General Safety Practices
Our path forward will not be business-as-usual. As a non-residential campus of higher education, VIMS is currently governed by Virginia's Phase II gating criteria for business and commercial operations:
- Remain home when not feeling well or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Continue to telework, particularly if you are a vulnerable individual
- Continue physical distancing of 6 feet or more
- Wear a face covering in indoor public settings
- Wash your hands frequently
- Refrain from touching your face
These measures, as well as the ones outlined below, are meant to maximize the health and safety of our campus community as we expand in-person research, education, and advisory activities.
If you think you might be symptomatic
Before returning to campus
As a non-residential campus, VIMS is currently governed by Virginia's Phase II gating criteria for business and commercial operations. We thus require anyone who may be exhibiting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested prior to returning to campus. See the list of local COVID-19 testing locations.
If already on campus
If you suspect or presume you may be exhibiting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive, email the VIMS' Emergency Management Team at [[v|EMT]]. To maintain your privacy, receipt of this email will be restricted to John Wells, Mark Luckenbach, Linda Schaffner, and Joe Martinez.
Once the email is received and reviewed, the EMT will forward the relevant information to the VIMS Office of Safety and Environmental Programs. Safety-office staff will contact the affected individual to obtain additional information via a questionnaire and use the responses to create a specific response plan. Questions will include:
- When were you last on campus?
- What buildings, offices, laboratories, or other areas (including restrooms) did you frequent?
- Is your office/work area currently secured?
- What activities were performed while on campus (lab work, microscopy, data analysis, field work, etc.)?
- Which VIMS personnel have you been in close contact with over the past 14 days?
Safety-office staff will then notify individuals and affected building areas with the developed response plan. If a faculty member, staff member, or student:
Impacted areas will be closed and access restricted immediately for a minimum of 72 hours before the Advanced Cleaning Team will commence with decontamination activities. Based on the response plan, impacted areas may include offices, labs, building floors, or the entire building.
- Has been tested, either voluntarily or as directed by a health care provider, they are to remain off campus until the test result is provided, and to notify the VIMS EMT.
- Tests positive for the COVID-19 virus, that individual will require a release from a medical provider before returning to work and campus.
- Is caring for someone who has tested positive or showing signs of COVID-19, they should remain off campus due to possible exposure.
- University-sponsored travel to seminars, workshops, conferences, etc. is prohibited through August 31, 2020 and likely further into the future.
- Submit any requests for VIMS-sponsored, out-of-state, and overnight travel for business operations, research, and advisory activities to the [[luck,Associate Dean of Research and Advisory Services]], who will review these requests on a case-by-case basis.
- No more than two people at a time are allowed in a state vehicle, and each is required to wear a mask. Travel to research sites in personal cars must also adhere to this density requirement. Vehicle users are responsible for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all touched surfaces in VIMS vehicles, before and after use. Refueling of vehicles will remain the responsibility of the users.
On-Campus Recommendations & Requirements
- The VIMS campus remains “Closed to the Public.”
- VIMS campus buildings remain locked.
- All employees are required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Visit the Virginia Department of Health website for self-monitoring guidelines: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/
- Face-to-face meetings should only occur if absolutely necessary. During in-person meetings individuals must wear masks and comply with physical distancing, except if they are eating. Continue to use Zoom or other virtual media to conduct business meetings even when individuals are on campus. (See additional details under use of classrooms and meeting rooms.)
- All employees are required to wear masks when walking through campus buildings and public spaces, during in-person meetings, and when the 6-foot physical distancing requirement cannot be met.
- Travel between buildings should be kept to a minimum.
- Approved volunteers will be permitted to work on campus and will be required to follow employee guidelines.
- Undergraduate students will follow the guidelines set forth by W&M's Undergraduate program.
- Gathering locations such as Sowers House, Abrahamson House, and Clayton House shall remain closed.
- The Galley and Davis Hall kitchenettes will be restricted to a minimum occupancy. Tables and seating will be arranged to provide 6-foot physical distancing.
- The VIMS Library will remain closed and will be re-evaluated for use prior to the Fall semester. Plans are underway for pick-up and return of materials to occur one day per week.
- Campus visitors will be allowed by appointment only. Visitors should come to campus for the purposes of conducting business meetings that cannot be done virtually. Visitors will be required to wear face masks when traveling through public spaces, during in-person meetings, and where physical distancing cannot be met.
- Food Trucks on campus – Not applicable at this time.
- Cleaning of offices and labs (e.g., hard surfaces, computer keyboards, etc.) is the responsibility of the occupants. Facilities will discontinue routine cleaning of these spaces.
- Trash pickup continues in corridor.
- In the event of a 2nd wave of outbreak cases, the Institute will follow State and University guidance for campus closure.
With the announcement of Governor Northam's Phase Two Easing of Certain Temporary Restrictions Due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on June 2nd, we will need to think more broadly concerning the guidelines defining critical research activities articulated in the April 5, 2020 memo from Mark Luckenbach, realizing that our entire research enterprise is essential to all aspects of our mission. Our challenge lies in developing laboratory- and project-specific actions to conduct research in a manner that comply with guidelines and protocols articulated in that document. For some research programs and projects this will require creative solutions and perhaps significant alterations in the research plans.
In the Laboratory
- Each laboratory group and VIMS Center with a research component must develop a written set of procedures that clearly spells how it will meet or exceed the guidelines listed below. The plans should include activities by all individuals, including the students, utilizing a lab. The conduct of field work must also be covered in these plans with a time horizon looking out to the end of the calendar year. These plans must be submitted to the [[v|luck,Associate Dean of Research and Advisory Services]], and be easily accessible to all members of the lab group.
- Minimize the time that more than one or two people are in a room at a time. Reducing density and maintaining distances between people is a fundamental component of reducing the spread of the virus. In many cases we will need to alter work schedules to reduce the numbers of people in a laboratory and shared office space at a time (e.g., use of shared group calendar to manage lab use), organize labs in a manner that accommodates greater distancing, and re-think how we accomplish particular tasks. Bearing in mind that several people, all spaced 6 feet apart, working in a laboratory or other closed space that is not well ventilated carries some risk of spreading the virus, we will continue to work out protocols that minimize the time that more than one or two people are in such a space at a time.
- Masks must be worn at all times that a minimum of 6-feet of distancing cannot be maintained.
- Employees and students working in laboratories will be responsible for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting their workspaces before, during, and after use. Supervisors have the responsibility to ensure that these cleaning responsibilities are clearly assigned to individuals and that they are fully implemented.
In the Field, on Boats, and in the Water
- For all operations aboard vessels, the most important risk-reduction steps are those that we can take before boarding, namely self-monitoring for temperature and other symptoms by all personnel.
- All personnel, including outside contractors or vendors, must complete our Pre-Boarding Self-Assessment Form for COVID-19 prior to boarding any large vessel for any reason.
- No more than two people at a time are authorized in a VIMS truck, each required to wear a mask. Travel to research sites in personal cars must also adhere to this density requirement. Users are responsible for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all touched surfaces in VIMS vehicles, before and after use. Refueling of vehicles remains the responsibility of the users.
- Distancing guidelines should be followed during work at outdoor field sites, and masks worn anytime this distance cannot be maintained. Careful consideration must be given to other risks of the field work that might be exacerbated by reduced crew sizes and distancing. Supervisors should conduct thoughtful risk assessment and reduction planning for all field research activities.
- Scientific diving operations for specific projects must adhere to the Dive Program COVID-19 Procedures and Guidance. This document also details the modifications to training and certification programs in response to COVID-19.
- Research activities involving VIMS’ small vessel fleet must adhere to distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible, and researchers must wear masks and don other appropriate PPE when this is not possible. For small vessels based at Gloucester Point, we expect the research team, not Marine Operations staff, to operate the vessel and thoroughly clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces before and after use. If a research team needs a vessel operator, they should [[v|slamerdin,contact the Director of Marine Operations]] to request an exemption on a case-by-case basis. For vessels at the Eastern Shore Lab, users should contact [[v|sfate,Sean Fate]] to discuss their needs and operational plans.
- Research aboard VIMS’ large vessels (R/V Virginia, R/V Bay Eagle and R/V Tidewater) must follow the guidelines developed by Marine Operations staff. Project-specific details for implementing these protocols must be established through discussions between scientific staff and vessel staff prior to sailing.
- Research conducted aboard third-party vessels will generally require approval by the Associate Dean of Research and Advisory Services in consultation with the Chief Operations Officer and the Director of Marine Operations on a case-by-case basis.
The priorities for VIMS evolving academic plan are to:
- Provide safe learning and teaching environments, consistent with public health and safety guidelines, and best practices that emerge moving forward.
- Offer the highest quality experiences possible for students and faculty.
- Increase resilience of the academic program in face of continuing uncertainty.
- Develop a plan that is consistent with a “whole institution (VIMS)” level plan
- Reflect the importance of continuity of research, which is a critical component of the education and training of graduate students (and undergraduates) on the VIMS campus.
The VIMS teaching plan for Fall 2020 will continue to evolve as university guidelines are developed and released. We expect that William & Mary will provide considerable local flexibility to the academic units, which will allow the School of Marine Science to implement a school-specific plan. Most VIMS faculty have indicated an interest in teaching in-person this fall and most students want to be in the classroom, if possible. At the same time, with research being a critical component of the education and training of graduate students, VIMS faculty, students and administration agree that the benefits of in-person teaching should be considered in the context of our ability to maintain continuity of research. For that reason, final decisions on mode for individual classes on the VIMS campus will be made closer to the beginning of the fall semester. All VIMS faculty will focus between now and the beginning of the semester on adapting courses for remote/online delivery with an ability to quickly pivot to in-person teaching. VIMS has classroom capacity to proceed with in-person delivery with appropriate physical distancing. If a decision is made to offer a course in person, the course will also be available live via Zoom and, as appropriate, asynchronously via a recording. Faculty will develop course continuity plans based on guidelines similar to those used during the spring semester. The Office of Academic Studies will provide further academic program guidance to faculty and students over the next two weeks.
Institutions of higher education are encouraged to continue remote learning where practical. However, such institutions may offer in-person classes and instruction, including labs and related practical training, provided they comply with all applicable requirements under the "Guidelines for All Business Sectors."
Use of Classrooms and Meeting Rooms
- Whenever possible, use remote options such as Zoom to eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings and non-graduate-program education or training classes.
- If an in-person meeting is necessary, wear masks, maintain 6 feet of separation, and follow the maximum occupancy guidelines set by the VIMS Emergency Management Team (EMT) for each class and meeting room. These guidelines are based on room size and physical distancing requirements, recognizing that the more time people spend in a room, the greater the chance of spreading the virus.
- Disinfect desks, tables, and seats before and after use with the wipes or other tool that will be provided by Facilities staff.
- Limit social gatherings to no more than 50 people (Note: The presence of more than 50 individuals performing functions of their employment is not a “gathering”. Business meetings with greater than 50 participants are allowed as long as the space where they are being conducted is large enough to comply with physical distancing requirements).
Contractors and Vendors
Contractors and vendors will be allowed by appointment only to make repairs or to perform service on critical equipment. Caterers are considered vendors. They shall:
- Provide their protocols for working within a COVID-19 pandemic prior to scheduling their visit.
- Not come to campus if feeling ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Confirm the day(s) and time(s) they will be on campus.
- Disinfect their tools prior to entering a building.
- Disinfect all equipment prior to repair/service and at the conclusion of their work.
- Disinfect all surfaces they contact.
- Maintain the required physical distancing of 6 feet or more at all times.
- Wear a mask while in the building(s).
- Maintain a direct route between the building entrance and the work space both when entering and departing, and disinfect any surfaces they have contacted along the way (e.g., stair handrails, elevator buttons, etc.).
- Complete our Pre-Boarding Self-Assessment Form for COVID-19 prior to boarding any of our large vessels for any reason.
Once the repair/service is complete, best practice is that VIMS employees should wait at least 72 hours before using the equipment.
Guidance for Facilities & Procurement Staff
The following recommendations are provided for those on campus who are responsible for maintaining facilities or ordering materials and supplies:
- Place plexiglass or other barriers in workspaces where people must face each other or are unable to be 6 feet apart. Such areas include the Cashier's window, Watermen’s Hall front desk, Gift Shop cash register, and Academic Studies workstation.
- Place appropriate signage at entrances and around buildings (e.g., COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing reminder, directional, maximum occupancy).
- Remove (or tape off) chairs and desks to ensure proper physical distancing in conference, classroom, and waiting rooms. Identify via signage the allowable occupancy (normally 50% reduced) to control workflow and/or establish maximum attendance.
- Make face coverings available throughout campus.
- Post maximum occupancy in common break areas and configure to accommodate appropriate physical distancing.
- Provide sanitizing supplies for individuals to clean their areas before and after use.
- Provide hand sanitizer at all building entrances, classrooms, and high-traffic areas.
- Identify frequently touched areas (doors, cabinets, etc.) and investigate options to implement no/reduced touch options, such as installing door stops (where possible), or sensor-triggered doors and faucets/flushometers.
- Monitor and secure inventories of PPE, hand sanitizers, wipes, cleaning products, and hand soap. NOTE: Facilities is responsible for products above that are specifically related to COVID-19 and not normal/customary PPE for lab research.
- Increase the frequency and attention to the cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic public areas and hard surfaces such as door hardware, handrails, switches, classroom seating, watercoolers, etc. in accordance with CDC recommendations.
- HVAC System Preventions
- Increase outside air where possible and not to impact humidity control.
- Keep HVAC systems operating in most efficient manner
- Increase Filter Changes (frequency TBD)
- Increase Preventative Maintenance activities (scope being defined)