KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney Facilities Management and Planning has been preparing for the fall semester since March.
That’s when the department started researching all the supplies and equipment needed to keep students, staff, faculty and visitors safe when in-person instruction resumes Monday (Aug. 24).
The past five months have certainly been strange, according to Director Lee McQueen. With supply chains disrupted, delivery dates for certain products were pushed back weeks or months, and some shipments were canceled. The department responded to these challenges with flexible solutions, ensuring the campus community’s needs were met.
“We want everyone to have a great campus experience and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen,” McQueen said.
Here’s a look at some of the steps UNK Facilities Management and Planning is taking to protect campus this fall:
Facilities Management expects to have 200,000 disposable face masks available for students, employees and visitors when fall classes begin.
These masks will be distributed to departments and offices through work-order requests, with the initial distribution allowing up to 25 masks for each full-time employee. Each academic department will receive an additional 500 masks for students who show up to class without one.
Residence halls will also be stocked with disposable masks to ensure they’re worn by students and guests in common areas.
UNK will maintain a reserve of 100,000 disposable face masks for future distribution and use at on-campus events.
In addition to disposable masks, the university is providing a reusable, cloth face mask to every student and employee. These masks have been delivered to individual departments for distribution. Students living in the residence halls will receive their mask during move-in, and those living off campus can pick one up at various locations across campus once the fall semester begins.
UNK is requiring students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face masks in all shared spaces on campus during Phases I and II of its fall operating plan. This includes classrooms, labs, studios, common areas and offices where people work within 6 feet of each other. In situations where masks are not feasible, such as athletics, music and theater, other protective measures will be implemented.
Facilities Management purchased 175 wall-mounted dispensers that will be installed in buildings across campus with a focus on entrances and other high-traffic areas. These dispensers use an alcohol-based, foam hand sanitizer.
The department also ordered 2,000 gallons of alcohol-based, liquid hand sanitizer from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that will be distributed to all faculty and staff on campus in refillable 8-ounce spray bottles (one bottle per employee). UNK has enough hand sanitizer to fill the bottles 32,000 times.
Packages of single-use disinfecting wipes will be distributed to academic colleges three times during the semester, with volumes determined by the number of students enrolled in classes there.
These wipes are intended for use in shared spaces, with an emphasis on classrooms. Students are expected to disinfect their desk or work area before each class begins.
Disinfecting wipes are also available for departmental shared spaces, such as conference rooms.
Facilities Management is installing clear, plastic barriers in high-traffic areas and spaces where there’s regular interaction between people, including the Fine Arts Building, Warner Hall, Nebraskan Student Union, Memorial Student Affairs Building and Calvin T. Ryan Library.
So far, the department has installed about 60 plexiglass barriers and roughly 3,800 square feet of plastic sheeting, with additional requests expected.
UNK’s heating, air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems move outdoor and recirculated air through high-grade commercial filters. Facilities Management plans to increase the exchange rate each day, bringing in more outside air and exhausting more recirculated air. This will be done early in the morning so indoor temperatures are comfortable when employees arrive.
Facilities Management is also utilizing ultraviolet-light systems to kill viruses and other microorganisms. These systems are being installed in the Nebraskan Student Union, Wellness Center and Discovery Hall air-handling units. Some areas in the performing arts wing of the Fine Arts Building are receiving wall-mounted UV lighting.
Beginning last semester, custodial staff increased the use of disinfectants in high-traffic and common areas, with an emphasis on “touch points” such as door handles, elevator buttons, faucets, light switches, railings, tabletops and chairs.
Touch-point disinfecting occurs two times a day, in addition to other cleaning measures. To assist with this task, Facilities Management purchased electrostatic sprayers that use a disinfectant that kills COVID-19 and other viruses in approximately four minutes. The positively charged disinfectant is attracted to negatively charged surfaces, allowing the disinfectant to efficiently coat hard, nonporous surfaces.
All UNK employees are encouraged to routinely disinfect touch points in common areas, including conference rooms, waiting areas, service counters and shared workspaces.