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Health & Safety

Strategies will be implemented to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. These measures will be consistent with State, California State University system, and local public health guidelines.

August 7, 2020

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Social distancing and face coverings are mandatory
  • Anyone coming on campus is required to conduct a daily self-wellness check
  • Guidelines available for personal protective equipment and sanitation are below
  • Guidelines available for what to do if COVID-19 symptoms develop and how to self-quarantine are below
  • HSU has a plan in case of on-campus COVID-19 cases

Face Coverings

Face Coverings are required by County and State Public Health Agencies, as well as by HSU anytime you are indoors on campus, and outdoors anytime you cannot maintain a 6 foot distance from others. 

While indoors, face coverings are required anytime you are not in your own private workspace with a way to manage the entry of others, such as with a closed door. If this is a space someone else may need to enter, such as a lab or other operational space, you must wear it even when no one is present.

Also, anytime you are in common spaces such as hallways, bathrooms, break rooms, foyers, lobbies, etc., you must have your face covering on at all times, even if no one is present. 

The face covering must always cover both the nose and mouth. Wearing the face covering in a manner that leaves either the nose or mouth exposed is not in compliance with the public health requirements.

Coverings reduce the possibility of the wearer spreading the disease, not the possibility of catching the disease, (though if everyone wears one, the risk drops drastically). As such, face coverings are not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). All PPE determined necessary for COVID-19 protection must be approved by HSU Environmental Health & Services (EH&S). 

Face Coverings Guidelines

Social Distancing

Social distancing will be the primary mechanism to keep employees and students safe from COVID-19 while on campus. All controls around safety will defer to this mechanism first where possible. Given the nature of campus activities, social distancing guidelines may be hard to adhere to at times, however there are tools, which we can use to provide physical reminders, and behavioral modifications to ensure safe distances between people. 

  • Stay at least six feet from other people whenever possible.
  • Face coverings are required at all times indoors on campus, and outdoors anytime you cannot maintain a 6 foot distance from others. 
  • Do not gather in groups and stay away from crowds 
  • Follow all instructions that will be posted on campus signs

        Social Distancing Guidelines

        Daily Wellness Self-Checks

        Each day before coming to campus, everyone, including students, is required to do a wellness self-check. Taking your own temperature is highly recommended, though not yet mandatory, unless required by your position or activity on campus. The CDC considers any temperature over 100.4 F to be indicative of illness. 

        The CDC states that people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

        • Fever or chills (over 100.4 F)
        • Cough
        • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
        • Fatigue
        • Muscle or body aches
        • Headache
        • New loss of taste or smell
        • Sore throat
        • Congestion or runny nose
        • Nausea or vomiting
        • Diarrhea

        Also look for other less obvious signs you may be getting sick: 

        • Unusual or excessive feeling of fatigue or tiredness 
        • Pain or irritation in your throat
        • Headache
        • Nausea
        • Diarrhea 

        All or some of the aforementioned symptoms have been reported to have occurred earlier in the illness and in some cases, before people became aware they had contracted COVID-19. 

        If you have any of the above symptoms that are uncommon for you (for example, many people have allergies and may have some of those symptoms regularly), follow appropriate guidelines and refrain from coming to campus. 

        How to determine when it is safe to return to work will need to occur on a case-by-case basis and depends on various factors. Contact Environmental Health & Safety at EHS@humboldt.edu for guidance. 

        Employees who fail their wellness check: Employees who notice symptoms during their wellness check should notify their supervisor immediately. The supervisor should notify HR immediately. They do not need to disclose why they were not cleared, only that based on the wellness checklist that they are not cleared to come to work. Once the employee has stopped experiencing symptoms they will need to either provide a doctor’s note clearing them to return to work or a COVID-19 test showing a negative result. During the time that an employee may be waiting for an appointment or for testing results every effort should be made for them to be able to work remotely or they should contact HR about the applicable leave.

        Students who fail the wellness check: Students that notice symptoms during their wellness check should not attend any face-to-face instruction, utilize any of the dining service facilities, or use any of the communal spaces on campus. They should immediately inform their instructors. Students do not need to disclose why they did not pass the wellness check only that they are not cleared to come to campus. Students should call to schedule an appointment with the Student Health Center at (707) 826-3146. 

        Students will need to supply the campus COVID Coordinator with a doctor’s note (from either their primary care provider or Student Health Center) or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before returning to face-to-face instruction. Faculty should be flexible and make their best effort to ensure that the student is extended flexibility while waiting for an appointment or test results. 

        Sanitation and Disinfection


        Handwashing and sanitizing are main COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies. Anyone on campus must take responsibility for their handwashing, which should be frequent and after handling any common object such as door handles, shared keyboards, or elevator buttons. In addition, you must be mindful to not touch their face in between hand sanitization events. 

        In order to facilitate frequent handwashing, all restrooms on campus will be serviced regularly so that soap and water are freely available. 

        Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is a superior method for disinfecting hands than using alcohol-based disinfectant. It is of critical importance to note that soap and water are more readily available and cost far less than sanitizer. 

        Hand sanitizer is a handwashing substitute composed mostly of alcohol. To be effective, sanitizers must contain 60% alcohol or higher. Hand sanitizer can be carried by individuals and can be placed in offices and reception areas without the need for plumbing fixtures. The University will have multiple hand sanitizer dispensing stations located in common areas of buildings, particularly in foodservice and other areas where touching multiple common objects may be frequent, such as lobbies, foyers, and elevators.

        • Hand sanitizer will be available in building common areas
        • Departments and offices may have sanitizer available
        • Individuals may bring sanitizer spray or sanitizing wipes with them to campus

        CDC Handwashing Guidelines

        Disinfection/Sanitation/Enhanced Cleaning

        Disinfection and sanitation throughout campus is a shared responsibility. Efforts to reduce the spread of disease on campus through frequently touched surfaces include:

        • Enhanced and periodic cleaning following CDC guidelines using EPA-approved disinfectants of touched surfaces
        • Using state-of-the-art cleaning equipment for bathrooms and other communal spaces
        • Providing EPA-approved wipes in areas of frequently shared equipment such as computer labs, and in lobbies and foyers where frequently touched surfaces are located 

        If the sanitization is performed by the individual who is using or touching the shared object or common surface, it should be performed before and after use. This shared responsibility can significantly reduce the risk of transmission for everyone in the campus community. If individuals do not sanitize the surfaces they touch, they are increasing the chance of infection to themselves, and possibly increasing the risk to others who come after. 

        Disinfecting with Wipes

        When to Self-Quarantine

        Definitions of Quarantine and Isolation are important:

        Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

        Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it's safe for them to be around others.

        If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 you will be placed in isolation, which may be at home, in a campus residence, or in a hospital.

        Those not diagnosed but suspected of being infected with COVID-19 must self-quarantine until either 14 days have passed without symptoms, or symptoms develop, at which point testing to confirm diagnosis may be necessary.

        People may be asked not to come to campus under certain conditions and to quarantine or isolate themselves in their home or campus residence, including:

        • Having tested positive for COVID-19
        • Developed symptoms of a COVID-19 infection
        • Are awaiting COVID-19 test results
        • Have had close contact with someone known to be diagnosed with COVID-19
        • Have recently returned from travel anywhere outside of Humboldt County

        The duration of isolation or quarantine depends on the reason. Humboldt County Public Health will determine when those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can leave isolation.

        Leave options may be available to employees, and students are encouraged to contact the Dean of students for information on how to proceed.

        If symptoms develop

        Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider or, if needed, their local emergency room. It is important to call ahead before going to a health care provider or ER.

        Students can call the Student Health Center at (707) 826-3146 and ask for the nurse triage line.

        When the Student Health Center is closed:

        • Call FONEMED, a free After-Hours Nursing Advice line, at (877) 256-3534
        • Mad River Community Hospital (707) 822-3621
        • St. Joseph Hospital (707) 445-8121

        Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

        Eye Protection
        Outside the medical community or first responders, eye protection is not typically needed to protect workers and/or the public from the virus. However, when social distancing cannot be maintained while working or collaborating, eye protection can add another layer of protection to the wearer to prevent droplets containing the virus from contacting the eye. Eye protection can be:

        • Face shields can be used as an alternative to face coverings when working with the hearing impaired or for other medical reasons. 
        • Safety glasses

        Both N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for medical and emergency responders due to the high demand and short supply of these masks. There are few exceptions to this rule as the University has and will continue to have a limited inventory of these masks: 

        •  Where social distancing is not possible and there will be prolonged and/or repeated contact with employees and/or the public.
          • In this case, N95’s will be decontaminated and reused where possible.
          • If an N95 is indicated, EH&S must approve and include all employees in the respiratory protection program.
        • Where the hazard of the job is not COVID related, but the hazard warrants the use of an N95 to protect the employee from exposure.

        Misuse of gloves can often lead to spread of contamination. Wearing gloves does not negate the requirement to wash hands. There are certain conditions in which wearing gloves is appropriate:

        • Handling items which have had significant contact and cannot be sanitized prior to touching. Examples would be money, mail, packages, and similar items. 
        • Close contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.
        • Where chemical exposure is present (such as custodians involved in sanitation and disinfection). 

        EH&S Glove Guidelines

        Physical Barriers and Other Campus Controls

        All activities on campus must be assessed to determine COVID-19 hazards and the resulting risk mitigation methods or controls, which may include: 

        • Engineering controls (e.g. physical barriers)
        • Administrative controls (e.g. signage and training)
        • Personal Protective Equipment (e.g. gloves)

        CDC guidelines on controls

        Employees who will be on campus to deliver critical services to students that return for face-to-face instruction are obligated to follow strict protocols to ensure we do so safely and in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations. Supervisors must complete the supervisor checklist to ensure that all COVID exposure mitigation strategies are in place, including seeing that all employees who can telework continue to do so. 

        Use this Job Hazard Analysis Form to determine the COVID-19 exposure risk for the tasks employees are engaged in while on campus. This form is meant to identify and document how each exposure hazard will be mitigated or controlled, whether by engineering control, administrative control, or Personal Protective Equipment. This form is only required to be completed for employees who have a risk of exposure though either direct contact (person to person) or indirect (person to object). See example of a JHA

        Other campus strategies are determined through an analysis of the activities being conducted or submitting safety plans for EH&S to review: 

        • Engineering controls 
          • It is not always possible to maintain the 6 foot separation between employees and students at some workstations, counters, and lab/work benches. When this situation is present, there are times when a physical barrier or physical reminder is the best means of ensuring individuals are protected. 
          • An example of a physical barrier is a clear Plexiglass or acrylic barrier which is placed between customer and employees or between lab benchtops. 
          • Any construction of a physical barrier requires EH&S approval
        • Administrative controls
          • Behavioral reminders such as floor markers or personal spacing disks which are placed in areas where lines may form or people may be required to wait.
          • Protocols for managing frequently touched surfaces, which may be to remove/replace/substitute for them, sanitize them before and after touching, or sanitize hands/fingers immediately after touching
          • Education and outreach around cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and exposure avoidance.
          • Signage about procedures for using certain areas, such as breakrooms, conference rooms, and bathrooms.

        Positive cases on campus

        COVID-19 cases in residence halls
        HSU has designated a number of isolation and quarantine spaces for our housing residents in the event they test positive or need to be quarantined due to exposure, travel, or other reasons.

        Other COVID-19 cases on campus
        Humboldt County Public Health has the jurisdiction over management of those cases and their contacts and, as such, HSU will defer to their guidance on case management, as privacy and confidentiality rules may preclude knowledge of all campus cases.