Hazard Assessment & Risk Mitigation
Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Most adults infected with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms that do not require care outside of the home. While COVID-19 impacts adults more than children, some adults with specific health circumstances are at an increased risk for more severe outcomes, including older individuals, people with compromised immune systems, or those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung conditions.
The COVID-19 virus has a very low infection rate in children and youth. Children and youth typically have much milder symptoms of COVID-19, most often presenting with “cough, fever and sore throat.” Many children have asymptomatic disease; however, there is no conclusive evidence that children who are asymptomatic pose a risk to other children or to adults. Evidence indicates transmission involving children is primarily limited to household settings, and from COVID-19 positive adults to children. Most cases in children have been linked to a symptomatic household member.
Coronavirus is transmitted via direct and indirect contact. It is most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- Respiratory droplets generated when someone coughs or sneezes
- Close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching something with the virus on it, then touching the mouth, nose or eyes before washing hands.
Current evidence suggests that person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact. It is believed that most droplet transmission occurs within a 2-metre radius of the source. – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks. However, evidence is suggesting that there may be aerosol transmission and more research is going into assessing this.
When assessing the likelihood of transmission/infection, the following are important:
- Contact intensity – the type of contact (close/distant) and the duration of contact (brief/prolonged)
- Number of contacts in the setting – the number of people present at the same time
It should be recognized that it will not be possible to remove all risk of infection and disease now that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is well established in communities. Mitigation of risk, while easing restrictions, will be needed for the foreseeable future. Pickering College is committed to taking the steps necessary to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of the members of our community – students, faculty and staff, visitors and contractors.
Infection prevention and exposure control measures help create a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. Pickering College will use the controls listed below to prioritize risk mitigation steps.
Public Health Measures
These are actions taken across society at the population level to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduce the impact of COVID-19. These measures include orders from the Federal, Provincial and Local Health Officers such as prohibiting mass gatherings, requiring travellers to self-isolate or quarantine upon arrival in Ontario, effective testing and contact tracing, and emphasizing the importance for people to stay home when they are sick.
These are changes to the physical environment that reduce the risk of exposure. Examples include being outdoors, using visual cues for maintaining physical distance, and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting routines.
These are measures enabled through the implementation of policies, procedures, training and education and include changing scheduling (classes, drop off and pick up etc.) and work practices, and decreased density of individuals on campus at any given time as well as health and wellness policies and using virtual learning opportunities.
These are actions individuals can take to protect themselves and others. They include updated illness policies to insist that individuals stay home when they are sick, maintaining physical distance/minimizing physical contact, and hand and cough hygiene.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
This the last and least effective of the infection prevention and exposure control measures and should only be considered after exploring all other measures. PPE is not effective as a stand-alone preventive measure, should be suited to the task, and must be worn and disposed of properly. Outside of the health care settings, the effectiveness is generally limited to protecting others. PPE includes gloves, face shields and face masks.