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Health and Safety Checklist for University Re-opening

Health and Safety Checklist for University Re-opening 

If a University Administration wishes to schedule significant in-person activities while COVID-19 remains  a public health concern, a number of conditions must be met before staff and students can have  confidence that their campus is safe enough for in-person teaching, learning, and other work. The  following is a non-exhaustive list of steps that a University Administration must take, at a minimum, to  reduce the risks associated with university re-openings. These steps, once implemented, will make  universities safer for students, staff, and the broader community over the long term. 

In terms of return-to-campus planning, the University Administration must:  

1. Strongly encourage and support everyone in the University community to get vaccinated while  recognizing that vaccines alone are insufficient to protect the community from COVID-19 and must  be used in conjunction with several other mitigation strategies as set out below.  

2. Design and prepare re-opening plans for all occupied spaces aimed at addressing the reality of airborne transmission of COVID-19 through respiratory particles (“aerosols”) that can travel  significant distances (i.e., farther than two-meters) and remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. 

3. Proactively and transparently share information with Joint Health and Safety Committees, and  campus unions, faculty associations, and other employee representatives, so that the sufficiency and efficacy of the safety precautions that are in place can be assessed. This information should  include, at a minimum: 

a. The filtration level being achieved in each building; 

b. The ASHRAE ventilation standards (e.g., 62.1-2007) that are being met in each occupied  space in the building; 

c. Records regarding the measurement of ventilation rates and equivalent air exchange  rates (“ACHeq”) in occupied areas of buildings; and, 

d. Tests results for Legionella, as well as information on how issues with building water  systems are being resolved (i.e., “remediated”). 

The following is a non-exhaustive list of steps the University Administration must take with  respect to Ventilation (in keeping with 3 a.-c. above).  

4. For every building that will be occupied, including classrooms, hallways, offices, entry ways,  common spaces, stairwells, and washrooms, the University Administration must:  a. Assess the sufficiency of ventilation and filtration, including: 

i. Ensuring that HVAC systems are operating properly; and 

ii. Measuring ventilation and/or respiratory particle removal rates in each occupied area to a documented particular target level (i.e., equivalent air exchanges per hour (“ACHeq”), Litres per second per square meter per person)

This document was compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who serve on  the UTFA side of the U of T Central Health and Safety Committee. 

b. Significantly improve the filtration and ventilation in each building, including:

i. Upgrading all air filters (e.g., to MERV-13) wherever systems can accommodate them; 

ii. Modifying all ventilation systems to increase ventilation rates and percentage of  outdoor air circulating within the system (e.g., by opening dampers to reduce  recirculation of air, disabling demand-controlled ventilation so outdoor air  intake is maximized, etc.); 

iii. After spaces have been occupied or cleaned/disinfected, flushing three room  volumes of air based on the measured ACH equivalent for that space1 before those same spaces are re-occupied; and, 

iv. Taking additional steps (e.g., adding appropriately sized, located, and maintained portable or wall-mounted air filters) in spaces where target  ventilation rates cannot be achieved. 

5. Monitor the amount of outdoor air on an ongoing basis in order to verify that targets for  ventilation and filtration are being reached in recognition of the fact that HVAC systems often fail  to achieve designed performance2. Monitoring should include: 

a. Measuring pressure drop at air filter banks to confirm that filters are properly sealed and/or that air flows are consistent with laboratory tests for efficiency; 

b. Documenting and sealing gaps around air filters, as air moves through these gaps and  does not get filtered (“bypass”);  

c. Consider using CO2 monitoring devices to monitor and document the amount of  outdoor air that is being supplied to occupied buildings areas; 

d. Periodically measure and document the supply air flow rates to every occupied space;  and, 

e. Adjusting and documenting calculations of equivalent air exchange rates to reflect  issues with filter efficiency that affect the ‘real-world’ performance including filter  bypass and charge media efficiency degradation (e.g., use in-situ efficiency results from  ISO 29462:2013 and or field measurements of ACH equivalents). 

6. Adjust HVAC systems in response to results that are received through ongoing monitoring. This  should include: 

a. Installing gaskets around air filters to eliminate gaps around the filters (i.e., “filter  bypass”); and 

b. Addressing filter degradation (i.e., deterioration of filters which occurs over time, and  which reduces the effectiveness of air filtration). 

1 That is, for at least 30 minutes (at verified 6 ACH equivalents, longer at lower ACH eq). 2This is caused by a variety of issues, including due to damper position issues, humidification, filter loading,  occluded outdoor air vents, etc. 

This document was compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who serve on  the UTFA side of the U of T Central Health and Safety Committee. 

7. Conduct, document, and publish a building-level assessment of each occupied building, (including  an assessment of stairwells, building entries and exits, corridors, bathrooms, elevator lobbies and  cabinets, study areas, labs, libraries, staff and student offices) and areas where large numbers of  students may congregate (including classrooms and eating areas), to ensure planned occupancy  limits are not exceeded and mitigation approaches (e.g., planned physical distancing and masking)  are functioning appropriately as planned. 

8. Where issues are identified with the above mitigation approaches, ascertain further ways to  mitigate transmission of COVID-19, which should include: 

a. Additional layers of protection in higher-risk spaces where users will be temporarily  unmasked (e.g., eating areas, bathrooms) or where physical distancing is impossible  (e.g., classrooms with single stairwells/corridors); and, 

b. Taking additional ventilation measures (e.g., the addition of appropriately sized, located,  and maintained portable or wall-mounted air filters). 

The following is a non-exhaustive list of steps the University must take with respect to Water  Systems (consistent with 3d above). The University Administration must:  

9. Prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria by implementing (and documenting) a process for  regularly flushing domestic water systems.  

10. Implement a system of testing for Legionella in the potable water distribution systems as well as  non-potable water in HVAC systems, fountains, etc. of University buildings, which should include: a. An appropriate testing methodology, and guidelines to interpret test results, including  swabbing distribution points (faucet aerators, shower heads, etc.), HVAC fan coils and  sumps, and other high-risk points for biofilm development; 

b. Collection and analysis of bulk water samples including potable water (both hot and  cold) and non-potable water (fountains, sumps, etc.) where appropriate; 

c. Implementation of a risk-prioritized testing schedule to ensure the effectiveness of  control strategies; and, 

d. Systematic testing of the temperature of cold-water distribution points to ensure cold  water systems are not susceptible to Legionella growth. 

11. Implement a system for addressing positive test results, including:  

a. Taking appropriate mitigation steps (e.g., super heating or hyperchlorination of potable  water systems, biocide use and cleaning of non-potable systems) to remediate areas  showing Legionella contamination or for those that are high risk of recurrent problems 

b. Setting specific guidelines for use in identifying the appropriate remediation measures  in different circumstances (e.g., when is super-heating appropriate);

This document was compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who serve on  the UTFA side of the U of T Central Health and Safety Committee. 

c. Implementing a process to identify issues which may not be isolated, and may be  evidence of building-wide issues with a building’s water systems (e.g., repeated positive  test results for Legionella from multiple different locations in a single building); and, 

d. Identifying an achievable schedule for “retesting” after a positive test results are received (e.g., after 36-hours or 48-hours) to confirm that issues have been addressed. 

12. Implement clear protocols (e.g., around use of Personal Protective Equipment, where and to the  extent warranted) for workers who will be conducting sampling and maintenance, given the high  level of risk involved in Legionella sampling

13. Implement a prompt, thorough, and transparent communication framework for promptly advising  building occupants on Legionella testing, and test results, mitigation plans, and risk prioritization.  

The following is a non-exhaustive list of steps the University Administration must take with  respect to the following additional issues:  


14. Implement a policy requiring the wearing of multi-layer, well-fitting non-medical masks in all  University buildings at all times except while eating or drinking in safe designated areas. The policy  must include appropriate mechanisms for ensuring compliance that does not generate conflict  between faculty, staff, and students. 


15. Provide transparent information on how physical distancing, occupancy limits, disinfection  schedules, and traffic flow will be monitored and upheld. Compliance with these protocols requires  the respectful engagement of all members of the University community. 

Contact Tracing and Notification of Outbreaks 

16. Notify all building occupants (including students and staff who are entering a building to eat or  study) of outbreaks and positive cases of COVID-19 within buildings containing work or study  spaces.

This document was compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who serve on  the UTFA side of the U of T Central Health and Safety Committee.

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Open Letter From X University Faculty

Indigneous faculty at this University having written an open letter to X University calling on the university to permanently remove the Egerton Ryerson statue and to announce a commitment to rename the university.

Following the lead of our Indigenous colleagues, a letter from non-indignenous faculty, to X University is also being circulated for signature. A link to this letter is provided  here: . An opportunity to submit your signature is provided at the conclusion of the letter.


Today, there remains no cover or excuse to turn away from the truth about the namesake of our university. Every Indigenous family in this country has been touched by Indian Residential Schools and our namesake’s legacy as an architect of the residential school system is the reason we must act now as faculty members at this institution.

We also act in response to Indigenous faculty and students on campus who have invited us to join this campaign. For the past few weeks, Indigenous faculty and students – and a growing number of supporters – have changed their affiliation from the current name to “X University.” As students wrote in an open letter published by Yellowhead Institute: “For us, there is no debate about reconciling Ryerson’s legacy.” Read the Indigenous faculty open letter to X University community here:

Then, at the end of May, the news broke from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc that 215 children were found buried near the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray Sinclair, warned that many more such discoveries will be made.

We believe there is no space for complacency in this time of national mourning. Ryerson advocated for a completely different school system for Indigenous children, where boarding, Christian instruction and manual labour was essential, and children would learn only common, brute skills and not the “white man’s trade.”

Much has been made by white historians about Egerton Ryerson’s “complicated” legacy, given his contributions to the establishment of the public school system in Ontario and his friendship with some First Nation Methodists, and the timing of his involvement in the residential school system. But we believe that the matter is not complicated: when one’s policies segregate populations based on race, separate children from loving homes, disconnect them from culture, community, and language, and lay a foundation for genocide through their violent implementation over the course of a century and a half, it is these considerations that must carry the weight of his memory.

For over a century, the residential schools were violent and oppressive institutions that caused the deaths of thousands of Indigenous children and traumatized over 150,000 Indigenous children and their families. The resulting trauma produced a legacy of pain that is carried by descendants and survivors of these institutions. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee found the Canadian state to have pursued the physical and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples.

For years, students, faculty, staff and community groups such as the Anti-Racism Coalition have demanded that the statue of Egerton Ryerson, a key architect of Canada’s Indian Residential School system, be removed from our campus. It is clear to us that the name of this university must also be changed. In June 2020, almost 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the statue to be taken down. Indigenous students, faculty, and staff, must finally be heard, along with the broader community at our university. The time for debate is over.

Symbols of oppression and genocide that are diametrically opposed to our stated values of equity, diversity and inclusion have no place in our community.

We call on the university to permanently remove the Egerton Ryerson statue.

We call on the administration to announce a commitment to rename the university.

See the full list of signatories here:

Staff at the university have also written an Open Letter in support that can be read and signed here:

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The Terrorist Attack on a Muslim Family in London, Ontario

The X*FA  Executive is outraged by the act of terror in London Ontario where a family was murdered as part of a racist Islamaphobic attack.

We send our support to X*FA members and all other members of the X University community who are suffering as a result of this horrible act. We see this act as a direct repercussion of a hateful discourse where Islamophobia is encouraged and promoted.

We stand in solidarity with Muslim communities across Canada against systemic and structural racism and Islamophobia.

Ian Sakinofsky

X*FA President (on behalf of the X*FA Executive)

* the X is out of respect for those campaigning for Ryerson University to change its name

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Anti-Asian Discrimination

Dear Colleagues,

Motion passed by the Executive on April 27 2021:

The RFA strongly condemns the rise in Anti-Asian harassment and activities, and we encourage any member experiencing Anti-Asian or any form of discrimination or harassment, to contact Lila Pine, the Chair of the RFA Equity Committee (


RFA Executive

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RFA Motion Regarding Transparent Reporting Of COVID On Campus

On October 6, 2020 the RFA Executive passed the following motion, and conveyed it to the office of the Vice Provost Faculty Affairs, and the co-chairs of Ryerson’s Joint Health and Safety Committee on the same day. To date (April 2021), the RFA request has not been met.

Be it resolved that the Executive of the RFA  expects of  the Administration and the Ryerson Joint Health and Safety Committee that all faculty and staff will be informed of any positive Covid test of any community member who has been on campus within 14 days of the test, and in the case of an employee, the building and floor on which that faculty member is employed.

In addition, on a daily basis, faculty and staff should be informed of any such positive tests within the prior 14 day period.

The RFA Executive strongly recommends that the Administration share this information with the student community as well.

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Member News

RFA members log into your Ryerson account to view items listed under member news. If not logged in you will be directed to a login page when clicking a link. On occasion new members may not be registered by the system to view these items. If this is the case or if you have trouble accessing member content contact to have this fixed.

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RFA Executive Motion On Anti-Semitism and the IHRA

Anti-semitism, like other forms of hate has been more visible lately. There has been a move by some to include criticism of the state of Israel as a form of anti-semitism. There are nuances, but labeling analysis and criticism of government actions as anti-semitism has significant implications for scholarly inquiry and our – academics’ – right to speak truth to power. This academic freedom is a cornerstone of free, democratic society.

Therefore, at its January 26fh meeting, the RFA Executive Committee passed 2 motions related to this subject:

1)  BIRT, The Ryerson Faculty Association unequivocally supports the academic freedom of its members. This freedom includes the right to pursue research and open inquiry in an honest search for knowledge that is free from institutional censorship, including that of the government. While the RFA opposes antisemitism and all forms of racism and hatred, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism poses a serious threat to academic freedom in our university. The IHRA definition of antisemitism misconstrues antisemitism to include a broad range of criticism of the State of Israel. The IHRA definition thus undermines important anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian educational institutions. It can also be used to censor political speech and restrict the academic freedom of teachers and researchers who have developed critical perspectives on the policies and practices of the State of Israel. Such targeted attacks will have a chilling effect on the academic freedom of our members in the classroom, in their research, and in campus politics more broadly.

2) BIRT, the RFA executive send an email to the members with the text of the previous motion, along with a link to:, and further will copy this to OCUFA, the Ontario Parliament Standing Committee on Justice Policy, and the Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC).

An article in The Conversation about IHRA and academic freedom has been forwarded to members:

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