Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

An Update From Dr. Kevin Wamsley Regarding COVID-19 Preparations

March 13th, 2020

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:

  • StFX has activated a committee to oversee our pandemic preparedness. Their work continues to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our campus community.
  • Academic Leadership is reviewing programming continuity and contingencies.
  • Operational directors have conducted risk assessments, identified critical activities, and are developing contingency plans for business continuation.
  • StFX has and continues to meet with the Regional Emergency Management Organization.
  • StFX has prohibited all academically-related student international travel, and non-personal faculty and staff international travel. StFX employees and students, currently travelling, shall impose a self-monitoring protocol, for a period of 14 days upon return to Antigonish.
  • Authorization for an additional 10 cleaning staff; updated cleaning and disinfecting  procedures have been implemented.
  • Morrison Hall will be eliminating self-service stations, transitioning to full-service stations.

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

StFX University

 

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.

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