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COVID-19 Pandemic Protection Plan

Updated: April 1, 2022

The Protection Plan (Plan) describes the measures to be taken during the pandemic period (COVID-19) to ensure the operation of the Steger Center for International Scholarship (SC), adequately protecting the health of its staff, faculty, and students, as well as external visitors, pursuant to Federal Ordinance 2-COVID-19.

The requirements contained in the Plan therefore apply to all Steger Center staff, students, and external visitors.

The Plan complies with the employer’s obligation to inform employees.

Legal basis

We are creating this manual to meet the requirements of Swiss law and to go beyond it when we have determined that is helpful to protect our staff, faculty, students, and visitors, and especially our high-risk constituents. In order to protect all members of our community during their time abroad, and to ensure a safe return to the United States in early May, the Steger Center’s community has come together and agreed to maintain stricter measures than the Swiss authorities until May 4, 2022.

Virginia Tech students participating in faculty-led programs are subject to the Student Code of Conduct, to include all Virginia Tech policies and procedures related to COVID-19.

Information and references

General information on the global and national situation can be found on official websites (nonexhaustive list):

Steger Center executive director in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Global Education Office

The Steger Center executive director in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Global Education Office is responsible for the drafting, implementation, monitoring, and constant updating of the Plan. The Plan may be updated as the epidemiological situation for the region changes.

Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sara Steinert Borella.

In general, the rules of the FOPH Protect Yourself and Others campaign apply.

The aim of protection in the workplace is to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus through distancing, hand cleanliness, and hygiene.

1. Wearing Masks, Social Distancing, and Increased Hygiene

a. Use of masks with social distancing

Wearing masks that cover the nose and mouth lays the foundation to our protection plan. Combined with social distancing, mask wearing has been proven to prevent the spread of infection and protect the community.

Our plan for masks and social distancing is founded on social responsibility, a strength at the Steger Center. We must all act together to remain safe and to keep others safe.

A face covering that covers the nose and mouth is strongly recommended at the Steger Center. Accepted masks include certified FFP2/N95 masks, surgical-style N90 masks, as well as fabric/cloth masks. Masks are recommended in particular in all common spaces, including hallways, study spaces, lounges, and the dining room when not eating and drinking.  

Surgical masks will be supplied by the Steger Center. Masks are available for staff, faculty, students, and external visitors.

To allow for students to continue participating in curricular travel both inside and outside of Switzerland, symptomatic students are required to wear masks while indoors.

Please note that the mask policy applies to group travel away from the Steger Center as well: We recommend that students and faculty wear masks in all indoor, public, and common spaces.

b. Wash your hands

Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, especially before arrival at the workplace, before and after breaks, and before and after meetings.

Follow the FOPH instructions.

When it is not possible to wash your hands with soap and water, disinfect your hands with a disinfectant. Disinfectants are available at main entrances, as well as on all floors and office common areas.

c. Frequently touched surfaces (handles, switches, buttons, etc.)

Clean frequently touched surfaces in your office/area at least twice a day with the detergent that will be supplied to you for this purpose.

In addition, pay particular attention to the careful cleaning of frequently used door handles, switches, and buttons. This operation is carried out by the cleaning services in the general common access areas.

d. Waste

Cleaning staff will be directed to empty the waste bins regularly (especially those near where you wash your hands). They must avoid touching the waste directly and always use tools (broom, shovel, etc.). Faculty and staff should avoid touching waste..

e. Positioning and use of hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are available throughout the Villa.

1. Persons particularly at risk

The needs of particularly vulnerable people are properly considered.

Persons particularly at risk may attend the premises only by strictly observing the rules on distancing and hygiene or, where appropriate, by taking the additional specific protective measures provided for. The same behavior must be adopted by those who come into contact with persons at particular risk on the premises.

2. Travel and return from high-risk countries or regions

Students should always advise their faculty leader and the Steger Center of their travel plans and destinations. It is recommended that individuals research the entry rules for their destination country, as well as any changes in regulations before re-entry.

1.  Behavior in case of flu-like symptoms and isolation and quarantine measures

It is essential to remember that anyone who develops flu-like symptoms (fever above 37,5° C or a feeling of fever, mostly dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or breathing problems, muscle aches, sudden loss of smell and/or taste) should limit contact with other people and contact by phone their family doctor (staff) or inform the Steger Center and the faculty supervisor.

The procedure to follow in case of reporting direct contact with a person tested positive for COVID-19 or that staff and students have been found to be positive for the virus is outlined in the protocol below and must be strictly applied.

2. Procedure to be followed in case of potential contagion

In the event that a faculty member, staff member, or student tests positive for COVID-19, that person must follow the indications below and ensure the prompt flow of information.

Isolation protocols in the event of a positive test

  • In the event of a Steger Center resident receiving positive test results from any COVID-19 test, immediately report the results to their program leader and Sara Steinert Borella.
  • Positive student moves to the quarantine apartment for up to five days from the onset of symptoms.
  • Program leaders, RLC, and Steger Center staff are notified to coordinate meal delivery, wellness check-ins, laundry, and other support as needed.

3. Tracking of contacts

Tracking of attendance and contact between people on campus is essential. In the event of a positive case of coronavirus, that individual’s contacts must be traceable. 

4. Data regarding COVID-19 infection and quarantine

Self-reports of COVID-19 illness will be forwarded to Sara Steinert Borella. Medical confidentiality will be maintained. The information will be used for requests from the cantonal authorities and not released without the specific consent of the individual or their legal representative. Those in the Steger Center community who may have come into close contact with the positive case are contacted directly and given instructions to prevent further spread. Any discussions with Steger Center staff or faculty with the individual who has tested positive will be treated confidentially.

Contact tracing information is used for the sole purpose of protecting community health. Your activities are not shared with student conduct teams or others in the Steger Center community; your name is not shared when notifying those who may have been exposed. Our concern is your health and the health of your friends and the Steger Center community.

It is strongly recommended that you inform yourself about the regulations in your country of destination or origin, as Swiss and foreign regulations will likely change in the coming weeks and months. The interactive TravelCheck tool shows what measures apply to individual cases. 

This Protection Plan comes into force immediately. Updates will be published regularly and distributed accordingly.

Any concerns or questions should be directed to Sara Steinert Borella.