May 20, 2020
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been monitored by Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) since it first merged. HU is proud of the perseverance and resilience shown by our students, faculty, and staff in the Spring of 2020, when academic operations were moved online in response to the pandemic. This operation occurred almost seamlessly with virtually little impact to course quality and HU’s overall academic experience.
HU is hoping that it can resume face-to-face classroom instruction for Fall 2020. However, that decision is pending as we continue to monitor developments including governmental requirements. First and foremost, HU is always concerned about the safety and health of the HU community.
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the upcoming fall semester:
1. When will you know whether HU is reopening for face-to-face instruction?
As of now the future is optimistic but still unknown due to the unprecedented nature and impact of COVID-19. Whether face-to-face instructions resumes depends on community health developments and/or governmental orders. Consequently, HU will make a decision by June 30, 2020 about whether HU will resume face-to-face instruction in the fall.
2. What steps is HU taking to best ensure the safety of its community should it resume face-to-face instruction?
When face-to-face instruction resumes at HU, operations will be consistent with any orders of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, applicable Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the April 15, 2020, order from Pennsylvania’s Department of Health. This order requires any business opening to the public to adhere to social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols.
3. Has HU implemented safe hygiene practices as part of its operations?
Although HU previously had hand sanitizer stations throughout all of its building, the number of stations were substantially increased. Multiple hand sanitizers are available on all floors and lavatories throughout HU. Furthermore, all students and faculty will be required to wear face masks while in any HU building except for limited periods of eating or drinking for as long as such is recommended.
HU has also reinforced safe hygiene practices by posting educational signage throughout the campus on how to prevent the spread of the flu and viruses. These safe practices will be incorporated into student orientation for new students and messaging to returning students.
4. Does HU have cleaning protocols in place?
Cleaning, disinfecting, and other maintenance services are critical to protecting the health of the HU Community. HU uses cleaning and disinfectant products recommended by the CDC that are best suited to mitigate coronaviruses and the flu. Common public areas within HU will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day. This includes disinfecting offices, bathrooms, doorknobs, and public areas including but not limited to classrooms, break areas, conference rooms, public counters, and common touchscreen devices and equipment such as vending machines, elevator buttons, refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, and copy machines. Custodial staffing will be maintained at levels to adequately meet these demands.
5. Will social distancing be implemented should face-to-face instruction resume?
Social distancing practices will be monitored and implemented by HU personnel. Classroom seating will provide sufficient amount of space between students, elevator usage will be limited to a fixed maximum number of riders, seating will be reduced in common areas to reduce density of congregating, hallways will be designated for one-way travel, and when appropriate, tape markings will be placed on floors to ensure safe distancing. Sinks and stalls in lavatories may be reduced by 50% to ensure distancing.
When appropriate, activities and meetings, including those with HU faculty and staff may be conducted virtually or telephonically.
Social distancing may also limit the number of students who may use the Student Union at any given time or even attend HU events. To ensure that no one is detrimentally impacted, HU events may also be offered virtually to maximize safe student involvement.
6. Will the HU Community be temperature screened?
HU will follow current guidelines and orders regarding temperature screenings.
However, employees with temperatures or who exhibit symptoms, are requested not to come to work, and if at work, will be sent home. The employee’s area will then be fully disinfected. If necessary, HU will require other employees who were in contact with the ill employee to adhere to quarantine protocols.
However, students exhibiting symptoms will be directed not to attend class and to immediately contact a member of the Resident Life team to arrange for medical attention. If necessary, HU will require other students who were in contact with the ill student to adhere to quarantine protocols.
7. Will it be safe to stay in HU affiliated housing?
The same cleaning and disinfectant protocols used in HU academic and business areas will also be utilized in affiliated housing. Student congregating will be limited in common lounge areas and in students’ rooms to maintain appropriate social distancing.
HU Resident Life Staff are aware of common symptoms of COVID-19 and will immediately report any concerns to the Director of Resident Life or the Director of Student Services. In the event a student becomes ill, alternative housing arrangements are in place that would allow for a student to be quarantined if necessary.
8. What if circumstances change that impact HU operations during the semester?
HU will continue to maintain its website concerning COVID information and resources at: https://covid.harrisburgu.edu/ . All updates impacting HU operations will be posted there, as well as at the university’s various social media accounts.
9. What if a student is stressed about coming to campus? Are there any support services to help process these issues?
The HU Counseling Center (HUCC) is committed to supporting our students. HUCC counselors will continue to work with current clients. If you are a student who has not used HUCC in the past but are interested in receiving supportive services, we encourage you to start by calling HU’s BHS student support program at 800-327-2251. BHS also offers a live chat option and lots of resources online at https://portal.bhsonline.com/ (Login: Harrisburgu).
Masters level clinicians are available 24/7/365 to all HU students, to provide free, confidential, in the moment support, as well as to connect students with local mental health resources. The Counseling Center will also continue to update our SharePoint site with information and resources, including how to help cope with anxiety and depression, complete self-evaluations, or learn how to help a friend on HU’s ULifeline page http://www.ulifeline.org/HU