COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocol for Academics and In-Person Learning

COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocol for Academics and In-Person Learning

Guidelines for resuming face-to-face educational activities in Quebec university settings

The objective of this document is to highlight the main elements to consider when planning to resume face-to-face educational activities in university settings. We provide details of which of these recommended actions have already been implemented and which ones will come by the official re-opening of the campus. The measures aim to protect all members of our community.

This document is a translation and adaptation of the original resource that was co-created in French by several universities, led by and informed by several publications and tools produced by the Commission for Standards of Equity and Occupational Health and Safety (CNESST), the Robert-Sauvé Research Institute in Occupational Health and Safety (IRSST) and the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). The overall goal is to ensure the resumption or continuation of activities in different sectors under the safest and healthiest conditions possible in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (see list of relevant publications in annex 2).

Scope and limit

This document aims to support the academic community and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to protect the health and safety of all when resuming educational activities in classrooms, laboratories, studios, rehearsal halls etc.

Safety will continue to be our top priority

The university’s top priority is the continuing health and safety of its students, staff, faculty, and visitors. This has meant a phased and controlled return to campus as well as the implementation of prevention measures that meet or exceed the requirements of public health officials, and provincial workplace safety legislation for the whole university community.

For the reduced number of students, instructors and staff who do come to campus during the 2020-21 academic year, things will look and feel quite different.

  • The SAFEGAITER Squad will play an integral role in the preparation for a return to campus and work as a part of the Health & Safety Team. Their role focuses on liaising with the community in regards to COVID-19 sanitary measures as well as providing additional support in disinfecting classrooms and other high traffic areas during the academic day to keep our campus safe for all users.
  • All faculty, librarians, staff, students, and administrators will be expected to do a basic health assessment each day before coming to campus which will be available online and via the SAFEGAITER app. https://working.ubishops.ca/covid-19/
  • They will need to wear a mask in common areas inside buildings, such as hallways, lobbies and other common spaces, restrooms and elevators. Masks in a common area in the Sports Plex and Library Learning Commons are required, even when seated (unless in a location designated specifically for food consumption).
  • They will need to get used to physically distancing themselves from peers and colleagues and not gathering in large groups.
  • They will learn to follow new signs and guides designed to ease traffic flow without creating congestion.
  • They will be required to wash hands frequently and sanitize their work and study areas.
  • They will have to be prepared to self-isolate if they experience any flu-like symptoms.
  • Physical barriers, such as those commonly seen in commercial establishments, may appear in areas where physical distancing is not possible
  • Cleaning staff, including our SAFEGAITER Squad will maintain a rigorous schedule and focus on high touch surfaces especially in classrooms. Co-operation from all end users, including faculty and students is required to support the safety of all and cleaning in a timely manner.

All the above is carefully detailed in a Return to Work Safely Guide which is supported by various public health guidelines and includes resources tailored to our campus. The University’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to regularly coordinate, support, and communicate any updated public health and safety measures for our campus and community throughout the year.

Everyone has a role to play in preventing the transmission of the virus responsible for COVID-19.

Many classes will be delivered remotely

On July 2, 2020, Bishop’s university announced that many classes will be delivered remotely for the Fall 2020 academic term. This decision recognizes the likely presence of the coronavirus for the foreseeable future, including a potential second wave, and the difficulties of physical distancing on our densely populated campus.

Students and instructors who are part of in-person instruction this fall will receive detailed information about required safety measures for which they will be responsible in order to keep everyone safe.

Research activity will continue to expand

In mid-March, after the province decided to close all but essential services, the university closed all its on-campus research.

By the beginning of June, some research groups in health and natural sciences, including their graduate students, were returning to campus for research. Field research that does not involve human participants was relaunched. Each group was required to make a request with a safety plan. By September, we expect our on-campus research activity to be approaching regular levels. More information and for updates, please see the following web link: https://www.ubishops.ca/research-excellence/. Moreover, data collection involving human participants will require additional safety measures and likely will require revised informed consent procedures.

Please also see the following document of Guidelines for the safe resumption of face-to-face research activities in Quebec university settings on MYBU (https://mybu.ubishops.ca/research/Pages/default.aspx) and by contacting the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

By no means does all research take place in a lab. Researchers are highly dependent on libraries and the specialized services performed by librarians. For this reason, as well as to meet the requirements of students, the university’s libraries have developed a plan to provide vital services while maintaining the safety of librarians, library staff and users. Details of the more detailed safety plan in the Library Learning Commons are included in Annex.

Remote work will continue

Since March, faculty and staff have managed their work remotely. To successfully manage health measures this fall, remote work will continue to be the first option for many employees. Faculty and departments that are required to be on campus to successfully do their work will be asked to follow careful return to campus processes that include the enhanced safety protocols described in the current document. Some helpful information can be found on the Bishop’s website. Occupants of shared offices will be required to wear masks if 2 metres physical distancing is not possible or if staggered scheduling is not possible. Plexiglass barriers may be installed where feasible.

General Instructions for the University Community

To minimize the risk of community transmission:

  1. Members of the university community and visitors with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed on campus and will have to isolate themselves.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially when entering and leaving various rooms, after touching frequently touched surfaces, before and after breaks and meals, after going to the bathroom and before smoking. You can also use a hydroalcoholic solution (at least 60% alcohol).
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.
  4. Respect safe respiratory etiquette: cough or sneeze into your bent elbow or use a tissue. Immediately throw away the used tissue in a bin and wash your hands.
  5. Whenever possible, observe the instructions for physical distancing (2 meters outside classrooms, 1.5 meters inside classrooms while sitting). Maintaining a safe distance (2 meters) is required while circulating in hallways, while entering and exiting classrooms and other spaces, while waiting in a line-up, etc.
  6. Face coverings are mandatory when circulating in buildings and when physical distancing is not possible. When all students and instructors have arrived in class and students are seated, both instructors and students may remove their face coverings granted that physical distancing is respected at all times. Instructors may remove their own mask when standing in front of the class, provided they remain 2 meters from students. If an instructor circulates in class to respond to student questions or to provide feedback, for example, the instructor must put a mask on to do so if the 2-meter distance cannot be maintained. A visor or a bandana are not sufficient replacements for a mask, but a visor may be worn in addition to a face covering mask.
  7. When the physical distancing instructions cannot be observed, the wearing of protective equipment (such as a procedure mask and eye protection) is required. Science, music and fine arts labs are good examples. In such cases, room capacities may be maintained at higher occupancies. Please contact healthandsafety@ubishops.ca to evaluate any specific prevention practices that may be required for these areas.
  8. Avoid common greetings that require physical contact, such as handshakes or hugs.
  9. Avoid sharing personal items, such as cell phones, pens, laptops, water bottles or tablets.

Entrance and exit of buildings

The following actions have been and will be taken to enhance safety:

  1. Access points to enter and exit buildings have been designated to help avoid bottlenecks;
  2. Entry and exit times have been staggered in the academic timetable to help reduce bottlenecks in hallways etc.;
  3. Health, safety and physical distance instructions are displayed visibly at the entrance of buildings and in sensitive places (sanitary facilities, main corridors).
  4. The SAFEGAITER Squad will be physically present across campus to remind people of the importance of respecting health and physical distancing instructions.
  5. Hand cleaning stations with hydroalcoholic solution dispensers have been installed at entry points to buildings and classrooms in such a way that their placement does not contribute to crowds or bottlenecks.
  6. All Faculty, staff and students will receive a face covering, free of charge.
  7. A variety of communication media will be used for educational purposes (ex: wearing a face cover, how to put it on, remove it, keep it, where to get it, limit of protection and need to keep distance, etc.).

Traffic (stairs, elevators, corridors, atrium, agora, etc.)

The following actions have been and will be taken to enhance safety:

  1. Building traffic plans have been developed by favoring routes that allow the physical distance instructions to be respected as much as possible.
  2. Preferred routes and traffic directions have been sign-posted throughout all buildings;
  3. Wearing a face covering is required when traveling in hallways, stairs and common areas is mandatory.
  4. Health and physical distance instructions have been visibly posted on stairwell doors, near elevators, in hallways and in common areas.
  5. The SAFEGAITER Squad will remind people of the importance of respecting health and physical distancing instructions.
  6. Hand cleaning stations with hydroalcoholic solution dispensers have been installed in strategic areas in hallways, at elevator entry points etc., in such a way that their placement does not contribute to crowds or bottlenecks
  7. Soap dispensers and paper towels will be replenished regularly in washrooms and contactless garbage cans have been installed in washrooms.
  8. Traffic areas and common areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly, paying particular attention to furniture and objects that are frequently touched (door handles, door surfaces, stair rails, elevator knobs, water fountains, chairs and tables in common areas, etc.).
  9. Access to elevators will be maintained with maximum capacities posted outside each elevator.  The use of stairs will be encouraged for those without mobility challenges. Hand cleaning stations will be installed at the entry to each elevator. When more than one person must enter an elevator at the same time (e.g., an individual accompanying a wheelchair user), face masks are required.

Educational Activities

The following actions have been or will be taken to enhance safety:

  1. Health and physical distance instructions are posted at the door of each classroom.
  2. Classroom capacity has been limited to conform to the 1.5m physical distance guideline. Tables and chairs have been rearranged, where necessary.
  3. The course timetable has been modified to stagger start times to reduce circulation jams in corridors.
  4. Many courses will be offered using hybrid delivery, using a mix of online and face-to-face teaching, to reduce the number of students on campus at one time.
  5. Protective equipment (safety glasses, visors and procedure masks) will be required in courses and activities during which the physical distance instructions cannot be respected and where close and prolonged contact is frequent. Moreover, physical barriers may be installed where feasible.
  6. All community members have and will be reminded to restrict the sharing of equipment (computers, documents, instruments, telephone, etc.). The cleaning and disinfection procedure for equipment that must be shared is displayed near the shared equipment along with the required supplies to do the cleaning.
  7. The SAFEGAITER Squad has been trained to clean and disinfect affected areas in classrooms (tables, counters, chairs, doorknobs, etc.). Cleaning will be completed after each class.
  8. Buildings & Grounds/Health & Safety have communicated to the community how to secure   sanitary equipment.
  9. When all students and instructors have arrived in class and students are seated, both instructors and students may remove their face coverings granted that physical distancing is respected at all times. Instructors may remove their own mask when standing in front of the class, provided they remain 2 meters from students. If an instructor circulates in class to respond to student questions or to provide feedback, for example, the instructor must put a mask on to do so unless 2 meters distancing can be maintained.
  10. A visor is not a sufficient replacement for a face covering, but a visor may be worn in addition to a face covering.

Experiential Learning

Internships/EL experiences, including practica in schools, will be permitted in 2020-21 provided:

  1. Host organizations accept students in COVID situation and can assign a supervisor, have safety protocols in place that follow public health guidelines and the organization has the capacity and supplies to implement the protocols;
  2. Students should not be car pooling in groups of more than two per car (unless they wear procedural masks) to travel to locations. Of course, students will have to abide by all rules imposed by the host organization, even if different and more stringent than those at Bishop’s. This will include public transportation;
  3. Host organizations and students will be asked to sign an acknowledgment form.
  4. If the experiential learning activity includes course-based research, the Student Ethics Committee needs to be consulted with a revised protocol. Informed consent will change.

Office hours with your students

Meeting with students in Faculty offices will be permitted provided:

  1. That the 2-meter physical distancing requirement is respected;
  2. OR, that everyone present wears a procedural mask should the 2-meter distancing not be possible.

NB- The university encourages Faculty to hold virtual office hours as much as possible.

Annex 1: Library – Learning Commons

In order to comply with better social distancing requirements and to ensure the health and safety of users and staff, a number of general building changes need to be made. All persons are expected to follow the rules:

  1. LLC reopens on September 1st, 2020;
  2. LLC hours of operation will be posted on the LLC website and are subject to change;
  3. Face coverings will be worn by all LLC staff members at service desks;
  4. Staff members have access to gloves, cleaning supplies and hydroalcoholic solution (at least 60% alcohol). They are required to wash hands frequently and sanitize their workstations;
  5. Usage of classrooms and meeting rooms is done according to classroom rules (distancing of 1.5 metres, masks worn until all are seated, mask worn by instructor if moving through the room when 2 metres physical distance cannot be maintained);
  6. The main function of the Library Learning Commons, apart from classes taking place in the classrooms, is study;
  7. The number of seats at desks, computer stations, public computer stations, and in the Library Café is reduced to ensure a distance of 2 metres between users. Users can only sit at clearly marked seats with a green checkmark;
  8. All persons must wear a suitable face covering upon entering the building, and all times while circulating in the lobby, in washrooms, stairwells and hallways. Face coverings are also required while seated in common areas in the Library Learning Commons. Exceptions are when alone in closed study rooms, Room LLC 105 when open for individual study, the Reference Reading Room and Mezzanine and in the Café, face coverings may be removed then once seated.
  9. All persons must clean their hands upon entering the building, and frequently clean their hands including before and after using the washrooms, photocopiers, printers, library materials and LLC computer workstations. Hydroalcoholic solution dispensers and sanitizing wipes are made available to users for self-use;
  10. All study rooms and all fishbowls are limited to two users maximum. Users may remove face coverings in study rooms if alone and while seated.
  11. Priority for access to the building and services is reserved to BU and Champlain users;
  12. Food consumption is limited to the Library Café. Drink consumption is permissible while seated in common areas
  13. Users need to follow traffic signage to go to the Library main service desk, the ITS HelpDesk, the Library Café ordering line (long side of the counter) or the Library Café pick-up area (short side of the counter) as well in the other areas of the building. Physical distancing guidelines of 2 metres are to be respected in all lines;
  14. Circulation in the stairways:
    • the Agora stairs are only to be used to go up to the second floor;
    • The southern stairwell near the gender-neutral washrooms can be used to go down from the second floor to the ground floor; and can be used to come up from the basement to the ground floor;
    • The stairwell to the basement behind the Library Café can be used to go up and down from the basement to the ground floor;
  15. Elevator usage is limited to, one person at a time. When a user requires an attendant for elevator usage, face coverings are required. Access to elevators will be prioritized to individuals with mobility issues. LLC staff with trolleys and/or carts may use the elevator as well. Face coverings must be worn;
  16. There will be no events held in the Agora.

Library services:

In order to comply with better physical distancing requirements, some changes need to be made to library services:

  1. Library’s main services desk has been reconfigured to allow for distancing between users and staff members. Plexiglas dividers have been installed;
  2. Online support mechanisms for interactions with the library has been put into place: library’s LibAnswers chat service, online research consultations via Teams or LibAnswers, librarians in Moodle, users using Teams for group work;
  3. Library classroom instruction is offered both in in-person (respecting distance guidelines) and online formats;
  4. All library staff meetings are held on BlueJeans or Teams (including local meetings);
  5. Books and all other circulated materials are quarantined for 72 hours;
  6. There are no print reserves. To create digital reserves, librarians can work with faculty to ensure scanning of items while respecting copyright laws; or help them identify materials already available in digital format.
  7. Materials purchasing continues and digital format when appropriate will be favored;
  8. Library materials browsed or used at the LLC must be put on book trolleys, not reshelved.

Old Library

The same conditions apply as to cleaning, protective measures like face coverings and cleaning supplies, hand washing, quarantining of materials, etc.

  1. The Old Library will be open as a study space for a small number of students (8). Capacity will be based on physical distancing requirements of 2 metres and may be reduced if researchers have requested use of the archival materials. Face coverings will be required in the Old Library, even after sitting down.
  2. Researchers needing to use archival documents from the University, Eastern Townships Resource Center or Anglican Diocese of Quebec must make an appointment. A maximum of two researchers at a time will be accepted;
  3. Consultations can also be done online via Teams, by appointment.

ITS HelpDesk

  1. The ITS HelpDesk is open whenever the LLC is open;
  2. The HelpDesk personnel are available whenever there are classes taking place;
  3. People having an appointment with the HelpDesk when the LLC is closed must use the front door and call 822-9600 ext. 2273.

Writing Centre

  1. The consultation services of the Writing Centre will be offered online using Teams and Microsoft 365, by appointment. See https://www.ubishops.ca/academic-programs/bu-liberal-education-model/english-writing-proficiency/
  2. EWP 099 will be offered in-person and online;
  3. Workshops will be offered online.

ANNEX 2: List of relevant publications from the IRSST, CNESST, MEES for the university sector

Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST)

Commission des normes de l’équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST)

Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)

Workplace Health

Environment and public spaces

Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS)