Dear NEOMED Community:
As the summer is nearly upon us, it seems appropriate that this message is all about brighter days ahead. But first, I extend my utmost appreciation for your continued learning, teaching and working remotely that has sustained our excellence as a University throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flattening of the curve occurred as projected, allowing us to slowly phase in our return to work on May 4. In making this decision to extend our time away from campus, we have not only had success with the return of our researchers and a small group of others, but we have also taken advantage of that time to learn more, work collaboratively with partners throughout the state and nationally, and form a return to campus task force lead by Dr. Joseph Zarconi, our medical director during COVID-19, to increase our campus readiness.
What follows are highlights of a comprehensive plan that not only allows us to return to campus in phases over the next two months but also acknowledges the breadth of our new normal.
I look forward to seeing you all on campus soon.
John T. Langell
Return to Campus Guidelines: An Executive Summary
COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented health risk for all persons. The duration of this pandemic remains unclear, and the situation continues to evolve. Public health knowledge, scientific knowledge and clinical best practices will change, so these guidelines may require updates or risk quickly becoming obsolete. What is clear is that in order to balance our pursuit of excellence with the necessary measures to reduce risks to our wellness, we can anticipate that restrictions and limitations in activities will be in place for a lengthy period of time.
While we are cautiously optimistic, meticulous adherence to public health practices including hand hygiene, physical distancing, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, frequent disinfection of common and high traffic areas, symptom assessment, temperature checks, and cloth face covering in public is the campus’ new normal.
We must also prepare for the likelihood of a local rebound of infections that may result in a return to more restrictive measures and physical distancing for periods of time. The following guidelines provide a level of campus readiness that allow us to return with the flexibility needed to make any adjustments as deemed necessary.
The guidelines ― which can be found by here at Return to Campus Guidelines ― were developed with the safety and health of our employees and students as our primary concern and in coordination with Ohio’s public universities. Our guidelines align with Ohio’s Governor and Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA).
- The risk of infection will not be zero.
- Physical distancing may be required until a vaccine is developed.
- There may be subsequent mass outbreaks.
- A vaccine will not be available for widespread use for at least twelve months.
- Comprehensive return to campus education will be required for employees and students.
- We will begin transition back to campus when sufficient resources are in place to support all state, ACHA and CDC guidelines for personal protection and prevention.
- There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a safe campus, so we are following what are considered attributes of a campus readiness plan.
Dates and Parameters of Return
- The phases for employees to return to campus are May 4, June 8, July 6 and August 3.
- Employees will return based upon their:
- need to be on campus (to complete one’s job responsibilities);
- risk to be on campus (considering age and health risks); and
- social/structural impediments to be on campus (e.g., family care issues).
- There may be employees who continue to work effectively from home and thus delay their return beyond August 3.
- Managers will oversee, with assistance from Human Resources, the assigning of their team members to the respective phases after considering the above criteria.
- In compliance with applicable federal and state privacy and confidentiality laws, University policies will protect the privacy of people at higher risk.
- Disinfectant and sanitizing supplies will be provided by Campus Operations.
- Signage will be displayed throughout campus to reinforce the requirements.
- Common areas will be reconfigured to maintain physical distancing.
- Plexiglass shields will be installed where needed.
- The maximum capacity of all campus meeting rooms and classrooms will be posted.
- Department heads will determine staffing/layout to ensure physical distancing.
- Department managers will be responsible for assessing shared use of equipment and proper cleaning within their area. Common-use small appliances are not recommended.
- Common areas/suites will be cleaned by the University cleaning vendor.
- Where possible, common area doors shall remain open to minimize touching.
- Required to conduct daily self-assessments prior to arrival on campus.
- Must secure and wear a cloth face covering at all times while on campus, except within their private offices/study room with the door closed.
- Meetings should be conducted electronically, even when on campus.
- Must disinfect their workspace regularly.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer.
- Maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet from others.
- Remain mindful of their whereabouts, and of those around them, to facilitate contact tracing efforts in the event of exposure.
- Complete CITI training modules regarding the pandemic, risks, and mitigation strategies.
- Sign Social Contract to comply with terms and conditions to returning to campus.
- Engage in “community enforcement” to report instances of non-compliance.
Exposures, Symptoms or Infections
- Employees/students must self-report travel, symptoms consistent with COVID-19, contact with COVID-19 positive (tested or presumed) persons, or surveillance by local health department.
- Employees/students will be referred to their primary care physician for testing. If they do not have a primary care physician, they may be referred to the KSU DeWeese Health Center.
- The University’s Medical Director and staff will conduct University contact tracing for those reporting illness or exposure.
- Use of campus mental health resources including the Center for Student Wellness and Counseling Services and the Employee Assistance Program are encouraged.
Academic Programs and Instructional Delivery
- A seating analysis was conducted in the context of current physical distancing guidelines. Approximately 80% of the usual seating capacity is lost due to physical distancing.
- Some non-traditional rooms or spaces on the campus may be used for educational instruction as needed to maintain physical distancing standards.
- Instructors will wear face coverings that may be removed with appropriate physical distancing.
- Instructors will be expected to bring and use their own teaching materials, and to remove them at the conclusion of instruction to avoid sharing.
- A mixture of in-person and virtual/on-line instruction will be utilized in support of optimizing the education of students as well as the safety of students, faculty and staff.
- Priority for in-person instruction will be given to courses/activities that cannot be conducted virtually.
- If learning activities require a level of interpersonal proximity or physical contact which preclude compliance with physical distancing, appropriate personal protection, including face coverings, gloves, and potentially additional forms will be required.
- University or student events must adhere to the Campus Safety Expectations. If an event cannot maintain physical distance of six (6) feet between attendees, it must be held virtually.
- The Nook bookstore will remain closed to the public for Phase 2.
- The Bistro and Erie Island will be open to employees/students to purchase “grab and go” items in compliance with state guidelines for restaurants.
- Signet Management will inform tenants of all Campus Safety Expectations.
- Messaging to members of the public who enter the NEW Center will be posted.
- All University-sponsored international travel and non-essential domestic travel remains suspended until further notice.
- In compliance with guidance from the Governor and Ohio Department of Health, travel outside of the state is permitted without the need to self-quarantine upon returning to Ohio. However, at this time, all employees/students are strongly encouraged to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days prior to arriving on campus.
Visitors and Invited Guests to Campus
- The campus will remain closed to the general public.
- All employees/students who host an invited guest to campus are responsible for sharing Campus Safety Expectations.
- Concerns about non-compliance by guests should be directed to Campus Police.