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Wayne State developing plans, protocols to reopen

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne State University officials said Thursday they are deep into planning for reopening the campus, possibly when a state of emergency order ends May 28, and with medical, public health advice and government guidelines in mind.

The officials said the situation is subject to change, and they are remaining vigilant and active. They'll follow the governor's lead: If the state of emergency declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ends May 28, the campus will reopen, officials said.

Wayne State University Old Main building in Detroit

Some general guidelines are already clear, President M. Roy Wilson said during a video conference viewed and heard by a few thousand people.

People will be asked to continue to work from home, if they can, Wilson said. Remaining to oneself and at a safe distance will continue as primary concerns.

“We have an open campus,” he said. “It's very important that we make sure that everybody follows the guidelines to protect everyone else.

“It's not just a nuisance. This is, you know, peoples’ lives at stake.”

The university is finalizing some official directives for how students, faculty and staff ought to behave in the time of a pandemic. The guidance, officials said, will be distributed online next week, they said.

“They include basic information on COVID-19 and its transmission as well as new campus-based strategies to promote a safe environment,” said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, dean of the college of nursing.

“Universal face coverings in public is currently considered the best way to reduce asymptomatic spread.”

Also to be included in the directives, Clabo said, is information about hand hygiene, not sharing common items like pens, social distancing, proper behavior around and in elevators, restrooms, hallways, stairwells, and the potential closure of some waiting areas, conference rooms and large public spaces.

 A critically important strategy, she said, “is our ability to conduct an ongoing assessment of the overall health of the campus.”

“In the next several days the employee daily screening procedure, which has been used by critical infrastructure as part of the executive order, will transition to a new iteration called the campus daily screening, which will be completed by all members of the community who wish to be physically present on campus every day,” she said.

“First, it will tell you if you're cleared to come to campus that day. And if not, it will generate a report to your supervisor, to the campus health center.

“Also, equally important is the data gathered from all the screens will allow us to assess the ongoing status of the campus on an ongoing basis so we can identify clusters of potential spread,” Clabo said.

Officials are drafting a playbook for custodial services, space management, parking, transportation and construction services.

“The playbook is based on industry standards and governmental regulatory requirements, including the new COVID-19OSHA standard, CDC standards and finally, the governor's recent executive order number 202091, which safeguards to protect Michigan workers.” said Robert Davenport, the associate vice president for facilities planning and management.

Custodians are being trained in “pandemic preventative maintenance cleaning and post-case discovery cleaning training,” and the programs will be completed in about a week, Davenport said.

Asked about the financial situation of the university, Wilson said adjustments “will almost certainly have to be made.”

“Some level of furloughs and/or layoffs may be necessary,” he said. “But, we want to be very clear to not make these types of decisions, and these are very big decisions, until we absolutely have to, when the financial picture is a lot clearer.”