ANTIGONISH: Officials with StFX University unveiled their plan for students to return to campus and hold in-person classes during two separate virtual meetings on July 15.
The university has started a phased-in return to work plan for its employees, according to vice president of finance and administration, Andrew Beckett. He said the design is to begin building safety on the campus – including the use of non-medical masks and implementing physical distancing protocols.
Many participants of the virtual meetings had concerns surrounding the impact returning students would have on the community, resulting in questions about the preparedness level of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, the risk of potential outbreaks, and how the university would be monitoring isolating and sick students.
Elizabeth Yeo, vice president of students, said a number of measures will be taken on campus including; the implementation of a system to identify students living off-campus in the community, increased cleaning, maintaining physical distancing, reduced class sizes, and the requirement of wearing non-medical masks for students, faculty, and staff.
For off-campus students, Yeo advised the university will require them to submit a plan to return to the community and for self-isolation, if it is necessary. Students will also need to indicate the date they will be arriving in Antigonish.
On-campus, there will only be single rooms.
“For students who are required to self-isolate, the university will find a local support person who will check in regularly, as well as to assist with grocery and other needs,” she said. “We have been delighted to have offers from our students who’re already here, from our faculty and staff, and the Antigonish community, who’ve already reached out to offer assistance during self-isolation.”
Students who have completed their self-isolation, or who were not required to quarantine, will be issued a green wrist bracelet. Throughout the month of September, all students will need to have a green bracelet to enter all academic or administrative buildings on campus.
Receiving the bracelet also signifies the student has committed to follow the community protocols, assuring the community awareness is there on all provincial COVID-19 protocols, and it will also help identify the citizen-students throughout the community.
StFX President Andy Hakin said there is no zero-risk scenario with as many as 1,500 students returning to Antigonish.
Over 560 people took part in the two meetings and the university received 150 questions, which Hakin advised mostly dealt with the university’s response to a potential COVID-19 case and their plan to operate.
As to what response the university has to those concerned about students returning to the community, the school’s new president said they have developed a robust plan to welcome students back.
“We will be enforcing every measure that’s put forth by occupational health and safety, and therefore public health with respect to self-checking, social distancing, the wearing of non-medical masks on campus,” Hakin said. “And we’ll be promoting that in the community as well.”