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The Path Forward

Coronavirus Update 7/27/20: Returning to Campus - Staff & Faculty

July 27, 2020

Hello,

With the President’s recent announcement on July 10th of the University’s Fall 2020 plan, The Path Forward, we are sharing information that we hope you will find helpful as we prepare for our Phase 1 return to campus and begin the process of reconfiguring our on-campus and remote work schedules where some of us may work a staggered schedule of remote and on-campus, others may work 100% on campus, and still others may work 100% remotely.

On June 18th you received information regarding the Executive Staff decision to continue our practice of working remotely through the month of July with an anticipated phased return to campus, with 30% of employees returning to their campus location on Monday, August 3rd. Now that the academic program start dates, and class structures and schedules for the fall have been confirmed, we have decided to push back the return date for employees from August 3rd to August 17th. We believe this date is more appropriate given the first group of students will be returning to the Ryan Center on August 24th and the traditional undergraduate students will return to the Longmeadow campus on September 8th. This extension and measured approach to bringing faculty and staff back into our campus locations also gives us more time to ensure our plans reflect MA Governor Baker’s latest guidelines issued on Friday, July 24.

Throughout the summer many members of our community have been working diligently to develop and implement necessary safety measures and guidelines to ensure a safe return to campus. In keeping with the guiding principles that have and will continue to inform the University’s decision making, the vice presidents and supervisors have been working with their staff to plan for a phased return and staggered work schedule that reduces the number of people present at any given time while meeting the operational needs of the University, serving the needs of our students and adhering to the key actions to mitigate any spread of COVID-19. Many staff will have a blended on-campus and remote work schedule while others may be 100% on-campus due to their specific job responsibilities and others, who can completely fulfill their responsibilities remotely, may remain 100% online until further notice. Together, the vice presidents and I are reviewing the plans to ensure that we follow the current health and safety guidelines of the CDC and Governor Baker as they pertain to higher education.

The following information will provide key updates and guidelines pertaining to facilities preparation, testing and training for our return to campus:

I. Facilities

To aid us in the process of preparing our facilities for the return of students, faculty, and staff, the University engaged the services of Phase Zero, the architectural firm charged with evaluating our Longmeadow and East Longmeadow campus spaces and foot traffic flow. We are in the process of implementing the plan provided by them to de-densify campus buildings. The plan includes critical items such as traffic patterns, usage of building entrances and exits, furniture placement, room capacity, signage, placement of Plexiglass structures, elevator occupancy limits, and other items related to specific buildings. Prominent hand sanitizer stations will also be deployed across campus. The facilities staff have been trained and provided the proper sanitizing products, including use of Victory electrostatic foggers to disinfect classrooms and labs after each use. Sanitizing wipes will be available for your use. We are planning and preparing accordingly to ensure that implementation is completed and protocols are in place prior to faculty, staff and students returning to campus.

The University is in the process of replacing the campus wide door access control system which is currently used to access all buildings on the Longmeadow, East Longmeadow and Concord Campuses. Following installation, the ID’s that employees currently possess will be obsolete. Therefore, new proximity cards/ID’s will be issued. Your current ID photo will be automatically affixed to your new card.

At the beginning of the new academic year, all students, faculty and staff will be required to “wave” their ID card in close proximity to the “reader” in order to gain access to an authorized building. This will also serve to track those who enter the building in the event activation of contact tracing protocols are required. A card sleeve and BPU lanyard will be provided giving faculty and staff the added convenience of carrying the card with them at all times. It is strongly recommended that it be worn around the neck. This will provide an added security benefit making it visible and easy to identify those who are members of the Bay Path community. More information about this and the distribution of your new ID will be available in the coming weeks.

II. Testing

The University is coordinating the on-campus COVID-19 testing site process with the Broad Institute https://www.broadinstitute.org/ . Faculty, staff, and students who are returning to campus, those who have been working either regularly or occasionally on campus, and those who plan to periodically come to campus for any reason, will need to be scheduled to report to campus in advance to be tested. The test will be a lower nasal swab and test results will be available within 24-48 hours. If you are scheduled to work from campus for any portion of your work schedule or you plan to be on campus occasionally anytime beginning August 17th or after, you will be required to comply with the University’s onsite testing protocols and receive a negative test result before coming to campus. We are in the process of developing the testing process and schedule and will distribute this information as soon as possible.

We are also employing the use of the CoVerified app https://www.coverified.us/ for daily symptom monitoring and tracking purposes for faculty, staff, and students who will have a presence on any of our campuses. We will be asking you to complete a consent form agreeing to the initial and ongoing periodic testing, and to the requirement that we each use the CoVerified app consistently to help ensure our safety and the safety of others. This information will be used for the purpose of required notifications of a positive test result and ongoing monitoring of daily symptoms to alert the individual and the University when symptoms indicate the potential presence of COVID-19.

We are also engaging the services of Caring Health in Springfield to provide other resources and support for assisting in managing the testing process on campus. All associated costs are being assumed by the University. More details about testing, the app, consent forms, scheduling, and other related information will be forthcoming.

III. Training

All faculty, adjunct faculty, staff, and students, whether working or learning onground or online, will be required to complete two trainings to promote the health and safety of our community members, whether near or far.

The first is the COVID-19 Prevention Training developed by the University’s liability insurance carrier, United Educators (UE). This is an online training similar to the other UE online training modules we currently use, for example, FERPA training and Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Training. The second is the Bay Path University COVID-19 Employee Guidelines. This document is an informational guide that outlines the COVID-19 policies and protocols established by the University with embedded links to numerous related sources, and includes the following topics:

The Path Forward – Guiding Principles, Campus Operations, What you should know about COVID-19, Face Coverings, Social Distancing Protocols, Hand Washing, Gloves, Workplace Disinfection, Sneezing and Coughing Hygiene, Testing, Health Monitoring and Contact Tracing, Managing Your Workspace, Common Kitchen Areas & Dining Commons, Meetings and Communications, Campus Visitors, Travel, COVID-19 Exposure and COVID-19 Diagnosis, Protocol for Sick and Family Illness Time, Mental, Physical, and Well-being Resources, What we must do to support and protect each other, Community Compact, and Contact Numbers.

Every employee will be required to review this document and acknowledge their receipt and understanding of the information, policies and protocols. This process will also be done electronically and the trainings will be managed by Krista O’Shea, Associate Director of Employee Recruitment and Retention and Eleni Hogan, HR Specialist, respectively. All students will be required to do the same with a student version of this document. An email with all of the pertinent information and links will be sent to all employees in advance of August 17th. If you’ve been working on campus for any portion of your work schedule, you will need to complete both trainings when they become available.

We will also prepare employee FAQ’s that will be shared and available on the COVID-19 page that will act as a quick resource guide for commonly asked questions. If you have specific questions that you want to suggest are addressed in the FAQs, please send an email to COVID19info@baypath.edu.

As faculty and staff return to campus during Phase 1, we will continually monitor and assess the effectiveness of our plans and the state of the pandemic within our local area, our state and our country, to determine the appropriate next steps.

If you have questions or concerns about any of this information, or about your own personal situation, I encourage you to contact me at khrobbins@baypath.edu. Our intent is to offer as much information as possible as it becomes available and to respond to your questions in a timely manner, with the understanding that there is much fluidity and uncertainty to living and working with COVID-19. As we continue to respond to the ongoing changes brought about by the pandemic, please know that with every decision, the health and well-being of our students and our entire Bay Path community is and will remain paramount.

Thank you,
Kathy

Kathleen Halpin-Robbins
Assistant Vice President and Director of Human Resources