New measures to prevent spread of COVID-19
March 30, 2021 4:00 PM
Dear students and colleagues,
As the Middlesex-London region moves from orange to red in the face of rising case counts, and variants of concern make up more than half of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, Western is implementing additional precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
We are doing so as case counts on campus reflect the increases across the region.
Here’s what the changes mean for the Western community:
New protocols for face coverings
Everyone on campus is now required to wear three-layer non-medical masks, rather than cloth masks, indoors and in the presence of others. These will be supplied by the university, with distribution starting March 31.
Employees working within two metres of each other must also wear eye protection (safety goggles/glasses), as an added protective measure.
Faculty, staff and graduate students can request three-layer non-medical masks or eye protection through their faculty or unit designated requisitioner. Accommodation requests can be made via Employee Well-being.
Three-layer non-medical masks will be distributed to all students in residence.
Additional measures in residences
COVID-19 variants of concern are transmitted more easily and, unlike the original strain of the virus, they are causing serious illness among young people. With that in mind, students must be more vigilant than ever.
In consultation with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), the university has bolstered safety measures in all campus residences, effective March 28. All common areas – including floor lounges, study rooms, main lounges – are now closed, and students must wear masks at all times when outside their bedrooms. Additional information about residences can be found here.
At the start of the academic year, Western implemented several health and safety measures in residences, including reducing capacity to about 70 per cent. Students are not allowed to bring guests to residence or to visit other residences themselves.
Additional measures in research spaces
The new minimum requirement for three-layer non-medical masks applies to all face-to-face research activity with human participants, for both participants and researchers. Researchers and participants working within two metres of each other must also wear safety goggles as an added protective measure, with further protection provided by a face shield if recommended by their supervisors.
Occupancy in Western’s laboratory spaces remains at 30 per cent capacity.
For any new field research, or research projects requiring face-to-face contact with off-campus human participants, we are returning to a two-level approval process – requiring sign-off from the Dean’s office (or delegate) as well as the Vice-President (Research) office. Additional permissions may be required from the community in which field research occurs.
The MLHU is asking students to limit visits home until the end of the semester.
The Ontario government is discouraging all out-of-province travel unless it is essential.
The move from orange to red does not impact the small percentage of in-person classes and plans for exams. At this time, they can continue to take place with physical distancing limitations.
Some employees continue to be physically present on campus to support students and on-campus activity. Employees not required to be on campus and who are able to work from home should continue to do so.
Please note these are the directives at this time and this information could change quickly.
We continue to work closely with health officials, and should things change we will communicate with you via email, social media and the university’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
Everyone has worked so hard this past year to keep our campus community safe. We need you to continue your efforts and stay vigilant a bit longer.
On behalf of Western’s leadership team, thank you for your efforts.
Vice-President (Operations and Finance)
Acting Provost & Vice-President (Academic)
CONTACTS AND SUPPORTS
- Health-related inquiries: Health & Wellness at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-661-3030
- Students in residence: email@example.com
- Other inquires: Student Support & Case Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-661-2111 x89152
- Well-being supports: Confidential services through Morneau Shepell called LifeWorks
- Health-related inquiries: Please contact your family doctor, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
- Other inquiries: Human Resources at email@example.com
TESTING ON CAMPUS
Updated: Western’s COVID-19 testing centre in the Western Student Recreation Centre will now be open on the long weekend: Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Registered students and current employees can schedule an appointment in advance using the online booking tool.