Looking at Fall: Brock community must collectively continue to manage the pandemic

Thanks to hard work and dedication by Brock students, faculty and staff, Brock University successfully navigated the past six months as the world dealt with the fallout of an unprecedented pandemic. That same level of cooperation and commitment will be needed in the months ahead as Brock continues to address COVID-19 and its effects.

In what will be a busy Fall, most campus operations will remain modified from ‘normal’ as Brock continues taking careful steps to deliver services, academic programs and research capacity while protecting personal safety.

“There have been difficult decisions to make, shared sacrifices and a commitment to doing the work of the University in different ways,” says President Gervan Fearon.

“Over these months, our students, faculty, researchers and staff have worked together to ensure we place the health and well-being of each other first, and to ensure that Brock is a responsible member of the broader Niagara and Ontario communities as we all work together to mitigate the impacts of this virus.”

This week, a major advance was achieved with the introduction of a new tool for tracking the status of campus operations and indicating specific levels of response and recovery.

Stages for Pandemic Response and Recovery lists five different stages of activity that campus operations can be set at, based on current public health guidelines. For each stage the document indicates corresponding levels of access and activity for more than 20 categories of groups or facilities at Brock.

Currently the University is in Stage 2. On Sept. 1, as Fall term is set to begin, the University is to advance to Stage 3, with further loosening of some restrictions on campus activity and access. In order to allow for a safe and orderly resumption, not all transitions will happen at once. It is expected that the University will remain at Stage 3 until at least January 2021.

Under Stage 3:

  • As previously scheduled, some limited in-person classes will be held. Students in these classes require access to specialized spaces or equipment. Almost all of the teaching and learning in the Fall term will continue to be conducted online. You can read more about the Fall Academic Plan here. Where in-person classes are required, the University is making modifications to classrooms and in public spaces to ensure health and well-being and to follow Public Health guidelines regarding physical distancing and hygiene.
  • There will be a continued easing of restrictions on research activity, with some time-sensitive and in-person human research now permitted. Researchers must follow the Plan for Expanded Access to Research Facilities and Sites During Pandemic that was released in June.
  • Library services will be provided mainly online, with some limited access to collections and materials permitted.
  • In the coming weeks, a smaller-than-usual number of students will move into Brock Residences. This housing plan has been drafted in consultation with Public Health and will allow for physical distancing and maintenance of social bubbles that align with health guidelines and advice.

Campus Access

Under Brock Stage 3, access to campus remains strictly limited to those whose jobs are required to provide critical support to students, faculty, staff or campus operations.

Some staff will return to campus, but only those who are required to be on-site to fulfill their duties. For those areas where limited staff will return, modifications are being made to workspaces and scheduling to ensure physical distancing and health and safety. Anyone entering campus will need to go through a pre-screening process. Non-medical face coverings will be mandatory (as has been the case at Brock since July 1).

Faculty members wishing to obtain access to their individual offices should fill out the Campus Access Request Form and apply through their Senior Administrative Council (SAC) leader.  Any member of the Brock University community wishing to request access to campus for any other type of activity should fill out the Resumption of University Activity Request Form and apply through their SAC leader.

Everyone coming to campus will continue be pre-screened at the security desk entry points, and will still need to follow Public Health guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining safe distancing.

People will also be required to maintain schedules that ensure safe distancing is maintained at all times, in all departments or work environments.

Saving time:  New app lets people answer COVID-19 questions before they get to campus

Brock is introducing a new Self-Assessment Screening Survey that streamlines entry for those who are approved to come to campus.

The app does not collect personal information, but lets people answer in advance the same questions they’re currently asked when entering campus at access desks in the Rankin Family Pavilion or the Cairns Research Complex.

Created with the assistance of Niagara Regional Public Health, the app can be accessed through the Brock Safety App, or at this link.

Upon entry at one of the health screening stations at campus access points, people will be asked to display the results screen of their self-assessment. This will display the date and indicate if the person has shown symptoms or a probability of exposure to COVID-19. This self-assessment must be completed each day someone wishes to enter a Brock facility.

Those who complete the screening and find that they should not be permitted entry as they display symptoms or a perhaps pose a higher risk of exposure are asked not to attend campus but to self-isolate and to contact their health care provider and/or Niagara Region Public Health for further assessment or support.

Reminder on Research Access

As Brock has enacted a number of measures in response to the pandemic, the Office of Research Services continues to provide services for our researchers. We ask that researchers allow extra time for us to process applications and other documentation during this challenging period.

This summer, the Vice-President, Research issued a memo detailing expanded access to research facilities.