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Information regarding COVID-19

GENERAL INFORMATION AND TIMELINE

Vaccinations are the safest and most effective way to protect our communities from the damaging effects brought upon by COVID-19. At St. Mary’s University, vaccinations have proven to be a critical part of our fall re-entry plan to welcome community members back to our campus, and we are now strengthening the role that vaccinations will play on our campus moving forward. By maximizing our community immunity, we will maximize in-person learning experiences for students and on-campus opportunities for the entire St. Mary’s community.

You will need to get your first dose of vaccination no later than September 20, 2021. If you fail to do so, as of October 4, you will not be permitted on the St. Mary’s University campus unless you provide regular negative rapid test results or have an approved medical exemption. Vaccinations are safe and available at no cost. They limit the spread and impact of COVID-19. Learn more about getting vaccinated here.

Campus community members who cannot establish that they are fully vaccinated or who have not obtained a valid medical exemption before November 1 will NOT be permitted on our campus, unless they provide proof of a privately – sourced negative rapid test results that has been administered 72-hours before visiting campus. This test needs to be repeated every 72 hours.

St. Mary’s community members are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 14 days after receiving the recommended number of doses of a Health Canada approved vaccine; or,
  • 14 days after receiving a Health Canada approved vaccine in addition to a non-Health Canada approved vaccine.

Individuals can establish their vaccination status using electronic or paper records of their vaccination receipt. In Alberta, official vaccine records are available on MyHealth Records. The collection of proof of vaccination will be carried out in full accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. Details regarding how to submit proof of vaccination and/or negative rapid tests is forthcoming in the coming weeks and will be circulated by October 4th, 2021.

Campus community members who cannot be vaccinated based on medical grounds should follow the application for exemption procedures.

Proof of Negative Test: St. Mary’s University is participating in the provincial Restrictions Exemption Program, which requires either proof of vaccination or negative test result. Tests must be a privately-paid COVID-19 PCR or a privately-paid Rapid Antigen Test completed within 72 hours and must not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories. Therefore, you are required to ensure that any time you are on campus you have proof of a negative test being completed within 72hrs, effective Monday September 20th, 2021. At this time St. Mary’s is not an approved rapid testing center. A list of third party health service vendors can be found on the Government of Alberta website at COVID-19 Rapid Testing Third Party Health Service Vendors (alberta.ca)

Medical Vaccine exemption form
VACCINATION VERIFICATION PROGRAM GUIDE

FAQ’S (Students, Staff, Faculty, General Public)

WILL I BE REQUIRED TO DISCLOSE MY VACCINATION STATUS?

Yes, attestation of vaccination status and providing documentary proof is a mandatory legal requirement.

The collection of vaccination information is carried out in full accordance with all applicable laws and regulations as mandated by the Government of Alberta. All personal health information is confidential, and will not be shared with supervisors or professors or any other member of the St. Mary’s community. The requirement to report vaccination status is a component of the university’s health and safety practices in response to the global pandemic and the Government of Alberta mandate. In collecting this information, the university will protect it, keep it confidential and only use it for the purpose for which it was collected or authorized by law.

Students, faculty and staff will be asked to provide proof of their vaccination status as of October 4th in order to access campus. Individuals can verify their vaccination status using electronic or paper records of their vaccination receipt. In Alberta, official vaccine records are available through your pharmacy, by calling 811, and on MyHealth Records.

Details about how and when St. Mary’s University will collect verification of vaccination will be communicated in the coming weeks. The collection of proof of vaccination will be carried out in full accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

ARE THERE EXEMPTIONS TO THE VACCINE REQUIREMENTS?

At this time St. Mary’s is participating in the Provincial Restrictions Exemption Program to be able to continue to provide in-person services and classes. This program currently only allows for proof of vaccination, proof of a privately-paid negative rapid test result take within 72 hours of service or documentation of a medical exemption. Any individual who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds can request an exemption. All individuals who are awaiting their second dose or awaiting the results of an application for exemption are required to adhere to additional health and safety measures, including frequent rapid testing. Unvaccinated individuals without an approved permitted medical exemption will not be able to attend campus or any St. Mary’s University activity in person as of November 1, 2021 as mandated by the Alberta Government unless they provide proof of negative rapid testing every 72 hours.

St. Mary’s University will take reasonable steps to accommodate students and employees who are impacted by operational changes due to COVID-19, including those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated on the basis of a protected ground.

WHY PROOF OF VACCINATION IS NOW REQUIRED AT ST. MARY’S?

Alberta has declared a state of Public Health Emergency. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, largely in unvaccinated Albertans. New measures to protect the health care system, stop the spread, and increase vaccination rates came into effect starting September 16.

Implementation of the Government of Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result will allow St. Mary’s University to continue operating as usual.

WHAT VACCINES MEET THIS NEW REQUIREMENT?

For the purposes of meeting the university’s vaccination requirements, St. Mary’s University recognizes a complete vaccine series approved by Health Canada and those listed for emergency use by World Health Organization (WHO).

HOW DO I PROVIDE PROOF OF MY VACCINATION STATUS?

We are currently working on a system to allow St. Mary’s University community members who are vaccinated to be able to submit proof of their vaccination status online. This mechanism will be announced to students, staff, and faculty and will be in place by October 4, 2021.

Your personal information will be kept confidential in compliance with statutory privacy requirements and will only be shared with health and safety staff as required to protect our community.

DO I STILL NEED TO WEAR A MASK OR PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING EVEN IF I AM VACCINATED?

Yes. The vaccination requirements complement the extensive health and safety measures already in place and our existing return to campus plans. Existing health and safety protocols will remain in place including mask requirements, self-assessments, and enhanced cleaning protocols. Under the exemption program, physical distancing is not required but is encouraged where possible.

WHAT ABOUT PROOF OF A NEGATIVE TEST PRIOR TO COMING TO CAMPUS?

St. Mary’s University is participating in the provincial Restrictions Exemption Program which requires either proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Tests must be privately-paid COVID-19 PCR or rapid tests completed within 72 hours of coming to campus and must not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories. Therefore, you are required to ensure that any time you are on campus you have proof of a negative test being completed within 72hrs, effective Monday September 20th, 2021. At this time St. Mary’s is not an approved rapid testing center. A list of third party health service vendors can be found on the Government of Alberta website at COVID-19 Rapid Testing Third Party Health Service Vendors (alberta.ca)

WHAT MEASURES IS THE UNIVERSITY TAKING TO ENSURE PROPER PHYSICAL DISTANCING IN CLASSROOMS AND PROPER AIR CIRCULATION (OPENING WINDOWS AND PROPER VENTILATION MEASURES)?

AHS does not require us to maintain social distancing as St. Mary’s University is participating in the provincial Restrictions Exemption Program which requires either proof of vaccination or negative test result. We enhanced the air ventilation system and have doubled the frequency of changing the air filters.

WHY DON’T WE IMPLEMENT THE PASSPORT VACCINE RIGHT AWAY?

We are ensuring we do it properly to ensure peoples’ privacy and ease of implementation. Dr. Hinshaw has provided post-secondary institutions flexibility’ to reach the goal – which is to get as many unvaccinated people vaccinated as quickly as possible to ensure everyone’s safety.

MEDICAL INQUIRIES?

To the extent you have medical questions, you should be referring your inquiries to Alberta Health and/or your healthcare providers as StMU is not in a position to provide you with medical advice.

WHAT IF I DECIDE NOT TO BE VACCINATED – DOES THAT AFFECT MY EMPLOYMENT AT StMU?

With respect to your employment, StMU remains committed to providing reasonable accommodations for employees on a case by case basis, in accordance with the Alberta Human Rights Act and current Public Health Orders from the Government of Alberta while maintaining a safe working and learning environment.

While the decision to get vaccinated remains yours entirely, StMU maintains control over its campus to promote the health and safety of everyone. As such, if you decide not to be vaccinated, you will not be allowed on campus unless you have proof of a negative test being completed within 72hrs and you will need to make the HR department and your area Vice-President and/or Supervisor aware of this decision.

CAN I WORK REMOTELY IF I CHOOSE NOT TO BE VACCINATED?

As per the University’s Flexible Work Arrangement policies (*note link must be accessed while logged into StMU Server), a flexible work arrangement may be available to depending on the role and operational need. These arrangements will be reviewed on a regular basis and in the event that this arrangement is no longer sustainable and/or required, we will review any employment implications at that time.

IS THERE AN AVENUE TO SUBMIT A WORK ACCOMMODATION REQUEST, AND IS REMOTE WORK FULLY AVAILABLE?

Upon receipt of a work accommodation request, and in consultation with your Area Vice-President and/or Supervisor and HR, we will review your role, and if eligible we will accommodate a full-time and/or partial remote work arrangement effective immediately. In the event that your attendance on Campus or at a University event is required you will be required to ensure that you have proof of a negative COVID-19 test being completed within 72hrs. Tests must be privately-paid COVID-19 PCR or rapid tests, must not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories, and will be at your own expense. At this time St. Mary’s is not an approved rapid testing center; however, a list of third party health service vendors can be found on the Government of Alberta website at COVID-19 Rapid Testing Third Party Health Service Vendors (alberta.ca). When on campus, you will continue to be expected to abide by all University polices, in particular those connected to health & safety.

In the event that you have any questions or concerns at any time, please reach out to your Leader and/or Stephanie Law, HR Specialist Athena Pulzoni or contact HR@stmu.ca.

HOW SOON WILL THE MANDATORY VACCINATION BE IMPLEMENTED? WILL WE HAVE SUFFICIENT TIME TO GO AND GET BOTH DOSES?

The government has given post-secondary institutions some flexible time to get the proof of vaccination program implemented. We are urging unvaccinated students to get their vaccine as soon as possible.

HOW WILL THEY CHECK/IMPLEMENT THE CHECKING OF VACCINE PASSPORT?

We are currently working on the vaccine verification system. Students will be able to submit proof of vaccine and those records will be held confidentially and faculty will be notified which students are able to be in class.

IS THERE LEGITIMATE CONTACT TRACING GOING ON AND WHO OVERSEES IT?

We continue the process of contact tracing that we implemented last year, although AHS is not asking us to do this. Reports of symptoms and COVID tests are sent confidentially through the St. Mary’s Safety App to our Safety Coordinator. Positive cases are followed up and people with close contact are notified. Faculty keep attendance records to enable this process.

WILL THE UNIVERSITY IMPLEMENT HYBRID COURSES DURING THIS TIME SINCE THEY SHOWED THE CAPABILITY TO DO SO LAST YEAR?

No, we will not be. We made a quick shift to fully online teaching last year and both faculty and students did an admirable job of adapting, but both the technology and pedagogy needs for online and hybrid teaching are substantially different from in-person or fully on-line teaching. The university is not in a position to offer a blended model given the cost and technology requirements.

DOES THE UNIVERSITY FUNDING DEPEND ON IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE OF STUDENTS?

No. We make decisions about program delivery based on best practice.

WILL THERE BE OPTIONS FOR UNVACCINATED STUDENTS TO FINISH THEIR COURSES?

People choosing to remain unvaccinated against the provincial health mandate have several options:

  • Get the vaccines by the deadlines and provide proof of vaccine
  • If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you can regularly get the rapid test and provide proof to the university (min of 72 hours before classes and regularly). AHS has said the public health system will not pay for this.

IS THERE ANY WAY FOR UPASS OR GYM FEES TO BE OPTIONAL WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON?

Both the transit and Fitness Centre remain usable and accessible, so we will be keeping these fees in place.

IF I HAVE A 2.5-HOUR GAP BETWEEN CLASSES AND DO NOT HAVE A CAR BUT SEATING IS BEING REMOVED FROM THE CAFE, WHERE DO I SIT FOR HOMEWORK OR TO EAT? NICE DAYS ARE ALMOST GONE.

Seating is being removed only for two weeks and only inside the enclosed café space. We have extra picnic tables and seating around campus. You can also use empty classroom space. The café seating will be restored by October 4th with the implementation of the vaccination certification system.

WILL THERE BE LENIENCY TOWARDS EXAM ATTENDANCE? ESPECIALLY IF A PERSON GETS SICK A DAY BEFORE OR DAY OF? WILL THERE BE AN OPTION TO DO IT ONLINE INSTEAD?

We have processes in place if students get sick. Those will continue to apply during exams. Courses that are being offered online will have online exams. Courses offered in person will have in-person exams. Some universities have put exam invigilating software in place that is very invasive and has met with enormous student and faculty pushback because of privacy concerns. The most robust way to evaluate student knowledge, in a fair and equitable way, is to keep in-person exams for in-person courses. The Registrar’s Office is currently building the final exam timetable and we are working to spread out the exams and reduce the number of students in the space at one time.

WILL THERE BE ATTENDANCE LENIENCY? RE: ISOLATION PERIOD, COVID SICKNESS, CLOSE CONTACT ISOLATION PERIOD.

Faculty are understanding if students need to self-isolate or are sick. Follow the processes if it is COVID-related and work with your faculty. Students are expected to keep up with their work, even if required to stay home for a period of time. We suggest forming study groups now to share notes and have a note-taking partner should that become necessary.

DO CLOSE CONTACTS OF COVID CASES HAVE TO ISOLATE BEFORE RETURNING TO CAMPUS?

AHS no longer requires close contacts to isolate unless they experience symptoms. If that occurs, you need to stay away from campus, fill out the COVID incident form on the St. Mary’s Safety App and get tested immediately. If you have a negative test, you can return to campus as soon as you have no symptoms. With a positive test, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WITH KIDS AT HOME WHO CANNOT BE VACCINATED YET OR IMMUNOCOMPROMISED, ARE THEY BEING TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN THIS DECISION PROCESS?

K-12 is still fully in-person and we are aligned with that. All the measures we are taking are designed to make campus as safe as possible, given the circumstances.

I DON’T WANT TO GET THE VACCINES BUT HAVE NO MEDICAL GROUNDS FOR EXEMPTION. I’M NOT VACCINATED YET BECAUSE I HAVE HESITATIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

At this time, StMU – and the other universities – will not be moving online and will be following the AHS protocols.

You have three choices to continue your studies at StMU:

  • Get the vaccines by the deadlines and provide proof of vaccine.
  • If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you can regularly get the rapid test and provide proof to the university (min of 72 hours before classes and regularly). AHS has said the public health system will not pay for this.
  • We extended the Drop deadline to Monday, September 20th and provided refunds according to the normal Add/Drop rules for students to withdraw from courses if they chose

WHY DO WE HAVE TO ATTEND IN PERSON WHEN IT IS NOT NECESSARY FOR OUR CLASSES?

In-person learning is necessary for your program. Education pre-service teachers are gaining an exceptional quality education that will prepare them for teaching in several boards. All of those boards are continuing in-person teaching for K-12. Pre-service teachers will soon be going out to teach in schools under these same conditions. It is our ethical obligation to prepare in-service teachers using the best pedagogical methods and aligning to current K-12 practices.

WHY ARE WE RISKING IT WHEN THE EDUCATION PROGRAM IS ONLY 6 WEEKS OF COURSES, AND ANY MORE INTERRUPTIONS (EVEN DAILY) CAN THROW OFF THE ENTIRE PROGRAM? WE ARE ALREADY STRESSED ENOUGH AS IT IS.

We understand your stress and acknowledge that the daily work of many essential services workers, like healthcare workers and teachers, has become even more stressful during the pandemic. You can trust the faculty and Dean of Education to respond to changing demands, even as your future admin teams, Principals and VPs will. This is a taste of what teachers have been dealing with daily for the last two years.

WHY AREN’T WE SOCIALLY DISTANCED IN CLASSROOMS? THERE ARE 5-7 PEOPLE AT A TABLE, AND WE ARE ALL INCHES AWAY FROM EACH OTHER.

With everyone vaccinated, this will provide another layer of protection. As above, we are aligned with the conditions of K-12.

WHY AREN’T PROFESSORS SOCIALLY DISTANCING WHEN THEY CAN STAND AT THE PODIUM TO LECTURE? OR WEARING THEIR MASKS WHEN THEY BECOME CLOSE?

The expectation is that faculty will wear their masks unless they are at the podium with enough distance from students. When they circulate, they are to have masks back on. We are repeating instructions to faculty and checking in to ensure mandates are being followed.

IF WE SEE STAFF OR STUDENTS NOT FOLLOWING MASKING PROTOCOLS IS THERE SOMEWHERE WE CAN ANONYMOUSLY REPORT THEM?

Our campus culture is to respect each other and to deal adult to adult in a respectful manner. If you see someone whose mask is slipping or otherwise not meeting the protocol, you can respectfully say something directly to them. There are very infrequent instances where an individual has a temporary or permanent mask exemption that has been granted for legitimate and documented medical needs. They will have a letter of confirmation if this is the case. Please remember to respect people’s privacy and not to judge each other’s circumstances. There is no allowance for rudeness toward others.

IF WE ARE IN PERSON ON MONDAY ARE ALL OF LAST YEAR’S PRECAUTIONS COMING BACK INTO PLACE? IE. PLEXIGLASS BARRIERS? EXTRA CLEANING?

We have continued the extra cleaning all fall and will continue to do so. AHS advised us in the Spring to remove the Plexiglas barriers and focus on vaccinations and masking as the most effective means to combat COVID.

DO WE HAVE TO BRING IN OUR PROOF EVERY DAY UNTIL OCTOBER 4TH?

Until we have the vaccination verification system fully implemented, it doesn’t hurt to keep a copy of your proof with you. This will allow you to enter restaurants and other services around the city, as well as StMU. MYHealth has developed a wallet-sized proof of vaccination that is much handier to carry around.

HOW WILL YOU BE MAKING SURE PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED? ESPECIALLY WHEN THE AHS IS PRETTY MUCH UNACCESSIBLE AT THIS POINT?

We have been given until Oct. 4th to fully implement the vaccine verification process.

IS THERE A CHANCE THAT THESE PLANS WILL AGAIN BE CHANGED? ARE PROFESSORS READY FOR LAST MINUTE ONLINE IMPLEMENTATION OR WILL WE END UP MISSING MORE SCHOOL?

We cannot control the course of COVID or the province’s emergency health orders. If the province is ordered into lockdown, we will move swiftly to on-line classes for the duration of the lockdown along with the rest of the province. As long as K-12 remains in-person, our Education program will also.

WHY ARE STUDENTS NOT GETTING A SAY IN WHAT WE BELIEVE IS RIGHT FOR OUR OWN SAFETY?

The entire province must follow emergency health orders put out by the province. The University is following this mandate while offering the best education possible.

As pre-service teachers you are being trained and assessed on your ability to meet the required Teacher Quality Standards in order to hold and maintain an Alberta teaching certificate. TQS#6 requires that you adhere to legal frameworks and policies that are part of the K-12 school system and implies compliance with the policies and legal mandates of the university in your teacher education program

WHAT IS THE PLAN IF SOMEONE BECOMES ILL IN OUR COHORT? INSTRUCTORS HAVE SAID THAT ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. DO WE JUST NOT GRADUATE? WHAT IF ONE OF US GETS COVID? THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SOCIAL DISTANCING DURING OUR BACK-TO-BACK THREE-HOUR CLASSES.

We will deal with excused extended absences on a case by case basis, as we always have, and work to accommodate the student so that he/she can meet the TQS competencies and graduate

IF CASES INCREASE AND WE AREN’T ALLOWED TO DO PRACTICUMS, WHAT HAPPENS TO US? WHAT CAN WE DO?

We have not had our partner schools refuse our students for practicum. More accurately, they have welcomed the energy and positivity of our teacher candidates. If K-12 schools close and revert to only online teaching, you will follow your cooperating teacher and work along side them in delivering learning to the students. This is considered legitimate practicum hours according to the Registrar of Alberta Education.

WHEN WILL THEY HAVE ANY DECISIONS ON OUR PRACTICUM? SINCE THE SCHOOLS ARE NOT REALLY WANTING EXTRA PEOPLE IN THEM AND THE COHORT STUFF.

Our partner schools have maintained work with our students throughout COVID. We do not expect that to change.

HOW WILL STUDENTS BE COMPENSATED FOR MISSING 1-2 DAYS OF INSTRUCTIONAL TIME?

So far, we have missed one day of classes in Education. The instructors will assist with making up missed time in order to meet all the learning outcomes of the classes. For example, one instructor is asking students if they would like to add 30 min to two classes to make sure they cover all the material. Based on past practice, Education professors work from a mastery model of learning, which means students are given extra time and often individual extra support if needed to meet the learning outcomes of their courses. This will continue to be the practice.

RESOURCES

CONTACT INFORMATION

News and Updates

110, 2021
  • St. Mary's University StMU Star

Friday Message 1 October 2021 – Losing Roads, New Campus Access Protocols, Spring Travel Study to Rome & Thanks

Look, let me be specific, I have been losing roads and tracks and air and rivers and little thoughts and smells and incidents and a sense of [...]

110, 2021
  • StMU Blue Shield

Vaccination & Rapid Testing Launch

St. Mary’s Vaccine & Rapid Testing Verification Program is now live! This new on-line program allows members of our community to verify their Vaccination Status, Rapid Testing [...]

3009, 2021
  • St. Mary's University StMU Star

COVID Update

St. Mary's University is participating in Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program, a vaccine mandate program, which allows us to continue to welcome community members on campus for in-person [...]

2409, 2021
  • St. Mary's University StMU Star

Friday message 24 Sept 2021: Glorious Autumn, COVID FAQ page, Sept 30th Truth & Reconciliation Event

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their [...]

1609, 2021
  • St. Mary's University StMU Star

Update in response to new Public Health measures

Last night the Government of Alberta introduced new public health measures in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the province. The government also introduced [...]

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Information regarding COVID-19

Notice: Important information for students, staff, faculty, and community members.

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