As we all continue to deal with the COVID 19 outbreak here are some recent updates, Situation reports and observations.
Please note: Information regarding COVID 19 changes frequently, sometimes within the same day, including the details of various government assistance programs, regulations and best practices. As such it is extremely important carefully review each update and obtain information from credible government, health service or public health units.
If you have additional questions, please either contact your RMG consultant, or our firm directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with the re line: COVID-19. We’ll respond promptly. For emergency assistance please call 226.972.1539
COVID 19 ISSUES- SCHOOLS REOPENING
With almost 2 million students, Teachers, Staff and other education workers preparing to return to school this month it is almost a certainty that COVID 19 will appear within the school system. While there is currently a hearing scheduled at the OLRB at time of issue it does not appear there will be significant changes to the Ministry of Health, or the Ministry of Education’s guidelines issued last month. While these guidelines offer direction for parents and staff, they do not address the impact of a positive COVID 19 case at a school facility on the workplace. Employers must abide by the guidelines issued by the provincial labour authorities and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Where they may be some conflict between guidelines issued for schools and the workplace RMG strongly recommends following the PHAC guidelines. Below are some issues employers may have to address with their employees:
- Parents are advised not to send children to school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID 19, parents will be advised to have their child tested and the child will not be allowed to return to school until results are received, even if the test is negative, children may not return to school until 24 hours after the symptoms have been resolved. This may mean greater absence rate for workers,
- Any positive case will require 14 days isolation, additionally anyone who is considered high risk of exposure (same class, direct contact) will be encouraged to be tested and even if the test is negative, they cannot return to class for 14 days from the last contact with the confirm case,
- As each provincial law is different we recommend checking provincial regulations but as a general rule the law is no child under 16 years of age may be left alone, the provincial social services tend to become involved when the child left alone is 12 years old or younger, this means should a child test positive or be a high risk for transmission at least one parent will have to remain with the child for the isolation period,
- The province of Ontario has advised that anyone living in the same household with a person who tests positive or is isolated under provincial or federal guidelines should also self-isolate
We expect to see an increase in staff being absent to care for children or to self-isolate while awaiting children’s test results. Employers should have a robust screening and communication program in place to address these issues and to ensure critical tasks are completed while still maintaining a safe workplace.
It will also be normal to see a higher level of anxiety among employees and constant communication is key to preventing panic within the workplace.
We are also beginning to see a shortage of PPE once more, this is due to the continued outbreak in the USA, school boards ordering large amounts of PPE and supply chain issues. RMG has maintained a 90-day supply of PPE for our clients and we encourage all clients to have at least a 30-day supply on hand. Employers should also have a written response plan and sanitization guidelines in place.
It is our opinion that these guidelines will be in effect one way or another for the next 6-12 months, all levels of governments have stated in no uncertain terms that if cases begin to spike again then they will be prepared to return to the more severe measures contained in past orders. We strongly urge firms to have written, communicated and enforceable plans in place to help ensure proper methods are followed and of course reduce the spread of COVID 19.
We are continually asked about business travel both nationally and internationally, within Canada airlines are operating but at reduced frequency and all travelers must wear suitable face coverings when onboard an aircraft or train. Additionally, some provinces have enacted isolation requirements for travelers arriving from within Canada. Check with the provincial health authority for the province you may have to travel to prior to making any travel arrangements. Carriers have been instructed to deny boarding to any person displaying COVID 19 symptoms. We strongly encourage travel be restricted to essential travel only. International restrictions are set by the destination country and change on a regular basis. A link to these restrictions is found below. Regardless any person returning from international destinations must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
Bottom line: There are many issues at play in this serious and evolving situation. If you have any questions about how COVID-19 may impact your workplace, contact your RMG Consultant or a member of the RMG Medical Services Unit team at email@example.com.