University preparedness for COVID-19/Novel coronavirus

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: March 12, 2020 3:00 p.m.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustration showing ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustration showing ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Photo: CDC

On March 10, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The declaration was made as a call to action for all countries to make concerted efforts to prepare for, detect and prevent the spread of the disease while we still have the ability to limit its social and economic consequences.

Today, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer announced the province's first presumptive case of COVID-19.

"More cases are expected in the days and weeks to come. The University of Regina has been working on its containment and contingency planning to minimize any potential impact on our students, faculty and staff," said Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). "Our focus is on the health and safety of our entire campus community, and on doing everything we can to ensure that our students' studies are disrupted as little as possible."

The University has communicated extensively regarding restrictions placed on University-organized or sanctioned travel, ways to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19, and other related issues. The latest information specific to the University of Regina, may be found here on the University's dedicated web page:

In addition to these efforts, the University has convened its Emergency Operations Centre (UEOC). Its members have been working with faculties and departments to plan for activities that may be required at some point in the future such as:

Moving courses and/or exams on-line:

The University is considering and preparing for a wide variety of measures that may be necessary at some point, including but not limited to:

  • alternative delivery of courses, such as on-line or via video-conferencing;
  • options for adjusting syllabi and course requirements for students;
  • alternatives for students to write final exams which are normally held in the gymnasiums, etc.;
  • academic coordination between all campuses and academic partners including regional colleges and satellite campuses; and
  • managing potential impacts on the University's research programs.

Closing the University/Cancelling classes or final exams

The University of Regina never truly "closes" as we have more than 1,000 students who live on-campus and require supports and services. At this time, there is no indication from federal or provincial health authorities that classes need to be cancelled. However, we continue to monitor the situation and planning is underway should we need to reschedule or cancel face-to-face classes and/or final exams.

Self-isolation or quarantine planning for students who live on-campus

Plans and proposed locations are in place for students who live in one of our residences and may need to isolate themselves.

Individuals who are in self-isolation should monitor their symptoms and immediately report worsening of symptoms to a health care provider, HealthLine 811, or if it is an emergency, 911.

Other contingency planning underway for those living on-campus includes:

  • provision of food and other essential services;
  • ensuring adequate supplies of cleaning and other essential products; and
  • continuing with strong protocols and procedures for disinfecting/cleaning.

University-hosted events/lectures/sports/large gatherings

As with classes on campus, there is no indication from health authorities that events need to be cancelled or postponed at this time. Event organizers may want to consult with Health, Safety & Wellness to go over health considerations and recommendations when deciding whether to proceed with any new events. Events already scheduled can still move forward, although personal hygiene and social distancing guidelines should be considered and communicated to those attending. Organizers should be aware that large events/gatherings may be cancelled by our federal or provincial governments, and may want to have contingency plans in place.

"The University of Regina is basing our preparedness planning and our decision-making on the guidelines and recommendations of government and medical officials with the training, knowledge, and expertise required to manage emerging health issues such as the spread of COVID-19," said Chase. "We will continue to monitor the situation, put our plans into action when and if required, and provide updates as the situation changes and future decisions are made."