To the Campus Community
It’s been four days since the StFX campus started adapting to the new reality. I can say without hesitation that we -- students, faculty and staff -- have been presented with significant and unprecedented challenges, all within a very compressed time frame. The impact related to COVID-19 continues to evolve at a rapid pace with decisions being made on an hour-by-hour basis as new information materializes.
Having said that, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to our amazing community. It’s said that people come together during times of adversity and the StFX community has been proving this to be true. The level of collaboration, creativity, thoughtfulness, and, yes, understanding and patience is quite simply something to be acknowledged and be proud of. While we work out operational details, we, as a community continue to be resilient. Here are just some of the recent highlights:
- Our academic community is making tremendous progress regarding transitioning our academic delivery to an online model. With assistance from StFX’s IT staff, our faculty are discovering new opportunities to ensure the term will continue. Students, a reminder that classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. Your professors will be sending you information regarding your classes by 4pm, Friday, March 20th. Please be sure to monitor your emails.
- Our students have been heeding our call to practice social distancing. The vast majority of those living in residence have either left campus or are in the process of moving home. Your cooperation and understanding has been tremendously helpful as we employ measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. To those students who don’t have the opportunity to go home, rest assured we will be here to offer continued support for as long as it takes.
- Our services and work on campus continues to wind down. As students make their way home, campus facilities have either closed or are operating with reduced hours. Those employees who are able to work from home have begun to do so and many more are in the process of transitioning to work from home. Please refer to our FAQs posted on stfx.ca/coronavirus for specific services information.
I extend my gratitude and appreciation to our alumni and friends of the university from around the world who have reached out to offer support. It’s humbling to be reminded of the reach (and the strength) of the Xaverian community. Thank you.
As of this afternoon, Nova Scotia Public Health is now reporting 12 cases of COVID-19 within the province. I can’t underscore enough our collective responsibility to do what we can to limit the risk of spreading the virus. I encourage you to be diligent and do your part – stay home, employ the recommended hygiene practices, and be considerate of those at higher risk within our communities.
For the latest updates from the university, visit www.stfx.ca/coronavirus.
Thanks to all and be safe.
Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice-chancellor
To the Campus Community
The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve with three presumptive cases now being reported in Nova Scotia. StFX remains committed to evolving our strategies in response to the latest developments. It is with that in mind that I inform you of the latest decisions:
COVID-19 presents a number of unprecedented situations and challenges for the campus community. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work through these trying times.
For the latest COVID-19 updates from StFX University, visit Stfx.ca/coronavirus.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
To the Campus Community,
The situation regarding COVID-19 remains fluid, rapidly evolving and presents unprecedented challenges. I appreciate that uncertainty can cause anxiety and stress among the campus community.
I write to inform you that StFX will suspend all in-person classes Monday March 16th to Friday March 20th. This will permit our instructors the time necessary to assess how programs will be delivered through to the end of the term.
It is important to note that we are not closing the campus nor is the academic term cancelled.
Please be aware that classes will resume on Monday March 23rd using online or other alternative delivery methods. The laboratory components of some courses may not be able to continue. In such cases, adjustments to project expectations or lab grades will need to be made. More details on how classes (including exams) will be delivered will be provided in the days ahead.
Though in-person classes are suspended, faculty can continue to work from their offices. As well, our campus, including residences and dining halls, will remain open at this time. Employees should attend work as usual.
Students living in residences who are able to return home are encouraged to do so. Please be assured that anyone who cannot return home for reasons such as international travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations will continue to be provided accommodation. For those students staying in residence we reserve the right to move you to another residence in the interests of student safety. Further information regarding residences will be provided by Student Services in the coming days.
The health and safety of our campus community remains foremost our top priority and with patience and understanding, we will continue our resolve and work our way through these extraordinary times.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions for your reference:
Have classes been cancelled at StFX?
In-person classes at StFX are suspended for the week of March 16-20. This is a preventative measure to increase social distancing, eliminate large-group gatherings, and allow professors time to shift to alternative means of teaching. Continuing and Distance Education classes continue as normal.
Will I be able to complete the academic year?
We are working to ensure that all students will be able to complete their academic year. StFX’s intention is to transition from in-person classes to a remote teaching environment (i.e. online) for the remainder of the term.
When will classes resume?
Classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. More information on classes will be provided to students in the days ahead.
How will I complete final exams?
StFX is working to finalize arrangements that will allow all students to complete their exams. Students will not be expected to return to campus for exams. There will be more details to come on this next week, as we consult with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and Nova Scotia Public Health regarding next steps.
I am currently on a clinical or co-op work placement or working in a research capacity. Are these being impacted?
Clinical and co-op placements, as well as limited research activities, including thesis-based Masters co-op work placements can continue.
Are residences at the university closing down?
Residences will remain open until April 5th, but we are encouraging all students who can return home to do so.
I am unable to return home. Can I still stay in residence?
Yes. All students who need to continue living in residence will be able to do so. Please note, for students’ continued safety we reserve the right to move students to another residence. Students Services will be sending out more information regarding residences in the days ahead.
Is the campus shutting down?
No. University offices and facilities remain open. The decision to suspend classes represents a measure to reduce large gatherings and increase social distancing.
Employees are expected to report to work as usual.
Dear Members of the StFX Community,
COVID-19 has presented the university with significant challenges. These challenges are not just about academic credit or attending work or the hosting of events; the issues we are facing are about the personal health and safety of friends, family, and ourselves. Your health and safety are our priorities. We have based our decisions on how the university will proceed in its operations on the latest health reports from the Public Health Agency of Canada, on careful conversations with other universities but, most importantly, following the advice of Nova Scotia Public Health. With this information at hand, it is our contention that StFX remains a safe location for our students, faculty, and staff.
StFX shall remain operational under very specific conditions.
Almost 50% of our student population hails from outside of the Province of Nova Scotia and forcing our students to travel home at this time is a far greater risk than having them remain in Antigonish. However, there are very specific conditions under which we must, as a community, proceed. As such, we ask that every community member adhere to these conditions.
The university remains open and will continue to share updates with the campus community as we receive information and as decisions are made. We encourage you to visit and bookmark www.stfx.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the university. Again, this is a fluid situation and you should expect to receive additional updates as any further decisions or directives are issued. The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving, with various jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) considering further measures to stop the spread of the virus as new information becomes available.
In the meantime, I wish to share StFX’s response regarding COVID-19:
Nova Scotia Public Health reminds us that the risk to those within the Province of Nova Scotia remains low. As such, the university remains open and facilities such as the libraries, recreation centres, food services, health and wellness centre, etc., remain fully operational. However, there will be restrictions on class sizes, public gatherings, and social events. These restrictions will be noted on the website and will be communicated directly to you. Until further notice, students, staff and faculty should continue to go to classes and work as usual. If you have extraordinary circumstances that require accommodation, please see your Dean or supervisor. If you are ill, stay home. If you are feeling anxiety or are unsure, please speak to Health and Counselling or your immediate supervisor. We are here to help.
This situation is causing significant stress and anxiety among our StFX community members. Rest assured that the University is exercising the utmost caution and care in the decision-making that affects us all so personally. At this time, risk is low but we remain vigilant and continue to meet daily to consider appropriate actions to maintain the health and safety of all of our members. We ask you to remain calm and to be vigilant about hand-washing and social distance.
Within stfx.ca/coronavirus are FAQs. I attached some of them below for your reference.
On behalf of the university, I thank everyone for your patience and understanding. In my time at the university I can see that we are bound to help one another in times of challenge and difficulty at StFX. We will emerge from this together as a community.
Kevin Wamsley, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the risk of infection?
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia.
I live in residence. Should I take special precautions?
Follow normal precautions for preventing the spread of illness, such as washing your hands often and not touching your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands. Do not share water bottles or drinks with others. Keeping your room clean is also a good idea, as is wiping down ‘high touch’ surfaces in your room like door handles, light switches, and desks.
The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.
Is the university instructing its custodial staff to do any additional cleaning?
Custodial Services are implementing infection prevention and control measures in our cleaning practices to emphasize disinfecting and cleaning of all contact points and surfaces. The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.
Should students/staff/faculty with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?
No. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms – whether or not you believe them to be related to COVID-19 – you should stay at home or in your residence room, and see a healthcare professional as you deem appropriate.
Employees who are experiencing any flu-like symptoms should take a sick day, or arrange to work from home as appropriate.
Should I stay home from class as a precaution?
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia. If you are not sick, and have not come in contact with any person who may have contracted COVID-19, there is no reason to not attend class.
However, if you are feeling sick and/or are showing symptoms related to COVID-19, you are encouraged to stay home and consult the Nova Scotia government’s self-assessment guide, which will dictate whether you should report your symptoms to 811.
Will the university be cancelling classes or events?
There are no plans to cancel classes at this time. Event cancellations are at the discretion of the event organizers.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk from COVID-19 as low.
Who should I contact if I have concerns?
If you have concerns about your health or wellbeing, contact your local healthcare provider. If you are a student, you can also contact StFX’s Office of Health and Counselling Services at (902) 867-2263. The office is located in Bloomfield 305.
Last week, 17 StFX students travelled to Halifax to take part in the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Canadian Students at Sea program. This initiative, organized by professors Adam Lajeunesse (Brian Mulroney Institute) and Jamie Levin (Department of Political Science), in partnership with the RCN’s Strategic Outreach team, offered undergraduates in military history and security studies a chance to engage with members of the Canadian military and get a glimpse of navy life.
Over the course of a very full day, students visited the Navy’s Atlantic Operations Centre, Maritime Security Operations Center and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to see how Canada’s governmental agencies monitor the country’s maritime approaches and manage search and rescue in the Atlantic. There was time for a walk-by of the new oiler Asterix as well as a tour of the dry-docked submarine HMCS Windsor and the patrol ship HMCS Moncton. To really show off the Navy’s capabilities, students spent the afternoon aboard the patrol frigate HMCS Ville de Québec, where high speed manoeuvers, boarding and firefighting demonstrations, as well as a tour of the ship’s operations room and bridge, brought to life Canada’s responsibilities – and capabilities – at sea.canadian students at sea .jpg Improving Canadians’ understanding of their Navy, and the role it plays in the country’s security and prosperity, is an important part of sustaining the service and building its future fleet. Canadian Students at Sea is a step towards showing Canada’s future leaders what the Navy does and how its work shapes and secures the country. StFX’s students were taken by the RCN’s generosity, with both its time and energy – from a personal briefing with Rear-Admiral Craig Baines (Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic) to guided tours by Captain (N) David Benoit (CO of Formation Maintenance Facility Cape Scott).
This trip was made possible with generous support from the Faculty of Arts, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, the Public Policy and Governance Program, and the Department of Political Science.
StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin is one of the co-principal investigators who have received a $500,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health outbreak on control policies and implementation on individuals and communities.
The project, entitled “Understanding the effects of public health outbreak control policies and implementation on individuals and communities: a path to improving COVID-19 policy effectiveness” will examine the cultural dimensions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic such as examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, studying the response of public health, and exploring how public health policy affects individuals and communities.
While public health policies are required to control an infectious disease outbreak, these policies can adversely affect individuals and communities, says Dr. Halperin.
Quarantine, limitations in movement and public gathering, and other restrictive measures can put a social and economic burden on individuals, which may be disproportionate, depending on their socioeconomic status and other factors.
She says healthcare providers are both involved in administering the policy, but are also put at grave risk in caring for patients.
Dr. Halperin says this will be a multi-province, multi-country study in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia), Bangladesh, and China (Guangdong).
The researchers will use qualitative methodology (document review, key informant interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys) to examine policy and implementation from the public health/policy perspective as well perspectives of the media, communities, healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers, and members of the general public.
These data will be used to improve the process by which public health policies are created and implemented.
Dr. Halperin says there is a knowledge gap about how to best integrate the perspectives of individuals and communities, particularly those with social vulnerabilities, into policy formation and implementation, creating suboptimal effectiveness of public health policies. The researchers, she says, aim to close this gap by exploring the effects of policy on communities and individuals.