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Mason’s Safe Return to Campus Plan

George Mason administrators have been working hard to plan for a safe return to campus this fall. Below are some of the key components of the plan. You may read the full plan here or learn more by visiting the Safe Return to Campus webpage.

Preparation for Opening Campus

  • Signs and Postings
    • The university will post signs and reminders for public health and safety precautions in accordance with Forward Virginia Guidelines and the Governor’s Executive Orders
    • Signs will be posted in key locations easily visible to visitors, faculty, staff and students, including (but not limited to) the following: parking lots, building entrances, common areas within buildings, elevator lobbies, entrances to classrooms and instructional spaces, any room with an occupancy change, at the start of queues or lines, state vehicles, Mason Shuttle stops, restroom entrances, restroom mirrors, and dining facilities
  • Unit/Department Safety Plans
    • Each unit/department Dean or supervisor must oversee the development of a Unit/Department Safety Plan that describes how the department will implement public health and safety guidance for activities that cannot be conducted at home or by telework
  • Communications
    • The university has established a Communications Working Group, led by the central communications team and with partners from across the university, that will establish standards, policies, and protocols for sharing information
    • The communications team has also created a Safe Return to Campus website on which current, vetted, and timely information is posted as it becomes available
  • Trainings
    • The university is providing training to all faculty, staff, and students on the precautions that the university is implementing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
    • Training curriculum includes an overview of COVID-19 epidemiology, the safety measures the university is taking, and individual responsibilities students, faculty, and staff must meet when on campus
    • Student Safe Return to Campus Training will be administered through the university’s learning management system, MyMason. Students will be assigned training and will be notified of noncompliance

Physical (Social) Distancing

  • People must maintain a minimum of six feet separation (approximately two arm lengths) from other people whenever possible and all university employees and students are eligible to receive two face coverings
  • Signs and floor markings are posted prominently to remind people of physical distancing
  • requirement
  • Maximizing telework options for employees to facilitate compliance with physical distancing requirements
  • Classrooms and instructional spaces have been modified such that seating has been spaced out to allow for six feet of distance between students and faculty have been allocated more space, up to100 square fee
  • Space Evaluations
    • The use of elevators should be avoided when possible to prevent proximity with others in an enclosed space. Should it be impossible to avoid using an elevator, the occupancy limit per car is two (2) individuals
    • Occupancy in public restrooms will be adjusted to support physical distancing requirements by marking every other stall, sink, or urinal as DO NOT USE
    • Staff meetings, departmental seminars, faculty meetings, graduate defenses, etc. should be held in virtual format, whenever possible
    • Events (including athletic events, conferences, ceremonies, and performances) must be approved by the Events Exception Committee
    • To promote physical distancing in atriums, lobbies, student centers, study spaces and other common areas, kiosks, furniture, work stations and other equipment have been removed or relocated; barriers have been added to kiosks and customer service areas as appropriate and the number of locker rental locations have been reduced

Face Coverings

  • University Policy 1415 COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Precautions – Face Coverings establishes the requirement for face coverings on university property
  • All university employees and students are eligible to receive two face coverings
  • The university will provide two reusable face coverings to Mason students, faculty and staff, or individuals may elect to use their own face coverings provided they meet the requirements for face coverings outlined in University Policy 1415 Public Health and Safety Precautions – Face Coverings and the Safe Return to Campus Plan
  • University Life will oversee the distribution of face coverings for students
  • Face coverings will be available for purchase in the book store and vending machines
  • When face coverings are removed temporarily for meals or other breaks throughout the day, they should be placed into a labeled bag for temporary storage
  • Face coverings should not be shared with others
  • It is the responsibility of the wearer to launder or hand-wash face coverings after each day of use
  • If you are around individuals who are not wearing a face covering, maintain physical distance of at least six feet. Remember that certain individuals are unable to wear a face covering due to certain medical conditions
  • Students who have a disability that may prohibit the use of face coverings should contact Disability Services (ods@gmu.edu or (703) 993-2474)

Enhanced Cleaning for Common Areas and Public Spaces

  • Housing Operations has primary responsibility for cleaning of HRL buildings on-campus, Sodexo is responsible for all dining hall operations (including cleaning), and LT (custodial services contractor) Services is responsible for cleaning of all other on-campus locations
  • High contact surfaces in common areas and public spaces in all campus buildings will be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant every two (2) hours during normal operating hours
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed at main building entrances and in elevator lobbies on all floors as necessary based on risk assessment

Classrooms

  • In an effort to limit disruption to classroom schedules, high contact surfaces in classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant twice each day during normal operation hours, in addition to regular overnight cleaning
  • High contact surfaces in classrooms may include, but are not limited to: doorknobs/handles/push-plates, chairs, desks, lecterns, storage cubicles, demonstration tables, and AV Control remotes.
  • Sanitizing wipe dispensers will be placed in every classroom for students to disinfect individual student desks/chairs and for faculty to disinfect the lectern/table/AV controls at the end of every class.
  • Instructions on how to safely use sanitizing wipes will be provided to all students and faculty as part of the Safe Return to Campus Training.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in common areas inside classroom buildings.
  • Students will receive advance notice of schedule adjustments and the Mason community will receive a final communication that provides an overall view of instruction for the fall

Dining

  • High contact surfaces in dining halls restaurants and food service areas will be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant every hour during normal operating hours
  • Occupancy will be restricted to promote physical distancing. New occupancies will be based on health requirements, space assessments, and existing certificates of occupancy
  • To promote proper seating of tables and to eliminate people congregating in waiting areas, reservations for seating will be required
    • Reservations can be made online only via Yelp reservation website or applications
    • Reservations can be made for up to four people
    • Reservations are not required for grab-and-go or retail dining
  • All dining tables will be six feet apart. Additional or unused tables have or will be removed from the location to enforce physical distancing
  • Table bussers have been added as staff positions to disinfect tables and chairs after each seating and before another reservation is seated
  • All self-serve stations (except some beverage areas) have been eliminated and have been replaced with an attendant that will serve all food to guests
  • Microwaves and toasters will be removed from locations
  • Most retail dining locations will offer delivery and pick-up services utilizing Starship and Grub Hub
    • Customer movement will be managed utilizing one-way isles, floor decals, plexiglass barriers, and stanchions
  • For all dining locations on the Fairfax Campus, Mason’s Starship robot delivery service will be utilized to reduce traffic in dining establishments and promote physical distancing. Robots will be sanitized prior to each order and disinfected overnight

Housing

  • High contact surfaces in residence hall common areas and public spaces will be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant every two (2) hours during designated hours
  • Individual student bedrooms and in-suite bathrooms and kitchens are the responsibility of the occupants to clean
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed at main building entrances and in elevator lobbies on all floors
  • To minimize chances of an outbreak, maximum capacity of the residence halls has been reduced by 25% with no more than 2 people in a room. Students will be placed in single occupancy spaces, unless the student requests or approves having a roommate for the fall semester
  • HRL anticipates up to 4,500 students will reside on the Fairfax campus for the fall semester
  • All student staff will attend virtual training in August
  • All residential students will complete training in August. This training will cover daily health screening, what to do if feeling ill, physical distancing, face coverings, and hygiene practices
  • To retain their on-campus status, residents will be required to regularly complete and submit the SHS COVID-19 health questionnaire and complete the health and exposure screening daily
  • Residents will not be allowed guests within their spaces. Both non-Mason and Mason affiliated guests are prohibited from entering residential spaces
  • Residents will not be able to use cell phones in hallways and common bathroom areas
  • Residents must observe proper physical distancing measures at all times both in their room and in common spaces
  • Residence halls will have doors designated as entrance or exit-only to encourage one-way traffic
  • Elevator use will be limited and overall discouraged; when elevators are used, only two people per car are allowed, unless otherwise posted
  • HRL will continue the practice of only allowing residential students to have access on their ID card
  • Common spaces such as kitchens and lounges may be taken offline until deemed safe for common use by HRL, EHS, and/or the university
  • Due to the limited number of residents living on-campus and the residence halls used for occupancy, HRL will only operate two (2) 24/7 desk for the fall 2020 semester—at Piedmont/Tidewater and Eisenhower
  • The HRL Desks will suspend the practice of renting out board games, athletic equipment, HDMI cords, and other items that may result in the spread of the virus. Essential items such as loaner cards and keys will be frequently wiped down with provided cleaning supplies
  • Housing & Residence Life will create Virtual (only) Learning Communities (VLC) for the full academic year

Recreation Centers, Training Areas, Athletic and Exercise Spaces

  • Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) will welcome back student athletes in August. Skyline, RAC, and Aquatic and Fitness Center will resume operations in July and August
  • High contact surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant every two (2) hours during normal operating hours
  • Equipment must be cleaned and disinfected after each use and equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses (climbing rope, exercise bands, etc.) cannot be used. Additionally, activities that require more than one person (such as spotting for the use of free weights) is prohibited
  • At least ten feet physical distancing will be maintained between persons during all activities during individual practices, group exercise sessions, using exercise equipment, at check in, and in locker rooms
  • Equipment will be relocated or marked out of service if physical distancing cannot be accomplished
  • The total number of participants in group exercise and fitness classes will not exceed 30% of the max occupancy or more than 50 persons
  • Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play will remain closed until further notice in accordance with Executive Orders
  • The university’s indoor pools will open for lap swim, instruction, and diving only when deemed appropriate by the facility manager and so long as 10 feet separation can be maintained between swimmers within one lane and no lane exceeds three swimmers
  • Screening must be conducted before students, student athletes, faculty, and staff can enter recreational facilities

Events

  • The Events Exception Committee will perform risk assessments, as requested by the Event Coordinator, on specific events/gatherings through the fall semester
  • Event considerations will be based on location (indoor or outdoor), size and scope of the events, space requested which must allow for physical distancing, cleaning and sanitation of the space and number of expected attendees with special consideration of mission critical events
  • Events are limited to 50% occupancy of the event space
  • Events cannot exceed 150 participants to include organizers
  • Space must be configured to ensure six feed of physical distance
  • Face coverings must be worn while participating in the event
  • Events/gatherings cannot be open to the general public

Transportation

  • Mason encourages the use of transportation modes that limit contact with others (outside of household members). These modes include walking, biking (when distance permits), scooters and ride share with a regular group of individuals
  • University signage regarding physical distancing and other COVID-19 related information will be posted at shuttle stop locations and on shuttles
  • Individuals must wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing of at least six feet at shuttle stops
  • Seating may be reduced by up to 25% of maximum capacity with one rider per row, alternating sides of the shuttle and maintaining six-foot separation between riders
  • The shuttle driver will disinfect high touch points several times per shift using an EPA-approved disinfectant
  • If it becomes known that a person who has been on a Mason Shuttle tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will be conducted and the shuttle will be pulled out of service for a deep cleaning before being put back into use
  • Many parking options including daily permits have been made available for those as an alternative to using transit without having to commit to long-term parking permits
  • E-scooters are currently not in use, but plan to return to the Fairfax Campus in mid-August
  • Most permits are sold online, the customer either is mailed the permit directly from the permit manufacturer or can print a permit themselves. Additional mobile payment options will be added to minimize the need to use parking pay stations, but pay stations will be cleaned regularly

Travel

  • The University Travel Advisory Committee (UTAC) assesses risks for all university-sponsored or university-related domestic and international travel for faculty, staff, and students
  • The ability to travel is directly affected by the operating status of common carriers (e.g., air, rail, bus) as well as country-specific quarantine requirements and border closures
  • The Office of International Programs and Services will continue to support international students, both virtually and in-person. Additionally, housing will be available on-campus for students who have applied by the deadline. Per the CDC recommendations, students who are arriving to Mason for the fall semester from abroad may need to quarantine in accordance with current public health and safety recommendations
  • Some potential challenges include federal regulations regarding the number of online credits allowed for international students. Additionally, new students who are outside of the US may experience difficulty arriving by August, due to the number of US consular posts that are closed world-wide, the limited number of international flights, and other COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Office of International Programs and Services and the Office of Admissions are monitoring these issues carefully
  • The University Travel Advisory Committee (UTAC) will need to continue monitoring changes to Commonwealth of Virginia Executive Orders, CDC Warnings, and U.S. State Department Travel Advisories for updated guidance on travel to address the needs of the university. The committee will also monitor country-specific entry restrictions and quarantine requirements and flight limitations

Resources

  • University leadership is monitoring this situation and adjusting plans and procedures accordingly.  The most current information about the university’s precautions and plans, are available online in the Safe Return to Campus Plan:
  • Questions about student support and resources please contact University Life at Ulife@gmu.edu
  • If you are a residential student and have questions about housing arrangements or plans, please contact at housing@gmu.edu
  •  Requests for accommodations due increased risk as defined by the CDC should be directed to Disability Services at ds@gmu.edu
  • Please direct all questions about classes or academic issues to your academic unit or advisor
  • Counseling and Psychological Services: CAPS@gmu.edu
  • Student Support & Advocacy Center: SSAC@gmu.edu
  • Lastly, if you have specific questions about Mason’s response to COVID-19 or how the institution’s safety precautions apply to you, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at safety@gmu.edu