Health & Safety

A student dispensing hand sanitizer

 

Quick access

Western is taking measures to guard against COVID-19 in our community and do all we can to protect in-person learning for the academic year. 

Masking

Effective September 1, 2022: Western requires medical-grade (ASTM level 3) masks indoors in instructional spaces for degree credit courses such as classrooms, labs and seminar rooms, and may be required for large indoor events. Masks will not be required in the following settings:

  • If you are presenting, performing, facilitating or speaking to a group
  • If you are in residence buildings, offices, cubicles, libraries, and eateries
  • If you are participating in athletics, fitness, music and theatre

Public health continues to encourage the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please respect those who choose to continue to wear masks.

Vaccination requirement

Western has a mandatory vaccination policy requiring all members of our campus community to demonstrate proof of vaccination, except under rare exemptions. 

Masks

Starting Sept 1, medical-grade (ASTM level 3) masks are required in instructional spaces for degree credit courses such as classrooms, labs and seminar rooms. 

Vaccinations

As part of our COVID-19 vaccination policy, all students, employees and certain visitors are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive one booster, except under rare exemptions.

Health Screening

Individuals coming to campus are recommended to complete the province's COVID-19 self-assessment tool  each day.

Cleaning and Sanitization

We remain focused on enhanced cleaning and sanitization efforts in dining, washrooms and high-traffic areas.

Ventilation

Extra steps are being taken to ensure ventilation systems in buildings and classrooms are maintained and optimized to maximize health and safety. View the online classroom-by-classroom analysis.

Wastewater testing

Western will continue its early detection system to monitor the presence of COVID-19 through regular wastewater sample testing across campus.

Safety ambassadors

Safety ambassadors help ensure COVID-19 protocols are being observed across campus.


 

Protective shields

Classrooms are retrofitted with protective shields serving as safety barriers.

Questions?

Email your COVID-19 vaccination-related questions to vaxinfo@uwo.ca if you are a student or takecare@uwo.ca if you are an employee.



Before Coming to Campus

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STEP 1

Faculty/Staff: View the  COVID-19: Safe Practices on Campus training module on OWL.

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STEP 4

Stay home if you are feeling unwell. Complete the Absence Notification Tool and notify your supervisor. If you are a student contact your home Faculty Academic Counselling Office to request academic considerations.

Steps Western is taking to keep the campus community safe:

Guidelines for Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Who should wear medical grade masks?  

Non medical masks

Medical-grade (ASTM level 3) masks are required in instructional spaces for degree credit courses.

There are some exceptions for those working or learning in designated clinical or research areas where an N-95 mask is required. If you have been notified an N-95 mask is required in your area, please note that this direction remains in place.

How to wear a mask safely

For some members of our community who work in a lab or clinical environment, wearing a mask properly is second-nature. But for many of us, wearing a mask safely will take a bit of practice.

Please watch the video below to learn how to properly wear an ASTM level 3 mask. While the video was created for health care workers, the same best practices can be applied to anyone.

Who should wear N-95 respirators?

N95 mask

Only those working in a clinical setting or in labs where N-95 respirators are normally required should wear them.

 

 

PPE in labs

Any PPE normally required in your lab should be worn at all times. These items could include:

  • Face shields
  • N-95 respirators
  • Surgical masks
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Booties

Reducing the Risk of Person-to-Person Transmission

Vaccination remains the most important factor in protecting the community, and all students, faculty and staff are required to be fully vaccinated unless exempt under the Ontario Human Rights Code or for medical reasons.

If physical distancing isn’t always possible, engineering controls like installing barriers such as plexiglass to separate people are an important second level of protection.

Some classrooms are being retrofitted with protective shields serving as safety barriers so faculty members can safely remove their masks during lectures. Some 75 of these shields were put in place in fall 2020, and an additional 180 were installed in classrooms in 2021.

The third level of protection uses administrative controls such as rules and guidelines to keep people physically separated. Signage and posters are being installed across campus for elevators, dining areas, shared spaces and washrooms, to name a few examples.

When the first three levels of protection aren’t enough to control people’s risk, the fourth and final level of protection is PPE. Non-medical masks, when worn properly, can reduce the spread of one’s own respiratory droplets.

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Ordering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Pandemic Supplies

It’s important to remember that PPE is the last line of defense in protecting employees against occupational exposure. Employees who feel they require PPE should speak with their supervisor.

Any PPE or pandemic supplies (outlined below) must be ordered through the individual identified as designated requisitioner for your faculty/unit via Mustang Market. This process will enable Procurement Services to properly manage inventory during this critical time.

Procurement Services has outlined helpful information for ordering important pandemic supplies, including:

  • Ordering Pandemic sanitary supplies
  • Ordering plexiglass barriers and face shields
Any other office or lab supplies not on this list can be ordered through normal channels.

  • Plexiglass Barriers
    • Temporary plexiglass barriers may be useful when physical distancing is challenging such as higher frequency customer service/reception areas, and other common-use space applications.
    • Some classrooms are being retrofitted with protective shields serving as safety barriers so faculty members can safely remove their masks during lectures. Some 75 of these shields were put in place in fall 2020, and an additional 180 are being installed in classrooms this fall.
    • Product is composed of clear acrylic sheets, precision-cut to sit on a sturdy free-standing base without the use of any adhesive or tape.
    • Material is easy to clean and sanitize, shatterproof, and easy to assemble and disassemble for storage.
    • Standard sizes should be appropriate for most applications, however, if there are specific requirements for permanent or customized barriers, University Machine Services (UMS) will review and advise while working with Facilities Management as appropriate.
    • A Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) review will be required for permanent solutions and will be coordinated by Campus Community Police Services once contacted by UMS.
  • Face Shields
      Face coverings or masks MUST be worn under face shields
    • Clinical and other specialty areas may require face shields when maintaining physical distancing is challenging and individual mobility is a necessity.
    • Product is composed of clear PETG plastic sheets, with adjustable Velcro head strap.
    • Material is easy to clean and is reusable.
  • Unfitted N95 masks
    • A limited supply of unfitted N95 masks are available and can be requested through hsw@uwo.ca.

Cleaning Measures

Building Services follows cleaning protocol recommendations of the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Public Health and Government of Canada. There are also important steps faculty and staff can also take to ensure their own office and lab spaces are kept clean.

  • All areas on campus have a standard cleaning schedule, with continued attention to high traffic areas.
  • The standard cleaning product used on campus for the last few years is the hydrogen-peroxide disinfectant cleaner E65H:
    • Proven effective in killing 99.99% of bacteria fungi and viruses, including COVID-19, when diluted for use as a disinfectant.
    • It is DIN (Drug Identification Number) registered. Environment Canada has tested and verified that this disinfectant is safe and effective.
    • Can be effectively applied through a variety of different methods such as microfiber cloths and electrostatic sprayers.
  • Faculty and staff are expected to continue to clean and maintain their own equipment including various electronics, keyboards, office equipment, lab equipment, lunchroom equipment such as fridges/coffee makers/Keurigs/microwaves, etc.
  • Non-commercial cleaning products can be purchased through Mustang Market.
  • More than 300 wall-mounted and portable hand sanitizer dispensers across campus will be regularly maintained. Western uses hand sanitizers that do not contain technical grade ethanol. 

Concerns or questions regarding cleaning can be directed to Client Services (fm-help@uwo.ca or x83304).

Building Readiness

Following recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers and Workplace Safety and Protection Services regarding mechanical systems (eg. HVAC), Facilities Management has made several adjustments to mechanical and water systems to ensure they continue running to the very highest quality standards.

  • Air handling unit schedules have been adjusted to increase run time
  • All Demand Management efforts that impact ventilation have stopped
  • Ventilation systems have preventative maintenance measures in place to ensure proper operation, including fresh air and return air dampers as well as filters
  • All ventilation units on campus maximize fresh air use, unless outdoor conditions do not allow for it
  • Facilities Management is actively monitoring and maintaining humidification systems to ensure that humidity in buildings is kept at appropriate levels
  • Water systems on campus are being flushed on a regular schedule

Concerns or questions regarding cleaning can be directed to Client Services (fm-help@uwo.ca or x83304).

Safety Signage

The following posters are being put up across campus. Staff and faculty may wish to download and print additional signage as required.

Physical and Mental Health Supports

We know the challenges of managing your work are coupled personal trials presented by the pandemic.

Remember to find time to take care of yourself.

If you need help, we’re here to support you:

COVID-19 Protocols

Western has developed protocols for students, faculty and staff related to COVID-19. This could include, but is not limited to, the testing of symptomatic individuals. Western will work closely with and follow the direction of the Middlesex-London Health Unit with respect to contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. Employees with questions can contact  Workplace Health at Western at 519-661-2111 (x85472). Students with questions can contact the  Student Health Care Clinic at 519-661-3030.

 

Additional environment-specific guidelines:

Office Environment

Non medical masks

Western no longer requires masking indoors, with a few exceptions. Public health continues to encourage the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Medical grade (ASTM level 3) masks remain available for pickup at Western library locations using your Western ONECard.  There are some exceptions for those working or learning in designated clinical or research areas where an N-95 mask is required. If you have been notified an N-95 mask is required in your area, please note that this direction remains in place. If you have any questions or concerns about face coverings, please discuss them with your leader/ supervisor.


  • Stagger shift and break times to ensure physical distancing of two metres; consider job task rotation
  • Avoid direct contact with high-touch/shared surfaces
  • Wipe surfaces and/or equipment with sanitizer wipe after each use; applicable to computers and keyboards, phones, kitchen equipment, photocopiers, office door handles, countertops
  • Use automatic door openers/light switches where possible using elbow/knuckle to turn on
  • Disinfect or use a barrier between your hand and high-touch surfaces
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue and promptly discard it
  • Wash or disinfect hands before and after leaving an elevator
  • Avoid gathering in lunchrooms, meeting rooms and shop areas
  • Hold meetings in an outdoor or large space to enable physical distancing
  • Restrict eating to clearly identified and dedicated eating areas, ensuring these areas have handwashing/sanitizer materials, cleaning materials and proper space to ensure physical distancing
  • Have controlled entry and exit points into an office area with traffic flow arrows and signs on floors to ensure proper physical distancing
  • Barriers such as plexiglass should be installed where there are customer service points/face-to-face interaction where physical distancing cannot be maintained

Lab Environment

Medical masks

Those in labs with others are to wear a medical grade (ASTM level 3) mask for the protection of others. If you have questions, please discuss them with your leader/ supervisor.

  • Stagger shift and break times to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres
  • Avoid direct contact with high-touch surfaces
  • Disinfect or use a barrier between your hand and high-touch surfaces
  • Wash or disinfect hands before and after leaving an elevator
  • Avoid gathering in lunchrooms, meeting rooms and shop areas
  • Keep surfaces tidy and free of clutter so surfaces can easily be cleaned
  • Remember glove protocol and do not wear them outside of the lab
  • Change lab coats frequently, keep them separated from other lab coats (not on a coat rack) and wash them more frequently
  • Wear gloves while disinfecting surfaces
  • Wear gloves when using equipment that cannot be disinfected
  • Laboratory space and shared space must be disinfected after each use, including:
    • Lab benches
    • Fumehood touchpoints
    • Cabinet and drawer handles
    • Desks and chairs
    • Fridge, freezer, etc. handles
    • Computer keyboard and mouse
  • Guidelines for use of common equipment and instruments:
    • Disinfect after use
    • Only one user at a time
    • Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before and after use or wear clean gloves
    • Consider assigning equipment to individuals e.g. pipettors
  • Those wanting to make their own bleach disinfecting solution can follow the steps in this helpful resource.

Trades/Technical Research Environment

Non medical masks

Western recommends the use of medical grade (ASTM level 3) masks when physical distancing is not possible. These act as a personal hygiene measure to protect others from potential infectious droplets. If you have any questions or concerns about face coverings, please discuss them with your leader/ supervisor.

  • Where possible, wear gloves when interacting with high-touch areas.
    • Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water after removing them.
  • Avoid the sharing of hand tools and power tools. If sharing is necessary, enable the sanitization of shared equipment.
  • Hold meetings in an outdoor or large space to enable physical distancing
  • Upon returning home, wash clothes/face coverings immediately, wash hands and shower
  • Avoid gathering in lunchrooms, meeting rooms and shop areas; if you have to, keep two metres physical distance

Classroom Environment

Non medical masks

Some classrooms are being retrofitted with protective shields serving as safety barriers so faculty members can safely remove their masks during lectures. Some 75 of these shields were put in place in fall 2020, and an additional 180 were installed in 2021. If you have any questions or concerns about face coverings, please discuss them with your leader/ supervisor.

Clinical Environment

In addition to routine standard precautions, all staff in clinical settings need to follow proper infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines and implement mechanisms that reduce spread for anyone providing non-direct or direct care to patients. While virtual care can be a helpful tool to support access to care during the pandemic, the pressures that existed early in the pandemic that required virtual care to replace in-person services in many cases have now diminished (e.g., lack of personal protective equipment) and, in most instances, in-person care can now be provided safely and appropriately.   

Providers must make decisions that are in their patient’s best interest and work together to find a solution that satisfies the need for patient access, safety, and quality care. In-person care is essential for many conditions and some patients cannot fully benefit from virtual care.  

Health Care Personnel

  • The following should serve as a general direction, but all staff should receive site-specific training on transmission prevention, PPE, donning, offing, and disposal techniques.
  • Physical barriers should be established to limit contact with patients and priority must be given to aerosol-generating procedures
  • Primary care providers should ensure that there is enough space for patients/clients to follow physical distancing guidelines of maintaining at least 2 metres from other people.
  • Primary care providers should use their clinical judgement to adapt patient flows based on their unique circumstances including rate of community spread and physical space.
  • Priority must be given to aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) 
  • All staff must wear proper PPE during close contact with patients, especially if the health professional has direct contact with body fluids of a patient.
  • Regularly perform proper hand hygiene techniques both before donning and after doffing gloves and PPE and if hands are visibly soiled. Use alcohol-based rubs or soap and running water.
  • Staff involved with patient-care activities that are likely to involve contact with, or projection of, bodily fluids and blood are to wear gowns, shields and eye protection before procedures. Disposable gloves are to be used prior to direct contact with patients or any body fluids or mucous membranes.
  • Self-monitor for the appearance of symptoms, particularly respiratory symptoms, related to COVID-19. Staff should stay home if they are ill and if symptoms are consistent with that of COVID-19 while at work, they should wear a protective mask, inform their supervisor and leave the clinical setting or workplace.
  • Staff and faculty should follow additional guidelines provided by their respective regulatory colleges and regulatory agencies.
  • Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry staff and faculty should also follow guidelines recommended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Patient Management

  • Prior to scheduling medical, diagnostic or dental appointments, instruct patients to call ahead and discuss the need to reschedule their appointments if they develop symptoms similar to COVID-19.
  • Patients that may have flu-like symptoms similar to COVID-19 are to contact their health care service provider or contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit (519)-663-5317.
  • When scheduling appointments, patients should be screened over the phone or via suitable online screening tools for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Signage should be posted at the entrance to the office/clinic and at reception areas reminding all patients, and those accompanying them, regardless of symptoms, that they are expected to wear a mask for the entirety of their visit to the clinic setting.
  • Regardless of symptoms, advise all patients and visitors to adhere to proper hygiene etiquette and social distancing rules & policies.
  • Primary care providers should consider discussions of vaccine status with patients and, where possible and appropriate refer them for COVID-19 Vaccinations.

Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs)

  • In procedures that involve AGPs, staff should ensure that they have the proper surgical/procedure mask in addition to their isolation gown, gloves and eye protection.
  • All staff are encouraged to perform hand hygiene before and after contact with the patient and the patient environment and after the removal of PPE.
  • While working with AGPs, airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) should be used if available. 
  • Staff and faculty should wear proper high-level respirators when working with AGPs.
  • Surfaces and areas surrounding AGPs should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly and promptly.

Residences

The provincial government and the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) provide health and safety directives that inform our protocols here at Western. Measures have been put in place in each of our residence buildings to enhance the health and safety of our community. 

These protocols will be updated regularly based on directives from the provincial government and the MLHU.

Mental Health & Well-being:

Resources

COVID-19 has increased the stress and anxiety experiences by many individuals and families.  Western can help.  Please choose a link below to learn about the resources that may be helpful to you.