Kitchener-Waterloo

A handshake-free convocation and sanitizing stations: How local universities are responding to coronavirus

Post secondary schools in Waterloo region say they have been "closely monitoring" any developments of COVID-19 and have taken several steps to protect students and staff. Waterloo region confirmed its first case of COVID-19 Thursday.

Schools put in travel restrictions to some countries for staff and students

Post secondary schools in Waterloo region say they have been "closely monitoring" any developments of COVID-19 and have taken several steps to protect students and staff. Waterloo region confirmed its first case of COVID-19 Thursday. (Photo illustration by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty)

From additional hand-sanitizing stations to handshake-free convocations, Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are all trying to keep students safe amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

Region of Waterloo Public Health confirmed the area's first case of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Conestoga College has adopted a "handshake-free" behaviour for events until further notice.

And several schools have restricted international travel for students and staff. 

The University of Waterloo suspended all travel to China and Iran on university business, including student travel for study or exchange.

The university is also asking any students or staff who have travelled to Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Singapore or South Korea recently to watch for signs or symptoms.

"We have remained in contact with anyone that's abroad just to let them know the latest information and offer any help we can assist them with," said Matthew Grant, director of communications with the university.

"We do know that students in affected areas are ok."

On Monday, Laurier extended its travel ban for staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students to Iran, Japan, South Korea and Italy in addition to China.

Conestoga College said international travel by staff for business has been put on hold and all study abroad trips have been cancelled.

Conestoga has also added plans to add additional hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to student spaces and hubs, classroom and offices. 

However, the school is currently addressing a shortage of those items and says it will make them available to student areas and offices when they become available.

Online resources have also been distributed, including tips on how to prevent the spread of the flu and coronavirus, such as staying home if you're sick, washing hands often, using hand sanitizer and avoiding face-touching.

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