The principal objective of the facilities re-opening operations plan is to support the University’s plan to protect on-campus faculty, students and staff from contracting COVID-19 by:​

  •  Preparing campus facilities for increased stakeholder census within budgetary constraints, District law, and CDC guidance.​

  •  Maintaining a robust COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting regimen.​

  •  Providing personal protective equipment and sanitization supplies.  ​

  •  Leveraging technology, campus communications and partnerships with campus ambassadors to prevent the acquisition and spread of COVID-19 and enforcing University COVID-19 policies.

Health Protocols for Classrooms

To best ensure students, faculty and staff can remain healthy while in the face to face classroom setting, here are key safety measures that faculty can take in the classroom setting:

  • All students, faculty and staff are required to vaccinate and to have proof of vaccination submitted. Faculty and staff must upload their proof of vaccination (front and back of card) to Workday.
  • All students, faculty and staff are required to wear masks outdoors.
  • Students and faculty must wear masks in the classroom, before, during and after class.
  • All students, faculty and staff must complete the daily assessment on BisonSafe app prior to coming onto the campus. This daily assessment must be completed each day you are on campus.
  • There are no physical distancing requirements in the classroom at the present time. However, whenever possible and as students, faculty and staff move around the buildings and/or campus, physical distancing, to the extent possible of three feet, is encouraged.
  • All students, faculty and staff are required to take a COVID test weekly. More information on testing locations and standards can be found on the Testing and Testing Protocol page.
  • Students who have obtained a medical or religious exemption for the vaccine are permitted to attend classes and to be present on campus; however, they are not permitted to live in the residence halls.

General Instructional Guidance

1. Faculty should continue to take advantage of the innovative instructional practices that were developed and/or used by them last year to achieve learning outcomes, including the use of Blackboard, even though most classes will be in-person.

2. The primary mode of instructional delivery will be in-person or face-to-face instruction unless the facility infrastructure limits the ability to hold the class in person or the faculty member has obtained an exemption from Human Resources that requires him or her to hold the class online.

3. 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 students in a classroom.

4. All faculty must have a contingency plan and be ready to move to online instruction should the District of Columbia government or the University change the guidelines for physical distancing or the circumstances regarding the pandemic require lockdown conditions.

5. The minimum number of office hours set should reflect the requirements of the school or college. As stated in the Faculty Handbook, faculty are required to maintain regular office hours throughout the semester and list office hours on every course syllabus, as well as provide this information to the department chair or associate dean (in those schools without departments). The virtual office hours also must be posted on Blackboard. For advising and faculty office hours, the preferred formats in-person but faculty and/or students may request online meetings depending upon the circumstances.

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 three-foot distance between participants, whenever possible, and all public health safety guidelines should be followed.

The University has worked to facilitate the meeting preferences of the 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 organization.

6. 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 eeo@howard.edu. Further instructions can be found on the HR website.

COVID-19 Classroom Preparedness Checklist for Faculty

To best ensure students, faculty and staff can remain healthy while in the face to face classroom setting, here are key safety measures that faculty can take in the classroom setting. Please use the checklist incorporated within as a guide for each class that is being taught face to face.  Our students are excited to be on campus and to have the opportunity to take some of their classes face-to-face with our exceptional faculty.

  • Have students entered your classroom building through a guard-controlled entrance, or been screened by a Safety Ambassador? Faculty may request that each student display their Bison Safe Green/Orange QR code prior to entering class.
  • Has the Office of the Dean communicated with students regarding their clearance (proof of vaccine status) to be on campus? (List is managed via the Office of the Dean)
  • Are all students wearing a mask? (If they are not, they should be asked to leave the classroom to go and get a mask prior to returning to class.) Masks are available at the administrative front desk in each building.
  • Are all students in the classroom maintaining a distance of three feet apart, where possible? (There is no mandatory social distancing guidance, but a three feet recommendation is part of the University’s COVID-19 response.)

Facilities Management

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 HVAC and environmental services work that will be conducted by PFM, all University stakeholders play a vital role in helping the Facilities staff in maintaining a clean campus environment. The following measures have been, and will continue to be taken by PFM, as part of the building and grounds maintenance plan:

  • Classes with a larger number of students have been re-assigned to provide greater physical distancing. We are also distributing portable air purifiers to various classrooms. Additional portable air purifiers are being delivered.
  • We have, and will continue to increase 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.
  • Site cleaning and disinfection guides and frequencies will be implemented 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 will be conducted, especially for the Clorox 360 process.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are placed in common and high traffic areas throughout campus, including egress points, workout facilities and high touch doors.
  • We have also deployed mobile hand sanitizing stations as the need arises.
  • Ensure that supply of material is on hand to include stands, wall-mounted dispensers, and ample supply of hand sanitizer agents.
  • We have increased the use of touch-free amenities: doors, faucets, lights, dispensers, trash containers, automatic toilet and urinal flushing.
  • Additional public health infographics will continue to be implemented throughout campus.
  • Changing air filters with a higher frequency, increased percentage of outside air, and maintaining positive building pressure have been implemented.  Building Ducts and vents have been thoroughly cleaned.
  • For facilities that have been shut down for a prolonged period of time, the University will ensure that all ventilation and water systems and features are safe to use, per CDC guidance.
  • Elevators – Special attention has been given to cleaning and disinfecting all elevator surfaces due to their heavy usage and confined area. All vertical surfaces including interior and exterior doors and control panels will continue to be disinfected.
  • Research Labs – normal detail cleaning and disinfection procedures will be followed when cleaning research labs. At a minimum, all floors are completely swept and or dust mopped, then either machine scrubbed or wet mopped completely with a neutral floor cleaner. Disinfectant is applied to all light switches and door handles.
  • 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.

Building Ventilation

Air changes per hour (also known as “outdoor air changes per hour”) 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.

In accordance with CDC recommendations, the University 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 in buildings to combat COVID-19.

*Additional public health infographics will be posted throughout campus.

Academic Calendar

  • On-campus undergraduate courses will begin on August 23 and run through December 3, 2021. If the final exam period is scheduled after Thanksgiving, then they will be provided online.  
  • Our teaching modality is face-to-face instruction unless there is a facility infrastructure issue, or faculty have requested and received an approved ADA (Americans with Disability Act) health-related accommodation through Human Resources.
  • A number of courses will continue to be provided online, however, the University can not guarantee that a student will be able to take every course that they desire online.
  • Public health measures will continue to be implemented (required mask usage on campus and in classrooms, appropriate social/physical distancing and daily screening, routine testing, etc.).

Mandatory physical distancing

  • No other physical distancing requirements are in place at this time. However, a minimum of three-foot distancing is recommended for classrooms between students, where feasible.

Questions and Answers

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.  

Reductions were not completed in isolation of faculty feedback. A summer pilot study was conducted, and changes were made based on the feedback provided by faculty, staff and students.  

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?

Facility infrastructure issues include but are not limited circumstances whereby a room or building necessary for instruction to take place is unavailable, undergoing renovations, or otherwise not suitable for instruction. This determination is made in conjunction with Physical Facilities Management, the Office of the Registrar, and the Office of the Dean in each school/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 by any stakeholder on campus. 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 a 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 is it measured?

Air changes per hour (also known as “outdoor air changes per hour”) 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 risk that a person in that space will inhale viral particles and get infected. So far there’s no official recommendation on the ideal ACH to dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19. That’s because it depends in part on a few unknowns - like 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.   

 

Daily building equipment inspections and monitoring through our building controls systems alert us to problems with inadequate ventilation—additionally, there are three campus projects related to air quality that were instated in direct response to COVID-19 preparedness. The campus-wide IAQ activities involve duct cleaning in campus buildings, filtration, and dilution ventilation:   

  • The Duct Cleaning Project incorporated the removal of visible surface contaminants and deposits from the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, including any interior surface of the facility's air distribution system, conditioned spaces and occupied zones. 

  • Installation of Dynamic MERV 13 Panels. The air cleaner has an active electrostatic field that polarizes a dielectric media and does not ionize airborne particles or produce ozone. The system is designed to remove particulates and contaminants and meet ventilation rate requirements using the ASHRAE Standard 62.2 Indoor Air Quality Procedure. 

Siemens performed HVAC programming for the Campus-wide Dilution Ventilation project altering the AHU/ACU DDC control sequence of operation to: 

  • 100% Outside air units shall remain unchanged 

  • 100% Exhaust air units shall remain unchanged 

All other units shall have the outside and exhaust air dampers (where applicable) fully OPEN; the return air damper shall be fully CLOSED. Heating and Cooling coil control programming shall remain in operation to maintain discharge temperature setpoint. The units shall revert to their NORMAL operational mode if the outside air temperature is above 65 degrees or below 45 degrees. 

EHS has hand held devices that are used to test IAQ real time Volatile Organics, CO, CO2, relative humidity and temperature. The EHS department incorporated this heightened measure with increased regularity in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. EHS initiated a recent regimen to test air quality in each building on a quarterly /seasonal basis as a proactive measure.  There is no EPA requirement for testing air quality, but there is guidance from the EPA. The EPA does their tests annually. 

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:  

  • We have, and will continue to increase 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. 

  • Site cleaning and disinfection guides and frequencies have been n implemented 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 have been n conducted, especially for the  Clorox 360 process. 

  • Hand sanitizer stations have been deployed 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. 

  • Ensure that supply of material is on hand to include stands, wall-mounted dispensers, and ample supply of hand sanitizer agents. 

  • We will increase the use of touch-free amenities: doors, faucets, lights, dispensers, trash containers, automatic toilet and urinal flushing. 

  • Additional public health infographics will be implemented throughout campus. 

  • Higher frequency in 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 will ensure that all ventilation and water systems and features are safe to use, per CDC guidance. 

  • Elevators – Special attention will be given to 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 will be disinfected.  

  • Research Labs – normal detail cleaning and disinfection procedures will be followed when 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 an elevator? Will specific stairwells be used to ascend or descend floors? When will this information be communicated and by whom?

As noted previously, while there are no physical distancing requirements, it is recommended that there be at least three feet of distance between individuals, whenever possible. 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.  

Traditionally, pedestrians going upstairs move to the right, while pedestrians going downstairs move to the left.  

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. All official COVID-19 prevention signage was shared with academic divisions, and can be printed with ease.