August

August 22 – Fall Term Update

With September just around the corner, we are providing an update on pandemic response and recovery planning for the Fall 2022 Term. As President Stoicheff outlined in his June 17 message, USask is committed to in-person teaching, learning, and services this fall, and we look forward to having on-campus activity as close to pre-pandemic levels as possible, while protecting the health and safety of our community.

As you are aware, we paused the masking requirement over the summer and have been closely monitoring several indicators since that pause — including wastewater, hospitalizations, infection modelling, and levels of disruptions caused by COVID-19—to determine the next best steps.

Based on these indicators and in consultation with experts, we have determined with the support of the President’s Executive Committee that USask will continue to pause the masking mandate for the Fall Term, while at the time stressing that masking is strongly preferred in all indoor spaces. Please note that there will continue to be certain elevated risk areas or activities identified where a masking requirement will be in place. 

Why is masking still strongly encouraged though it’s no longer mandatory? The pandemic is not yet over, and we recognize the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illnesses such as COVID-19, cold and flu. Along with being vaccinated and fully boosted, masking is the surest way to protect ourselves and our campus community from COVID-19 and its variants. In short, masking matters.

We will continue to monitor USask case numbers and service disruptions, variant emergence, wastewater viral load, and public health data and public health expertise to determine the level of health and safety measures necessary to keep the campus and broader community safe. These indicators will determine if, and when, a mask mandate is resumed, and whether a potential resumption takes place in all indoor spaces or just select settings.

Please stay home if you are feeling sick or have been diagnosed with COVID.  We ask that you do not come to campus until you are symptom free for 24 hours. This is important even if your symptoms are not due to COVID-19 or you are not sure, and even if you have a negative rapid COVID test result.   

To monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our campus, all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty, regardless of whether the person has been at a campus location or not, must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases.

COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits can be picked up at provincial locations as well as on campus at:

  • Murray Library
  • Bookstore in Marquis Hall
  • Fit Centre
  • USSU Office 

While vaccines are not mandatory for everyone at this time, USask strongly encourages faculty, staff and students on any USask campus or work site to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster(s) as soon as they are eligible. We will inform the campus community when opportunities arise to receive boosters and flu shots on campus. As we learn more about this latest wave of the pandemic, it is abundantly clear that boosters are a highly effective way to enhance the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness against infection, serious illness, infectivity, and hospitalization.

We thank you for your continued effort and commitment to “Protect the Pack” and help ensure the Fall Term is a success.

Sincerely,
The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT)

June

Greetings to all members of our university community:

We can all be proud that our USask community continues to respond to the many challenges posed by this global pandemic and to deliver effectively on our teaching, research, and outreach missions.

Over the summer, as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to diminish, we will be adjusting our current mask mandate that is in place until the end of June. Beginning July 4, 2022 and continuing until August 29, 2022, the university will pause this mandate and move to a mask-friendly environment.

Masks will not be mandatory indoors at that time, but they will still be highly recommended. Masking matters, and USask recognizes the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illnesses such as COVID-19, cold and flu. Masking, along with being fully vaccinated and boosted, is the surest way to protect ourselves and our campus community from COVID-19 and its variants. 

We are also planning for what the fall term will look like. Starting in September, USask is committed to in-person teaching, learning, and services to safely and thoughtfully revitalize our vibrant campus community.  

As the Post-Pandemic Shift Project has highlighted, we do not know when the pandemic will be fully behind us, but we do know that we will make changes to how we work because of it. We look forward to rebuilding connections back on campus. However, we will not lose sight of the lessons we have learned when we shifted to remote work and other adaptations during the pandemic.

The health and safety of our campus and broader communities remains a priority and will guide all decisions related to a fall term return.

Over the summer, the Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) will continue its work. It will keep a close watch on USask case numbers and service disruptions, variant emergence, wastewater viral load, and public health data and recommendations to determine the level of health and safety measures necessary to keep the campus and broader community safe. These indicators will determine if the mask mandate is resumed for fall term or sooner.

An update on planning and other potential COVID-19 measures for fall term will be provided by August 22. Until then, I hope you have an enjoyable summer and find the time to relax with family and friends. 

Sincerely, 

Peter Stoicheff
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Saskatchewan

April

USask pausing bi-weekly COVID-19 updates 

Starting May 1, USask will no longer be sending the bi-weekly COVID-19 updates to the university community. Information relating to changes to guidelines or new health and safety measures will be shared directly with faculty, staff and students when appropriate and timely. Current information about COVID-19, including updated confirmed positive case counts remains available at covid19.usask.ca.

The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) will continue to provide timely and relevant updates to the USask community should any changes to guidelines be necessary. As well, we will provide an update on Fall Term planning well before it begins.

Masks required in all indoor USask spaces until June 30

To help protect the safety of the university community and ensure as little disruption to core university activities as possible the university requires everyone accessing USask campuses and in all indoor locations to wear an approved mask until June 30. Masking matters, and USask recognizes the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illness such as COVID-19, cold and flus. With the continued spread of and increase in positive cases throughout the province and city, masking, along with being fully vaccinated and boosted, is the surest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its dangerous variants. The PRT will be carefully observing all the health and safety requirements for on-campus activities during May and June and will be assessing the mask requirement ahead of the proposed June 30 end date. Read more. 

Availability of N95 masks  

For students  

USask students on the Saskatoon campus who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre while supplies last. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 and other single-use, 3 ply masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the 15-day period ending on April 28, the university was informed of 177 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 177 reported cases, 138 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 39 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported is published regularly.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

On campus COVID-19 immunizations 

COVID-19 vaccinations including boosters are available at locations throughout the province including the Campus Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy located on the main floor of Place Riel. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines including booster eligibility.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

USask indoor mask requirements extended to June 30

With the continued spread of and increase in positive cases throughout the province and city, the university's requirement for everyone accessing USask campuses and in all indoor locations to wear an approved mask will be extended to June 30 to ensure the safety of the campus community and to ensure as little disruption to core university activities as possible. Masking matters, and USask recognizes the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illness such as COVID-19, cold and flus. Masking, along with being fully vaccinated and boosted, is the surest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its dangerous variants. Read more. 

The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) will continue to provide timely and relevant updates should any changes to guidelines be necessary. As well, we will provide an update on Fall Term planning well before it begins.

Availability of N95 masks  

For students writing exams in Education or PAC gym, N95 masks will be available at both locations for voluntary use during the exam period.  

USask students on the Saskatoon campus who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre while supplies last. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 and other single-use, 3 ply masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the 13-day period ending on April 13, the university was informed of 418 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 418 reported cases, 375 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 43 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported is published regularly.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

With the Winter Term concluded and final exams now underway, we take this opportunity to provide an update on health and safety measures at USask as we move into spring and summer sessions. We also wanted to thank all members of the university community for their commitment to Protecting the Pack and adherence to the health and safety measures that have been in place. Because of that commitment we were able to minimize disruption to teaching and research activity, limit on-campus transmission of COVID-19 and its variants, and avoid contributing significantly to case numbers in the broader community. 

As outlined in the February 11 update, the wearing of three-ply single-use masks has been required for everyone accessing USask campuses and in all indoor locations until April 30. With the continued spread of and increase in positive cases throughout the province and city, the mask requirement will be extended to June 30 to ensure the safety of the campus community and to ensure as little disruption to core university activities as possible. Masking matters, and USask recognizes the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illness such as COVID-19, cold and flus. Masking, along with being fully vaccinated and boosted, is the surest way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its dangerous variants.

Approved masks include single-use 3-ply-nonmedical-and-medical, N95, KN95s and, double masking with a cloth mask over single-use 3-ply. An approved mask must be worn in all indoor spaces, including:

  • Hallways, lobbies, washrooms and elevators
  • Libraries
  • Classrooms
  • Laboratories -  laboratory mask use
  • Meeting spaces
  • Study spaces
  • Recreation facilities
  • Shared offices - masks may be removed in private work offices when the individual is the lone occupant of the space but if someone enters the office, you must don your mask. 
  • Residence - masks must be worn in all common and designated areas outside of private living space.

Depending on local risk assessments including the impact on core activities, some exemptions for activities such as external events, may be provided. The mask requirement, based on case numbers, wastewater viral load, public health data and forecasting, on-campus transmission and other information, will be reassessed throughout the coming months.

In addition to the masking requirement, staying home if you are feeling sick (even if it isn’t COVID-19 or you’re not sure, and even if you have a negative rapid COVID test result) and not coming to campus until you are symptom free for 48 hours is required, will remain a mandate at this time.  

While we anticipate the health and safety mandates and guidelines at USask campus and work locations to continue to lessen over the summer months, be assured that PRT is still actively monitoring the pandemic. We are keeping a close watch on USask case numbers, variant emergence, and public health data and recommendations to determine the level of health and safety measures necessary to keep the campus and broader community safe. Be assured that PRT will provide timely and relevant updates should any changes to guidelines be necessary. As well, we will provide an update on Fall Term planning well before it begins. 

As we have seen with the pandemic over the past two years, it is unpredictable and the best way to defend against it is to be fully vaccinated and boosted, and to wear an effective mask. The university has a responsibility to implement the necessary measures to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus from known dangers on campus, such as the spread of COVID-19, and will do so once again should it be necessary. 

Please enjoy what we hope will be a wonderful spring and summer.  Stay healthy and stay safe. 

Sincerely,

The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team

Preparing for the next pandemic

While COVID-19 is still prevalent and still impacting the health care system, the pandemic is providing the opportunity to learn and prepare for the next global health crisis. “It’s only a matter of time until another pandemic arises,” said Dr. Camille Hamula (PhD), an associate professor in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and a clinical microbiologist at Royal University Hospital. Hamula said the development of mRNA vaccines to combat SARS CoV-2, as well as masks, hand washing and social distancing are effective preventative measures for a respiratory virus. Read more.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the 14-day period ending on March 31, the university was informed of 348 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 348 reported cases, 305 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 43 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported is published regularly.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

USask mask requirements

Thank you to those who continue to wear masks in all indoor spaces. As mentioned in the February 11 COVID-19 safety measures update, all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors are required to continue wearing a three-ply single-use or N95 mask in all USask indoor spaces until April 30. More information about USask's mask requirements including locations to purchase, dispose and recycle masks on campus is available at covid19.usask.ca/working-on-campus/ppes.php.

Availability of N95 masks  

USask students on the Saskatoon campus who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre while supplies last. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Weekly updates on wastewater COVID-19 early indicators study

USask researchers are providing weekly updates on Saskatoon’s wastewater surveillance data for SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (the virus that causes COVID-19). Updates are made available Monday afternoons and include data for Prince Albert and North Battleford. View the most recent data here

 

March

SHA endorses throat swabbing for COVID-19 rapid tests

Earlier this week the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) endorsed the use of throat swabbing to collect samples while performing COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. According to SHA, evidence shows that although both nasal and throat/nares methods are acceptable, throat/nares collection does provide better results for the detection of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Learn more.

Canada announces removal of pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers

Starting April 1, fully vaccinated travellers will not be required to complete a pre-arrival COVID-19 test when arriving in Canada. Currently, all travellers entering Canada — regardless of vaccination status — have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test, taken within 24 hours of their flight or arrival at Canada’s border or show proof of a negative PCR test from within the previous 72 hours. Learn more.

USask mask requirements

Thank you to those who continue to wear masks in all indoor spaces. As mentioned in the February 11 COVID-19 safety measures update, all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors are required to continue wearing a three-ply single-use or N95 mask in all USask indoor spaces until April 30. More information about USask's mask requirements including locations to purchase, dispose and recycle masks on campus is available at covid19.usask.ca/working-on-campus/ppes.php.

Availability of N95 masks  

USask students on the Saskatoon campus who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre while supplies last. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

USask wastewater COVID detectives’ paper is a roadmap for other scientists

USask researchers set up a wastewater monitoring program that’s become a reliable source for data on the prevalence of COVID-19. Now they have published a paper that provides a blueprint for other scientists to emulate their work. Read more.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

With most of USask's teaching and learning activities returning to in-person delivery, it's important that all members of the university community are familiar with health and safety requirements that remain in place. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the winter term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the 14-day period ending on March 17, the university was informed of 232 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 232 reported cases, 173 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 59 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported is published regularly.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Reminder COVID Update moving to bi-weekly

Since the onset of the pandemic USask has provided a weekly update sharing the latest news and information that may impact members of the university community. Starting March 4, the COVID Update will be shared every two weeks from its regular weekly distribution. COVID-19 activity continues to affect our USask community and will continue to be closely monitored. Information about COVID-19, including active case counts, will continue to be updated regularly at covid19.usask.ca.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. 

USask mask requirements

Thank you to those who continue to wear masks in all indoor spaces. As mentioned in the February 11 COVID-19 safety measures update, all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors are required to continue wearing a three-ply single-use or N95 mask in all USask indoor spaces until April 30. More information about USask's mask requirements including locations to purchase, dispose and recycle masks on campus is available at covid19.usask.ca/working-on-campus/ppes.php.

Availability of N95 masks  

USask students on the Saskatoon campus who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre while supplies last. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reminder COVID Update moving to bi-weekly

Since the onset of the pandemic USask has provided a weekly update sharing the latest news and information that may impact members of the university community. Starting March 4, the COVID Update will be shared every two weeks from its regular weekly distribution. COVID-19 activity continues to affect our USask community and will continue to be closely monitored. Information about COVID-19, including active case counts, will continue to be updated regularly at covid19.usask.ca.

USask researcher says flexibility is key to effective pandemic response for sports industry

Usask researcher Jill Wolkowski investigated crisis response strategies behind professional sports leagues and determined that flexibility was a key asset used to minimize business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

With most of USask's teaching and learning activities returning to in-person delivery, it's important that all members of the university community are familiar with health and safety requirements that remain in place. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the winter term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on March 3, the university was informed of 145 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 145 reported cases, 44 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 101 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Update to USask events and gatherings 

Starting March 1, 2022 event organizers planning large events and gatherings (more than 150 people) at USask are no longer required to request approval from PRT. Event organizers are still required to follow the health and safety guidelines that are currently in place, including for events that are off-campus.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. 

February

COVID Update moving to bi-weekly

Since the onset of the pandemic USask has provided a weekly update sharing the latest news and information that may impact members of the university community. Starting March 4, the COVID Update will be shared every two weeks from its regular weekly distribution. COVID-19 activity continues to affect our USask community and will continue to be closely monitored. Information about COVID-19, including active case counts, will continue to be updated regularly at covid19.usask.ca.

USask mask requirements

As mentioned in the February 11 COVID-19 safety measures update, all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors are required to continue wearing a three-ply single-use or N95 mask in all USask indoor spaces until April 30. More information about USask's mask requirements including locations to purchase, dispose and recycle masks on campus is available at covid19.usask.ca/working-on-campus/ppes.php.

College of Dentistry navigating the COVID-19 pandemic

In March 2020, as everything was shutting down in response to COVID-19, faculty, staff and students at the USask College of Dentistry were hunkering down, and preparing a detailed plan that would see in-person learning continue despite a global pandemic. Read more. 

Update to USask events and gatherings 

Starting March 1, 2022 event organizers planning large events and gatherings (more than 150 people) at USask are no longer required to request approval from PRT. Event organizers are still required to follow the health and safety guidelines that are currently in place, including for events that are off-campus.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

With most of USask's teaching and learning activities returning to in-person delivery, it's important that all members of the university community are familiar with health and safety requirements that remain in place. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the winter term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS.

Availability of N95 masks  

As mentioned in the updated COVID-19 safety measures three-ply single-use masks will remain a requirement on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations until April 30. 

N95 masks are available to immune-compromised or other high-risk students on the Saskatoon campus

While supplies last, USask students who are immune-compromised or have elevated risk may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. If the care instructions are followed, masks should be useable into March.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on February 24, the university was informed of 51 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 51 reported cases, 25 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 26 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed positive case

All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.


Updated USask COVID-19 safety measures

The requirement for all members of the campus community to be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus activities has been modified effective February 14. Individuals currently engaged with in-person learning or work on a USask campus who are not vaccinated will be required to conduct rapid antigen testing and upload results in PAWS three times per week until April 8. Test kits will be supplied by the university and available to pick up at these locations for at-home testing. Wearing a three-ply single-use mask on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations will continue to be required until April 30. Additional information about other existing health and safety measures is available in the full statement.

Easing of Canadian travel restrictions

Earlier this week the Government of Canada announced changes to the current border measures, representing the beginning of phased easing of travel restrictions. The updated measures begin on February 28 and include changes to on-arrival testing and quarantines, the use of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and the government no longer recommending Canadians to avoid travel for non-essential purposes. Read the Public Health Agency of Canada's full statement on changes to border measures for more information. To learn more about USask's travel requirements visit covid19.usask.ca/info/travellers.php or contact ConnectionPoint for assistance.

Remote work arrangements 

USask staff who are currently working remotely should connect with their people leader to discuss a strategy and timeline for returning to working on campus. All employees working remotely are required to have an approved Alternative Workspace Agreement in place with their manager to work remotely in the Winter Term. Please familiarize yourself with the Alternate Workspace Guidelines and discuss with your manager before applying. 

Availability of N95 masks  

As mentioned in the updated COVID-19 safety measures three-ply single-use masks will remain a requirement on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations until April 30. 

N95 masks are available to immune-compromised students on the Saskatoon campus

While supplies last, USask students who are immune-compromised may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. If the care instructions are followed, masks should be useable into March.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

Updated process for reporting confirmed positive case

With the recent changes to the provincial health orders, the process for self-reporting confirmed cases have been updated. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support. All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on February 17, the university was informed of 233 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 233 reported cases, 126 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 107 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The health and safety of our university community is paramount and all members of the USask community share the responsibility to follow all health and safety protocols now in place. Please ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date information about USask's health and safety requirements. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the winter term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. 

With the news of the Government of Saskatchewan removing the proof of vaccination policy beginning February 14, 2022, and lifting the remaining public health orders throughout the province at the end of this month, we have taken the opportunity to review USask’s COVID-19 health and safety measures and to develop our plan to move beyond those measures. 

We have evaluated the government’s announcement, consulted public health officials and legal experts, and most importantly, carefully considered the health and safety of our campus community. Our current health and safety protocols were foundational to our plans to return to as much in-person activity as possible for winter term, and many of those protocols remain important to finishing the term without disruption due to COVID-19. Some measures, however, are being adjusted to reflect the projected declining safety risks that COVID-19 will present to the campus community over time. 

Based on public health advice, we are changing some measures as of February 14, and we expect to lift a number of other safety measures in the coming weeks. The following outlines our plans and the expected length of time for them to be in place: 

  • As of February 14, we are modifying the requirement for all members of the campus community to be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus activities. A full 99 per cent of our campus community is fully vaccinated. Those individuals currently engaged with in-person learning or work on a USask campus who are not vaccinated will be required to conduct rapid antigen testing and upload results in PAWS three times per week until April 8. Test kits will be supplied by the university and available to pick up at these locations for at-home testing. Students, faculty and staff can book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on campus through the Student Wellness Centre.
  •  Anyone who has an approved accommodation from vaccination is expected to continue the terms of their agreement until April 8. 
  • Wearing a three-ply single-use mask on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations at all times will be required until April 30. 
  • As of February 14, visitors to campus are no longer required to show proof of vaccination. This includes those attending Huskie games at the PAC and Merlis Belsher Place, as well as those using the Fit Centre and participating in Campus Rec. Masking indoors at such events and activities is still required until April 30.  
  • Staying home if you are feeling sick (even if it isn’t COVID-19 or you are not sure, and even if you have a negative rapid COVID test result) and not coming to campus until you are symptom free for 48 hours is required until further notice. 
  • Using rapid COVID test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised. A list of locations to pick up rapid testing kits throughout the province is available here

The university has a responsibility to implement the necessary measures to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus from known dangers on campus, such as the spread of COVID-19. As part of this obligation, we have carefully considered the unique health and safety concerns of our campus community and the fact that our current COVID-19 measures are integral as we return to as much in-person activity as possible for winter term. As the need for COVID-19 safety measures declines in the province, the unique health and safety challenges facing universities require us to be thorough and deliberate in changing USask measures. Unlike most other settings in the province, USask has a very large number of people in a tightly defined geographic area, with a relatively small number of buildings—including health-care facilities. 

At this time, with the effects of the pandemic projected to continue in Saskatchewan for a while longer, we believe the health and safety measures outlined above are necessary to ensure the safety of our campus community and beyond, which is our top priority. This approach will enable us to successfully complete winter term and offer the level of in-person activity originally planned. 

 

Regards, and stay well, 
 
USask Pandemic Response and Recovery Team  

Updated USask COVID-19 safety measures

With the news of the Government of Saskatchewan removing the proof of vaccination policy beginning February 14, 2022, and lifting the remaining public health orders throughout the province at the end of this month, USask has taken the opportunity to review our existing health and safety measures and developed a plan to move beyond those measures. 

Starting February 14, we are modifying the requirement for all members of the campus community to be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus activities. A full 99 per cent of our campus community is fully vaccinated. Those individuals currently engaged with in-person learning or work on a USask campus who are not vaccinated will be required to conduct rapid antigen testing and upload results in PAWS three times per week until April 8. Test kits will be supplied by the university and available to pick up at these locations for at-home testing. Wearing a three-ply single-use mask on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations will continue to be required until April 30. Additional information about other existing health and safety measures is available in the full statement.

Availability of N95 masks  

As mentioned in the updated COVID-19 safety measures three-ply single-use masks will remain a requirement on all USask campuses and in all indoor locations until April 30. 

N95 masks are available to immune-compromised students on the Saskatoon campus

While supplies last, USask students who are immune-compromised may pick up one pack of five N95 masks at the front desk of the USSU Office, which is located on the main floor of the Place Riel Student Centre. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. If the care instructions are followed, masks should be useable into March.

Departmental purchase for faculty and staff

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Updated process for reporting confirmed positive case

With the recent changes to the provincial health orders, the process for self-reporting confirmed cases have been updated. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support. All positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not must be reported. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

USask researchers: The post-pandemic legacy of COVID-19

From the lingering effects of long COVID on patients, to the long-term impacts of an overburdened health-care system, USask researchers are concerned about the post-pandemic legacy of the global health crisis. As the fifth wave of the pandemic – driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant – begins to show some early indications of subsiding, USask researchers are pointing to the warning signs of the effects on distressed health-care systems in the province and across the country. Read more.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on February 10, the university was informed of 244 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 244 reported cases, 109 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 135 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The health and safety of our university community is paramount and all members of the USask community share the responsibility to follow all health and safety protocols now in place. Please ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date information about USask's health and safety requirements. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. 

In-person learning and research activities resume on February 7 

In-person learning and research activities that were originally planned for the beginning of the winter term on January 4 will return on Monday, February 7. There may be some exceptions or specific circumstances that will require some academic program activities to remain remote for the time being. If those circumstances emerge, messages will come directly from the college or school to provide further details.  

Staff who can work remotely and have been doing so should continue to for now and are asked to connect with their people leader to discuss a strategy and timeline for returning to working on campus. Extracurricular activities that are not directly associated with teaching, learning and research and have not been previously approved by the PRT will be phased back to in-person by February 21 with strict adherence to verification of full vaccination and other health and safety measures. Read more.

COVID-19 vaccine boosters

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the winter term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS. Eligibility for the booster shot is open to anyone 18 years and older meaning most of our campus community can receive their booster either now or in the near future. Anyone who has received their vaccine booster can now upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS. This action can be completed in a similar way as the original proof of vaccination process for the fall term. This added measure helps ensure the safest possible return to in-person learning activities in the coming weeks. 

USask unites: Arts and Science Students Union helps to protect the pack

The executives of the Arts and Science Students Union (ASSU) want to help protect the pack and keep everyone in the USask community safe. In 2021, the student leaders encouraged everyone to get vaccinated—and they are now encouraging members of the USask community to get a booster shot. Read more.

N95 masks use on campus

USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of N95 masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The health and safety of our university community is paramount and all members of the USask community share the responsibility to follow all health and safety protocols now in place. Please ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date information about USask's health and safety requirements. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on February 3, the university was informed of 182 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 182 reported cases, 97 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 85 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed or suspected positive case

If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or suspect you have COVID-19, immediately notify the university. Instructions/guidelines for students, employees, faculty/instructors and people leaders for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases are available and must be followed. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support.

Important: Please report all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not (reporting close contacts is not necessary). At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. 

Members of the university community,  

On January 18, the Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) provided a winter term update indicating that temporary precautionary measures would remain in place until February 7. Based on the current state of the fifth wave of the pandemic, we are writing to confirm that in-person learning and research activities will safely return to campus beginning February 7 as planned for the start of winter term. 

The PRT and the President’s Executive Committee (PEC) consulted with many university partners and heard feedback from faculty, staff and students prior to making this decision. We’ve also closely monitored the pandemic situation on campus, within the province and beyond. This decision has been guided by recent and encouraging factors, including the levelling off of new positive cases, levels below prior peaks in COVID-19 viral load detected in wastewater, and high uptake of COVID-19 vaccine boosters by our campus community. Also, 99 per cent of the campus community who plan to be on campus are fully vaccinated. These factors, along with the current health and safety protocols in place, give us confidence in a return to campus on February 7.  

There may be some exceptions or specific circumstances that will require some academic program activities to remain remote for the time being. If those circumstances emerge, messages will come directly from the college or school to provide further details.  

Staff who can work remotely and have been doing so should continue to for now and are asked to connect with their people leader to discuss a strategy and timeline for returning to working on campus. Extracurricular activities that are not directly associated with teaching, learning and research and have not been previously approved by the PRT will be phased back to in-person by February 21 with strict adherence to verification of full vaccination and other health and safety measures. 

As we return to increased in-person activities we remind everyone, that, in addition to the health and safety measures in place, we all have a vital part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. This includes: 

  • Being fully vaccinated and expecting all members of the campus community to obtain their vaccination booster shots as soon as eligible.  If appropriate, please update your booster vaccination status by February 7; 
  • Wearing a required 3-ply single-use mask on all USask campuses and in all work locations at all times; 
  • Staying home if you are feeling sick (even if it isn’t COVID-19 or you are not sure) so you do not spread any illness and not coming to campus until you are symptom free for 48 hours; and 
  • Using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised (rapid testing kits can be confirmed here).

If required, we also know we will be able to manage, mitigate and respond to situations to minimize disruptions.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit covid19.usask.ca or consult the FAQ. We appreciate your patience throughout these challenging times and your ongoing commitment to ‘Protect the Pack’. We look forward to resuming increased on-campus activity starting next week. 

 

Regards, and stay well, 
 
USask Pandemic Response and Recovery Team

January

On campus COVID vaccine clinic 

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic is available for students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, February 2 from 9am to 3:30pm on the main floor (North Concourse) in Place Riel. Call the Student Wellness Centre at 306-966-5768 to make an appointment and bring your health card to the appointment. 

Students, faculty and staff requiring their first, second or booster vaccinations can make an appointment - everyone is welcome.

COVID-19 vaccine boosters

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask expects faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the Winter Term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS. Eligibility for the booster shot is open to anyone 18 years and older meaning most of our campus community can receive their booster either now or in the near future. Anyone who has received their vaccine booster can now upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS. This action can be completed in a similar way as the original proof of vaccination process for the fall term. This added measure helps ensure the safest possible return to in-person learning activities in the coming weeks. 

Wastewater testing sets the standard

University of Saskatchewan researchers’ wastewater analysis has proven to be one of the most reliable tools for charting COVID-19 viral loads and future trends for the virus. Since the start of the pandemic in Saskatchewan, USask research teams have been busy measuring concentrations of genetic material (RNA molecules) in wastewater samples in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, North Battleford and five First Nations communities, providing valuable advance notice of upcoming spikes in cases. Read more.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

It is imperative that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should test immediately. Keep close tabs on your health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by closely monitoring your symptoms and completing the self-monitoring checklist. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

N95 masks use on campus

With the highly contagious Omicron variant circulating through the community, the best mask protection available is an N95 or equivalent mask/respirator. USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of these masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on January 27, the university was informed of 237 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. Of the 237 reported cases, 153 involved individuals who participated in on campus activities and 84 who were learning or working remotely. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed or suspected positive case

If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or suspect you have COVID-19, immediately notify the university. Instructions/guidelines for students, employees, faculty/instructors and people leaders for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases are available and must be followed. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support.

Important: Please report all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not (reporting close contacts is not necessary). At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

In addition to the current health and safety requirements that are in place to protect against COVID-19, USask would like faculty, staff and students who will be on any USask campus or work location in the Winter Term to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible and upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS.

Eligibility for the booster shot is open to anyone 18 years and older meaning most of our campus community can receive their booster either now or in the near future. Anyone who has received their vaccine booster can now upload their COVID-19 vaccine booster documentation in PAWS. This action can be completed in a similar way as the original proof of vaccination process for the fall term.

As we learn more about this latest wave of the pandemic and the Omicron variant it’s becoming abundantly clear that boosters are a highly effective way to enhance the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness against infection, serious illness, and hospitalization. As has always been the case, the science is clear: vaccination is the surest way to end the pandemic.

Faculty, staff and students are asked to upload their vaccine booster information in PAWS by Monday, February 7, 2022, or as soon as they receive the booster shot when eligible. We expect anyone who is planning on being on campus to have received their booster shot and update their Vaccine Status in PAWS one month following their eligibility.

We know a lot has been asked of all members of the campus community over the past 22 months. This added measure helps ensure the safest possible return to in-person learning activities in the coming weeks. 

Regards, 

The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT)

USask Winter Term update: health and safety measures extended

The PRT and the President’s Executive Committee have made the decision to extend the current state of operation until February 7. Given the increased transmissibility of Omicron, in combination with the rising case numbers throughout the province, a brief extension of the current precautionary measures will help to ensure reduced on-campus transmission and to return our campus community back to more in-person activity as originally planned. Employees currently working remotely will receive direct communications from their respective people leader with guidance on next steps. Like class delivery, the readiness of a return to work on campus will be assessed prior to February 7. Read more. 

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

As active COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the province with the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is imperative that you stay home if you are feeling sick and do not spread your illness. Even if it is not COVID-19, please stay home and monitor your symptoms. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should get tested immediately. Keep close tabs on your health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by closely monitoring your symptoms and completing the self-monitoring checklist. Additionally, using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any social or non-essential gatherings in person with others is advised.

If you are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 follow the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Fighting Omicron requires boosters: USask health and epidemiology expert

As we continue to face Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant of concern, many are wondering about immunity and booster shots. Community health and epidemiology researcher Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine (PhD) of the College of Medicine is one of several USask experts who is tackling health issues raised by COVID-19. 

Dr. Muhajarine helps to give us a sense of the Omicron variant, and the importance of boosters and how they work to fight off COVID-19. Read more.

COVID-19 vaccination booster eligibility to residents 18 and over

All Saskatchewan residents ages 18 and over are eligible for booster doses. The interval between the second dose and booster shot has been reduced from five months to three. For more information or to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination booster saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine-booking.

USask recommends all members of the campus community obtain their vaccination booster shots as soon as eligible. 

USask travel approvals 

Prior to booking any USask travel, faculty and staff are required to seek advance approval for their trip through a travel request in Concur. If the planned trip is in accordance with federal and provincial travel guidelines the proposed travel may be approved by your supervisor. If the trip is not in accordance with government travel guidelines (i.e. Government of Canada Travel advisory of avoid all travel/avoid all non-essential travel), then the proposed travel must be approved by the employee's dean/vice-president. Learn more about USask travel requirements at covid19.usask.ca/info/travellers.php.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

N95 masks use on campus

With the highly contagious Omicron variant now rapidly circulating through the community, the best mask protection available is an N95 or equivalent mask/respirator. USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of these masks through ppesales.usask.ca and have the order conveniently delivered to their lab or office using an appropriate CFOPAL. While it remains difficult to support specific brand preferences due to global supply chain issues, the full spectrum of USask PPE needs is available.

The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on January 20, the university was informed of 298 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community. This week's positive case counts include many cases from past weeks that were not previously reported. Of the 298 reported cases, 130 cases involved individuals who attended classes remotely and did not access USask campuses. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed or suspected positive case

If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or suspect you have COVID-19, immediately notify the university. Instructions/guidelines for students, employees, faculty/instructors and people leaders for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases are available and must be followed. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support.

Important: Please report all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not (reporting close contacts is not necessary). At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. Please watch carefully for changes regarding university events and gatherings.

Since the Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 campus updates on Winter Term, the Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) has been closely monitoring the spread of the Omicron variant—including modeling data, wastewater results, covid testing positivity in the community, and on- and off-campus cases. The PRT and the President’s Executive Committee have made the decision to extend the current state of operation until February 7. Given the increased transmissibility of Omicron, in combination with the rising case numbers throughout the province, a brief extension of the current precautionary measures will help to ensure reduced on-campus transmission and to return our campus community back to more in-person activity as originally planned.

Until February 7, all classes that are currently being delivered remotely will continue to be in the remote environment, and all classes that are currently being delivered in-person at this time will continue as such. Students with questions about registration, withdrawal, or tuition payment deadlines should visit the Class Registration and Withdrawal Deadline website.

Employees currently working remotely will receive direct communications from their respective people leader with guidance on next steps. Like class delivery, the readiness of a return to work on campus will be assessed prior to February 7.

Given the data available, it is not anticipated that a further extension of precautionary measures will be required beyond February 7. Knowing that we are living through a quickly changing situation in many parts of Canada, we will continue to monitor and adjust our safety protocols as necessary to ensure the health and wellness of our campus and broader communities.

We all must continue to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. This includes:

  • being fully vaccinated and expecting all members of the campus community to obtain their vaccination booster shots as soon as eligible;
  • wearing a required 3-ply single-use mask on all USask campuses and in all work locations at all times;
  • staying home if you are feeling sick (even if it isn’t COVID-19) so you do not spread any illness and not coming to campus until you are symptom free for 48hours; and
  • using rapid test kits to test yourself prior to any gatherings in person with others (rapid testing kits can be confirmed here).

Any additional changes will be communicated as soon as determined, including any new requirements or restrictions announced by public health authorities. If you have any questions, please consult the FAQ for more information. 

Regards, and stay safe,

USask Pandemic Response and Recovery Team 

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

As active COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the province with the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is imperative that you stay home if you are feeling sick and do not spread your illness. Even if it is not COVID-19, please stay home and monitor your symptoms. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work.

Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should get tested immediately. Keep close tabs on your health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by closely monitoring your symptoms and completing the self-monitoring checklist

If you are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 follow the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases.

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

Rapid antigen testing kits available at USask

Rapid antigen testing kits (packs of 5) are available for USask students, staff and faculty. Kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis with a limit of one kit per person, per week. Please be prepared to provide your NSID upon pickup of a kit. Test Kits are available for pickup at Murray Library, the Bookstore in Marquis Hall, the Fit Centre, and the USSU Office during operating hours. More information about accessing rapid antigen testing kits and how to properly complete a test is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/testing-tracking.php.

On campus COVID vaccine clinic 

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic is available for students, faculty and staff on Friday, January 14, and Wednesday, January 19 from 9am to 3:30pm on the Main floor (North Concourse) in Place Riel. Call the Student Wellness Centre at 306-966-5768 to make an appointment and bring your health card to the appointment. 

Students, faculty and staff requiring their first, second or booster vaccinations can make an appointment - everyone is welcome.

N95 masks use on campus

With the highly contagious Omicron variant now rapidly circulating through the community, the best mask protection available is an N95 or equivalent mask/respirator. USask colleges and departments can purchase an inventory of these masks through ppesales.usask.ca to make available to their faculty and staff at no cost. The average person typically will use one N95 mask per day, however, this may vary based on location and type of work being completed. To ensure a safe level of inventory is maintained, USask recommends departments and units purchase N95 masks on a weekly basis. Note that N95/CN95 masks with valves are not approved and are not to be worn on USask campuses.

Reusing N95 masks

A set of four or five N95 masks can be reused each week by rotating their use each day and allowing them to dry for long enough that the virus is no longer viable (>72 hours). Masks should be hung to dry in a low traffic area, or kept in a clean, breathable container like a paper bag between uses. Make sure masks do not touch each other and do not share previously used masks with others. Before each use remember to inspect and perform a user seal check. Masks should be discarded when they are contaminated, damaged or it becomes hard to breathe through them.

Disrupting COVID-19 with potential new treatments

A USask research team has discovered insights into the structure of the virus that causes COVID-19, possibly leading to new treatment options. The virus that causes COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, attaches to cells in the human body via spike proteins. These spikes allow the virus to infect cells, following which the virus replicates itself and spreads throughout the body. The spikes contain molecular structures called disulfides—pairs of sulphur atoms bound together—that may be important for holding the spikes in the correct shape for cell infection to occur. With this knowledge, the research team investigated an important question about the SARS-CoV-2 virus: If the spike disulfides are disrupted, would this allow the virus to lose its ability to cause infection? Read more.

COVID-19 vaccination booster eligibility to residents 18 and over

All Saskatchewan residents ages 18 and over are eligible for booster doses. The interval between the second dose and booster shot has been reduced from five months to three. For more information or to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination booster saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine-booking.

USask recommends all members of the campus community obtain their vaccination booster shots as soon as eligible. Once you have received your booster shot, do not yet update your vaccination status in PAWS at this time. 

Information regarding any USask expectations or requirements for booster shots for members of our campus communities will be announced in early 2022. 

Changes to wellness referrals for COVID-19 positive cases

Due to the rapid escalation in COVID-19 cases and recent reductions to isolation periods as directed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the guidelines for when to submit a wellness referral to wellness resources when an employee has tested COVID-19 positive, have changed. Employees testing positive for COVID-19 who are unable to perform the full scope of their work are required to notify their supervisor through the department/unit’s regular sick time processes. For employees who remain symptomatic after their fifth day off work, a wellness referral must be submitted to wellness resources. This is a temporary modification to our standard process and will be subject to future change as circumstances warrant.

Huskies to play without fans this weekend

Due to a current marked increase of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, and the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Huskie Athletics has announced that the Jan. 14 and 15 home hockey and volleyball games will be played without spectators in attendance. Affected games include Friday and Saturday's Men's and Women's Volleyball games against Brandon University and Men's (Saturday) and Women's (Friday) hockey games against the University of Regina.

Additionally, due to the large number of athletes from multiple universities and the community expected at the 2022 Sanderson Classic track and field meet, the event has been cancelled outright. More Information.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

For the seven-day period ending on January 13, the university was informed of 210 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community on and off campus. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

Process for reporting confirmed or suspected positive case

Instructions/guidelines for students, employees, faculty/instructors and people leaders for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases are available and must be followed. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, suspect you have COVID-19, or suspect you have been in close contact of a positive or suspect case, immediately notify the university. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support.

Important: Please report all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not. At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The health and safety of our university community is paramount and all members of the USask community share the responsibility to follow all health and safety protocols now in place. Please ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date information about USask's health and safety requirements. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability.

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. Please watch carefully for changes regarding university events and gatherings.

Delayed start for many winter term classes and remote work for faculty and staff

As announced on Dec. 23, the start date for many winter term classes was delayed until Jan. 10 with details around start times and methods of course delivery being provided directly from colleges and schools. USask faculty and staff who can work remotely are encouraged to do so until January 24. The readiness of a return to work on campus will be assessed over the next couple weeks and communicated prior to January 24. For those employees who will be working on campus during the winter term a supply of N95 masks will be available for purchase by units and departments in small quantities through ppesales.usask.ca. For more information about using N95 masks and their availability visit covid19.usask.ca/working-on-campus/ppes.php#OnCampusMaskUse. 

As a measure of additional protection for faculty and staff on campus, USask will have a supply of rapid antigen COVID-19 testing kits available for voluntary use. Please watch for further updates regarding the availability of rapid antigen tests on campus.

COVID-19 vaccination booster eligibility to residents 18 and over

All Saskatchewan residents ages 18 and over are eligible for booster doses. The interval between the second dose and booster shot has been reduced from five months to three. For more information or to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination booster saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine-booking.

Information regarding any USask expectations or requirements for booster shots for members of our campus communities will be announced in early 2022. Given the current state of the pandemic and the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is recommended you get your COVID booster shot as soon as you are eligible.

Stay home if you are feeling sick 

As active COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the province with the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is imperative that you stay home if you are feeling sick and do not spread your illness. Even if it is not COVID-19, please stay home and monitor your symptoms. Regardless of your vaccination status, it is mandatory that you should be symptom-free for 48 hours prior to returning to campus/work. Free rapid antigen test kits are available to the general public free of charge through participating local distribution centres throughout the province. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, should get tested immediately.

Keep close tabs on your health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by closely monitoring your symptoms and completing the self-monitoring checklist. COVID-19 rapid screening test appointments are available for students through the Student Wellness Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Student Wellness Centre at 306-966-5768 or email student.wellness@usask.ca. Appointments are available to those who have;

  • been symptom-free for at least 48hrs
  • not been in contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case; and
  • followed all Public Health directions, including completion of self-isolation as directed by Public Health (usually minimum 10-14 days).

More information is available at covid19.usask.ca/about/safety.php. Learn more about the Government of Saskatchewan's Seasonal Influenza (flu) program.

USask virtual education supports health-care workers during pandemic

In the early days of the pandemic, the College of Medicine’s Division of Continuing Medical Education quickly became a go-to resource for health-care professionals, offering educational webinars about the emerging virus, reaching thousands of people from all over the world. Read more.

Process for reporting confirmed or suspected positive case

Instructions/guidelines for students, employees, faculty/instructors and people leaders for self-reporting confirmed or suspected cases are available and must be followed. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, suspect you have COVID-19, or suspect you have been in close contact of a positive or suspect case, immediately notify the university. These simplified instructions allow USask to take the appropriate actions to safeguard our community as well as provide all faculty, staff and students with available resources or support.

Important: Please report all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty regardless of if the person has been at a campus location or not. At this time, Rapid testing and PCR testing are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases. Please follow SHA guidelines for requirements of confirmatory testing, if needed.

USask COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The health and safety of our university community is paramount and all members of the USask community share the responsibility to follow all health and safety protocols now in place. Please ensure that you are familiar with the most up-to-date information about USask's health and safety requirements. The COVID-19 vaccination, masking, and health and safety protocols have been updated for the winter term and developed in accordance with the USask Health and Safety policy. The university will pursue all appropriate measures to ensure compliance and accountability.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

USask will provide ongoing updates on confirmed positive COVID-19 case numbers associated with the campus community, based on information provided to the university. Due to privacy considerations, only top-line case numbers will be announced on a weekly basis in this update. 

During the holiday closure from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3, 62 positive cases were reported to us during that time. Since reopening on Jan. 4 to the end of Jan. 6, the university was informed of 69 positive COVID-19 cases involving members of the university community on and off campus. A complete list of where positive cases have been reported including on campus locations is now available.

On campus mask adherence 

All faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors are required to wear approved masks in all indoor spaces, outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people on USask campuses in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. 

Approved masks include single-use 3-ply-nonmedical-and-medical, N95, KN95s and double masking with a cloth mask over single-use 3-ply. Should you encounter individuals on campus not following mask protocols please: 

  • Remind the individual that masking is mandatory
  • Request that they don a 3-ply disposable mask
  • Remove yourself respectfully from the situation. It is not recommended that you engage in debate or conversation as this may result in lengthy engagement with an unmasked person or lead to negative interactions, or
  • Report using one of the following options:

For student issues: report any recurring scenarios or situations with the Report a Hazard tool (can be used confidentially);
For workplace issues: report the incident to the appropriate people leader or use the Report a Hazard tool as a confidential option.

Disposable mask recycling stations are located across the Saskatoon campus with new locations being added. 

Campus activities and services

Stay up-to-date on the status of university services at covid19.usask.ca/campus-status.php. Please watch carefully for changes regarding university events and gatherings.

Past Updates

View USask's past updates related to COVID-19.

Questions?

Questions can be sent to:

 Email: covid19@usask.ca

Stages of reopening are guided by Provincial recommendations and guidelines, but USask may decide to move more conservatively in some areas to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.

USask is currently in Stage 5 of reopening.