Winter term COVID update

Winter term COVID update

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Please read the Dalhousie University memo below carefully. It contains information relevant to all members of the King’s community who spend time on Dalhousie’s campus.

Among other important updates, beginning in January Dalhousie will require proof of full vaccination from all students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus. Accommodations will be available for those who are not fully vaccinated owing to a reason that is considered protected. This means that the screening option that currently allows the Dalhousie community to participate in Campus Check by uploading twice weekly Covid test results will not be offered in the winter term. Reasons for this decision are outlined in the memo.

At this time, the University of King’s College has not made a decision on how Campus Check will operate in the winter term. As with all major decisions affecting the health and welfare of our community, we have asked the Occupational Health & Safety Committee to review this matter and to provide advice on the appropriate action for King’s. In light of the significant impact that any adjustment to Campus Check could have on some members of the community, a decision will be made and announced in the coming days.

Regardless of your vaccination status, regular testing remains vital to keeping ourselves and our community safe. King’s continues to operate a regular screening clinic offering both on-site and take-home tests and I encourage everyone to make use of this or other testing options.



William Lahey (he/him)
President and Vice-Chancellor


To: Dalhousie faculty and staff

From: Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic
Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice-President Human Resources

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Re: COVID update: Winter term updates, proof-of-full-vaccination requirement & more

The following memo includes updates and information on:

  • Reflections on the fall term
  • Transition to proof-of-full-vaccination requirement
  • Safety planning for winter term
  • Winter term course delivery
  • Workplace returns (ongoing)
  • Holiday and seasonal gatherings

Reflections on the fall term: Successes, opportunities for improvement

After more than a full year where much of our instruction and work was conducted remotely, fall 2021 marked a return to largely in-person operations. We know the transition back required an enormous investment of time and effort by our entire community. With safety as our highest priority and benefitting from both widespread vaccination and a multi-layered approach to health and safety, we’ve been able to navigate this new normal with very strong results:

  • Vaccine uptake: The vaccination rates of our on-campus community are incredibly strong: 98.2% of the more than 22,000 people who have indicated through Campus Check that they are or will be on campus this fall have provided proof of full vaccination. This number has remained steady as Campus Check completion rates have increased.
  • Testing: Since the end of August, more than 54,000 rapid tests have been completed or distributed at Dalhousie — a ratio of more than two tests for every person on campus. To date, only five positive results have been reported through our rapid testing program.
  • Cases on campus: Dalhousie has worked closely with Nova Scotia Public Health on cases and potential exposures that may affect our Dalhousie community, working to identify and support those affected in a timely manner and to prevent further outbreaks or infectious spread of COVID. While we have seen sporadic cases and precaution/exposure notifications (around 75 notifications total since Sept 1 — keeping in mind that one case can produce multiple exposures), there have been no identified outbreaks or infection spread on campus.
  • Campus Check completion: 92.8% of our students, faculty and staff have completed the Campus Check process, including near-perfect completion rates among several groups including students in residence, DFA faculty, NSGEU members, and DPMG staff members. There are, however, still areas where completion rates are not where they need to be: 4.7% of full-time students (approx. 870 individuals) and 18.4% of part-time students (approx. 480 individuals) have not completed their Campus Check, and numbers for casual staff and other groups with more tenuous Dalhousie connections reflect lower engagement with Campus check.
  • Testing compliance: While many members of our Dalhousie community are taking advantage of available rapid testing, unfortunately compliance with required testing through the Campus Check process is low: we estimate that around 20% of the nearly 400 individuals who identified through Campus Check as unvaccinated or preferred not to disclose are regularly reporting their test results. While we have been working through compliance measures to increase this percentage, it is one of several factors that have led us to consider a revised approach to the winter term.

Transition to proof-of-full-vaccination requirement

Given evolving epidemiology and public policy on COVID-19 and vaccination, along with continued gaps in Campus Check compliance and knowing the province will eventually conclude the workplace testing program that supports on-campus testing, Dalhousie will begin transitioning to a requirement for proof of full vaccination. This will apply to all students, faculty and staff involved in in-person activities on campus — with accommodations available for those whose reason for not being fully vaccinated is protected.

This will have no impact on the nearly 22,000 members of our Dal community who have already provided proof of full vaccination. For others, this transition will start in the coming weeks and continue through the winter term, beginning with the elimination of the testing option for those who have not been reporting their test results through Campus Check, as well as applying the proof-of-vaccination requirement to new students moving into residence in January 2022. 

Students who fail to register with Campus Check to provide proof of vaccination, or do not request and receive accommodation, will not be permitted to participate in on-campus classes and other activities — and we expect the vast majority of courses to be in-person this winter, so the impact on non-compliant students will be significant. Employees (faculty/staff) who do not register with Campus Check to provide proof of vaccination, or do not request accommodation, will face disciplinary consequences consistent with the terms of their contracts of employment (including collective agreements) up to and including termination of employment.

Additional instructions, including further details on transition timing, accommodation and procedures for non-compliance, will be shared in a forthcoming communication ahead of the start of the winter term. We know many in our community will have questions about this expanded vaccine mandate and we ask for your patience as we work through the details, which we will share as soon as we can.

In the meantime, we strongly encourage those who have not yet registered with Campus Check and/or gotten vaccinated (and are able to do so) to do so as soon as possible to avoid any disruption in their studies and work. Please visit the Campus Check website or contact campuscheck@dal.ca if you have any questions or concerns about completing your Campus Check.

Safety planning for the winter term: Testing, masks, etc.

Our multi-layered approach to campus safety will continue into the winter term as we look to build on our successes and continue further resumption of on-campus instruction and work. In addition to proof-of-vaccination process through Campus Check, this plan includes:

  • Testing: Our on-campus testing program — with free rapid tests available to all students, faculty, staff and subcontractors — will continue through the winter term pending a decision by the Province to discontinue its workplace testing program that provides our test supply. In the event the provincial program does end this winter, testing may continue on campus but likely in a more limited fashion.
  • Masks: We will be continuing with masks in indoor common spaces through the duration of the winter term. We remind everyone that masks continue to be required on campus, including in classrooms, libraries, residence lobbies/lounges and other common spaces.
  • All other components of our multi-layer safety plan will continue, including reviews and improvements to ventilation where required; continued high standard of cleaning, accommodation and support; and working with Public Health to manage COVID cases and exposures where they do occur.

Winter term course delivery

Our approach to academic planning during our fall transition back to campus has strived to balance the autonomy of Faculties to make academic programming decisions, and the preferences of individual instructors for delivering their courses online, in-person or in mixed format.  For the start of the fall term, we were supportive of those faculty and instructors who chose to move courses or course elements online that were originally intended to be in-person. This reflected concerns about the rising fourth wave of COVID-19 and uncertainty around our Dal community’s vaccine status as we brought thousands of students, faculty and staff to campus again, most of them for the first time in 18 months.

Following the successful and safe delivery of in-person programs during our fall semester and our vaccine declaration and testing made through Campus Check (98%), we believe it is now time to focus our efforts on ensuring a strong and consistent student experience on campus. For this reason, Deans and Associate Deans Academic will be asking all instructors who are scheduled to teach on campus to deliver their courses in-person as scheduled. Of course, any course that was originally scheduled to be delivered online will continue online. Changes to the scheduled mode of delivery will be made by the relevant Dean based on operational requirements, or in cases where a formal accommodation necessitates such a change.

A robust on-campus learning experience is essential to the success of students in many of our academic programs. As we continue to exercise care in ensuring our community’s continued safety, vaccination and our multi-layered safety plan have proven successful at allowing increased on-campus activity this fall and we will rely on them to do so again this winter. Faculty and instructors with questions or concerns should contact their Chairs or Associate Dean Academic.

We understand Faculties and units are continuing to have important discussions about balancing working from home and in the office, and related consultations around office space planning. These are critical conversations as we transition towards a post-COVID new normal and we encourage colleagues to engage in these exchanges with their Chairs, Directors, Deans and unit leaders.

Workplace returns: Ongoing

Returns to on-campus work have been continuing throughout the fall, managed by individual Faculty and admin unit leads. Additionally, many units have explored hybrid models this fall, supported by the new guidelines for flexible work arrangements.

We continue to encourage all units to take advantage of the resources available to them, including those on the Return to Campus internal website, to support these ongoing efforts

Holiday and seasonal gatherings

Unlike last year, many of us will be able to gather in-person this November/December to celebrate the end of the year and the upcoming holiday season.

Faculties, departments and teams are reminded that all gatherings must follow Dalhousie safety protocols if the event is held on campus (including masking, for example) and provincial COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

In most cases, this will include proof of vaccination requirements as these gatherings constitute discretionary activities outside of core campus operations. For more information, visit the Nova Scotia website.

More information

Please continue to visit the COVID-19 Information and Updates website for the latest news and details.

Thank you to all for your ongoing impressive efforts supporting the continued health, safety and success of our university community.


Frank Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic

Jasmine Walsh
Assistant Vice-President Human Resources

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