NOTE (JUNE 2021): This plan was implemented in August 2020, in preparation for a return to campus in the Fall Semester 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, 6/10/21, conditions have changed and many of the Governor’s Orders and restrictions noted in this plan are no longer in place. We are required to leave this plan in place through 6/30/2021.
Ridgewater College (Ridgewater) is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all members of our campus community. To ensure this, we have developed this Back-to-Campus Preparedness Plan following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), federal COVID-19 OSHA standards, and Governor Tim Walz’s executive orders, including Executive Order 20–40, Allowing Workers in Certain Non–Critical Sectors to Return to Safe Workplaces and Executive Order 20–81, Requiring Minnesotans to Wear a Face Covering in Certain Settings to Prevent the Spread of COVID–19.
The goal of this plan is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our campus. This requires the full cooperation of students, faculty, staff, and other members of our campus community. Only through a cooperative effort can we maintain the safety and health of our campuses.
Campus leaders, supervisors, employees, and students are responsible for implementing and complying with all aspects of this Plan. Ridgewater leaders and supervisors have the full support of the Minnesota State system office in enforcing the provisions of this policy.
For Frequently Asked Questions and details on Spring Semester plans, go to our Spring Semester 2021 webpage.
We are serious about the need to prioritize the health and safety of students and employees. The involvement of all members of the campus community is essential in developing and implementing a successful Campus COVID19 Preparedness Plan. Our Preparedness Plan addresses the following components:
- Mandatory face masks or face covering;
- Screening & prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
- Hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- Engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
- Housekeeping – cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination;
- Communications and training that will be provided to managers and workers; and
- Management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.
See Appendix A: References & Guidance for Developing a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan [PDF].
Our preparedness plan is also available in PDF form. Ridgewater College Back-to-Campus Preparedness Plan [PDF]
- Employees Working Remote & On Campus
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, we have reduced the number of staff and faculty working on campus significantly, and we have limited the number of visitors allowed on campus to just current and prospective students. Supervisors continue to work with their employees, as well as with the administrator/Vice President of that division, to ensure staffing levels are adequate to provide the best service and support possible for our students. Supervisors have the authority to require employees who are deemed necessary to return to campus, unless the employee has an approved medical condition that would prohibit them from returning to campus. Supervisors should work with their employees and administrators to determine service hours and work schedules in their areas, then forward their recommendations to the administrator for their work unit for review and approval. Vice Presidents, Academic Deans and other administrators will be mindful of having employees return to campus in a phased and strategic way to ensure that not everyone is returning at once, cleaning can still be performed in an effective way, and employees and students are returning to a safe and prepared campus.
Employees who can continue to effectively work remotely may be able to do so, with the approval of their supervisor. If the employee feels they can be more effective on campus, they should work directly with their supervisors to discuss and if appropriate, make arrangements. Supervisors have the authority to allow employees to work remotely, return to campus, and or a combination of both as deemed necessary and approved by the supervisor and administrator of that work unit.
- Leave Policies Related to COVID-19
Ridgewater, through Minnesota State and Minnesota Management and Budget, has implemented leave policies to support workers staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household.
Ridgewater rolled out the paid COVID-19 leave policy and request form on March 18, 2020 to state agency employees. At that time, it was expected that generally, all employees who could telework should. Employees who could not telework may have been reassigned or redeployed. For employees who were unable to telework or be reassigned or redeployed, Paid COVID-19 Leave was made available.
Additionally, the federal government emergency coronavirus relief package in effect at that time included paid sick leave benefits for employees who must take time off because of the spreading virus, as well as expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits for leave for school and childcare closures due to COVID-19. Minnesota State has updated the state policy to comply with the federal law. The revised policy was posted on MMB’s website and was effective April 1, 2020. The policy was revised on September 21, 2020.
The purpose of this updated policy is to facilitate teleworking as a means of COVID-19 risk mitigation, but also to provide a framework that encourages telework where possible to provide employees flexibility in these unprecedented times. Some policy highlights for teleworking employees include:
- Employees are typically expected to work during business hours, unless they arrange a flexible schedule with their supervisor.
- Telework hours are regular work hours and may not be used to perform personal activities. However, employees may telework even if their dependents are present in the telework location so long as the employee is actually performing their job duties and working their normal schedule or flexing their time as approved by their supervisor.
- When working from home, employees are generally responsible for their office spaces and utilities, including internet.
- Employees are expected to notify their supervisor if they experience an internet outage or other disruption and have a plan for work. Employees will generally not be eligible for emergency paid leave due to internet outages or other disruptions.
- Employees who want to telework in a location outside of Minnesota must obtain pre-approval from their supervisor as working outside of Minnesota may have payroll and tax implications.
- Generally, employees can expect some reasonable advance notice if or when they are required to transition from telework back to the workplace.
The policy of Ridgewater College is to follow Minnesota Department of Health and local health department guidance and direction on informing workers if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 on campus and requiring them to quarantine for the required amount of time.
In addition, a policy has been implemented to protect the privacy of workers’ health status and health information. Employee and student health information is protected under FERPA and HIPAA privacy rules. If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, the CDC advises that employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure WHILE maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer should instruct fellow employees about how to proceed based on the CDC Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure.
To comply with the ADA and other laws that require confidentiality of medical data, agencies may not specifically disclose the identity of the infected person or provide any information that will allow others to identify the infected person, or provide any other confidential medical information.
*For the most recent updates to the leave policy information, visit the MMB webpage on statewide human resources policies.
Basic infection prevention measures are being implemented at our campus(es) at all times. Employees and students are being instructed to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, but especially at the beginning and end of their time on campus, prior to any mealtimes and after using the toilet. All visitors to campus buildings will be required to wash their hands prior to or immediately upon entering the facility. All work and classroom places have hand-sanitizer dispensers in each restroom and hand sanitizer is available through office services for anyone wishing to have it. (Sanitizers must be of greater than 60% alcohol.)
- The Ridgewater COVID-19 General Guidance webpage lists resources on how employees can take action to prevent the spread of Coronavirus including-
- Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water;
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or tissue; and
- Take precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu.
- The Ridgewater COVID-19 website also lists additional health resources with links to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more on the COVID-19 General Guidance webpage.
- Maintenance will ensure that necessary handwashing and/or sanitizer stations will be provided and maintained according to CDC and MDH policies.
- Employees will be allowed to perform handwashing to meet health and safety precautions.
- Common areas, such as building entrances, hallways, conference rooms, cafeteria areas have hand sanitizing stations available, as do main entrances and other high traffic areas.
- The Ridgewater COVID-19 General Guidance webpage lists resources on how employees can take action to prevent the spread of Coronavirus including-
- Respiratory Etiquette
Employees and visitors are being instructed to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and to avoid touching their face, in particular their mouth, nose and eyes, with their hands. They should dispose of tissues in the trash and wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward. Respiratory etiquette will be demonstrated on posters and supported by making tissues and trash receptacles available in work and classroom places.
- Health protocols will be shared via signage throughout campus as well as on the Ridgewater COVID-19 webpage
Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Masks or cloth face coverings can help with preventing your germs from infecting others – especially in situations where you may spread the virus without symptoms.
- Wearing a mask or cloth face coverings does not protect you from others who may spread the virus. In addition to wearing a mask, you still need to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough, and practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of space between people.
- People who are sick should still stay home. Wearing a mask or cloth face coverings does not mean people who are sick should go out into the community. If you are sick and need to go to the doctor, call your health care provider before going in and wear a mask or cloth face coverings to the clinic.
- Don’t buy or wear surgical or N95 masks. These supplies are in high need in health care facilities to protect health care workers.
- A mask of cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask or cloth face coverings without assistance.
- Social Distancing (Note: This requirement was rescinded on 5/28/21)
Ridgewater expects all campus community members to follow the MN DOH Health and the CDC guidelines related to social distancing. Social distancing is being implemented on campus through the following engineering and administrative controls:
Reconfiguring College Spaces
- State vehicles will only be signed out to single occupants. Sanitizing spray will be placed in all state vehicles and the driver will be responsible for spraying touched surfaces with the spray. (We are using a spray that evaporates – no wiping is necessary).
- Social distancing signage, markings and instructions for employees, guests, and students are posted at the college entrances, on elevators and bathroom doors, and in campus hallways.
- Plexiglass guard barriers have been installed in public areas and workstations that serve a customer service function (e.g., student services, business services such as financial aid, bookstore and business office cashier).
- In those areas that provide a customer service function (e.g., Student Services and Business Services), physical workplace areas have been changed where possible to allow for increased distance between workstations.
- Employees on-site have personal workstations and personal pens, phones, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, offices or other personal work tools and equipment that will not be shared.
Expectations of Social Distancing for Infection Prevention
- Employees that can work remotely may continue to do so, unless needed on campus to provide services.
- Instruction that can be delivered remotely should continue to do so.
- Employees may be offered flexible work hours, staggered shifts, and additional shifts as appropriate or necessary to reduce the number of employees in the workplace at one time.
- Employees, students, and guests are expected to maintain six feet of distance between one another whenever possible.
- Employees should be aware of and avoid crowded spaces including breakrooms or lunchroom, elevators, and restrooms when possible.
- In-person meetings should be limited; meetings or gatherings of greater than 25 should be done virtually.
- Masks or cloth face coverings and social distancing is required.
- Employees must abide by MMB health and safety hygiene practices to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves may be provided to employees, students, or guests on an as-needed, limited basis depending on defined program needs and classroom requirements.
Regular housekeeping practices are being implemented, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces, equipment, tools and machinery, vehicles and areas in the campus environment, including classrooms, labs, restrooms, common areas, break rooms, lunch rooms, meeting rooms, and drop-off and pick-up locations. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted in high-touch areas, such as phones, keyboards, touch screens, controls, door handles, elevator panels, railings, printers and copy machines, credit card readers, delivery equipment, etc.
- Maintenance staff will be following the published class schedule to ensure all rooms that were occupied are cleaned and disinfected daily. Maintenance will clean and sanitize instructional spaces daily, and additionally if determined necessary
- Disinfecting wipes, bleach/water mix, gloves, masks, and electrostatic foggers will be used to disinfect large areas.
- If a worker, customer or visitor is symptomatic or is diagnosed with COVID-19, Maintenance will follow the same protocol for regular cleaning. All cleaning will be carried out with the assumption that someone in the room is symptomatic or diagnosed.
- Air handlers that are controlled will be set to bring in more outside air while also maintaining comfort.
See Appendix C: Return to Campus Cleaning and Maintenance Guide
- Guidance for Resuming In-Person Instruction
In line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE), programs that are permitted to continue instruction during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will follow these guidelines to provide a safe classroom and lab:
- Instructional spaces will be reconfigured to support social distancing wherever possible.
- Cleaning and sanitation procedures will be enhanced and aligned with classroom usage.
- Clear expectations will be provided to students, faculty, and staff about requirements to participate in on campus classes.
Reconfiguring Instructional Spaces for Credit Classes
Administrators and faculty from Academic Affairs and Maintenance will collaborate in reconfiguring instructional spaces before on-campus instruction resumes. Their work will be guided by several considerations:
- Only groups of 25 or fewer students will be allowed in a classroom at one time.
- Class configuration will be adjusted to ensure a minimum 6-foot radius around each student wherever possible.
- Buildings or areas with the best ventilation systems will be prioritized for use.
- Social distancing and sanitation expectations will be posted in on-campus instructional spaces, bathrooms, and service areas (e.g., computer labs).
Cleaning and Sanitation Procedures
- Maintenance will clean and sanitize instructional spaces daily, and additionally if determined necessary
- Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and/or disinfecting spray and towels will be available in the instructional spaces and other key locations on campus
Communicating with Employees and Students
- Prior to participating in on-campus instruction, students will receive communication that includes expectations for on-campus participation.
- If students are not feeling well, they should stay home and contact their instructor.
- Students should follow directional signs to reduce unnecessary foot traffic on campus.
- Students should follow social distancing in class and in other campus spaces like library and computer lab, maintaining at least 6 feet distance from other people as much as possible.
- Students should wash their hands when coming on to campus and leaving.
- Students should share any concerns with their instructor if they feel appropriate social distancing is not being maintained.
- Prior to participating in on-campus instruction, college personnel will:
- Monitor students to ensure appropriate social distancing.
- Administration will work with Maintenance to ensure labs and classroom spaces are sanitized
- Students should monitor their own health and report any changes to their supervisor.
Requirements for CECT Courses and Facility Rentals
Effective June 15, 2020:
On-campus courses, training, or rental agreements provided by the Continuing Education & Customized Training (CECT) are subject to the same requirements as all other campus meetings, courses, and events. CECT staff and supervisors will be responsible for communicating these expectations and policies to off-campus partners and on-campus participants.
- Communications and Training
Expectations for maintaining appropriate handwashing, social distancing, and housekeeping will be communicated to employees, students, and guests in multiple ways:
- Faculty, Staff and Student emails will contain a link to this Preparedness Plan on the Ridgewater COVID-19 webpage. Our COVID-19 webpage(s) will be updated frequently and shall contain the most up-to-date information regarding this plan and returning to campus.
- The campus communications for students, faculty, and staff will set expectations for conducting and participating in in-person, face-to-face activities on campus and at the system office, especially where social distancing measures may be difficult to implement or sustain.
- Ongoing updates to this Plan will be sent via emails and posted on the Ridgewater COVID-19 web pages as needed.
- Additional communication and training will be ongoing on an as-needed basis and provided to all workers who did not receive the initial training.
- Instructions will be communicated to any campus visitors via the Ridgewater COVID-19 website landing page and signs will be posted at entrances regarding social distancing guidelines, required hygiene practices, and recommendation to use face masks.
- Signs posted on campus entrances and throughout the building will advise campus employees, students and visitors not to enter the workplace if they are experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19.
- Communication will be reoccurring and will employ text messaging, e-mail, social media, website postings, information for front-line customer facing staff, campus signage, and other means as appropriate.
- Employee questions should be directed to supervisors and/or the Human Resources Office or Safety Director; student questions can be directed to 320-234-8507 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also access our complete Ridgewater College directory on our website.
This plan has been certified by Ridgewater leadership and was first shared and posted throughout the campus community on June 15, 2020. It and our COVID-19 website will be updated as necessary.