COVID-19 - 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Practices

We all have a role to play in helping protect our community and reducing the spread of COVID-19. Follow the guidelines below to help keep yourself and others safe when you are on campus.

Students: Read a welcome letter from Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health.

As we adjust to life at U of G during COVID-19, remember to follow these important practices.

When You or a Close Contact Are Sick

Updated: September 3, 2020

COVID-19 is highly transmissible – staying home when you are sick is essential to stopping the spread.

If you or a close contact are sick, follow the directions on the I Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 or I Am Feeling Sick: What Should I Do? page of this site.

It’s simple: If you’re sick, stay home.

  • Do not go to work, class or other public places
  • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares
  • Do not have visitors unless essential (e.g., care providers)
  • As much as possible, stay in a separate room away from other people in your household and use a separate bathroom if you have one

COVID-19 Screening and Safety Course

Updated: September 3, 2020

Every day, before you come to a U of G space, you must complete the U of G COVID-19 Screening Form.  complete the Ontario COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. If you have symptoms or if the tool indicates you should seek medical attention or isolate, do NOT come to campus. 

The Qualtrics-based form connects you to the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 assessment tool and then provides you with directions and next steps depending on your results (e.g., stay home and report your absence, or clearance to come to campus). Full terms and conditions for the form are available online.

You can access the U of G COVID-19 Screening Form:

U of G’s COVID-19 Screening Form helps us adapt to our changing campus environment. As a reminder, you should check the Before You Return page of this site daily before coming to campus.

If you have any questions about the tool, please contact Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca.

Before coming to campus, all faculty, staff, students and visitors must complete the  COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Awareness Training course via CourseLink. You may be asked to show your course completion certificate.

Physical Distancing

Updated: August 28, 2020

Maintaining 2 metres of distance from others is one of the most important ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you don’t need to be on campus, please consider staying home to help keep our community safe. To help promote physical distancing, most U of G events are being held online. For information on a specific event, contact the event’s organizers. Check the University’s events calendar for more information.

Face Coverings and Face Shields

Updated: September 8, 2020

All those on University of Guelph campuses are required to wear face coverings when 2 metres of distance cannot be maintained or predicted. In general, this means wear a face covering when you are on campus. Situations in which face coverings can be removed are listed in the “When are face coverings not required?” section of this page.

Face coverings should be worn in classrooms, hallways, washrooms, stairways, meeting rooms and other common spaces. If you are outdoors and unable to maintain 2 metres of distance, you should wear a face covering. Rules for face coverings in labs are addressed in the Research Phase-in Framework and Research Management Plans.

Face coverings must be at least two-layers thick and may include:

  • non-medical masks
  • bandanas
  • scarves
  • other materials that cover the wearer’s nose, mouth and chin.

Reusable masks must be properly cleaned (see below for more information). They must be appropriate and safe for the specific workplace (e.g., no cloth masks when working with hazardous materials). If your work or research requires use of an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, review guidance on reuse of N95 masks during a supply shortage.

Physical distancing is important whether you are wearing a face covering or not. Face coverings must be worn in U of G spaces when maintaining 2 metres of physical distance is not possible or predictable. In general, this means wear a face covering when you are on campus.

This includes in:

  • classrooms
  • hallways
  • washrooms
  • stairways
  • meeting rooms
  • student residence common spaces
  • common spaces (lounges, dining areas, etc.)
  • outdoors if you are unable to maintain 2 metres of distance from others

Rules for face coverings in labs are addressed in the Research Phase-in Framework and Research Management Plans. Your department or unit may have additional requirements for face coverings or personal protective equipment.

If you have questions about the use of face coverings:

  • Employees: Questions related to safety and the use of face coverings should be addressed to Environmental Health and Safety at ehs@uoguelph.ca. Questions related to health concerns and the use of face coverings should be addressed to Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca.
  • Students: call Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

When you are confident 2 metres of distance from others can be maintained, and under certain circumstances, it may be acceptable to remove your face covering.

Depending on the circumstances, this may include while:

  • Working alone in a private office (others are not present)
  • Working at an open workstation with physical barriers or at least 2 metres of distance from others (speak with your supervisor for guidance)
  • Eating or drinking while maintaining 2 metres of distance
  • Working directly with children in a child care setting according to the direction of Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health
  • While exercising during a booked appointment in designated areas of the Athletics Centre
  • Outdoors when you are able to maintain 2 metres of distance from others

Children under the age of 5 are not required to wear a face covering on campus.

If you have a medical condition, disability or impairment that affects your ability to wear a face covering and need accommodation (e.g., a clear plastic face shield, other accommodation, etc.), please contact:

  • Employees – Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca and notify your supervisor. You are not required to disclose your specific medical condition to your supervisor.
  • Students – Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

You are welcome to wear your own disposable or reusable face covering. The University will provide two reusable face masks to all faculty, staff and students who request them.

  • Students taking courses on-campus will receive their reusable masks at their first classes.
  • Employees who must be on campus and who do not have a face covering can contact their manager, who can order reusable masks as needed from Physical Resources.

Further information on distribution will be available shortly.

Reusable masks are also available from the Bookstore.

If you have a medical condition, disability or impairment that affects your ability to wear a face covering and need accommodation (e.g., a clear plastic face shield, other accommodation, etc.), please contact:

  • Employees – Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca and notify your supervisor.
  • Students – Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

A face shield should be used only if Occupational Health and Wellness or Student Health Services determine it to be an appropriate accommodation.

Non-medical face masks are reusable or disposable, self-made or commercial masks.

Unlike surgical or medical-procedure masks, non-medical face masks do not meet certification standards. They are not intended for use in health-care settings or by health-care professionals.

Unlike N95 filtering facepiece respirators, non-medical face masks are not designed to protect the wearer from exposure to airborne contaminants. They are not classified as personal protective equipment (PPE).

When worn properly, face coverings can reduce the spread of the user’s own infectious respiratory droplets. Face coverings do not provide complete protection against viral particles if the covering fits loosely or depending on the materials used.

Wearing a face covering complements (but does not replace) the following measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19 between people:

  • If you feel sick, do not come to campus – follow the steps on our I Have Tested Positive for COVID-19 or Feel Sick page.
  • Maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres and/or a physical barrier between individuals.
  • Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect shared space, especially high-touch surfaces.

If you have trouble breathing, do not use a face covering.

If you have a medical condition, disability or impairment that affects your ability to wear a face covering and need accommodation (e.g., a clear plastic face shield, other accommodation, etc.), please contact:

  • Employees – Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca and notify your supervisor. You are not required to disclose your specific medical condition to your supervisor.
  • Students – Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

A face shield should be used only if Occupational Health and Wellness or Student Health Services determine it to be an appropriate accommodation.


Do not use a face covering that:

  • Is dirty, ripped or damaged in any way.
  • Impairs your vision or interferes with tasks or the work being performed.
  • Is a respirator (e.g., N95 filtering facepiece, half facepiece or full facepiece) required as part of assigned personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been approved for safely performing specified work (e.g., agricultural workers spraying pesticides). Respirators should not be worn outside of their specified work environment and, due to shortages, should be used only when necessary.

  1. Review and follow Health Canada’s instruction video How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly.
  2. Before putting on the mask, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum 60% alcohol base.
  3. Check the mask for damage. Discard if it is damaged.
  4. Determine which side of the mask faces out. For disposable face masks, the coloured side usually faces out.
  5. Open the mask fully to cover from your nose to below your chin.
  6. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and, depending on the style of mask, secure it behind your head with ties or behind your ears with ear loops.
  7. If the mask has a nose bar, pinch the bar around your nose to reduce gaps between your face and the mask.
  8. Adjust if needed to make sure your nose and mouth are fully covered.
  9. Avoid touching the mask while you are wearing it. If you need to adjust your mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water before and after you touch it.
  10. Keep your nose, mouth and chin covered at all times, until you are ready to remove the mask.
  11. Avoid lowering the mask and placing it against your neck. Instead, remove the mask and replace it, if necessary.

Remove your mask if it becomes wet, torn, dirty or damaged.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or apply hand sanitizer with a minimum 60% alcohol base.
  2. Remove the mask by the ties or ear loops. Do not touch the front of the mask.
  3. Reusable cloth masks should be placed into a bag that can be emptied into a washing machine. Remember to clean your hands afterward.

Ideally, disposable face masks should not be reused and should be safely discarded after use. Dispose of the mask in a lined garbage bin and clean your hands afterward.

If necessary, disposable face masks may be reused. For short-term storage, use a resealable plastic bag or a sturdy airtight container. If the mask is to be used another day, drop the mask into a breathable paper bag, label the bag with your name and the day it was last used, and wait at least four days before using it again. If necessary, rotate disposable masks each day of the week to allow the four-day gap between reuse.

  • Do not touch your face under the covering.
  • Do not use a ripped, visibly soiled or wet face covering or if the mask’s ear loops/ties are damaged.
  • Do not wear the same face covering for a long period of time. It must be changed when it gets damp.
  • Do not share face coverings with another person.
  • Do not wear the face covering below your nose or above your chin.

  • Always store, use, reuse and/or discard your face covering following manufacturer’s directions, if they are available.
  • Store your face coverings in a way that protects them from getting wet, dirty or damaged.
  • If your disposable mask needs to be stored for four days or longer, keep it in a dry paper bag labelled with your name and the day it was last used. See “How to remove a non-medical face mask with ear loops or ties” section above for more detail. For short-term storage such as work or class breaks, use a resealable plastic bag or a sturdy airtight container.
  • Identify or label the face covering’s storage container so the covering is not accidentally used by others.

Material

  • Use at least two layers of tightly woven fabric. Four layers are preferred.
  • Use a combination of fabrics such as a high thread-count cotton (e.g. 600-thread count pillowcases and cotton sheets) with spun-bond polypropylene or polyester.
  • If possible, use different fabrics or colours for each side of the mask. This helps you to know which side faces your mouth and which side faces out.
  • Choose a fabric or cloth that can withstand frequent cycles through washing and drying machines.

Laundering

  • Wash the cloth mask after each use.
  • Place the cloth mask directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out disposable storage bags or wash reusable storage bags after they have been used to store a used mask.
  • Launder with other items using a hot cycle, then dry thoroughly.
  • Inspect the mask before reuse to ensure it has maintained its shape after washing and drying.
  • Clean your hands immediately after touching a used mask.

Making your own mask

  • There are many ways to make a cloth mask. Health Canada provides instructions with sew and no-sew options and includes types of materials you can use.

Buying a cloth mask

  • Ensure the mask has multiple layers of fabric, fits securely against your face, allows for clear breathing and can be laundered.


Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health does not consider face shields to be an equal substitute for face coverings (i.e., non-medical masks). However, for those who cannot wear a non-medical mask safely, face shields are considered better than not wearing any protection at all.

According to the Public Health sources, the limitations of face shields, compared to face coverings, are as follows.

Face shields:

  • do not filter respiratory droplets expelled or inhaled by the wearer.
  • do not fully cover the mouth, nose and chin of the wearer.
  • are thought to provide less protection for others as the respiratory droplets from the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield.

If you have a medical condition, disability or impairment that affects your ability to wear a face covering and need accommodation (e.g., a clear plastic face shield, other accommodation, etc.), please contact:

  • Employees – Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca and notify your supervisor. You are not required to disclose your specific medical condition to your supervisor.
  • Students – Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

A face shield should be used only if Occupational Health and Wellness or Student Health Services determine it to be an appropriate accommodation.

Be patient with each other; we’re all getting used to the new normal and wearing a face covering isn’t second nature for everyone yet.

Remember, not everyone can wear a face covering. Wearing a face covering can be challenging for people with breathing difficulties, those who wear hearing aids, those who have sensory issues, and those who need to communicate with others through lip reading, among others.

Face coverings can include any material that covers the wearer’s nose, mouth and chin. Scarves, bandanas and religious garments that cover the nose, mouth and chin (e.g., niqab) are considered acceptable face coverings.

The University will make accommodations for those with medical conditions, disabilities or impairments that affect their ability to wear a face covering.

  • Employees should contact Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca and notify their supervisor. You are not required to disclose your specific medical condition to your supervisor.
  • Students should contact Student Health Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52131.

If you have ongoing concerns about someone not wearing a face covering:

  • Staff – speak with your supervisor
  • Students – speak with your instructor
  • Instructors – speak with your department chair

Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

Cough or sneeze into your bent elbow or into a tissue that you throw away immediately. Don’t forget to wash your hands!

Clean Your Hands

Updated: July 21, 2020

Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water is an important way you can protect yourself from COVID-19. If you can’t access soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol base.

Physical Resources will install and maintain hand sanitizer dispensers around building entrances, washrooms, classrooms and elevators.

Disposable Gloves

Updated: July 21, 2020

A person may contract COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. To prevent this type of transmission, use of disposable gloves is mentioned in several external resources, including the ones published on the Ontario Ministry of Labour website. Workers in non-health-care settings should clearly understand the limitations and purpose of disposable gloves before using them in their workplaces.

Gloves are not necessary for prevention of COVID-19 in non-health-care workplaces.

According to the Center for Disease Control, gloves are recommended when you are cleaning/disinfecting or caring for someone who is sick (e.g., health-care settings). In other situations, the CDC advises that wearing gloves for prevention of COVID-19 is not necessary for the following reasons:

  • Human skin is an effective barrier against viral infection. The virus that causes COVID-19 is not absorbed through your skin, so you do not need another layer of protection on your hands.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 adheres well to glove materials (e.g., latex, nitrile or vinyl). If you touch a surface contaminated with the COVID-19 virus, your gloves can be contaminated. If you then touch your face with the gloves, the virus may be transferred from your gloves to your face and can infect you.
  • Wearing gloves can give people a false sense of security, as people tend to wash or sanitize their hands less frequently when they are wearing gloves.
  • In health-care settings, gloves are typically disposed of after each interaction with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. In non-health-care settings, people often wear the same pair of gloves for touching various surfaces, including their phones. If one of the surfaces you touched is contaminated with the virus, this may in turn contaminate multiple surfaces, which may increase the risk of COVID-19 virus exposure for you and others.
  • Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer while wearing gloves is not recommended because washing can damage the gloves. Hand sanitizer is designed for use on human skin, not on glove materials (e.g., latex or nitrile).

Wearing gloves should not be a substitute for practising good hand hygiene (i.e., frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with a base of at least 60% alcohol).

Gloves can be helpful in specific situations if worn with appropriate precautions.

  • When you are cleaning or disinfecting your work area, follow Public Health’s guideline and the precautions listed on the product labels, which may include use of disposable gloves in order to avoid your hands becoming dried out or irritated.
  • Wear gloves when it has been assessed they are required for specific work.
  • Wearing gloves may remind you to touch fewer surfaces and refrain from touching your face.
  • If workers choose to wear disposable gloves for protection against COVID-19, the following precautions are recommended:
    • Remember the limitations of gloves as described above
    • Clean your hands before putting on and after taking off gloves. Instructions on how to take off gloves should be posted as recommended by Ontario Public Health. An instruction video for glove use is available from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
    • Change your gloves when they become soiled or damaged.
    • Do not touch your face with the gloves on.
    • Dispose of used gloves after taking them off and do not reuse them.
    • Gloves used in laboratory settings as part of PPE requirements for work tasks must remain in the lab and not be worn outside of the lab space.

Download the COVID Alert App

U of G faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to download the Government of Canada’s COVID Alert app.  The app can let people know of possible exposures to the COVID-19 virus before any symptoms appear. By downloading the app, you can help protect yourself and our community.

According to the COVID Alert website:

  • the app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones.
  • every day, it checks a list of random codes from people who tell the app they tested positive.
  • if you’ve been near one of those codes in the past 14 days, you’ll get a notification.

You can downloaded the COVID Alert app from the Apple Store or from Google Play.

Questions about privacy? Review the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s report on the COVID Alert app and the COVID Alert app privacy notice.

Be Mindful of High-Touch Surfaces

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 be mindful of high-touch surfaces:

  • Disinfect shared equipment, tools and work spaces before and after use. Learn more about responsibilities for disinfecting learning spaces in the Fall Classrooms Health and Safety Protocols document. Learn more about responsibilities for cleaning workspaces.
  • Use a barrier (e.g., paper towel, sleeve) between your hand and the door handle when opening and closing doors
  • Clean your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Physical Resources has increased their frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces

Accessibility

Updated: July 21, 2020

COVID-19 presents additional barriers to participating in the academic environment for many individuals. In support of inclusion, the University provides academic accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

  • If you are a student and need academic accommodation relating to:
    • a disability – contact Student Accessibility Services
    • a religious observance – contact your course instructor or follow the procedures described in the academic calendar for your program.
  • If you are an employee and need accommodation relating to a disability, contact Occupational Health and Wellness.
  • If you are a member of an equity-seeking group and have concerns about inclusion, contact Diversity and Human Rights.

Cleaning Expectations

Updated: July 21, 2020

Depending on circumstances, U of G Custodial Services or another vendor or individual employees may clean or disinfect workspaces. Learn more about the University’s cleaning measures and your responsibilities during COVID-19 on the Physical Resources website.

Personal workspaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected by staff who work in the area using appropriate cleaning solutions as recommended by Physical Resources.

Protocols for cleaning learning spaces are available in the Fall Classroom Health and Safety Protocols document.

Workplace Etiquette

Updated: September 3, 2020

When you return to working on campus, things will be different than they were in March 2020. Remember to be kind and patient with your colleagues and yourself. We’re all in this together.

The following workplace etiquette sets some common ground rules that can make working together during this stressful time a bit easier.

  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact such as shaking hands.
  • Use technology for communication (e.g., text message, phone calls, online meetings) rather than in-person meetings or conversations when possible.
  • When taking part in online meetings, use earphones or a headset to minimize distractions for those around you.
  • When booking meetings in shared spaces, add extra time to allow you to disinfect the space before you use it, and strictly observe meeting end times so others can do the same.
  • To help reduce the spread of germs, avoid bringing in food to share. Put potlucks and parties on hold for now. Department events and celebrations should be held through Microsoft Teams or  Cisco Webex so that everyone can participate and to support physical distancing.
  • Remember to show appreciation for your colleagues and others on campus. A kind word goes a long way during stressful times.
  • Avoid sharing cups, mugs, cutlery or plates. Remove these shared items from shared kitchenettes if possible. Never leave containers open in the fridge. Store food and drink in sealed containers. Leave space between containers.
  • Understand that not everyone can wear a face covering and be respectful of that.
  • Stay connected with those not at the office – plan regular online team meetings and update each other on important decisions.
  • Take your breaks and use your vacation time. Don’t let yourself get burnt out. Ask for help if you need it and help others when you can. The Gryphon Family Resources portal has resources that may be useful.

Plan for Safe Gatherings

Added: October 2, 2020

As of October 2, 2020, the Government of Ontario advises Ontarians to “allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else.” Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.