We can’t wait to welcome students to The Hill for fall semester. We have and will continue to refine our comprehensive plans designed to mitigate and manage risk of COVID-19 infection on our campus. But, for us to be successful, we all need to approach everything we do this semester The Denison Way - with a deep commitment to our values and to caring for the people and relationships that make this campus special and that transform the lives of Denisonians. Our unique culture of caring will be the foundation on which we establish and reinforce the behaviors that will help us keep our community healthy and enable us to complete our semester together, on The Hill.
Here’s how we’ll do it:
By committing to and “layering” healthy habits of physical distancing, mask wearing, washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, and symptom monitoring. Each of these things provide an important layer of protection but none of them alone is enough. We must commit to all of these things in order to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.
All evidence suggests that the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, specifically between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Respiratory droplets are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Maintaining at least six feet of distance between ourselves goes a long way to helping reduce the spread.
We are reconfiguring spaces across campus, including classrooms, to allow for physical distancing. We are establishing traffic patterns for building entrances, exits and hallways to help reduce density, will be taking significant advantage of outdoor spaces, and more to help our campus community maintain safe distance. We know this won’t always be easy. But we also have confidence that students will commit to this important practice because we think being six feet apart but together on campus is better than the alternative.
Wearing of face coverings is one of the most important actions we can take to protect the health of our community. Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by containing the small droplets mentioned above. If someone has COVID-19, even if they are not showing symptoms, a face mask reduces the chance of spreading the infection to others. To protect the health of our community, we will require face coverings to be worn in all public spaces, including classrooms. All students should read carefully and commit to the face mask requirements before returning to campus. Faculty, staff and visitors will abide by the same requirements.
We all know this but it bears repeating -- washing is a powerful weapon against not only COVID-19 infection but also in preventing the spread of other viral illnesses such as cold and flu. We all must wash our hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, touching surfaces often touched by others, and after nose blowing, coughing, sneezing, or eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of the hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Denison has developed and will adhere to strict cleaning and sanitation protocols that meet or exceed the directives of the State of Ohio and the CDC. Our facilities services team members are committed to maintaining the highest standards to protect the health of our community. At the same time, certain cleanliness and hygiene practices will be the responsibility of every Denisonian. We must all work together to protect our own individual health and that of the community. Please review details of our cleaning and sanitation plans and community expectations.
It will be important for each member of the Denison community to monitor their own health and we will ask all faculty, staff, and students to complete a daily symptom check throughout the semester. Students will complete and submit an electronic daily symptom check. More details about that will be shared soon. Once a student completes the check in, they will receive a clearance badge that they can display on their phone. The badge indicates that they have completed their check in for the day. Students may be asked to show their badge before entering classes, dining halls and other buildings and events on campus.
In preparation and in order to establish good habits, we are asking all students to begin symptom monitoring and check in two weeks prior to arrival on campus. More details about how that will occur will be sent to students as we approach July 27. To ensure students receive the daily reminders to complete the symptom check, they should log into their MyWellness Portal (in MyDenison) to verify their mobile phone number within their profile settings.
Any student, faculty or staff member who has symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend class or come to work and should immediately contact The Wellness Center (students) or their healthcare provider (faculty and staff) and follow their instructions.
By layering all of these healthy habits on a daily basis, we can protect our individual health and that of others in our beloved Denison family. Even when -- no, especially when -- we feel well. Those with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic and infect others so diligence at all times is necessary. And, even if you don’t feel threatened by COVID-19 yourself, know that there are others in our community who are at higher risk of contracting a serious form of the disease and it’s our responsibility to protect their health as well as our own.
Until there is a vaccine, there will be a risk of infection and Denison is prepared with an aggressive containment protocol consisting of testing, isolation and quarantine.