Officials released Phase 4 COVID-19 reopening guidelines for colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools and technical schools.

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On Monday, state officials released the first Phase 4 guidelines, for "Higher Education." The guidance is intended to address all types of in-person higher education institutions, including but not limited to community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools and technical schools.

Physical Distancing

  • Any time individuals come within 6 ft. of another person who does not reside in the same residence (i.e., roommate), acceptable face coverings must be worn. This provision should not be construed to require physical distancing among roommates or to require face coverings be worn while inside an individual’s residence.
  • In consultation with the local health department, identify where students who are exposed to, or infected with, COVID-19 will be residing and how daily needs (e.g. food, medication) will be met if it becomes necessary to have a period of quarantine or isolation.
  • Reference relevant industry-specific guidelines provided by the Department of Health – and available on the New York Forward website – for operations of dining halls, research, office workspaces, gyms, transportation, retail stores, and other activities, as applicable.

Protective Equipment

  • Any time individuals come within 6 ft. of another person who does not reside in the same residence (e.g. roommate), acceptable face coverings must be worn.
  • Advise employees, students, and visitors that they are required to wear face coverings in common areas or situations where social distancing may be difficult to maintain, such as riding in elevators, entering/exiting classrooms or student centers, and traveling around the campus.
  • Provide face coverings to employees who directly interact with students or members of the public while at work, at no cost to the employee.
  • Train employees on how to adequately put on, take off, clean (as applicable), and discard PPE. See CDC guidance for additional information.

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

  • Adhere to hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) and maintain logs that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection. Identify cleaning and disinfection frequency for each facility type and assign responsibility.
  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations throughout the institution, including handwashing with soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels, as well as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible.
  • Conduct regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities and more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk areas used by many individuals and for frequently touched surfaces. Refer to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) products identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against COVID-19.
  • Ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms.
  • Provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event an individual is confirmed to have COVID-19, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high touch surfaces. Refer to CDC guidelines.

Communication

  • Affirm you have reviewed and understand the state-issued industry guidelines and submit reopening plans prior to reopening.
  • Conspicuously post completed reopening plans for employees and students to access.

Screening

  • Implement mandatory health screening practices (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) for employees, students, and, where practicable, scheduled visitors (e.g. on-campus tour groups) asking about, at minimum: (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close or proximate contact with confirmed or suspected COVID19 case in past 14 days. Assessment responses must be reviewed every day and such review must be documented.
  • Employees reporting to work on-campus must be screened on a daily basis. Students must be screened periodically as determined by the higher education institution but are not required to be screened on a daily basis.
  • An individual who screens positive for COVID-19 exposure or symptoms must be immediately sent home, to their residence, or to the designated quarantine or isolation location with instructions or arrangement for health assessment and testing.
  • Immediately notify the state and local health departments of confirmed positive cases.
  • In the case of an individual testing positive, develop plans with local health departments to trace all contacts of the individual, in accordance with the New York State Contact Tracing Program. Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state law and regulations