Colleges and universities have their work cut out for them in 2021. Students, faculty, as well as staff in far greater numbers, return to campus. Here are some of the many types of campus amenities to help everyone cope with the COVID-19 challenge.
Campuses will want to implement every reasonable measure to keep returning students, faculty, and staff safe. Even as the peak COVID-19 threat lessens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on April 27, issued a comprehensive update on COVID-19 safety for institutions of higher education.
Overall institutional plans (including emergency and contingency plans) for a healthy campus environment—wear masks, maintaining distance, reducing large gatherings, isolating individuals who are ill—can be made more effective and convenient by these kinds of campus amenities.
The key to overall safety is knowledge of the risks and needed precautions. Campuses will want to begin by providing the necessary information to students, faculty, and staff before they return to campus. This might include emails, booklets on COVID-19 safety on campus, videos on the university's website, and possible online surveys to involve individuals in the issues.
New signage in strategic locations can remind people of precautions such as hand washing or using sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol), maintaining distance when standing in line, where wearing masks will be enforced (for example, food service areas). The CDC recommends that all signage include the languages commonly spoken on campus and that signs include visual cues.
A handbook of on-campus health measures, including the obligations of students and others, can be given to those returning or made available in residences, the student union, the library, and other sites. CDC updates and advisories, which may be reprinted without permission, might be adapted for such publications.
Sanitation measures take on new urgency in the COVID-19 threat environment. The CDC recommends increasing the number of hand-washing stations (especially at cafeteria entrances and other food services), installing non-touch hand sanitizers, using foot-pedal trash cans with covers, and erecting barriers between closely placed facilities such as lab benches.
In high-use areas such as student rooms, barriers might divide student beds or desks. In places where people come face-to-face, such as cash registers or the package-room counter, barriers in addition to hand sanitizer may be needed.
Special safety precautions are needed in dining facilities and food handling. The CDC emphasizes training staff in best practices. Safety can be increased if individual meals are already wrapped ("grab and go"), if students do not share food, and if the spacing is enforced in food lines.
Where the weather permits, outdoor dining remains a priority safety measure. Campuses may want to increase the availability of outdoor tables, with barriers if advisable. Special arrangements are made for the delivery of meals to maintain complete isolation for students who become ill and asked to remain in a residence hall.
Well-ventilated facilities always can be a positive step for reducing transmission of the virus. This can be as easy as opening windows when possible. Campuses may want to investigate improved HVAC systems that increase air circulation. But not in ways that risk contaminating air flow.
Public transportation presents risks of exposure to individuals who may be ill even if not symptomatic. Students regularly must travel considerable distances on campus or to off-campus locations. So busing provided by the university with all required safety measures may be preferable to public buses. The CDC recommends that students who become ill be accommodated locally. Not sent home if that involves travel on public transportation.
Still a high-risk for COVID-19 infection and spread are any large gatherings of individuals in lecture halls, at parties, at sports events, or to hear speakers who come to campus. Risks can be reduced by enforcing masks and social distancing in lines and in seating. But better options can be smaller meetings, staggered attendance, and above all online (virtual) events.
Higher education institutions can encourage greater use of virtual events by advising students of the availability of free equipment, technical assistance in arranging virtual events, and even safe service of complimentary food and beverages at such events.
One place where students at almost any institution of higher education now congregate is the package room. Like any other such contact point, the package room can and must be managed for optimal safety. At Notifii.com, we have gained a wealth of experience with on-campus COVID-19 safety. By working with universities to install the most efficient, versatile package room software for their campus amenities.
Notifii software for package management in your campus amenities enables package room staff to notify students who have received a package. That means that students come to the package room only when necessary. It also means that students do not crowd the facility at certain times of the day. Or when they are near its location, just to check for any possible packages. For example, if the package room is in the student union and no system is in place for notification, students using the union may routinely and often unnecessarily stop by the package room.
Notifii greatly reduces these trips to the package room. Eliminating lines and crowding, and enables students to get their package as soon as it is available.
Notifii experts are always pleased to discuss with a university's responsible administration the spectrum of capabilities offered by Notifii and all aspects of obtaining and fully implementing the software. The first step is to reach out to us for information and a demonstration. Naturally, that involves no obligation of any kind. Our first concern is that you understand Notifii and how it would apply to your distinctive situation and needs. As emphasized by the CDC, America's universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education differ along with many parameters such as size, public versus private, languages spoken, and a great deal else.
We want to understand your special requirements for package management. Let's discuss how our software may be the best choice for meeting your needs.
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