COVID-19 Response


Posted: Jan 4, 2021 5:26 AM   |  Updated: Nov 15, 2021 2:15 PM

Safety is our first priority

As always, our priority is keeping the NAIT community healthy and safe.

Our commitment is to continue to provide the foundation for outstanding careers while meeting the polytechnic needs of the province, in accordance with provincial directives and guidelines. We will continue to respond as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, ensuring we remain relevant as we deliver on our promises to staff, students, industry and Alberta.

  • Learn about the groups leading NAIT's ongoing response to the pandemic
  • View the latest updates on NAIT's response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Fall transition

We look forward to safely welcoming more members of the NAIT community to campus. This fall will be a time of transition to a more vibrant campus life.

Our approach to fall education and service delivery builds on what we’ve learned about your preferences and NAIT’s ability to blend virtual and physical approaches in ways that provide strong supports. Students will be able to access more services on campus, with many virtual options remaining to allow for enhanced choice and flexibility. 

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 has remained low on NAIT’s campuses throughout the pandemic and we continue to take steps to minimize this risk and to support a safe and healthy fall term.


COVID-19 response teams

As of Feb. 1, 2021, the ongoing work of facilitating timely, appropriate and consistent action in response to COVID-19 is being led by Risk Management Services through an advisory group of senior leaders and an operational team. 

COVID-19 Advisory Committee

The committee, made up of senior leaders, provides continued oversight of NAIT’s coordinated response to COVID-19 and will support the strategic planning necessary as we introduce more in-person activity on our campuses.

Mandate

As outlined in its mandate, the team will

  • enable the Coordinated Response Team (CRT) to facilitate timely, appropriate and consistent action in response to cases of COVID-19 on campus
  • ensure that each business unit represented—including their respective reporting elements—provides appropriate situational awareness and resource status information to the CRT in order to enable a coordinated whole-of-NAIT response to COVID-19
  • identify, coordinate, and enable solutions and actions across all business units that are in the best interest of the whole-of-NAIT as identified in the vision, principles, and objectives set out by Executive Management Committee (EMC)
  • ensure whole-of-NAIT coordination of actions taken by the institution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their alignment with the principles defined by EMC 
  • support the strategic planning for to return to campus

Membership

  • Andy Weiler, Director, Pandemic Response (Chair)
  • John O'Keeffe, Risk Management Services 
  • Jenelle King, Health Services (Administrative Assistant for the committee)
  • Jodi Edmunds, Human Resources
  • alison lewis, Polytechnic Education and Student Success
  • Jennifer Crothers, Student Progression and Registrar
  • Dennis Sheppard, JR Shaw School of Business
  • Denise MacIver, School of Health and Life Sciences
  • Stewart Cook, School of Applied Science and Technology
  • Matthew Lindberg, School of Skilled Trades
  • Brock Olive, Continuing Education
  • Carole Laplante, Finance and Corporate Services
  • Kevin Gue, Facilities Management and Development
  • Daryl Allenby, Information and Technology Services
  • Heather Murray, General Counsel
  • Robyn Khunkun, Advancement
  • Jelena Bajic, Industry Solutions
  • Sherri Krastel, Marketing and Communications
  • Gail Kelly, Government Relations
  • Chris Chelmick, NAITSA

Coordinated Response Team

In September 2020, the Coordinated Response Team (CRT) was tasked with facilitating timely, appropriate and consistent action in response to cases of COVID-19 at NAIT. The responsibilities of this team have been expanded to support the safe increase of activity on campus as part of the fall 2021 transition.

The CRT is divided into 2 sub teams or working groups:

  • The Case Management & Response Team (CMRT)
  • The Advanced Planning & Coordination Team (APCT)

Both sub teams will have assigned responsibilities while still collaborating on coordinated efforts within NAIT in support of the fall 2021 transition.

Mandate

As outlined in its mandate, the priorities fo the team team are:

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of staff, students, tenants, and on-campus stakeholders. 
  2. Coordinating action in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campuses. 
  3. Clear, coordinated, and consistent communication related to COVID-19 cases impacting the NAIT Community and changes to NAIT’s COVID-19 response. 
  4. Supporting NAIT’s COVID-19 reporting obligations to government agencies. 
  5. Coordinating action in response to revised direction from government and regulatory bodies. 
  6. Clear, coordinated, and consistent communication related to fall 2021 transition planning for increased activity on campus. 
  7. Coordinating action for safe increased activity on campus during the fall 2021 transition. 

Membership

Core members of the CRT are:

  • Claire Mechan, Emergency Management and Business Continuity (Director of the CRT)
  • Tina Roasaasen, Risk Management Services (Administrative Assistant for the CRT)
  • Jenelle King, Health Services (Administrative Assistant for the CRT)
  • Kim Lausch, Health Services
  • Lindsay Goodberry, Emergency Management and Business Continuity
  • Dan Daerendinger, Health and Safety Services
  • Colleen Caldwell, Human Resources
  • Amy Gunter, Human Resources
  • Bill Grewal, Facilities Management and Development
  • Bekki Hall, Marketing and Communications
  • Ian Merpaw, Marketing and Communications
  • Tracy Waritsky, Conference & Events
  • Lisa Saxby, Student Progression
  • Neha Sharma, JR Shaw School of Business
  • Kathie Eberhart , Information and Technology Services
  • Jacque McLeod, Campus Planning 
  • Gloria Booth, Retail and Ancillary Services 
  • Rick Bennett, Retail and Ancillary Services 
  • Neda Mitchell, Continuing Education and Industry Solutions
  • Chris Martens,  Supply Chain Management 
  • Wendy Marusin, Polytechnic Education and Student Success
  • Louise Condra, Polytechnic Education and Student Success

Advisory members of the CRT are:

  • Steve Bruns, Financial Services 
  • Brandon Amirie, General Counsel Services 
  • Darrin Kirk, Protective Services 
  • Wendoline Mondragon, Quality Assurance 
  • Nicole Cebuliak, Risk Assurance

 


Planning principles and assumptions

In May 2020, NAIT’s Executive developed Turning the Dial, which outlined how NAIT would approach the relaunching of limited activities on our campuses in summer and fall 2020. The document was renewed in June 2021 to support NAIT’s paced and carefully staged fall transition as Alberta re-opens services and activities in the context of increasing vaccinations.

The following principles and assumptions guided the polytechnic’s relaunch efforts. 

Planning principles

We have created a set of principles to guide decision making. These principles represent what we believe. We must apply our principles to our short- to medium-term transition decisions, recognizing they also apply to decisions we will make over time as we contemplate our long-term future.

  1. We will place the health, safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and industry partners above all other considerations.
  2. NAIT will continue to build back better, aligned with our Shining a light on the road we’re on vision, as we capitalize on lessons learned to enhance operations, sustainability and service delivery.
  3. All decisions will be aligned with directives and guidelines given by provincial and federal public health officials and what best serves our staff, students and industry partners.
  4. Decisions regarding the appropriate blend of virtual and physical learning will be driven by programs, considering quality and fairness across all student demographics, and our continued learning about changing student preferences.
  5. NAIT will provide as much certainty as possible to students, staff and industry partners by making and communicating decisions as early as possible, whether these decisions are related to our response to COVID[1]19, or our broader path to the future.
  6. NAIT support services, which are both on campus and virtual, will align with on-campus and distributed activities.
  7. NAIT will cooperate with peer institutions to explore opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing to enhance efficiency and maintain quality.
  8. NAIT’s culture has and will continue to change. Staff will be encouraged to say goodbye to past approaches that are no longer applicable and celebrate new approaches and our next chapter.
  9. We will balance costs with opportunities, with a view to the continued sustainability of NAIT. We will use our existing resources in different ways to achieve our objectives, strategically adding additional resources or using partners to support critical needs are identified.
  10. Decisions will be guided by research and best practice, as well as our promises to learners, staff, industry and Alberta.
  11. NAIT will take the opportunities and lessons learned throughout the pandemic and use them in our efforts for continuous improvement.
  12. Academic decisions will be informed by impacts to student progression and related considerations such as student funding and the requirements of external bodies such as regulating bodies, accrediting bodies and Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT).
  13. Our approach to communication will continue to be timely and open to maintain confidence in our staff, students and stakeholders; we will continue to build relationships of trust. This is one of our core attributes.
  14. Leaders at all levels will be empowered to make decisions related to their business areas in line with these principles.
  15. Decisions around work location – virtual, on campus or a blend – will focus on the needs of students and our industry partners, be informed by the bona fide operational requirements of the position and the need to maintain or improve standards of service delivery, and, within the context of these things, will endeavour to consider staff preferences.

Planning assumptions

We have created a set of assumptions to guide decision making. These assumptions represent our current understanding of the context of COVID-19. Our assumptions will evolve as Alberta’s context evolves and as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Most of the general public will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in mid to late summer of 2021.
  2. COVID-19 will remain a hazard in the workplace through the end of the 2021/22 academic year, and perhaps beyond. Some form of public health guidance may remain in effect at the start of the Fall Term.
  3. NAIT will prepare for a return to our facility using a conservative, risk-informed, staged process based on what is best for NAIT, and in alignment with government direction, and our strategic direction. We will work to limit the number of times we need to “turn the dial” up or down, with a goal of becoming efficient and effective in managing through uncertainty.
  4. Decisions may need to be revisited if and when health-related restrictions or guidelines change.
  5. NAIT will be heavily challenged to shift the mode of delivery mid-way through a semester, therefore we will look at ways to take advantage of any reduction in public health restrictions as they occur, keeping in mind the impacts on students, particularly those who may not be residing close to our campuses.
  6. The pandemic may continue to have negative impacts on some enrolment, particularly international student enrolment.
  7. Most revenue streams, including through ancillary operations, will continue to be negatively affected.
  8. All categories of staff will be challenged by the changes and limitations forced by the pandemic and will need expanded supports. Further, staff will adjust to our new normal at different rates, with some feeling more comfortable than others.
  9. Economies will begin to recover.
  10. Students and industry partners who continue to experience elevated financial and other challenges and will seek financial supports and other accommodations from NAIT and/or governments.
  11. The provincial government will not be in a position to provide emergency financial assistance directly to NAIT.
  12. Virtual and physical approaches to education have associated costs. NAIT’s approach to combining technology-enhanced with traditional approaches will not result in any ability to reduce tuition, fees, or other related costs/service fees.
  13. As NAIT increases technology-enhanced education, we will need to assess increased program expenses to determine impacts to programs fees and/or exceptional fee increases.
  14. NAIT values and will pursue both digital and physical infrastructure supports and recognize governments will provide financial incentive programs to support infrastructure renewal.
  15. NAIT must continue to drive toward the expenditure reductions and revenue diversification mandated by the provincial government to support the sustainability of the organization.
  16. NAIT will continue to implement, build on and accelerate planned transformation initiatives.
  17. We recognize not all staff will be able to return to work due to personal/family circumstances. Strategic policies and approaches, including future workplace policies and our approach to polytechnic education will be solidified prior to the start of the 2021/22 academic year.
  18. We recognize that some staff will have individual circumstances (personal/family) that might require additional supports or considerations when planning their return to work on campus, and we will work with them to support their successful transition back to the workplace.
  19. NAIT supports and will enable flexible work arrangements where business outcomes allow.
  20. Enabling flexible work arrangements will require that staff and leaders make accommodations that anticipate our space, and our technology will require additional investment beyond the 2021/22 academic year to match the demands of hybrid work, meetings and collaboration.
  21. Leaders will adopt management practices that enable flexible work arrangements which protect institutional systems and data.
  22. The strength of our partnerships with NASA, AUPE and NAITSA will be crucial in the path forward.