RCM&D has designed a comprehensive Back to Business Playbook for Higher Education and K-12 clients to assist in developing a tailored plan for reopening. If you would like to receive a copy of this report, please complete the form at the bottom of this page and an RCM&D advisor will contact you. The RCM&D team is available to help review your existing plan, offer enhancement and verification, or even to help you build a customized plan tailored to your students, staff and faculty, campus, and operations.
In March 2020, schools, colleges and universities across the country began shutting their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were sent home indefinitely while faculty and staff were asked to work from home. In this unprecedented time, many have been forced to adjust to the new normal. As everyone waits out the pandemic at home, now is the time to begin planning your school’s response for how to get back to business in a safe manner.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for how to bring your campus back to life once federal, state and local guidance declares it is safe to do so. Even with a phased-in approach, there will be nothing “normal” in comparison to how things used to be.
Communication should be at the core of your strategy for deciding how to get your students, staff and faculty back to business. A good communication strategy will help to ease anxieties as you prepare for the “new normal.”
Buildings & Infrastructure
Before you start bringing staff back to campus, there are many things to do and plan, beginning with an honest assessment of your buildings and infrastructure.
- Inspect your mechanical and HVAC systems to ensure indoor air quality and fresh air exchange through improved filters.
- Ensure that your water system is safe to minimize risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
- Test out all fire and life safety systems including emergency lighting, AEDs, fire extinguishers, security systems and more.
- Establish and communicate all cleaning and sanitization procedures.
- Identify areas where social distancing may be a concern. Rearrange work spaces, common areas and learning environments to encourage social distancing. Remove tables that may be used to gather.
- Establish circulation patterns to direct foot traffic especially in areas such as cafeterias and student unions.
A number of items must be considered to safeguard the health of employees, students, vendors, contractors, clients and candidates for employment.
- Institute a no visitor policy. Have those policies enforced by having events management cancel all on campus events. Communicate visitor protocols for publicly accessible places – such as a fitness center.
- Encourage all employees to continue to meet using teleconferencing software, even while on campus. Necessary in-person meetings should be limited in participants and duration while keeping an appropriate 6 feet of distance.
- Determine appropriate protocols for elevators and stairwells.
- Require the use of access cards to enter and exit buildings to assist in contact tracing in the event there is a positive COVID-19 case on campus.
It’s prudent to communicate to staff that plans are being put in place to safely begin bringing employees back to campus when it’s safe to do so. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider performing a stakeholder analysis to determine communications. An effective communications management plan recognizes the diverse information needs of the campus stakeholders.
Bringing Students Back
As you plan for bringing students back to campus, there are critical factors to consider in your decision-making. While no one has the answers right now, discussion should include:
- Capacity – Can you bring the entire student population back while still promoting social distancing?
- Curriculum Changes – Can some classes be moved to fully or partially online-based? Do you need to adjust standards to make up for cancelled internships, etc.?
- PPE – Can you procure enough PPE, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, etc.?
- Resurgence of COVID-19 – In the event of a “second wave” how will you proceed? Will campuses close? What about international students that cannot return home?
Additional Considerations for Your Campus
There are many unique aspects of your campus that you will need to develop protocols for. It is critical that you identify these areas, determine the appropriate process and communicate those decisions at all levels. RCM&D is available to help you analyze these unique risk areas to ensure your protocols are up to industry standards. This third-party review from risk control experts that deeply understand the unique environment of a school campus is critical in ensuring confidence in your faculty, staff and employees.
- Dining Halls
- Fitness Centers
- Catering Services
- Housekeeping and Custodial Services
- Transportation and Bus Fleets
- Labs, Art and Music Studios
- Athletics, Intramural & Club Sports
- Student Health Centers
- Campus Daycare Services
We Are Here to Help.
RCM&D’s risk consulting team is highly experienced in developing back-to-business plans for colleges, universities and k-12 education institutions. Whether you are preparing to bring staff back, or considering strategies for the fall semester, we’re here to help you identify your route to reopening by:
Developing Internal Programs – We can develop or review custom internal programs targeted for your specific facilities, employees and operations.
Implementing Infection Control Protocols – Ensure that you are able to not only prevent exposure but also identify, isolate and sanitize in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.
Social Distance Heat Mapping – Identify areas within your facility that may be a concern for effective social distancing measures. Using those insights, we can help you mitigate concerns through appropriate intervention techniques.
Learn more about the services our Risk Consulting team can provide to help your organization get Back To Business.