I am writing with regard to today’s COVID-19 developments, including the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic, and Laurentian University’s decision to temporarily suspend classes due to a positive case in their community. While Ontario public health authorities still consider our risk to be low, I know that awareness and concern is rising, and I want to assure you that Niagara College is well positioned to respond should the situation or level of risk escalate locally.
As we have shared through regular updates and our dedicated webpage, we have been actively monitoring COVID-19 since late January, while liaising with public health authorities at all levels. We have assembled our Incident Management Team (IMT) under the leadership of senior vice president of Corporate Services Pam Skinner, and have been meeting regularly for over a month to review updates and implement recommendations and directives from public health, identify current and future risks and take college-wide action to ensure the health and safety of our students, employees and visitors.
Since the beginning of February, we have increased the number of hand-sanitizer stations college-wide, enhanced our education campaign, sharing preventative measures such as hand-washing and cough etiquette, and enhanced our cleaning services, including the use of hospital-grade disinfectant for cleaning all common areas and touchpoints on our campuses.
We have also followed the directives of Global Affairs Canada with regard to college travel, and cancelled upcoming work/study trips to countries that have been identified as being high risk.
We’ll be sharing more detailed information with regard to college contingency planning over the next few days. In the meantime, I want to emphasize the importance of following the recommendations from public health to help prevent the spread of infection:
- Stay home if you are sick. Return when you are well;
- Wash your hands. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer;
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your sleeve;
- Avoid shaking hands and close contact with people who are sick;
- Avoid sharing personal items and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information, including specific recommendations for travelers to impacted countries, and resources from public health, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage at www.niagaracollege.ca/healthservices/coronavirus/.