Memorial’s return to campus plans align with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s recently released reopening plan, Together Again.
As previously announced, all employees on all campuses are expected to return to work on campus by July 13 and all students should plan to be on campus for in-person learning beginning in September.
The provincial plan calls for organizations to begin gradual return to offices and work places from June 15–July 1, with continued return to work activities throughout the summer.
“One of the most important ways to keep our university community safe as we transition back to campus is to get vaccinated,” said Greg McDougall, chief risk officer at Memorial.
“We encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated — it’s our best defense against COVID-19.”
At a recent town hall, some employees expressed concern about returning to campus with only one dose of vaccine.
“Some hesitancy and anxiety is perfectly normal,” he said.
“We’ve been living with COVID for over a year and changing our daily activities can be hard. I want to assure the university community that every effort is being made to ensure a safe environment.”
Mr. McDougall says that in addition to vaccines, there are a number of safety measures in place on all campuses.
This includes the daily self-assessment via the MUNSafe app for all members of the university community, hand sanitization stations, mask requirements and density guidelines for on-campus spaces.
The density calculator will continue to be updated as guidelines around social distancing change.
When the province moves to step 1, as early as July 1, non-essential travel from within Canada will be permitted, with fully vaccinated Canadians having no testing or self-isolation requirements.
This means that university-related travel within Canada may proceed. Canadian students from outside Newfoundland and Labrador should refer to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Life with COVID website for guidance.
International travel is governed by Government of Canada, which has not changed its advisory to avoid non-essential travel until further notice. The university’s suspension of international travel remains in place and will be re-evaluated as federal measures change.
The university is carefully monitoring vaccination rates, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations in the province.
This information, combined with guidance from the Together Again plan, will be used to develop guidelines related to meetings, classroom capacity and other key metrics. This information will be shared as it becomes available.
Potential circuit breakers
Mr. McDougall says the university is prepared to quickly, and temporarily, revert back to a remote teaching and learning environment in the event of an outbreak.
In the weekly COVID-19 provincial briefing on June 2, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said that new COVID-19 cases will continue to arise throughout the reopening.
“As Dr. Fitzgerald recently noted, COVID-19 cases are still going to be a part of regular life. We are continually monitoring this plan and are prepared to be flexible. If there is an outbreak, a two-week “circuit breaker” can be quickly implemented in alignment with Public Health.”