The COVID-19 situation is not much relieved in July 2020 unfortunately, but the unreasonably terrifying anxieties have been suppressed as we know how to deal with the epidemic and the death rate by the epidemic is getting lowered. The Washington University of Virginia (“School”) is currently closed but it will reopen for the Fall semester to continue the higher education on the condition that sufficient preparations are made as described in this document and due cautions are exercised for the safety of the School community during the Fall semester.
The School will provide the education in the Hybrid model that delivers instructions partly in-person and partly online. This method is the best way to reduce COVID-19 infection while delivering effective personal education for the students.
This document describes all aspects of preparation and execution plans to guard the School community from the COVID-19 during the Fall semester and after. The plan is by no means complete but will be modified as the School identifies better solutions as the epidemic situation is progressed.
2. Reopening Approach
The School will provide educational instructions in the Hybrid model, partly in-person classes and partly by online. The online classes are divided into two categories: the existing online classes that the School has been providing, and Live Streaming classes.
a. In-person Class
Reopening of the School means that the School resumes the traditional in-person classes in the Fall 2020 semester. But the frequency of classroom gatherings will be much reduced to four weeks in a semester, in order to reduce the potential COVID-19 infection in the classrooms. The rest of the semester weeks will be covered by the Live Streaming classes.
As the in-person classes are reduced, the instructors will arrange the class format differently by expanding homework reports, teamwork projects, and forums. The new format would make students more involved in the coursework and may develop more active and creative attitude than the traditional lectures, which tended students quite passive in learning.
b. Live Streaming Class
Live Streaming class is a way of using technology solutions to reduce person-to-person gathering. The lectures in the Live Streaming class is delivered to the students at home over the Google Meet as a web conferencing tool. As the class hours are fixed for the Fall semester, the Live Streaming classes will be delivered at the scheduled class hours. As the instructor can see and hear students’ responses over the web conferencing, instructor student interaction can be still made. The instructors will take more time to interact with students to overcome the space gaps between the instructor and students.
c. Traditional Online Class
The online class is continued as a form of education. In the online class, the students watch the video recording of the instructor’s lectures and submit homework reports or projects as defined by the class program through the Moodle Leaning Management System (LMS). The weekly quiz questions and discussion forum participation are required to intensify the learning and to check as class attendance.
As the students have registered to the online classes for the Fall 2020 semester already, this type of online classes will be continuously provided. The students are limited to take only one online class each semester.
Mr. David Y Lee, dean of Students, is designated as the focal coordinator who will be responsible for identifying COVID-19 related issues and their impact on the School operation, including coordinating health preparedness and emergency response.
b. Liaison to External Organizations
Dr. Abraham Y. Kim, director of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, serves as the liaison for the School with the external organizations. Dr. Kim responds to the requests and inquiries from the Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), other government or accreditation organizations.
4. Safety Measures
a. Preparation Activities
The School researches the local health centers for testing and diagnosis of the Coronavirus for the students. The School needs to find free or affordable local health services, especially for the international students.
The School learns how to identify COVID-19 symptoms and secures means to screen the returning students in advance. The School sends an email message to the students prior to the Fall semester, asking any showing of the virus infection symptoms or health changes during Summer break.
The School establishes relationships with key community partners and stakeholders, such as the local health department, community leaders, hospitals, and law enforcement. The School collaborates and coordinates with them on broader planning efforts for safe School operation.
The School prepares enough face masks and portable sanitizers for the students who came to School without proper protection.
b. Class Gatherings
Class gatherings is limited to 30% occupancy of the classroom and up to 20 students in a room. If the class is bigger than 20 students, the classes are divided into two groups with the reduced class hour. Currently, the biggest class size is about 40.
To spread out the usage of classrooms further, the Registration office assigns each class to convene in different weeks for the classes scheduled in the same class hours.
The occupancy of the classroom spaces maintains six feet of physical distance between students and the instructor each other.
All people are required to wear masks on the campus. Faculty or students who forgot to wear face masks, can get one from the Registration office. If the School ran out of masks, the student without a mask is excused from the class.
c. Student Health Services
The School prepares emergency call numbers and location information of the health providers for the sick students.
The School checks each student’s temperature before entering the main building, using Infrared forehead thermometer. All classes and student services are provided in the main building. A high fever can be a presenting symptom of COVID-19. The CDC considers a person to have a fever when he or she has measured temperature of 100.4o F (38o C).
The School prepares and places enough sanitizers in the classrooms, hallways, offices, and elevators to allow easy access to the sanitizers.
The counseling department provides training and mental health services for the students and staffs who are stressed with the epidemic anxieties.
The School does not send an email message for daily basis screening of the students, guessing low responses from students. Instead, the School sends the emails on a regular basis with health information and promotes to report to the School as soon as virus symptoms are sensed.
The School posts a signage at the main entrance door that says, “COVID-19 WATCH – No one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.”
The School posts a signage of public health reminders inside and outside campus with the following contents.
- Physical distancing – Maintain 6 feet each other on the campus
- Class gathering – Sit 6 feet apart each other
- High-risk individuals – If virus symptom shows, report to the Registration office, stay away from the campus, and check with the health center.
The School provides physical marks on the classroom seats to indicate where students can sit to maintain 6 feet distance each other.
e. Facility Setup
The School has replaced all air condition filters with new ones that can reduce the virus transmission in the School building.
The classrooms will be equipped with transparent glass barriers at the podium to protect the instructor and students from sneezing, breathing, and areal virus transmission.
Reconfiguring seating areas is not arranged in the classrooms, but the chairs are marked where the students can sit to maintain six feet spacing each other.
The School provides alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol at the convenient places like hallway, classrooms, offices, and bathrooms, in addition to provision of water and soap in the bathrooms.
f. Facility Cleaning
The School conducts routine cleaning and disinfection of the classrooms, high contact areas, and hard surfaces such as doorknobs and handles, dining tables and chairs, light switches, handrails, restrooms, floors, and equipment.
By following the CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/index.html), the School uses an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean.
For high contact areas (e.g., in both classroom and staff areas), routinely disinfect surfaces at least every 2 hours.
The School changes the air filters of air-purifiers in the classrooms to prevent the spread of a virus through air at a regular basis.
g. Facility Usage
The School restricts occupancy or allows stagger use of communal, shared spaces such as classrooms, lounges, cafeteria, elevators, etc. to ensure physical distancing.
The School does not provide any dining services and the cafeteria space is used by keeping six feet distance between people with face masks on.
There will be no gatherings of more than 50 people in the School premises until the epidemic situation is resolved. The School wide gathering such as graduation and student orientation may happen on the online domain rather than physical meetings.
h. Vulnerable Individuals
Elderly professors who are afraid of lecturing in the classrooms are relieved from physical appearance in the classroom and can conduct the instructions in the format of Live Streaming.
i. International Students
International students who need to travel abroad must fill out the travel registry with the School. The students who came back from travel are required to enter voluntary two weeks self-quarantine process at home. The School runs the attendance regulation flexibly for the traveling and quarantine period.
5. Emergency and Medical Response
- When a student feels or shows symptoms of COVID-19 on the School premise, the School provides necessary information to get tested in a local health center.
- The School notifies other people on campus to stay away from the sick student.
- The School notifies the local health department if any exposure to COVID-19 occurs on the campus.
- The School records infection occurrence on the MyWUV to let other students are aware.
- When students report absence from COVID-19 related sickness, the School provides information where to contact.
- Sick students contact the health centers for testing from the information provided by the School.
When a student is found to be sick from the COVID-19, the student should leave as quickly as possible to limit contact and exposure to himself/herself and other students.
The School closes off areas used by a sick person and do not use them at least 24 hours and conducts cleaning and disinfection after the 24 hours wait.
The School removes School attendance obligation from the sick student and allows the student to continue the study at home if the student’s health allows.
The School implements a flexible absence policy to ensure that sick students do not report to the class. The absence policy allows employees to stay home if they are sick with COVID-19, if they need to self-quarantine due to exposure, or if they need to care for a sick family member.
In the event of severe conditions or new Virginia health direction or guidance delivered, the School switches all in-person instructions into Live Streaming classes and cancels any form of gatherings on campus in consideration of the School community’s health protection.
The School decides to halt classes and shut down the campus if multiple people reveals COVID-19 symptoms on campus in a day. The School shut down decision is made after consultation with local epidemic health advisors. The School informs students and staff members of the contingency plan, to stop rapid spread of the virus on the School premise. Even with the campus closure, the School provides students the access to Live Streaming class options so that they can continue with their study.
a. Student Orientation
Orientation for new and existing students is scheduled in early August. The orientation will cover not only routine agenda but also safety measures, including handwashing, staying home if ill, six-foot distance requirement in the classroom, wearing masks on the campus, etc.
b. Training on hygiene
During student orientation, the School stresses the students the correct hygiene practices, including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and practicing respiratory etiquette protocols, following CDC training video: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html.
Training on the good hygiene practices is also provided the students and staff members by emails on a regular basis.
7. Communication Platform
Using the School website (http://www.wuv.edu/) and the School Learning Management System (LMS) called MyWUV (http://my.wuv.edu/), the School provides information about epidemic outbreaks, prevention, public messages, disease prevention and control recommendations, steps to take if illness develops, etc, The School also uses School email system to provide the students necessary information and cooperation request promptly upon situation develops. The School announcement can be the School shut down and request students for immediate dismissal from the campus via school emails, verbal announcement, School website, and MyWUV school data website.
The School uses MyWUV to record the infected student information including report date, contact information, actions taken, and follow-up status. The MyWUV provides a space at the homepage that all WUV students and faculty/staff members can enter new data on the infected students. For privacy, MyWUV will not reveal the student’s name but use ID number as reference.
MyWUV provides infection status statistics for the School, including number of infected people, number of recovered people, and the accumulated number of active patients.