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Faculty/Librarian Fall ’21 Safety FAQ

Teaching and Learning - Last updated 9/21/21

Vaccinations - Last updated 9/2/21

Masking - Last updated 9/2/21

Testing - Last updated 9/24/21

Contact Tracing - Last updated 8/26/21

Facilities/Cleaning and Disinfecting - Last updated 8/26/21

 


Teaching and Learning

Will classes be online or on campus in the Fall 2021 semester?

Bridgewater State University is returning to a pre-pandemic mix of face-to-face, online and hybrid courses in the Fall semester 2021. The majority of undergraduate day classes will be conducted in-person and on-campus. Students will still have a wide array of choices, including fully face-to-face classes, hybrid classes involving a mixture of in-person and online elements, and fully online classes (both synchronous and asynchronous).

Will faculty members have office hours?

Updated 9/21/21

Faculty members may choose to schedule their office hours virtually or in-person. Faculty will communicate how they plan to hold office hours along with office location, contact information, and hours in their class syllabus.

Will classrooms be reconfigured for social distancing?

In classrooms and labs, BSU has arranged desks and seats to provide for 3 feet of separation between students, as is the protocol for K-12 schools in Massachusetts. Further, the university has been working diligently during the summer to clean and disinfect classrooms, residence and dining halls. In the Fall, classrooms that are utilized will be cleaned and disinfected daily.

Will BSU be offering the full array of academic support services in the fall?

Yes. BSU provides exceptionally strong academic support, services, and resources to help each student succeed. Please visit the Academic Achievement Center website for information on the array of resources available to you and how you an access these resources.

Will students be able to study abroad in the Fall?

No. There continue to be travel restrictions in place, and with the global spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, BSU is not resuming study abroad in the Fall. Our study abroad will restart in Spring 2022, with some applications due in the Fall.

Will students be able to undertake student teaching in the Fall 2021 semester?

Yes. We are moving forward with student teaching in a pre-pandemic mode. BSU has received guidance from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that “all districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week,” and accordingly BSU student will be able to fulfill their student teaching assignments in the classroom. We are requiring student teachers to follow any safety protocols in place in their assigned school districts. The College of Education and Health Sciences will be issuing guidance shortly for prepractica (field-based experience prior to the student teaching semester).


Vaccinations

What is BSU’s current vaccination policy?

Updated 9/2/21

BSU requires that all students must be vaccinated if they are attending in-person classes, living in residence halls, conducting research on-campus or participating in any on-campus activities.

BSU has secured agreements with our three unions on a vaccination mandate for all BSU employees. The implementation schedule for each of the unions is slightly different as a result of when agreement was reached on the MOAs. Faculty and librarians, with the exception of those teaching in the evening, needed to receive their first vaccination by September 1 and be fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving their final dose) by October 15. APA members need to receive their first vaccination by September 7 and be fully vaccinated no later than October 19. AFSCME members must receive their first vaccination by September 15 and be fully vaccinated by October 27. All non-unit employees – non-unit professional, non-unit classified, temporary hourly staff –will be required to be vaccinated (or granted an exemption) and submit an attestation by August 31, 2021. There will be allowances for non-unit employees with a medical or religious exemption.

How will students prove they have met the vaccine requirement?

Students have been asked to complete a student vaccination attestation form in which students indicate the type of vaccine they have received and the dates of their first and second vaccinations. Students may optionally provide their vaccine certification so there is a record of it for them to access if they need it in the future.

In addition, BSU has access to the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) database and can verify student vaccinations. The manual verification process is well underway and BSU will confirm the accuracy of all student attestations. Thus far, every sampled student response has been verified as accurate.

Are faculty and librarians required to complete the attestation form?

Updated 9/2/21

Yes. As a result of an agreement reached with the MSCA, all faculty and librarians must be vaccinated and complete the employee vaccination attestation form.

Can BSU verify that students have received a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, vaccination attestations are verifiable. BSU has access to the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) database and can verify student vaccinations. The manual verification process is well underway and BSU will confirm the accuracy of all student attestations. Thus far, every sampled student response has been verified as accurate.

Will commuter students be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are mandatory this fall for undergraduate and graduate students who are attending in-person classes, conducting research on campus and participating in any on-campus activities, or visiting campus for any reason whatsoever.

Will a student who is unvaccinated and has not received an exemption be allowed to take in-person classes?

Added 9/2/21

No. All students who are unvaccinated, unexempted and unattested will be unenrolled from any in-person classes if they are not compliant by September 1 or when they first arrive on campus, as they are in violation of the Student Conduct Policy. Should students come into compliance with the vaccination mandate prior to the end of the add/drop period for the semester, they will be eligible to register for classes via InfoBear once the vaccination hold has been removed, subject to course availability.

What if a student submits false information on the vaccination attestation form?

A high vaccination percentage for the campus is what makes our return possible. Failure to abide by university policies and expectations designed to ensure our collective safety will be addressed swiftly and strongly per the Student Code of Conduct. The submission of false information on COVID-19 attestation forms or failure to participate in university testing requirements is subject to the student discipline process and may lead to separation from housing or suspension from the university without a refund.

Who should I speak to for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Your primary care physician is always the best choice because they know your medical history and can speak directly to your overall safety in being vaccinated. Another good option is to visit the state’s website that covers a number of concerns.https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions   

How do I get a vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available. Listed below is information about how and where employees can access the COVID-19 vaccine.

How does a student get a religious or medical exemption from taking the COVID-19 vaccination?

Religious and medical exemptions will be accommodated according to state and federal law, following the same exemption procedures BSU uses for other vaccination requirements. If you have a sincerely held religious belief that prevents you from vaccination against COVID-19 or a documented medical exemption, please download the appropriate form below and then contact the Wellness Center at 508.531.1252 or wellnesscenter@bridgew.edu once you have filled out the exemption form. Please note: exemptions based on sincerely held religious belief are not to be used in place of philosophical disagreements with vaccination or the COVID vaccine in particular.

Medical exemption 
Religious exemption 

Will BSU work with students who choose not to be vaccinated for the start of the fall semester?

The university requires all students attending in-person classes, living in campus housing, participating in on-campus activities, or accessing on-campus facilities to be fully vaccinated or have a properly filed medical or religious exemption before coming to campus. BSU has many online classes and will work with students to help them understand their course options. However, we do not plan to add additional online classes to the fall schedule and faculty are not expected to accommodate requests to conduct courses in any different format than offered.

 


Masking

Does BSU require its students, faculty and staff wear a mask on campus

Updated 9/2/21

In light of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant in our region (Plymouth County and Bristol County are regions of substantial and high transmission respectively), and with the goal of ensuring the safety of our campus community, effective August 23, BSU requires that all members of our campus community (including vaccinated students and employees) wear a mask in indoor public places. This policy will continue through September 30, at which time we will reevaluate this policy based on the vaccination status of our campus and updated public health information. This is an element of the “layered prevention strategies, such as wearing masks,” that the CDC states “are needed to reduce the transmission of this variant.”

Where would students, faculty and staff need to wear a mask?

Masks are only mandatory in indoor public spaces. Masking is not required when you are outdoors or alone inside your own office.

Are faculty notified if a student receives a medical mask accommodation?

Added 9/2/21

Yes. Faculty are notified by Student Accessibility Services and the Wellness Center any time a Medical Mask Accommodation has been granted. A medical mask accommodation is only granted if it is the “most reasonable” accommodation that can mitigate the student’s specifically documented barrier.

How is BSU handling student non-compliance with the mask mandate?

Added 9/2/21

Dr. Peter Wiernicki (Director, Office of Community Standards; pwiernicki@bridgew.edu) has worked with Dr. Rita Miller (Dean of Undergraduate Studies) to address issues related to student non-compliance with the mask mandate (effective through at least Sept. 30). We are encouraging the use of the incident report form as the preferred methodology for reporting as that is the most efficient and effective way to manage any incidents involving students.

Because BSU has both a student conduct policy and a classroom conduct policy, Faculty may use either link below if working with a student who violates BSU’s mask requirement.

What if I am unable to wear a mask?

Employees should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity (titleix@bridgew.edu) to discuss any appropriate accommodations.

Can I wear a gaiter mask or mask with exhalation valves?

Some mask styles such as “gaiters” or masks with exhalation valves or vents are not permitted on the BSU campus because they do not meet the medical criteria for use as personal protective equipment (PPE).

For on-campus classes, what are the requirements for mask wearing?

Students will need to wear a mask in the classroom.

What about an internship or a practicum placement?

If students are in internship or practicum placements that are not on the BSU campus, they are still expected to follow the BSU guidance and any additional guidance provided by the host specific to their placement.

 


Testing

What if a student refuses to wear a mask while in my classroom?

Added 9/24/21

Students are required to wear a mask in the classroom unless they have been granted an official accommodation by the university (of which the faculty member would be informed). BSU has been actively promoting mask wearing through training developed by Human Resources & Talent Management and video and messaging being produced and disseminated across multiple social media and other communications platforms by Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Marketing and Communications.

Per the Memorandum of Agreement between the Board of Higher Education and Massachusetts State College Association, faculty members are not expected to enforce the mask requirement. If a student refuses to wear a mask after being informed by the faculty member of the requirement, the faculty member has the right to dismiss that student from class. If the student continues not to comply to leave the classroom, the faculty member has the authority to dismiss the entire class. Please do NOT contact BSUPD in cases involving non-compliance with the mask requirement.

The faculty member should then report the incident to the Office of Community Standards. Student noncompliance with mask wearing requirements will be managed as a student conduct matter. We are encouraging the use of the incident report form as the preferred methodology for reporting as that is the most efficient and effective way to manage any incidents involving students. As BSU has both a student conduct policy and a classroom conduct policy, faculty may use either link below if working with a student who violates BSU’s mask requirement.

What should I do if a student or employee is not wearing a mask in an indoor public space outside of a classroom?

Added 9/24/21

It is important to note that it is not the responsibility of an employee to enforce the mask requirement and, in general, However, if you know the person and feel comfortable, you could respectfully, politely and discretely remind them of the mask wearing requirement. Making someone feel ashamed or embarrassed will only make them less likely to change and can also trigger a confrontation. Do not make the request personal; remind them of the university policy and/or the importance of wearing a mask to protect their own and other’s safety. If you know the person but do not feel comfortable reminding them of the policy, you could report the non-compliance. In the case of a student, you can submit an incident report to the Office of Community Standards via the Community Standards Incident Report Form. In the case of an employee, you can send an e-mail via safeemployees@bridgew.edu. The more information you can provide about the incident and identity of the individual, the more we can do to successfully resolve the situation.

In a situation where you do not know the person and do not feel comfortable gently reminding the person of the university requirement, the best approach is to try to maintain your distance and ensure your own mask is on correctly, rather than risk a confrontation Recall that just passing a person does not make you a close contact with that individual.

Please do NOT contact BSUPD in cases involving non-compliance with the mask requirement.

BSU has been actively promoting mask wearing through training developed by Human Resources & Talent Management and video and messaging being produced and disseminated across multiple social media and other communications platforms by Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Marketing and Communications.

Does BSU share its testing data?

Added 9/9/21

Yes. As we did last year, BSU will update its online dashboard weekly. The dashboard can be accessed through the Fall ’21 website and updates will be posted on Fridays beginning September 10.

Does BSU administer individual PCR tests or does it use pool testing?

Added 9/9/21

BSU will utilize pool testing in which one laboratory test would be conducted on 10 individual samples collected in a combined pool. If there are any positive results in the pool, all 10 individuals would be immediately contacted by the Wellness Center with instructions on how to isolate pending a negative individual test result, and all people in the pool would be individually tested to determine who in that pool has the COVID-19 virus.

When is BSU offering testing?

Added 9/9/21

BSU offers COVID-19 testing Monday-Thursday in the Wellness Center from 8:30am-10am and 2:30pm-4pm, and symptomatic testing on Friday by appointment only. Please contact the Wellness Center at 508-531-1252 to schedule a symptomatic testing appointment.

What should I do if I tested positive for COVID-19 but the test was not conducted at BSU?

Added 9/9/21

If you have received a positive test that was conducted outside of BSU or you know of anyone at BSU who has tested positive, please immediately contact the Wellness Center utilizing this COVID-19 exposure form. This site is monitored several times every day, including weekends and holidays.

What is BSU’s current testing policy? Is BSU requiring students to undergo weekly testing?

Students who are vaccinated do not need to undergo regular testing. However, students who have been granted a medical or religious exemption from getting the COVID-19 vaccine will need to undergo weekly testing through the Wellness Center. Currently, non-unit employees who have secured an exemption from the vaccination requirement will be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing through the university’s Wellness Center.

How does BSU administer its COVID-19 tests?

BSU works with the world-renowned Broad Institute for our testing process. Our tests are conducted through a simple, self-administered dry nasal swab that takes only a few minutes to complete.

Are BSU students or employees charged for mandatory testing?

No. There is no charge for the weekly mandatory testing. The university is assuming this cost.

What is the classroom protocol if a student tests positive on a COVID-19 test?

Updated 9/9/21

Any individuals who receives a positive COVID-19 test result will be immediately contacted by the BSU Wellness Center with instructions on how to isolate. Any student or employee, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, who tests positive for COVID-19 must follow the same isolation protocol  that has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. Those individuals would NOT be permitted to come to class or utilize labs, rehearsal spaces or other facilities.

What if a student is a close contact of a student who tests positive for COVID-19?

Added 9/2/21

If the student is fully vaccinated and has no symptoms, they would be able to attend classes in person. They would be required to wear a mask for 14 days and get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after exposure. The student would not need to quarantine.

If the student is not fully vaccinated, they will need to utilize their quarantine plan until they know for sure if their classmate has tested positive. If a classmate tests positive and the student is considered a close contact, the student will be given further information about quarantine by the BSU Wellness Center. The student will need to quarantine for seven days after receiving a negative test result. It is important to note that the test must occur no sooner than day five after being exposed or later.

Can faculty and librarians receive asymptomatic testing on campus?

Added 9/2/21

Yes. The Wellness Center is making asymptomatic COVID testing available to all BSU Employees Monday through Thursday, from 8:30am-10am and again from 2:30pm-4pm. An employee testing signup genius form has been created to schedule these appointments, all of which take place at the back door of Wellness (the door facing the MBTA train station). If there are questions or special circumstances, employees are encouraged to call Wellness directly at x1252.

 


Contract Tracing

How will BSU notify faculty, staff, or students who may have unknowingly come into contact with a someone infected with the virus?

Contact tracing will be a key component for the continued monitoring of the campus and rapid response for preventing further transmission and spread of the virus. Tracing will be carried out by a specific contact tracing team led by Health Services, leveraging technology developed by the Division of Information Technology. Only the information required to enable immediate contact tracing will be collected and reported.

BSU’s contact tracing system has worked very successfully in helping us to quickly identify and contact any members of our community who may have come in contact with an infected person. The system draws from multiple sources of data that affords us a high level of precision in determining where a person with COVID-19 has been and with whom they may have come in contact.

 


Facilities/Cleaning and Disinfecting

What can I expect with regard to cleaning and disinfecting classrooms and other areas on campus?

BSU Custodial Services operates 24 hours per day/seven days per week. In the fall, classrooms that are utilized will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Restrooms in buildings where classes will be held will be cleaned and disinfected routinely throughout the day, while restrooms in buildings without classes will be cleaned and disinfected a minimum of once per day. Please see the Cleaning & Disinfecting policy on the Fall ’21 Return site for additional information about residence halls and common spaces.

I am concerned about indoor air quality. How does BSU manage this?

All BSU buildings meet or exceed building ventilation air change rates established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Our building preventative maintenance schedule includes the timely change of air filters that ensure systems are operating efficiently and safely.