Fall is in the air and the King’s community is finally together again. Whether you’re a new or returning student, we are excited to see you back in the Quad and we look forward to a busy and rewarding year ahead.
With the return of in-person course delivery and campus life must come a renewed focus on our responsibility to one another—including and especially to the safety of those with whom we live, learn and work. We all have a role to play in creating a safe, supportive learning and work environment and that means following university and Public Health guidance designed for our shared safety. It means appreciating that we’ve all had different experiences this past year, which may impact how we feel about returning to campus this fall. And it means being kind, considerate and compassionate towards one another.
Here are five important reminders that should guide our behavior and our mindset this fall.
The most important thing you can do to keep yourselves and others safe is to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19. For those who are medically unable to get vaccinated or who choose not to, King’s will require regular and frequent testing to protect your health and the health of those around you.
In alignment with Dalhousie, King’s will soon require all students, faculty and staff to disclose their vaccination status through Campus Check, a safe and secure web portal. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated, who is unable to be vaccinated, or who chooses not to disclose their status will be prompted to upload Covid-19 test results twice weekly — an important measure for their own safety and the safety of our entire community, given increased transmissibility and risk factors among the un- and under-vaccinated for emerging COVID variants like Delta.
To be absolutely clear: our requirements do not prevent anyone from being on campus based on vaccination status alone. Again, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated if possible. Students, faculty and staff will receive more details about the Campus Check process when it launches.
In support of these efforts King’s is operating a Covid screening clinic for students, staff and faculty throughout the fall semester. From September 8, every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday you can come to the KTS lecture hall on the second floor of the New Academic Building to get tested between the hours of 11am-12:30pm and on Fridays from 1:30-3:00 pm.
Don’t forget that King’s students also have access to the vaccination clinic and rapid testing being offered on the Dalhousie campus.
Masks are a simple and effective way to help prevent the spread of airborne illness, including Covid-19. That’s why King’s is asking everyone to continue wearing non-medical face masks in indoor common spaces throughout September, and in residence for the year or until a point when safety plans can be altered.
Spaces where you should wear your mask include residence buildings, classrooms and lecture halls, hallways and lobbies, shared washrooms, library common spaces, athletics facilities and in shared meeting spaces. Masks can be removed while eating or drinking (similar to in restaurants), for short intervals to clean eyeglasses, etc. An instructor lecturing in a classroom may remove their mask if they are able to maintain 6 feet (2 metres) of distance from those present.
We have now lived with social distancing for so long, for many of us it has become a reflex. As enforced distancing requirements change to accommodate the practicalities of lectures and campus life this fall, you will see this reflected in fewer directional arrows and barriers. Nevertheless, we continue to encourage everyone on campus to maintain distance where possible and to respect one another’s space. Not only will this reduce the possibility of an infected individual passing on the virus to others, but we must remember that there are many people whose comfort on campus depends on their ability to maintain social distancing whenever possible.
So please, avoid crowding in hallways and other indoor spaces. If you wish to meet with friends or colleagues somewhere outside the lecture hall or meeting rooms, we encourage you to gather outside.
We’ve all picked up some good habits this past year, and one of the most important ones is washing our hands regularly and thoroughly. We ask everyone to continue this habit, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water in washroom spaces, or with the hand sanitizer available in dispensers across campus.
While you’re keeping your hands clean, we’ll be doing the same for campus spaces and surfaces— continuing a high standard of cleaning this fall, particularly focused on common touch points and spaces.
Whenever possible, meet your colleagues and fellow students outside in our beautiful Quad, or go for a walk in between classes or meetings.
Of all the lessons we’ve taken from this past year, this might be the most important of all—that no class, work or meeting is worth making other people sick. If you’re not feeling well, stay home.
If you experience symptoms of Covid-19—including a cough (new or worsening) or a fever—you should complete a Covid-19 self-assessment and schedule a Covid-19 test through the province. If you are ultimately diagnosed with Covid-19, follow all guidance you receive from Public Health. Students should seek guidance from their health-care provider as needed and/or contact Student Health and Wellness for support. Also ensure you follow your instructor and/or program’s policy to supporting student illness and missed classes.
We know that some of you will have moments of stress or anxiety with our return to campus this fall. If you’re struggling, reach out for help. For students, same-day counselling appointments are available Monday-Saturday through Dal Student Health & Wellness. Appointments can be booked online or by phone 902-494-2171. You can also access 24/7/365 telephone and texting counselling through Good2Talk. Good2Talk is an anonymous, confidential telephone counselling available to all King’s Students. To access, call 1-833-292-3698 or text GOOD2TALKNS to 686868. Faculty and staff can access resources through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. And if you are in crisis, you can always call 902-429-8167 or 1-888-429-8167 to reach the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
At King’s, you can also reach out to Jordan Roberts , Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer or Rhema Ferguson, Equity Officer, for support.
More information about our safety plan can be found in the Covid-19 Resource Centre.
In this time of reuniting and fresh starts, let’s keep our focus on the collective health and safety of our community.