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K-State Today

July 31, 2020

University Operations preparations for the fall semester

Submitted by Cindy Bontrager

Dear K-State community, 

Ensuring the health and safety of K-State's faculty, staff, students and visitors is our highest priority. As the university prepares for the fall semester, many measures are in place to assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Protocols and guidance were developed in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for colleges, universities and higher learning, Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines, and Lafene Health Center. The K-State COVID-19 website is the best resource for current information and guidance. 

General building preparations

Custodial services

We have gone to great length to make certain we are utilizing the best technology, most effective disinfectant methods and the safest chemicals to properly clean and sanitize on campus. Custodial staff will clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces such as doors, stair rails, elevators, restrooms and other high-touch areas multiple times throughout the day. We are asking instructors to ensure classrooms and teaching labs are disinfected between every class change with cleaning supplies provided in each space. Detailed information on cleaning protocols is available in the COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidance document. 

Touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers are being placed at entrances of all buildings. Due to fire code limitations on the amount of alcohol-based hand rubs and cleaners stored in buildings, Environmental Health and Safety will manage quantities to ensure code compliance. Departments can order additional hand sanitizer and dispensers by contacting the Facilities storeroom at storeroom@k-state.edu or 785-532-2049. Additional information is available in the university's hand sanitizer guidance document. 

Building infrastructure

Facilities staff and Dr. Julia Keen, professor and Bob and Betty Tointon engineering chair, have completed classroom assessments and planning to address physical distancing requirements, ventilation issues and technology upgrades. The information has been provided to the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Registrar to assist with the scheduling of fall classes. Thank you to Dr. Keen for adjusting her summer schedule to lead this critical task. Some classrooms will not be used this fall and those in use will be marked to ensure 6-feet physical distancing is maintained. Extensive energy savings measures have been implemented to reduce expenditures while meeting the needs of ongoing research and minimum building setback parameters. Maintenance technicians continued to perform routine preventive maintenance on HVAC systems across campus, including changing filters on all systems. Facilities staff will ensure adequate air change rates are met during this process. 

Water systems have been in operation since March. As a preventive measure, Facilities flushed building water systems to ensure potable water sources are safe and free of bacteria buildup. Water chlorine levels were tested by Facilities and Environmental Health and Safety. Facilities staff will also ensure water heaters are being maintained at a temperature setpoint between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Drinking fountains have been disconnected to mitigate possible community spread of COVID-19 and signs placed with preventive measures. In response to campus requests, bottle-filling stations on fountains will be activated for use.  

General building occupancy guidelines

In coordination with the Division of Facilities, Division of Communications and Marketing and University Printing, signage has been developed to consistently and efficiently message best practices with respect to the use of common areas in campus buildings, restrooms, water fountains, stairs and elevators. Facilities staff will post signage in common areas and public spaces. Additional signage is available for departmental purchase from University Printing

Use of restrooms, elevators and stairways varies depending on the size of the space but should be limited to ensure at least 6-feet physical distance between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom to reduce the potential transmission of the virus and leave exhaust fans turned on throughout the day, if available. Automatic soap and pull-down towel dispensers have been installed in restrooms to eliminate contact. If using the elevator, avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol upon departing the elevator. Stairways will be designated for up or down traffic as building space allows. Keep a safe distance from others when navigating stairwells and follow signage as posted. Never block or close off stairwells or paths that are evacuation routes. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol upon entering and departing common areas and areas of heavy use, such as elevators, stairwells, service desks, printer and mailrooms, vending machines and break areas, and food establishments. 

As part of the classroom assessment initiative, classroom physical distancing and capacities have been identified. Floor plans indicating the appropriate furniture arrangement and occupancy of the room will be placed at the teaching podium in each classroom. Classroom seating available for use will be marked. 

Facilities storeroom and mail services

The Facilities storeroom is assisting departments with the purchase of COVID-19 related sanitation and mask supplies. Their relationships with suppliers allow them to obtain better pricing options and reduced delivery lead times. Departments should order the estimated amount of each item needed for a three-month period. 

The university is actively seeking available funding from federal and state sources. At this time, departments will not be charged for COVID-19 purchases with the intent the costs will be reimbursed from other funding sources. Once funding is procured, refunds will be issued for COVID supplies already purchased and charged to departments earlier this summer. Once reimbursements have been determined, any remaining costs will be distributed to departments based on a prorated share of the total supplies purchased throughout the pandemic period. 

Mail services to buildings are expected to begin once buildings have completed safety measures and are open to resume face-to-face operations on Aug. 10. The contract postal office will open on Aug. 17. Central mail services will continue to ship out for USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL deliveries.  

Building access

Campus security will open buildings beginning Aug. 10 to provide access to students. Otherwise, there will be no change to building access unless unit heads request early access by emailing me at cab@k-state.edu. Unit heads may adjust the hours their buildings are open by completing the Request for a Standing Building Order to rooms@k-state.edu. Campus Police continue to respond to calls for service, alarm activations and minor theft. When possible, reports will be taken by phone to avoid person to person contact. Campus security continues nightly rounds through buildings. 

Environmental Health and Safety

Services provided by Environmental Health and Safety are fully operational. COVID-19 specific services include safety and health training, guidance with sanitation and safety, support conducting risk assessments and recommending safety controls — e.g., PPE and mask selection specific to work activities, barrier or shields, laboratory safety and ventilation — and respirator fit testing. 

Parking Services

Faculty, staff and student permits effective for the new permit year — Aug. 1, 2020, through July 31, 2021 — went on sale July 7. Parking Services will enforce parking regulations on the Manhattan campus beginning Aug. 5 to allow time for parking permits to be distributed to faculty and staff. Normal operations will resume in the parking garage beginning Aug. 3. Current permits for garage reserved and preferred stalls have been extended through Aug. 7. 

I want to express my appreciation to the operations staff working to ensure our campus and buildings are safe and ready for occupancy this fall. Staff have dedicated countless hours to researching and implementing the best methods and guidance to ensure the health and wellness of our communities. By following safe practices, putting others first and understanding K-State’s values, we can all help every Wildcat be a Wellcat.


Take Care, 

Cindy Bontrager
Vice president for university operations