Guidance for Safely Reopening Colleges and Universities During COVID-19

Since the onset of COVID-19, higher education institutions like colleges and universities have grappled with keeping faculty, staff, and students safe from transmitting the disease.

Many colleges and universities have introduced remote learning capabilities with all-virtual classes, and some institutions of higher education plan to offer distance learning through the 2021 semester solely. However, local governments or individual institutions determine exact restrictions and guidelines, meaning that in-person classes can still occur in some states.

Several key questions must be considered when exploring how to reopen a college or university during COVID-19, including:

  • How can we protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff returning to campus?
  • How do we assure faculty, staff, students, and parents that we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
  • What do we do if a student, faculty, or staff member comes in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has a suspected case?
  • What steps can colleges and universities take to disinfect and clean classrooms and shared spaces?
  • Is it safe for students to move back into dorms or on-campus housing in light of COVID-19?

With these questions in mind, AIHA has created this “Back to Work Safely: Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education Guidance Document, 2nd edition” guide to offer practical advice for how to reopen a college, university, or other institution of higher education during COVID-19 safely. The guidance borrows from the latest advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as expert advice from other leading health, government, and academic organizations.

These reopening guidelines share actional steps and recommendations to protect college students, staff, and faculty from the spread of COVID-19, including information on the following key areas:

  • What can college or university leadership do to protect faculty, staff, and students from COVID-19 on campus?
    • Considerations for dorms and shared housing during COVID-19, including how to disinfect dorm common areas and high-touch surfaces and strategies to enable social distancing
    • How to coordinate dorm move-ins during COVID-19
    • Best practices for limiting the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in classrooms or other instruction and learning environments, including recommended room layouts, staggered schedules, and the avoidance of shared objects
    • Enhanced cleaning practices for college campuses in the wake of COVID-19, including how to disinfect classrooms, labs, and other shared spaces
    • Recommended communications for students, staff, and parents to educate them on how to limit the risk of transmitting COVID-19
    • How to perform a student wellness check, including temperature screening and the visual signs of COVID-19 infection
    • When face masks are required on college campuses and whether students should wear a face mask in class
  • How can students, staff, and faculty limit the spread of COVID-19 while on campus?
    • Self-monitoring practices and the necessary PPE for professors/lecturers and students
    • Ways to safely use college common spaces, like a library or cafeteria
    • Best practices for maintaining social distancing on a college campus
    • What to do if you need to sneeze while in class

Download our “Back to Work Safely: Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education Guidance Document, 2nd edition” guidance document today to learn how to reopen a college campus and conduct in-person classes safely.