COVID-19: Safety Precautions in the Workplace

Safety plans for increased in-person, on-campus activities

If conditions allow for safe and responsible in-person instruction and on-campus research, events, services, and other activities, we will implement our plans in accordance with guidance from public health authorities. These measures are being implemented in consultation with the Incident Management Team, stakeholders across campus, the COVID-19 Employee Safety Reopening Committee, which includes employee and union representatives, the Office of the Dean of Students, and others. The plan includes a variety of safety and planning measures related to university operations, individual responsibilities, case management, and other actions that have been or will be implemented and are described below:

University spaces and operations – The university has worked to adjust schedules, operations, facilities, and programs to create distance or barriers between individuals or to limit the likelihood of the virus to spread.

  • Physical distancing and reduced density – Campus spaces such as the libraries, EMU, Student Recreation Center, classrooms, and administrative offices are being arranged or marked to help maintain 6-foot distances between people. Occupancy will be limited to reduce density and allow for people to maintain safe distances.
  • Enhanced cleaning – Custodial crews are completing daily wipe downs of commonly touched surfaces (e.g., handrails, elevator controls, door handles, light switches). This practice will continue into fall term.
  • Increased air handling – Where possible, air handling systems are being adjusted to maximize the circulation of outside air within buildings. In the approximately 15 percent of systems that cannot be adjusted, measures such as opening windows and doors may be employed to increase air flow
  • Plexiglas barriers – Plexiglas barriers will be installed as necessary to provide an additional level of protection in classrooms and other high-traffic areas.

Individual responsibilities – All members of the UO community are expected to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by keeping a safe distance from others, washing their hands, covering their cough, staying home when sick, and wearing face coverings. Refer to the Workplace Essentials Checklist for reference.

  • Face coverings – UO requires face coverings indoors and outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained. Gov. Brown recently issued a similar requirement for the entire state of Oregon. The COVID-19 Employee Safety Reopening Committee and the Office of the Dean of Students, in consultation with student stakeholder groups, are assisting in the development of guidelines for the implementation and enforcement of this requirement.
  • Health and wellness – UO has implemented a symptom self-check regulation that is consistent with OHA guidance. It requires employees and students who will be on campus to assess whether they have had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 72 hours, and if so, they should not come to campus for a prescribed period of time.
  • Student behavior expectations – The Office of the Dean of Students is developing a set of expectations for students for safe behavior and adherence to community norms. In addition, a team of faculty communications experts and university communications staff are developing a plan for effectively communicating these expectations to students to influence their behavior and encourage appropriate health and wellness behavior.

Case management – The university is supporting campus and community testing and contact tracing in collaboration with Lane County Public Health and has developed its own nationally certified testing facility. Protocols are being developed in accordance with public health guidance. More information will become available as protocols are finalized over the next month.

Additional details about each of these measures and others are available on the Return to Campus webpage.

The Mitigations Strategies Group, as part of the Incident Management Team, continues working with unit leadership to develop and approve department-level resumption plans and guidance for the safety measures described above. The department-level planning process includes an HR survey to understand employee needs to inform their plans.

Safety plans for in-person instruction in the fall

As we strive to return UO to a residential campus for higher education, we are keenly focused on plans for in-person instruction this fall. We have made substantial investments in technology and safety measures to provide a classroom environment that is safe and supportive of both in-person and remote delivery modalities. Specifically, teaching in-person will be supported by:

  • Provisioning of masks and face-shields to all instructors.
  • Plexiglass partitions within the classroom lectern area.
  • Enhanced daily cleaning and availability of student-use “clean-up” wipes.
  • Video cameras and microphones in each classroom that allow recording and/or simultaneous streaming of lectures and in-person/remote classroom discussions.
  • Requirement that everyone in a classroom wear face-coverings (non-classroom accommodations will be provided for students who would rather not, or cannot for medical reasons, wear face-coverings).
  • Restricted in-person class sizes to allow for physical distancing requirements.
  • Clearly delineated occupancy information that enforces physical distancing requirements within the classroom (verified by the Fire Marshal).
  • Extended transition times between class periods to allow appropriately spaced transitions into and out of classrooms.
  • Instructors will not be responsible for direct enforcement of the wearing of face coverings and other behavioral measures, although they will need to take note of any issues and follow a centrally defined remediation approach.

Safety procedures for more specialized spaces, such as teaching laboratories and studios, are being developed at the unit-level and approved centrally through the Incident Management Team.