University of St. Thomas Magazine Fall/Winter 2020

the conditions,” Director of STELAR Lisa Burke said. “Faculty worked extremely hard over the summer to prepare for fall, participating in our online teaching certificate courses and faculty forums, and consulting with instructional designers to plan engaging course content, activities and assessments that will leverage the existing technologies.” Burke said STELAR has also done a lot of work supporting the way content is presented online in terms of accessibility and equity. “Technology can be a great equalizer by giving students access to materials in a way that meets their learning needs and personal preferences,” she said. Preparing the campus While faculty shifted to teaching online and planning for the fall, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Jim Brummer and his team got to work right away on the eventual return of the St. Thomas community. Hundreds of new hand sanitizer stations were placed throughout campus. Classrooms were set up according to social distancing criteria. Signs to direct traffic flow and designate room occupancies were posted. Designated areas for students unable to isolate or quarantine at home were created. Some noteworthy changes to ensure a healthy campus community weren’t as noticeable. Brummer’s team studied heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to determine capabilities. He noted there are two ways HVAC systems can be used in response to concerns about infectious disease within spaces – filtering or diluting the indoor air. One potential change for the future is ensuring that the university’s HVAC systems are designed for extremely efficient filters such as MERV 13. Since many of the university’s HVAC systems aren’t currently equipped for that level of filtration, Facilities Management increased the amount of fresh outdoor

air – sometimes two to three times the normal amount – supplied to indoor spaces. This level is consistent with standards set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health.

We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do to make sure that we can educate students and fulfill our mission. – JIM BRUMMER, ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT OF FACILITIES MANAGEMENT

Training staff was another important initiative.

“We went through an extensive process of making sure the staff understands what COVID-19 is, understands their role in protecting the St. Thomas community and the users of our facilities, and their role in protecting themselves from possibly contracting the virus,” Brummer said. “That will be a continuous education process with our staff ... that they know how to access the personal protective equipment required to do their job, that they understand overall how the virus acts within spaces on surfaces and why it’s important to do the job the way that they do.” Looking into the future, Brummer said the pandemic is being taken into account in the design of classrooms for the future Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) complex on south campus. “We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do to make sure that we can educate students and fulfill our mission,” Brummer said. n

Left: People walk by the Anderson Student Center on a beautiful autumn day. Photo by Liam James Doyle.

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