Students starting to arrive on campus for fall semester

ANTIGONISH: As StFX University prepares to begin welcoming students back to campus and the Antigonish community, the school hosted three student information sessions on arrival and their self-isolation .

Officials with the university provided an overview of what students can expect relating to arriving on campus including the province’s new mandatory COVID-19 testing for students outside the Atlantic Bubble.

Hosted by Elizabeth Yeo, vice president of students, participants heard from: the school’s president, Dr. Andrew Hakin; Jacqueline De Leebeeck, the director of student life; the director of ancillary services, Bob Hale; and Sarah Elliot, the president of the StFX Students Union.

Yeo advised StFX will be monitoring 370 self-isolating students on-campus in residences, while another 400 will be self-isolating off-campus.

“We are so excited to welcome students back to our beautiful campus at StFX, and are thrilled to have everyone back in Antigonish for the upcoming fall semester,” she said in the town hall. “We understand the severity of this virus and the potential threat it poses to our wonderful community of Antigonish by bringing back our student body; but we are prepared and ready.”

Students who are required to self-isolate for the 14-days once arriving back in Antigonish, will have to undergo three COVID-19 tests during their isolation, to ensure they aren’t asymptomatic and to limit the potential spread.

On August 21, the Aux Gymnasium and the Loney Lounge inside the Amelia Saputo Centre was transformed into an on-campus testing centre. According to De Leebeeck, the university will also be able to offer mobile testing inside residences as well.

Yeo indicated for the 370 self-isolating students living on-campus, they will be delivered three meals to their door per day; and those who are living off-campus will be assigned a support person to check-in on them.

“We know this is going to be a difficult time for everyone, for many of you this will be your first time at StFX and when you dreamed about coming here, you never thought it would be like this,” Hakin told the attendees. “This will also be my first year at StFX – this isn’t how we wanted to start our year together, but we are all in this together, and we’ll get through it together.”

A representative with the students union explained a normal orientation week is out the window in 2020, however what used to be a week-long celebration, has almost morphed into a now three-week transition into university life.

One of StFX’s key events during their orientation week, Playfair said a unique blend of audience participation comedy routines, non-competitive adult play experiences and newly created group dynamic exercises – will be hosted virtually this year.

The students union will also be hosting events throughout isolation to keep students entertained, such as radio bingo, trivia, and to kick-start the year, a special nationally broadcasted concert on September 10.

Students will also be scheduled outdoor time at least once per day to get some fresh air while being confined to their dorm-room during their quarantine.

After completing their isolation, students will receive green wristbands, which will act as an all-access to the university’s buildings, classrooms and facilities.

Yeo indicated any student who tests positive for COVID-19, will receive their direction from the Nova Scotia Health Authority advising them of their next steps.

When students book their arrival to campus, they have a two-hour window to move-in and the university is reminding people to take this seriously.

“We want people to come directly to campus,” Hale explained. “We don’t want you stopping at various locations throughout the town, whether that is to get groceries or to go pick-up things you have in storage.”

Along with monitoring their self-isolating students, the university is also able to offer a contactless delivery service and students can schedule them to deliver pick-up orders from local establishments.

Students who live inside the Atlantic Bubble and will be living on-campus are not required to self-isolate, and will return to StFX on September 13, once people in self-isolation are no longer required to quarantine.