This past fifteen months have been exceptional in so many ways. Many employees have been working remotely, some have worked both on and off campus as required and others have been on campus day after day throughout the pandemic. Thanks to your dedication and ingenuity, together, we provided the best possible experience for Acadia’s students in challenging conditions. My thanks go out to you for all you have done during these very difficult times.
Recent provincial health announcements, the vaccine rollout, the number of people receiving at least one vaccine dose, and the accelerated schedule for people to become fully vaccinated are very positive indicators that we are nearing the end of the health crisis. To accelerate the return to ‘normal,’ please get fully vaccinated as soon as you can. To quote Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and recent Acadia honorary degree recipient, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia is now focused on moving as rapidly as possible towards a “two-dose world,” and our aim is for Acadia to be a “two-dose community” within that two-dose world.
In my communication in March, I endorsed the recommendation of the Academic Planning Task Force for a full return to campus for employees and students for the fall 2021 term. In preparing for the fall term, it will be necessary to bring employees back to campus in order to ensure that we can once again provide the level of in-person service that is associated with the Acadia student experience.
As we prepare to enter Phase 5 of the Employee Return to Campus Safely Plan, this Schedule A will aid employees and their departments for a smooth transition back to campus. You will notice that the return to campus will be based primarily, but not entirely, upon building location in order to facilitate an orderly return to campus. By geographically staggering the return to campus, Acadia can allocate the resources required (such as Technology Services, Physical Plant, etc.) to make the transition back with as little disruption as possible.
Unit Deans, Directors, Heads and Managers are working with Technology Services and Physical Plant to manage this schedule, and to make alternate dates and accommodations where necessary. For larger departments, supervisors may opt to stagger employees’ start times on their return-to-work date (e.g., some employees arriving in the morning and others in the afternoon; or using alternate days). Please watch for communications from your supervisor as the specific details of the return to campus are finalized.
Technology Services has provided recommendations on making your return as smooth as possible, and for more detail on this, please visit the HUB to review the Return to Campus Checklist.
Over the past year, we have all experienced the pros and cons of working remotely from home, and your experience will likely have varied depending upon the nature of your work at Acadia. Regardless of your specific work environment, I am sure everyone has missed the human contact and engagement with colleagues, students, and members of the public and that you are eager to see everyone again. Acadia is a hands-on university that prides itself on the quality of its personal experience and community engagement. Our focus, therefore, is on getting employees back to campus in an orderly manner to prepare for a full return of students in September.
Our students come to Acadia for a personal experience, including face-to-face learning, service, and support. These are central features of our educational model, but we have learned a great deal about working remotely, and we don’t want to ignore the lessons of this experience with the pandemic. Working from home may continue to be a viable option for some full-time administrative staff in certain circumstances. Looking to the future, Acadia is adapting to the changes that the pandemic experience has provided by exploring the potential for offering eligible staff a flexible work option through a Work from Home Pilot Policy and accompanying Guidelines for Working from Home Pilot. While the options for working from home will be limited, please let your supervisor know if this is something of interest to you.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus for the new academic year. There is an increasing sense of optimism as the provincial re-opening plan moves forward, travel and border restrictions start to ease, vaccine rates increase, and the number of COVID-19 cases continues to be very low. While we continue to be prepared to move back if any of these trends change (and we know how resilient this virus can be), the increasing sense of optimism is currently well placed. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Thank you for continuing to work together to make this one last push to get us to the end of this pandemic.
Stay safe and well – and get vaccinated.
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor