Fall 2020 plans: Information for faculty and staff

President Rob Summerby-Murray's message to new and current students.

Saint Mary's University understands faculty and staff may have questions from the recent announcement that the delivery of all undergraduate and graduate courses will be online for the Fall 2020 term.  Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section below for answers about issues including sick procedures, access to facilities, research, supports, and services. This section will continue to be updated as more information is available, so please visit this page often.

If you cannot find an answer to your question below, please connect with us by email.


Saint Mary's University has adopted a phased approach plan for return to campus for work, teaching and research. This plan incorporates adapting to government and public health protocols. 

Keeping the safety of students, faculty, staff, and the community as a top priority, the university has continued to work closely with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and Nova Scotia Public Health.

In a safe and structured manner, the university has begun a phased approach for faculty to access their own campus offices. Overall, it will allow faculty to work in their offices, continue research, and prepare for the fall term.

Having a phased approach to access campus ensures compliance with direction from public health and the opportunity to effectively and quickly respond to any unforeseen issues that arise.

At this time, the focus will be providing access to faculty members. Administrative staff will continue to work remotely. Announcements regarding plans for a phased return to campus for staff will take place in the coming weeks.


Access to campus will be staged in phases:

Phase 1: Effective July 27, 2020

Humanities full-time faculty (defined as those with offices in McNally North and McNally Main) can return to their offices on the following schedule:
Odd-numbered offices
MWF 8:30-12:30
TTh 1:30-5:30
Even-numbered offices:
MWF 1:30-5:30
TTh 8:30-12:30
This phase includes faculty from History, English Language and Literature, Modern Languages and Classics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Irish Studies, and Atlantic Canada Studies.

Phase 2: Effective August 4, 2020
All remaining full-time faculty in main buildings (McNally, Atrium, Burke, Science, Sobey) can return to their offices on the following schedule:

Odd-numbered offices
MWF 8:30-12:30
TTh 1:30-5:30
Even-numbered offices:
MWF 1:30-5:30
TTh 8:30-12:30

Phase 3: Effective August 11, 2020

All remaining faculty members, including part-time and those whose offices are in houses (5960 Inglis St., 883 Robie St., the Oaks), can return to their offices on the following schedule:

Odd-numbered offices
MWF 8:30-12:30
TTh 1:30-5:30
Even-numbered offices:
MWF 1:30-5:30
TTh 8:30-12:30 

***NOTE*** Some groups of offices are labelled with both numbers and letters (e.g  AT319A-E). In this case, offices AT319 A, C, and E would be considered 'odd', while AT319 B, D, and F would be 'even'.

The following are protocols that must be followed by faculty to gain access to their offices:

  • Masks must be worn in corridors and other common spaces such as washrooms and stairwells, as per Safe Work Practices established for the university.
  • The university will provide each employee with a branded SMU non-medical mask, on request, to encourage compliance with the university’s protocols for mandatory masks in all public indoor spaces (details to follow).
  • Everyone returning to campus must sign the Returning to Work on Campus document and return to the Occupational Health and Safety office by email. 
  • Access and respect of timing will be on an honour system. Faculty will not be required to sign in, but we ask that each faculty staff keep a record of their time on campus should an issue arise and contact tracing be required. If the trust inherent in an honour system is broken, then this could impact everyone’s access.
  • Faculty must only work in their own office/corridor and take the most direct route to enter or leave the building.
  • Faculty must use the nearest available washroom.
  • Faculty can also access the C-Store, but we ask that this be at most one trip per day.
  • Offices will be cleaned once a week on a rotating schedule. Most offices are already cleaned in the evening. If faculty decide to stay in their offices while it’s being cleaned, they must wear a mask. Custodial staff working in an office while other employees are present will wear a mask. Washrooms in each area will be cleaned once a day. Touch points, such as office doorknobs, will be cleaned twice a day. Faculty will be responsible to wipe off keyboards and phones, etc., within their own offices.
  • Research activities that take place in laboratories or other spaces must still be approved through the Return to Research process. 


For faculty and staff who are facing health and well-being challenges, we encourage eligible members to use the support available to you through your benefits. 

Professional counseling and other supports are available to staff and their family members through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). For medical concerns, Best Doctors is a confidential service that is easily accessible to gain the right diagnosis and treatment. 


Employees who are ill follow normal sick leave procedures. 

In compliance with Province of Nova Scotia directives responding to COVID-19, Saint Mary’s University does not require a doctor note for employees who are unable to work due to illness. 

 If you have questions about remote working, sick leave procedures and caring responsibilities, please visit the Human Resources page. 

ITSS is available to help you with service requests, web-based online meetings, online course delivery, and setting up your laptop/computer for the virtual campus. Learn more. 

With faculty and staff working remotely, everyone must take steps to secure the university's systems, including financial and personal data. We offer tips to keep your devices and networks safe.

SECOND PHASE of implementing the Return to Research process

Starting Friday, June 19, applications will be accepted following the process outlined here for research activities falling into this category:

  • research that requires specialized facilities available only on the Saint Mary’s University campus (with particular priority for campus laboratory facilities that have been shut down since March 23).

In addition, applications will continue to be accepted for research activities falling into one of the two categories previously announced for the First Phase on May 25:

  • research related directly to COVID-19 issues
  • field research

Only applications for research activities falling into these identified First or Second Phase categories will be able to be reviewed at this time.

For more information on the phased approach for recovery, please visit the Return to Research page.

The Studio for Teaching and Learning offers information and services to help faculty transition the course delivery and teaching to online delivery. For questions, virtual hours and help with course planning, please go to the Studio’s page. 

Additional software needs and support can be requested through ITSS Help Desk. In addition, software training is available through the Software & Application Support Centre in the Studio for Teaching and Learning. All faculty have full remote access to the following:  


For more information, including training sessions and support, please refer to the?Brightspace page. 

The Studio is hosting a series of four workshops to help faculty and instructors prepare for online instruction for the Fall 2020 Term.  

Office 365 

For information including how to access the software or help, please refer to the Office 365 page. 

Campus services related to academic delivery and success have successful transitioned to virtual operations and can be contacted by email and phone. Contact information is available at smu.ca.  These include but are not limited to:  

Studio for Teaching & Learning (including the Writing Centre) 

The Studio for Teaching and Learning offers information and services to help faculty, students, and staff navigate the transition to working and studying in a virtual university environment. For questions, virtual hours and help with course planning, please go to the Studio’s page. 

Patrick Power Library 

While you can't visit the Patrick Power Library in person, we are still open and offering services online through alternative methods of instruction and supports. For questions, virtual hours and help with course planning, please go to the library’s page. 

Fred Smithers Centre 

Our staff is available to help faculty with student accommodations for online classes, tests, and final exams during virtual operations. If a student has contacted you directly about accommodations, please contact us by email to answer your questions. You can also call the following staff for assistance: 

  • Katherine Heim, Exam Assistant: 902-440-9573
  • Kim Penny, Accessibility Resource Facilitator: 902-220-7785

The Government of Canada announced travel restriction exceptions that apply to faculty travel to Canada. Faculty who applied for permanent residence and were approved before March 16, 2020, can be considered for entry back into Canada as "essential travel." 

Under these circumstances, faculty will be subject to health screening before travel. Additionally, they will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. 

Learn more about university travel and/or travel restriction exceptions. 

There is no domestic and international travel allowed for university purposes until further notice.  

This includes any travel-related activity for research, conferences, professional development, and collaborations. We understand this may present challenges. However, we encourage faculty to explore virtually feasible options to continue research and collaboration opportunities. 

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