I want to start by thanking everyone in the University of Waterloo community for what has been a strong start to this very unique Fall Term. It has certainly offered its own obstacles but also successes for our University.
While we each are working, either in our studies, research, education, or support operations, it is hard to ignore the pressures and stress we are all facing due to the recent rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in our region and across Canada. I know COVID fatigue is weighing on so many and it feels like we can’t do anything to change the tide, but the reality is there is much we can do right here within the campus community and beyond.
Here are a few examples of what you can do to help yourself and all of us, and what the University is doing to combat the risk of spread within our community.
Hands, mask and space
From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials advised the importance of washing hands thoroughly and regularly. It may sound like a broken record of a message, but it cannot be stressed enough. Being vigilant in washing our hands with soap and water or the application of hand sanitizer is essential. New hand sanitizer stations and advisory signage have been placed throughout campus.
We have made masks mandatory across public spaces on campus. It is such an easy preventative action that we can all take – but also proven to be one of the most effective. Be sure to visit our face coverings information page for up-to-date details.
Finally, the one thing we can do that sounds simple, but is also the most challenging, is to physically distance from one another. I know we want to be together with our friends, family and colleagues. It is only natural, however, as the fall gets colder, we must remember to keep our space, keep our interactions with those outside of our core bubble to a minimum, and to stay the course.
COVID-19 Testing Assessment Centre open for appointments
The University of Waterloo opened its dedicated COVID-19 Testing Assessment Centre on October 1 to serve our students and employees who are in need of testing. Testing is by appointment only through an online form. This testing centre was only possible through our partnership with local public health and St. Mary’s General Hospital and will serve our campus community to help keep us safe.
The University is working with the local and provincial health authorities toward the possibility of expanding the coverage of testing to include family members of students, faculty and staff for needed testing.
Download the COVID Alert app
We will continue to lean on technology in our battle against COVID-19 and part of that is the COVID Alert app. Please, if you haven’t downloaded it yet on your smartphone, do so now. It is merely a single tool in our toolbox in the fight to track potential outbreaks, but an important one. As we continue to move about our daily lives shopping for food, running essential errands and finding a quiet place to study, we will be in near contact with others that we don’t know and the app is part of our broader contact tracing efforts.
As of October 1, the University also launched a new COVID-19 dashboard tracker that will post confirmed cases amongst our students and employees who attended one of our campuses. We will maintain this dashboard in our ongoing dedication to health and safety at our institution.
Mental health support
After having dozens of conversations with students, faculty, staff and alumni over the past 7 months, I have seen the strength deep within each of us, but also the constant stress putting pressure on our mental health and wellness. Campus Wellness and Counselling Services are ready and able to assist any student in finding help whether you are studying or if you are on co-op.
For our dedicated employees who may be feeling more stressed than normal, please reach out. Campus Wellness and Occupational Health have a number of resources that are open to faculty and staff members, and the Employee and Family Assistance Program that can be contacted any time of the year.
We are in the midst of a decisive moment in our fight against COVID-19. The health and wellness of our students, employees and local community members has remained our top priority from the very start. Now, as we move forward, we can all continue to do our part to keep our community safe. I know it won’t be easy. I know it won’t be without sacrifices to the everyday things we love about Waterloo. But, now is the time for us Warriors to stand together. Because at Waterloo, Warriors protect Warriors.