Dear students, faculty and staff,
Today, Dalhousie announced their decision to extend the online start to the winter term to January 28. Reasons for this extension, beyond the January 17 date earlier jointly communicated by King’s and Dalhousie, is explained in today’s memo from Dalhousie’s which is copied below. To achieve the clarity and concord with Dalhousie that we typically seek for our community, we are today announcing that King’s classes will also be online until January 28.
There is one possible exception to this: classes in the School of Journalism may start after January 17 and before January 28. Journalism students will receive more information on this from the School of Journalism.
This extension of the temporary return to online learning is in keeping with the purpose for the delay in returning to in-person learning announced on December 17, which is two-fold: (1) to allow us to resume in-person learning with better information and understanding than we now have that it will be safe to do so; and (2) to be part of the work of Haligonians and Nova Scotians under way to bring the current wave of the pandemic under control in Halifax and Nova Scotia, which will create the conditions for a safe return to in-person learning.
Dalhousie also announced today that its residences will remain closed until January 28. As communicated on December 17, King’s residences will reopen on January 4, as originally planned, so that the social, academic and mental health benefits of living in community can be maintained and continued while teaching and learning is online.
King’s and King’s faculty have demonstrated that we have the ability to offer quality teaching and learning online. Our preference will, however, always be strongly for the holistic in-person experience, with all the academic, social and mental health advantages it includes over online even when online is done to a very high standard. We will bear this strongly in mind if there is discussion of extending online learning beyond January 28, considering all relevant factors, including: the priority we give to safety; the public health situation and the guidance of Public Health on the question, the decisions of Dalhousie, and the advice of the King’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee.
As noted in the Dalhousie memo, Public Health is, for the time being, no longer supplying campus clinics such as those that have been operating at King’s and Dalhousie with Covid rapid test kits. This is to dedicate available resources to people and locations where they are needed more urgently. King’s will adjust to this change in the supply of Covid rapid tests by prioritizing our supply for our incoming residence students.
You will hear from us again in the early new year. Until then, we hope you have a well-deserved restful break. We wish you all the best over the holiday season.
President and Vice-Chancellor
We continue to see higher numbers of COVID cases in Nova Scotia requiring new Public Health restrictions and significant shifts in the provincial testing mandate. We expect to see additional directives from Public Health as the province continues to manage the growing spread of the Omicron variant.
These new developments have directly impacted our approach to the start of winter term and will require adjustments to key aspects of our Campus Check testing requirements and the transition to our full vaccine mandate. We will need more time for our academic community as a whole to assess, understand and prepare for how best to deliver a safe and successful winter term.
For these reasons, we are taking the following actions:
Online learning extended to at least January 28. The earliest in-person learning would resume is Monday, January 31. As previously communicated, the only exceptions at this point in time will be in select courses (or course components) where in-person learning is required (for example, accredited programming in our three health Faculties), and these exceptions will be communicated to those students by their Faculties. If you have questions as to whether this applies to you, please contact your Faculty’s Associate Dean Academic. To support instructors with this transition, both Academic Technology Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching are providing additional hours of operation during the December break — we appreciate their support.
Dalhousie residences will also remain closed until at least January 29. Those students who are staying in residence over the break will be able to continue to stay with us, but we will not be opening for new or returning students until at least Saturday, January 29. We appreciate the challenges these continued changes may pose for some students — please know that we are here to help. Before making travel plans, please ensure that you check your Dalhousie email for the latest information. If you have concerns, contact our Residence Office.
On-campus asymptomatic rapid tests will no longer be available for general pickup as per recently announced changes to the provincial testing mandate and supply. These changes, designed to ensure rapid tests are available for required symptomatic testing, means our rapid testing program will not be able to function as it did this fall. We have paused most of our test distribution as we work to determine how best to utilize the limited supply we have remaining. This shift also has implications for some aspects of our Campus Check program, as a small number of individuals were expecting to have access to rapid tests as part of their requirements or accommodations. We need more time to work through these changes and will communicate as soon as we can in the new year. If you are unvaccinated, and can get vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to make time this December break to get your first shot. Information on how to do so in Nova Scotia can be found here.
In early January, we will work with Deans, Associate Deans Academic, faculty and leaders across campus to assess the situation and develop approaches for the remainder of the winter term. We expect there may be different models applied in different programs, but it will take time to work through these details. We thank everyone for your patience and promise to communicate more information as soon as we can in the new year.
In the meantime, please be safe over the break. This includes following local gathering limits (10 consistent individuals here in Nova Scotia), limiting your contacts, wearing your mask and seeking out testing if required.
We appreciate these developments are not what anyone would have wanted heading into the December break and the start of our next academic term. But by working collaboratively and relying on our community’s care and commitment to health and safety, we will steer our way through this together.
We hope you and your loved ones, wherever you may be, find time to rest and recharge over the break.
Provost and Vice-President Academic