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The Arch on North Campus of the University of Georgia. (Photo/Kyle Nadler)

In the University of Georgia’s three-phase plan to prepare for a return to in-person classes in the fall, Phase Two will begin on July 20 and Phase Three on Aug. 10, according to an ArchNews email sent to faculty and staff on Tuesday.

Phase One allowed the limited presence of essential staff and supervisors on campus beginning June 15 following Georgia Department of Public Health social distancing guidelines, according to a May 28 email sent to faculty and staff.

During Phase Two, supervisors and administrative faculty who didn’t return during Phase One will be allowed on campus. “Mission critical” personnel who worked remotely during reduced campus operations will also be allowed on campus, according to the email.

University vice presidents, deans, department heads and directors will decide which employees can return on July 20. Rotating weekly schedules and a combination of telework and on-campus work are recommended, according to the email.

July 17 will be the last day that Non-Closure Emergency Leave can be utilized, which is a University System of Georgia policy that allows employee leave due to unforeseen reduced operations of USG institutions.

Phase Three will begin on Aug. 10 when all faculty and staff will return for fall semester unless they have been approved for telework. Any rotating schedules and telework during Phases One and Two will resume regular, in-person schedules on campus unless “otherwise directed to support social distancing in unique and densely populated work environments,” according to the email.

New resources for the fall semester

The email detailed new developments and measures that will be implemented regarding face coverings, test screenings, labs and more.

“Surveillance and screening” of positive COVID-19 cases will be administered through a notification application. The app will provide a daily reminder to members of the campus community to check for symptoms prior to coming to campus each day, according to the email.

The DPH will be notified of any self-reported positive cases so contact tracing and cleaning of the impacted areas can begin. The app will be tested in Phase Two and launched in Phase Three, according to the email.

UGA is also sending 60,000 digital thermometers to all faculty, staff and students, according to the email. All faculty, staff and students will be required to self-monitor and take their temperature every morning before coming to campus.

Effective July 15, the university will require all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear a face covering while inside campus facilities and buildings where 6 feet of social distance isn’t possible, according to the email. Masks aren’t a substitute for social distance, according to USG’s recently updated coronavirus guidelines.

Accommodations may be made for those unable to wear a face covering due to documented health reasons.

The university purchased 150,000 face masks, two for every faculty, staff and students, including extras. The masks are now being delivered to individuals and departments via mail. The university will launch an awareness campaign to encourage the UGA community to wear face coverings “especially in classrooms, labs, study areas, student life facilities, buses, and other spaces where social distancing may not always be possible,” according to the email.

The email also announced that the Veterinary Diagnostic Labs at the Athens and Tifton campuses are now certified to support human coronavirus testing. The labs previously performed tests only on animal tissues.

The university is working with the DPH for contact tracing. Anyone in the UGA community can call the Northeast Health District Screening Hotline at 706-340-0996 for an appointment at the DPH’s testing site located at 1030 Mitchell Bridge Road. All USG employees are eligible for free COVID-19 virtual screenings through Augusta University Health System’s AU Health Express Care app, which is available at www.augustahealth.org/COVID19.

Over 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer have been ordered and will be available for distribution in classrooms, offices and common areas across campus, according to the email. UGA also ordered over 2.5 million individual sanitizing wipes.

More than 4,500 supervisors have completed a mandatory supervisor training module on health and safety precautions and individual responsibility. Employees returning during Phase Two will have access to the training module prior to their return through the Professional Education Portal. In early August, the training module for students will be in place via eLearning Commons.

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