Fall 2021 COVID-19 Policy FAQs for Faculty

Where do I go to get my testing kits?  

Self-tests can be picked up at our testing centre at SB159 on:

September 17 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
September 20 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
September 21 from 9 a.m-noon
September 23 from 9 a.m.-noon
September 24 from 9 a.m-2 p.m. 

Do I need to book an appointment for asymptomatic testing?

Yes, an appointment should be booked through the Microsoft Bookings site.

Can faculty require students to wear masks in a classroom setting so that they feel more protected? Even if there is adequate social distancing? 

Students are required to wear masks when entering, leaving, or moving around classrooms but not if they are seated and can maintain 1-metre social distancing.

Should professors use handouts? Is this safe? 

Yes, it is perfectly fine to use handouts. There is no known risk of virus transmission associated with papers or handouts. 

Will there be time between classrooms for them to be cleaned?

Classrooms will be cleaned daily. High touch points in common areas will continue to be cleaned twice daily (handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs, etc.) 

Can I have wipes and hand sanitizers? 

Yes, wipes can be obtained through Facilities Management. 

Hand sanitizer stations are at main building entrances, elevators, washrooms, food service locations and other high traffic common areas.  

Am I allowed to wipe down surfaces in the classroom or in my office? 

Yes, you may. 

Will furniture be spaced out in classrooms to ensure 1 metre of distance? 

Where possible, yes. 

If a student refuses to put on a mask, and will not leave the room, should the professor call Security? How do we escalate this? To whom? 

If the student is in violation of the policy, the faculty member can report them via the Student Code of Conduct. If they refuse to comply and subsequently refuse to leave the room you may call Security for immediate assistance. The phone number for security is 902-420-5000 or dial 5000 from any campus landline phone.

Can we ask students to break into smaller groups inside the classroom to do teamwork? Do they need to wear masks when doing this? 

Yes. They must wear masks if social distancing cannot be maintained.

Will there be breaks between classes to allow for air circulation or will classrooms be used back-to-back with no opportunity to break the build-up of CO2? 

The 15-minute break between classes is sufficient.  Any class that is scheduled for longer that 2 hours, should have a 15-minute break (2 hours into the session) where everyone leaves the class for a break.  

Can we assume it is advisable to open windows and doors for better circulation even in winter? 

Where possible windows can be opened periodically to add passive ventilation. This must take into consideration weather conditions.

Who are the experts on ventilation for the university sector?

The main source of expertise is APPA (Association of Physical Plant Administrators). APPA | Leadership in Educational Facilities  They cove 1200 institutions who are all educational facilities; many have the same circumstances that we do.  SMU is also an active participant in ERAPPA, (Eastern Region, New York to NL) and AAPPA (Atlantic APPA). 

How are ventilation systems managed during the pandemic?

Recently APPA communicated findings from a panel of experts and Saint Mary’s has adopted all of the recommendations. They are:

  • There are several priorities or key takeaways to mitigate risk with a focus on HVAC systems. First, make sure your HVAC systems are operating properly which includes: 
    • retro-commissioning so they are operating at least two design standards and going through your building automation system (your DDC);
    • make sure the schedules are operating properly;
    • that the actuators are working;
    • the control loops are tuned (no modulating or hunting, looking for how to control the temperature or other variables)
    • address and prioritize fault detection and ensure the sensors are operating and calibrated properly (even if they are thermostat-controlled, a rooftop unit, split system, or on pneumatic switches, all these corrections apply).
  • Address your preventive maintenance programs to ensure your assets are clean, filters are changed regularly, and condensate drains are drained properly. If it’s a refrigerant-based system, make sure they hold up to its correct pressures for operating conditions. If it’s chilled water, make sure the water flows are correct and dampers are working properly.  These retro-commissioning efforts should be prioritized to your building occupancy density and duration. The buildings where your people are congregating for longer periods of time should be higher priority (e.g., residence halls, libraries, student unions, dining, athletic, and recreational facilities). 
  • Natural ventilation is definitely appropriate, and you should be doing that. And, when we look at high-performance buildings from a standpoint of sustainability and energy conservation (which is one of the basic principles of design), use natural ventilation as much as possible because it is really the best for you and your occupants. If you can bring the outdoors indoors from a standpoint of ventilation, you’re going to make your space generally healthier. Yet, recognize your environmental surroundings and make your decisions accordingly.
  • People are encouraged, during their coffee breaks/lunch breaks to leave their workspace for a change of scenery/get some fresh air. This is a good practice even in the post-pandemic environment.

What has Saint Mary’s University done to address ventilation?

We have HVAC operators and Maintenance 1s and their time full work is the maintenance of the various HVAC systems. We’ve added three new Maintenance 1 positions. The regular maintenance of these systems is ongoing, and specific operations are scheduled for regular times. The system is fully automated and we have a full-time person monitoring that system and making the necessary changes, as required. Items in the Q (work order) system show up as daily tasks for HVAC and/or Maintenance 1 staff show up on their schedules, when that date arrives. Work on HVAC systems is part of our regular routine and not something we do on an individual/one-off basis. Even before COVID, we had this maintenance system in place.

Is there a cap on the number of people in classrooms? Are we at 100 percent capacity?

We are allowed to be at 100% capacity but currently no classrooms are filled beyond 75%. 

Will I be informed if a student in my class has tested positive for COVID-19? 

Public Health notifies the university of any potential exposures on campus and rates the risk of exposure as low, moderate or high.  Acting on the directions from Public Health, the university assists with the contact tracing including notification of groups and professors in charge of classes as required. The extent of notification depends on the level of risk assigned by Public Health. This process has been in place for a year. 

Are we allowed to have some office hours that are virtual or are they all required to be in person? 

Faculty should provide students with the option for in-person and remote office hours.  The university is moving towards in-person activities and all offices are offering these options.  

 

 

 

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