Reopening IWEG Safely Plan Jul. 16, 2020

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Since the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) closed temporarily on March 16, 2020, due to the mandatory closure for non-essential businesses, we have taken advice and researched the safest way to reopen the school. We will continue to rely on information and guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Toronto Public Health, Government of Ontario and City of Toronto to guide all of our decisions to ensure your safety.

We know that there are many of you whose courses and exams have been disrupted by the pandemic, for which we are sorry, and even more of you who have been waiting patiently to begin your wine and spirits educational journey with us.

We want to assure you that we will work to adhere to all public health and government guidelines and that we will always place the health and safety of our students, instructors and staff above all else.

We’ve outlined our plan below to keep you safe when you’re at IWEG for the Fall Semester 2020.

We ask you for your assistance by complying with the following guidelines, to help us ensure that both you and your fellow students have a safe and enjoyable learning experience at IWEG:

1.    Don't take risks with your health

  • If you're not feeling well for any reason, please stay at home. If you have any concerns or feel that you may be coming down sick, please err on the side of caution. Even if you are feeling fine, but you have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days, please do not come to IWEG; contact us and we’ll transfer you to the next available course.
  • Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a face mask indoors as soon as you enter the building to go to IWEG and if you must, sneeze and cough into your sleeve. If you use a tissue, discard immediately and wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and avoid high‐touch areas, where possible, or ensure you clean your hands after.
  • Please get tested if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19. If you can’t drive yourself or walk to an assessment centre, remember if you need to take a taxi, wear a mask and please tell the taxi driver before you get into the car that you have symptoms of an illness. 
  • There won’t be any financial repercussions if you can’t attend a course that you have already registered for, due to any of the above reasons. Your safety is our top priority.

 2. Take care on your journey to IWEG

Before you leave the house, or workplace to come to IWEG, make sure you are prepared. This means packing the right items to take with you, in the right way, including: 

  • Disinfecting wipes, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (so you can clean your hands while on the go).
  • A clean cloth mask or face covering, stored in a clean re-sealable plastic bag. 
  • A water bottle.

If you are unable to drive, walk or cycle, you’ll most likely be using one of the many available public transport methods to reach IWEG. On your journey, please wear a face mask or face covering and sanitize your hands regularly, especially after touching surfaces and before touching your face.

If you are unable to make your class due to transport restrictions, please contact us as soon as you can. Our team will work with you to ensure that you can start or continue your learning with us at the earliest available point.

IWEG’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan

Below we have summarized our plan, with all the information you need for an enjoyable and safe classroom learning experience. We'll update these procedures as things change and evolve, so be sure to check back here before you set off to IWEG. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please feel free to contact us.

General procedures

Physical distancing

•    Floor markers to aid physical distancing will be in place throughout the building at 211 Yonge Street and in IWEG’s space. As you approach the building front doors from Yonge Street, you’ll notice that physical distancing markers have been placed on the floor. If you can’t enter the building because the reception is at capacity, please wait outside keeping a safe distance from others.

•    The property manager has decreed that a maximum of two people per elevator travel at any given time in each of the building’s elevators. If you are waiting for the elevator, please adhere to the physical distancing markers in the lobby area.

•    The stairwell and stairs to IWEG on the fifth floor will most likely remain open so that you can walk up to the school from the ground floor and vice versa (and get a daily dose of exercise as well!). If you are able, please use the stairs (rather than the elevators) when moving around the building, keeping the elevators available for those who need it.

•    Students and staff will be discouraged from pausing for too long on the stairs or landings in common areas of the building, to allow everyone to respect physical distancing.

•    If you need to cross someone on the stairs, please do so on the landings where there is space for you to keep a safe distance from the other person. 

•    Class sizes have been limited as per official guidelines, to allow ample space between desks.

•    The number of classroom sessions being delivered daily (daytime and evening) has been carefully managed to ensure that physical distancing can be respected both in the classroom and in the common areas.

•    Session start times have been staggered, where possible, to limit the amount of people entering the building, breaking for lunch during daytime courses and leaving for the day at any one time. You can help us with this by arriving promptly (not late but not too early) for your classroom session.

•    For daytime courses, during lunch break times, we can no longer allow you to remain at the school but encourage you to take advantage of the variety of open spaces that are located close to the school. If you are unable to go outside due to the weather, we’ll ask you to stay in the classroom to restrict the number of people moving around/gathering in the corridors, stairwells and bathrooms.

Cleaning and sanitization

•    The building at 211 Yonge Street, as well as IWEG’s space on the fifth floor, has undergone a thorough deep clean prior to reopening.

•    The landlord will ensure that extra sanitization will take place throughout each day of frequent contact spaces in common areas of the building, including the reception area, elevators, entrance doors and handrails and washrooms.

•    All tenants and visitors to the building are requested to wear face masks in common areas, including hallways, elevators and washrooms. Hand sanitizer bottles are currently placed in the lobby for use upon entering or leaving the building and touchless and sanitizer dispensers have also been installed next to the main entrance door and elevators in addition to a wipe dispenser. 

•    Within IWEG’s space, we will use cleaning products and protocols which are approved to effectively fight against viruses, bacteria and pathogens on all equipment and surfaces. We’ll continue to explore additional sanitization tools and stay abreast of the most effective methods and products to use.

•    We have increased the frequency of service at IWEG from a professional third-party cleaner to daily cleaning interventions.

•    A hand sanitizer station will be available upon entering IWEG’s space, in every classroom and the school’s reception area for use by students, and instructors and visitors.

•    Glassware, spittoons and water for tastings will NOT be provided by IWEG for any in-class tasting workshops or classes. Students are expected to bring their own glassware, disposable spittoons and water bottle for each class. 

•    Please note that IWEG will NOT be providing spittoons or drinking water. Students must bring disposable spittoons, which must be taken away at the end of class and disposed of safely in your home. If you need to purchase ISO tasting glassware, please contact Anne Theunissen at

•    At the end of class, we ask you that you wipe down the table and chair that you were seated at, with disposable wipes made available for this expressed purpose, and dispose of these materials after use in the specially marked bins for that purpose.

•    Where possible, doors and windows will remain open to increase fresh air flow.

Keeping our team safe

•    The IWEG office team will work remotely, whenever possible. When we run tasting workshops or classes, IWEG staff will minimize their time in the office at the school to reduce the amount of people in our building. The only people in the school’s space will be those who are integral to the successful running of your course or exam, namely instructors and students.

•    Our employees will undergo regular training on COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols and appropriate PPE will be provided to any staff member or instructor who may needs this.

•    We ask that you follow physical distancing guidelines please when speaking to our instructors and staff, particularly before and after sessions when there can be a temptation to gather in groups. IWEG instructors will encourage you to leave the classroom and the building promptly, once your class is finished for the day.

•    Our team is here to support you, so please feel free to ask us any questions throughout your course. 

Room-by-room plan within IWEG’s space

We've planned out our protective measures carefully, room by room, to ensure that nothing has been missed.

Front Door to Suite 501, IWEG

•    You will notice that outside of class times, the door to IWEG’s space will remain closed, to limit the number of people entering our space at any given time.

School Reception Lobby

•    If you need to speak personally to IWEG team members, please make an appointment to do so by email. Meetings will only occur via appointment confirmation.

•    Only one member of staff will be at the IWEG reception desk at any one time, and they will be protected by a plastic screen. Please also respect the physical distancing markings around the desk to stay within a safe distance when addressing the staff member.

•    All magazines and marketing materials have been removed from the reception area. Borrowing books from the school’s library collection is also temporarily suspended.

Kitchen Area

•    The fridge is out of bounds for all students and cannot be opened by anyone other than authorized IWEG staff and instructors.

•    The kitchen sink has been sealed off for sanitary reasons and is no longer available for use.

•    The station with tea/coffee, drinking water and microwave facilities will no longer be available in the kitchen area. Students and instructors are expected to bring their own ready to drink tea and coffee, if desired, and to make alternative arrangements to eat lunch outside of IWEG’s space during lunch breaks.

•    All chairs at the high table have been removed to discourage anyone from sitting there and violating physical distancing norms.

Management Office

•    This office space is now for IWEG staff members only and is out-of-bounds for students, instructors and other personnel.

•    During class times the door to this office will remain closed.

•    If you need to speak to an IWEG staff member, please book an appointment, by email and suitable arrangements will be made to do so upon confirmation.
In the Classrooms

•    All classrooms have been rearranged to meet physical distancing guidelines and our class capacities have been adjusted to reflect this.  Please do not re-arrange the tables and seating arrangements.

•    Upon arrival, please choose a desk and take a seat. Just because you have a desk to yourself, don’t let this stop you from saying hello to the people around you!

•    We ask that you bring all of your own writing materials, pens and pencil and erasers if you are writing a multiple-choice exam. Please note that IWEG will not be providing writing utensils nor will be providing scrap note paper.

Tasting protocols

•    Students and instructors will need to provide:

o    All of your own glassware.
o    Disposable spittoons (we recommend using disposable plastic bottles with a wide rim/opening and plastic cap that can seal contents inside the bottle).
o    A water bottle for drinking water that you will need for tasting workshops or classes in the course and or examinations.

•    All wine, spirits or sake samples will be poured by your instructor or a member of our team, so you won’t need to pass bottles between one another.

•    We’ll display the bottles on a table at the front so that you can take a look at the labels and take a picture, but we’ll ask you not to pick up/handle the bottles.

•    During and after tasting sessions, discard all contents that you have tasted into the disposable spittoon, which you have brought with you to the school, seal the spittoon with the cap and take it home with you to dispose safely. Please note that you will not be able to dispose of the spittoon contents at IWEG.

•    At the end of class, we ask you that you wipe down the table and chair that you were seated at, with disposable wipes made available for this expressed purpose, and dispose of these materials after use in the specially marked bins for that purpose.

•    Please note that we will not be allowing students or instructors to keep their own glassware and disposable spittoons at the school. Students and instructors must take their own glassware and disposable spittoons away with them at the end of class.


•    Please note that washrooms are in the common areas of the building and are cleaned regularly throughout the day by the landlord’s cleaning services.

•    Please wear a face mask when visiting washrooms and remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. Hand sanitizer stations are also available at IWEG.

•    Where possible, break times have been staggered to make it easier for you to access a bathroom without having to wait in the common area by the elevator.

How will we keep things fun?

We hope that this plan has reassured you that we’ll be providing a safe environment for your classes and course. But we also know that many of you have chosen to study with us purely for the enjoyment of learning in the company of other like-minded people, and we really don’t want to lose that in amongst all the safety measures. 

Don’t worry, the wine, spirit and sake samples will be just as delicious, the course content will be just as fresh, and our instructors will be keener than ever to share their passion for their subject with a classroom of students. 

This will be a new way of doing things for all of us, but we’re excited to take on the challenge of making wine, spirits and sake education more enjoyable than ever in a physically distanced world!