Red River College maintains zero COVID-19 transmissions throughout pandemic

By Sydney Lockhart 

RRC’s pandemic response response level has remained at restricted during most of the 2020-2021 school year./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

RRC has seen over 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases within its halls since the beginning of the pandemic, but zero transmissions.

“Knock on wood,” said Jodi Pluchinski, the director of safety and health services at the college. “There has been no community transmission at any campus, and that really is about people following the protocols that we have put in place.”

Every time there is a confirmed case at the school, all students and staff receive a notification, even if they are not on campus.

“We want to remind everyone – on and off campus – to continue to follow the advice from Public Health in order to limit the spread of the virus,” said Melanie Gudmundson, chief human resource officer at RRC, in an email to all students and staff. “Thank you for continuing to do your part to keep each other safe.”

When a case is identified, the areas that they were in at the school are emptied of people and thoroughly sanitized by the Clorox 360 machine the school purchased.

“A lot of times we know before Public Health does, so we typically have the contact tracing all done for those people at Red River College before Public Health has even called us,” said Pluchinski.

Pluchinski said the lack of transmission in the schools is because of their sanitizing, distancing, mask-wearing, and COVID-19 screening protocols, as well as their quick reaction to a positive case.

“We are advocating at the college to have all of our healthcare students vaccinated,” said Pluchinski.

She said that some healthcare students can already get the vaccine, but their eligibility depends on where they are in their practicum.

Other programs that have in-person classes are putting extra COVID-19 protocols in place to keep their students safe.

Tasha Mackey, 42, a Hospitality and Tourism Management student, said they change into fresh masks every day they arrive at school.

“I’m uneasy, I’m cautious, but I feel like we’re doing everything we can do to be safe,” she said. “We wash our hands, we sanitize, and then we sanitize again.”

Mackey said she sees cleaning staff every morning because she shows up at the Portage campus during a thorough clean of the space.

“Everything’s been fine,” said Mackey, “If you’re not feeling well, do not show up. Stay home.”

Individual instructor-student meetings are more likely to happen in the fall for all programs, Pluchinski said.

“I think there’ll be opportunities for students who need to come to campus, even if your program is all online.”

About 2000 RRC students have some classes on campuses this semester. With the nonexistent campus transmission, Pluchinski said the college plans to have capacity up to 50 per cent in the fall.