By Madison Beck
Beginning in mid-July, the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) began utilizing its social media accounts to spread awareness about state COVID-19 guidelines like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and physical distancing particularly as they relate to higher education. On August 11, BPPE posted COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institution of Higher Education to its Twitter and Facebook pages. The guidelines were published by the Governor in conjunction with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the State of California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). At its Advisory Committee meeting on August 16, 2020, BPPE Chief, Dr. Michael Marion, discussed the importance of the guidelines in reopening BPPE licensed schools safely. [Agenda Item 5a] The document was included in the Advisory Committee meeting materials. [page 30] Although many institutions that BPPE licenses are temporarily closed, the state guidelines promote health and safety before, during, and after an institution’s re-opening.
The state guidance requires the use of face coverings by workers and members of the public in all areas where there is a higher risk of exposure, including: (1) when inside, or lined up to enter, indoor public spaces; (2) when obtaining healthcare services; (3) when waiting for, and while utilizing, public transportation or private ride-share services; (4) when working on or offsite around members of the public, in public and common spaces, in indoor areas; and (5) when in a public outdoor space where maintaining six feet of distance is not possible.
The state guidance also includes twelve comprehensive steps for institutions of higher education to follow when planning for campus repopulation. Step One involves establishing a written COVID-19 prevention plan to address baseline concerns. Step Two encourages communication and cooperation with local and state health officials. Steps Three and Four address hygiene, cleanliness, and ventilation, while Step Five offers ideas to implement physical distancing on campus in various settings. Step Six reminds staff and students to limit sharing of items. Step Seven recommends maintaining CDC shared or congregate housing standards, and Step Eight suggests the training of staff and students. Step Nine advises daily symptom checking. Step Ten suggests drafting a plan for potential illness among staff or students, and Step Eleven promotes healthy operations, such as continuing telework where possible. Finally, Step Twelve spells out considerations for potential future closures due to viral spread. The guidelines also include considerations specific to collegiate athletics.