Safety Tips

St Thomas Aquinas College's COVID Task Force begins meetings with a "Health and Safety Moment" to address pertinent topics, best practices, and safety tips related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see below for some helpful and important highlights:

Dr. Wentzell, STAC Assistant Professor of Biology, provides thorough and informative insight on Virus Transmission:

Hand Hygiene:

Frequent hand washing and/or sanitization is incredibly important to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Protect yourselves and others by being diligent about keeping your hands clean. Please do the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially under the following circumstances:

    • After you have been in a public place
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • Before touching your face
    • After using the restroom
    • After handling your mask
    • After changing a diaper
    • After caring for someone who is sick
    • After touching animals or pets
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Place a small amount of hand sanitizer (no larger than a quarter) in your palm and rub your hands together in a hand-washing motion until the gel dries (about 20-30 seconds). Please note that hand sanitizer can be flammable, so it should not be left in your car.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Mask-Wearing Protocol:

How to Wear a Mask

  • Choose a mask that covers your nose and mouth, is made of multiple layers of fabric, fits snugly against the sides of your face, and can be secured under your chin. Some masks have adjustable ear loops to help provide a snug fit. Make sure your mask allows you to breathe easily.
  • Always wash your hands before putting on and taking off your mask, and DO NOT touch the outside of your mask. If you do touch your mask, be sure to wash your hands.
  • Do not put the mask around your neck, on your chin, or up on your forehead when not in use.
  • Remember that your used mask could contain virus particles, so be sure to treat it as a contaminated object and follow the proper reuse/washing procedures

Mask Reuse/Washing:

How to Wash Cloth Masks

Cloth masks should be washed daily, or more frequently if soiled.

  1. Wash hands
  2. Remove mask by ear loops/ties
  3. If not washing right away, place in a container such as a paper or plastic bag. Be sure to remember this is a contaminated container. Then wash hands again!
  4. If washing right away:
    • Machine Wash: Immediately place in washing machine. Wash hands again! Then start washing machine with regular detergent and warm water. Dry on high setting, or air dry (preferably in direct sunlight).
    • Hand Wash: Immediately place in sink or basin with warm water and detergent. Alternatively, you can hand wash using disinfecting bleach. Scrub thoroughly and air dry (preferably in direct sunlight).
    • Be sure your cloth mask is completely dry before re-wearing

How to Reuse Disposable Masks

Ideally, disposable masks should be disposed of after each use. Masks should be disposed of in a closed trash receptacle. If a closed receptacle is not available, the mask should be folded carefully in half (outside in) and wrapped up in a tissue or bag. However, disposable masks can sometimes be in short supply. If you wish to reuse a disposable mask:

  1. Wash hands
  2. Remove mask by ear loops/ties
  3. Immediately place in a container (best: breathable, closed container such as a paper bag)
  4. Immediately wash hands again
  5. Allow to sit in container unused for at least 72 hours
  6. Throw away mask when visibly soiled or damaged

Helpful tip: Keep 7 paper bags marked with each day of the week.

Maintaining Physical Distance:

Because a major mode of transmission of COVID-19 is via respiratory droplets and aerosols, which can travel great distances away from their source, campus community members should maintain physical distance. Please stay at least six feet away from other people who you do not live with, even if you have a mask on.

Wearing and Removing Disposable Gloves

6 step photos of hands in action: wearing blue gloves and properly taking off then disposing. text under photos as written in directions on website

  • Choose disposable gloves in the appropriate size for your hands (S, M, L).
  • Wash or sanitize your hands before putting the disposable gloves on your hands.
  • Put your gloves on, inspect to make sure there are no rips or tears.
  • Once you wear the gloves, they are considered contaminated and must be removed and disposed of properly.
  • When you have safely removed the gloves and disposed of them in a trash receptacle, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands again.

Learn more about the importance of washing your hands from students in our College's Microbiology (BIO307) course:

Washing hands in sink with soapWashing Hands — View Full Presentation

hand illustration - your hand is a world of germsYour Hand is a World of Germs — View Full Presentation

Handwashing poster green yellow text-do your part to stay safe during COVID19 wash handsHandwashing: Doing Your Part to Fight COVID-19 — View Full Presentation

handwashing before food text; blue plain backgroundThe Importance of Handwashing When Dealing with Food — View Full Presentation

Handwashing tips--cats and dogs in 4 pictures with ownersWash Your Hands: Facts About Pets — View Full Presentation

handwashing rap with music notes cover pageHandwashing Rap: Lyrics and Analysis — View Full Presentation

Stretching Techniques

Physical health is important, and although many believe stretching is mainly beneficial before physical activities, it is also necessary when seated and working at the computer for long bouts of time. Simple stretching is essential as lack of motion can strain your neck, back, arms, legs, and more.

Here are four simple exercises which can be done while seated:

  1. Neck – Sit up straight and drop your left ear to your left shoulder and repeat on the right. Also, turn your head slowly right and left. This helps with range of motion.
  2. Shoulders – With your arms outstretched lengthwise, make small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  3. Hands/Forearms – With your arms outstretched in front of you with palms facing up, move your palms inward and outward.
  4. Back/Sides – With your arms outstretched over your head, interlock your fingers and bend left and right.

Taking Good Care of Yourself: Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Health

Self care is paramount to the overall success of your well being. Your physical, spiritual, and emotional health are all connected. Some tips for self care include:

  • Live healthy, eat healthy foods, commit to getting enough sleep, exercise regularly, avoid negative habits, manage stress, go for regular medical check-ups.
  • Practice good hygiene: it is important for social, medical, and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness, but it also improves self-confidence and overall health.
  • Stay connected with friends and family in a safe manner to continue building your sense of belonging during this challenging time. Connect through video calls, phone calls, text messages, mail, and more.
  • Staying informed through reliable sources; limit exposure to bouts of media coverage or posts on social media platforms which could potentially promote fear or spread false information.
  • Take a moment or short break at least once per day to do something you enjoy. That may mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden/being outside, painting, drawing, reading, etc.
  • Find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga, walking, etc.
  • Encourage these practices with your friends, family, and loved ones.

Distracted Driving: PSA

Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents. Distracted driving — specifically while attending remote meetings on Google Meet, Zoom, and other related platforms while in your vehicle — is starting to emerge as a result of the pandemic. With students attending courses remotely, and employees attending an array of meetings and teaching classes remotely, this danger has become increasingly widespread across the country. Please watch this distracted driving video to learn more about the dangers of distracted driving, and share the important PSA with your friends, family, and loved ones.