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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 17, 2020
While the majority of university students will learn from home in the coming semester, there will still be students taking in-person classes at Memorial University in September.
The university has received approval from the Department of Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health to resume a limited number of classes on campus for classes and research projects that demand a hands-on learning experience that can’t be replicated in an online environment.
Travis Fridgen, dean of the faculty of science, says there are around 150 students beginning honours research projects in the faculty in the fall, with around half of those students needing to head to campus to complete their work.
“We’ve been given the guidelines by the province, which we have to follow. You can only have so many people in a given space. They’ve got to be able to be distanced and if they’re not distanced, we recommend wearing facemasks and things like that,” said Fridgen.
“Certainly, in a science environment there’s always a lot of personal protective equipment that needs to be used.”
There will still be additional protective equipment needed for those on campus. Fridgen says he’s unsure the exact budgetary impact on his faculty, but he expects the increased need for the equipment will be balanced out by the lack of other resources required with less students on campus.
“We aren’t going to be taking temperatures — at least there’s been no talk in the faculty of science on that yet — but we do require that everyone who comes on campus every day has to fill in the self-assessment form,” he said.
“Recently, (MUN's department of) environmental health and safety just came out with one that can be done through the MUN Safe App.”
Students doing their sixth term in their bachelor of engineering degrees, those completing nursing skills laboratory work, students in the school of music who need individual practice spaces, and those in human kinetics and recreation 3220 and 4220 are among the other students who will spend some time on campus.
Memorial University is not alone in allowing some students to return to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 15, Wilfred Laurier University announced a primarily virtual return in the fall but identified some areas where students would be able to return.
Graduate students, students attending the Marine Institute, as well as those in the faculties of medicine, nursing and pharmacy will receive further details on whether any courses or laboratory work will be required on campus as the school year draws closer.
Barbara Battcock, MUN's director of environmental health and safety, says the safety of those returning to campus is paramount. She says a mandatory online COVID-19 class has been created for faculty, staff and students returning to campus.
“The objective of this course is to create a greater awareness of rules that are outlined in the health and safety plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Battcock.
The sanitization of the university will also increase for the fall semester.
“One of the more complex things we’re doing now is managing the density of people on campus. Every person that is on campus is tracked and monitored on a regular basis,” she said.
“We share that with different stakeholders throughout Memorial, for example campus enforcement, facilities management. These densities impact how much cleaning they need, how much hand sanitizer.”
Battcock says it will be up to everyone to follow the guidelines to ensure a safe campus this fall.
“We all know that physical distance, maintaining the two-metre distance in order to stop and slow down and contain the spread of COVID-19 – everyone has a part in health and safety,” she said.
“All these controls will protect the health and safety of people at Memorial.”