As you are likely aware, Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order recently requiring that masks be worn inside public spaces. The order will not have an impact on UW-Stout operations, as we have had the requirement in place since July 1. Our requirement is also aligned with the health and safety guidelines outlined in the Board of Regents resolution passed unanimously on July 9.
As a reminder, details regarding the UW-Stout mask requirement may be found in our Return to Work plan. Please note the following:
“Face masks or face coverings will be worn by all employees and visitors whether working indoors or outdoors on campus, unless you have a health condition that limits your ability to wear a mask. Masks are not required when an individual is alone in their office; however, they are required when in the presence of others and in common areas. This includes common workspaces, meeting rooms, hallways, restrooms, elevators, and classrooms.”
I understand that wearing masks and following our extensive health and safety protocols is an adjustment for our campus community. As more of our workforce returns to campus and students begin to rejoin us in mid-August, it is imperative that we remain diligent to help support our campus community and the community that surrounds us and set an example for our students and others to follow. These actions will be critical for a successful fall semester.
To support awareness of the mask expectations and other safety protocols, a series of required and strongly encouraged training sessions will be offered beginning August 24th. The training sessions will be offered in a variety of formats and will provide an opportunity to ask questions about institutional protocols and expectations. The training session topics include health and safety expectations, supporting a culture of cooperation, classroom management, and prioritizing our overall health and well-being during these difficult times. Additional information regarding the training is available on the Return to Work training site.
We also are aware that some of you have questions concerning the mask requirement. We will work to compile those questions and provide answers on our COVID-19 website.
Below are details regarding some commonly asked questions:
Cubicles do not have separate air supply and return ducts like individual offices do, so virus particles are more of a risk. Therefore, cubicles and plexiglass dividers do not count as an “office” and masks must be worn at all times in these types of spaces. Departments may use their breakrooms or conference rooms at scheduled times for single individuals to unmask for a break.
Guests and Vendors
We are working with our guests and our vendors to ensure they are aware of and follow university health and safety protocols. We have developed a visitor guide that discusses the need for our guests to wear masks, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene habits, as well as not visit campus if they are experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19.
Additionally, we have developed a vendor/invited guest registration process to track these visitors and ensure they are aware of the need to follow the same health and safety protocols in place for the campus community. We have developed a comprehensive process to register our vendors and invited guests, which is available here. The campus contact/host for the vendor or invited guest is responsible to ensure the registration process is completed.
Eating and Drinking in Class or Meetings
Because masks must be removed and food spillage also makes cleaning and disinfection less efficient, no eating should occur during classes or meetings. Although drinking also requires masks to be removed during a class or meeting time, due to the importance of hydration, it is allowed. Use good judgment and re-mask immediately after taking a drink.
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the delivery methods for some K-12 school districts and may also impact daycare operations. We are committed to supporting our employees who may need flexibility due to childcare needs during this time. Details regarding options for employees are available online. Employees should work with their supervisor and the Human Resources office to identify the most appropriate solution, since every situation is unique.
Protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors remains our top priority, and I am asking you to do everything in your power to help.
Katherine P. Frank