Toronto Public Health tracks and reports on positive COVID-19 cases daily including ongoing reporting of cumulative cases by specific neighbourhoods. Through this reporting we are aware that there are a high number of positive cases in the area adjacent to our Keele campus, known as York University Heights. As a result, I would like to reiterate the important precautions we all must continue to take to keep each other safe and how York is doing its part.
At York University, we continue to be guided by public health and government guidelines. This spring, the University made the decision to offer more than 97% of our 3,500 undergraduate courses through on-line and remote delivery for the 2020/21 academic year. Thanks in part to this proactive measure, cases on our campus remain low. We must however continue to be vigilant.
In the daily briefing, the City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health consistently underscores the importance of:
- Physical distancing: Maintain 2 metres (or 6 feet) apart or wear a mouth and nose cover
- Mandatory mouth and nose covers in indoor public spaces
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water and/or using hand sanitizer
York University continues to work closely with TPH while continuing to take active measures to keep our community members as safe and informed as possible. Recently, we added a page to our Better Together website that provides a daily update on the number of reported positive COVID-19 cases of any individuals who have recently been on campus. The website also provides more detail on the steps that TPH takes to assess any risk to York University community members, and to advise the University or individuals accordingly of any mitigating steps that should be taken.
We also have contingency plans in place to respond to a number of potential scenarios to identify, isolate and contain health and safety situations that may occur for those who come onto our campuses and for those who live on campus.
If any positive COVID-19 diagnoses are reported to the University, we immediately provide that information to TPH who are responsible for contact tracing/case management. Contact tracing, notification, and follow up is a process that TPH uses to identify, educate, and monitor anyone who has had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 virus. If TPH determines there is a potential community risk of transmission, the University follows their direction to help mitigate any identified risk.
Anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be contacted by TPH and instructed to self-isolate immediately. Using contact tracing, TPH identifies any persons with whom the individual was in close contact and potentially exposed to the virus. TPH also provides active daily monitoring of confirmed cases, providing each individual with instructions including how to self-monitor and how to prevent further spread, until the positive case is resolved, and the isolation period ends. TPH does not routinely disclose the locations that the individual with COVID-19 visited unless there is some specific risk identified where individuals cannot be identified – for example, riders on a bus where a passenger tests positive.
For more information, please visit: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus/contact-tracing-initiative. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for making the safety of the campus a priority. When we all do our part and take precautionary measures, we protect everyone.
I also want to remind you about the importance of the safety protocols we have in place for community members permitted to be on campus. Those approved to return to campus must:
- Complete the COVID-19 Screening Checklist each time they attend York
- Wear a non-medical mouth and nose covering in shared spaces and within buildings
- Practise physical distancing and hand hygiene.
If you are symptomatic, you should contact Toronto Public Health, Telehealth Ontario, or your doctor, for advice as soon as possible. If you become ill and live in residence, go immediately to your room to self-isolate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, your Don or Community Assistant on duty to report your symptoms. Residents are provided immediate direction and support. If you are a student experiencing anxiety or stress, please reach out to Student Counselling & Development at 416-736-5297 or visit the website https://counselling.students.yorku.ca/ to learn about remote access of services.
For faculty and staff in need of support, please call the Employee and Family Assistance Program toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate, confidential help at 1-800-268-5211; TTY Service is available at 1-800-363-6270.
As always, individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or feeling ill in general are requested to not attend our campuses.
For the most current information, we encourage community members to visit the Better Together website on a regular basis.
Rhonda L. Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor