News Release: Province enacts new rules to help prevent COVID-19 spread on campus and in communities

The provincial government has set new rules for post-secondary students arriving in Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada. Part of the Public Health Act, the new health measures become law on August 21, 2020.

Students arriving at Acadia University (and all institutions) from outside of Atlantic Canada must:

  • complete a mandatory online self-declaration travel form (Nova Scotia Safe Check-in)
  • have three COVID-19 tests
  • self-isolate for 14 days

“We have been working closely with the Government of Nova Scotia for many months, and we applaud the Province’s approach to testing and are fully supportive,” says Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Asymptomatic testing of students from outside the Atlantic Bubble will help ensure our students are healthy and that our student body will not contribute to any potential community spread of COVID-19 upon their arrival.”

Helping better understand COVID-19

Acadia anticipates that about 500 students, split between on-campus and off-campus, will be bound by the new measures. Public Health will email the students three COVID-19 test appointments, which will be conducted over the 14-day self-isolation period.

The testing of asymptomatic Acadia students will also include a COVID-19 testing evaluation survey led by researcher, Dr. Lisa Barrett.

“Students recognize the importance of these measures in ensuring a safe return to campus this fall,” says Brendan MacNeil, President of the Acadia Students’ Union. “We appreciate the work by the University and the Province in implementing these testing plans, and a similar commitment to student well-being by allowing students safe outdoor time throughout the isolation period. This is something the ASU has continued to advocate.”

Health and safety considerations

Public health officials advise that students in self-isolation will have opportunities for restricted outdoor exercise near their campus residence (or in their off-campus yard). Community movement is limited to travel to and from COVID-19 testing centres. Details of student movements will be shared with the campus community to prevent any incidental contact.

All students, faculty, staff, and visitors to Acadia’s campus are required to complete a daily online symptom check before attending class or reporting for work. Based on the results of their check-in, they will either be cleared to attend or directed to avoid campus and seek medical evaluation. Acadia’s Occupational Health Nurse will monitor flagged responses and provide guidance and followup as needed.

COVID-19 testing for students displaying any symptoms will be managed by the Province’s 811 referral process.

In his email message directed to students, Dr. Ricketts said, “The beginning of a fall term like no other is upon us. Our campus and community have been hard at work preparing for new models of academic and student services delivery while maintaining the same promise of academic excellence and care.”

Dr. Ricketts also noted that these testing and isolation requirements are part of a broader community effort, and that “by working together, we can and will beat this pandemic and ensure that we all remain safe and healthy.”

The new Public Health order will apply to all post-secondary students arriving in Nova Scotia from August 21, 2020, onward. Students who came to Nova Scotia before August 20, 2020 from outside Atlantic Canada and are self-isolating on campus will need to get tested at least once. Post-secondary institutions will provide the names of these students to Nova Scotia Health who will contact them about testing appointments.

Once each test is done and processed, the health authority will send the test result to the student. Even with negative test results, the student must complete their full 14 days of self- isolation.

If a student tests positive, public health will step in to manage the case.

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