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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.

March 26, 2021

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

Humboldt State COVID-19 Prevention Plan

The COVID-19 Prevention Plan (PDF) outlines the strategies and guidelines for the campus community to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 while employees are engaged in essential on campus activity. Most of the content is in the sections below, but the PDF provides further detail on health and safety protocols.

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). 

Classroom Setting for Faculty:

  • Due to the higher risk in the classroom setting face coverings are required for classrooms/labs. Should a student arrive to class without a face covering the instructor will remind the student of the requirement and ask that they adhere to the policy. If class has already begun it is encouraged that the instructor take a break to address the student. IF the student does not have a face covering the instructor can inform them of the distribution points, or provide a face covering to the student. (All instructors will have the option to have a small cache of face coverings provided by the University for distribution)

  • Should the student refuse to put a face covering on the instructor will notify them that they will need to leave class.

Should the student refuse to leave class the incident will be considered disruptive behavior and will be handled according to the disruptive behavior policy of the University.

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. 

        Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and not come to campus. 

        • Employees need to notify their supervisor that they have not passed the wellness self-check, however they do not need to disclose any additional information.
        • Students who have face-to-face courses need to notify their instructors and Environmental Health & Safety immediately.

        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.  

        During fire season, it may be difficult to differentiate between smoke related symptoms and COVID-19. When trying to determine the best course of action, please consider the following:

        • Have you been following all public health and CDC guidance related to COVID-19 risk reduction?
        • Do you have sensitives that may make you more susceptible to the negative effects of smoke?
        • Have you spent time and/or engaged in physical activity outdoors during periods with a high Air Quality Index (AQI)?
        • Have you been in close contact with someone who is at a higher risk for COVID-19 due to his or her behaviors or employment?   
        • Have you spent ANY time with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or was a close contact of someone who did (secondary contact)? 
        • Do you have ANY other cause to be concerned about your COVID-19 risk?

        If after asking yourself these questions, it is still not clear if your symptoms are most likely related to illness or smoke inhalation, err on the side of caution and stay home.

        Failing the Wellness Self-Check

        If you have any of the listed symptoms that are uncommon for you (for example, many people have allergies and may have some of those symptoms regularly), please do not come to campus and follow the appropriate guidelines. 

        Students who fail their wellness self-check are not permitted to attend any face-to-face instruction, on-campus activity, or field placements; use any Dining facility or communal spaces on campus (SRC, etc.). Students should:

        • Inform your instructor immediately. You do not need to disclose why you did not pass the wellness self-check—only that you are not cleared to come to campus.
        • Call to schedule an appointment with the Student Health Center (SHC) and let the SHC know that you failed wellness self-check. You don’t need to indicate reason.
        • Provide Campus COVID Coordinator Jen Sanford (jennifer.sanford@humboldt.edu) with a doctor’s note (from either your primary care provider or the SHC) or results of a negative COVID-19 test result clearing you to return to face-to-face instruction or in-person activities.
        • The Campus COVID Coordinator will work with the Dean of Students to notify your instructors once you have been cleared to return to campus activities/instruction/placement.
        • Notify Housing (for student residents) that COVID-19 test results are pending, should a test be deemed appropriate.
        • Notify your supervisor if you are a student employee. 
        • Notify the SHC if you have tested positive and have been on campus for ANY reason. 
        • If you have not been on campus but are in a field placement program, such as an internship, and have been exposed or tested positive you must inform the SHC. You should follow the policies of your placement employer on return to work protocols. 

        Faculty who have a student report failing a wellness self-check should:

        • Instruct the student to contact the SHC immediately. Notify them that they cannot participate in any face-to-face instruction or activities until they have either a doctor’s note clearing them or evidence of a negative COVID test.
        • Notify Campus COVID Coordinator Jen Sanford (jennifer.sanford@humboldt.edu) of the student’s name and the date that they have reported failing their wellness self-check.
        • Wait to be notified (by the Dean of Students office or the Campus COVID Coordinator) that the student is cleared to return to face-to-face instruction or in-person activities.
        • Reach out to the Provost’s office should you need additional guidance or have questions or concerns regarding the potential for exposure to themselves or their classes. A failed wellness self-check is not a reason in itself to cancel classes without the further input from the Provost’s office and the Campus Outbreak Committee.
        • Unless advised to do so from the Provost’s office, DO NOT notify other students or supply any names to students in regards to potential exposures. Medical  information of this type is protected by privacy laws.

        Employees (including contractors and vendors and student employees) who fail their wellness self-check should: 

        • Immediately notify your supervisor that you have failed your wellness self-check. You do not need to disclose your symptoms or why you have failed your wellness self-check.
        • Provide either a note from your doctor or a negative COVID-19 test result to return to work. 
        • Notify Scott Kasper (scott.kasper@humboldt.edu)  or Michelle Caisse (michelle.caisse@humboldt.edu) for University Center employees in Human Resources immediately if you test positive for COVID-19 and HR will notify the Campus COVID. You will be able to return to work once given permission by Humboldt County Public Health to be released from isolation. Employees should receive notification of their release from isolation in writing from HCPH and provide that notification to HR.
        • Contact HR about what leave options may be available.
        • Student employees, depending on their situation, must also call the SHC, Housing if they live on campus, etc. and follow the student protocols listed above.

        Supervisors who have an employee who fails their wellness self-check:

        • Notify the employee of what they need to do to be able to return to work. 
        • Notify Scott Kasper (scott.kasper@humboldt.edu) for HSU employees or Michelle Caisse for University Center employees (michelle.caisse@humboldt.edu) with the employee’s name. The appropriate HR person or the Campus COVID Coordinator Jen Sanford (jennifer.sanford@humboldt.edu) will notify you once the employee is released to return to work.
        • Report immediately to your respective HR department that an employee has disclosed that they have tested positive for COVID-19. The Campus COVID Coordinator will work with HR and the Campus Outbreak Committee to determine potential exposure to the rest of the workplace.
        • Contact the Campus COVID Coordinator,  Jen Sanford, if you have questions or concerns regarding potential exposure.

        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.

        Students who live on campus are expected to stay in their room except to get food from the dining hall, separate themselves from others, and do daily wellness self-checks for 14 days. If symptoms appear, contact the Student Health Center immediately for further instructions.

        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.

        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.

        People will 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

        Testing & Positive Cases on Campus

        Campus & County Cases

        Results are updated every Friday

        Active Cases Recovered Cases Number of Test Results Positivity Rate
        HSU Students 0 122 -- --
        HSU Employees 0 10 - -
        Humboldt County 150 4,073 92,491 7.0%

        Testing at the Student Health Center (SHC)

        • Student Residents: On-campus residents are being tested for COVID-19 as soon as they move to campus and multiple times while they self-quarantine for 14 days.
        • Student-Athletes: The SHC is also periodically testing student-athletes, based on recent guidance from the Governor’s Office.
        • All Students: Opt-in testing is available for any student as well as testing for students who show symptoms.

        COVID-19 cases

        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. 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.


        The University will provide information about any new cases by the end of each day. Based on its policies and protocols, the University is protecting the privacy rights of the students and employees, while also working to share information necessary to protect the health of the campus and the broader community. HSU is working closely with Humboldt County Public Health, which will determine whether there are members of the campus community that need to be advised of their contact with this individual.

        Working on Campus

        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

        Occupational Risk Assessment Required for All Employees

        Low: jobs are those that do not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2 nor frequent close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) the general public. Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers. Risk to these workers is similar to the average citizen.

        For HSU, if employees work alone in offices and will not be in contact with others routinely, except in passing, their risk would be low.

        Medium: those that require frequent and/or close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

        In areas where there is ongoing community transmission (Humboldt County), workers in this category may have contact be with the general public (e.g., in schools, high-population-density work environments, and some high-volume retail settings). Students, faculty engaged in Face to Face and others who routinely work with or around others would be in this category.

        High: Healthcare delivery and support staff (e.g., doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who must enter patients’ rooms) exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients.(Note: when such workers perform aerosol-generating procedures, their exposure risk level becomes very high.) 

        Very High: Healthcare workers (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, emergency medical technicians) performing aerosol-generating procedures (e.g., intubation, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures and exams, or invasive specimen collection) on known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

        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

        Controlling Exposure

        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

        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.

        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