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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

 

Vernon College COVID-19 Plan for Spring Semester 2021

 

Most of the following health protocols were recommended by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for Campus Operations During COVID-19 as detailed at www.highered.texas.gov . This checklist is based on health protocols included in: (1) The Governor’s Report to Open Texas (April 27, 2020) and the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas (updated October 13, 2020); (2) COVID-19 Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education (updated December 14, 2020) and other information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); (3) Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era (May 7, 2020) provided by the American College Health Association (ACHA); (4) Preliminary Guidance for Resuming In-Person Instruction at Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs (June 3, 2020) provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education; and (5) COVID-19 Checklist for Campus Housing Professionals (May 6, 2020) provided by the Future of Housing Work Group assembled by the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I). These sources have continually updated information over the past several months.

As Texas continues to reopen the economy and Vernon College plans for the spring semester, each employee and student must take personal and social responsibility seriously. Avoid crowds, practice social distancing everywhere, including campus, wash hands frequently, and monitor your temperature. As a place of employment, Vernon College can only assist with your health and safety approximately one-third of each day. As an educational institution, we provide safety measures for students only 3-4 hours per day. Each employee and each student must understand their personal and social responsibility for their health and safety as well as the health and safety of their friends, family, and co-workers the remainder of each day.

Employees and students are strongly encouraged to be cautious and to stay home if they encounter the possibility of COVID-19 or are feeling sick and feverish. Employees should notify their supervisor, VC Vice-president of Instruction seek medical attention, and prepare to quarantine if necessary. Students should self-report to the Vernon College COVID-19 Case Investigator, seek medical attention, stay off campus and away from classes, and prepare to quarantine. Students should contact each faculty member by email to make arrangements for class expectations.

Students at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are advised to consider their risk before deciding whether to return to Campus. The decision will solely be that of the student, although Vernon College officials may advise such students to remain at their permanent residence taking courses remotely. Faculty and staff at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 will be guided by existing Vernon College policies and CDC guidelines.

Health Protocols for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Campus Visitors

  • Each primary entry into a Vernon College building has signage indicating that employees, students, and campus visitors are certifying by entry that they:
    • have not been determined to be actively infected with COVID-19,
    • do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19 as listed on the CDC’s website,
    • have not been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days, and
    • have not returned from international travel or traveled through an area with state or local travel restrictions that mandate quarantine upon arrival home in the previous 14 days.
    • will adhere to college recommended social distancing and safety protocol to:
      • maintain 6 feet social distancing from other employees, students, and visitors
      • wear a face covering
      • wash hands frequently for 20 seconds
      • cover coughs and sneezes
      • monitor temperature
  • Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, students, faculty, and staff are expected to report if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 10 days, in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19 and other applicable federal and state privacy and confidentiality laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • If the employee or student fails to meet any of the criteria listed above and cannot certify themselves:
    • DO NOT ENTER ANY BUILDING
      • employees must self-report to Vice-President of Instruction—Dr. Elizabeth Crandall @ crandall@vernoncollege.edu
      • students must self-report to the VC COVID-19 Case Investigator—Dr. Jim Nordone @ jnordone@vernoncollege.edu
      • employee should not report to campus/workplace,
      • students should not report to campus/classroom
      • should follow current CDC guidance regarding self-quarantine or self-isolation, and
      • will only be allowed to return to campus/classroom/workplace if cleared to return by their healthcare provider, county health department, Vice President of Instruction, and/or VC COVID-19 Case Investigator.
  • Information will be/has been disseminated through various media sources for all students, faculty, and staff on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory
  • Signs will be/have been posted in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs (such as properly washing hands and properly wearing a face covering).
  • Dusty R. Johnston (Vernon College President) is the primary COVID-19 liaison responsible for communicating and coordinating with the local health department, local emergency services, and local health care providers. This coordination will be ongoing and should include prompt, coordinated responses to COVID 19 and other emergencies. Dr. Johnston’s contact information is:
  • Jim Nordone is the Vernon College COVID-19 Case Investigator responsible for investigation and follow-up with all reported student positive cases, household contacts, and contact exposures. Dr. Nordone will coordinate with county health departments to assign quarantine dates and have final approval to provide clearance to individuals to return to class and/or Vernon College facility.
  • Elizabeth Crandall will coordinate investigation and follow-up with all reported employee positive cases, household contacts, and contact exposures. Dr. Crandall will assign quarantine dates and have final approval to provide clearance to individuals to return to class and/or Vernon College facility.
  • 940-552-6291 2243
  • crandall@vernoncollege.edu

Health Protocol to return to any on-campus activity for any student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor who has tested positive, is a household contact, or has been exposed in some manner

Vernon College will follow closely the following clearance procedures recommended by the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District. Dr. Crandall and Dr. Nordone will have the final decision making authority.

Wichita Fall-Wichita County Public Health District Clearance Procedures

A CASE, with mild to moderate disease1 and not identified as severely immunocompromised3:

  • CASE (who has/had symptoms) must remain in isolation for 10 days from symptom onset, to include 3 consecutive days symptom free.
    • If the individual has symptoms that are attributable to a chronic illness but also are a symptom of COVID19, the individual will need one negative test to be able to differentiate between COVID19 and the chronic illness; one is acceptable, but additional testing may be needed, if clinically indicated at the request of the individual’s health care provider.
  • CASE (who did not/does not have symptoms) must remain in isolation for 10 days from the date of the positive test.
  • CASE is cleared when release criteria are met.
  • The following are the next steps, but do not require follow-up once the parameters are given. The appropriate clearance must be selected based on whether the individual choses to test or not test.
  • Release criteria:
    1. Once the above criteria are met, the CASE may choose to retest and use the following guidelines:
      • While test is pending, CASE may leave home, but must wear a mask and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing)
      • If positive, CASE must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 11) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing)
      • If negative, CASE is not required to wear a mask while leaving home, but it is advisable at all times; individuals MUST follow any state laws/Governor’s Orders.
    2. Once the above criteria are met, the CASE may choose not to retest. The individual will be treated as if they tested positive and must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 11) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing).

For a CASE, with severe disease2 and/or identified as severely immunocompromised3:

  • CASE (who has/had symptoms) must remain in isolation for 20 days from symptom onset, to include 3 consecutive days symptom free.
    • If the individual has symptoms that are attributable to a chronic illness but also are a symptom of COVID19, the individual will need at least one negative test to be able to differentiate between COVID19 and the chronic illness; one is acceptable, but additional testing may be needed, if clinically indicated at the request of the individual’s health care provider.
  • CASE (who did not/does not have symptoms) – this would just be for asymptomatic severely immune compromised) must remain in isolation for 14 days from the date of the positive test.
  • CASE is cleared when the release criteria are met.
  • Release criteria:
    1. Once the above criteria are met, the CASE may choose to retest and use the following guidelines:
      • While test is pending, CASE may leave home, but must wear a mask and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing)
      • If positive, CASE must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 21) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing)
      • If negative, CASE is not required to wear a mask while leaving home, but it is advisable at all times; individuals MUST follow any state laws/Governor’s Orders.
    2. Once the above criteria are met, the CASE may choose not to retest. The individual will be treated as if they tested positive and must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 21) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing).

A HOUSEHOLD CONTACT (HHC) of a CASE:

  • Must remain in quarantine for a period of 10 days from improvement in symptoms in the CASE.
  • If the CASE is asymptomatic, the time for the HHC is 10 days from the date of the positive test of the case.
  • If symptoms develop, encourage testing immediately. If positive, treat as CASE. If negative, stay with prior bullet.
    • If symptomatic contact refuses testing, they will be subject to the following requirements:
      • Once the 10 day criteria, as above, are met, the individual will be treated as if they tested positive and must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 11) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing).

A CONTACT of a CASE (within 2 days prior to symptom onset in the CASE until present day):

  • Must remain in quarantine for a period of 10 days from date of exposure to the CASE.
  • If symptoms develop, encourage testing immediately. If positive, treat as CASE. If negative, stay with prior bullet.
    • If symptomatic contact refuses testing, they will be subject to the following requirements:
      • Once the 10 day criteria, as above, are met, the individual will be treated as if they tested positive and must wear a mask while leaving the home for a period of 14 days (this starts on day 11) and take appropriate precautions (limit contact, hand-washing, physical distancing).

Employers, to include healthcare facilities, may require stricter return to work standards. Clearance from the Health District does not necessarily indicate a return to work is authorized by the employer. Follow the above guidelines in addition to employer’s requirements. Individuals are to communicate directly with their employer and medical providers regarding clearance requirements.

 

Definitions:

  1. Mild to Moderate COVID19 Disease: no hospitalization due to COVID19
  2. Severe or Critical COVID19 Disease: hospitalization due to COVID19
  3. Severely Immunocompromised: as determined by a physician or a case indicating they are on chemotherapy for cancer, have untreated HIV infection, have a immunodeficiency disorder and receipt of prednisone >20mg/day for more than 14 days.

 

Vernon College Additional Clearance Procedures and Protocol

 

  • In the case of a student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 who has not been evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID- 19, the individual will be assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to on- campus activity until the individual has completed the criteria listed above in the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health Clearance Procedures; or
  • If the student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to on-campus activity before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis, or
  • Provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test
  • Faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to work remotely or take sick or another appropriate leave in accordance with Vernon College policies and guidelines. They will place themselves in self-isolation as determined by local health officials at the time of testing, returning to campus only after cleared to return by their health care provider, county health department, or VC COVID-19 Case Investigator in compliance with CDC guidelines. Quarantine or self-isolation must be taken seriously and will be monitored as necessary.
  • Vernon College recommends all individuals wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the reopened campus operation and all individuals maintain at least 6-feet separation from other individuals. Additional measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, sneeze guards, other physical dividers, and sanitation are encouraged, particularly in smaller air spaces in which a number of individuals will be spending time
  • Students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors are required to wear non-medical grade face-face coverings while on campus for any reason and at any location. (See Face-Cover Protocol below)
  • Vernon College will notify faculty, staff, students, families, and the public of campus closures and any restrictions in place to limit COVID-19 exposure (e.g., limited hours of operation).

Face-Cover Protocol

  • Face coverings are to be worn by students, prospective students, and visitors while on campus for any reason and at any location
  • Students may remove face coverings while eating in the dining hall, VC Café, or student lounge if social distancing of 6 ft. or more is possible
  • Various career and technical program skill development training classes may require face coverings to be removed for certain activities welding
  • Face coverings are not required in parking areas or outside the buildings
  • Face coverings are to be worn by employees
    • In hallways
    • When engaging students or others even from behind plexi-glass shields
    • In congregate areas
  • Employees may remove face coverings when at their desks if in an office setting that allows for social distancing of 6 ft. or more
  • Face coverings are not required (but recommended) of faculty while lecturing from the front of the classroom
  • Face coverings are required of faculty:
    • When walking around the classroom while lecturing or in discussion with students
    • Engaging with students in close contact in the classroom
    • Engaging with student in close contact in one on one discussions in the classroom or faculty office
  • Face coverings are required of switchboard receptionists seated behind barrier shields
  • Students with documented health issues that are negatively impacted by wearing face coverings must contact Dr. Jim Nordone, VC COVID-19 Case Investigator and carry a copy of the official medical document with them while on campus.
  • Employees with documented health issues that are negatively impacted by wearing face coverings must contact Human Resources
  • Employees and students must provide their own face coverings. 
  • CDC guidance for face coverings https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html

Facility Protocols for Reopened Campus Operations

Vernon College will

  • Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms in accordance with CDC guidelines (see Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility) and have sufficient disinfecting supplies to maintain hygienic standards.
  • Thoroughly disinfect (multiple times per day) items (e.g., desk or workspace) that come into contact with students, faculty, staff, or campus
  • Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to all
  • Ensure students and employees are aware to be cautious in “high” close quarter spaces, such as elevators, hallways, and bathrooms.
  • Reduce exposure in common areas by closing drinking fountains, utilizing door-stops, reducing furniture in gathering

Protocol on Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick

Advise Sick Individuals of Home Isolation Criteria

Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick

  • Provide notice that faculty, staff, and students should not come to the campus if they are sick and should notify institution officials (e.g., designated COVID-19 liaison) if they become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Separate faculty, staff, and students with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath). Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC Guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick. Institutions should follow CDC’s Guidance for Shared or Congregate Housing for those that live in IHE-operated
  • Establish procedures to allow for safely transporting anyone who is sick to their home or to a healthcare facility. If you are calling an ambulance or bringing someone to the hospital, try to call first to alert them that the person may have COVID-19.

Clean and Disinfect

Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts

 

Preparing for Instruction

  • Use physical distancing plans for each course, such as staggered or rotating schedules and seating spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • The number of individuals assigned to classrooms or auditoriums will be limited by space. On-site face-to-face classes sizes will be limited. Some classes will be taught in a hybrid or blended methodology as determined by the Vice-President of Instructional Services, Dean of Instructional Services, and Division Chairs in consultation with faculty.
  • In addition to face-to-face instruction, online delivery through Canvas, Office 365 Teams, and other alternative methodology will be utilized to provide instruction and to assist students.
  • Special arrangements and precautions will be required for students and faculty engaged in clinical programs (e.g., nursing, allied health, athletic training, student teaching, etc.). Arrangements and precautions are unique to the program and guided by the program’s accreditation as well as medical and public health guidance. Program directors and coordinators will provide oversight of these arrangements.
  • The instructional component of Vernon College will have contingency plans for rapid return to online instruction if an increase in local infections requires physical distancing. Face-to-face classes will have a Canvas component for supplemental instruction to assist students and to enable a swift transition to online courses if necessary.
  • Dual credit will be delivered via Face to Face, online, hybrid/blended utilizing Office 365 Teams in consultation with individual ISDs.

 

 

Preparing for Student Services

  • Ensure testing center sanitization and social distancing protocols. 
  • Ensure testing center schedule and hours of operation.
  • Strongly encourage all students to register online when possible
  • Ensure staffing of Health Center and hours of operation
  • Ensure social distancing protocols in Testing, Advising, Academic Coaching, Mentoring, Admissions, Registration, Financial Aid, Career Services, Veterans Services, and Early College.

 

Preparing for Reopening Residence and Dining Facilities

Vernon College will:

Space Accommodations

  • Limit occupancy in gathering areas of the residence hall and dining hall to ensure social distancing.
  • Reconfigure dining facilities and operations to ensure that students, employees, and visitors are 6-feet apart.
  • Ensure that strategies and interventions implemented do not prohibit access for students with disabilities.
  • Ensure all space accommodations follow ADA laws and

Dining Halls

  • Food service will resume/continue with a greater emphasis on take-away options, barriers between cashiers and customers, minimized reliance on buffets (self-service), maximized safeguards where self-service is unavoidable, and limited seating, consistent with the accepted standards in place at the time.
  • Require all dining facility staff to wear face coverings and gloves at all times while working and interacting with the public, practicing physical distancing whenever possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the workday. Make a hand sanitizing station available upon entry.
  • Since an individual cannot eat and drink while in a face covering, it is strongly suggested that face coverings be worn during movement in the facility and removed when sitting and dining.
  • Provide meals in to go trays only and use plastic utensils
  • Limit the number of individuals dining in a single facility at one time by alternating student and employee groups schedules. Possible approaches include:
    • Access control: Once the target number is reached, patrons are only allowed to enter when another diner leaves.
    • Cohort dining: Established dining times admitting a specific group of diners.
    • Physically spaced (6-foot) floor markers for waiting lines outside and inside the facility.
    • Appropriately spaced and limited numbers of tables and chairs per table.
  • No buffet-style self-serve food and salad bar.
  • Non-disposable food service items used will be handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.
  • Provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions.
  • Arrange food delivery to students in isolation or quarantine.

Residence Halls

  • Vernon College will conduct weekly wellness checks of residents including temperature checks.
  • Provide guidance to residence hall students for cleaning protocol of residence halls consistent with CDC guidance.
  • Decisions about residence hall capacity will be made following the guidance provided by the CDC for Living in Shared Housing and Shared and Congregate Housing, and the COVID-19 Checklist for Campus Housing Professionals provided by the Future of Housing Work Group assembled by the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I).
  • Encourage social distancing and urge residents to wear face coverings in any public shared spaces, except for roommates in individual dorm
  • Communicate regularly with residents on the seriousness of COVID-19 and make them aware of institution policies and protocols related to COIVD-19.
  • Remind students not to congregate in communal
  • Consider any special needs or accommodations for special-needs populations or populations most at-risk for COVID-19 who need to take extra
  • Students living in the residence halls will be prohibited from day or overnight visitors in their rooms as much as is practicable. Residential living students will also be strongly encouraged to limit off-campus activities for duration of the semester to limit exposure to those they visit elsewhere and limit the exposure they may bring back to the residence hall. If students do leave the residence hall and suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19 the student will be required to report this exposure to the Residence Hall Director and/or coach and may be required to place themselves in self-quarantine for a period of time in accordance with current CDC guidance.
  • Reserve four residence hall rooms to quarantine exposed individuals or confirmed cases. Reidents that are exposed or confirmed will have their emergency contact notified. Residents that test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to return to their permanent residence as soon as possible.
  • Develop protocols for quarantine and containment for students living in residence
  • Residence hall students will be made aware prior to move in, in writing, that in the case of a Wilbarger County outbreak of COVID-19 or a shelter in place order issued by the State of Texas, residents may be ordered to vacate the dormitories in 24-48 hours and return to their permanent housing.

Ventilation.

  • Ensure that ventilation and exhaust systems are properly operating and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as

Bathroom Facilities

  • Provide guidelines to residence hall students for the use and cleaning of bathrooms consistent with CDC guidance.
  • Reinforce the practice of 6 feet social distancing, or other physical distancing strategies, when using bathroom facilities, including showers, sinks, toilets, and

Additional Protocol

Campus Student Activities

  • Activities such as clubs, lectures, study sessions, intramurals, etc. that occur face-to-face will observe the limitations on the size of gatherings established by local public health authorities, and based on Vernon College guidance and the space used. All face-to-face co-curricular activities will be expected to observe the precautions recommended by local health authorities at the time to limit the spread of, and exposure to, COVID-19 (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings).
  • Vernon College will provide face-to-face co-curricular activities as much as is practicable and safe. Field trips and other experiential learning activities will occur where possible. All of these activities will be expected to observe the precautions recommended by local health authorities at the time to limit the spread of, and exposure to, COVID-19 (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings).

Athletics

  • Vernon College supports the resumption of athletics in the 2020-2021 academic year, although timing and format will depend on an ongoing evaluation of conditions and direction from the NJCAA and conference leadership as well as guidance from the NIRA.
  • Vernon College will conduct weekly wellness checks of all athletes including temperature checks.
  • Vernon College athletic programs will follow closely guidance provided by the NJCAA in the following documents:
    • Path for Sports 2020-2021
    • Health and Safety Recommendations
    • Sports Procedures 2020-2021

 

Use of Facilities by Outside Groups

  • Use of college facilities by outside groups will be limited and must be approved using already established Vernon College approval processes. Use of facilities by outside groups should only be approved if the use advances the mission of the College. Safety requirements and recommendations established by local health authorities and Vernon College policies in effect at the time of the event should be observed (e.g., gathering size, physical distancing, face coverings, etc.), and visitors will certify they have not been determined to be COVID-19 positive, do not have COVID-19 symptoms, and have not been in the presence of anyone they knew to be COVID-19 positive in the last 14 days.

Visitors to Campus

  • Vernon College will limit external guests to those considered critical to the mission of Vernon College as approved by the President or designee. All visitors should be expected to observe safety requirements and recommendations established by local health authorities and Vernon College policies and guidelines in effect at the time of the visit (e.g., meeting size, physical distancing, face coverings, etc.) and declare they have not been determined to be COVID-19 positive, do not have COVID-19 symptoms, and have not been in the presence of anyone they knew to be COVID19 positive in the last 14 days.

On-site Registration

  • Detailed information will be provided by the Registrar’s office which will include plans for entering the building, self-screening, social distancing, sanitization, etc. for all functions associated with the on-site registration process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revised 8-3-20, 8-24-20, 12-16-20

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Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 6 p.m. // Friday - 8:00 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
  • Vernon Campus
    4400 College Drive
    Vernon, TX 76384
    940.552.6291
  • Century City Center
    4105 Maplewood
    Wichita Falls, TX 76308
    940.696.8752
  • Skills Training Center
    2813 Central Expressway East
    Wichita Falls, TX 76302
    940.766.3369
  • Seymour Learning Center
    200 Stadium Dr
    Seymour, TX 76380
    940.889.3133