COVID-19 Update: How U of G Is Preparing for Your Safe Return

Posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2021



COVID-19 Update: June 3, 2021

The following updates are provided by the Return-to-Campuses steering committee.

We're looking forward to the return of the vibrant campus life U of G is known for. To help get us there, we're taking important steps to create safe learning and working environments.

Plans are well under way to start welcoming students, faculty and staff back to our campuses and facilities. As we put those plans into action, we'll continue to follow the guidance of Public Health and directives from the province. We'll be proactive and put the safety of our community first. 

We will share these plans and updates through COVID-19 updates sent to your U of G inbox, posted on the intranet and added to our COVID-19 website.

Here are some of the most important ways we're helping keep each other safe. Download the How U of G Is Preparing for Your Safe Return accessible PDF.


Access - Since March, U of G has hosted a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the University Centre. The community clinic will wrap up later this summer so we can prepare the UC for students' return. This fall, COVID-19 vaccinations will be available at our Guelph campus for students, faculty and staff. We'll also facilitate vaccinations for our international students who may have been vaccinated out of country. 

In a recent survey, residence applicants were invited to indicate whether they plan to get vaccinated. Of those who responded, 98 per cent said yes.

We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to pre-register now and get vaccinated as appointments become available.

Education - Starting this spring, our #GryphonsGetVaccinated campaign will provide accurate info, dispel myths and help our community feel confident in getting vaccinated. We'll provide you with information to help you talk to people who are hesitant about getting vaccinated and how you can support those you care about.

Safe Spaces

Ventilation and air filtration - Following guidance from Health Canada and our local Public Health unit, U of G is adjusting mechanical systems to ensure they continue running at high-quality standards. We're maximizing the flow of outside air into our ventilation systems to optimize the inside environment. This summer, we're conducting audits of classrooms to assess air flow.

NEW: Classroom capacity - We're committed to creating safe learning spaces. This fall, to help reduce classroom densities, face-to-face course sections will have an enrolment cap of 250 students. This cap will not affect students' ability to enrol in courses.

Physical distancing - We're staying safely apart, together. Throughout the University, signs have been posted to help everyone maintain distance based on Public Health guidelines, clarify traffic flow and indicate room capacities. Guidelines are available for maintaining distance and staying safe in labs, study spaces and workspaces. U of G's Environmental Health and Safety department has COVID-19 guidance for a number of specific work environments.

Based on information from Public Health, we expect that by September physical distancing requirements will be reduced.

Enhanced cleaning - We're keeping things clean. High-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas are cleaned frequently. Hand sanitizer stations are available across campus. In classrooms and office spaces, supplies are on-hand to disinfect shared equipment. Please clean shared spaces before using them.

Personal safety

COVID testing - Students, faculty and staff experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been identified as high-risk contacts can be tested on-campus by appointment at Student Health Services. 

Call centre - A new U of G COVID-19 call centre is launching soon to help support those with a positive test result and to answer COVID-19 questions and concerns. If you test positive for COVID-19, contact the call centre for help navigating next steps.

Masks and PPE - In general, if you're on campus, you're required to wear a mask. Some specific exceptions apply, such as when eating or drinking, exercising at the Athletics Centre or when outdoors and able to stay 2 metres apart. Rules are in place for additional personal protective equipment (e.g., goggles, medical masks) based on the work or learning environment.

COVID-19 Safety Training - All students, faculty and staff are required to complete U of G's COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Awareness Training course via CourseLink before coming to campus. The training helps you become comfortable with the steps you need to take to keep yourself and others safe.

Flexible work - Operational plans for staff returning to our facilities may include temporary hybrid arrangements in which staff work on-site some days and remotely on others. In our discussions on the nature of the post-COVID workplace, flexible work arrangements will invariably be part of the discussion.

Mental well-being - The pandemic has been exhausting. Take care of your mental health and well-being by checking out resources on our Gryphon Family Portal.

Health Monitoring

Wastewater testing - Since October 2020, U of G researchers have been sampling wastewater from U of G on-campus residences. This sampling looks for RNA fragments of the COVID-19 virus. This testing can give us information before people show symptoms of COVID-19 so we can respond appropriately. This fall, sampling will be conducted in all student residences, seven days a week.

Daily screening - Before coming to U of G facilities, students, staff, faculty and visitors must complete the U of G COVID-19 Screening Form and follow its direction. The screening form will indicate whether an individual is cleared to come to campus or not.

Rapid testing - Last winter, Student Health Services participated in the Ministry of Health's Employer Antigen Screening pilot program to assess whether a specified rapid test would be useful to the University as a screening tool for asymptomatic students and employees. A working group is currently considering the use of rapid testing for students, faculty and staff this fall. 

Self-declaration and safe returns - U of G has self-declaration forms that students, faculty and staff are required to complete when they test positive for COVID-19 or are self-isolating. After completing the form, community members will be connected with supports from Student Health Services or Occupational Health and Wellness. 

Once a person is cleared to return to campus, these departments will help with planning for the individual's safe return to the classroom or workspace.

Managing positive cases and outbreaks - Our call centre and self-declaration forms help the University manage positive COVID-19 cases on campus and prevent outbreaks. The University's positive case and outbreak protocol includes actions the University will take, in collaboration with Public Health, to help reduce the risk to others in our community.

Frameworks and Guidelines

Research - University of Guelph research activities follow frameworks and guidelines that help maintain our research efforts while protecting our research community. Information about Research Management Plans, human participant face-to-face research, access to U of G research facilities and research-related travel is on the Research during COVID-19 website.

Academic plans - Deans and chairs have developed academic plans to help keep everyone safe in our learning environments. Our classroom health and safety protocols will be updated for the fall to reflect the latest advice from Public Health.

Operational plans - Deans, AVPs, directors and managers have collaborated to create operational plans for the safe return of staff to the workplace. Priority is placed on those providing services that are critical and/or time sensitive in supporting academics, research, return-to-campuses activities and on-site student experiences as well as those whose jobs cannot be performed effectively or efficiently from home.

The University's COVID-19 website is your best source of information on U of G's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Return to Campuses website provides essential information for those coming to campus. If you need to be on campus, make sure you complete the U of G COVID-19 Screening Form every day before you arrive.




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