There is no evidence there is no on-campus transmission at this time
Well, it finally happened. On Sept. 23, Concordia let us know that there are 22 reported COVID cases from people who “may have been” on campus while they were contagious. For many, this update was expected; others, like students who have health concerns and lack a proper hybrid educational system at Concordia, feared it.
To appease our concern, the university reassured us in the manner expected by an educational institution. In bold, the email read, “There is no evidence of on-campus transmission at this time.”
“Clearly,” the email continued, “everyone’s vigilance in respecting the health and safety measures we put in place as part of Concordia’s Return-to-Campus plan has had an impact.” After patting themselves on the back, they informed us that for every potential or certain COVID case on campus, the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team would conduct a contact tracing plan based on public health authority criteria.
The announcement left many at the university confused and inquisitive about Concordia’s contact tracing plan. After all, absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, meaning just because there’s no evidence COVID was transmitted on campus, doesn’t mean it’s proof it has not happened.
Members of the Concordia community attending in-person lectures and events are inevitably more susceptible to contracting COVID. So, how do you go about reporting if you think you have COVID?
According to Concordia’s official procedure for a suspected or confirmed COVID case, if a student feels any symptoms off-campus, they must call the COVID-19 information Line* at 1-877-644-4545 (toll free) or 514-644-4545 and follow their instructions. If instructed to quarantine, students must fill out the COVID-19 self-isolation form on the MyConcordia website. If a student was on campus 48 hours prior to developing COVID-19 symptoms, the EHS will initiate the suspected COVID-19 investigation.
Similarly, if a student feels symptoms on campus, they must call security at 514-848-3717, and security will transfer the call to the EHS, which will begin the suspected COVID-19 investigation.
The investigation includes the EHS collecting details from the person who has potentially contracted COVID, such as locations visited and names of individuals they came in contact with on campus.
Those individuals will be told to call the Public Health COVID Line for instructions; their case may be subject to an investigation by the Direction régionale de santé publique — and it is them who will make the ultimate determination if the individual who came in contact should self-isolate, get tested, or may return to campus.
It’s important to know the process in which COVID cases are reported on campus, because students not knowing how to properly report when they think they may have COVID, may very well be the reason why Concordia has no evidence there was COVID transmission on campus.
The truth is campus transmission is not only possible — it’s highly probable. Let’s give Concordia the data they need to better protect our community.
*The Public Health COVID Line is available from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Outside these hours, call Info-Santé 8-1-1 (24/7)
Photograph by Alex Hutchins