COVID-19 - 2019 Novel Coronavirus

How U of G Is Preparing for Your Safe Return

Updated: September 5, 2021

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.

View our How U of G Is Planning to Welcome You Back Safely infographic.

Here are some of the most important ways we’re helping keep each other safe.

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Requirements – The University of Guelph has mandated that as of Sept. 7, all those over the age of 12 who wish to access University buildings or U of G-managed facilities must submit proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Access – 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.

Learn more about getting vaccinated.

Education – Our #GryphonsGetVaxxed campaign provides accurate info, dispels myths and helps our community feel confident in getting vaccinated. Through our Vaccine Champion course, 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.

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Safe Spaces

Ventilation and air filtration
– U of G is adjusting mechanical systems to ensure they continue running at high-quality standards. We are maximizing the flow of outside air into all campus buildings and are purging the air in buildings at the start and end of the day.

Physical Resources has assessed ventilation in all classrooms scheduled for use this fall. Before classes begin in September, all classrooms that will be in use will have ventilation measures in place that provide for the equivalent of six outside air changes per hour (ACH). Air movement and, in some cases, air purifiers will allow these spaces to reach this ventilation target – a measure equal to the standard in place for medical examination rooms.  A summary of the measurement and assessment results for these classrooms is available on the Physical Resources website.

Classroom capacity – The provincial government has indicated physical distancing will not be required in learning spaces this fall. However, to help reduce classroom densities, face-to-face course sections will have an enrolment cap of 250 students to help allow for some physical distancing in larger classes. This cap will not affect students’ ability to enrol in courses.

To help create safer spaces for our community, instructors who are scheduled to teach in classrooms with a planned student capacity of 75 per cent or more have the option of transitioning to hybrid or remote course delivery for the entire fall semester.

Physical distancing – 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.

Enhanced cleaning – High-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas are cleaned regularly. Hand sanitizer stations are available at main entrances across campus. In classrooms and shared study spaces, disinfectant wipes are on-hand to clean shared equipment. Supplies can be ordered for restocking through the Physical Resources stockroom. An outline of community members’ and Custodial Services’ responsibilities for cleaning different areas within the University is available on the Physical Resources website.

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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 – The U of G COVID-19 call centre helps support those with a positive test result and can answer COVID-19 questions and concerns. If you test positive for COVID-19, contact the call centre at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53906 or email for help navigating next steps.

Masks and PPE – This fall, masks will continue to be required indoors at all U of G campuses and facilities. Some specific exceptions apply, such as when eating or drinking or exercising at the Athletics Centre. Masks are not required outdoors when you are able to stay 2 metres apart from others. 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. U of G’s Flexible Work Policy addresses a number of flexible work arrangements. 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.

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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 – Those who are partially vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have an approved exemption must participate in the University’s rapid testing program.

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 Health and Safety Protocols for In-Person Course Delivery have been 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.

Our Response to Non-Compliance with COVID-19 Protocols Summary details how we will address breaches of federal, provincial and public health by-laws, controls and guidelines and U of G protocols regarding COVID-19.