6/12/2020 Protect Purdue Plan slide

The personal health kit to be distributed to every Boilermaker on campus will include two masks, disinfecting wipes, a digital thermometer and hand sanitizer, according to the plan.

After months of consultation with task forces, medical professionals and University administrators, Purdue unveiled its first official "Protect Purdue Plan" detailing future protective measures on campus.

Among the new information in the plan is that move-in days will be extended from two to five; tests will be available to those with and without symptoms; a new health center will be in play; and students will be able to take their "grab-and-go" food to their rooms to eat or use outdoor tents.

The plan, distributed via email to the campus community by Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Willie Reed, divides its focus into eight key areas.

More responsibility for Boilermakers

The University plans to stagger residence hall move-in over five days, the plan says, different from the traditional two-day move-in. Before even arriving on campus, students "will be given prep materials orienting them to campus, including new COVID-19-related expectations."

The schedule for Boiler Gold Rush will also be changed to include safety practices that reduce "density" in activities that were "congested" in the past.

One expectation reprises the cultural shift toward safety and accountability that Purdue President Mitch Daniels has previously discussed.

"All will participate in training exercises to learn the required safety practices and navigate the new normal on campus," the plan reads. "All will participate in testing and contact tracing under prescribed protocols."

Other expectations for students, faculty and staff include maintaining personal hygiene, receiving the flu vaccination and practicing safety practices such as  wearing masks and washing hands frequently.

The assumption that all students will be responsible and wear face masks in buildings has been challenged by faculty, and the plan notes possible avenues for punishment for people who don't follow the plan.

"Failure to comply with these protocols may result in disciplinary action through the Office of the Provost (faculty), Human Resources (staff) and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (students)," the plan reads. It does not list what those disciplinary actions might be.

Personal protocols

The "wellness kit" Daniels hinted at in a Washington Post op-ed is detailed further. Photos provided in the document show two Purdue-branded black face masks with a small Purdue "P" in the bottom right corner, along with a bottle of hand sanitizer and mention of disinfecting wipes and a digital thermometer.

Any faculty or staff member who wants a kit will be given one for free, the plan notes.

Purdue will further work to be able to "rapidly assess, sample and test any student, faculty or staff member reporting COVID-19 symptoms and those identified through clinically relevant contact tracing."

Both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals will be tested under the goals of protecting the most vulnerable, caring for sick people and managing the expansion of the virus, the plan notes.

The University said it plans to create a mechanism for contact tracing through a combination of in-person interviews and technology tools. Purdue will also decide on the best use of antibody tests and their implementation.

For students who are sick and thus required to quarantine, the University has set aside 400 beds for isolation. Contingency plans are in place if more beds are needed, the plan states. 

A new health center has been established, called the "Protect Purdue Health Center," to "provide oversight and management of the integrated health monitoring and surveillance system for COVID-19." The plan does not identify where that will be.

For students living on campus, a protocol will be established to protect the most vulnerable, the plan says. 

"Students who have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 will be asked to self-identify," it reads, "particularly prior to widespread COVID-19 vaccination, and may be paired as roommates with more vulnerable students."

Other on-campus activities led by student organizations will be given support to help reformat events to align with best practices. This could include making activities into outdoor or virtual events, along with expected social distancing.

Healthier spaces

Many of the plans detailed in the document have already been released relating to the future of classrooms on campus, such as the plans to de-densify classrooms and erect Plexiglas barriers.

For residence and dining halls, social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols will be expected.

Every person in a residence hall will be expected to have a radius of 6 feet of open space, or about 113 square feet. In dining halls, all meals will be limited to carry-out for the beginning of the semester, and only students on meal plans will be allowed to eat from dining courts.

Students will be able to either take their food back to their dorms to eat, or spend time outside in tent seating placed near each dining location, according to the plan. The tents will be equipped with sanitizing wipes for students to use before using the space for eating or studying.

More on-the-go options will also be added to the academic spaces on campus.

The Cordova Recreational Sports Center will reopen in July, the plan states, with a limited occupancy of 250 people to begin with. 

Other spaces on campus will also be de-densified, such as public bathrooms, and the plan says the University will hire more building services staff to meet disinfection requirements for the upcoming semester.

'Resilient' classes

Offering students classes that can quickly be transferred online in case of emergency will highlight Purdue's goal of "resilient pedagogy," according to the plan.

"Recognizing that there will be factors — predictable and unpredictable — outside of our control that will arise during the fall semester (such as a student or instructor needing to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure), the Impact X+ program is helping faculty redesign their courses as resilient offerings that will be flexible for face-to-face and hybrid delivery," the plan states.

Classes like large lecture courses, lab- and writing-intensive courses, experiential and project/team/design courses are being given a "special focus."

Protecting the vulnerable

Faculty and staff can fill out a health intake form to self-identify their vulnerability factors, the plan says. Purdue HR will work with individuals on possible workplace accommodations, such as remote work, alternative schedules, physical alterations and special PPE.

Students can check if they're eligible for financial aid through the federal CARES Act, the plan states. Those funds are expected to be available through Spring 2021 or until the money is exhausted, the plan states.

Community engagement

The plan addresses the need to partner with community leaders, business owners and other stakeholders to further adopt elements of the Protect Purdue Plan. The document says the University will collaborate with leaders in West Lafayette, Lafayette and Tippecanoe County to "create a healthy and safe environment that protects Purdue and our neighbors.

"For example," the plan says, "with more than 60% of our students living off campus, we will work with landlords to support the safety of our students living off campus and we will expect our off-campus students to adhere to the tenets of the Protect Purdue Pledge at all times."

Pushing research forward

Continuing Purdue's research mission necessitates many changes to buildings and operating labs, and the plan outlines a few measures taken to keep researchers safe while continuing their work on campus.

Research principal investigators are creating plans to maintain social distancing in research space, obtaining enhanced PPE and identifying engineering controls that could be used to increase occupancy in the future.

The future of outbreaks

The plan ends with a note on what might happen if a major outbreak of the coronavirus was to occur.

"To prepare for this scenario," the plan states, "however likely or unlikely, Purdue is taking into careful consideration surrounding health care and treatment capabilities, on-campus testing capacities and back-up providers, and available isolation and quarantine capabilities on and around campus."

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