Fall 2021 COVID-19 Policy FAQs

This page features questions and answers that help clarify the information on our Fall 2021 COVID-19 Protocols page. We recommend reviewing that page before reading this information.


Vaccination

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

Saint Mary’s requires that all members of our community: faculty, staff and students be fully vaccinated and demonstrate proof of vaccination by October 15, 2021. 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.  By requiring vaccinations for all, we can give our campus community the reassurance to return in confidence for the Fall 2021 Term. 

Why is October 15, 2021 as the date for fully vaccinated status for Saint Mary’s? Why not sooner? 

We believe that most people in our university community are already fully vaccinated and we may reach that target date sooner. We must allow time for those who are not fully vaccinated to arrive, quarantine if necessary, and potentially receive two doses of an approved vaccine. The timing allows these individuals to book appointments and receive vaccinations within the required timelines. 

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 in time to get both doses before October 15?

International students or students from outside Atlantic Canada in the designated groups unable to arrive in Nova Scotia in time to get their second dose by October 15 will be exempted from that deadline if they can prove the scheduling of their first vaccination.

Vaccination Clinics and Testing

How do I get vaccinated? 

Saint Mary’s University’s on-campus vaccination clinics started in September. 

Vaccination clinic dates are: 

  • September 14,15, 27 
  • October 5, 6, 12, 13, 25

The clinics will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on these dates at the Homburg Centre Community Room. 

Any registered student or current employee can get vaccinated during the walk-in appointment as no pre-booking is required.  Individuals can receive either their first or second dose of vaccine. Individuals are required to bring their Nova Scotia Health card or for international students who do not have a Nova Scotia health card, they are asked to bring a second identifier like a passport or a student ID.

What type of vaccines will be available at the Saint Mary’s vaccination clinics? 

Saint Mary’s on-campus vaccination clinics will offer Health Canada-approved vaccines depending on available supply.  

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?  

Self-tests can be picked up at our testing centre at SB159 on:

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 and on campus? 

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

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

As an international student and as someone who was vaccinated with a vaccine that is not approved here in Nova Scotia. Is there someone I can ask?   

If you are an international student who has received a non-Health Canada approved vaccine or the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, or have general questions about vaccines, contact  Student Affairs and Services at student.services@smu.ca.

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.

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. 

Why is social distancing only 1 metre as opposed to 2 metres? 

With respect to social distancing, many jurisdictions have chosen to update their requirements, and many have adopted a one-metre protocol, reflecting the World Health Organization standard.  At Saint Mary’s, we will continue to require mask-wearing in common areas and shared spaces for the Fall Term. This is long after the time when the provincial public health officials plan to ease mask requirements for Nova Scotia.  

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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