UH West Oʻahu officials share COVID-19 response, fall reopening in Zoom interview

Screen shot of UH West Oʻahu officials during a recent Zoom meeting.

University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham and campus officials gathered on July 24 via Zoom for a Q&A session to share how UH West Oʻahu has been impacted by COVID-19 and what steps are being taken for the Aug. 24 reopening of the campus. UH West Oʻahu’s focus continues to be the health and wellness of students, faculty, and staff.

Participants discussed how they addressed COVID-19 challenges, the use of financial support received through the CARES Act, considerations made amid a statewide budget crisis, and efforts to address enrollment.

Benham recalled closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak globally early in the spring semester when the decision was made by the UH System to shut down all 10 campuses on March 12. Early challenges included dealing with costs involved with the campus closure, closing and cleaning buildings, moving all classes online for the remainder of the spring semester, providing equipment and support to students and employees during the transition, addressing graduation in May, and having to communicate an ambiguous situation to the campus community.

“I use an ʻOlelo Noʻeau to best describe the work that we’ve been doing here on campus — ‘ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alu ʻia,’ ” Benham shared. “Basically that means that no task is too big when done together by all.”

Such challenges could not have been met without the expertise, commitment, and skill set of everyone involved, Benham noted.

“It’s extremely important to be patient and persistent through this entire process, to really learn from what’s happening globally as we are not in this alone,” Benham said. “We’re all in this together and well do things that are going to be good for our campus, for our families, for our communities.”

Here are among the highlights from the Q&A session (click here for a transcript of the full interview), with a focus on UH West Oʻahu’s COVID-19 guidelines and plans for the fall 2020 semester:

Pueo Safety Promise
Everyone who comes to the UH West Oʻahu campus — students, employees, and visitors — are asked to respect the Pueo Safety Promise, which states, “I will”:

  1. Stay home if my temperature is higher than 100.4 or if I have been in close contact with a suspected or confirmed case.
  2. Submit the UHWO Health APP/Web-Survey prior to coming to campus.
  3. Wear a face covering, maintain safe physical distance, and practice good handwashing hygiene when on campus or doing university business.
  4. Remain informed about health and safety guidelines and take steps to protect our campus staff, faculty, students, and guests.
  5. Be kind and compassionate, caring for the well-being of our campus community.
Pueo Safety Promise card

Process for positive and suspected cases
UH West Oʻahu students and employees are asked to contact the Campus COVID-19 Hotline at 689-2525 or email covidwo@hawaii.edu if they have tested positive, are symptomatic, or have had contact with a positive case.

The UH West Oʻahu COVID-19 Response Team has an action plan set up to address each situation reported, to assist affected students and employees, and to provide information to all appropriate parties.

Have a COVID-19 question?
The general public is welcome to call the Queen’s Health Systems COVID Hotline at 691-2619.

Daily check-ins
Daily health screening and self-monitoring will be mandatory via a check-in app and web-page questionnaire to support CDC recommended daily self-screening of everyone that will be on our campus. Students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be expected to complete the self-screening questionnaire prior to arriving on campus. Visitors should do so upon arrival. (More details will be released as we prepare for the fall semester.)

Facial coverings and hygiene
Employees, students, and visitors must wear face coverings when on campus. Plexi-glass barriers have been installed as added protection in areas where employees interact with the public. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available. There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout campus, including classrooms.

Physical distancing
While there will be a limited density of people on campus, be mindful to stay at least six feet from others, do not gather in groups, and avoid crowds and mass gatherings. Classrooms and laboratories are reconfigured for physical distancing; desks are spaced six feet apart. Reconfigured classrooms and labs have reduced capacity to about 25 percent. Blue tape on floors and signage placed throughout campus serve as guides and reminders to practice physical distancing.

Course delivery
UH West Oʻahu is looking at a fall 2020 schedule with the following modalities (as of July 30, 2020):

  • 77.5 percent fully online (asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of asynchronous and synchronous)
  • 21 percent hybrid (combination of in-person and online instruction)
  • 1.5 percent traditional face-to-face (physically present in a classroom or other education space)

Every classroom will have self-sufficient Zoom capabilities so faculty can use any modality they need. Each room has enough technology where faculty can broadcast their classes synchronously. IT is currently setting up two studios where faculty can record their classes so they can offer them asynchronously. Also, resources are available on the Laulima site to assist faculty on how to develop their pedagogy to effectively teach students who are in person and/or online.

Campus services
The James & Abigail Campbell Library will be open with limited hours. For information about other services and hours, click here. Student services — such as orientation, Student Life activities, tutoring, getting a transcript, and seeing an advisor — will be more of a virtual option with some face-to-face services open, but in a limited capacity.

Daily cleaning and disinfecting 
Building Services staff has been trained to provide daily cleaning and disinfection of campus facilities and spaces, including classrooms, restrooms, and elevators in accordance with CDC guidelines. This includes performing routine cleaning and disinfecting of spaces that are occupied and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched indoor surfaces, such as door handles, elevator buttons, faucets, and paper towel dispensers. Coordination will be made to ensure there will be appropriate time between classes to allow for effective cleaning to take place in classrooms.

Although the Building Services staff will maintain their normal cleaning processes after the classrooms and restrooms have been tended to, each employee should do their own due diligence and self-clean their work areas to ensure coverage commensurate with their work habits.

‘Moving forward’
“Aʻohe ʻauwaʻa paʻa i ka hālau i ka mālie,” Benham said. “No canoes are stuck in the shed when it’s calm. Everyone is in it together. We’re in our canoes, we are out there working together and moving forward.”

For more information, visit westoahu.hawaii.edu/covid-19.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff