the risk of severe illness, new boosters being developed to address the latest omicron variants, and with public health restrictions lifted in most if not all provinces, we do not see any reason to change our course towards a full return to in-person classes and activities on campus for the fall term.
Therefore, I can confirm that all regular academic classes in the 2022-23 academic year will be in person. Of course, requests for accommodations based upon health reasons will be considered on a case-by-case basis but the intention is that we will return to operations that are as close to pre-pandemic normal as possible.
The COVID-19 Task Force will meet later this summer to determine other specific arrangements and details for the upcoming term.
We will be advising all students to be fully vaccinated (including any booster shots for which they are eligible in their home province). While mask wearing is no longer mandatory inside campus buildings or in classes, we will ask all students to respect any professors who ask that students wear masks in their classes and/or labs. This has worked well over the spring and summer terms, and we hope that students will be responsible and respect the wishes of their professors.
We shall maintain the sanitization stations around campus, and we will continue with signage to recommend mask wearing in public spaces in buildings, regular washing and sanitizing of hands, and respecting those who request additional precautions.
Public health measures are no longer designed to limit the spread of COVID but rather to limit the impact of the virus through maximum vaccination levels, and build increasingly high levels of population immunity through the combination of vaccine and natural immunity. As the summer progresses, we will continue to watch how the public health advice develops and will inform you as quickly as possible if the situation changes. In particular, we will be monitoring any further developments regarding any potential wave of COVID later in the fall. We will be working with NS Public Health to ensure that we continue to provide a safe and healthy workplace and learning environment during this next phase of the pandemic.
I am sure we are all looking forward to getting back to being as normal as possible, but knowing that we now live with COVID-19 in our midst creates a level of uncertainty and apprehension. Our goal is the same as it has always been – to provide a high-quality learning environment for our students in a safe and healthy manner. Together, we have successfully navigated through this pandemic, and together we will work through its final stages in a way that protects all that is good about Acadia.
Best wishes to you all,
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor