STEPHENVILLE, NL –
College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Emergency Response Team has been actively rolling out preventive and proactive measures since this past January as COVID-19 information became publicized.
Since that time, frequent meetings have been held to assess the situation based on reliable medical advice from regional, provincial and national health authorities. From that information the group developed a continuously evolving action plan for the post-secondary institution.
“We recognize that this is a serious situation that is not isolated, and we are doing everything within our scope to ensure that our students and employees’ safety is at the core of any decisions we make,” said Bruce Hollett, CNA President and CEO. “We caution everyone about misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts, and we encourage anyone with questions or concerns to bring them forward to their instructors (in the case of students) and supervisors (in the case of employees). Any measures we have taken have been carried out with the goal of prevention and reducing risk. We are in constant communication with health officials and encourage everyone to be informed with the science and facts. We will evaluate and assess CNA operations daily, as we know COVID-19 effects can change at any moment, and we need to remain prepared to adapt.
To date, several initiatives have been put in place, and each will be re-assessed:
- Messaging and communications: A poster and social media campaign regarding on proper hygiene practices started in January and has been repeated towards the end of Reading Week March 26. A webpage dedicated to up to date information on COVID19 was developed.
- Travel: Employees were notified March 4, 2020 that international travel (outbound and inbound) had been suspended until further notice. As of March 12, employees were also informed that all nonessential travel has been suspended, and only work-related travel essential for program delivery within the province would be sanctioned. If travel occurs for personal reasons, people may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
- Prevention: Students and employees are being asked to take extra precautions to protect themselves – regular and thorough handwashing; disinfecting their workspaces; maintain social distancing (one metre/three feet) from individuals coughing or sneezing; change how they greet others; avoid touching eyes, hands and face; cover mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing and stay home if feeling unwell – call 811 if you feel cold/flulike symptoms for advice.
- Human Resources: Everyone’s safety and wellbeing are a priority. For those who have returned from travel, individuals are inquiring about measures they should take. These are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Individuals who are unwell should remain at home.
- Business continuity: CNA will continue its program offerings and assess the situation daily; however, other measures related to campuses have been taken, such as postponing all large gatherings; encouraging the use of Skype to attend meetings; postponing room rentals and external use of facilities; and, evaluating the offering of Contract and Continuous Learning courses individually.
- Residences: Students who live in residence are asked that if they experience flulike symptoms with a fever while living in residence to call their residence advisor, the province’s HealthLine at 811 and/or their family doctor. They will be able to advise students on their next steps. During any cold and flu season, it’s a good idea to stock up on supplies (like cold and flu meds, a thermometer, hand sanitizer and tissues) in case there is a need to self-isolate for any length of time.
“This is a unique time in our history, and if I can leave a reminder with our staff and students, it is to take all the extra steps at their disposal to protect themselves – we all need to do our part,” said Hollett. “We understand that thoroughly and frequently washing your hands is everyone’s best defense right now.”
CNA encourages students and employees to keep up to date with COVID-19, by visiting:
Department of Health and Community Services –
Public Health Agency of Canada
– Link HERE
World Health Organization –
College of the North Atlantic