Coronavirus Protocol on Campus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) raises concerns for students on the Langara College campus. Little known protocols include 'social distancing'.

Vancouver, BC, Feb. 7, 2020 - A group of students in the langara cafeteria, one of whom is wearing a surgical mask.
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By Max Leckie

Correction February 13, 2020: A previous version of this story stated that the COVID-19 death toll was 2016. The actual death toll as of publication is 1115, according to the World Health Organization.

Cases of COVID-19, formerly referred to as coronavirus, remains at four confirmed infections in B.C., and one Langara student wishes the college’s plans for potential outbreak were more informative should the virus become widespread in the province.

As of Feb. 12, Langara had posted three community updates on its  website, Instagram and Facebook. The updates state that since the academic term has been in progress longer than the virus incubation period and there are no reported cases on campus, classes and normal campus operations will not be interrupted. It also asks that any students or employees who have recently arrived from Hubei Province stay home for 14 days, and inform their instructors or supervisors. An email from the college said its protocol includes following the recommendations of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Nadia Rahnumah, a first-year general arts student at Langara, said that she was not aware of Langara’s protocols, and she has a lot of unanswered questions, should a virus break out within the college.

“I’d like to know what would happen if someone within the college caught it, would classes be shut down? Would there be a certain section of the building shut down?” said Rahnumah.

Rahnumah admits she doesn’t check the college website as often as she should, but wishes there were more regular social media updates.

Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and UBC professor, said if the virus were to spread more in B.C. and become more serious, initiatives called “social distancing” would likely be implemented.

“School closures are effective in curtailing the spread of infection … so that’s a possibility if things got really bad,” Taylor said.

Social distancing protocols have not been mentioned on the Langara website or social media platforms.

The COVID-19 virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of publication time, the virus has since spread to 24 countries with over 45,000 confirmed cases and 2068 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. But news outlets are saying more than 14,000 new cases were reported by Hubei Province on Wednesday.

—With files from Kristian Trevena.

Campus Safety Measures
As news of the COVID-19 virus spreads, so does a higher demand for face masks. Langara’s community update suggests more practical measures such as frequent hand washing, and staying home if you’re sick to prevent the spread of infections. Jessica A. Froud Photo.

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