Health and safety are at the forefront of everyone’s concerns, and our facilities team has been hard at work, measuring classrooms and meeting areas for social distancing; producing safe practices signage that will be visible all over campus, and ordering and assembling PPE and sanitary equipment.
The university must provide detailed reports to the state Department of Public Health showing that we can meet mandatory safety standards before we can commence on-campus operations. And we will also have to adhere to specific public health guidelines for colleges and universities concerning the wearing of facemasks, social distancing, and the number and spacing of occupants in residence halls, classrooms and dining areas.
PPE for all staff members has been requested by Southern through the System Office, and will be supplied by the state. Similarly, testing and contact tracing requirements are also expected to be handled at the state level, in conjunction with area health agencies.
- The University currently has a supply of 85,000 facemasks (50,000 cloth reusable and 35,000 disposable) that will be issued to all students, faculty and staff as part of an individual Southern Cares kit that will also include hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to clean personal work stations.
- All classrooms, labs, studios and conference rooms will have touchless hand sanitizer dispensers, with socially distanced seating.
- Ventilation airflow in campus buildings has been increased to 10 or more air exchanges per hour, and high-efficiency air filters have been installed.
- All “greeter” points for departments, including reception and help desks and library checkouts, will feature Plexiglas barriers.
- Restrooms will be cleaned multiple times daily, and electrostatic sprayers have been purchased to disinfect all classrooms and public meeting areas at the end of each day.
- In the event that positive cases are identified on campus, we are working with the state Department of Public Health and other authorities to develop a contact tracing program to limit exposure and spread of the virus. If the health and safety of our campus are compromised, we will adjust our plans accordingly.
While these and other measures are put into place, we must all continue to practice social distancing and basic sanitation during the summer months, as our individual actions will play a vital role in keeping campus safe and healthy for all next semester. As Governor Lamont mentioned in his Phase II reopening announcement for the state: “This is no time to let our guard down.”
Procedures for staff return to campus are still being finalized, but will include the following:
- Requirements will include the rotating of employee teams in each suite or office space to control the number of people working together at any one time; maintaining 50 percent or less capacity to meet social distancing requirements, and allowing for remote work to continue for the balance.
- To comply with social distancing protocols, employees, students, and visitors to campus will be required to wear face masks in public areas and open office spaces (excluding private offices).
- The state Department of Administrative Services recommends that in-person meetings be limited to a third of the normal room occupancy with at least 6 feet separation of those in attendance, with larger group meetings being conducted via Teams or WebEx.
- Employees who may be eligible to continue to work remotely, based on certain documented medical conditions, should contact Steve Weinberger, Chief Human Resources Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.