Basic principles to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus
Following basic principles can help keep students, teachers, and staff safe at school and help stop the spread of this disease. Recommendations for healthy schools are:
- Sick students, teachers and other staff should not come to school.
- Enforce regular hand washing with water and soap or hand sanitizer and, at a minimum, daily disinfection and cleaning of campus surfaces.
- Promote physical distancing, encouraging all instructors, administrators, students and guests to remain at least 6-feet apart whenever possible.
Know the latest facts
Understand basic information COVID-19, including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. Stay informed about COVID-19 through the Government of Canada health agencies. Ontario provincial and municipal public health resources are also a good source of information. Be aware of misinformation that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.
Ensure a safe campus
(See the ‘Checklist” below.)
Update or develop school emergency operations and contingency plans.
Reinforce frequent handwashing, sanitation, and procure needed supplies. Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place hand sanitizers in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.
Clean and disinfect campus facilities, classrooms and washroom areas at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, recreational equipment, door and window handles, teaching and learning aids, etc.).
Implement physical distancing practices that include:
- Staggering the beginning and end of the school day.
- Cancelling assemblies, recreational activities and other events that create crowded conditions.
- When possible, create space for students’ desks to be at least two meters (six feet) apart.
- Placing signage to control the flow of traffic within the campus.
Establish procedures if students or staff become unwell
Symptomatic individuals cannot be permitted on the premises. Plan ahead with local health authorities, campus health staff and update emergency contact lists. Ensure a process for consulting with health care providers and health authorities wherever possible. Students and staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility depending on the situation or sent home. Share procedures with staff and students ahead of time.
Promote information sharing
Coordinate and follow guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Share known information with staff and students, providing updated information on the disease situation, including prevention and control efforts on campus. Utilize staff and student committees and other mechanisms to promote information sharing. Also be sure to address student questions and concerns, including through the development of informational materials such as posters which can be placed on notice boards, in restrooms, and other central locations.
Engage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control on campus
Make sure to listen to students’ concerns and answer their questions.
Emphasize what students can do to keep themselves and others safe.
Introduce the concept of physical distancing to students.
Focus on good health behaviors, such as washing hands. Encourage students to prevent and address stigma aimed at those struggling with the pandemic, including towards those who contract COVID-19 or who seek mental health supports.
Adapt college policies where appropriate
Develop clear policies for when and how students are expected to complete their programs online and when a student must complete a program in-person. This policy should assess campus programs and identify in-person training only for components that cannot be completed through online delivery. Ensure that students are well informed of the program expectations as they relate to online and in-person delivery, including the need to attend in-person classes when alternative methods are not possible.
Address mental health support needs
Identify and direct staff and students to local mental health resources. Make this information visible and easily accessible at your institution, taking care not to stigmatize mental health. Consider posting relevant material and/or links to the college’s website for individuals to access anonymously.
Contact your landlord to ensure an understanding of their policies and procedures that they have implemented in response to COVID-19. Communicate with your landlord and present them with your campus’ plan to reopen.