June 05, 2020
As we begin to return to work, the health and safety of our employees is our highest priority. As we’ve developed guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy environment, we’ve been in constant consultation with UTHealth Environmental Health and Safety and are following current guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Environmental Health and Safety recently conducted a walk-through of the Medical School Building’s public areas, conference rooms, and classroom spaces.
This recent article in The Lancet explains the importance of masking and social distancing in curbing the spread of COVID-19. There is an increasing body of evidence that universal masking and social distancing are among the most powerful non-pharmacologic measures to combat CoVID-19. Wearing a mask at work and when coming to work and remaining at least 6 feet apart from others allows you to participate actively and do your part to combat this historic pandemic. Of note, the Medical School is a quasi-clinical building as our students, trainees, faculty, and staff travel back and forth between our building and clinics and hospitals, and we are connected to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
Below are our guidelines for returning to work at the Medical School:
- Masks are strongly encouraged in all common areas and within 6 feet of any other individual, even if they are wearing a mask. This is particularly important for classrooms, conference rooms, elevators, bathrooms, open collaboration spaces, as well as shared offices.
- All individuals returning to campus are encouraged to bring their own cloth masks for use in the Medical School. If you do not have a cloth mask, the school will provide a re-usable mask.
- Social distancing – staying at least 6 feet apart from colleagues – is recommended in all UTHealth buildings. The Leather Lounge and alcoves throughout the building have been reconfigured to follow these guidelines. Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities, Planning, and Engineering are available for consultation for re-engineering spaces to accommodate this guideline. For workspaces where this is not possible, employees are encouraged to consider working in shifts that will allow adequate space between individuals.
- We continue to recommend holding as many meetings as possible in a virtual format, but when in-person meetings are necessary, a room large enough to allow proper social distancing should be used.
- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes have been provided to Medical School offices and Michael (Dung) Le with Procurement can be contacted and have items delivered, if they have them on site. EHS also has some stock available. Procurement can help offices find supplies that may be in high demand or backordered. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been mounted on the ground floor of the MSB. Please contact FIXT (713-500-3498) if any are empty or in need of service.
- Housekeeping has increased its work schedule to disinfect and clean common spaces on a routine basis, including high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, railings, etc. Offices are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own areas by regularly wiping down surface areas with disinfectant wipes, including table tops, desks, and high-touch surfaces such as microwave touchpads and door handles. Please contact FIXT (713-500-3498) if there are any issues or additional requests for Housekeeping services.
- Environmental Health and Safety continues to provide fit testing and training for N95 respirators for anyone with potential exposure to aerosol-generating procedures in the clinical setting.
- Regarding elevator use – please be mindful of limiting the number of people to 4 per car, standing in the corners. Use the stairs when possible.
- Conference Operations recently issued classroom guidelines, including spacing of attendees, disinfection and cleaning of podiums after every event, and the requirement of hand sanitizer use by attendees before and after events. This is in preparation of a June 8 reopening of classroom spaces. The Student Lounge will remain closed.
Detailed information on this topic from UTHealth may be accessed here.
Please take personal responsibility by washing your hands frequently, monitoring your health, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks for your own safety and the safety of others.
Together we will get through this pandemic and will get back to our buildings in a safe and responsible manner.