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Update to the university community

Message from provost about winter semester, change in alert level

Campus and Community

By Dr. Florentine Strzelczyk

Memorial is preparing to welcome students, faculty and staff for the winter 2022 semester.

With the emergence and rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the ways in which we must adapt to living with COVID-19 in our community will require patience, flexibility and a shared responsibility for campus safety.

As announced on Dec. 22, 2021, Memorial will be a primarily remote teaching and learning environment until Jan. 31.

The winter semester will begin Jan. 10 with most classes operating in a remote teaching and learning environment. Instruction in online courses will also begin on Jan. 10.

In light of the Jan. 3 move to provincial Alert Level Four, there are some minor changes to Memorial’s operations.

Campus-specific information is available for the Grenfell campus here and for the Marine Institute here. These sites are updated regularly.

Effective today, Jan. 4, Memorial’s COVID impact scale has moved to modified-high. Details of this change are available online.

Classes and labs: As noted in the Dec. 22 update, labs, fine and performing arts programs, and practicums will take place in-person on all campuses, if occupancy density can be maintained at 52 sq. ft. Please see updated density calculator. Please note that the density calculator includes all people in a room, including students, instructors and teaching assistants.

Programs with accreditation requirements as well as programs at the Marine Institute will set their course modes accordingly.

Libraries: All branches will be open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday-Friday from Jan. 5-17 and closed on weekends. The Rotunda on the St. John’s Campus will remain open to students requiring access to computers and printing from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily (including weekends). As of Jan. 5 there will be no food or drink allowed in any library to ensure mask compliance.

Employee work arrangements: With supervisor approval, employees who can work from home should do so until Jan. 24. In some cases, operational needs may require in-person support. Employees who prefer to work on campus can do so with supervisor approval.  Employees can return to campus to retrieve necessary items.

Travel: Memorial has suspended all non-essential international university travel. All travel should comply with the Government of Canada and provincial government advisories. Newfoundland and Labrador’s latest travel advisories can be found here.

Research update: No fieldwork is permitted in Labrador at this alert level. Health and safety plans must be in place for fieldwork in other locations. Likewise, no face-to-face interactions with research participants are allowed in Labrador or elsewhere in the province. On campus research may continue, providing occupancy density requirements of 114 sq. ft per person can be maintained.

St. John’s residence update: Out-of-province students who had previously arranged to isolate at Macpherson and Burton’s Pond should return to campus as soon as possible to begin their isolation. At this time there is no capacity to welcome other residence students back early. R. Gushue Dining Hall is open as of Jan. 4.

Grenfell Campus residence update: Students who have arranged to isolate at Grenfell Campus residences have been pre-approved and are asked to follow instructions that have been provided by Grenfell housing office.

Grenfell Campus Bookstore will be open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. as of Jan. 5. Textbooks and supplies can be picked up or delivered. Please email bookstore@grenfell.mun.ca to arrange delivery.

Mask requirements: All students, faculty, staff and visitors to Memorial’s campuses are required to wear masks indoors, in public spaces and common areas. A three-ply non-medical face mask is the minimum standard. More information about is available on Memorial’s COVID-19 website.

Vaccination requirement: The Memorial community’s vaccination rate has been exceptional. Memorial is considering adding a requirement for booster shots to the university’s vaccination mandate, based on public health requirements and guidance. More information will be shared as it becomes available. Work is ongoing to create on-campus booster opportunities.

Mental health supports: The pandemic has caused mental health challenges for many in our community. There are resources available to help you and we strongly encourage you to reach out for support. In St. John’s, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre resources can be found here. In Corner Brook, students needing support should contact Grenfell’s Counselling and Psychological Services. Employee resources are available here.

Access to campuses: Buildings at all of Memorial’s campuses will remain open at this alert level. Visitors to campus are discouraged, however invited guests, experts and those necessary for teaching, learning and research may visit.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been a close contact of a person with COVID-19, do not come to campus. Please use the COVID-19 self-assessment in the MUN Safe app prior to coming to campus.

Impact of adverse weather: In the event of inclement weather while the majority of students, faculty and staff are working and studying remotely, Memorial will announce restrictions on access to its campuses but much of the operations of the university will continue remotely. More detailed information will be shared shortly.

As Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said, “We are trying our best to follow a map for a road that is under construction.” Memorial will continue to monitor and follow public health advice. We sincerely thank you for your patience, understanding and adherence to the public health guidelines as we navigate this phase of the pandemic.

We will continue to provide regular updates as the situation evolves.

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