On this page, you will find answers to commonly asked questions pertaining to faculty and staff.

In-Person Meetings

To the greatest extent possible, should meetings be conducted online and/or via telephone?

Because the University has implemented a vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and students who will be on campus, it is recommended that small group meetings (five or fewer) can be conducted face-to-face. Larger group meetings (greater than six individuals) can be conducted either face-to-face or virtually, depending upon the size of the group, and meeting space where the gathering will take place. While there are no physical distancing requirements, it is recommended that there be at least a three-foot distance between participants, whenever possible, and all personal protective equipment (PPE) safety guidelines should be followed.  

The University has worked to facilitate the meeting preferences of each campus organization. Meetings can be conducted via Microsoft Teams or Zoom, especially where large group meetings that cannot be accommodated in a large conference room are concerned. Microsoft Teams has a “telephone” feature to facilitate traditional phone calls. Further, using the Microsoft Teams and Zoom functionalities are more secure for the University.

 

What is the appropriate social/physical distancing requirement between students in classrooms where in-person instruction will occur and in other in-person academic meetings and settings?

Consistent with District of Columbia guidance for school settings, the University does not have a social distancing requirement, but has implemented a social distancing recommendation, to give our stakeholders the flexibility they need when establishing classroom orientation. 

Because the University has implemented a vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and students who will be on campus, while there are no physical distancing requirements, it is recommended that there be at least a three-foot distance between students, whenever possible. Divisions have worked to facilitate a three-foot social distancing in classrooms and other spaces.  

 

Specifically, in what situations and to what extent will meeting/classroom capacities be reduced from their designed capacity?

Reduction in design capacity has been conducted under several circumstances including the room configuration, ventilation in the room and surrounding area, options available for alternative instruction (hybrid, remote), etc.  

Will faculty in “high risk groups” be able to collaborate with their department chairs and deans to determine the feasibility of teaching remotely?

Faculty who may be immunocompromised, or those who have qualifying health conditions, may request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Human Resources. Communication can be directed to Ms. Michelle Chapman at eeo@howard.edu. Further instructions can be found on the HR website: https://hr.howard.edu/eeo  

Facilities and Maintenance

Are classrooms and other facilities being sanitized? How often will this occur? Is there an inspection process in-place? Who is responsible for conducting these inspections?

The Physical Facilities Management team (PFM) at Howard University plays a vital role in ensuring a clean environment to enhance the health and safety of the University community. In addition to the environmental services work that will be conducted by the PFM and Thompson Facilities staff, all University stakeholders play a vital role in helping the PFM staff in maintaining a clean campus environment. The following measures have been taken by PFM as part of the building and grounds maintenance plan:  

  • Continued and increased cleaning frequencies in buildings campus-wide and improve efficiency and effectiveness of microbial cleaning by utilizing electrostatic misting units  (Clorox 360) to combat COVID-19. 
  • Implementation of site cleaning and disinfection guides and frequencies for common areas and high touch surfaces targeting building entrances, restrooms, fitness areas, break rooms, conference rooms, hallways, elevators, stairways and other transition spaces. Increase the frequency of cleaning high touch areas will include door handles, elevator buttons and handrails. 
  • Additional EVS training and education of processes, especially for the  Clorox 360 process. 
  • Deployment of hand sanitizer stations in common and high traffic areas throughout campus, including egress points, workout facilities and high touch doors.  We will continue to deploy mobile hand sanitizing stations as the need arises. 
  • Ensuring that supply of material is on hand to include stands, wall-mounted dispensers, and ample supply of hand sanitizer agents. 
  • Increased use of touch free amenities: doors, faucets, lights, dispensers, trash containers, automatic toilet and urinal flushing. 
  • Implementation of additional public health infographics throughout campus. 
  • Higher frequency of changing of air filters, increased percentage of outside air and maintaining positive building pressure. 
  • For facilities that have been shut down for a prolonged period of time, the University is ensuring that all ventilation and water systems and features are safe to use, per CDC guidance. 
  • Special attention to the cleaning and disinfection of all elevator surfaces due to their heavy usage and confined area. All vertical surfaces including interior and exterior doors and control panels are being disinfected.  
  • Normal detail cleaning and disinfection procedures for cleaning research labs. At a minimum, all floors should be completely swept and or dust mopped, then either machine scrubbed or wet mopped completely with a neutral floor cleaner. Disinfectant will be applied to all light switches and door handles, and empty trash receptacles and replace liners. 

Please be mindful that disinfectants should NOT be sprayed directly on control panels to avoid possible electrical shock. Disinfectants should not be sprayed directly on electronics, as irreversible damage could be caused.  

What is the protocol for moving faculty, students, and staff throughout buildings? How many persons should occupy elevators and stairwells?

Elevators have been marked designating physical spacing. Designations regarding stairwells for ascent and descent are reliant upon the infrastructure of the buildings and if there are sufficient stairwells for this classification.  

Elevator guidance is posted at each elevator on campus. If there is an elevator that has been overlooked, a building manager can assist with posting clear signage. Damaged signage can also be replaced. 

What is the specific criteria used to determine if there is a facility infrastructure issue that would prevent in-person instruction? And who makes the determination whether a facility infrastructure issue exists?

Identifying and determining a facility infrastructure issue is done in partnership with each academic division, the registrar and Physical Facilities Management (PFM).  

Facility infrastructure issues include circumstances whereby a room or building necessary for instruction to take place is not available, undergoing renovations, or otherwise not suitable for instruction and alternative room options are not available. This determination is made in conjunction with PFM, the Office of the Registrar, and the Office of the Dean in each school or college. 

If an arbitrator is needed, the final call on whether a space is unsuitable for teaching rests with the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Chief Operating Officer.  

PFM is alerted of a facilities issue through our usual communication channels by submission of a work order. Larger scale issues are communicated through a divisional building manager.  All facilities work is outsourced to a third-party vendor, Thompson Facilities Services.  If Thompson is unable to conduct a work order in-house, another third-party vendor is engaged.  

Do windows that cannot be opened, combined with poor ventilation, meet the criteria for a facility infrastructure issue?

Poorly ventilated areas, and windows that cannot be opened may potentially meet the criteria for an infrastructural challenge, and accommodations can be made to support a change in course modality if there are no alternative options regarding reassignment of the classes.  

Typical facility infrastructure problem would mean that there is no classroom that can accommodate the number of students registered for the course or there is inadequate ventilation for the volume of students assigned to a classroom. 

How is a determination of “adequate ventilation” reached? How often will this determination occur? Is building air being purified? What type of filtration systems are in place? Who is responsible for measuring air quality and how often?

Air changes per hour (also known as “outdoor air changes per hour” or ACH) is the rate at which the air in a space is completely recycled. The higher the ACH, the more frequently air is cycled through, reducing the potential risk that a person in that space could inhale viral particles and potentially get infected. Thus far, there is no official recommendation from the EPA on the ideal ACH to dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. That’s because it depends in part on a few unknowns – such as how many viral particles an infected person spreads or how many can make an exposed person sick.

The University’s response, like all other places of business, and in accordance with CDC recommendations, has developed a multi-faceted response to improve air quality and provide adequate ventilation to each building, the sum of which work to improve the ACH factor and in turn reduce viral particles of any kind in the air at any static moment in time. Air quality measurements are conducted by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). These are conducted quarterly and can be requested more frequently based upon circumstances (potential exposure, etc.). Throughout campus, upgraded HVAC filters have been installed in all buildings where possible, and ventilation systems have been upgraded in buildings where renovations have been undertaken. We have also purchased portable air purifiers to improve air quality, and installed ultraviolet light systems to combat COVID-19. 

Vaccines, Testing, and Other COVID-19 Safety Protocols

How will the University know whether every student in our classes has been vaccinated? Is there a policy in place to check vaccination cards to ensure this?

The Office of the Dean will receive updates regarding which students are cleared to be on campus and registered in courses. This information will be shared with the administrative leaders. Faculty and students with approved medical and religious exemptions are permitted in classroom settings and must adhere to all public health protocols. Additionally, greater functionality is being incorporated into the BisonSafe app to account for vaccine status. Individuals who have not been vaccinated or have an approved exemption will not have a visual clearance indicator from the app to be on campus. 

We have checked vaccination card submissions when there has been suspicion of the legitimacy of a submission. This is rare and would include contacting the site where vaccinations were administered to confirm. Any fraudulent submission is subject to disciplinary action.

Will N95/KN95 masks be required on campus? Will these masks be made available to faculty, students, and staff?

Usage of masks is required indoors on campus, in classroom settings, shared office spaces and other areas where groups may congregate. Mask usage is also required outdoors in group settings. We have purchased a variety of masks, as they have been available on the market, including N95/KN95. We have generally reserved those N95/KN95 for health professional students, faculty and staff who would be in clinical settings and have greater need for that type of mask. We will also make K95/KN95 available to other faculty and staff upon request, based upon their availability. Further, surgical and cloth masks have been shown to be effective in reducing risk of COVID-19, we will continue to provide a range of masks to faculty, staff and students. The most effective means to prevent COVID-19 infection and serious disease is through vaccination. Because the University has implemented a vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and students who will be on campus, we expect a safer environment on campus. 

If students refuse to wear masks properly during class, what is the appropriate action to take for the faculty member teaching the class? How should a faculty member proceed when a student is not following mask protocols outside the classroom?

The University’s requirement that students, faculty and staff wear masks indoors, and outdoors in group settings has been communicated to students repeatedly. These measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of the community. Failure to comply with University and public Health guidelines constitutes a violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct and could result in sanctions up to and including expulsion from the University. Faculty are advised to remind students of the mask mandate, as necessary. If a student refuses to comply, faculty should not engage with them confrontationally, but should report the incident through appropriate channels as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. 

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, what processes does the University follow to quarantine the student and prevent transmission to others on campus? And how will a positive test result impact in-person class meetings attended by the sick student?

If students test positive, the results will be reported to the respective schools’ student affairs representatives in light of the public health risks and the safety of the University community. Students who test positive must obtain clearance for return to class/campus from the Student Health Center prior to return. They will also have a visual indicator in the BisonSafe app that they are not cleared to be on campus, as that functionality is incorporated. 

Undergraduates who are in quarantine will be tested upon entry of quarantine and retested seven days after the date of exposure (or consistent with public health guidance at the time). Graduate students, faculty, and staff who were exposed in the work setting/on-campus will be tested upon entry of quarantine, while remaining consistent with public health guidance. Regardless of whether they test negative, they will be required to complete the required quarantine period, based on the CDC’s latest guidance. 

Potentially impacted classrooms will undergo an extensive cleaning protocol, including utilizing electrostatic misting units (Clorox 360) to combat  COVID-19.  

If a faculty member tests positive for COVID-19, what processes will the University follow? And how will this positive test result impact in-person class meetings?

If employees test positive, their supervisors will be notified that they are off duty. Employees must secure clearance to return to work from their primary care practitioner prior to returning to campus. School/College administrators will implement the contingency plan outlined by each faculty member regarding class. This may include conduct of the course by another faculty member, either face-to-face or virtually, until the original faculty coordinator is cleared for return to the classroom.  As we incorporate the additional functionality in the BisonSafe app, the indicator will display “Not cleared for access to campus” until clearance has been granted.