In preparation for the upcoming Fall 2020 Semester, BYU-Idaho has undertaken many precautions in response to prioritizing the health and safety of both students and faculty. These precautions include the changes that have been made for custodial protocols, building management, communication campaigns, and university housing.
“If we were going to try and clean every hallway and classroom as often as we intend to simply by hand, we’d have to hire an army.” said Facilities Management Services Director, TJ Ashment. The solution? Ionized sanitizing machines. Worn as backpacks, one worker can carry a machine and use the attached sprayers to distribute the sanitizing solution, covering more ground in the process. In places like the library that make it harder to spray large areas at once, more hands-on cleaning will be involved, using spray bottles and cleaning cloths.
Key touch-points that will specifically be targeted for hourly cleaning include door handles, railings, entryways, and sitting areas. Between classes, workers will sanitize classrooms as well.
“If you see one of our folks coming through trying to sanitize in between classes, it would be greatly appreciated if people gave them the space they need,” said Ashment. “If students exited in an orderly fashion after class was dismissed, and waited to go in to be seated until after the sanitizing is finished, we could get in and out of classrooms quicker.”
BYU-Idaho has purchased 150 individual plexiglass screens, commonly referred to as sneeze guards. The transparent screens effectively protect students from employees who interact with hundreds of students a day and vice versa. The guards are placed in locations where students need to approach faculty or staff for services in places like the University Store, the Financial Aid Office, and Accounting Office.
“We estimate we’ve purchased around $10,000 worth of plexiglass just for custom areas that we’ve needed to fabricate screens for, such as Food Services and other areas where an individual may need more than just a freestanding guard,” said Facilities Management Operations Director Kyle Williams.
The Testing Center will also have guards placed in between desks as students take their exams. Additional guards will continue to be installed across campus throughout the summer session.
Traffic Flow & Social Distancing
In each building, entrances and exits have been specifically marked to ensure students can enter and exit while maintaining a distance of six feet.
In addition, hand sanitizer stations and instructions on traffic flow have been placed near the entrances. Within the buildings, traffic patterns have been mapped out with large stickers placed on the floors.
BYU-Idaho brought in experts to get the best perspectives on how to manage traffic
“We had our university architects and student designers come in and design the traffic patterns based on the width of the hallways,” said Williams. “It definitely was a different process from building to building.”
Classroom density has also been modified. For example, a classroom that would normally accommodate up to 30 students will now have a lowered capacity to help students maintain physical distancing. Extra desks will either be removed or stacked on the side of classrooms.
“A lot of work has been done online to keep everyone updated as quickly as we can,” said Vance King.
As the strategic communications manager for the university, King coordinates official messaging for administration and academic purposes.
“Nothing in our lifetime has ever impacted the need for communication like COVID-19,” King said.
As a result of the pandemic, a brand new website has been created and is constantly updated just for COVID-19 updates which can be found at www.byui.edu/covid-19-updates. King and his team have also worked with facilities to disperse the many traffic flow stickers, hand sanitizer signs, reminders to practice physical distancing, and wear masks, entrance and exit markers, and other signage that has been posted around campus to aid students and visitors.
Centre Square, the university-owned, single student housing complex, has a contingency plan that is in the steps of finalization in preparation for the fall semester. The complex is continuing to sell contracts for their 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartments but has set aside three apartments strictly for quarantine and isolation should the need arise to use them. Use of the building’s lounges will still be permitted with a reservation through its website. While in the past, 85 occupants have served as the capacity for Centre Square’s event rooms, that number has been reduced to permit 25.
Like campus, iodized machines will also be used throughout four cleaning shifts per day to disinfect hallways and doorknobs. The study and music rooms will still be available with information currently being finalized about their capacity and cleaning procedures.
While University Operations is taking every precaution it can, students and employees also share a responsibility in how the Fall 2020 Semester will play out.
“The plan can be in place but if nobody wants to follow it, what good does it do?” Williams stated. “It will all be for naught.”
The positive encouragement of BYU-Idaho faculty and staff will be greatly needed this semester to give students a positive experience and keep them in class on campus through the end of the semester.
“The biggest thing is to remember who our neighbors are and to love them,” said TJ Ashment. “As much as this is unprecedented for the students, this is just as unprecedented for us. We are happy to answer any questions and even correct our process if necessary, it’s all part of this learning experience. Remaining kind and united as we solve this together is what is most important.”