Highline College

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Highline shares re-opening plans surrounding Covid-19

Ally Valiente Staff Reporter May 30

Students waiting to return to campus may have to wait a little longer.

Highline Public Safety officials say that plans to open campus and “return to normalcy” have been categorized into four phases.

Director of Public Safety David Menke and Associate Director of Public Safety Francesca Fender spoke in a virtual town hall via Zoom on Tuesday, May 26 to discuss future plans amidst Covid-19.

Highline is currently in Phase 1, meaning classes are taught through “emergency remote learning;” essential employees are the only ones allowed on campus; and all business and services are conducted through online formats.

Additionally, Highline does not have to keep pace with the Washington state phases.

“If Washington state moves to Phase 2 on June 1, Highline does not have to move forward if we feel there are not enough preparations. We may delay the start of our Phase 2 and it could be a couple days later, a couple weeks later,” Menke said. “However, we can’t start our Phase 2 prior to Washington state’s Phase 2.”

Menke says that although Highline can move forward with the phases, it can also go backward. If the state reopens and the number of cases start to climb, Highline can go back to Phase 1.

Phase 2 has been split into 2 parts: Phase 2A and Phase 2B.

The goals for Phase 2A include giving practice informational guides to employees to encourage social distancing within offices and additional spaces and “letting employees providing limited services” acclimate to new working conditions.

In Phase 2B all buildings will still remain closed to the public.

However limited face-to-face appointment-based services will be open to students. Online appointments and resources are still highly encouraged.

“We split these into two phases because first we want the staff to be able to acclimate to the new safety measure before we bring students back,” Menke said.

“Daily roll call is vitally important in conducting through contact tracing. If an employee or student is diagnosed with COVID-19, a representative from the contact tracing team will make contact,” Menke said.

“In able to be effective, contact tracing depends on being notified of confirmed cases as quickly as possible.”

Menke said that each vice president in their department will be able to determine which student services will return sooner.

“We will also collect contact information from students who have appointments on campus, and we will maintain this effort for 30 days,” Menke said.

In Phase 3, most employees and services will be able to return to campus, with some services accepting walk-in appointments. Students are still encouraged to make online appointments in this phase, however.

Students are also allowed to move freely around campus, but social distancing recommendations and barriers will be implemented in high-traffic areas.

In Phase 4, employees will be allowed to work from home when needed, but the goal will be to move toward “business as usual” while adapting to the new normal.

“Everything seems to be opening back up again in Phase 4, including large sporting events. There may be a few things in our life that become a new normal that stick around for a while, but it seems like in Phase 4 life before Covid-19 returns for the most part,” Fender said.

Fender said they have created a document called the Health First: Best Practices and Risk Prevention Plan, using the resources of King County Public Health, Washington state, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The first section is a collection of all the best practices that we’ve gathered from Public Health so employees can implement it within their office and department,” Fender said.

“The second section is more interactive. We understand that every space on campus is unique and poses its own challenges when it comes to infection prevention.”

Departments will also receive a “Welcome Back” box that includes disinfectant spray bottles, sanitation wipes, cloth and disposable masks, and gloves.

The supplies are expected to last at least a month.

“The supply distribution will be centralized, and offices do not need to purchase their own,” Fender said.

“These are based on supply availability. As the state starts to collectively open up and the guidelines tell us what personal protection equipment we need, every office, business, higher ed institutions that’s opening up are going to be competing for the same supplies so we didn’t want our own departments also competing for these supplies.”