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Facility changes and enhancements

July 28, 2020

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During recent months, the university has implemented a number of changes or new practices to increase the safety of our environments for students, faculty, and staff across all campuses.

Cleaning, sanitation, and social distancing

  • The Maintenance Department on all three campuses have verified the cleaning supplies being utilized on our campuses are approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as effective in sanitizing surfaces and killing the coronavirus.
  • The Maintenance Department has been working with our consultants to review and revise, where necessary, cleaning protocols and practices.
  • COVID-19 related signage is being installed across the campuses.
  • Disposable masks are being made available on each campus if someone should arrive on campus without one.
    Classrooms, conference rooms, break rooms, lounges, and dining areas are being reset according to social distancing guidelines from the CDC and MDH.
  • The university has increased the number of hand sanitizer dispensers, and more are being installed throughout the university as they arrive.
  • Spray bottles with cleaning supplies, paper towels, and cleaning directions are being placed across the campuses to allow people to wipe down any surface if they wish to have additional cleaning between the regularly planned cleaning.
  • Plexiglas and other types of dividers have been installed to provide protection for all members of the Saint Mary’s Community and our guests. The process continues of reviewing areas and adding protection or separations as we finalize preparation for the return of the remainder of our staff, faculty, and students.
  • There have been reviews of library facilities, admission offices, large gathering spaces, athletic and weight training facilities, conference rooms, laboratories, and general office locations. Individuals and groups have been relocated. Some office areas have been reconfigured and dividers added. Work continues on these and other locations.

Air exchange

  • We are monitoring and implementing recommendations of the CDC, MDH, Association of Educational Facilities Professionals (APPA), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The Maintenance Department has revised the rate of air exchanges in buildings on each campus; more fresh air is being introduced into our buildings and the amount of air being exhausted from the buildings has also increased throughout the day.
  • ASHRAE and the Departments of Energy (on the national and state level) set guidelines for air flow, exchanges, and introduction of new air. Prior to COVID-19, energy efficiency was one of the key determinants of the optimal levels to operate air exchangers during the day. Obviously, energy efficiency guidelines have been suspended and now the focus is maximizing the amount of air exchanged in buildings and offices, the amount of fresh air introduced into a building and the exchange rate of the air.
  • Some specific examples of changes: On our Twin Cities Campus, all of the air exchangers were changed from cycling during the day to a setting of continuous airflow throughout the operational day. We have increased the amount of outside air introduced into the buildings. On the Winona Campus, all air exchangers have been adjusted to increase airflow, increase the introduction of outside air and increase the air exchange rate.
  • There has been a review of all air filters, and they were upgraded as necessary.