Operation Safe Campus, explained

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On May 19, William Jewell College presented Operation Safe Campus – its initiative to maintain campus health while reopening the campus. What follows is an explanation of Operation Safe Campus (OSC) and other Jewell policies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

OSC includes a five-level threat assessment – including operational levels 0, A, B, C and D, a comparison with Clay County phases, intended response and examples of risk mitigation for each level. As of May 29, the College is at Threat Level C. They anticipate returning to Level B soon and remaining in Level B into the fall semester.

“The College’s goal is to open in August for an engaged, successful and campus-based 2020-2021 Academic Year. The following guidance promotes a safe environment in June and July as we prepare to welcome faculty, staff and students back to a safe and healthy campus in August. The Operational Planning Team is establishing the policies and a framework to reopen and sustain the campus, and is approaching this work consistent with our identity as The Critical Thinking College®,” the email announcement stated.

Threat Levels

Infographic with information about Operation Safe Campus, Threat Levels and examples of risk mitigation. Courtesy of Catherine Dema.

Returning to Campus Directives

The College remained closed through June 1 for most operational activity. Until that day, employees were directed not to be on campus unless their work required them to do so. 

The department of nursing introduced a cohort of accelerated track students to campus May 18. All summer courses are virtual. Simulations and labs will continue to occur on campus in strictly monitored environments. Grant-funded, campus-based research will also begin in the summer. Research – requiring only a few people – will take place in the biology and physics departments. 

Before June 1, Cabinet members worked with directors, supervisors and department chairs to determine who should return to campus and when. The office of human resources was notified of these plans. 

“Return to work patterns will vary across campus for the month of June and most areas will stagger employees back so we can gain in our comfort level and confidence throughout the summer. As more employees return to campus, it will be essential for employees to know that the community is following stated guidelines, thus promoting the safety of all,” a campus-wide email stated.

Jewell announced that not all employees will return to campus work in the month of June. If possible and approved, employees are encouraged to continue working remotely.

After confirming a COVID-19 case in a College employee, Jewell reiterated its recommendation that employees work remotely for the month of June, if possible.

“Supervisors are being instructed that employees who are vulnerable due to their health condition, who have health safety concerns for members of their household, or who lack childcare should work remotely during the month of June,” the email stated.

Before employees return to on-campus work, they should take their temperature daily for 14 days and engage in other self-monitoring activities associated with COVID-19. Employees will be asked to submit a pre-screening form to human resources before returning to campus. Those with symptoms – including a temperature of over 100.0 degrees or greater and other COVID-19 symptoms – will be told to quarantine for 14 days and will be directed to medical evaluation.

Preventative Measures & Directives

In addition to these measures before return to campus, social distancing policies have been put in place on campus. Facial coverings will be required of all employees on campus.

Jewell’s policy on facial coverings can be found here. More information about facial coverings can be found using these links: Use of Cloth Face Covering to Slow Spread of COVID-19, How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Cloth Face Covering and Important Information About Your Cloth Face Covering.

The College is in the midst of acquiring facial coverings, cleaning supplies and other equipment – including thermometers, personal protective equipment, etc. – for use by employees. Departments are directed to not purchase items for use in only one area or department with College purchasing cards. All needs should be directed to Joe Garcia, vice president of finance and operations. A detailed and centralized process will be followed to obtain and purchase necessary supplies. 

All facilities will mandate six feet of social distancing at all times. Open workspaces – which cannot be separated by a closed doorway – and/or shared workspaces must not have more than one employee per 100 square feet – or a 10 x 10 foot space. Facilities management is assisting in identifying areas needing to comply. Plexiglass will be installed in high traffic customer service areas at the direction of MRIGlobal.

“Employees may have staggered on-campus workdays to promote a safe environment. Alternative work spaces may be provided,” the email announcement said. 

Social distancing is also recommended in outdoor settings.

Infographic with information describing Jewell social distancing directives. Courtesy of Catherine Dema.

The College is mandating cleaning of occupied high-touch areas. The “wingtip and wipe” activity – to wipe down everything within the span of open arms – is to be used in restrooms and open counter spaces – including break rooms and service counters. All surfaces that may or may not have been touched within arms reach should be disinfected and wiped. 

“All touched surfaces should be thoroughly wiped after use, including sinks and faucets, countertops, toilets, water stations, etc. Cleaning supplies such as disposable gloves, sanitizing wipes, disinfecting spray, hand sanitizer and/or hand soap will be provided by Facilities Management,” the College said. 

Clay County has COVID-19 tests available to all Clay County residents and Jewell students at no cost. Individuals may be tested regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic. Members of the College community are encouraged to visit the Shoal Creek testing center if they wish to be tested. Everyone who believes they have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 are strongly recommended to go get tested. 

The College is not requiring employees to get tested in June or July but will require testing as people continue to return in August. An email announcement stated that more information will be coming throughout the summer. 

Current State

As of May 29, the College is at Threat Level C following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an employee. The employee was last on campus May 22 and was confirmed to have COVID-19 May 28. The individual may have come into contact with only one other employee. That employee was directed to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days. 

All employees working or living in the buildings in which the infected individual worked were informed and advised to get tested at the Shoal Creek testing center.

Following the confirmation, Jewell announced plans to deep clean the campus. Employees were directed to work remotely from May 29 to June 1 for the cleaning to take place. 

“We will monitor the situation and adjust back to Threat Level B when all circumstances related to this case have been mitigated,” stated an email from Dr. Elizabeth Macleod Walls, president of the College,  to faculty and staff. 

Decision Making

Macleod Walls will declare the OSC level the College is at and will coordinate movement from one threat level to another. These decisions will be made in consultation with the Board of Trustees, Cabinet, Clay County Health Department, Liberty Hospital and MRIGlobal. 

Macleod Walls will communicate changes in threat levels immediately. She will remind employees to consult the OSC matrix to determine which protocols to follow.

“For the safety of our community, our actions in response to different threat levels will continue to be guided by our partners with medical and biorisk expertise,” the email announcement stated. 

Jewell’s operational planning team includes: Daniel Holt – chair of the planning team, Dr. Gary Armstrong, Paula Brown, Dr. Ian Coleman, Tom Eisenhauer, Stephany Guest, Heath Hase, Landon Jones, Shelly King, Dr. Gina Lane, Dr. Will Lindquist, Dr. Leesa McBroom, Dr. Maggie Sherer and Ernie Stufflebean.

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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