Teaching assistants and students will be responsible for wiping down their own “touch areas” after tutorials, the Dean of Graduate Studies announced today.
In an email to all teaching assistants, Dean of Graduate Studies Martine Smith said that staff and students will wipe down their own “desk tops, chair frames, podiums and keyboards”.
Teaching assistants will not be responsible for wiping down students’ “touch areas”. However, they will be “asked to remind everyone of the importance of wiping down surfaces and following public health guidelines”.
In the email, Smith said that some teaching assistants had expressed concerns that they would be “required to assume additional cleaning responsibilities once teaching resumes in a couple of weeks”.
“I want to reassure you that this is not the case”, she said.
“There will be many more uncertainties as we navigate the new academic year”, Smith added. “Across the university, there has been a huge collective effort to ensure we can deliver a quality educational experience despite the extraordinary challenges we face.”
“We will continue to plan, monitor and respond as effectively as we can.”
At the beginning of August, the government published extensive guidelines, outline what safety measures universities should implement to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Under the regulations, higher education institutions will be permitted to relax the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre when in lectures or classes.The government said that while the two-metre rule should be maintained “under all circumstances possible”, there will be instances where “teaching cannot be delivered while maintaining 2m distance between students”.
“Under such circumstances”, the guidelines said, “the distance between student seats or workstations may be reduced to (but not less than) 1m”.
Staff are advised to wear face shields, visors or other protective equipment – provided by the universities – if the social distancing rule is relaxed.
The government also recommends “the use of cloth face coverings in indoor settings where adequate physical distance cannot be maintained”.
In order to prevent students congregating in large numbers before lectures, class times may be shortened to 40 minutes of an hour-long time slot, with the remaining 20 minutes for entering and exiting classrooms.
The guidelines noted, however, that preventing congregations outside classrooms “is likely to be quite challenging”.