The University of Hawaiʻi released interim COVID-19 guidelines today for its 10 campuses across the state for the upcoming academic year. The first day of classes for the fall 2020 semester is Aug. 24.
The university’s top priority remains the health, safety and well-being of its students, employees and visitors, and the guidelines are meant to protect the UH community and slow the spread of COVID-19, UH officials said Wednesday.
The interim guidelines cover multiple aspects of operations, and each of the 10 campuses will develop their own operational plans that take into consideration their unique location, facilities, program needs and available resources. Work on the campus plans has been underway since May, and each campus is expected to make further announcements in the coming weeks.
“It is a monumental task to prepare for an unprecedented semester, and I thank the teams that have come together to enable these initial guidelines, which represent a significant step forward in ensuring safe environments for our campus communities,” said UH President David Lassner. “Of course, the single best way we protect ourselves and each other is to follow the now basic rules in preventing the spread of COVID-19—staying home when you’re sick, wearing face coverings, washing your hands regularly and maintaining safe physical distancing.”
The interim COVID-10 guidelines were developed under guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities with input from UH public health and medical experts. They are subject to change as the university goes through the consultation with unions, state and county leaders and other stakeholder groups. Updates are also expected as government guidance continues to evolve and more is learned about the virus.
The full set of guidelines is available online.
The guidelines apply to all UH operations and activities on campuses and at off-site facilities and cover all students, employees and visitors. The guidelines include:
- Wearing facial coverings when interacting in-person with others, (with exceptions for those with medical conditions and children under the age of 5 years) and when indoors, in common areas and where physical distancing is not possible (face coverings are not required while working or studying in isolation and where safe physical distancing can be practiced).
- Staying home when ill or possibly exposed to the virus, washing hands regularly and practicing physical distancing.
- Safety practices to screen, report, monitor and manage COVID-19 cases.
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of buildings, classrooms, workspaces and frequently touched surfaces and/or equipment.
- Providing cleaning/sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer in each classroom and sanitizing dispensers located at classroom building entryways.
- Campus signage promoting commonly recommended guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Reducing the number of in-person courses by using online and hybrid options while ensuring students can achieve the same learning objectives regardless of instructional format.
- Reconfiguring classrooms and work environments to meet the recommended 6 feet of social distance and installing physical barriers such as plexiglass at public-facing transaction counters and where 6-foot social distancing is difficult or not possible.
- Controlling the flow of people within buildings by adjusting entry and exit points.
- Modifications to residence halls and campus eateries to ensure access to student support services, protocols for food handling.
- Guidance on facility usage for campus and non-campus events.
- Providing resources for mental health support, coping with stress and assisting individuals in domestic violence situations.
“As the state’s sole provider of public higher education, UH is fully committed to providing affordable and engaging education to all of the people of Hawaiʻi with appropriate health and safety provisions in place,” said Lassner. “At this moment in time, UH is more critical than ever to help the state recover from this pandemic and shape a better future for our people and our islands.”