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NSCAD responds to student petition for 24/7 access to studios

Dear NSCAD community,
On October 4, NSCAD sent a letter to SUNSCAD in response to the petition from students regarding 24/7 studio access. In summary, the change in hours is not without reason. All of the measures that we have in place work together so that we are able to return to in-person learning and practice. The university’s response underscored the facts related to managing the risk of spreading COVID through our community within the context of current conditions.

Unfortunately, our response was not shared openly with NSCAD students. As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, we believe it is critical for everyone to have simultaneous access to essential information regarding campus safety protocols in order to understand the context for decisions and to practice safe behavior on campus. To that end, we are sharing our original response to the petition below.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff
Vice-President (Academic & Research) and Provost
NSCAD University

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October 4, 2021

NSCAD Student 24/7 Petitioners
c/o Laura Lima Nishida
SUNSCAD President

Dear Laura,

Thank you for forwarding the petition from students regarding Fall 2021 24/7 access to campus.

NSCAD students belong to a community that includes faculty, instructors and staff – people who intimately know and appreciate the value of unfettered studio access (during normal conditions) to support creative practice.

These same people are individually and collectively responsible for managing risks to students’ and the broader community’s health and safety. This responsibility is our first and foremost priority and will remain so as we continue to adapt to the real and significant dangers of the pandemic’s fourth wave, which is a growing concern given the current community spread of COVID. Let’s be clear – we are still not living with normal conditions.

As you know, from March 2020 and ongoing, NSCAD has worked hard to respond effectively, appropriately and diligently to the pandemic including convening a biweekly meeting of a COVID-19 committee of campus stakeholders. This committee includes two members from SUNSCAD. At these meetings, we discuss the protocols for responding to the pandemic in order to ensure that the campus environment is and remains safe.

As part of these meetings, we have discussed what is necessary to keep the campus accessible during the day, for both credit and non-credit programming. This includes masks, hand washing, cleaning protocols, safe distancing, ventilation and other measures. For a safe return to campus, we have also added proof of vaccination and/or twice weekly negative rapid testing.  Please be assured that we have also discussed the possibility of opening the campus for 24 hours a day and continue to review our protocols.

These protocols require the vigilance of all students, staff and faculty, especially studio technicians, as well as our cleaning staff and security.

The change in hours is not without reason. All of the measures that we have in place work together so that we are able to return to in-person learning and practice. The current restricted access is one of these necessary measures. NSCAD has restricted access from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. in order to ensure that (a) facilities can be cleaned and returned to order for classes; (b) safety can be assured (NSCAD has had more incidents/minor accidents in the first 6 weeks of term than usual); and (c) students do not solely rely on the campus studio facilities, as the prospect of returning to quarantine continues to exist.

The university is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of all; the last few weeks have been challenging for university staff in monitoring and reminding students of the protocols.  We have committed to continually reviewing our protocols and to adapt to the evolving requirements of the pandemic. Should we be in a position to extend the hours of access, we will bring this issue to the COVID-19 committee for discussion.

We all want very much for everyone to return to normal routines; however, we are not yet post-pandemic. As long as someone in our city has the virus, breakouts can and will occur without stringent controls to contain them. And the risk of jumping too quickly is a risk to all.

In gratitude,

Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff
Vice-President (Academic & Research) and Provost
NSCAD University