Helping Our Employees to Navigate a Safe On-Campus Work Environment

We will work as a community to operate in the safest manner possible, that promotes the health and wellness of our campus community. Our campus is multi-generational and diverse, and all the solutions we propose may not be suitable for every single member of our campus community, but we will do our utmost best to reasonably accommodate all employees, where possible.

The operation and staffing of the various units are dependent on the emergency preparedness of the Howard University campus in relation to COVID-19 based the following interventions:

  1. COVID-19 safety training and management all personnel.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), (i.e. masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other necessary agents) will be provided to employees, as required according to guidance provided to the University by the CDC and the Department of Health, and must be worn in public spaces on-campus at all times.
  3. Physical distancing of a minimum of six (6) feet in office settings.
  4. Social distancing guidelines.
  5. Flexible work arrangements (teleworking, etc.).
  6. Routine cleaning, and deep cleaning of facilities.
  7. Facilities adjustments will be made where determined to be necessary or prudent to promote social distancing. Adjustments may include plexiglass barriers, touchless door closures, etc.
  8. Daily self-administered health checks via the Bison Safe app.
  9. Self-reporting when one is ill or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms is required.

The University has formalized a telework policy which is posted on the University Policy website.

The University utilizes various options to effectively implement social distancing. This may include any of the following approaches:

  • Remote Work: Those who can work remotely to fulfill some or all of their work responsibilities may continue to do so to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. These arrangements, which should be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be conducted on a full or partial day/week schedule.
  • Alternating Days: In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments should schedule partial staffing on alternating days. Such schedules will help enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.
  • Staggered Reporting/Departing: The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas.

Utilizing the Bison Safe App for Daily Self-Assessment

It is critical that all members of the Howard University community download the Bison Safe app that is available in the App Store and Google Play Store, as the app is the major way in which the Department of Public Safety (DPS) communicates with the campus community during an emergency. Specifically, all faculty, students and staff who currently travel to the campus must complete a daily COVID-19 self-assessment within the Bison Safe app. This action is documented with the District of Columbia as part of the University’s COVID-19 safety response. We are using the data we collect during this time to inform our COVID-19 response.

The required daily self-assessment is an essential tool to help the campus community by reducing potential exposure to COVID-19 and symptoms of the novel coronavirus. We are working diligently to protect the health and safety of Howard University’s students and employees from the direct threat resulting from the spread of COVID-19. Now more than ever, we appreciate your compliance and support as we continue our efforts to fight and mitigate the spread of this insidious virus.

Additional Guidance

  • Staff teleworking will continue to be in effect unless otherwise communicated by the departmental supervisor.
  • Divisional leads will work with their teams on specific work schedules.
  • Employees with health risk factors will be offered a flexible work schedule, where possible.
  • Faculty and staff who wish to request a reasonable accommodation should contact the Office of Human Resources. 
  • Faculty who are in a high-risk group should collaborate with their department chairs and/or deans to determine the feasibility of on-campus work and/or in-person instruction.
  • Student employees seeking accommodations should follow the University’s existing protocol for doing so through the Office of Student Services.
  • Most University services will be primarily delivered online with some face to face services delivered by appointment only (e.g., Enrollment Management, Human Resources).
  • To the greatest extent possible, meetings will be conducted online and via telephone.
  • Meeting room capacities will be reduced to 20-30% of design capacity.
  • All attendees conducting face to face meetings will be required to wear masks or face coverings.

Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Health services are available through primary care providers, especially to provide emotional support during this period of heightened anxiety. Telephonic or video counseling is available, and you can access this service using most smartphones, tablets and computers with a camera. Employees should contact the Office of Human Resources to learn more about available support, while students may contact the Student Counseling Center for remote support, even during summer months.

Please utilize Howard University’s web resources to learn more about support services, managing stress and enhancing individual resilience during this time.

No community as large as Howard’s campus can guarantee an environment free of COVID-19, and the measures described in this plan recognize that reality. While much has gone into this effort to protect the Howard community, we trust that all its members — faculty, staff, students and visitors alike — will ultimately take responsibility for their own health and safety and act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for those around them.

Testing Guidance and Protocol

Students are required to take a COVID-19 test within the seven days prior to reporting to campus or at the designated on-campus laboratory. The University, to the best of its ability, will test faculty and staff who return to the physical campus as well as those limited number of students who arrive on campus without documentation showing negative results of a COVID-19 test within the past seven (7) days. A temporary site has been established as a primary site for testing the University community. Any stakeholder who is awaiting test results must self-isolate until a negative test result is obtained.

Re-testing and screening will occur at a frequency determined by health professionals based on health indicators designed to measure the prevalence of the virus on campus or in the geographic region. Residential students will be tested on a weekly basis.

  • Any student or staff member who has symptoms or has had close contact with someone who has tested positive must get tested 3-5 days after exposure, in coordination with Student Health Services (for students) or their primary healthcare provider (for staff).
  • Students who have either tested positive, have results pending, or are showing symptoms for COVID-19 should be immediately isolated while ensuring their medical, social, and academic needs are met.
  • Staff who have either tested positive, have results pending, or are showing symptoms for COVID-19 must stay home and self-isolate.

The University Office of Human Resources worked with the University’s health insurance providers to obtain coverage, or preferably, provide free COVID-19 testing, for insured faculty, staff, and students. The incorporation of the COVID-19 testing service under insurance coverage will be for a limited time.

Contact Tracing 

The University will utilize available technology and individual contact tracers, as appropriate, to trace those who have come in close contact with symptomatic and infected people and will coordinate with the District of Columbia and utilize tracing resources that the District will make available. The University will provide information and data to facilitate the District’s ability to conduct tracing. 

Surveillance and Reporting 

The University uses the Bison Safe app for daily screening parameters, and reporting, to monitor for a potential outbreak and to report positive cases of COVID-19 an any other COVID-19 data obtained to the District of Columbia Department of Health. Cases will be reported for implementation of contact tracing.

High Risk Individuals 

The University will prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. The University will encourage those who are high risk because of age or a health condition to consult with their health care provider prior to returning to campus if you have any concerns. These conditions include; Moderate to severe asthma, Severe obesity (>40 Body Mass Index), Diabetes, Immunocompromised conditions, Chronic Kidney Disease, Liver disease, and/or, Serious heart conditions, and other such condition by which the individual has a high risk of severe illness if COVID-19 is contracted.

Students who are high-risk are advised to choose a remote course schedule. Faculty who are high risk should collaborate with their department chairs and/or deans to determine the feasibility of in-person instruction or offering courses online.

Student Health Center 

In addition to its normal role in meeting the routine healthcare needs of students, the Student Health Center will play a key role in implementing COVID-19 policies and procedures, and communicating COVID-19 prevention and control measures to mitigate the risk of spread.

University Communications Plan 

The University will implement a communications plan with the following objectives:

  • To disseminate information about the availability of healthcare resources, testing, mental and physical health promotion, and where to find local public health information about COVID-19 and updated CDC and District of Columbia guidance.
  • To educate the University community about infection prevention and control measures, the symptoms of the virus and what to do if they are symptomatic, specifically, the need to stay at home.
  • To advise students to get tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus.
  • To advise students who are unable to test prior to returning for the Fall Semester to obtain a COVID-19 test within one week of arriving on campus and to present the results to the Student Health Center.
  • To educate the campus community to self-isolate if they have symptoms or have come into close contact with infected persons and to quarantine if infected themselves.

Guidance on Isolating Stakeholders who are Exposed to COVID-19

The health and safety of all Howard University faculty, staff and students are our number one priority. The University will provide masks and/or face coverings and sanitizing agents to all faculty, staff and students as part of an initial University care package. Plans for additional provisions of PPE are being reviewed, and will be announced at a later time.

The most important and critical mechanism to manage the spread of COVID-19 is compliant individual behavior and self-assessment. We are asking each Howard University stakeholder to monitor their individual actions to ensure they are operating in the safest manner possible.

If you are unwell, or have an elevated temperature, please do not attend classes in person and employees should not report to work on campus, but arrange with your supervisor to work remotely.

Contact Tracing Measures on Howard University's Campus

The liaison with the Department of Health will be the Director of the Public Health (MPH) Program.  Further coordination for faculty and staff will be directed to Human Resources, and for students to the Director of the Student Health Center.  Information will be gathered regarding possible contacts with positive individuals and Howard will assist DOH with contact tracing efforts.

  • Contact tracing will be conducted in accordance with the DC Department of Health, in the case of any positive COVID-19 cases identified on campus. The Department of Health is working in concert with all higher education institutions in the District to coordinate this activity.
  • We are also reviewing the suitability of contact tracer software, which would be utilized in concert with the contract tracing activities conducted through the Department of Health.

Communication Structure for COVID-19

  • A secured (password protected) Excel database be developed with the required reporting information (name, DOB, location, symptoms, symptom-onset, and contact tracing) and housed on SharePoint for the information to be entered daily by the designated individuals.
  • A standard reporting time will be established within the University so that data can be reported daily to DOH at a specified time.
  • The report should be sent to DOH and the University Provost (or a designee).