7/7/2020, WALC classroom, close

A classroom in WALC sits prepared for student arrival with spaced desks, chair spaces marked by stickers on the floor, and a mobile Plexiglas barrier. 

Of the 835 class spaces on campus, only about 21 of them have yet been outfitted for "de-densified" instruction, Purdue officials say.

The provost and other University officials discussed the de-densification and other changes coming to campus ahead of this fall in a presentation on facilities management Tuesday afternoon.

Among discussed topics were classroom safety, air filtration, cleaning procedures, student dining and transportation.

Thus far, classrooms are targeted to have a 50% capacity reduction, with a maximum cap of 150 students in the largest rooms, according to Michael Gulich, director of campus planning and sustainability.

Students spaced out in classrooms

There will also be a "10-foot minimum distance" between instructors and the nearest student, Gulich said. Along with this, there will be a 4-foot 6-inch minimum distance between each student.

Gulich said it is important to remember that all students are supposed to face the same direction in classrooms. He said the only exception to this rule is in classrooms in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. To prevent students from facing one another, the round or hexagonal tables in WALC may be swapped out with other furniture from other spaces.

Gulich said that of the 835 instructional spaces on campus, only 8% of those rooms have been "de-densified" thus far.

As far as technology in classrooms, Gulich said that all class spaces will be outfitted with technology to support BoilerCast streaming.

The rooms are being de-densified by a "field implementation team," after the physical facilities department has drawn up plans for how it will distance and change the rooms for the new guidelines. Gulich said there are about 63 completed drawings for these implementations, and the team is moving furniture to fit those drawings.

Along with regular classrooms, some spaces in Stewart Center, Elliott Hall, Loeb Hall and Fowler Hall that have been used in the past for meetings will now be turned into classrooms, Gulich said.

Classroom cleaning

Students and faculty will now be responsible for cleaning their own spaces upon entering classrooms, said Ryan Gallagher, senior director of facilities operations.

"The solution is that they will have available buckets of sanitizing wipes, two or three per classroom," Gallagher said, "and as students come in they can grab a few wipes and go wipe down where they will be sitting prior to use."

Gallagher said that the University plans to have additional custodial staff during the days who will check on these wipes to make sure they are stocked and refilled.

"Cleaning of restrooms, typical operation is to totally disinfect restrooms once per day, typically at evening or night, but in addition with this expanded force during the day, in high-use restrooms they'll have temporary closures to disinfect once a day, sometimes during the day," Gallagher said.

Provost Jay Akridge also addressed how Purdue plans to ensure students are aware of their responsibility to clean, saying that it will now be a part of the syllabus material provided to instructors, and will also be included in the mandatory student training.

"Go in to class, clean (the) desk and have a mask on," Akridge said.

The presentation also addressed the issue of how the University will handle students who may forget their mask. Akridge said that masks will be made available to all departments to give to instructors so they will each have a small supply of masks available for any students who forget theirs.

During class changes, when the hallways are typically busy with passing periods, Chief Innovation and Collaboration Officer for the Purdue Research Foundation David Broecker encouraged that "it's really the impact of everybody doing their part."

He said as students enter and exit classrooms, the University wants the previous class to leave the room first, and then ask people to come in and fill the rooms from the back forward, so as to "not waste time." Faculty can then be the last ones in the room to minimize their exposure, he said.

Facilities update air systems

In addition to physical classroom changes, there will also be changes made to the air filtration systems in campus buildings to bring in more "outside air," according to Jay Wasson, associate vice president for physical facilities.

Wasson said the physical distancing between students will also help to improve the effective amount of outside air per person, but the buildings themselves will also have their air systems modified to pull in more air from the outside than they would normally.

The University plans to remove the energy-conserving systems from the facilities, and have the fans running 24/7, instead of shutting off fans at night as usual, Wasson said.

Gallagher said that once the semester begins, all restrooms in all buildings will be opened up as well as all sinks and stalls, with signs to promote distancing.

Buses and dining changes

He also spoke about how the University worked in coordination with CityBus and is still in the process of figuring out how to de-densify the bus systems. Possible solutions range from implementing new bus routes to offering Purdue custodial staff to help with additional bus cleaning, though they are encouraging people to use other transportation methods.

"They don't have an unlimited supply of buses so we are hoping to see more people walking and biking," Gallagher said.

Vice Provost for Student Life Beth McCuskey discussed the changes being made to the dining system.

She said that with the new Aramark contract, the Purdue Memorial Union basement will be closed for the academic year, but that Aramark will be helping to provide food trucks to mitigate the loss of the basement restaurants. As far as other retail dining locations across campus, those will continue to operate as they have in the past, she said.

The residence hall dining courts will all be fitted to carry-out models, where they will "queue students through the dining courts" in one direction, and they will exit from another door, McCuskey said.

They also have plans for "lots of tents" to allow students to eat outdoors, she said. By doing this, McCuskey said dining is taking a more conservative approach.

Broecker said that there may even be Plexiglas barriers between people as they eat or in common areas of buildings, and wherever else they need to take off their mask.

McCuskey said they want students to "get in the habit of cleaning up before and after you use a space."

Recommended for you