Safe Return to Campus Etiquette
Priority No. 1: Your Safety
By Sheryl E. Taylor
Since the inception of COVID-19, the University of Houston-Downtown has been proactive in its efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of the Gator Community. Now, UHD is counting on its employees to do their part in following appropriate etiquette to maintain a healthy workplace.
The success of the Safe Return to Campus (starting June 15) will require a dedicated UHD Community effort in adhering to the protocols and procedures that were shared via the recent Safe Return To Work Virtual Town Hall.
“It’s going to come down to people doing the right thing and being respectful of each other because it’s the right thing to do,” said David Bradley, Vice President, Administration & Finance, during that event. “Our community is a good, respectful community.”
Health & Safety: The following guidelines are intended to ensure your personal safety and the safety of your fellow colleagues. Prior to campus arrivals each day, all returning employees must:
- Take their temperature
- Conduct a self-assessment of their health/exposure
To safeguard the UHD Community, employees are required to self-report if:
Face Masks must be worn when social distancing is not possible. Disposable face masks will be provided to all staff returning to work on campus and should only be worn for one day and then disposed of in the trash. Reusable cloth face masks will also be available. UHD employees are encouraged to wear cloth face masks and wash them after each use.
“The virus is still circulating in the Houston area, so it’s still important to diminish the contact with high-traffic areas,” said Dr. Gabriela Bowden, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences. “Wearing masks is necessary when going into public spaces, especially small spaces such as elevators.”
Social Distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employees on campus must follow these social distancing practices:
- Stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times
- Do not gather in groups of 10 or more
- Avoid crowded places and mass gatherings
Hand Sanitizing: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer. Cover all surfaces of your hands with sanitizer and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The University will also maintain hand sanitizer stations at entrances, elevator stops and high-traffic areas.
Cleaning & Disinfection: Staff should regularly wipe their workstation as well as commonly used surfaces, such as doorknobs, copiers, etc. before and after use with products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.
Coughing and sneezing spread germs and viruses. Remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow if you are not wearing a face mask. If using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
Safety in Public Areas
Office Environments: Whether you work in an office or an open environment, maintain at least a 6-foot distance between you and your coworkers.
Restrooms: Employees must wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to exiting the restroom.
Elevators will be limited to no more than four (4) riders at one time. Riders must wear a mask and maintain an appropriate distance from one another as indicated on COVID-19 elevator use signage. Riders should avoid touching elevator buttons with hands or fingers and should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as possible after leaving an elevator.
Meetings held in person increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19. When possible, meetings should be held virtually through Zoom or a telephone conference call. If an in-person meeting is necessary, no more than 10 people are allowed in a space, attendees must maintain six-feet of separation and all attendees are required to wear a mask.
Social Interaction while on campus is encouraged through email, telephone, Zoom and other available technology rather than through face-to face interaction.
Dr. Susan Henney, Professor of Social Sciences, suggests that it’s essential to acknowledge that there is a large-scale global health crisis, there will be some level of fear and anxiety about our personal wellbeing in normal.
“To deal with anxiety about returning to campus under these circumstances, it’s important to keep asking questions and seeking out information until you have a clear understanding of what is being done to mitigate risks and enhance your well-being,” Henney said. “It's important to not let yourself spiral down into a million ‘what ifs’… be as concrete with your concerns and worries as possible, write them down, and cross them out as you find answers to your issues. Also, it’s super important to remember to reach out for help if you are experiencing overwhelming anxiety or stress. Make an appointment with a therapist or call the crisis hotline—it’s ok to get help!”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).
For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.