August 23 Memo Following Up on August Town Hall

Information following up on questions from the One MICA Town Hall on August 18, 2021.

Dear faculty and staff,

Good afternoon to all.  I’m writing to follow up on some specific questions from MICA’s Town Hall; video is available here from this past Wednesday’s meeting in the Town Hall online archive.

Please note that the content of this email is most relevant to faculty and staff who are part of the residential college community.

Our consulting epidemiologists attended the Town Hall meeting and gave a presentation that emphasized the importance of (1) vaccination policy compliance, (2) indoor masking, and (3) hand washing as best practices to maintain the health of our community.  This means that the epidemiologists believe that as long as we center these three best practices, all of the other preventative measures such as physical distancing can be more relaxed.  

Here are questions that we did not have sufficient time to answer in great detail:

Do MICA’s epidemiologists discourage field trips? In other words, can we take students to visit a local museum or attend a film screening at the Parkway?

Faculty and staff have been asking questions about field trips, walks off campus, visits to the BMA, and film screenings at the Parkway. The answer is—Required and optional academic field trips and site visits during Fall 2021 can proceed provided some precautions are followed. Under Operational Mode 4, academic field trips cannot return to pre-pandemic conditions, but with careful planning and modifications to some activities, these important experiential learning opportunities can be included in fall courses.  The expanded Guidelines for Academic Field Trips — Fall 2021 can be found here; please be aware that undergraduate faculty and graduate faculty should be following the academic field trip policy in their respective areas for any and all trips off campus.  The current prices for MICA shuttle and van transportation options can be found here. For more specific questions about off campus engagements and field trip policy documents please direct these to your Associate Dean or Vice Provost.

What happens to CDC social distancing guidelines in Bunting classrooms with 25 students?

As mentioned previously, MICA’s consulting epidemiologists have stated that MICA’s emphasis on these three best practices (vaccination policy compliance, indoor masking, and hand washing) will enable us to relax other protocols such as physical distancing.  However, all faculty who teach in the residential undergraduate or graduate program have the option of designing their courses to meet in two smaller groups with half working online and half working face-to-face if preferable.  Please see the Course Modality Definitions for further detail.  Undergraduate Studies sent out a communication Friday morning indicating that faculty have the option to teach in a Hybrid Course Modality which would allow faculty to split the class in half, for example, if smaller in-person groups are preferable.

How should we handle specific questions about individual care and handling of workspace-specific shared equipment such as coffee pots?

MICA’s consulting epidemiologists have stated that MICA’s emphasis on these three best practices (vaccination policy compliance, indoor masking, and hand washing) will enable us to relax other protocols such as repeated deep cleaning of shared tools.  That said, each area should develop protocols for individual users to leave shared equipment wiped down and ready for future use (similar to protocols currently used in gyms).

Do we need to wear specific masks such as N95?

Each workspace has a unique setting.  For example, prior to the pandemic students were required to use N95 masks in the spray booths to minimize exposure to particulate matter.  Students will continue to use N95 masks in these facilities.  While indoors, all MICA students and employees are required to wear a well-fitting mask that covers their mouth and nose.

What are MICA’s current cleaning protocols?

Facilities Management has implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols due to the pandemic that are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for higher education institutions, including a focus on high-touch areas and sanitizing frequency. EPA N-List antimicrobial products for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) are being utilized such as: 

  • SOP Green Klean Chlorinated Disinfectant
  • Clarion25 with Microban cleaning solvent
  • Floor wax which contains Microban with Clarion25
  • Microban Professional kills 99.9% of bacteria in just 60 seconds and provides up to 24 hours of protection from bacteria growth — even after multiple touches. 

Areas that are cleaned, disinfected and sanitized by Facilities Management include public areas, restrooms, stairs, railings, elevators, door handles, office corridors, conference rooms (public), classrooms, lobbies, kitchenettes (not including appliance interiors, utensils and dishes). 

Departments/individuals are responsible for cleaning: studio lab equipment, office interiors (furniture, display boards) and personal items (computers, screens, phones).

I hope this information is useful.  Looking forward to seeing you back on campus very soon.

Tiffany Holmes