Institutional management of COVID cases in the classroom

Even with Brock’s mandatory vaccination requirement in place, the University is likely to experience some level of COVID activity on campus this academic year. While vaccination helps reduce the severity of the health impact on individuals, management of confirmed cases in the Brock community is required.

In this context, questions have been asked concerning Brock’s strategy for managing classroom activities if COVID cases are linked to a specific course. In many cases, these questions are rooted in the assumption that any level of COVID activity in a course would result in the class moving online for a two-week period. This document addresses these concerns by laying out Brock’s case management principles.

The top priority is to ensure that all decisions are made in consultation with local public health officials. While Niagara Region Public Health may delegate certain tasks to the University in times of increased activity, Brock will continue to work closely with officials in carrying out these tasks. For this reason, any decisions with respect to case management, including decisions about whether an entire course should move online temporarily, will be made at the institutional level in collaboration with the relevant Faculty. Instructors should not move courses online without approval from their Dean.

Based on experience, it is clear that public health decisions about case management will be made not only based on the number of cases in a classroom but also on the possible relationship between these cases, including tracing close contacts. A reasonable connection or link between confirmed cases is required for them to be linked to the classroom setting. This will be critical especially in large classes, where the increased number of students raises the risk of unrelated but coincidental cases.

The Ministry of Health’s new self-isolation guidelines, released late this summer, also suggest differential treatment for individuals who have been vaccinated and those who have not. Of note, those who have been vaccinated and remain asymptomatic after contact with a confirmed case of COVID are not required to self-isolate. As a result of Brock’s vaccine requirement policy, we expect everyone on campus to be vaccinated.

Finally, if individuals have any concerns about whether they should attend campus, either because of COVID-like symptoms or due to some degree of exposure to a confirmed case, they should complete the questions included in the Brock Safety app’s COVID screening tool and follow the guidance provided. Students who fail the screening are presented with a message in red font and directed towards medical resources that can help assess their situation.


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Categories: September 2021