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Sustaining University Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2021

Benjamin J. Ryan*
Affiliation:
Department of Environmental Science, Environmental Health Science Program, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Michael P. Muehlenbein
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Jon Allen
Affiliation:
Information Technology Services, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Joshua Been
Affiliation:
Data and Digital Scholarship, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Kenneth Boyd
Affiliation:
Student-Athlete Health and Wellness, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Mark Brickhouse
Affiliation:
Environmental Health and Safety, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Bryan W. Brooks
Affiliation:
Department of Environmental Science, Environmental Health Science Program, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Matthew Burchett
Affiliation:
Student Activities, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
C. Kevin Chambliss
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Jason D. Cook
Affiliation:
Marketing and Communications, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Adam Ecklund
Affiliation:
Health Services, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Lori Fogleman
Affiliation:
Media and Public Relations, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Peter Granick
Affiliation:
Operations, Finance and Administration, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Sharra Hynes
Affiliation:
Campus Living and Learning, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Tonya Hudson
Affiliation:
Media and Public Relations, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Michelle Huse
Affiliation:
Human Resources, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Micah Lamb
Affiliation:
IT Projects and Governance, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Tiffany Lowe
Affiliation:
Campus Living and Learning, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Jim Marsh
Affiliation:
Department of Counseling Services, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Niesha Nixon
Affiliation:
Health Services, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Dennis Nolan
Affiliation:
Environmental Health and Safety, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
George Nuñez
Affiliation:
Office of Emergency Management, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Walter “Sparky” Matthews
Affiliation:
Honors Program, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Sharon Stern
Affiliation:
Health Services, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Meaghann Wheelis
Affiliation:
Institutional Research, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
Nancy Brickhouse
Affiliation:
Curriculum and Instruction, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA
*
Corresponding author: Benjamin J. Ryan, Email: benjamin_ryan@baylor.edu.

Abstract

Colleges and universities around the world engaged diverse strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Baylor University, a community of ˜22,700 individuals, was 1 of the institutions which resumed and sustained operations. The key strategy was establishment of multidisciplinary teams to develop mitigation strategies and priority areas for action. This population-based team approach along with implementation of a “Swiss Cheese” risk mitigation model allowed small clusters to be rapidly addressed through testing, surveillance, tracing, isolation, and quarantine. These efforts were supported by health protocols including face coverings, social distancing, and compliance monitoring. As a result, activities were sustained from August 1 to December 8, 2020. There were 62,970 COVID-19 tests conducted with 1435 people testing positive for a positivity rate of 2.28%. A total of 1670 COVID-19 cases were identified with 235 self-reports. The mean number of tests per week was 3500 with approximately 80 of these positive (11/d). More than 60 student tracers were trained with over 120 personnel available to contact trace, at a ratio of 1 per 400 university members. The successes and lessons learned provide a framework and pathway for similar institutions to mitigate the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and sustain operations during a global pandemic.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2021

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