COVID-19 Update: Director’s Message
Director’s Message March 15, 2020 – Update: Appliance Technical Institute of Canada’s (AT Institute) plans for the remainder of the 2020 Winter semester
Students and colleagues,
Over the last few days, the COVID-19 situation has evolved rapidly and we have been monitoring the changes closely. The health and safety of our campus community is always our top priority.
I am writing to provide an important update regarding AT Institute’s response to COVID-19.
In an effort to minimize the number of people on campus over the next three weeks, we are taking a number of steps. Let me begin with the most important elements:
- AT Institute has decided to cease the delivery of on-site classes on March 16th, 2020 only. This means that there will be no classes held on campus during that period. This is being done so that College faculty and staff can appropriately plan for preparing the college to install safety measures for students and staff. This will also allow us the opportunity to undertake a deep cleaning of technical equipment and classrooms.
- Contingency plans to address final exams are being prepared, information will be shared in the coming days.
- It is important to note that field and clinical placements will continue in their current mode wherever possible, pending any decisions by placement organizations which may impact their operations.
- For all members of the AT Institute community, if you are ill, please stay home.
We know that these decisions will cause some disruption, and we apologize for that. We’re in uncharted territory. We have been consulting and liaising with other post-secondary institutions in the province as we all look to protect our communities. One of the key factors in these decisions is the need to foster a degree of “social distancing”, as recommended by public health authorities. On that front, our goal is to help interrupt the chain of transmission in the wider community, thereby protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that our health care system will not become overburdened.
More detailed information about these changes will be available for students, faculty, and staff when available. We will continue to update the NEWS and post other important information. I urge you to review the site on a regular basis.
As a reminder, we have increased cleaning of high touch point areas, using a chemical that kills both coronavirus and norovirus. This includes the cleaning of keyboards and monitors in the open access labs. Soap and hospital-grade hand sanitizer dispensers across campus are monitored and filled regularly.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for your patience and understanding.
To the AT Institute faculty and staff who have been working long hours the last several weeks to ensure we are prepared to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community – thank you.
To our students: these are unusual times and we know the current situation may be causing stress and uncertainty. There are resources to help. If students or employees need support or counselling, there are resources to help. Post-secondary students can access the Good2Talk Helpline at 1-866-925-5454. Therapy Assist Online provides online and mobile tools and is also available to students. Full-time employees may access the Employee Assistance Program.
The College’s Critical Incident Response Team, which is responsible for COVID-19 oversight, planning and preparation, is staying on top of the developments. This is a dynamic situation and things can continue to change quickly.
It’s a challenging time and I appreciate your understanding and patience. We all look forward to the day when we can resume our regular activities. We will get through this together.
COVID-19 Update: Plans for rest of Winter 2020 semester
Field and clinical placements will continue, wherever possible. Additional details about campus operations and labs will be shared later today. Please standby for more information.
We will continue to monitor and regular updates will be provided on an ongoing basis.
Documentation for student absences
The need for students to provide sick notes is suspended as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Students who are ill are asked to stay home and self-isolate. Understanding that visits to medical professionals may not be possible or advisable in some situations, students may be absent for up to 14 calendar days without requiring a sick note from a physician.
Students are expected to notify their professors/program coordinators of their absence in advance. Upon return to regular college activity, students are expected to make up for missed work. Any questions related to student absences can be directed to professors, program coordinators or Associate Deans. The College may require additional documentation to verify fitness to return to campus/class after an illness.
Documentation for employee absences
Faculty members/instructors who are feeling unwell and/or have reason to believe they should be self-isolated and therefore are unable to attend class, should stay home and contact their Director (for the AT Institute, their Program Head and/or Assistant Program Head) before coming to campus to discuss appropriate next steps.
All other employees who are feeling unwell and/or have reason to believe they should be self-isolated should stay home and contact their manager before coming to campus to discuss appropriate next steps.
Employees will be accommodated, as long as appropriate notification is provided. The College may require additional documentation to verify fitness to return to work.
Academic Continuity Kits have been developed to support faculty and learners and to prepare, should college operations need to change. Academic kits will be provided to Faculty members. Faculty will receive further communication about academic continuity within the coming days.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency, the current risk to Canadians remains low. We maintain ongoing contact with Toronto Public Health and have been advised that there are no additional actions required, and to follow regular respiratory illness protocols and prevention strategies.
AT Institute is following all respiratory illness protocols and prevention measures already in place.
We have increased cleaning of high touch point areas, using a chemical that kills both coronavirus and norovirus. This includes the keyboards and monitors in the open access labs.
Soap and hospital-grade hand sanitizer dispensers across campus will be monitored and filled regularly.
As we are in the winter flu season, we ask everyone to:
- wash your hands as frequently as possible
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and clean your hands.
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm and then wash your hands,
- and stay home if you’re feeling ill.
Public Health Ontario also has several hand hygiene videos available as reference.
Resources and Contacts
We want to emphasize that AT Institute takes the health and well-being of our staff and students seriously and we are monitoring the situation closely. An oversight group comprising representatives from the Academic Division, Communications, Human Resources, Legal and Risk Management, Public Safety, Student Success and Engagement, and the University of AT Institute will provide regular updates to the community.
Further information about COVID-19 is available through these health authority web links:
Ontario Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) page
Toronto Medical Officer of Health – March 11 statement
Toronto Public Health
Toronto Public Health Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet
Government of Canada – Travel Health Notices
Public Health Agency of Canada
DISCLOSURE TO STUDENTS
Last updated on March 13, 2020
We recognize the coronavirus (COVID-19) is new and different and therefore is understandably causing concern among people. At this time, Canadian Public Health Agency has assessed the risk level as low and to date there are no cases presumed or confirmed with any of our students. We are monitoring the situation and following the lead and direction from health and travel authorities about appropriate precautions. As the situation and recommendations change, the information on this website will be updated and if there is a significant change communications will be sent to the campus community.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and general tiredness; however, a small percentage of people have serious symptoms, such as pneumonia. If you show any of these symptoms and have travelled lately or been in contact with anyone who might have the coronavirus, you should follow the advice of all provincial health services for determining whether to self-isolate. Provincial health services advise that to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, including flu and COVID-19, please remember to:
- Wash your hands often and well
- Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
- Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
- When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands
General Questions and Answers:
What precautions are the campuses taking in regards of COVID-19? We are closely monitoring the situation, with guidance from provincial health authorities, Public Health Canada, and Global Affairs Canada. We will take all reasonable precautions, prioritizing the health and safety of students and employees.
How will the campuses ensure operational continuity? We are working with the appropriate provincial and federal health authorities who will guide our response, ensuring the safety and health of the campus community is our first priority.
Which health and travel authorities are providing the campuses with direction about appropriate precautions?
- Provincial Health Authorities
- Public Health Canada
- Global Affairs Canada
Could classes be cancelled? We are continually monitoring the situation, and at this time provincial health authorities have identified the risk as low, meaning campuses remains open and classes are continuing. For updated information please go here. If there are significant changes these will be communicated.
When should a student self-quarantine? Students should follow the advice of their provincial health authorities, or their doctor, for determining whether to self-quarantine.
If students self-quarantine as guided by their provincial health authorities, or doctor, who should they notify and what are the academic implications? Students should notify their instructor or relevant contact who will let them know of the academic implications.
Can campuses advise a student to quarantine? We can advise students to self-quarantine as directed by provincial or federal health authorities, or doctor.
What do students do if they are worried about getting COVID-19 from other students who appear to have symptoms? Please inform your instructor or department of study, who will consult with Health and Safety on a case-by-case basis.
If a student has recently travelled to these countries or areas (as set out below) to please inform your instructor or department of study, who will consult with Health and Safety on a case-by-case basis:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
As guided by travel advisories from Global Affairs Canada, we will monitor and update the list of countries as the situation evolves.
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