As part of our ongoing communications outreach to the campus community, a live webinar was held on August 4, 2020 to discuss campus COVID-19 planning efforts.
Answers to Other FAQs
Time ran out before some of the questions could be addressed by the panelists in the campus webinar on August 4. Answers to those questions are presented here.
Testing and tracing are key to stopping outbreaks. The Georgia DPH is overburdened. Are there any resources that UGA will have to help the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) do the contact tracing?
We have built a much more robust relationship with DPH over the course of the last few months as they have ramped up their resources. We have liaisons now identified between UGA and the DPH, and they will have bi-directional conversations around areas where there are gaps in need or inadequate information sharing.
Contact tracing by the DPH will be facilitated by case identification done on campus through the DawgCheck survey tool, which will be implemented on August 10. DawgCheck will request precursor information that typically is not obtained until such a time as a contact tracer is assigned a case at the DPH – e.g., names and contact information of others who might have been exposed. This information will now flow to the DPH in real time securely through the survey tool. Also, testing of members of the campus community will move predominately to being sourced from UGA either through the Health Center or through the on-campus surveillance testing site at Legion Field. This consolidation of testing sources will make it much easier for us to track positives. Our liaisons will be able to help shepherd the information sharing process and, when needed, contact those individuals who test positive but who do not submit complete surveys or whose surveys are incomplete. This may include direct contact of UGA community members by UGA case identifiers.
The Clarke County School District classes have gone fully online for the foreseeable future. How should faculty/staff/students cope with the added responsibility of educating their children while being expected to return to work? What assistance can UGA provide?
Deans, Directors and Department Heads have been advised by University Human Resources that they may implement flexible work schedules and telecommuting decisions internally and should work with their unit HR liaisons and individual employees to develop flexible work schedule plans to address COVID-19 related work scheduling and leave challenges that will occur this fall semester. Changes to the procedures for reporting telecommuting and flexible work schedules have been made to allow Deans, Directors and Department Heads to quickly and effectively use scheduling tools in a manner which preserves the in-person delivery of instruction, research, outreach and student services while achieving return to campus imperatives of social and physical distancing guidelines in a unit’s work spaces; maintaining a unit’s workforce at a level sufficient to deliver its core mission/services; or meeting operational needs to ensure there is not an adverse impact to the delivery of a unit’s core mission/services. Deans, Directors and Department Heads may also approve the use of telework for COVID-19 leave situations when a non-symptomatic employee must quarantine themselves upon notification of a close contact COVID-19 exposure.
Can someone explain the logic and ethics behind providing accommodations (i.e., option for online teaching) to high-risk faculty, yet refusing to provide accommodations to faculty who live with and/or care for high-risk individuals? This is a major concern for students, part-time employees and graduate assistants who do not have the ability to use up accrued leave to stay home. Additionally, many full-time staff do not have enough accrued leave to stay home.
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not provide for COVID-19 related accommodations for anyone but the individual requesting the accommodation; dependents or other family members in the household are not covered. Therefore, requests by faculty, staff or students to stay home to telework because someone in the household was at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 were not approved. In those cases, employees would need to use either accrued leave or Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave.
Deans, Directors and Department Heads have been advised by University Human Resources that they may implement flexible work schedules and telecommuting decisions internally and should work with their unit HR liaisons and individual employees to develop flexible work schedule plans to address COVID-19 related work scheduling and leave challenges that will occur this fall semester. Changes to the procedures for reporting telecommuting and flexible work schedules have been made to allow Deans, Directors and Department Heads to quickly and effectively use scheduling tools in a manner which preserves the in-person delivery of instruction, research, outreach and student services while achieving return to campus imperatives of social and physical distancing guidelines in a unit’s work spaces; maintaining a unit’s workforce at a level sufficient to deliver its core mission/services; or meeting operational needs to ensure there is not an adverse impact to the delivery of a unit’s core mission/services.
Why is UGA continuing to pursue in-person reopening plans when UGA now ranks no. 3 in the nation for reported positive cases among higher education institutions, according to the New York Times?
The University regrets that The New York Times’ misleading report has caused confusion and concern among our campus constituents. Since the decision to move classes online in March 2020, the University Health Center has demonstrated its commitment to public health by providing a daily update on positive COVID-19 tests for UGA students and employees. These cases include total positive tests reported to the Health Center since March 2020 from Athens as well as extended campuses, extension offices across the state, and even the hometowns of students across the country, for more than 50,000 faculty, staff and students connected to UGA. This number is not a daily count of cases, but rather a cumulative total since March 2020. It is not uncommon for the Health Center to be informed of a case in another location weeks after a person has received test results, and a cumulative total necessarily includes individuals who have recovered. Thus, the figure should not be viewed as an accurate barometer of the current status of COVID-19 at UGA’s main campus.
A more accurate way to assess data specific to UGA and Athens-Clarke County (or the locations of our extended campuses) is to access the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website. The DPH collects and posts data specific to all 159 Georgia counties on its Daily Status Report. All you need to do is scroll to the state map and hover over the desired county to see the latest information on count and trend lines.
Given the importance of proper ventilation in combatting the spread of COVID-19, what are you doing to ensure that all spaces, particularly interior offices, classrooms and spaces that lack windows are properly ventilated? Has there been any consideration to installing HEPA filters, for example?
As the Facilities Management Division (FMD) considers how to implement emerging HVAC best practices as published by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and the CDC, the limitations of existing systems are carefully considered. In newer systems with the ability to better control outside air, FMD is implementing extended operation of the building HVAC systems to flush spaces with increased volumes of outside air. In older systems, FMD is evaluating whether increased outside air volumes can be implemented within the limits of system designs.
Also, for circulating air between large numbers of spaces, FMD utilizes the highest efficiency standard of filtration that the current building systems can handle, when considering air pressure and size limitations. In addition, UGA’s design standards have required building scale HVAC systems on campus to be equipped with Ultra Violet (UV) systems that are integral to the air handler since 2012. FMD has been conducting inspections, cleaning coils and replacing air filters (as needed) and verifying the function of UV systems (where equipped) in campus HVAC systems as part of the routine preventive maintenance program.
How is it determined who gets to go to class and who doesn’t? I am paying for face-to-face instruction, and it is not guaranteed to me. Is it a first-come, first-served basis? Is this fair?
You should receive additional information about your opportunities for in-person attendance directly from your faculty. They are working to develop plans so that every student gets equal opportunities to attend classes in-person. However, the exact frequency of in-person attendance and the format will vary from one class to another as it depends on the seating capacity and enrollment in that class. Please look for this information in your syllabus when it is available or contact your faculty for more details.You may also wish to talk to your academic advisor to see if you can find the classes that best meet your needs and expectations, while maintaining adequate progress to complete your academic goals.