COVID-19 Updates

BSU is open. An initial plan to return to campus in the fall 2020 semester is now available.

Health & Safety Protocols for BSU Return to Campus

 

We Protect Our Own

Bowie State University’s new procedures and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic have been put in place to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as well as surrounding community. Our plan provides for a reduced number of employees and students on campus, a mix of in-person and remote teaching, and varied work schedules, including continued telework for many employees. These changes enable us to welcome and engage new students in the BSU experience and continue to advance our mission to provide a first-class education for all students.

 

Guiding Principles Workplace Guidance & Expectations Mental & Emotional Wellbeing

Personal Safety Practices Guidance for Campus Facilities Guidance for Specific Workspaces

 

 

 

Guiding Principles

Planning for the fall 2020 return is being managed by a campus-wide task force and numerous implementation workgroups, all committed to the following guiding principles:

  • A commitment to protecting health and safety
  • An emphasis on shared governance
  • A commitment to excellence
  • Adherence to a standard of care

Additionally, the planning teams work to assure actions implemented advance our institutional priorities of academic excellence, student success and the long-term viability of the institution. 

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Workplace Guidance & Expectations

All faculty and staff are expected to fully comply with the policies and protocols outlined as part of Bowie State University’s workplace expectations to reduce the threat of COVID-19 on the campus. As a member of the BSU community, each individual has a responsibility to protect your own health, and the health of those around you. Bulldogs care for and protect one another.

Authorization To Return To Campus

In order to achieve the recommended 6-foot physical distancing in offices and workspaces, many employees will continue to telework or observe alternating in-person and telework schedules. Supervisors will notify faculty, staff and student workers of your authorization to return to campus, after approval by the divisional vice president. Once authorization has been granted, employees will be added to the online screening tool and receive a daily email notice to complete the COVID-19 screening survey before reporting to campus each scheduled work day.

Symptom-monitoring Requirement

Before coming onto campus, all BSU community members must complete a daily symptom-screening online survey, which includes a daily temperature check. The online tool, developed by the Division of Information Technology, is designed to help confirm that our community members are symptom-free and have not recently been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. All employees and students will receive a daily email with links to the survey for yes or no responses.

Here is what to expect:

  • A “No” response to all questions results in an immediate email confirming that you are authorized to come to campus.
  • A “Yes” response to any question will result in the employee or student receiving an instant notification to stay home and contact Human Resources (faculty/staff) or the Wellness Center (students) for further guidance.
  • The screening tool will provide additional information regarding COVID-19 symptoms and the need to seek immediate medical care for certain specific symptoms.
  • Supervisors will be notified if employees do not complete the symptom screening.

To support this effort, each BSU community member will receive a BSU Cares Package containing a thermometer for daily temperature checks, along with a mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

COVID-19 Testing

All faculty, staff and students must get tested within 14 days of returning to any on-campus work or activity to provide an added measure of safety for our BSU community. Free testing sites are available in Prince George’s County and many other counties around the state. You may also get COVID-19 tests at pharmacies and other medical facilities. Here are additoinal resources to find testing centers near you:

  • Maryland Testing Sites: The state maintains a regularly updated online testing site locator that provides times of operation and requirements for each location.
  • Nationwide Testing Sites: Visit your state or local health department’s website for testing locations.

Employees and students are expected to report their results in the following ways:

Students and employees are required to take the COVID-19 nasal swab test, or the SARS COV-2 RNA antigen test, which tells you if you are currently infected. The blood test, which tests for antibodies, only tells you if you were exposed to the virus in the past.

Residential students will be tested when they arrive for move-in at the beginning of the semester. Additional testing of segments of the campus community will be conducted every two weeks as part of a multilayer effort to detect presence of the disease.

Contact Tracing

BSU will partner with the Prince George’s County Health Department to conduct contact tracing for the campus community. Upon learning of a positive test result and/or COVID-19 exposure Prince George’s County Health Department will conduct a formal contract tracing as per their protocols. Any level of contact will be identified and reviewed by the BSU Emergency Response Team for any needed mitigation.

High-Risk Conditions & Special Circumstances

Some individuals may be concerned about returning to campus due to a variety of personal circumstances. Some may have health conditions that place them at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 or they are caring for a family member.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the following conditions that place individuals at high risk:

  • Age 65 years and older
  • HIV
  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart condition
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Body mass index of 40 or higher
  • Immunocompromised

Employees should contact Human Resources to discuss accommodation of any special needs.

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Mental & Emotional Wellbeing

BSU recognizes that the continued prevalence of COVID-19 may cause varying degrees of stress and anxiety for members of our community, especially those with family and friends who are affected.

  • Counseling Services has developed mental health and wellness programs to manage stresses related to COVID-19 that are relevant for students as well as the larger community.
  • Counseling Services offers personal, social, academic and other counseling services primarily for students. View their COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for service details, available as a link from the COVID-19 Updates web section.
  • BSU faculty and staff may use the services of the Maryland Employee Assistance Program that offers resources to support employees including guidance resources online. Employees should contact Deborah Humphrey in Human Resources at dhumphrey@bowiestate.edu for the organization credentials to register.

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Personal Safety Practices

1. Mask/Face Coverings

Face masks or face coverings must be worn by everyone, including all faculty, staff, students, vendors and visitors, in all buildings and outdoors when 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible. Exceptions to the requirement for universal face coverings are limited to time spent in a single-occupancy office with a closed door or while eating or drinking.

Face coverings are worn to protect others in the event someone is unknowingly transmitting the virus. Face coverings offer minimal protection for the wearer, and physical distancing must also be maintained even while using face coverings. Face coverings should be non-medical types in order to maintain supplies for healthcare use.

The university will provide masks for BSU community members, and you may also elect to use your own masks or face coverings.

Masks or face coverings may vary. At minimum, cloth face coverings should:

protect a bulldog graphic

  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face
  • May include neck gaiters or scarves
  • Cover the nose and mouth and extend to the bottom of the chin
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be worn for one day at a time and properly hand-washed or laundered before subsequent use
  • Be able to be laundered without damage or change to shape

Use of Mask or Face Coverings

When putting on a mask or face covering:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask.
  • Ensure the face-covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face-covering/disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose, where applicable.
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
  • Throughout the process, avoid touching the front of the face covering/disposable mask.
  • Try to avoid adjusting the mask during the day and wash hands/use sanitizer after any adjustments.

When taking off a face covering/disposable mask:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear or untie the straps.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing

Mask Care, Storage & Laundering

  • People should keep face coverings/disposable mask stored safely when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day without washing them. Cloth face coverings should be hand-washed or laundered with regular soap or clothing detergent before first use and after each shift.
  • Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, wet or damaged (e.g., ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated.
  • Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after your shift or if they are soiled or damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.

2. Social/Physical Distancing

Keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus and to slow the spread of disease. Since people can spread the virus before they even know they are sick, it is important to physically distance from others when possible, even if they have no symptoms.

Social/physical distancing is important for everyone—and required by the university—especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Everyone on campus is expected to follow social distancing practices. They should:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from other people whenever possible
  • Avoid crowded places and large gatherings
  • Avoid handshakes and other contact greetings
  • Stagger breaks and meal-times during the day

social distancing graphic

3. Handwashing

Everyone should wash their hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after:hand washing icon

  • Being in a public place
  • Being in contact with high touch surfaces (door knobs, handles, tables, counters, etc.)
  • Blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or touching their face.

It is also suggested that everyone wash their hands as they enter and leave various on campus spaces and before eating. In general, people should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

If soap and water are not readily available, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. You should cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the BSU campus.

4. Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene

Those in a private setting who do not have on a mask or cloth face covering should remember to always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of your elbow. Any used tissues should be thrown in the trash immediately after use. After sneezing, individuals should immediately wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, they should clean their hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Employees sneezing and coughing into a cloth mask should change the mask and launder it.

5. Gloves

According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. If a task or on-campus area did not require gloves before the pandemic, gloves are not required now. If a task or on-campus area (e.g., laboratory) required a specific type of gloves as PPE before the pandemic, those requirements remain in place. Washing hands often is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks.

6. Goggles/Face Shields

BSU community members do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are generally sufficient for non-healthcare environments.

7. All Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All other types of PPE required for a specific task or specific on campus area (e.g., laboratory) should not be altered or substituted due to the pandemic.

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Guidance for Use of Campus Facilitiessanitizing icon

Cleaning

ABM custodial staff will clean common areas, lobbies, classrooms and conference rooms daily, based on CDC guidance. Several times daily, ABM will provide additional cleaning of high-touch points and high communal use areas (stairwell and room/building door handles, elevator buttons, etc.).

Employees are expected to clean individual work areas of keyboard, desk or surfaces that they have touched and wipe down personal workspaces. Before starting activity in a space, and before leaving any room where they have been working, individuals should wipe down all areas with disinfecting wipes that are available throughout campus. This includes any shared spaces or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, conference tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.). People should avoid using the phones, desks, offices or other tools and equipment of others and should clean and disinfect them before and after use.

Cleaning supplies that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19 will be provided.

Entry/Exit

Access to BSU buildings and the hours of such access will be established in coordination with Campus Safety to reduce congestion.

Where appropriate, some doors will be designated and marked “entrance” or “exit” only. All BSU community members on campus are asked to follow these directives.

Public Transportation/BSU Shuttles

Everyone who takes public transportation or uses BSU shuttles must wear a mask or face covering while on the bus/shuttle and avoid touching surfaces with their hands to the maximum extent possible. Upon entering and disembarking, individuals should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol as soon as possible and before removing their mask.

Vehicle capacity for BSU shuttles will be specified to ensure appropriate distancing and in consultation with public health experts and regulatory guidance.

BSU Shuttle vans are cleaned before and after each driver shift using CDC- approved cleaning products. Drivers also will clean high-touch points several times per shift using Electrostatic Fogging Units, Lysol® or Clorox® approved disinfectant wipes. Note: Door opening and closing is controlled by the operator in all vehicles.

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Guidance for Specific Workspaces

Office/Learning Environments

All BSU community members working or learning on campus must maintain at least 6 feet physical distancing from co-workers at all times. Density is determined by useable floor/workspace with adequate distance or physical separation.

Maximum occupancy for each space including conference rooms, will be identified. Occupants must wear a mask or face covering unless in a single office with closed door or when eating in designated locations.

Daily cleaning of high-contact touch points in public spaces will be completed by custodial staff, with additional cleaning of high touch points such as stairwell handrails, room door handles and elevator buttons. Everyone is responsible for their own work and/or learning space including equipment that you use. Cleaning cloths/disinfecting spray will be made available.

Safe social distancing and individual responsibility are required for shared spaces such as kitchens and break/conference rooms. Refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines, etc. may be used, but they are an individual responsibility, and hand cleaning before and after use is required.

Meeting Spaces

Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Virtual meetings should be the norm at this time using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom, telephone).

In-person meetings should not exceed 10 people only if a minimum of 6 feet of separation can be maintained for social distancing requirements. All attendees should wear a mask or face covering when sharing space in a common room. Conference rooms will be configured to reinforce physical/social distancing and provide signage as reminders.

Departments should remove and/or rearrange chairs and tables or add signage in meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between attendees.

Restrooms 

Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Individuals should wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. Capacity of each restroom will be clearly marked and posted with signage.

Elevators

Elevators will be limited to two people with signage indicating spacing required. We highly recommend use of stairs as much as possible. While using the elevator, masks or face coverings must be worn, even if alone. You should press elevator buttons with another object, knuckle, elbow, etc., if possible. Everyone should wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol upon departing the elevator. Elevators are areas designated for more frequent cleaning.

Breakrooms & Meals

Before and after eating, everyone should wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. If dining on campus, individuals should wear a mask or face covering until they are ready to eat and then re-cover afterward. Individuals should not sit facing one another. They should only remove their mask or face covering in order to eat, then put it back on.

Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add signage in employee break rooms to support social distancing practices between employees. Individuals should wipe all surfaces, including tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, etc., before and after using them in common areas.

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Enhanced Cleaning Following Known or Suspected COVID-19 Exposure

In areas where a person who is positive for COVID-19 or suspected positive for COVID-19 has been, additional measures for cleaning will be implemented.

  • Where possible, spaces should be left unoccupied for 24 hours before any re-entry.
  • Deep cleaning protocols will be directed by Facilities Management, including any requests for cleaning earlier than the 24-hour designated wait time. A firm will be contracted to provide rapid response services.

Signage & Posters

A campus-wide signage plan has been implemented to direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic. You will find the signs and posters placed in high-traffic areas, including building entrances, exits, elevator usage and similar common use areas. If staff and faculty need additional signs and fliers for their workspaces, you can download printable versions from the Downloadable Signage page in the COVID-19 web section.

If you do not find the sign(s) you need, you can request customized signage using an online request form available on the Downloadable Signage page.

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