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Syracuse University outlines COVID-19 public-health framework for fall semester

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

Date:

CNYBJ file photo by Eric Reinhardt

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Requiring face masks, screening the entire student body to begin the semester, a contact-tracing program, and a testing site for students suspected of exposure to COVID-19.

Those are among the “core findings and foundational guidance” included in a subcommittee’s report on Syracuse University’s public health framework for the upcoming fall semester, the school said.

Public-sector health officials are reviewing a report from a Syracuse University subcommittee, which outlines “framework” to ensure Syracuse University is “fully equipped and prepared to safely resume campus operations.”

“It includes more than 100 recommendations that will serve as a foundation for our schools and colleges to develop and implement strategies that are uniquely tailored to their facilities, people and curricula, and the broader needs and challenges associated with safely resuming face-to-face instruction given the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis,” per a Thursday statement posted on Syracuse University’s news website.

The subcommittee recently delivered an initial draft of the “framework” to the co-chairs of the Fall 2020 open working group.

The co-chairs are John Liu, interim vice chancellor and provost, and Amanda Nicholson, interim senior VP for enrollment and the student experience, as well as the deans of the schools and colleges.

The subcommittee includes public-health faculty members, epidemiologists, doctors, medical and wellness professionals, and representatives from student life, facilities and other “relevant” departments across campus, Syracuse said.

Some of the recommendations

Screening the entire student population for COVID-19 at the start of the semester and implementing an ongoing regimen of regular random screening of students, faculty, and staff throughout the fall semester;

Requiring face masks or face coverings for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors while on campus, in the presence of others, and in public settings where social distancing measures are “difficult to maintain;”

Implementing a residence hall wastewater surveillance program to monitor for the presence of COVID-19 across individual residence halls, as well as requiring students, faculty, and staff to undergo routine temperature screening;

Deploying a rapid diagnostic point-of-care testing site, accessible to any student suspected of infection or exposure to the virus causing the COVID-19 illness;

Developing and implementing, in coordination with local public-health officials a contact-tracing program “appropriate to quickly mitigate” potential spread of COVID-19 on campus;

Establishing a residential facility where students who are suspected or confirmed to have been exposed to the virus can be isolated, while they continue their studies via remote means;

Supporting an expedited ability to identify suspected COVID-19 presence on campus —requiring that all students, faculty, and staff who reside or work on campus be immunized for influenza;

Leveraging a comprehensive COVID-19 health promotion and communications effort that includes physical and digital signage, social media posts and badges, and regular campus notifications—all designed to encourage healthy behaviors while on campus and support proactive prevention and transmission of the virus;

Providing a facilities-revision process to facilitate the installation of partitions and other protective materials as appropriate to safeguard individual and public health;

Limiting the size of in-person meetings and classes based on the guidance from local, state, and federal orders, and generally not to exceed 30 people; larger meetings may be considered in physical spaces where 6 feet of social distancing can be accommodated; however, the number of participants will generally not exceed 50 percent of the room’s stated capacity.