As Toronto moves to Stage 3, the gradual reopening of our campuses will continue to be guided by public health and government guidelines. Within those guidelines, the goal is to limit use of campus facilities to the most critical activities for students, faculty and staff in ways that put the health and safety of our community first.
A select number of courses have been approved for in-person activities in the Fall Term, and we anticipate that most of our employees will continue to work remotely for the duration of the Fall Term and into the Winter term.
Some faculty and staff will be required to return to campus to support our core teaching and research mission, or to deliver required on site services for our students and other members of the York community.
As the gradual phased campus re-opening continues, here are 10 ways that York is keeping the University safe and healthy for those who are approved to be on campus.
1. Return to Campus Website:
Visit the dedicated Better Together: Phased Return to Campus website on a regular basis. Stay up to date with the latest information. Read the community updates, FAQs and check your email for new information and resources that can help you manage through these challenging times, including mental health services and useful tips on working remotely.
For those who have been approved to be on campus this September, we will provide regular campus status information including; academic and research programs that have been approved to be on campus; etc.; services available (food, parking, transportation, IT, administrative services, student support); how to navigate around campus (what is open/what is closed); and the various processes and procedures in place to ensure your health & safety and where to find important information such as forms, checklists, contact information and relevant guidelines/policies.
2. Awareness and Education
As departments and faculties make their plans for a gradual phased return to York’s campuses, health and safety guidelines and risk assessment are being used to develop safe work plans and procedures in areas that will be occupied (e.g., classrooms, washrooms, residence spaces, offices, research/lab spaces, studios and public areas within York campuses). Those employees who need to return to campus as approved by their department/faculty will need to complete Return to Campus COVID-19 Training
3. Campus Access Screening
Staff and faculty approved to return to campus (including on an intermittent or gradual basis) will be asked by their managers (or point person) to complete the COVID-19 Screening Checklist, prior to coming on campus to help reduce the potential risks of COVID-19 to help ensure the safety and well-being of our community.
4. Physical Distancing
Physical distancing remains one of the most effective strategies in reducing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, several spacing initiatives are being implemented, including setting up classrooms so that students can sit at least two metres apart from one another and making changes within residences and co-curricular spaces to allow for increased physical distancing. Dedicated entrances and exits are being established to encourage a one-way flow of traffic and limit the number of people allowed in a space.
York is conducting assessments across campuses to ensure that adequate physical distancing measures are in place. In high traffic areas where maintaining a two-metre distance from others is not always possible, or may be challenging, the University is installing appropriate protective measures such as Plexiglass barriers.
New signage is being placed across our campuses to encourage and remind everyone to practise physical distancing, ensure proper hand hygiene and other safety measures. There are also signs indicating maximum occupancy in meeting rooms and elevators, and signs that direct the flow of foot traffic.
7. Sanitizing Stations
Proper handwashing helps prevent the transfer of the COVID-19 virus from surface to surface, and from contaminated surfaces or materials to the hands and subsequently to other parts of the body – particularly the eyes, nose, and mouth. In addition, the University is installing 9 new high-density foot pedal hand sanitizer stations. Each dispenser will be installed at an accessible height in high-traffic locations across our campuses so that everyone can easily sanitize their hands where handwashing is not possible.
8. Increased Cleaning and Disinfecting
Libraries and classrooms that are open will be cleaned daily, Monday to Friday. Surfaces such as elevator buttons and main building entrance doors handles will be disinfected twice a day. Residences will also receive increased levels of cleaning and sanitizing.
9. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
All employees working on campus are required to follow existing PPE requirements as part of their regular job duties. Any additional PPE (e.g., gloves, surgical masks) requirements due to COVID-19 are established by area-specific risk assessments.
Employees conducting assigned work where a risk assessment determines that additional personal protective equipment may be required will be provided with the appropriate PPE.
10. Non-Medical Mouth and Nose Coverings
In addition to hand hygiene and physical distancing, experts at the World Health Organization, Health Canada and Public Health Ontario recommend wearing a non-medical mouth and nose covering to help reduce the spread of the virus to others.
The wearing of non-medical mouth and nose coverings is mandatory at York University, where maintaining two-metre physical distancing is not possible or predictable in common and shared spaces within buildings.
All employees and students will be supplied with two washable York branded non-medical mouth and nose coverings free of charge when returning to campus. Non-medical mouth and nose coverings are not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The government of Canada has launched a new COVID Alert app with a goal to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks. For more information, please visit the government of Canada’s website.
All these health and safety measures will only be truly effective if everyone does their individual and collective parts to ensure the safety of our community.