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Back to school, away from class: the state of Dalhousie campus

Classes at Dalhousie University have been moved online until Jan. 31 and residences are closed until Jan. 29, but that doesn’t mean the campus is completely shut down. There are still some services running, either at different hours or online, and some things haven’t changed at all.  

Changes to Vaccine Rules 

If classes return this winter term, Dalhousie will update it’s vaccination requirements. Proof of full vaccination will be required for all students, faculty and staff, except those who have been compliant with the twice-weekly testing mandate for unvaccinated individuals.  

“If you have been consistently uploading your twice weekly testing results through Campus Check throughout the fall term,” Dalhousie’s Campus Check vaccination requirements web page reads, “you will be allowed to continue with twice-weekly testing in lieu of proof of full vaccination for the winter term.” 

Of the 400 people who did identify themselves as unvaccinated to Campus Check, only an estimated 20 per cent of them have been providing those regular test results, according to a memo released in November. 

There are also approximately 1,350 people who have not filed to Campus check. 

Dalhousie will require those who are continuing to submit twice-weekly tests to be fully vaccinated for on campus activities by May 1, 2022. 

Those who have already submitted proof of vaccination via campus check do not have to submit. But the faculty, staff and students who have not filed anything must have done so by Dec. 23, 2021. Members of the community who have not provided any information to Campus Check will be banned from Dalhousie campuses while an investigation takes place, according to Dalhousie’s Campus Check vaccination requirements web page. The consequences include de-registration from courses, the page reads.   

Campus rapid tests will also no longer be offered, according to the campus closure announcement made on Dec. 23.  

In a statement from Janet Bryson, Dalhousie’s associate director of media relations, she said Dal had to cancel its testing because of provincial changes in its rapid testing program. 

Staff and faculty who do not submit proof of vaccination could lose their jobs, per the November memo. The memo says those who do not provide proof could face punishment “up to and including termination of employment.” 

Student Union Building (SUB) 

According to Dalhousie Student Union President Madeleine Stinson, many students expressed interest in keeping study spaces open. “So we made sure those could open back up for everyone,” she said. 

On Jan. 10, the Student Union Building opened study spaces with reduced capacities and COVID-19 restrictions. All floors of the building are open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

“Students will have to wear masks and distance when inside,” Stinson said. “They can’t eat inside anymore, they’ll only be able to remove their masks to drink water.” 

The Dal Bookstore in the SUB is open for students to pick up online orders. The front information desk in the SUB will also be operating. 

Many offices in the SUB are opened, but most were given the option to move online. The DSU executive will host office hours online. Student services like the Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students, Bisset services, and the DSU Health Plan Office are all online. Other offices like the Equity and Accessibility Office are operating by appointment only.  

Societies with offices in the SUB still have access to those offices, but the DSU encourages them to be reasonable and responsible by adhering to COVID-19 restrictions within those offices.  

Food services 

According to Stinson, the DSU negotiated with Chartwells to try and open all food court services in the SUB on Jan. 17, but Chartwells backed out. As a result, the only food vendor in the SUB is Petes ToGoGo, unless you are a vending machine enthusiast. 

The Dalhousie Gazette reached out to Chartwells for comment but they did not respond prior to the publication of this story. 

The Grawood is open for takeout Tuesday-Thursday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Students who work at the Grawood and at other food services in the Dal whose hours have been affected by COVID-19 closures have been given the option to be laid off by the DSU. That way student employees have access to current unemployment benefits from the government. 

The T-room on the Sexton campus has remained open for dine-in Thursdays and Fridays 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. “Staff at the T-room wanted to stay open. The T-room mostly hires international students who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, so we’ve kept it open at a reduced capacity,” said Stinson. 

The DSU farmers market is open only for food-box pick up. “We’ve switched to food-box only to try and balance the need for accessible produce while keeping everyone safe,” said Patsy Ginou, food box co-ordinator for the DSU farmers market. 

Food-boxes can be ordered online at dsumarket.ca and picked up at the SUB, “if you do come, make sure to sanitize your hands, wear your mask, come at your correct pickup time, and be nice to us,” said Ginou. 

The Loaded Ladle is also open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. “We told Loaded ladle they could open as long as people would get in and out quick for their food,” said Stinson.  

Unlike usual operations, students are asked to sign up ahead of time to get their meal from the Loaded Ladle on their website. The floor is marked in the SUB so students are spaced out when in line.  

The DSU food bank is also open by appointment only. Forms can be found online at dsu.ca/foodbank. 

Libraries and health services 

Libraries on every campus are open with reduced hours. There is no food or drink allowed and access to the special collections reading room is by appointment only.  

The Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness Centre is also opened with hours reduced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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