The COVID-19 pandemic has McMaster University students adapting to a virtual learning environment. Beyond having classes online, the pandemic has created unprecedented changes in everyone’s lifestyle. The Student Wellness Centre is committed to keeping students informed to ensure the health and safety of our community. We hope this article helps you understand COVID-19, learn about its symptoms, appropriate precautions, as well as provide you with resources to help navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Canada has advised all Canadians to practice physical distancing, which is keeping at least 6 feet (around 2 meters) distance from people who are not from your household. In addition, everyone must wear masks which cover their mouth and nose, and frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash your hands, frequently use hand sanitizer which contains at least 70% alcohol and avoid touching your face. Most importantly, if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, stay home for 14 days, monitor your symptoms and conduct a self-assessment using the Ontario Public Health self-assessment tool to determine if a swab test is needed.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include but are not limited to: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, visit a testing centre. You can also get free medical health advice through a Telehealth Service within your region. The toll-free number for Telehealth Ontario is 1-866-797-0000. For McMaster University students, download the McMaster Safety App which directs you to Ontario’s COVID-19 screening tool. If you need to come to campus, please complete the COVID self-assessment prior to arriving on campus and ensure you wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin in all indoor spaces even if you are just sitting at one of the study tables.
Reading about these precautionary measures can be overwhelming and change how you experience university, we encourage students to find virtual spaces to socialize and meet with their peers. Remember to practice physical distancing when keeping in touch with your social circles. Given that the 21st century is heavily impacted by social media, you can still maintain your social connections virtually. If you choose to meet with people outside your household, remember to follow physical distancing rules of your region, combined with practicing preventative measures. Sustaining these relationships will help with your overall well-being and quality of life.
Just as staying connected with friends and family is important, so is protecting your mental health; a great self-help guided resource is WellTrack. WellTrack is an interactive therapy application which helps you track and improve your mental wellness. Although this self-help application is a valuable tool, remember that you do not have to limit yourself to only one tool. The Student Wellness Centre offers a variety of services and programming that can help you reach your full wellness potential. The services we provide include counselling, medical care, and health promotion. Wellness programs are still being offered virtually so that you can continue to invest in your personal growth and wellness. Check out our website to see how you can navigate through appointments and programming online.
Written by: Thivishah Rajsekar