EHS COVID-19 Resources

Contacting Your UConn EHS Team

As the University of Connecticut continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, Environmental Health and Safety plans to maintain essential services to support the UConn community. Email is currently the best way to reach our staff.

Click here for a list of staff contact information.

COVID-19 Training Lessons

UConn EHS is working with the community every day to create responsive training for all campuses. If you have any questions about these lessons, contact Dr. Shawna Lesseur, EHS Training and Outreach Program Manager. Additional ergonomics lessons will be added as they become available.

Returning to Research

University of Connecticut Returning to Research

Returning to Campus

University of Connecticut Returning to Research

Home Office Ergonomics

Online Resources and Remote Consultations

Visit our office ergonomics program Web page for more resources and to request a remote ergonomic consultation.

Home Office Ergonomics - Basics in 5 Minutes

We're Listening - Request a Video/Webinar Topic

Home Office Ergonomics Topics Request
 

Resources

The resources in this section have been created/adapted by and for the University of Connecticut community. Additional and updated resources will be included as they become available. Follow us on Twitter @UConnEHS for resource update notifications.

FAQs

Training

Q: Will faculty, staff, and students be trained on the health and safety aspects of COVID-19, as well as training geared towards our specialized disciplines?

A: There are two EHS training lessons available for faculty and staff. Returning to Research is for lab members. Returning to Campus is for all other faculty and staff, including graduate students and undergraduate students working on campus. Both include general COVID-19 information and job/field-specific training. Student Affairs will deliver a student training based on these lessons.

 

Masks, PPE, and Hygiene

Q: Who will be required to wear masks on campus and at what times? Who will provide these masks?

A: Masks or cloth face coverings are required to be worn by faculty, staff, students, and visitors. The University will provide cloth face masks to all faculty, staff, and students who are on campus this fall. Visitors must bring their own masks onto campus. For more information about wearing masks review Face Coverings: Informational Document and Face Coverings: Quick Facts. For more information about requesting masks, plexiglass barriers, and/or PPE visit COVID-19 Campus Operations.

 

Q: The University requires everyone to wear face coverings on campus. Can I wear anything I want, or are there specific expectations?

A: We are continuously monitoring CDC guidance on various topics, including face coverings. They have provided guidance on wearing masks and making masks. In response, we developed a face covering informational based on this guidance. If masks do not meet CDC guidance they are not appropriate and should not be used by UConn faculty and staff.

Masks worn on campus must:

·         Fit snugly against the side of the face

·         Completely cover the nose and mouth

·         Be secured with ties or ear loops

·         Include multiple layers of fabric

·         Allow for breathing without restriction

·         Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

·         Not have exhalation, or one-way valves  

Note: Neck gaiters and bandannas (tied around the neck, versus made into a covering following CDC’s No-Sew Method), as well as masks with valves, do not meet CDC guidance. Masks with valves negate the use of the face coverings. The point of the face covering is not to protect yourself, but to protect others from your exhaled germs. Your face covering protects others; their face coverings protect you. Valves allow release of your unfiltered exhalation breath, exposing others, so face coverings with valves are not allowed.

 

Q: What should we do if we see someone not wearing a mask in a situation where they should be and what could the repercussions be if someone is not wearing a mask?

A: Maintaining safety precautions is the responsibility of every member of the University community.  Faculty and staff are encouraged to politely remind colleagues to adhere to safety protocols if they are not doing so. Students will be advised on expectations through signage presented throughout the campus. Students will not be able to attend in-person classes or university events if they do not wear a mask and adhere to physical distancing requirements. As with other policies, failure to comply may result in disciplinary measures in accordance with University Laws and By-Laws, General Rules of Conduct for All University Employees, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the UConn Student Code. Visitors will not be permitted to enter buildings without following safety procedures.

 

Q: Should we wear disposable gloves? And, if so, when would it be appropriate to do so?

A: You should wear disposable gloves and safety glasses, as directed by the manufacturer, when using cleaning products. Gloves should not be worn as protection against COVID-19. Instead, you should wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer until soap and water are available.

 

Q: Will hand sanitizer be widely distributed for faculty, staff, and students?

A: Hand sanitizer will be provided at entrances and commonly shared spaces such as classrooms and dining facilities.

 

Q: Should we be wearing additional PPE such as goggles or face shields at work (beyond when our job duties would otherwise require them).

A: Additional PPE would afford additional protection for the eyes as a route of entry; however, the CDC has not suggested the need for goggles and face shields for the general public. If someone brought their own eye or face protection to wear at work, that would be permitted, as long as it’s properly used and maintained (e.g., clean it regularly and use it in addition to other safety measures, not in lieu of).

 

Physical Distancing, Occupancy, and Barriers

Q: If we install plexiglass barriers can we avoid wearing masks and distancing?

A: When in-person interactions cannot be avoided, barriers can provide a physical separation between people to support social and physical distancing efforts. However, they are not always appropriate and do have limitations. Barriers do not replace the need to follow other public health requirements such as practicing good hygiene, wearing face coverings, and maintaining 6 feet of separation between individuals when possible. For more information review Guidance for Plexiglass Barriers in Support of COVID-19 Prevention Efforts.

 

Q: How should we maintain safe distances for elevator usage?

A: Wear a face covering, maintain distance, and limit 1-2 people in elevators at a time.

 

Q: Will access to previously common or shared areas be restricted? Can we hold any in-person meetings?

A: Common spaces may be utilized, and in-person meetings may occur, following departments’ COVID-19 Protection Plans while maintaining 6ft physical distances and wearing face coverings. Guidance for holding in-person meetings will continue to follow state requirements.

 

Q: Due to common areas being occupied by students, will staff be staggered for breaks times and lunches times or stagger start times?

A: Staggering of break times is a good strategy and in keeping with State guidance.  Departments are encouraged to use this strategy in their return to work planning as their operations permit.

 

Q: In communications regarding plans for reopening in the Fall, it has been mentioned that “every member of our community will be required to wear a mask in public, common spaces, including classrooms.” Can you please define what a common space is? For instance, if someone works in a cubicle in an office suite, is that considered a common space?

A: Common space would be anywhere other than a private office or a private cubicle with walls. Employees would be permitted to remove their masks in these spaces when working alone.

 

Cleaning and Disinfection

Q: How will we keep up with regular disinfection?

A: Custodians will support regular cleaning and disinfection of common high-touch points in buildings. Disinfection supplies will be provided for additional use by general staff and faculty in bathrooms, classrooms, and commonly shared spaces. EHS has been working with Facilities and Supply Chain Management to identify disinfectants that are effective for this virus and are as safe as possible for users. Due to unprecedented demand and shortages, specific brand names will not be available. We are constantly assessing new available disinfectants to ensure effectiveness and safety. Disinfections supplies will be a combination of wipes and/or spray bottles with paper towels, again, due to unprecedented demand and shortages. For more information review Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines for COVID-19.

For more information about disinfectant availability or to make a request visit the Facilities Operations COVID-19 Resources page.

 

Ventilation

Q: Many of the buildings at UConn have windows that cannot open, with air being circulated through the building continuously and especially in air conditioning systems. Is this a health hazard since COVID-19 is an airborne disease?

A: Buildings with inoperable windows have Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems that provide filtered outside air into the building. Most laboratory spaces get 100% of their outside air through these systems and is not recirculated. Office space air is recirculated but no more than 80% of the volume is returned and before it is returned, it is mixed with outside air (20% volume minimum) and returned to spaces after filtration through high-quality filters. In preparation for re-entry, Facilities has increased outside air beyond these minimums.

 

Q: Can the virus spread by the building ventilation/HVAC systems?

A: Currently, the CDC and other public health leaders indicate that HVAC systems in most non-medical buildings play only a small role in infectious disease transmission, including COVID-19. However, they provide the greater benefit of supplying filtered air to allow dilution and lower potential airborne concentration in a space. Throughout the pandemic, Facilities continues to perform preventative maintenance (PM) on the University’s HVAC systems, including completing PM cycles on ventilation equipment (i.e. fans, pumps, chillers, boilers, filters, automation system controls and their calibration), changing filters on a regular basis, and increasing filter efficiencies where feasible.

 

Q: Will we be provided air purifiers for use in our offices?

A: While air filtration units may provide some small benefit, they are not considered an effective means of room air filtration and, ultimately, they do little to prevent person-to-person transmission. They cannot be used to allow increased occupancy in a space or to remove the requirements for physical distancing or the use of face coverings. As there is no requirement for these units, they will not be centrally funded by the University.

For more information about ventilation and air purification review Ventilation and COVID-19

 

Classroom Expectations

Q: Can we safely host a two- to three-person discussion or activity, such as an acting scene, without wearing face masks?

A: No, face coverings are required in the classroom, just like other spaces on campus.

 

Q: For those with asthma and other medical conditions that put them at risk, what precautions are being put in place in classrooms and study areas?

A: In addition to requiring face coverings and directing anyone with symptoms to stay home when sick, working groups are preparing prevention strategies in the built environment, including reducing class sizes and limiting occupancies in shared spaces, increasing ventilation, employing partitions, and rearranging furniture to maximize physical distancing.

 

More Information

For more COVID-19 information and updates visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates. Please note that as new information becomes available UConn will be in contact again and will update the reopening website.

External Resources

Below you will find links to other Web pages with information related to COVID-19 or professionals who can answer your safety-related questions. There are sections for information specific to the University of Connecticut, the State of Connecticut, and beyond.