COVID-19 Response

Posted: Jan 4, 2021 5:26 AM   |  Updated: Apr 23, 2021 4:07 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

Our "new normal for now"

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until there is a widely distributed vaccine and the majority of the population is immunized. We anticipate some COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place at the start of the 2021/22 academic year. We also know the situation will continue to be fluid and we will adapt as we are able.


COVID-19 response teams

Over the summer and fall of 2020, 2 dedicated groups, the Relaunch Coordination Team and the Relaunch Advisory Committee, worked with stakeholders across NAIT to put in place the necessary safety measures and processes to enable limited activity to safely take place on our campuses. 

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. 

These groups will also lay the foundation for our eventual safe return to campus.

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 for our eventual return to campus.

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

  • John O'Keeffe, Risk Management Services (Chair)
  • 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
  • Kendra Parker, Marketing and Communications
  • Gail Kelly, Government Relations
  • Chris Chelmick, NAITSA

Coordinated Response Team

The role of the team, which was initially established to manage cases of COVID-19 impacting our campuses, has expanded to also include 

  • coordinating action in response to revised government direction
  • ensuring operational decisions in response to COVID-19 align with the vision, principles, and objectives set by Executive
  • supporting strategic planning for our eventual return to campus

Mandate

As outlined in its mandate, the team will

  • Provide reporting on confirmed COVID-19 cases and meaningful exposure risks within the NAIT community
  • Provide a mechanism for identifying linked cases / clusters of COVID-19 on campus, based on anonymized case details provided by Health Services
  • Coordinate closure / reopening and cleaning in response to COVID-19 outbreaks on campus
  • Support and advise Executive Management Committee (EMC) on options in the event of a Level 3 or Level 4 incident, and enact any decisions made by that group
  • Maintain the COVID-19 case dashboard on nait.ca reporting a summary of current information to the NAIT community
  • Notify Alberta Health Services and other government agencies of linked cases / clusters of COVID-19 on campus, as required
  • Support whole-of-NAIT communication required due to COVID-19 cases in the NAIT community and coordinate the messaging that supports the institute’s overall COVID-19 response, including maintaining the COVID-19 microsite
  • Ensure operational decisions in response to COVID-19 align with the vision, principles, and objectives set by EMC
  • Provide information to EMC to enable reporting to the board of directors on the presence of and response to COVID-19 cases on campus
  • Coordinate with the business units to minimize disruptions caused by COVID-19 response activities
  • Identify and support the resolution of policy issues resulting from COVID-19 
  • Serve as a mechanism for coordination of resources and actions required in response to COVID-19 
  • Recommend revisions to NAIT’s Rapid Response Framework and COVID-19 response strategy in response to updated requirements and/or guidance from government and regulatory bodies
  • Recommend operational changes to business areas based on analysis of COVID-19 cases on campus and their impacts on institutional priorities
  • Support NAIT departmental interactions with Authority(s) Having Jurisdiction regarding inquiries, directions, inspections, and/or recommendations as they relate to COVID-19
  • Support strategic planning for return to campus

Membership

Core members are:

  • Claire Mechan, Risk and Emergency Services (Director of the CRT)
  • Jenelle King, Health Services (Administrative Assistant for the CRT)
  • Kimberly Lausch, Health Services
  • Dan Daerendinger, Health and Safety Services
  • Colleen Caldwell, Human Resources
  • Thomas Harding, Student Progression and Registrar
  • Bill Grewal, Facilities Management and Development
  • Katie McLaughlin, Marketing and Communications
  • Ian Merpaw, Marketing and Communications

Advisory members:

  • Brandon Amirie, General Counsel
  • Alexandra Armstrong, JR Shaw School of Business
  • Trevor Maslyk, School of Applied Sciences and Technology
  • Kerri Oshust, School of Health and Life Sciences
  • Greg Robertson, School of Skilled Trades
  • Joanne McNab, Continuing Education
  • Owen Tock, Supply Chain Management
  • Steve Bruns, Finance
  • Peter Laffin, Industry Solutions
  • Sarah Stevenson Tweddle, Industry Solutions
  • Gloria Booth, Retail and Ancillary Services
  • Wendy Marusin, Polytechnic Education and Student Success
  • Mario Poier, Information and Technology Services
  • Darrin Kirk, NAIT Protective Services

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. This continues to serve as a key reference document for the work of the COVID-19 Advisory Committee and Coordinated Response Team.

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

Planning principles

These principles will be used to guide decision-making and will be applied to short- to medium-term relaunch decisions, as well as decisions leaders will make over time as we contemplate our longer-term future.

  1. We will place the health and well-being of students, staff, and industry partners above all other considerations.

  2. NAIT will build back better 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) health officials.

  4. Decisions regarding the appropriate blend of virtual and physical learning will be driven by programs, taking into account quality and fairness across all student demographics.

  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, or our broader path to the future.

  6. NAIT will cooperate with peer institutions to explore opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing to enhance efficiency and maintain quality.

  7. NAIT services will be maximized to the extent possible.

  8. NAIT’s culture has and will continue to change. Staff will be encouraged to say goodbye to certain past approaches that are no longer applicable and celebrate new approaches – and our next chapter.

  9. NAIT will balance costs with opportunities, with a view to financial sustainability. We will use our existing resources in different ways to achieve our objectives, strategically adding additional resources as critical needs are identified.

  10. Decisions will be guided by research and best practice, as well as our promises to students, staff, industry and Alberta.

  11. NAIT will take an approach of continuous improvement.

  12. 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.

  13. Our approach to communication must create confidence in our staff, students and stakeholders; we will lean on trust as 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.

Planning assumptions

A guide to 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. Some form of physical distancing, as mandated by local health authorities, will remain in effect at of the start of the fall term.

  2. NAIT will prepare for a return to our facilities using a conservative, risk-informed, staged process based on what is best for NAIT, and in alignment with government direction.  We will work to limit the number of times we need to “turn the dial” up or down, with a goal of “relaunching once.”

  3. Decisions may need to be revisited if and when health related restrictions or guidelines change.

  4. 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 that may not be residing close to our campuses.

  5. The pandemic will have negative impacts on most enrolment (credit and non-credit) categories.

  6. Most revenue streams, including through ancillary operations, will be negatively affected.

  7. All categories of staff will be challenged by the changes and limitations forced by the pandemic and will need expanded supports.

  8. Economies will be significantly weakened, and unemployment will be high across the province and country.

  9. Students and industry partners will experience elevated financial and other challenges and will seek financial supports and other accommodations from NAIT and/or governments.

  10. The provincial government will not be in a position to provide emergency financial assistance directly to NAIT.

  11. 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 related costs.

  12. NAIT values and will pursue both digital and physical infrastructure supports and recognizes governments will provide financial incentive programs to support infrastructure renewal.

  13. NAIT must continue to drive toward the expenditure reductions mandated by the provincial government.

  14. NAIT will continue to implement, build on and accelerate planned transformation initiatives.

  15. We recognize not all staff will be able to return to work due to personal/family circumstances.

  16. NAIT supports and will enable flexible work arrangements and employee choice, including options for working from home.

  17. The strength of our partnerships with NASA, AUPE and NAITSA will be crucial in the path forward.