Mandatory mask use in higher education institutions

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Rodrigo Antunes / Lusa

The ministry’s intention is that teaching activities take place in person, with the necessary precautions and adjusted to the levels of vaccination against Covid-19.

The use of mask respiratory will be mandatory in higher education establishments and scientific institutions for classroom and non-teaching activities in the school year 2021-2022, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES).

The mandatory use of a mask also covers common spaces of student residences, libraries and spaces for scientific activities, and is intended for students, teachers, non-teaching staff, researchers and other collaborators in higher education, says a document from the MCTES, with guidelines for the start of the new academic year under conditions “adequate public health and safety”In the face of a covid-19 pandemic.

The proper reuse of masks, “according to the manufacturer’s instructions, in terms of health and environment”, is another of the guidelines contained in the document. Recalling that the context in which the new school year begins is different from the previous one, since the risk of contagion by covid-19 is found “mitigated” due to the “high fraction of the population already vaccinated, including young adults”, the document also determines that the sanitization of hands with disinfectant solution, at the entrance and exit of establishments, rooms and common spaces.

A cleaning of all spaces, respecting the norms and guidelines of the General Directorate of Health (DGS), with the guarantee of the existence of cleaning materials and products for the proper procedures of disinfection and cleaning of buildings, are also included in the document.

The provision of information on the correct way to wash and sanitize hands, respiratory etiquette and distance are other recommendations of the Ministry under Manuel Hector, along with the definition and/or maintenance of the circuits of entry and exit of people in the facilities, in order to minimize the concentration and gathering of people, and the continuation of the frequent renewal of the air in all enclosed spaces, in accordance with the standards set by the DGS.

The precaution of sanitary facilities with water, liquid soap with a dispenser, disposable paper towels, and open doors and gates to allow better air circulation inside spaces, are another of the recommendations that are part of a long list of the MCTES. The holding of congresses, meetings, conferences and events must also comply with the rules of the DGS and the legislation in force.

With regard to the organization of classrooms, amphitheaters and other areas where activities with teachers, students, researchers and collaborators take place, the document determines that the rooms must, “when possible, ensure a physical distance suitable among people, without compromising the normal functioning of classroom teaching activities”.

It also recommends that you continue to promote yourself to cleaning of shared materials, always between the change of each user, as well as hand hygiene before entering and leaving each room, as well as the cleaning of furniture and equipment for common use present in classrooms before the start of each class “whenever is possible”.

In libraries, laboratories and similar institutions, the physical distance recommended” and in the event that this is not possible and in situations where people are face to face, such as in libraries, they should “keep the protective barriers already installed”, says the MCTES. As for gyms and sports facilities, all hygiene and environmental control measures, physical distance and capacity must be complied with, as well as complying with the DGS guidelines for this equipment.

In bars and canteens, respect for the physical distance between all users must continue to be respected, maintaining the mandatory use of mask, except during meal times.

In the access lines to the service lines and counters, signage must be placed that promotes a two meters distance between people and in the dining rooms, there should be a space between users, and the opening hours meal services, “whenever possible with greater flexibility in academic activity schedules”.

The measures listed by the MCTES also include the exclusive use of dining spaces or cafeteria services, without permission for them to function as living spaces, but allowing outside mealtimes to be used as study spaces under the rules of physical distance applied to the study rooms of the residences.

For student residences, the tutelage determines that each residence must adapt the Contingency plan, respecting the rules and guidelines of the DGS, namely the procedures to be adopted in a possible, probable or confirmed case of covid-19. O use of mask is also mandatory. in common spaces of residences, access may be subject to the requirement of the Covid Digital Certificate of the European Union or the presentation of negative tests.

There are four types of test provided: PCR performed in the laboratory within 72 hours prior to submission, antigen test with laboratory report performed within 48 hours prior to submission or rapid antigen test (self-test) performed within 24 hours prior to submission presentation or rapid antigen test (self-test) performed at the door of the establishment, with the verification of those responsible for these spaces.

The minimum lateral distance between beds must be two meters in rooms with more than one student, “whenever possible”, the use of bunk beds or the common use of wardrobes, cupboards, shelves, work tables or the like is not recommended.

As for common use leisure spaces, they should be resized in its maximum occupancy, with regular cleaning of the furniture, while in the study rooms, the physical distance of at least one meter must be maintained, whenever possible, as well as the protection barriers installed, namely acrylic partitions between spaces, must be maintained. of work and study.

In view of the probability or possibility of covid-19 cases, the contingency plan or the protocols and the Saúde 24 line was contacted, complying with the instructions received. According to the document, the previous suspected cases of covid-19 are now defined as a probable case, and a possible case mainly covers people who develop an acute respiratory condition with cough, temperature equal to or greater than 38º, or respiratory distress.

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