June 30, 2020

Safety first: WSU Public Health Subcommittee offers current guidelines for phased campus return

Wayne State University's Public Health Subcommittee developed current guidelines to help members of the community plan for a phased return to campus.

When Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson announced the formation of the Campus Restart Committee — which consists of nine subcommittees to work on reopening Wayne State’s campus — he outlined four principles that must guide each subcommittee’s work. The priority principle was “safety first.” This, Wilson said, “remains our top priority, and we will continue to be governed by sensible safety precautions and direction from state and health authorities.”   

Wilson

Wilson charged the Public Health Subcommittee with the responsibility to regularly review current scientific evidence, along with local and national data regarding the virus, to ensure that all recommendations made for the restart are supported by evidence and best practices.

Chaired by Laurie M. Lauzon Clabo, dean of the College of Nursing, the Public Health Subcommittee includes a number of the university’s faculty, who are recognized as national experts in infectious disease, epidemiology and public health.

“Our role is to present a strategy for testing, symptom monitoring, mitigation and contact tracing that supports the safest return to campus based on the best science available in a rapidly changing environment,” said Clabo. “We also recognize that our plans need to be flexible and responsive to new evidence as it emerges.”

Following are current guidelines developed by the committee to help members of the Wayne State University community plan for a phased return to campus.

Continue working from home if possible.

Although the governor’s stay-at-home order has been lifted, social distancing is still essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If it is possible for you to work effectively from home, please continue to do so.

Follow the steps for a safe return.

If your work cannot be accomplished effectively from home, Wayne State’s public health experts have established a procedure to ensure that those who return to campus can do so in a way that maintains the health and safety of the Wayne State community. Before returning to campus, speak with your supervisor and obtain their approval.

Complete the Warrior Safe online training modules that provide essential information about COVID-19 and its transmission as well as important strategies to maintain health and safety on campus.  

Beginning two days (48 hours) before your return, complete the Campus Daily Screener — available online and on the Wayne State mobile app — each day before coming to campus. If you have symptoms or have been exposed, stay home. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone confirmed to have the virus, stay home.

Stay safe on campus.

  • We all must do our part to keep ourselves and our fellow Warriors safe.  
  • Wear a cloth face covering on campus. If you do not have a face covering, one will be provided.
  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially after touching any surfaces. Hand-sanitizer dispensers have also been installed in every building.
  • Continue social distancing.  Keep at least six feet between yourself and others. Follow guidelines posted in hallways, elevators, parking structures, restrooms, and at entryways and exits.
  • Conduct meetings virtually, even if all attendees are on campus.
Clabo

Clabo stressed that a safe return to campus is a shared responsibility. “Until there is a widely available, safe and effective vaccine, or until effective treatments are discovered, our best defense against the virus will rely on our community’s commitment to practice safe mitigation strategies.”

Dr. Teena Chopra, professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases in the School of Medicine and corporate medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center, goes one step further.  “Wear your mask, and know how to care for it. For now, a mask is our best vaccine,” Chopra said. “According to the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics, we can save 30,000 lives in the next few months by wearing masks. To me, masking is an act of kindness and personal responsibility.”

Clabo said other challenges include making sure all processes are sustainable and available. “The sustainability piece of this is critical,” Clabo said. “It could be a year or more before an effective vaccine is available to the public.”  

Chopra

Just because the stay-at-home order has been lifted does not mean that danger has passed.  “Now is no time to let up on our use of effective social practices,” says Chopra. “Our collective ability to practice responsible social distancing, frequent hand-washing and use of masks. These are as important today as they were in March and April.”

Clabo said the subcommittee’s recommendations meet or exceed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in all areas. She said the committee will “continuously monitor aggregate health metrics generated from the Campus Daily Screener that will allow us to recommend either easing or tightening of restrictions based on both local and campus-specific data.” In addition, contact tracers at the Campus Health Center will perform contact tracing, health screening and health management for all members of the campus community.

The Public Health Subcommittee will continue to meet regularly to refine its recommendations and work toward an eventual safe return for all Wayne State students, faculty and staff. It will also continue to confer with the other reopen subcommittees to ensure alignment of all campus efforts to fully reopen. “Recommendations will change as the science evolves,” Clabo said. “But without exception, our first consideration will be using science to guide our actions to promote the health of all members of our campus community.”