Coronavirus roundup

Testing, planning and preparation are key for “smart restart” of campus

Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.

As the University prepares to welcome the University community back for the fall semester, preparation and planning are going on behind the scenes to ensure that students, faculty and staff are as safe as possible.

The goal is a “smart restart.” And key to that is COVID-19 testing.

A thousand coronavirus tests are being administered today between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and UND administration encouraged students, faculty and staff to be tested.

The testing is taking place on campus between the UND Wellness Center and the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, with both walk-through and drive-through testing lanes.

Open to students, faculty, staff, and UND affiliates, the testing is being conducted by the North Dakota National Guard. It is a cooperative effort between the N.D. Health Department, National Guard, UND Student Health Services, and Grand Forks Public Health.

Student-athletes return

As student-athletes return to campus for voluntary summer workouts, UND Athletics has implemented best practices and training to ensure staff and student-athletes’ safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

All student-athletes will undergo mandatory training and indicate they understand and will comply with guidelines regarding COVID-19 awareness and safety. Student-athletes will be expected to download the North Dakota Department of Health Care 19 app for contact tracing, fill out a COVID clearinghouse form, and undergo daily wellness checks before entering UND Athletics training facilities.

Campus life

Campus life will look different from life before the pandemic. As coronavirus cases rise and fall within the Greater Grand Forks and University communities, students, faculty and staff will be able to “pivot” between on-campus operations and remote work and classes according to three safety levels.

Healthy Hawks Safety Levels guide.

The Healthy Hawks Safety Levels are general guidelines for UND’s response to COVID-19, depending on the amount of coronavirus activity in the community.

At every level, face coverings are required when interacting with others, as is physical distancing of at least six feet.

At Safety Level 1, learning and working is remote except for essential workers, and residence halls are closed as feasible with grab and go dining options. Public spaces will be closed, and up to 10 people may gather with physical distancing.

At Safety Level 2, learning and working are primarily remote, with limited hands-on learning, staggered return of faculty and staff, and limited gatherings of up to 50 people with approval. The residence halls will be open with private rooms only, and dining options will offer physical distancing

At Safety Level 3, learning and working will be a hybrid of in-person and remote, with public gathering restrictions of more than 50 people allowed. Residence halls will offer private rooms only, and additional dining options will be offered.

The guidelines are fluid and subject to change based on new information from the CDC and State of North Dakota.

Building traffic

Part of making buildings as safe as possible involves physical distancing and routing student, faculty and staff traffic. Fewer students will be allowed in classrooms to facilitate physical distancing. In some cases, larger classrooms will be used; in others, students will stagger classroom attendance and online learning.

Facilities Management staff will identify physical distancing requirements and install signage in buildings. In many cases, students, faculty and staff will enter via one door and exit though another. Stairwells and hallways may also have one-way traffic, and elevator occupancy will be limited. Sanitizing and disinfecting stations will be available, and students may be asked to wipe down desks, chairs and lab areas.

Three tenets

UND’s Smart Restart Plan is rooted in three basic tenets, according to UND President Andy Armacost:

  1. Education – Why are we taking these measures and precautions?
  2. Hygiene measures:
    1. Appropriate physical distancing
    2. Requiring campus community to wear face coverings when interacting with others
    3. Enhanced sanitization schedules of classrooms, facilities and other common areas
  3. Testing – Greater testing capacity allows UND to effectively respond to potential outbreaks

“In doing all of these steps, our goal is to have a campus that operates safely throughout the semester, and as we see changes, both locally and nationally, we can make adjustments to the plan, as necessary, said President Armacost.

He stressed that even though the vast majority of the campus community may be healthy, there may be somebody who’s struggling with a medical condition.

“We need to protect everyone,” he said.  “Our goal is a safe reopening, taking care of our students, faculty and staff, with particular attention on our most vulnerable on campus. And we want to do so with a sense of community that is rooted in respect and empathy for all.”