How the University Responds to Cases
Last updated: October 6, 2021
Ryerson’s overall approach to return to campus planning was informed by current public health information. The information will change as the COVID-19 pandemic and public health guidelines continue to evolve. Ryerson will continue to update the site with information, tips and responses to feedback from our community members.
When a case is reported to Ryerson, it is tracked, monitored and assessed for three primary purposes:
- to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19.
- to assess and manage possible risk to community members;
- to assist public health agencies in contact tracing;
In deciding whether or not to communicate a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case on campus, Ryerson University considers:
- confirmed risk to the health and safety of the Ryerson community
- the direction of local public health agencies
If an individual has COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19, unless informed otherwise by public health, the sharing of personal health information is strictly limited to Ryerson staff who need to know this information for the purposes outlined here.
When Ryerson is advised of a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19
Ryerson’s Environmental Health and Safety team works under the direction of Toronto Public Health to ensure the university implements any Toronto Public Health directives as necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Ryerson will conduct an investigation and assess risks to community members that may have occurred on campus.
- Public health may advise Ryerson of any additional measures needed to reduce the risk of transmission. This may include:
- instructions for impacted community members to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms;
- instructions for impacted community members to get tested for COVID-19;
- increasing cleaning and disinfecting.
- Public health/Ryerson will conduct contact tracing of all positive cases.
- Contact tracing is a method of identifying, assessing, monitoring and educating individuals who have had close contact with someone who is infected with a virus. These individuals are at a higher risk of becoming infected and sharing the virus with others. Contact tracing can help the individuals understand their risk and limit further spread of the virus.
- Public health will advise if additional testing and/or actions are necessary in the event that a cluster of multiple cases is categorized as an outbreak.
What are confirmed and probable cases?
A confirmed case is a person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection based on a validated test approved by Health Canada performed at a hospital or community or reference laboratory.
A probable case is a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 and:
- traveled to an affected area (including inside of Canada) in the 14 days prior to symptom onset; or
- had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; or
- lived in or worked in a facility known to be experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19; or
- in whom laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive.
A probable case is also a person without symptoms who had a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and whose laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive.
What happens when a confirmed case has been identified on campus?
In the event that Ryerson is notified of a confirmed case, responses by Ryerson include:
- An intake process by Ryerson’s EHS team to confirm details of possible exposure on campus.
- Investigating the details of the case reported.
- If risk of exposure occurred, communicating with impacted students, staff and faculty.
- Cleaning and disinfection of potentially affected spaces on campus as necessary.
What happens when an outbreak has been identified on campus?
An outbreak would be declared when two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases with an epidemiological link are identified in the workplace, institution or school (e.g., same class, same work area, same shift or activity, etc.) within a 14-day period where both cases could have reasonably acquired their infection in the same space.
In addition to the response protocol listed above, where an outbreak is declared, Ryerson would follow all public health directives and consult with Toronto Public Health to determine:
- Any additional possible exposure on campus.
- If restrictions or closures of impacted facilities and activities are needed.
- Communication of any directives with impacted community members, students, staff and faculty.
- If additional cleaning and disinfecting is required.
- How to ensure continuity of teaching, learning and research.
- How to ensure the continuity of safe housing.
- Considerations for modifying other support services on campus.
What happens if a probable case has been identified in a student or employee who has been on campus?
When a probable case of an individual who has been on campus is reported, Ryerson is tracking, monitoring and assessing the risks to community members for each case to ensure we manage the case to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19.
What happens when Ryerson receives a landlord notification about a confirmed case in a building where Ryerson has leased space?
When a landlord in a leased space notifies Ryerson of a positive case in their building, Ryerson:
- Assesses the notification to determine if further communication to advise of possible risk or exposure is required.
- In some cases, the landlords explicitly advise whether or not further action is required by Ryerson, including advising Ryerson community members of possible risk.
- If Ryerson receives a notification from a landlord without explicit direction, Ryerson will follow its own assessment process. As part of this, identified Ryerson leased space contacts may be contacted to assist in identifying any potential risk to individuals who may have been in our leased spaces on the same date as the reported positive case.
- Where a risk of exposure may exist (or the assessment is not able to exclude a potential risk) notification is provided to impacted Ryerson community members as per our communication protocols.
What happens if a confirmed or probable case has been identified in a student or employee who has not been on campus?
Confirmed or probable cases of individuals working or learning remotely are not required to be reported and tracked centrally as there is no risk to the Ryerson community.
For remote activities, individuals should contact their supervisor or instructor/coach if their illness affects their work or academic studies.
I’m an instructor teaching on campus and a student in my class just told me they tested positive. / I’m a manager and my employee who has been working on campus just told me they tested positive. What should I do?
- If the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been attending campus in the last fourteen days, please ask that they not return to campus and that they follow all public health directives including self-isolation.
- Ask the individual to complete Ryerson’s google formSelf-Declaration form, external link.
- Your EHS manager will contact you and guide you through any additional next steps, including a case investigation to determine any possible exposure of risk, and communication recommendations if required.
Processes to assist Ryerson in contact tracing
To assist public health agencies in contact tracing, course lists and departmental attendance logs are maintained to ensure on-campus activities and individual tracking is available for case investigations. In the event that a public health agency advises Ryerson of a possible exposure on campus, the course lists, and departmental attendance logs are used to notify students, faculty, and staff of possible exposure.
As part of this, faculty, staff and students are reminded that as we continue to work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe, visits to campus should be only as required.