A Message from our President
Fall 2020 Return to Campus Update
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families,
As New York City enters Phase 4 of reopening, the College is actively preparing for a return to campus next month (August) when we will welcome the return of staff and faculty, followed by the return of students, in a modified format, in September. I write today to share information about our plans to ensure a safe return for all.
On March 11, 2020, in response to COVID-19, LIM College closed its physical campus and transitioned to remote classes and operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges not only in the United States but around the world. The pandemic has changed how we live, learn, and work. It has also altered how we interact with others. None of us can know with certainty what the future holds, but at LIM College, we do know this – we are going to have a full College experience in Fall 2020 and beyond.
After more than four months of remote operation, on July 6 New York City entered Phase 3 of reopening and if all continues to go well, New York City will be in Phase 4 by the end of the month. Even though Phase 2 of the New York City reopening instructions allowed educational institutions to begin having administrative staff return to campus, LIM has been intentional about not reopening campus too soon.
In the interest of health and safety and in ensuring appropriate measures are in place prior to any community member returning to campus, LIM’s decision-making is guided, first and foremost, by the health and safety of the LIM community. Having said that, none of us can guarantee what shape COVID-19 will take, and none of us – including LIM College – can guarantee a COVID-19-free environment. This is simply not feasible. It would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
The College is committed to taking prudent steps to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infections (or any other spread of disease), however, it is imperative to understand this is a shared responsibility. Every member of our community must do their part. This means adhering to national, state, and local health guidelines and requirements, and adhering to those measures LIM College deems safe and appropriate for the campus.
Our plans emphasize the importance of individual and collective responsibility. We must recognize that in addition to the steps LIM College takes – testing, daily health screenings, contact tracing, enhanced cleaning, etc. – each student, faculty, staff member, and administrator makes a significant impact on the wellbeing of the entire LIM community.
As New York City prepares for Phase 4 and LIM College begins to transition back to on-ground operations, I wanted to share some core elements being implemented. These elements include initiatives and policies being put into place to prevent and/or reduce transmission of COVID-19 within the LIM community:
Daily Health Screenings
In compliance with NY Forward, all faculty and staff intending to be on campus must complete a health screening prior to coming to campus. LIM College will also mandate that all students and visitors coming to campus participate in a health screening prior to entering any campus building and/or prior to coming to campus.
The daily health screenings will include: (1) a questionnaire and (2) certification of a temperature check. Questions on the questionnaire will include, at minimum, whether the individual has had: (1) COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, (2) a positive COVID-19 test in the past 14 days, and/or (3) knowingly close or proximate contact with any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. Responses will be reviewed and appropriately documented. LIM College may also conduct random temperature checks on community members entering any campus building.
LIM College recognizes the various means by which respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, can spread. The College will encourage all community members and campus visitors to adhere to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on protecting themselves and others.
A college-wide cleaning and disinfecting plan has been developed to address various categories of spaces:
- Private Offices and Other Individually Assigned Workspaces: Cleaning and disinfection of private offices and individually assigned workspaces will be the responsibility of the employee assigned to the space. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies will be available in the various departments to aid in completing basic cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. These spaces will also be cleaned by custodial staff biweekly. Individuals can request additional cleaning, if they feel it necessary.
- Public Operational Spaces, Including Classrooms: In all buildings serviced by the Facilities department, staff will clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in communal areas, including primary entrances, hallways, primary restrooms, elevators, etc. twice daily.
- Other Areas: Operational areas not specified in this document that have regular occupancy will follow the guidance for Public Operational Spaces.
In addition to the aforementioned, sanitizing and disinfecting stations will be placed throughout campus – in common areas, classrooms, and computer labs. All community members will be encouraged to wipe down desks, chairs, etc. before and prior to individual usage.
Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The use of protective equipment helps to reduce the spread of any infectious disease. To this end, LIM College will provide all employees, who will be on campus during any portion of time between reopening and until further notice, with an initial supply of appropriate PPE in relation to their position functions. Faculty and front-facing staff will be provided a set of face coverings inclusive of masks and/or face shields. Other staff will be provided an initial supply of face masks. Students will also be provided an initial set of face masks. The College has also stockpiled disposable masks for students and visitors who do not have their own available.
The following will be implemented:
- Face coverings must be appropriately worn at all times while in any campus building or during any campus function. This includes while sitting in classroom space and any shared or public office space. According to the NY Department of Health Interim Guidance for Higher Education “Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, and face shields that cover both the mouth and nose.
- Any visitor on campus will be required to appropriately wear a face covering while in any campus building.
Individuals unable to wear a mask for health reasons, must wear a face shield. At no time will any member of the community be permitted to be inside any LIM building without having a properly fitted face covering which simultaneously covers the nose and mouth.
Physical Distancing and Reducing Density in LIM Buildings
LIM College will provide three distinct learning modalities to reduce campus density/capacity and allow for physical distancing, to the extent practicable. The College will be offering its traditional on-ground course instruction in two modalities: hybrid in-person and hybrid virtual, in addition to a traditional fully online program. This will allow students to choose between one of two hybrid modalities. All courses will include face-to face interaction (synchronous) as well as assignments via the Canvas platform that take place on their own schedule (asynchronous). Students will decide if they prefer the face-to-face interaction to take place in-person or virtually. Hybrid in-person classes will limit the amount of time a student is required to be on campus.
This plan will reduce the density of the College by more than 50%, permitting the College to appropriately physical distance and limit potential campus exposure. All in-person classes will be limited and kept small to enforce physical distancing, which is also known as social distancing. Classroom spaces will be marked illustrating where student desks belong in order to maintain 6 feet of separation in every direction.
LIM College will also reduce capacity by limiting faculty and staff who return to campus and/or are on campus at any given time. The College has identified front-facing student service offices and essential staff who will return to campus on a rotational basis. The College has also identified faculty and staff who can work effectively and will continue working remotely through the fall semester and/or until further notice.
COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Quarantine/Isolation
LIM College will participate in baseline testing for community members and may also require testing throughout any semester.
LIM College will require all employees who will be in any campus building starting in the Fall semester to submit a negative COVID-19 viral test to the Office of Human Resources. No employee will be allowed in any campus building without first providing the required proof. All employees returning to campus in the fall, in any capacity, must submit results dated after July 20, 2020 prior to their first day on campus.
LIM College will require all students who are registered for the hybrid in-person modality, and/or who plan to regularly utilize any campus services or have face-to-face interactions on campus, to submit a negative COVID-19 viral test to the Office of Counseling and Accessibility Services prior to arriving on campus for the fall. All students should submit results dated after August 3, 2020 prior to their anticipated first day on campus.
All members of the LIM community must be tested for the virus as soon as possible if they exhibit signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Community members will be required to notify the Office of Student Affairs (for students) and the Office of Human Resources (for employees) if they suspect they may be positive for COVID-19 or if they test positive.
LIM College has identified various community members to be contact tracers. Members of the LIM College Emergency Response Team and/or Building Teams, in addition to each member of the Facilities Department, will become certified contact tracers.
All members of the LIM community are required to self-isolate at their residence in the event that it is required (i.e. symptomatic individuals, those who knowingly encountered an individual who tested positive, those suspected to have COVID-19 and/or have tested positive).
Individuals who are suspected of having been infected with COVID-19 and/or who have exhibited symptoms will be required to isolate for a minimum of 5 days and then acquire a COVID-19 viral test. In order to return to campus, individuals will be required to present a negative COVID-19 viral test to the Office of Student Affairs (for students) and the Office of Human Resources (for employees).
LIM College will work directly with the New York City Department of Health for all confirmed cases. To the extent possible and in accordance with the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and/or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), LIM College will not disclose names of affected individuals, unless required to do so by law.
In the interest of the health and safety of the LIM community, the College has adjusted various campus policies, including but not limited to required use of face coverings, travel prohibition, campus visitation, and temporary suspension of the study abroad program. All students, faculty, staff, and administrators will be bound by the aforementioned and any other implemented policy. Compliance will be required by all community members.
There have been three distinct and cross-functional groups working to manage the return to on-ground operations for Fall 2020. These groups are the: 1) Reimagining the Future (RTF) group, 2) Fall Continuity Committee, and 3) Reopening Committee. The work of each of these groups has helped to shape the future of LIM College. As the College continues to transition from fully remote operations back to on-ground operations, you will continue to see evidence of all the work being done by the groups to implement new policies and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. This work is often made more complicated by the evolving nature of the global pandemic. However, LIM is committed to working with state, federal, and public health authorities to monitor the situation and pivot and adapt as necessary.
The Reopening Committee will be hosting webinars for students and employees in the coming weeks. I encourage all community members to attend. Please stay connected to your LIM College email for additional details.
Additionally, an on-campus training program will be launched in August 2020 for Fall 2020. The training program will provide comprehensive instruction on community expectations while on campus. Participation in the training will be required for all community members intending to return to campus and/or use campus resources in Fall 2020. Please stay tuned as more details evolve.
I truly appreciate the spirit and hard work of the entire LIM community during these times. I am also appreciative of the patience, resilience, and dedication of each and every one of our LIM community members – students, faculty, and staff.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and, keeping on this path, I look forward to working with and seeing everyone and having an amazing Fall 2020 semester.
Elizabeth S. Marcuse, President