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Health & Safety

campus in the fall

What to Expect

Campus will look different this fall. The University will be putting measures in place to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the campus and the community. To mitigate spread, we must identify possible cases, isolate positive cases, and conduct contact tracing in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH).

All members of The W community are expected to:

  • Comply with current COVID-19 protocols while on campus.
  • Keep their University ID with them at all times.
  • Continue practicing preventative measures including symptom monitoring, personal safety practices, physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfection.

Symptom Monitoring

All members of our community are responsible for understanding and recognizing COVID-19 symptoms, https://www.muw.edu/disease/cdcinfo. Before entering the workplace or classroom space daily, all students, faculty, and staff should perform a self-assessment of possible COVID-19 symptoms. Any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (or any other illness) should stay home.

Students

Faculty & Staff

Symptom Checker App

A COVID-19 Daily Symptom Checker will be developed and made available to help members of the campus community make appropriate decisions concerning their medical care and whether they should be on campus. Responses will be completely anonymous with no collection of information related to the individual or their location. It is up to each individual to accurately identify/monitor their health status and be responsible for staying off campus if sick.

Coronavirus Self-Checker

Education and awareness will be made to the community in the form of printed materials and video training. All students, faculty, and staff will complete an online health and safety training module before the fall semester.

COVID-19 Testing

The Mississippi State Department of Health has included University faculty, staff, and students to the list of those eligible for free COVID testing. Please follow the  link for dates, times and locations. https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,22406,420,874.html

The Campus Health Center will continue to offer COVID testing by appointments Monday thru Friday 8-5 with the Nurse Practitioner on duty 8-4.

Please feel free to contact the Campus Health Center with any questions or concerns 662-329-7289.


Personal Safety Practices

For the safety of our community, members of The W family should make the following part of their personal safety routines.

Personal Items

Each member of the campus community should bring their own personal hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to campus. These items will also be made available in campus buildings in various locations.

Face Coverings

To reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection, all university students, faculty, staff and visitors must wear a face covering (not N-95 or medical masks as those should be reserved for healthcare professionals) in any university facility unless they are physically isolated in a private space or room.

Face coverings also must be worn in all public places and settings on campus where physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, including outdoor spaces and situations such as traveling to and from classes and events.

Individuals are asked to exercise social responsibility, as well as kindness, with respect to the face covering requirement. If you encounter students, faculty, and staff who are not wearing face coverings, be mindful that there could be health-related reasons. Accommodations are addressed in the Student Well-Being and Faculty/Staff Well-Being sections of the plan.

Why should you wear a face covering?

As of today, no single solution exists to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We know that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted by droplets. These droplets can be spread when people cough, sneeze, shout or even talk. One of the best ways of slowing the spread of droplets is to correctly wear a face covering. 

A face covering by itself won’t stop COVID-19. Students, faculty and staff still need to practice physical distancing, wash their hands, and make sure that they are monitoring their health for potential symptoms. Adding a face covering to all of those other precautions provides a strong additional layer of protection for you and the people around you.

What does the university consider a face covering?

All students, employees and visitors are required to wear a face covering in any university building, facility and classroom unless they are physically isolated in a private space or room. There are a number of options for satisfying the university’s requirement for wearing a face covering. Acceptable forms of face coverings are detailed below.

Please note that a face shield is not considered a face covering. (Face shields are discussed in more detail below.)

CLOTH FACE MASKS

Cloth masks provide some of the best protection against droplet spread. The pictured masks include a cloth mask that hooks over the ears and a mask that can hang around the neck when not being worn. For more information about how to wear your mask correctly: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings.html

DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS

Disposable face masks can still provide excellent coverage against droplet spread, but they won’t hold up to repeated wear or washing.

BANDANAS AND NECK GAITERS

While not providing the same coverage as a cloth mask, other cloth face covering options such as bandanas and neck gaiters are acceptable face coverings to wear inside university facilities. Cloth masks provide more protection than bandanas and neck gaiters, but wearing any face covering is better than wearing none.

Washing Masks

Masks should be washed after each use. It is important to always remove masks correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used mask. Learn more about caring for your face covering at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.

When and where do you have to wear a face covering?

All students, employees and visitors are required to wear a face covering in any university building, facility and classroom unless they are physically isolated in a private space or room.

Face coverings also must be worn in all public places and settings on campus where physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. This includes outdoor spaces on campus and situations such as traveling to and from classes or events.

Students, employees and visitors must wear a mask or face covering in all public spaces, including but not limited to:

  • Classrooms, hallways, lobbies, elevators, stairways, reception areas, cashier stations and all frequented similar spaces.
  • Conference and meeting rooms.
  • All restrooms.
  • While riding with others in university vehicles.

A face covering does not have to be worn when alone in an office or room, alone in a vehicle or when eating or drinking — essentially, when you are alone in a private space.

A "private room or space" is a room where a person is alone and will not be required to wear a face covering. A cubicle is not considered a private space unless it has walls of sufficient height to be above full head height. When the occupants head will extend beyond the top of the cubicle, a face covering must be worn. Regardless of the presence of a door or cubicle wall height, a face covering is not required in one’s office or cube while eating or drinking; however, the occupant must be seated and physical distancing is still required.

What is a face shield?

A face shield is a clear mask, often made of plastic, that usually fits over the individual’s head, although some are neck-mounted.

A face shield is not an adequate substitute for a face covering.

A face shield has some advantageous features, particularly being able to see the face of the person wearing it. But a face shield does not fit tight against your face, and therefore it does not provide the same level of protection against droplet spread as a properly worn face covering.

If you only wear a face shield, you are spreading more droplets than you would wearing a face covering.

When can I use a face shield instead of a face covering?

Thinking again about the spread of droplets when you cough or even when you talk. A typical face shield does not fit closely enough to your mouth to stop the spread of droplets the same way that a face covering does. 

Therefore, it is only acceptable to temporarily use a face shield instead of a face covering, and only when:

  • You can maintain a proper distance from other people in order to minimize the spread of droplets. This means at least six feet between you and everyone else
  • All other people in the room are stationary or won’t be coming within six feet of you. 
  • Use of a face shield is necessary to complete the task. This could be a counseling session interview where facial expressions are imperative, where a person’s lips must be visible in order for them to be read, or where a cloth face covering would muffle the speaker to a degree where the quality of presentation would be impeded.

For faculty or presenters at an event, this generally means that if it is possible to speak at a distance of at least ten feet from your audience, preferably on a stage or at the front of a room, a face shield could temporarily be used instead of a face covering.

If using a forehead-mounted clear shield, the shield should extend from ear-to-ear and to the bottom of the speaker’s chin when their mouth is open.  For a neck-mounted shield, it should be angled so that no droplets can escape around the sides or top of the shield.
Once you are done with the task requiring a face shield, you should return to using a face covering as soon as possible.

Face covering exceptions

Students and Employees may request an accommodation to not wear a mask with proper documentation and through making a reasonable accommodation request:

 

Hand Washing

Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds especially after being in public places, blowing one’s nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching one’s face. In the absence of soap and water, a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol should be used.

Coughing/Sneezing Etiquette

When not wearing face coverings, please be sure to cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or into a tissue. Hand washing (see above) should be performed immediately. If a tissue is used, it should immediately be thrown into the trash.

Signage

Appropriate signage will be developed and posted throughout campus to educate and promote adherence to public health practices, including hand hygiene, physical distancing, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, frequent disinfection of common and high traffic areas, symptom assessment, temperature checks, and face masks/coverings in public.


Physical Distancing Measures

Physical distancing while on campus should be maintained at a minimum of six feet.

  • In an office or classroom environment, that means a separation of desks and limiting the usage of common areas whenever possible.
  • Where possible, rearrange desks to maximize the space between individuals. Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other) to reduce transmission caused from virus-containing droplets (e.g., from talking, coughing, sneezing).
  • When meetings are unable to adhere to this physical distancing standard, consider moving to a larger space or conduct an online virtual meeting.
  • Floor markers will be affixed in high-density customer services areas (e.g. point-of-sale, transaction processing) to enforce physical distancing in lines as well as to maintain traffic flow. Plastic shields will be affixed in front of similar areas to separate staff from others.
  • In physical workplaces, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required 6 feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, a face covering should be worn at all times (the face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing).
  • In buildings with two or more stairwells, building managers should consider designating one as an “up” stairwell and another as a “down” stairwell with appropriate signage.
  • Elevator usage should be limited to one person at a time. Those who can easily utilize the stairs are strongly encouraged to do so in order to preserve use of the elevators. Anyone using an elevator should wear a face covering.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfecting campus will follow the recommended CDC guidelines.

  • All campus buildings will receive increased cleaning and disinfection, including high-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, push bars, light switches, handles, handrails, desks, toilets, urinals, sinks, soap and paper dispensers, etc. by Facilities Management custodial staff.
  • The university will make every attempt to keep all buildings stocked with COVID-19 prevention supplies, such as soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, etc., with all actively encouraged to utilize.
  • It is the responsibility of all members of the university community to clean their personal items, spaces, and used surfaces prior to using them. Protocols for the classroom and other learning spaces will include cleaning of personal spaces by faculty and students, the use of electrostatic misters, or some combination of both.

HVAC

Heating and cooling will be adjusted to increase fresh air flow, add efficient filtration, and use technology to combat infectious particles while continuing to control temperature and humidity.


Campus Health Center

The Campus Health Center will be open on weekdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are required to call ahead at (662) 329-7289.

Flu Shots

The Campus Health Center has FLU Vaccine available to W and MSMS students, faculty, staff and their dependents over the age of 4. The cost is $30.00 (cash or check). Please call 662-329-7289 and make an appointment. To mitigate the impact that increases in both cases of flu and COVID-19 campus and community health resources, members of The W community are very strongly encouraged to have a flu shot during the fall.


Preventing Spread and Promoting Recovery

While exhaustive preventative measures will be in place to minimize the risk of infection for The W community members, the possibility remains that students, staff, and faculty may become ill due to COVID-19 while engaging in activities on or off campus.

Effectively supporting our W community members who become ill and clearly communicating these efforts are essential both to promote health and support recovery from infection. The W will make every effort in these circumstances while respecting the privacy of individuals to support their recovery and return to the classroom or workplace.


Contact Tracing

A case manager will work within the Campus Health Center to manage and coordinate contact tracing in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Health.