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COVID-19 College Precautions

Emergency Control Procedures for COVID-19 for New College and New College Postgraduate Village

This bulletin was last updated on 13/7/21. It will continue to be updated on an as needs basis.

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Summary

A coronavirus cluster in the NSW eastern suburbs, centred around Bondi Junction has developed and triggered a stay-at-home-order for the entire Sydney Metropolian Area that will continue until midnight 16 July 2021.

We continue to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our college communities.

This document outlines how the College has synthesised the advice and restrictions issued by NSW Health to develop precautionary procedures that are specific to New College and New College Postgraduate Village. We are endeavouring to keep our communities free of COVID while looking after the overall wellbeing of our residents.

Precautionary isolation remains active within our Colleges. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is placed in isolation immediately. Isolation of 14 days will continue to be applied to all arrivals from designated hotspots and those with direct exposure to them whether they come from within Australia or from overseas. Anyone placed in isolation will only be released by remaining in isolation for the designated period, or by documentary formal clearance by a medical authority. Regular audits of community compliance will continue.

Any emerging confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be accommodated in the New College guest flats. These are physically removed from our resident student college communities. We have arrangements to accommodate, in isolation, much larger numbers of confirmed cases, if ever these occur.

The College is now carrying some PPE in case a confirmed case does emerge within our communities. This emergency infection response plan is reviewed by UNSW.

NSW Health has reintroduced the "one person per four square metre" rule for all indoor and outdoor settings. However, NSW Health also advises that the square metres rules do not apply to normal operations for the activities and premises which are considered essential gatherings including reasons 11 and 12 (see https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/square-metres-rules):

  1. Schools, universities, other educational institutions or childcare facilities, excluding events that involve members of the community in addition to staff and students
  2. Hotels, motels or other accommodation facilities

Until recently, New College has been applying the 4 metre-rule based on the present risk. However, NSW Government guidelines for apartment complexes now require people to wear masks when outside of their personal living spaces, including corridors of apartment complexes. Consequently, we are now requiring all members of the college community to wear masks outside of personal living spaces. At New College, these are the individual groups areas sharing common bathrooms. At NCV, these are either individual studios or those apartment areas with a designated common kitchen.


New College Response

Responsible Officer Master
Associated Documents The New College Handbook & The New College Postgraduate Village Handbook
Review Date 16 July 2021
Version 1.14
Authorised by The Master
Responsible Officer The Master
Approval Date 12 July 2021
Effective Date 12 July 2021

Scope

There has been an outbreak of Novel Coronavirus in the region of Wuhan, Hubei Province China. The virus has reached Australia and has become widespread in some jurisdictions but both state and federal Australian governments have successfully controlled the Coronavirus. Relatively small outbreaks, by world standards, have occurred from time to time in parts of Australia. In the state of New South Wales, where New College is located, there is presently an outbreak centred on Bondi Junction.

There is no intention to close either College. College is home to many university students who have nowhere else to go. In summary, we have transformed our College operations so that each and every resident can travel from the outside the College building to their bedroom without physical contact with any solid surface. This has been done while maintaining College security. Handwashing is now permanently available at the entry points of each College.

This bulletin is to advise regarding the processes that we have in place to protect each and every member of our communities.

Our advice is to be understood in the context of Government social distancing requirements being applied to all activities as well as the bulletins from:

General Background

There are three aspects to minimising risks as follows.

1. Prevention

a. NSW Health advice is that conventional personal hygiene principles apply:

  • Regular washing of hands.
  • Use of hand sanitisers maintained at the principal entry points to our Colleges and our meal facilities is mandatory.
  • Disposal of all tissues carefully. Waste bins are emptied each day in the public areas of our Colleges. Resident room bins are emptied each week.
  • Coughing or sneezing into a handkerchief or tissue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQOSh6GLa_w. Coughing or sneezing into the elbow not onto hands is recommended by some for pragmatic reasons.
  • Use of mobile devices during meals is not recommended as they can be a principal means of infection transfer.
  • Cleaning up after meals. Our catering facilities wash all dishes immediately after use. Hands should be sanitised after meals.
  • When exiting shared bathroom facilities, paper waste should be used to open the door and deposited in the bin outside.
  • Resident Advisers and Senior Residents have been asked to report any poor hygiene to the College Dean.

b. Masks

  • Mask wearing is compulsory by all community members when outside of personal living spaces.
  • Our Colleges maintain a limited supply of masks for residents who may wish to access these.
  • Masks are mandatory for those exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Anyone experiencing such symptoms will be isolated until an isolation period of 14 days is complete or a medical practitioner has certified that the illness is not COVID-19.
  • New College and New College Postgraduate Village are affiliated residential colleges of the University of New South Wales. While some exemptions have applied to accommodation facilities the variant of COVID-19 associated with the Bondi Junction cluster is particularly contagious. The health advice from UNSW in relation to residential colleges is now that because “this variant is more transmissible by aerosol we need to keep emphasising mask use and in fact 'normalising’ indoor mask use in these times.” Subsequently mask wearing within most common areas of the colleges will be required until Friday, 2 July 2021, by which time this precaution will be reviewed. The only exceptions will be:
    • Studio rooms at NCV (for the member of that studio. If visitors from within our college community are present, masks should be worn wherever social distancing is not possible).
    • Apartments at NCV (for the members of that apartment. If visitors from within our college community are present, masks should be worn wherever social distancing is not possible).
    • As a general rule at NCV, if you are not in your studio or apartment, you should be wearing a mask.
    • Groups, including common rooms and bathrooms at New College (for the members of that RA Group e.g. 1ABCD. If members from outside the group are present, the visiting member/s must be wearing a mask).
    • Bedrooms (however, masks should be worn wherever social distancing is not possible).
    • While consuming food and beverage
    • Because of pre-existing medical reasons
  • Non-resident staff will wear masks in the workplace, whenever this is required by NSW Health. Resident staff (for whom New College is their home) will wear masks in workplace settings within the College as appropriate.
  • Of the normal College activities that are continuing, these will only be allowed with mask wearing.

c. Visitor rules and background of incoming personnel

  • The current stay-at-home order for the Randwick Local Government Area has the practical effect of restricting visitation to our college communities until at least 11:59pm on Friday, 16 July 2021.
  • All incoming personnel (staff, visitors, contractors, incoming residents and authorised university guests) must register when entering the building using the electronic check-in QR code, and sign in at the college reception. Incoming personnel who do not have a way to use the electronic check-in, must provide their details at reception.
  • All incoming personnel will be required by reception to disclose their COVID-19 history and their contact details in case of emergency.
  • Compliance with this procedure is mandatory. Random audits will be undertaken to monitor compliance.
  • Visitation rules for resident members will be regularly reviewed.

d. Maximum gathering sizes

  • Restrictions have been placed on the maximum sizes of public gatherings in Australia. Additionally, NSW Health has reintroduced the "one person per four square metre" rule for all indoor and outdoor settings. However, NSW Health also advises that the square metres rules do not apply to normal operations for the activities and premises which are considered essential gatherings, including the following industries that are relevant to the College (see https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/square-metres-rules):
    1. Schools, universities, other educational institutions or childcare facilities, excluding events that involve members of the community in addition to staff and students
    2. Hotels, motels or other accommodation facilities
  • This is a challenge for College dining arrangements. All major community dining activities are suspended and individual dining is now as widely spaced as possible in our main dining room (achieving a dining density less than 1 person per 8 square metres).
  • The maximum gathering size in our colleges is now 10 people. Masks must be worn at all times and surfaces regularly wiped down.

2. Diagnosis

  1. Any resident who is unwell, or who has been identified as close or casual-contact of someone who has had COVID-19, is required to call our College receptions (monitored 24 hours) on 9381 1999 (New College) and 8344 4500 (NCV).
  2. The instruction of health authorities is that anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should present to a medical practitioner. Our Colleges will assist any resident to access such health support.
  3. Consistent with the advice of NSW Health, incoming residents travelling from COVID-19 countries will be given isolated accommodation until a medical consultation, arranged by the College, has been completed.
  4. Resident Advisers and Senior Residents will be monitoring all residents and actively reporting resident condition to the Dean.

3. Isolation

  1. Consistent with the advice of NSW Health, any admitted incoming residents travelling from overseas or experiencing flu-like symptoms will be given isolated accommodation until medical clearance, arranged by the College, has been completed.
  2. Our Colleges have the ability and responsibility to isolate anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms for the recommended period of 14 days. This includes all residents, staff and visitors.
  3. Meals and laundering will be provided to any resident or official guest in College who has been isolated, at their cost.
  4. There is no ventilation cross connection between adjacent College bedrooms. This includes the College air conditioning systems.
  5. Isolated residents will be permitted to contact the College receptions 9am to 5pm weekdays with personal requests. College will endeavour to accommodate any reasonable request.
  6. Precautionary principles will apply. If the Deans or Master are uncertain regarding the health status of any resident, they will be isolated until medical clearance is granted. Any resident not co-operating with an instruction from the Deans or Master will be asked to leave College immediately.

Infection Stage

There are two stages for a potentially infectious virus. The strategies for avoiding infection spread differ according to the stage. These are summarised in the table below.

Stage Infection Route Health Strategy
Pre-symptomatic (the person does not know that they are infected) Contamination by contact with people, food or surfaces
  1. Minimising contact between the infected and the uninfected.
  2. Personal hygiene of both the infected and uninfected person.
  3. Immediate disclosure of the onset of any potential symptoms.
  4. Monitoring to detect people who may have become infected.
Post-symptomatic (the person shows obvious symptoms)

Contamination by contact

 

Generation of infected droplets by sneezing or coughing
  1. Isolation
  2. Personal hygiene
  3. Medical attention

Current Procedures

The normal college rules of operation, as per the relevant College handbooks, are subject to this Emergency Control Procedures, which synthesises the restrictions and advice from the NSW Government.

The procedures applicable require careful consideration of our community members. Consequently, the procedures have been broken down accordingly in the table below.

Community Member Potential Infection Route Infection Prevention Strategy Specific Actions

Resident members

and official university visitor residents
Building access Minimal physical contact
  1. Access to building only via actuated doors
    1. Exterior access doors are only to be used by waste contractors
    2. External pedestrian access to NCV will only be via the Day Street entrance. Vehicle and bicycle access is permitted via the basement roller shutter.
  2. Internal access doors to remain open except in case of fire doors.
  3. Minimal contact with lift actuators and exit buttons.
  4. Resident room door handles will be wiped at intervals by cleaning staff as part of corridor cleaning.
  5. Paper hand towels to be used to exit shared bathroom facilities and deposited in the bin outside.
  Accommodation Individual accommodation
  1. All accommodation is single occupancy only, except for limited accommodation facilities for families.
  2. Official university visitor residents may only be accommodated with their immediate family.
  3. Resident members will comply with visitor rules in relation to these procedures.
  Ablutions

Minimal sharing of facilities.

Where bathrooms are shared, provision of appropriate disinfection facilities.

Ensuite rooms will operate as normal unless the resident is suspected of infection. In the case of suspected infection, room cleaning will be suspended for the 14 day isolation period. 

At NCV, all rooms are ensuite.

To those not in ensuite at NC, the following actions apply:

  1. Soap and paper towel hand-drying will be provided in shared bathrooms.
  2. Handwashing facilities will be provided at each group area sink.
  3. Use of disposable hand towels when exiting bathroom facilities.
  4. Those exhibited COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated in their room and will be provided with separate bathroom facilities.
  Food Food contamination
  1. Minimal sharing of utensils. Shared utensils and table spaces will be replaced/cleaned every 15 minutes.
  2. Use of hats, masks and gloves by all involved in food and utensil preparation.
  3. Dining places in the New College Dining Room are now as widely spaced as possible (achieving 1 person per 8 square metres).
  4. NCV residents should not take meals to the New College Courtyard without permission of the Master or the Dean of Residents.
  Study Minimal physical contact Common study areas to be cleaned after use.
  Recreation Minimal physical contact Personal hygiene.
  Interactions with others Minimal physical contact Personal hygiene. 
Staff Building access As for residents As for residents
  Ablutions Minimal physical contact Use of disposable hand towels when exiting bathroom facilities.
  Interactions with others Minimal physical contact

Use of hats, masks and gloves by all involved in cleaning and maintenance processes.

Regular hand washing by those handling shared materials.

Contractors Building access As for residents As for residents
  Ablutions As for staff As for staff
  Interactions with others As for staff As for staff
Casual visitors Building access

No access of post-symptomatic visitors

Limited access - subject to review

The current stay-at-home order for the Randwick Local Government Area has the practical effect of restricting visitation to our college communities until at least 11:59pm on Friday, 16 July 2021.

From 24 June 2021, visitors may only enter the building with the pre-approval of the Dean of Residents.

   Ablutions As for staff As for staff
   Interactions with others As for staff As for staff

Organised Events Within the Communities

Any community social events must not exceed 10 mask-wearing attendees who must exercise appropriate social distancing.