Brandon University is cautiously moving to the mid-range Phase Grey in its phased campus re-opening plan, as declining case counts, high vaccination rates, and enhanced campus preparation increase the university’s optimism for the Fall Term.
“This is a time of transition as we get ready for a partial return to in-person instruction this fall,” said BU President David Docherty, who announced the coming phase change during Monday’s General Faculty Council. “I thank everyone at Brandon University who has worked so hard, under such trying circumstances, and ensured we are in a position to safely host more on-campus activity.”
Phase Grey is the middle phase in BU’s reopening plan, between the more restrictive Phase Blue, and the more open Phase Gold. All phases are broad and designed to be adjusted and tweaked as circumstances changes. While BU has been in Phase Blue for the entire pandemic so far, its effects have ‘lightened’ over time, and an increasing number of employees have returned to on-campus work, at least some of the time. Lightening of Phase Blue has been supported through actions like mask mandates and vaccinations, as well as campus enhancements like improved ventilation and barriers.
Similarly, Phase Grey will start in a ‘dark grey’ mode. This means immediate changes will be modest. Starting now, all faculty and staff will have full key-fob access to every building on campus, expanding from just their areas. And University-related travel will once again be approved, so long as it follows public-health guidance and other restrictions. In general, that means travellers must be fully-vaccinated with two weeks past their second dose, or must follow strict self-isolation or quarantine requirements, depending on their destination.
At this time, flexible work arrangements and public health guidance still permit many employees to work from home, if they are able. Specific work arrangements are determined with supervisors and with HR. However, the university encourages everyone to begin occasional returns to the campus, so everyone can familiarize themselves with changes on campus, as well as to ensure that their workspaces are appropriately prepared for a future full-time return.
The BU Physical Plant has already conducted walk-throughs of the entire campus with Deans and Directors to assess and install Covid-safe requirements. Any additional needs should be communicated to your Dean or your supervisor to liaise with Physical Plant.
“We have made tremendous investments on our campus, with new signage, barriers, sanitization stations, ventilation and air filtration improvements, as well as a mask mandate,” Docherty said. “We have also learned a lot and grown accustomed to personal behaviours that can minimize transmission risk, including virtual meetings and physical distancing. We are confident that we can safely welcome growing numbers of people back to campus over the summer and prepare for something closer to normal over the fall and winter.”
Under Phase Grey, classes in the Summer term will continue to be taught almost entirely remotely, as previously announced. For the Fall 2021 term, the University is planning to generally welcome classes of up to 25 students, although a small number of larger classes may be taught in person should public health orders permit. This will continue even if the University is able to move into a ‘light grey’ mode, or even into Phase Gold. Plans for the Winter 2022 term will be announced in the coming months.
The shift to Phase Grey takes effect immediately. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions by faculty, staff, students and regarding the university’s operations and Covid preparations, is being updated on the university’s dedicated website at BrandonU.ca/Covid-19.
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