Now that it is winter and the weather is much colder, our activities and social gatherings have to shift indoors. As a result, it is more important than ever that we routinely use the following protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
Masks and Face Coverings
Wearing a mask is a key method to reducing the spread of infection. Masks work by both reducing the amount of respiratory droplets and aerosols that are exhaled by infected wearers, and by protecting others from being exposed to these particles.
The type of material is important, and the quality of fit is essential. There are also enhancements that you can make to your mask to make it even more protective. In addition to other independent studies, CDC recently showed that wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask (disposable mask) improves the fit, making it 92.5% protective – more than double the level of protection of either mask alone.
Choose a mask based upon the setting you will be in and the potential level of exposure. A cloth mask or disposable mask may be acceptable outdoors, especially if you are able to maintain a safe distance from others.
However, if you will be in an indoor gathering or using a shared method of transportation, or if your occupation causes you to have frequent interaction with members of the public, a higher level of protection is warranted.
Based on this emerging research and recommendations from the CDC, Union has revised its policy for masks in the following manner, effective immediately:
Students are strongly encouraged to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask when in all interior public spaces on campus and outdoors when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
In classrooms, students are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.
In certain situations, students will be required to double mask where close contact with others cannot be prevented, and when using transportation to events sponsored by the College.
Students with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Health Services to review possible accommodations.
Employees in certain departments (dining services, bookstore, mailroom, campus safety, testing center, and health services) whose job either makes it difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others or who have contact with many other individuals over the course of their shift, are required to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask while at work.
In classrooms, instructors are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.
Employees with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Human Resources to review possible accommodations.
Employees may request additional guidance pertaining to their individual role or workspaces.
Specific guidance for employees on masks in the workplace:
- Employees must wear face coverings at their work area if the space is shared with one or more people, regardless of distance between desks. However, face coverings will not be required if a physical barrier (cubicle walls or plexiglass) is present between employees. Physical barriers cannot affect air flow, heating or cooling.
- If an employee’s role requires a different type of face covering (e.g. a face shield), they should speak with a supervisor or department chair to discuss that option.
- Employees with medical conditions that may make wearing a face covering difficult can contact Human Resources to review possible accommodations.
- Employees may request additional guidance pertaining to their individual role or work spaces. Employees who have a medical contraindication to wearing a mask should notify their supervisor.
Plexiglass shield barriers are installed at areas where interactions between people are less than six feet and cannot be conducted otherwise.
Social distancing, also known as physical distancing, must be practiced. This is one of the key elements for reducing the spread of infection. Individuals should maintain six feet distance when in public areas and from people who aren’t members of their residence. To help members of our community visualize six feet, the College has placed signs and floor markings in densely populated areas.
The total occupancy for indoors is limited to 50 percent of the maximum occupancy for a particular area, as set by the certificate of occupancy. Facilities will partner with departments across campus on final layout and implementation.
Classrooms: Seating capacity is reduced by 50 percent or more to ensure students and instructors are at least six feet from each other.
Labs: Similar to classrooms, smaller lab groups will be placed into larger rooms when possible and lab sections will be spread out across the day.
Common spaces: Furniture in common spaces has been removed or taped off.
Meetings: Meetings should be conducted remotely via Zoom or a similar platform. If an in-person meeting is required it must be limited to no more than the maximum amount of people allowed by current guidance provided by New York state. The meeting space must be large enough to allow a distance of six feet for all people in the meeting and masks must be worn.
Hand washing and hand sanitizer: Proper hand washing is a key element of reducing the spread of infection. Individuals are expected to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water following CDC guidelines or use hand sanitizer when unable to wash their hands. Hand sanitizer stations are posted across campus and individuals are encouraged to use them frequently.
Phone cleaning: Since we use our phones many times during the day, it’s important to clean phones to help stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands before cleaning your phone and use an alcohol-based disinfectant cleaner to disinfect your electronic devices. Refrain from sharing phones or computers.
Enhanced facilities cleaning protocols: Facilities Services has added an additional shift to provide a second daily cleaning and disinfecting of high-use areas, including classrooms, bathrooms and common spaces in residence halls.
There is also enhanced cleaning in residential areas, including increased housekeeping staff on the weekends.
Sanitation kits: Sanitation kits are available for employees and students to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in their work areas and/or classrooms. This is an additional resource to the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting conducted daily by Facilities Services.