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By the end of the month, we hope to reopen:
i) Academic facilities for courses that begin earlier than October
ii) Admissions processing for October 2020
i) Several laboratories and associated spaces (phased, where buildings are ready and on the basis of priority)
ii) College house for end-year examination processing (partially open with staff reporting in shifts)
iii) College health center
By the end of the month, the school administration will hold a full scale review to determine what areas can be reopened safely
We hope to reopen;
i) The library (weekdays 9am to 6pm)
ii) More academic facilities and departments
iii) Any remaining cafes and shops
iv) Any remaining laboratories
we will be reopening some office spaces on reduced capacity for staff and faculty who may wish to work on campus
We hope to begin welcoming some of our students back on-campus from mid-October and prepare for the end-year examinations
We welcome students back on-campus and begin the academic year with a combination of virtual and in-class learning
b) Support Safety of Employees and Students
Daily Health Screening
All students and staff need to carefully monitor their health every day. The following Covid-19 checklist will be employed every day to identify potential cases before in-person reporting to activities or classes at the institution:
i) Fever or chills
iii) Difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath
iv) Fatigue and body aches
v) Headache and sore throat
vi) New loss of smell or taste
vii) Runny nose and congestion
ix) Nausea and/or vomiting
Students and faculty will be empowered to self-monitor for these symptoms throughout the day and immediately report to the Director of Student Health Services (SHS). The institution could work towards developing a mobile app or tool that works like the PiratePort Tool at East Carolina University, which allows students and faculty to voluntarily register their mobile devices and thereafter receive alerts reminding them of their obligation to conduct self-screening and provide CDC guidance on the screening process and self-isolation. This would facilitate regular screening and help to ensure that individuals take charge of the individual screening process throughout the day.
Students and faculty who report to the SHS for suspicion of Covid-19 will undergo testing, with results expected in between 24 and 48 hours. Between the testing and receipt of results, the individuals will be categorized as ‘suspicious positive’ cases and will enter the institution’s quarantine plan. As the institution lacks residential facilities, suspected individuals will return home and await their results to be provided in not more than 48 hours via email or phone. The SHS will collaboratively with the Dean of Students arrange transportation back to one’s residence through institutional cars to avoid potential spread to rest of the members and public transportation.
Confirmed negatives will be cleared by the SHS to return to campus, while the confirmed positive cases will be required to adhere to the isolation and quarantine plan until they are confirmed negative by their healthcare provider and cleared to return by the SHS upon the provision of relevant documentation. Regular check-in calls from staff members could be organized regularly to provide psychological support and keep up the spirits of those in isolation. Students and faculty in isolation and quarantine will be advised to contact 911 or the SHS in case of worsening symptoms. In case of a surge in the number of suspected cases, the institution will suspend its routine care to focus on covid-19 patients and engage tele-health capabilities from the state department of health and human services to assess and treat patients before organizing their transportation.
Encouraging Health Practices
Students and faculty will be encouraged to bring their own pre-packed covid-19 prevention kits that includes cleaning supplies, face coverings, sanitizers, facial tissues, and toilet paper. The institution will provide cleaning supplies, sanitizers, facial tissues, and toilet papers at strategic points including classrooms, washrooms, dining areas, as well as at campus entry and exit points to support healthy practices at all times. In addition to providing supplies, the institution will provide regular weekly trainings to students and faculty to educate them on screening guidelines and proper hygiene strategies including hand-washing procedures, staying at home when ill, the concept of social distancing and the virus’ mode of transmission (WHO, 2020). The WHO also recommends that institutions allow students to make their own public service announcements via social media to educate and empower each other on prevention strategies (WHO, 2020).
In coordination with the local health department, the SHS will work together with students and faculty who test positive to identify close contacts within the institution. The contacts will be notified (via text message) that they have been exposed and instructed to get tested and quarantined. As a matter of heightened caution, the university will use email complementarily with text messages from the Dean of Students office to notify staff, faculty, and students of potential outbreaks in the institution, requiring them to remain vigilant about preventive practices, quarantine, carry out regular screening, and contact the SHS if they experience symptoms to minimize the risk of exposing others.
High-risk individuals, particularly those aged above 65 and those with underlying health conditions will be engaged in remote work and learning to mitigate their exposure to risk. At-risk students will work with their faculty to determine convenient ways to make up necessary in-class tests and agree on how to turn in assignments online. The use of podcasts could be considered to deliver class content to at-risk learners. At-risk faculty could be engaged in telework for duties that can be carried out remotely. For duties that cannot be carried out remotely, the institution could take steps to offer additional protection through the provision…
…decisions on shutdown or suspension to faculty, staff, and students in a timely manner via email and internal memos. The administration will be keen to explain the specific factors driving the decision to minimize the spread of rumors that could cause unnecessary panic. The school will conduct regular communication to update students, faculty, and staff about academic outcomes and the plan for continuing lectures to reduce uncertainty and anxiety.
h) Communication Strategy
In the case of a suspected test, the institution will notify DC Health of the same via call on 202-576-1117 and leave a voicemail with direct phone number to allow them to call back in case there is no answer (DC Health, 2020). Notification to DC Health will include information on the patient’s state of residence, contact information, detailed symptom history, underlying comorbidities, detailed travel history, and lists of potential contacts to facilitate contact tracing ((DC Health, 2020). The Department will organize for testing and relay the results on confirmed positive cases to the institution to aid in contact tracing.
Communicating to the school community is equally important. When there is a confirmed Covid-19 case on-campus, the school will communicate the information to the school community via email without disclosing personally identifiable information on patients and their families. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents educational institutions from disclosing personally identifiable information about a patient to other students and staff in the school community without prior consent.
In line with the DC Health Directives, the school administrators will reach out to their close contacts within the school community and notify them via text that they have been exposed and will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days to monitor whether they develop symptoms. The institution will offer support to help the contacts understand what exposure means, how to check for symptoms, and when to seek medical help. The Dean of Students will immediately reach out to contacts to make arrangements for remote learning during quarantine, while the Human Resources Department will contact staff to make plans for remote working.
As a matter of caution and to reduce spread, the school administrators will also notify via email the rest of the school community that a positive case has been confirmed. Although they will not be ordered to quarantine, they will be advised to remain vigilant on preventive practices, watch out for symptoms, and seek medical services in case they develop symptoms so as not to expose others. Further, the school community will be advised that the affected have been ordered to quarantine and that steps are underway to disinfect and sanitize the affected areas.
I) Academic Affairs
Traditional on-site clinical experiences, internships, and field placements may unfortunately not be accommodated in the current situation. For internships, the institution will make plans with relevant agencies to substitute in-person internships with virtual internships whenever possible. Clinical experience and field placements will be postponed until the clinical learning environment stabilizes as the school community…
CDC (2019). Operating Schools during Covid-19: CDC’s Considerations. Center for Diseases Prevention and Control (CDC). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html
DC Health (2020). Health Notice for district of Columbia Healthcare Providers . DC Health. Retrieved from https://dchealth.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/COVID-19_HAN_20200305_Final_update.pdf
WHO (2020). Key Messages and Actions for Covid-19 Prevention and Control in Schools. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/key-messages-and-actions-for-covid-19-prevention-and-control-in-schools-march-2020.pdf?sfvrsn=baf81d52_4
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