Colleges and Universities throughout the U.S. face significant operational challenges associated with the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. As campuses across the country prepare to reopen and resume classes, programs and policies need to be developed and implemented to assure students, parents and faculty of their safety. Here are a few tips from our Certified Industrial Hygiene (CIH) experts about planning and developing your institution’s Novel Coronavirus response program.

Assess Your Institution’s Exposure and Update Your Existing Emergency Operations Plan
An important initial component in COVID-19 response planning is the review and update of your Emergency Operations Plan. A key part of this effort should be a professional inspection of your institution’s campus to identify medium to high contact surfaces that may be in need of active disinfection. This critical step will ensure that costs are controlled while providing required protection. In addition, development of a COVID-19 prevention plan or virus focused O&M plan can provide an additional level of protection and preparedness.

Developing a Comprehensive Disinfection Protocol
Before a disinfection contractor or janitorial staff/service can be deployed, a detailed, site-specific disinfection protocol must be developed. Hiring an experienced CIH consultant to help prepare your institution’s protocol will ensure a comprehensive plan that accounts for building variables associated with exposure extent, affected areas and surfaces, exposure duration and other key factors that can impact the effectiveness of disinfection. Protocols should be developed in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Disinfection and Cleaning
Higher education institutions should prepare to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in their local campus communities regardless of the level of community transmission and this includes thorough cleaning and disinfection. An experienced CIH consultant can help source a contractor in your area to perform disinfection services at your institution, lead and oversee the delivery of these services in a technically sound and cost effective manner, provide 3rd party oversight and documentation of disinfection contractor activities, and train your janitorial staff to provide disinfection services in accordance with CDC requirements and best practices.

Verification & Targeted Communication for Your Students, Staff and Campus Community
Post-disinfection verification including field inspections, testing, and reporting are also key components to have in your program. Students, staff and your campus community should receive timely and targeted communications that include COVID-19 education and awareness as well as updates on your disinfection verification reporting. This will promote confidence in your response programs and help your students, parents and staff feel safe.

At ATC Group Services LLC (ATC), an Atlas company, we understand that response decisions will have operational and financial impacts to your institution. Regardless of the level of community spread, we can support your institution’s Novel Coronavirus response program with critical planning, scope development and execution activities at every stage. Our national team of experienced industrial hygienists can provide the technical information necessary for appropriate risk assessment and response. ATC/Atlas is committed to providing accurate information to best enable these difficult decisions and partner with your higher education institution to complete and document those activities to best protect the health and safety of your students, faculty and staff, and communities. More information on our services are available as a downloadable PDF here.

Contact us today if we can be of assistance. We’re here to help you provide a safe and healthy education environment.