- How can Alvernia students, faculty and staff participate in keeping the campus safe?
Alvernia students, faculty, and staff have created a community where we take care of one another. This year will be no different in that respect. The success of returning to campus will be largely dependent on the campus community taking personal actions to protect themselves and others on campus. With that in mind, all Alvernia students, faculty and staff returning to campus are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:
1.) Practice social distancing of at least six feet while on campus and off-campus;
2.) Wear cloth face masks/coverings when inside campus buildings, including classrooms, labs, offices and other public spaces including outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)and the Pennsylvania Department of Health;
3.) Maintain high sanitation levels including frequently washing hands (for at least 20 seconds), utilizing new and existing hand sanitation stations, avoiding close contact with those who are sick and covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue as directed by the CDC;
4.) Self-monitor daily for COVID-19 symptoms on the #CampusClear app and report symptoms to a medical professional;
5.) Remain home if feeling ill or after having been exposed to someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19;
6.) Sanitize high-touch surfaces (desks, tables, doorknobs, etc.) and common spaces by utilizing the newly installed sanitation stations or provided wipes and sprays
7.) And develop creative solutions to avoid in-person meetings by utilizing university technology, including Microsoft Teams and ZOOM.
This information will be summarized in the Alvernia Wellness Pledge that will be available soon. Every member of the Alvernia community will be asked to review the Wellness Pledge and adhere to its guidance throughout the fall semester.
- Do we need to wear masks and maintain social distancing when we return to campus?
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and current Pennsylvania public health guidelines, wearing face masks and adhering to social distancing practices, including maintaining six feet of physical distance from another person, are critical components in helping to support the health and safety of the entire campus community. Students, employees and any approved visitors are required to practice social distancing and wear face masks/coverings in classrooms, labs, offices, dining and retail facilities, public spaces, and while walking and traveling by car with others on Alvernia campuses.
- Will masks be provided to the Alvernia community?
The university has purchased 3,000 Alvernia branded masks that will be distributed to the student and employees during the first few days of the fall 2020 semester.
In addition, the Alvernia has purchased 1,000 non branded cloth masks and 20,000 disposable masks for use by Alvernia students, faculty and staff.
- Will students, faculty and staff be required to take their temperature every day?
As part of ongoing mitigation efforts, all students, faculty and staff will also be asked to complete self-monitoring, which includes a daily self-temperature assessment, on the #CampusClear app. Any concerning symptoms will be addressed by the university's Health and Wellness Center.
The Alvernia Pandemic Response Team may issue requirements for situations where students, employees, and approved visitors must have their temperature checked by an Alvernia representative before participating in an activity or entering a University-owned space. Examples include university-sponsored intercollegiate athletic activities and in certain lab activities.
- Are there penalties for faculty, staff and students who do not follow health guidance related to working, living and being on campus?
All students are expected to follow all guidelines and recommendations established by Alvernia University. Non-compliance will be considered a policy violation and referred to the Office of Community Standards for follow up.
All Alvernia University employees are expected to follow all guidelines and recommendations to support a safe and respectful workplace. Non-compliance will be subject to the employee progressive disciplinary processes as necessary. As a Franciscan community, the university expectation is full cooperation from all faculty and staff members.
- Will there be a mandatory quarantine before coming back to campus?
Alvernia requests students, faculty and staff to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to campus if they have exhibited COVID-like symptoms, believe they were exposed to COVID-19, or are traveling from an international location or area with high rates of infection. Individuals should also consult with their health care provider for COVID-19 testing if necessary. This guidance may change in the coming weeks per the requirements of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania COVID-19 Pandemic Plan.
- Is there any new health documentation or information that will be required for students, faculty and staff to submit before arriving at campus?
A new COVID-19 Return to Campus form must be completed by students returning to campus in August. That form will be delivered to students only on the student health portal in August.
In addition, a Flu Vaccination requirement has been added this year for residential students and student-athletes. Residential students and student-athletes must have a current 2020-21 seasonal flu shot on file by Oct. 15 by uploading proof to the student health portal. Flu shot clinics will be available on campus through a local pharmacy and the Health and Wellness Center during move in and the first week of classes.
As part of ongoing mitigation efforts, all students, faculty and staff will also be asked to complete self-monitoring and temperature assessment daily, using the #CampusClear app. Any concerning symptoms will be addressed by the university's Health and Wellness Center.
- Is Alvernia testing for COVID-19?
Alvernia has secured on-campus testing capabilities and is also partnering with local hospitals to test students and employees for COVID-19, as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.
At this time, Alvernia is exploring options for testing students prior to the start of the Fall semester. However, the university is highly emphasizing daily symptom monitoring and recording on the #CampusClear app, proper mask usage, social distancing protocols and increased sanitation procedures as the primary mitigation tactics.
- What will happen if/when a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?
If there is a confirmed case on campus, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will be notified. The Department of Health, together with the University and county resources, will begin contact tracing to determine others at risk of exposure.
For the vast majority of the Alvernia population, home isolation is the recommended option. For those who can't return home, an isolation strategy will be put in place utilizing campus facilities. At this point, Alvernia has reserved 5% of available residential rooms for use in the isolation strategy. Students should review the Isolation Ready Kit Fact Sheet now to prepare themselves for a potential isolation situation.
Employees will work with their supervisor to determine if sick time or remote work is appropriate while in isolation. The employee can return to work in person once cleared to return by medical provider or has met the CDC standard for return to work.
As testing is a rapidly changing situation in Pennsylvania and across the nation, this plan may be adjusted by new CDC or Department of Health recommendations. In the coming weeks, the university expects to have further guidance for the community.
- What parterships/protocols are in place with local health departments and hospitals if positive cases start to emerge?
Alvernia's Reading campus is partnering with two local hospitals, Penn State Health St. Joseph and Tower Health Reading Hospital, as well as the Southeast District office of the Pennsylvania Department of Health to assist in providing care, follow up and case management as needed. The university has also developed partnerships with the Montgomery County Bureau of the Department of Health (Philadelphia) and the Schuylkill County Health Center (Schuylkill) for students at the Philadelphia and Schuylkill campuses.
Alvernia will continue to develop these partnerships to address needs as they arise.
- What if there is a virus flare on campus during the semester? Will Alvernia close campus and return to remote learning?
While a number of factors could lead to Alvernia having to adjust course delivery and campus life during the semester, the university is prepared to take the necessary precautions to keep the campus community safe. The university will work directly with local public health officials to monitor virus infection rates on campus, in Berks County and the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Alvernia will follow guidance from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania COVID-19 Pandemic Plan and will act accordingly to implement guidelines from the County Status Change (Red/Yellow/Green).
Contingent upon Pennsylvania Department of Health recommendations and guidance from the governor's office, the university is establishing thresholds that trigger campus decisions to cancel outside community events, on-campus events, and sporting events, or, as a last resort, minimize staffing on campus and move instruction online. More information on these thresholds will be shared in the near future.
- Has Alvernia placed any restrictions on travel?
Alvernia has canceled all university-sponsored travel for the fall 2020 semester.
The university is also following the U.S. Department of State Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and is advising all domestic students, faculty and staff to avoid international travel.
- What are the protocols for the university to maintain and sanitize all buildings?
In following CDC guidelines, high-touch and high-traffic campus areas will be sanitized daily. These areas will also have hand sanitizer stations, disinfecting wipes and spray disinfectants to be used frequently throughout the day by those individuals overseeing the area.
Restroom checks will be completed multiple times daily for cleanliness and supply needs. Hand sanitizer stations will be added to all restrooms.
Sanitizer stations will be added to the entrance of all campus buildings, as well as common areas and high traffic areas.
Sanitizing wipes will be made available in all classrooms, labs, studios, etc. Students, faculty, and staff should wipe desks, keyboards and computer mouse devices before using them. Used wipes should be immediately discarded. Extra or larger trash cans will be placed in areas as needed.
The university had invested in Halo and Curis Disinfection Systems for campus-wide use.
- Can you describe the measures Alvernia is taking with local communities to prevent the spread of the virus?
Education and social responsibility are at the forefront of Alvernia's COVID-19 mitigation tactics. The university will continue to educate its students, faculty and staff on the importance of enacting and maintaining proper health guidelines as described by the CDC and as outlined by the Pennsylvania Governor's office. Alvernia has and will continue to engage in collaborative efforts with various members of the local community (businesses, government officials, internship locations) to ensure these guidelines are being followed throughout the fall semester.
- What should I do if I am struggling with the transition back to campus or someone I know seems to be in distress?
Students should ask for help and utilize resources on campus including the Health and Wellness Center. Students can contact the Health and Wellness Center at 610-568-1467 to talk to a counselor. Counseling services will be utilizing telehealth when appropriate and in-person visits if necessary.
Employees can utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) during the transition.