Making campus Healthy Hawks-ready

When UND faculty, staff and students return to campus, they’ll encounter extensive COVID-19-related renovations; here’s a sneak preview

As this view of Room 101 in Abbott Hall shows, some of the COVID-19-related changes are subtle. See that green sticker on the back of the seat nearest you? That’s the change, and it has been installed on physically distanced seatbacks throughout the lecture hall. Those stickers mark those seats, and only those seats, that students will be asked to occupy when instruction in this classroom resumes. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

The planning started in April, continued with campuswide consultations in May and June, and now is resulting in significant changes in more than 200 buildings.

And every sign, sticker, tech upgrade and furniture rearrangement is being put in place with one goal in mind: to make this fall’s reopening of campus as safe as possible for everyone at UND.

“Preparing for the fall has involved many, many individuals across campus,” said Debbie Storrs, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“We’ve used a team to help make decisions on how to prepare classrooms for fall in person teaching. The team of faculty and student leaders, safety, facilities, UIT, marketing, student success, professionals from the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy, and academic representatives ensures we are looking at the classroom experience through a variety of lenses.

“That means everything from measuring the physical distancing requirements between seats, to ensuring the sound quality of mics when speakers are wearing face coverings, is important to consider as we prepare for the fall.

“We couldn’t do this without the expertise of each team member.”

Today, UND Today presents what we hope will be the first in a series of photo features, documenting the changes on campus. The photos below show the environments faculty, staff and students can expect when they return to classroom buildings.

In weeks to come, photo features also will document the changes being made to residence halls, UND offices, dining facilities and the like.

Where classrooms — the subject of today’s feature — are concerned, “faculty can expect a different experience in the fall, including fewer seats for students, signage in the classroom and hallways, sanitation materials, enhanced technology and plexiglass,” Storrs said.

“To help faculty get a better sense of what they can expect from the classrooms, we are providing demos where they can participate either in person or via Zoom. Sessions will be 1.5 hours long, and faculty can sign up for sessions for the week of July 20th by registering at this link: https://und.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cNOzkmRhQAhpl5z.  ”

Let today’s tour begin!

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

As with the change in the Abbott Hall lecture room, the biggest change here — in Room 61 of Ireland Hall — is subtle. See it? It’s the three green stickers on the table nearest you. Again, those stickers represent where (physically distanced) students should sit, meaning this table that can accommodate nine students actually should be used by only three. Seats that don’t have stickers in this room and the lecture hall should go unoccupied.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

In Room 7 of O’Kelly Hall (above), the changes are more obvious. Previously in this classroom, the tables were linked together in pods; now, they’ve been split up so students can sit at safer distances from each other. Stickers on the floor beneath the seats represent the proper distancing. All of the distances, by the way, were calculated in accordance with the classroom’s floor plan; then, the stickers were placed by tape-measure-wielding UND staff.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

The portable whiteboards shown in the above photo of Room 7 can be used as dividers. Also clear is the green UND tape around the teaching station, which is meant to show students where they can stand to keep a safe physical distance when they approach the professor.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

And if you look closely at the above photo of Room 7, you can see the transparent plexiglas shield hanging in front of the teaching station, offering further protection for both the faculty member and the students.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

Shown above is a closeup of the green, branded UND tape that has been installed around the teaching station. Again, this tape is meant to help students and faculty stay safe as they converse.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

The above close-up shows a green “Be Healthy Hawks” sticker on the carpet beneath a Room 7 seat. Those stickers will be a common sight on campus this fall, as they’ll mark countless seats, desks, tables, floor-plan positions and other physical-distance features for students and others’ use.

Image courtesy of University IT.

For UND faculty members, some of the most significant changes in the classroom environment involve technological improvements. In particular, all classrooms are getting new boundary microphones (shown above attached to the upper right corner of the computer). If the faculty member stands within about four or five feet of the mic and faces it, that person won’t have to use a wearable microphone in order to clearly transmit his or her voice.

Image courtesy of University IT.

All classrooms also are being equipped with cameras with a wide-angle lens (shown here at the very top-center of the above photo). The third key technological improvement will be in many, though not all, classrooms: A Wacom tablet (just above keyboard in photo), complete with pen. The tablet is a graphics computer that lets the faculty member write or draw on the screen and see that information displayed on the classroom monitors and students’ computers.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

This placard, which will hang outside of Room 7 in O’Kelly Hall (and other rooms elsewhere), reinforces UND’s Healthy Hawks message.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

One-way arrows and Healthy Hawks messaging on water fountains, elevators and other features will help students, faculty and staff adjust to the campus’ new norms. Before these elements are installed, each building is mapped and the pedestrian routes and other changes are planned, all of that happening on a computer screen before it unfolds in reality.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

Reminders such as the one shown above will be found on most floors of most buildings across the UND campus.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

Again, stickers such as the one shown aboveare meant to help students sit at safer distances from each other.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

Last but not least, and for the purpose of reducing crowding and congestion in hallways, entrances and exits to most buildings on the UND campus have been designated and are “one way.”  Here is an entrance to O’Kelly Hall…

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

… and here is an exit to that same building. As President Armacost said in his most recent video message to campus, “Let’s look out for each other. Let’s keep the campus safe. And let’s keep this pandemic in check!”