Updated University Directives for MUSC Faculty, Staff & Students for Staying Safe

Note: some information updated as of 7/31 & 9/16 (indicated with *)

These updated guidelines to the University Directives were modified/added to comply with the requirements of the new City of Charleston ordinance. MUSC faculty, staff and students working/studying/visiting outside the Charleston County area are asked to check the ordinances and local requirements for those specific areas.

We must all do our parts to protect our personal health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others, at work/university and elsewhere. MUSC has approached the return to campus thoughtfully, considering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other state and federal guidelines, consulting with our own infectious disease experts, and reviewing information provided by various organizations making recommendations for higher education. Importantly, however, the guidance and thoughts have evolved, and will continue to evolve, as scientific research advances and we learn more about the community transmission of COVID-19, particularly in higher education and academic medical center settings. MUSC’s approach is likely to change based on several factors, including the prevalence of community transmission in the Charleston area. Up-to-date directives will be available on the intranet. University employees and students are required/mandated to follow these directives at all times when at work/university unless appropriate accommodations are made according to the guidance below. Please note that students involved in clinical experiences and faculty working in non-MUSC facilities must follow the policies of the host institution. MUSC clinical faculty must follow these guidelines when conducting university business in non-clinical buildings.

A. Wearing a Mask: As of July 1, 2020, all university employees and students are required to wear a mask while in buildings open to the public, including university buildings, which includes both classrooms and conference rooms. Wearing a mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected, especially if you are asymptomatic. Also note, wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing. Masks are being procured centrally and will be distributed based on need. University employees and students may also wear their own masks or cloth face coverings, provided they cover the nose and mouth fully. Bandanas and neck gaiters are not approved masks due to scientific evidence showing they are ineffective as protective measures *Information updated as of 9/16/20.It is the responsibility of supervisors/program faculty to ensure that masks do not display images that are inappropriate. When in the workplace/university, masks or cloth face coverings:

  • Must be worn when in a vehicle with another individual and when using drive-through services. 
  • Must be worn outdoors where maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet is not possible.
  • Must be worn by university employees when conducting business at the worksites of other entities.
  • May be removed if the employee or student is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, an underlying health condition (see below) or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others.
  • May be removed while eating or drinking during breaks and lunch periods; however, at those times, social distancing should be practiced. 
  • May be removed when driving alone or when isolated in an enclosed office/room with the door closed such as a library study room. *Information updated as of 9/16/20.

Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Make sure the mask fits snugly around the mouth and nose; if the mask has a metal wire, it should fit snuggly to the bridge of the nose.

Avoid touching the mask while wearing; cloth masks should be washed at least three times a week unless visibly soiled or heavily contaminated with oral secretions which require daily washing.

A mask should not be worn if it is damp or when wet from saliva or mucus or when visibly soiled.

Disposable face masks should be discarded daily or more frequently if soiled.

Remove the mask from behind or by the ear loops, being careful not to touch the front. Store cloth masks mask in a clean baggie or container for transport.
Immediately wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or disinfect hands with sanitizer after removing the mask.

Individuals who cannot wear masks for medical reasons must provide written documentation from their providers; in this case, employees should be referred to Human Resources and students should be referred to the director of Equity, EEO and University Accessibility Services.

B. Gloves: For most university employees and students, gloves should not be used for general protective use for the following reasons:

Touching your face with contaminated hands, whether gloved or not, poses a significant risk of infection.

Gloves often create a false sense of security for the individuals wearing them; people are more likely to touch contaminated surfaces because they feel protected from the virus.

When wearing gloves, people are less inclined to wash their hands, even though handwashing is the No. 1 defense against any virus.

If you are asked to wear gloves for a specific activity, follow proper procedures to remove and dispose of gloves (Appendix 1)

C. Social Distancing Between Floors: Employees and students who are physically able are encouraged to use the stairwells. If they must use the elevator, no more than three individuals should be in an elevator at one time. This may vary depending on the size of the elevator and you are encouraged to use your discretion to maintain social distancing. When using the elevator, individuals must wear a mask and avoid touching the elevator buttons with exposed hand/fingers, if possible (e.g. use your elbow). Wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon departing the elevator.

D. Conference Rooms/Meeting Rooms: Whenever possible, meetings should be conducted using digital platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Collaborate or WebEx. When meetings are held in an office or conference room, social distancing and mask rules must be followed. In meeting/conference rooms, departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables and/or add visual cue marks to support social distancing practices between employees. Wipe all surfaces after using in common areas.

E. General Employee/Student Responsibilities: Employees are strongly encouraged to disinfect their own workspaces at least daily, giving special attention to frequently touched surfaces, such as computer keyboards, phones, door handles and desktops. Students are required to clean their study areas immediately after each use. Disinfectant wipes are available from Central Supply for this purpose. We are working to procure disinfectant wipes for use. For electronics, if using a spray disinfectant, it should be applied to a paper towel or cloth prior to use. Employees and students should be reminded to avoid touching their faces and to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol several times during their work/study hours to reduce the risk of potential person-to-person infections.

F. Restrooms: Guidelines for restroom breaks include the following:

If maximum capacity for the restroom is posted, adhere to the capacity set.

Occupy alternate urinals and restroom stalls to maintain separation of 6 feet.

Do not congregate in the restroom. Be courteous and aware of others’ needs to use the restroom.

To the extent possible, do not touch doorknobs, faucets, paper towel dispensers, etc., with clean bare hands.

G. Break Rooms: Employee/student breaks and meal periods should be staggered when operationally feasible to limit the number of employees/students in communal spaces at one time. If you are eating in your work environment (break room, office, etc.) maintain 6 feet of distance between you and others. Only remove your mask or face covering in order to eat, then put it back on. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in employee break rooms and student lounges to support social distancing practices between employees. Individuals must wipe all surfaces, including tables, refrigerator handles, the coffee machine, etc. in common areas after using them.

H. Social distancing: Individuals should always strive to maintain 6 feet from all other individuals. If a classroom, conference room or other space has either a capacity limit or identified seating to maintain the 6-foot distance, then these must be adhered to.

I. Vulnerable Populations: Members of vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with immunosuppression or co-morbidities, pregnant women or those living with vulnerable individuals may continue working/studying remotely as long as it may be accomplished effectively from a remote location. A student who self-identifies as vulnerable or who lives with a member of a vulnerable population should contact their faculty advisor, program director or college dean to discuss options for continued remote learning. Any leaders who supervise a faculty or staff member who self-identifies as vulnerable or who lives with a member of a vulnerable population must first discuss options for working remotely. If the leader determines that the faculty or staff member is unable to work effectively remotely, the leader must contact the appropriate HR personnel regarding options such as sick/annual leave, leave without pay, leave under Families First Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, etc. The request for consideration of vulnerable status and the decisions made must be documented. For those who do not feel safe coming to campus to work/learn, they must contact their supervisors or student affairs office to determine if they are able to work/learn remotely. Information provided by employees/students regarding any medical condition must be maintained confidentially and in a separate medical file.

J. Individuals with child-care responsibilities while schools/child care services remain closed may continue working/learning remotely as long as it may be effectively accomplished from a remote location. If a leader or supervisor has an employee/student in their area who has child care responsibilities and is not able to work/learn remotely, the leader must contact the appropriate student affairs office (students) or the appropriate HR contact (employees) regarding options. The request for consideration of accommodations to fulfill child care responsibilities and the decisions made must be documented.

Note: If a leader or supervisor has an employee who is deemed critical to transition on-site and the employee is unwilling to return due to fear or other reasons not specified in sections or J above, the leader must contact the appropriate HR personnel to resolve the issue. All requests, decisions and outcomes must be documented.

K. All University personnel and students must self-monitor daily and get tested if symptoms arise (Appendix 2). If you experience any signs of COVID-19 infection (e.g., runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, headache, subjective fevers, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, sudden loss of taste/smell), then you must remain at home in self-quarantine and must be tested for COVID-19. It is highly recommended that you use the MUSC Virtual Urgent Care telehealth platform (musc.care) to be screened for testing. If you get tested on the MUSC care site, please identify yourself as a health care worker regardless of whether you are a student, faculty or staff. You will be prioritized to get your results faster. All individuals who test positive are also required to self-report via redcap or e-mail at COVIDWATCH@musc.edu to allow for prompt contract tracing. You are also required to inform your supervisor/program director immediately and follow the guidance in Appendix 2 regarding return to work *Information updated as of 9/16/20. Self- reporting not only stops the spread of COVID-19 but allows for us to share supportive services with you. Further, know that your privacy is important to us and we will only share what is minimally necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. (See Appendix 2 for return to work/learning guidelines.)

L. If you have been notified that you have been exposed to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the directives in Appendix 3.

Appendix 1

How to Remove Gloves to Protect Yourself

  1. Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist. Do not touch your bare skin. Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
  2. Hold the glove you just removed in your other gloved hand.
  3. Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
  4. Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
  5. Dispose of the gloves safely.
  6. Do not reuse the gloves.
  7. Clean your hands immediately after removing gloves.

Appendix 2

Testing and Reporting

All university personnel and students must self-monitor daily.

If you experience any signs of COVID-19 infection (e.g., runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, headache, subjective fevers, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, sudden loss of taste/smell), then you must remain at home in self-quarantine and must be tested for COVID-19.

It is highly recommended that you use the MUSC Virtual Urgent Care telehealth platform (musc.care) to be screened for testing. If you get tested on the MUSC cares site, please identify yourself as a health care worker regardless of whether you are a student, faculty or staff. You will be prioritized to get your results faster and it will assist with contact tracing.

All individuals who test positive are also required to self-report via redcap or e-mail at COVIDWATCH@musc.edu to allow for prompt contact tracing. Self- reporting not only stops the spread of COVID-19 but allows for us to share supportive services with you. Further, know that your privacy is important to us and we will only share what is minimally necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you test positive you must remain out of all work/learning environments as follows:

If you are asymptomatic: You may return 10 days from date of positive test results. *Information updated as of 7/31/20

If you have symptoms: You may return when you are 10 days from symptom onset AND have gone 72 hours without fever AND have had a 24-hour period without symptoms. *Information updated as of 7/31/20

If you test negative but remain symptomatic, you may return to work when you feel able to do so ensuring that you wear your mask at all times (and provided you have not received a notification of high-risk exposure, see below). We recommend you get checked by your physician if symptoms are significant and persistent to determine if there is another probable cause. *Information updated as of 9/16/20

Appendix 3

MUSC University Directives Regarding COVID Exposure for Faculty, Staff and Students

The CDC and other federal and state entities have recommended different post COVID exposure guidelines for health care personnel and essential personnel versus others. This is to ensure adequate manpower for essential functions. Therefore, the university will be following this same differentiation. Please see below for guidelines for actions post COVID-19 exposure based on four different scenarios.

  1. All clinical faculty must follow the MUSC Health Guidelines (PDF requires NetID login and password) if notified of an exposure to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. All university staff or faculty who are considered “essential” as determined by their department chairs or supervisors must also follow MUSC Health Guidelines (PDF requires NetID login and password) if notified of an exposure to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.
  3. All students on clinical rotations/internships/experiences will follow the exposure guidelines at their individual clinical sites if notified of an exposure to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 but must notify their respective clinical coordinators of the exposure. The purpose of this notification is to monitor student exposures, provide support if the student subsequently tests positive and provide support for managing clinical requirements if quarantine is necessary.
  4. All other university staff, faculty and students not identified above in scenarios 1 through 3 must follow the COVID-19 exposure protocol below.

Level 1 High Risk Exposure

High risk exposure is defined as close contact (less than 6 feet) for greater than 15 minutes with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or skin-to-skin contact such as hugging, high fives, etc.

Required Actions

Stay home until 14 days after last exposure and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.

Report the exposure to your supervisor/program director/instructor so they will be aware of your absence.

Avoid contact with anyone vulnerable to the complications of COVID-19.

Self-monitor for symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, headache, subjective fevers, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, sudden loss of taste/smell).

If you experience any of these, you must be tested for COVID-19. (Follow testing and reporting requirements in Appendix 2).

If you are asymptomatic, you may choose to be screened by the Virtual Urgent Care telehealth platform (musc.care) to determine if you should be tested. Please note that testing for asymptomatic individuals less than seven days after exposure is not recommended due to the high number of false negatives. Please note that even if your test is negative, you must still quarantine for 14 days if you are considered non-essential personnel. This is a requirement of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control that we must follow. *Information updated as of 9/16/20.

Level 2 Low Risk or Casual Exposure

Low risk exposure is defined as all other contact that does not meet the criteria for high risk exposure. For example, this would include being in the same building, lab, classroom or space occupied by an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 but not within 6 feet of that individual for ≥15 minutes. It would also include short encounters in hallways, elevators etc.

Required Actions

There is no need for isolation or quarantine unless specified in the section above. Please continue to follow all other directives including wearing a mask and maintaining a social distance from others where feasible.

Self-monitor for symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, headache, subjective fevers, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, sudden loss of taste/smell).

If you experience any of these, you must be tested for COVID-19. (See Appendix 2).