COVID-19 Policy FAQs


Saint Mary’s has chosen to mandate vaccinations for everyone in our community?  Why?  

Saint Mary’s University will be following up with all individuals who have not yet provided their proof of vaccination. Everyone on campus (students, faculty and staff) is now required to supply their proof of vaccination. If you have not already done so, click here to upload your proof. Exemptions for medical reasons will be considered. 

We are taking these extra precautions to safeguard the health and safety of everyone in our university community. We also know that these steps will also provide confidence and reassurance to members of our community. We are doing everything we can so that people on our campus are safe and 
feel safe. 

Each of us has a part to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and keeping colleagues, students and friends safe, and a vaccinated university community will help us get closer to that goal. Increased COVID-19 vaccination rates play an important role in establishing a new sense of normalcy, allowing more in-person activities to take place and reducing the risk of on-campus transmission. Public health officials agree that vaccination is the best method to stop the spread of the virus and its variants.   

What does fully vaccinated mean? 

You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of accepted vaccines and have received your last dose at least 14 days prior to the day you submit your vaccination proof to the University. 

What if I cannot get a vaccination due to medical conditions or other grounds? 

The University will consider exemptions from the vaccination requirement on a case-by-case basis and only where there is a basis for granting an accommodation in accordance with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

Staff or faculty seeking exemptions should complete the vaccine exemption requests form.

Students seeking exemptions should complete the vaccine exemption request form.

What if I cannot arrive to Canada in time to get both doses before January 7, 2022?

New international students must schedule their vaccination appointments as soon as possible and submit a vaccine exemption requests form.

Vaccination Clinics and Testing

How do I get vaccinated? 

For more information on how to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, please refer to the provincial COVID-19 site.

How will proof of vaccination be collected? Who will have the data?

We will use a very simple online form where people can upload their proof of vaccination. We will begin that process by September 3rd. The data for faculty and staff will be kept by Human Resources. The data for students will be kept by the Registrar’s Office.  

How do I submit my proof of vaccination? 

The university has launched a software/mobile application for individuals to upload a copy of an official document issued by government or the organization that administered the vaccine. This document will, at a minimum, show your name and date of second dose (in the case of a two-dose series) or your complete single dose (in the case of a single-dose vaccine). To get started on the process, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Forms page.

Am I responsible for paying for testing twice weekly? 

No. There is no cost to students and staff for testing. 

Where do I go to get my testing kits?  

Take-home rapid test kits can be picked up at the below locations:

Asymptomatic Testing Centre
Located in Sobey Building SB159
Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Campus Security
Located in McNally Main MM020
Operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Homburg Centre Front Desk
Located in Homburg Centre
Monday to Friday 6:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

SMUSA Information Desk
Located in Student Centre
Monday to Friday 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sunday 6:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Do I need to book an appointment for asymptomatic testing?

Yes, an appointment should be booked through the Microsoft Bookings site.

Can international students get vaccinated in Nova Scotia? 

Yes, international students are eligible for vaccinations upon arrival in Canada after completing the required quarantine period. Out of province or international students who are not fully vaccinated prior to arriving will be able to get vaccinated free of charge once they arrive in Nova Scotia and complete the required quarantine period. 

I already had COVID-19.  Does the proof of vaccination apply to me?

Yes. Saint Mary’s is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as part of a new policy to further protect the campus community. 

Can I get a rapid COVID-19 test on campus?  

Saint Mary’s will be hosting on-campus rapid-testing this September and this will continue into the fall based on demand. 

Which vaccines are approved by Saint Mary’s?  

Saint Mary’s does not approve vaccines. We will accept proof of vaccination of vaccines approved by public health authorities. Based on provincial government guidelines, the approved vaccines currently are: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2) 
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273) 
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222) 
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)  
  • Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine
  • Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine
  • COVAXIN/Bharat Biotech BBV152

The list of accepted vaccines may expand in the future. Please continue to check the provincially-approved vaccine page 

Can I ask my fellow students/staff/faculty about their vaccination status?  

It’s ok to share that you are vaccinated and to express gratitude to others who are vaccinated, but you should not ask others if they are vaccinated. 

Masking and Social Distancing

Do I need a mask if I am fully vaccinated? 

Anyone on campus must continue to wear a mask while indoors regardless of their vaccination status. At Saint Mary’s, we will continue to require mask-wearing in common areas and shared spaces for the Fall Term. Residence students should consult the Residence Handbook and web pages for the Residence COVID protocols. 

It is always reasonable to ask colleagues or students to respect your space and maintain a comfortable distance where possible.

What is the rationale for the one-metre masking policy?

Articles and authorities disagree on the ideal separation distance to maintain to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and while some cite one metre, others cite two or more.

In the end, universities in Nova Scotia, working with guidance and approval from Nova Scotia Public Health, identified one metre as both safe and practical.

After months on campus, we can say it is working because there is no community spread. Of course, it is only working because we also mandated vaccines and mask-wearing. We are also continuing to monitor and upgrade building ventilation systems.

No one measure is perfect on its own. As our policy states, they are designed to be used in combination. It is working thanks to everyone’s efforts.

Our COVID- 19 protocols have not changed and exceed the provincial guidelines for workplaces and organizations.

In what spaces do I have to wear a mask? When can I take my mask off? 

When on campus, all students, staff, and faculty must comply with masking, physical distancing, and sanitation protocols in accordance with university announcements and directives.

For Fall 2021 and until further notice, masks are required in all common areas and in shared indoor spaces including classrooms, except where social distancing of at least one metre can be maintained. Faculty have the authority to ask students to mask if distancing cannot be maintained, and students refusing to follow a faculty request to mask are in violation of this Policy and the Code of Student Conduct. 

Any exceptions to masking requirements will be communicated. As well, when other safety concerns (such as laboratory requirements) make mask wearing a concern, this requirement may be waived with approval from the Return to Campus Advisory Team. 

Faculty and staff may request that students leave a classroom if they are not complying with the mask protocol. A failure to follow the directive of a faculty or staff member is a violation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements Policy. 

Will Saint Mary’s continue to encourage social distancing? 

A physical separation (social distancing) between people has shown a benefit in the protection of the spread of communicable diseases. 

Saint Mary’s will control the flow of people around entrances, exits, classooms, study spaces and social gathering areas with the goal of mitigating situations where respiratory disease transmission is more probable. This will be achieved through messaging and/or signage. 

Can I ask people visiting my work or learning space to maintain physical distancing even after restrictions are lifted? 

Yes. It is always reasonable to ask colleagues or students to respect your space and maintain a comfortable distance where possible. 

Sanitation and Cleaning  

What measures are  the university taking  when it comes to sanitation and cleaning? 

Hand sanitation dispensers are available at the main entrances to all buildings and near all elevators. Signage around campus serves as frequent reminders to wash hands as well as providing step-by-step instructions.  

To learn more, please review the Hand Washing Guidelines 

The university has increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting throughout the campus.  All public spaces, including public area restrooms, will be cleaned and disinfected twice daily, with custodial employees disinfecting high-touch points throughout the day. 

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