Progress Update for the Fall 2020 Term

June 1, 2020

Dear Acadia Students,

Whether you are planning on attending Acadia for the first time in September or returning to Acadia to continue your studies, I understand that you are keen to know what approach Acadia will take for the fall term. I hope that you and your families and loved ones are all keeping well and healthy as we continue to live under these extraordinary conditions. I am pleased to be able to share some important information with you about Acadia’s intentions and preferred path forward.

Planning to meet your expectations

At Acadia, consultation with students is important to us as we have been planning for the fall. In our recent student survey, 2,281 of you responded and indicated that overwhelmingly you want us to hold in-person classes, but you are also willing to accept a combination of in-person and online course delivery. The survey also showed that you are willing to accept restrictions as required by public health. We feel that we can deliver on your expectations and we are planning to bring as many of you as possible to campus in September, subject to final approval of our plans by necessary internal and external bodies.

Education that prioritizes flexibility

To preserve as many elements of the Acadia experience as possible while taking steps to ensure the health and safety of students and employees, our preferred approach is to offer a blended, or hybrid approach to teaching and learning for September combining in-person and online delivery. Our intention is to bring students back to campus under controlled public health and safety conditions, provide alternative delivery mechanisms for those who are unable to attend campus in person, and provide a mix of in-person and online options for all students. We would also allow students who cannot or choose not to attend in person the option of taking their fall term online.

While a safe, blended on-campus approach remains our preferred approach, our plan incorporates preparedness to pivot to a fully online/virtual delivery of courses if necessary.  

This approach provides you the maximum range of options to choose from as you make your preparations for the fall term. For those of you who intend to come to Wolfville and attend Acadia in-person, you will be invited to do so provided you agree to adhere to all health guidelines. For those of you who are unable to travel, or who choose not to travel for September, you will be able to take courses online. So, if certain international travel restrictions are still in place, or if you have been unable to get your visa processed in time due to the pandemic situation, you will be able to start your studies online before physically travelling to Canada.

Residence and food services are planning to be operational

Our intention is to have residences and the dining hall open using directions and guidance provided by NS Public Health Authorities. Again, we will be working with you to ensure we provide a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff.

As our economy and society gradually re-open over the coming months, there are risks that there will be outbreaks of the virus and the possibility of a second wave remains likely - there is no zero-risk scenario and until a vaccine is developed and implemented through a national inoculation program there will be many challenges in organizing a safe and enriching environment for our students, faculty and staff. As we have from the initial outbreak in March, we will continue to follow the guidelines of the public health authorities.

The COVID-19 situation in Nova Scotia, and particularly in the Wolfville/Annapolis Valley region in which Acadia is located, is well under control and there has been very limited spread of the virus. Being in a small, rural community with a relatively low population density has its advantages over being located in a densely populated, urban environment. Our small class sizes and the layout of our campus allows us to implement public health measures in a manner that makes having students come to campus possible. To make this a reality, all of us, including our staff, faculty and you, our students, will have a responsibility to ensure that we minimise risk through adherence to the restrictions on personal and public behaviour that will be in place and required by the Nova Scotia public health authorities.

Working together and staying connected

By working together, I strongly believe we can and will embrace new ways to launch the academic year in September in true Acadia style. I cannot state forcefully enough that the health and safety of our community (employees, students, and the local community) will remain our highest priority, but we also place a high priority on providing you with the highest quality of educational experience, regardless of how you choose to participate in the fall.

I, along with the enrolment management team, will be in touch with more details as the summer progresses and plans are solidified.  I encourage you to stay connected by visiting our website and following our social channels.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to work with all our partners and ensure a detailed review of our plans by the Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia’s Public Health Authority, and the Town of Wolfville.

Thank you for choosing Acadia for your university experience, and I hope with all my heart to be able to welcome as many of you as possible in person in September.

In the meantime, stay well and stay healthy.

Sincerely,

Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor