Should Ryerson be more transparent about COVID-19 cases on campus?

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By Reedah Hayder

It’s unclear how many COVID-19 cases have been reported on Ryerson campus, as none have been publicly announced by the university since its shutdown back in March. 

According to a statement released by the university in late October, the school is tracking confirmed or probable cases but will not publicly announce anything to protect the privacy of those who test positive.

Similarly, many universities in Ontario have not been publicly reporting campus cases of COVID-19. 

Lina Elsaadi, a second-year RTA media production student, said even though she doesn’t live in residence, she has a place near campus and feels she should still be informed of the cases on campus. 

“We’re all within the same bubble on campus. That means that the grocery store I go to is the same Metro as all those students. If I go to SLC, I’m coming into contact with all the same students on campus.”

Although the Ryerson administration may want to protect their reputation, Elsaadi said she feels “they could be a bit more transparent with us.”

To better protect individuals’ privacy, the university should “at least publish a monthly or weekly summary of the reported cases on campus,” she said. As more places open up in the future, students should remain informed, said Elsaadi.

“We should have an idea of what’s going on on campus. We should be able to know because it affects all of us.”

In an interview with The Eyeopener, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said the university contacts potentially impacted community members via email “so that they can assess their individual risk.”

He noted that with “more than 95 per cent of courses and services being offered virtually, we have very few students, faculty and staff on campus every day.” 

“We’re all within the same bubble on campus…We should have an idea of what’s going on”

Wilfrid Laurier University was one of the first schools to begin publicly reporting COVID-19 campus cases online. 

The University of Toronto is also updating community members of cases on campus with updates every Monday and Thursday. 

According to Wilfrid Laurier University’s website, the school continues to provide updates as they receive reports of confirmed COVID-19 cases of those who may have been on a Laurier campus.

Jenaa Al-Harazi, a second-year political science student at Wilfrid Laurier University, lives off-campus but said the university publicly keeping track of COVID-19 cases on campus is still beneficial to her. 

She said information about cases can help students to stay safe and make fully-informed decisions on whether or not to go on campus to study or use the facilities. 

Al-Harazi also mentioned that online and email information sent to students doesn’t disclose any details about individuals with newly confirmed cases. 

Timothy Sly, an epidemiologist and a professor emeritus at Ryerson, said there’s been more of a shift for public services and institutions to be more transparent with the public. 

However, Sly said he believes publishing the reports of COVID-19 cases on campus is unnecessary as long as those who live in the residence of the case are being notified through email.

“You do a risk assessment and you inform those who would likely be crossing paths with this person.” 

Sly said unless there’s an outbreak or a large number of cases, there’s no reason to alert everyone. 

He said Ryerson is “reaching the people who are in some way at risk.”

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