The University of Toronto Governing Council held its first meeting of the academic year online on September 9. The most pressing item on the agenda was regarding the measures taken by the university to combat COVID-19. Members of the COVID-19 Special Committee, which was formed by a council vote on April 2, took the time to answer questions and expand on the policies being introduced.
The policy on Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings, which was approved by the committee on August 10, was among the significant strategies discussed at the meeting. This new mask policy requires the wearing of non-medical masks or face coverings in all common-use spaces on university property.
“The policy is consistent with the approach being taken by Toronto and Mississauga bylaws,” said University Vice-President Cheryl Regehr over video conference. “It will remain in effect as long as the government recommends masks.” However, children under two and individuals requiring accommodations are exempt from the policy.
The measures are an escalation of a similar policy that was implemented on July 7 which required masks to be worn in classrooms, shared offices, and similar common spaces. According to the policy document, the increased measures aim to protect people using areas of the university which make “practicing physical distancing […] difficult or unpredictable.”
Regehr also mentioned that the policy would have an enforcement system in place.
“Enforcement will depend on the individual’s relationship with the university, the nature of an incident, the place in which it occurred, and the impact on others in that place,” said Regehr.
To help students comply with the measures, Regehr also announced that the university is distributing two free non-medical cloth masks per student. The specific distribution times and locations were not mentioned in the meeting but can be found for all three campuses on the UTogether2020 website. While first year UTM students will be receiving their masks in their welcome kits, returning students can collect theirs at four separate locations on campus; the hospitality booth at the Davis building, the facilities management and planning room in Maanjiwe Nendamowinan, the service desk at the CCT Atrium, and lastly, at the registrar’s office.
In addition to the mask policy, several other steps are being taken by the Special Committee, including the implementation of special training for the university cleaning and sanitation staff, and an increase in the number of hand sanitizing stations across the three campuses.