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Bringing the campus back to life

Employee installs vinyl safety sign on campus doorThe grass must be cut, lighting checked and work areas cleaned. It’s all part of the normal duties that 140-plus UNF Physical Facilities staff members must complete before the start of every semester. Yet COVID-19 has created a new normal for this fall reopening, and certainly additional challenges.

According to Wallace Harris, director of Physical Facilities Operations, new safety protocols are in place and campus buildings and classrooms will have a new look. “We had to create a social-distancing layout for each classroom that will be used and label what the actual seating would be,” said Harris, explaining that his staff worked on 300 classrooms. “We’ve been delivering and installing plexiglass partitions for the offices and desks, and we have put sanitizer stations in all the classrooms that will be used.”

New signs also have been put in place on building entrances, in lobbies, on elevators, bathrooms, stairwells and outside across campus. The signs serve as reminders: Maintain social distancing. Wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor areas on campus. Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Screen yourself daily and stay home if you’re sick.

Safety sign outside the parking garageClassrooms and offices are typically cleaned every night, so that schedule will continue, but additional staff will be added to the midday shift to do twice-a-day cleaning of some common areas such as bathrooms, Harris said. As an added precaution, staff also looked at the number of air exchanges in a classroom and, for some, increased the amount of airflow in order to provide faster circulation. Filters for the air conditioning and heating systems did not have to be upgraded because they already exceed the standards recommended by the CDC.

The new normal has certainly added to the list of jobs needed in order to bring the campus back to life. Yet Harris is confident that all will be in place when faculty and staff return Aug. 5. “We’ll be ready,” he said. “We know what the tasks are. We’ll be ready.”