NOSM’s Response to COVID-19
UPDATED: AUGUST 7, 2020
NOSM is an inclusive community where everyone is treated with respect. We are grateful to each of you for the efforts you are putting in to keep our students safe during this time. We are committed to keeping each of you safe, and respecting your individual needs. Please be kind and compassionate to one another.
Please check this website regular for updates.
Welcome Back to Campus (almost)…
A Message from the Dean
On July 6, 2020, NOSM began its four stage Return to Campus (RTC) process to gradually and safely return people to campus and to slowly restore on-site operations that were partially shut down in early March after the pandemic was announced.
We first want to thank everyone –the learners, staff and faculty for their patience, dedication, creativity, understanding and support during these very unpredictable and volatile times as we continue to course correct our pathway back to campus.
The NOSM Emergency Response Team has developed a statement of principles and a planning framework that has guided the School on its transition back to campus, including today’s presentation.
During Stage One (July and August) we learned a lot about what worked and what did not work in our plan. As well (during this timeframe), the Government moved from its Phase 1 to 3 “reopening of Ontario” (along with new public health guidelines) which resulted in NOSM having to continually recalibrate its plans…no easy feat to say the least.
For those who have returned or are returning, NOSM requires that you review a mandatory training presentation and sign an online Attestation that follows the training.
The goal of the training is to provide a baseline set of practices to be followed by everyone returning to campus. The Attestation will confirm your commitment to: practice proper physical distancing; use the recommended personal protective equipment; and to self-monitor for symptoms or possible exposure.
We understand that returning to campus may create fears about associated health risks. For that reason, NOSM has instituted enhanced safety measures to ensure that employees and learners are returning to a safe workplace. Despite our plans to return people to campus in a staged and safe manner, the overarching principle throughout this process is to refrain from having people on campus if work or learning can occur virtually. All members of the NOSM community are asked to support this approach.
Dr. Sarita Verma
NOSM’s Return to Campus will be:
- guided by its values, open communication and collaboration
- supportive of staff, faculty and learner needs
- focussed on the health, safety and wellness
Reasonable and flexible:
- Flexibility and reasonableness will be required to support personal needs of employees/learners as some will:
- not feel safe being with a larger number of people
- have ongoing family issues (e.g. childcare) that require working/learning from home
- Operational and Academic needs will require some people to be on campus at certain times (blending of home and campus)
Personal Health, Safety & Wellness:
- Ongoing requirements for physical distancing will result in reduced availability of space for employees and learners.
- Occupancy and space assignments will be established to ensure safety of employees and learners
- Will require scheduling of people and functions and/or requiring a mix of working at home and on-site.
- PPE will be required (face covering is mandatory) for all who enter the premises
- Enhanced janitorial cleaning required to minimize virus transmission
Return to Campus (RTC) Update
- NOSM’s RTC Plan being “staged” to ensure appropriate physical distancing, enhanced safety measures and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The scenarios below are projections intended for planning purposes only and not targets that need to be achieved
- Events that could affect the scenarios are:
- COVID19 returns (Wave 2)
- Mini-waves that require periodic increase in measures
- Localized outbreaks in communities requiring adaptations
- The underlying principle throughout the RTC process is to refrain from being on campus if work or learning can occur virtually.
Target 30% of staff/faculty working on-site (partial operations)
Target 50% of staff/faculty working on-site
Target 75% of staff/faculty working on site
Target 100% of staff/faculty working on-site)
- Resumed activities on campus aligned with provincial guidelines, and staged to allow NOSM to pivot in the event of a 2nd wave of the virus or changes to Provincial rules
- Individuals returning to campus are based on operational or academic needs (i.e. activities can only be delivered on-campus).
- People must have supervisor/program lead authorization to be on campus (and must have completed the Attestation).
- This will be tightly coordinated/monitored to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of our campus and the communities we serve.
- All NOSM buildings are closed (locked) to the public (swipe-card access is required)
- Attestation is to be completed only once and then voluntary self-monitoring will be required daily.
- If you experience symptoms you will be directed to the Ontario Government COVID-19 Self-Assessment web-link (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/) and required to follow instructions
Minimizing COVID-19 Risk on Campus
- Remote work is the most effective way to minimize risk and should continue wherever possible.
- Where remote work is not possible, physical distancing strategies and other controls will be followed as a second priority. This may include, but not limited to signage, planning your workspace, full PPE such as gowns, gloves, eye coverings or installing barriers such as Plexiglas.
- In support of the Greater City of Sudbury and the City of Thunder Bay, NOSM has implemented a Face Mask protocol that includes mandatory use of masks/face coverings in enclosed spaces where public encounters/exposure to others occurs.
- As per the city by-laws, the following individuals are exempt from the mask or face covering requirement:
- children under two years of age;
- persons with an underlying medical condition which inhibits their ability to wear a Mask or Face Covering (medical note not required);
- persons who are unable to place or remove a Mask or Face Covering without assistance; and
- persons who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a Mask or Face Covering in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code
- Additionally, masks are not required if you are behind a physical barrier or a personal/individual office.
- You may also temporarily remove a mask or face covering where necessary for the purpose of receiving services, or while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity.
- Staff, Faculty & Learners to each receive two cloth face coverings (these will be distributed upon your return to campus)
- NOSM also has disposable masks available if needed (contact NOSM Facilities at email@example.com)
- Individuals can also contact their Supervisor if other PPE is required
- You also may wear personally acquired face coverings that adhere to CDC and other public health standards
- Details regarding face mask/covering use and care will be provided in the mandatory training package
- COVID-19 can be spread from infected individuals who have few or no symptoms and are unaware that they may be infected.
- A non-medical mask or face covering helps to protect others from your infectious droplets.
- It may also prevent other people’s droplets from landing in your mouth or nose.
- While custodial crews at both Laurentian and Lakehead will enhanced cleaning of offices and workspaces, classrooms and public spaces, you should take additional care to wipe down commonly used surfaces after use
- Clearing your desk and table surfaces in personal offices and workstations will aid in cleaning and allow for custodial staff to maximise cleaning surface areas.
- Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is also effective after contacting commonly used surfaces.
- NOSM will provide additional products (based on availability) for personal use.
- All NOSM learners, faculty and staff are encouraged to download the Government’s new COVID exposure notification app –“COVID Alert”, just launched in Ontario last Friday (other provinces to follow)
- The app aims to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by notifying a user when they have been in close contact with another user who tested positive for the virus.
- It is not a contact-tracing app —as it does not track personal data.
- In order to trace someone’s exposure, the app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby app users every 5 minutes and saves the codes on your phone for 14 days
- If a user tests positive for the coronavirus, they will receive a diagnosis key from a public health official to enter into the app.
- You will get a notification if your phone was near a phone was near the phone with a diagnosis key within the last 14 days
- You will also be given instructions on next steps (if you were exposed)
Positive Case on Campus Protocol
- The following “two-step” process, on the next 2 pages, is to be followed when a member of the NOSM community reports that they:
- have tested positive for COVID-19,
- are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and/or
- have had close contact with someone that has tested positive (or close contact with someone who knowingly has symptoms and is being tested for possible COVID19).
Step 1 –Who do I report to if I am unwell?
- Staff and Full-time Faculty are to report to their Supervisor (Division Head for Human and Medical Sciences) via email or telephone.
- Learners are to email the Learner Affairs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Clinical Stipendiary Faculty are to email Program Schedulers at email@example.com(Lakehead campus) or firstname.lastname@example.org(Laurentian campus).
Step 2 –Reporting contacts to inform HR@nosm.ca
- If you receive a report of potential COVID-19 exposure (from Step 1), please contact email@example.com or call (or text) 1-705-280-7023to report.
- You may advise the individual to contact their family physician or local public health unit. Email all information gathered to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ensure you are protecting the individuals right to privacy by not disclosing any personal health information to others.
- Please see the following Positive Case Scenario Pathways, which if followed, will ensure appropriate rapid response to minimize the possibility of virus transmission while protecting the privacy, to the fullest extent reasonably possible, of individuals who have contracted the virus.
Undergraduate Medical Education
- Orientation Week virtual
- Module 106 no travel -alternative experiences are being planned
- Module110 (rural community placement) decision Oct
- Boot camps Yr2 (Aug 31 –Sept 4) Y3 (Aug 5 –14)
- Orientation Days and Boot Camp as above –Aug 10-12 and 27
- CCC starts Aug 24 -students in their communities
- Clinical experiences began July 6,
- Medical Career Advising Sessions connecting students with residency programs at NOSM and across the country
- Students following COVID hospital policies
Postgraduate Medical Education
- All Programs in progress academic events virtual.
- Virtual CaRMS-webinars for interested students,
- Digital marketing to showcase residency opportunities in communities.
- Residency Programs contributing to UME Medical Career & Advising Sessions
- Residents/program engagement s with Student Interest Groups
- Health Sciences resuming clinical placements academics virtual
ElectivesStatus Blocks 1 –4 (July 6 –Sept 26)
- 250 applications to 23 communities & 53 specialties/subspecialties
- Confirmed: 102 RC specialty medicine & 24 Family Medicine rotations
- Majority of electives at NOSM –a few requests to other Ontario schools for electives not available at NOSM
Applications for Blocks 5 –8 (Sept 17 –Dec 20) began July 8
- Pan Northern Clinical Rounds launch in the fall
- Small group facilitation resources:
- 5 hour, interactive online program available now
- Tip sheet for facilitating virtual small groups available now
- Virtual small group facilitation online program in the Fall
- Supervising Learners providing virtual care resources
- Tip sheet available now
- Online program in the Fall
- Shipment of PPE July 29 from Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS)
- PPE shipped to CCC communitiesJuly 30, 31
- Students receive goggles, face shield, package of PPE at boot camp,
- Working with MGCS to ship August PPE directly to communities.
- Wherever possible research activities continuing through working at home
- NOSM Wet Labs Reopened at both Lakehead and Laurentian
- Dry Labs expected to reopen in September
- HSNRI and TBRHRI gradually increasing research activity
- HSN and TBRHSC clinical research focussed on COVID19 or clinical trials where stopping would negatively impact patients (e.g. cancer care)
- Working with Universities on community-based and non-clinical human research requirements
- Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund
Travel between Campuses
- Until January 2021, travel between campuses is not permitted.
- All events should be planned virtually in order to support NOSM’s goal to reduce the number of people on campus to help slow the potential transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable populations
- Under exceptional circumstances, if an on-campus event is deemed essential, that requires learners or employees to travel between campuses, all travel must be approved by the Associate Dean.
- As an exception, NOSM’s distributed education model requires our learners and residents travel to and from communities, for their required clinical placements.
- Prior to scheduling the community/clinical placements, all related learner travel is deemed to have been pre-approved by the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education (for medical students) or the Associate Dean, Postgraduate Medical Education and Health Sciences (for medical residents and health sciences learners). As such, learners would not require Associate Dean approval each time they travelled to and from scheduled/approved placements
Travel within Ontario
- Travellers entering different parts of the province, whether for personal (e.g. vacation) or education/work purposes are required to monitor their health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.If you develop symptoms, even if mild, you are required to call the local public health unit to arrange for testing.
Travel within Canada
- Until January 2021, all work-related travel is not permitted. If travel is deemed necessary, it will require prior approval from by the Associate Dean or Dean (if Associate Dean is requesting travel permission).
- For more details, please refer to NOSM’s Travel Guidelines during COVID-19.
Event Planning on Campus
- Although the Government’s Phase 3 “Opening of Ontario” allows up to 50 people to gather at an “inside” event, physical distancing is the most effective measure to limit the spread of illness and the “preferred” approach at NOSM
- We strongly urge not hosting any large gatherings. Physical distancing of 2M (6 feet) is required regardless of the number of participants at an event.
- The number of participants will be determined by the capacity of the room and its ability to maintain physical distancing requirements. If physical distancing cannot be maintained, then an event should not occur.
- If you are planning an event that is deemed essential by the Associate Dean, it is important to remember that this is an evolving situation and that participants should be aware that the event may be canceled at last minute (have a contingency plan)
- If an on-site event has been planned already (and it is not essential), organizers should consider postponing the event and employ remote technology if possible (WebEx, Google Meets, etc.) to help avoid the spread of coronavirus.
- For gatherings of any size, remind attendees of hygiene measures to lower risk and prevent spread of viruses (not shaking hands, practicing social distancing, etc.).
- Ensure alcohol-based sanitizers are readily available to all participants.
- All attendees will be required to complete a NOSM on-campus training presentation and sign the attestation that follows the training
- Unless deemed as essential or critical, events with invited speakers from off campus (or travelling from another community) should be cancelled, postponed, or conducted remotely, if possible.
- If an event is required for academic or accreditation purposes, and appropriate physical distancing is not possible, then all participants must strictly adhere to full PPE interventions such as face covering, gowns, gloves, eye-cover and hand-hygiene.
- Job interviews for open positions should be conducted remotely via video-or teleconferencing tools, like WebEx or by telephone. Whatever approach you take, use it consistently with all applicants to the same job, so nobody is disadvantaged.
- All on-site events MUST be approved by the Associate Dean of the portfolio hosting/planning the event
- If travel is required between campuses, the Associate Dean must pre-approve travel
- For more details, please refer to NOSM’s Event Planning Guide During COVID-19
Who to Contact for Concerns/Inquiries
- Contact your Learner Affairs Officer and/or Program Supervisor
- For working environment/sick leave, contact your direct supervisor cc. to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- For facility issues (e.g. PPE supplies, building access, etc.), contact your direct supervisor and cc. email@example.com
- For general concerns, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, cc. Lyne Aubry-Yates at email@example.com and Dena Livaditis at firstname.lastname@example.org
EMERGENCY (after hours) CONTACTS:
- Ray Hunt: 705-923-4443 email@example.com
- Lyne Aubry-Yates: 705-280-7023 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joe Lipinski: 807-621-9454 email@example.com
- Grace Vita: 807-252-7455 firstname.lastname@example.org
Patty Fink, Director, Research and Health Sciences Library
Media and Communications
email@example.com for any media queries.