With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on in the U.S., universities across the country are taking the necessary precautions to protect students, faculty, and staff for the coming school year. These precautions are CDC-approved recommendations and technologies that can hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some ways for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), which usually offer education past the high school level, to combat the development of COVID-19 while classes are in session.
Communicating Prevention Strategies
Vaccines are the most effective defenses against COVID-19, and IHEs can apply helpful techniques for giving and promoting them on campus.
Some measures that IHEs should use to increase vaccine access involve:
- Providing on-site vaccination in IHE facilities or local vaccination sites through clinic partnerships
- Hosting a mass vaccination clinic or organizing smaller vaccine venues on campus
- Contacting a local or state health department to discuss other best practices
Conversely, IHEs can promote vaccinations and other safety protocols with educational messaging campaigns. They can ask organizations that are respected in IHE communities to help build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. They may also request students, faculty, and staff to promote vaccination efforts in their social groups.
IHEs can also use digital signage since it has quick customizability to communicate any messages about COVID-19 prevention. Users can update once using a single dashboard, and digital displays will update in schools across a district or campus. Some clever uses of digital signage in IHEs include wayfinding, displaying calls to action, and broadcasting live communication.
Other prevention strategies include conducting health checks, requiring masks, stocking sufficient supplies, and performing routine cleaning.
IHEs should deploy health screening technology to recognize COVID-19 carriers before interacting with others and spreading the virus. Personal use devices for health scanning exist with in-ear thermometers, under-the-tongue methods, and handheld temperature scanning. Still, hands-free technologies are more useful during the pandemic and don't need an administrator.
Temperature monitoring devices are by far the most promising health screening technologies. They are currently the best solution available for the immediate identification of individuals with a high probability of viral spreading.
The Seek-Scan is one of several health screening tools that measure body temperature using forward-looking infrared (FILR) against a stationary heat source. This thermal baseline assists the device in more accurately measuring a person's temperature. It is one of several thermal imaging cameras that meet FDA guidelines for an initial body temperature assessment.
Anyone interested in multi-use temperature sensors has access to plenty of extra features, including email alerts, facial matching, and remote management software.
UV-Clean technology is one of many means to implement contact tracing into IHEs. This device produces a UV-C non-visible light that subdues microorganisms at the cellular level and prevents them from spreading infection. Best of all, this machine usually eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and molds.
Not to mention the UV-Clean's contact tracing process is relatively quick. The entire cleaning cycle is three minutes, with each cycle starting and restarting every ten seconds after an individual use. It also disinfects every sixty minutes when the store is closed; the "UV" logo will turn blue during a disinfecting cycle and then white once the cycle is complete.
Another contract tracing solution for IHEs is the FirstLine Temperature Scanner. This digital signage machine offers all the features of a regular digital signage machine (device monitoring, reporting, and custom content) as well as new features such as a customizable COVID-19 questionnaire that users can answer with a touchscreen or QR code.
Other helpful contact tracing devices include the UV 24 Payment for payment locations, the UV-Clean Stand Alone for handheld devices, and the UV-Clean Surface Mount for keyboards and monitors.
Regular Cleaning and Disinfection
UV-C is the only one of three types of UV light powerful enough to destroy germs. A measly 10% of the sun's light falls in the ultraviolet range, yet no amount of UV-C radiation can reach the ground and prevent the spread of infection. That is why UV-Clean devices are so important.
Facility managers frequently clean common touchpoints in their spaces to protect customers and staff, so IHE inhabitants should do the same to protect everyone near them. A popular sanitization technique is to use chemical disinfectants for wiping down equipment after each use.
Chemicals work with shopping cars, pens, tabletops, and door hands but not electronics. Some of these chemicals can degrade protective coatings or cause device malfunction. If too many employees clean electronic devices with chemical stabilizers, then they become damaged and possibly destroyed. UV-C light devices are much safer for cleaning electronics.
The right type of chemicals also matters for cleaning any object. Students, faculty, and staff should generally avoid chemicals that contain harsh cleaning solvents such as bleach and ammonia. Isopropyl alcohol and antibacterial wipes, on the other hand, are usually the safest choices for cleaning.
What's most important is to avoid dousing the machine's surfaces with water to the point of accumulating or dripping inside. Clean, soft, lint-free cloths are best suited for these tasks since rough paper towels can scratch glass or device screens.
The four steps to disinfecting a scanner or multifunction printer consist of powering down and unplugging the device, spraying cleaning agents onto a lint-free cloth, using a new cloth every cleaning, and checking that all surfaces are dry before powering up again.
Hybrid Learning Strategies
There are three methods to bring down the noise in academic workspaces.
Sound absorption reduces noise based on the needs and nature of the enclosure thanks to specific mechanisms such as ceiling tiles, insulated walls, and even carpets. When a noise hits the surface, it loses energy little by little for a mechanism to absorb it. Plants and certain furniture choices can also function as noise absorbers in big workspaces.
Sound blocking suppresses specific noise to create a quiet space. Separating workspaces is an excellent way to block out unwanted noises. Specific examples include using dividers in each workspace or dividing a large room into three areas rather than one; a meeting room, fabric panels, and bookshelves are just some objects for splitting up workspaces. Over-the-ear headphones can also block out noise.
Sound covering (also known as sound masking) plays ambient noise in a workspace to mask unnecessary noises such as human speech and room noises. This approach can help students who want to study and prefer fewer noise distractions. IHEs can also use sound masking to students' personal information on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
We're Here to Help
BLM Technologies is here to help your organization implement some of the best higher education precautions for learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We provide AV solutions that will help improve your school environment for students and professors alike. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your school with virus-preventing strategies, health screening technology, UV-C devices, and more!