Message From The President
SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 | 8:00PM
Your compliance with and adherence to the Re-Opening Tiger Nation campus safety guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19, has allowed us to continue in-person classes, residential hall occupation, and to begin week six (6) of our abbreviated Fall 2020 semester. Although this is good news, we must not be complacent; we must continue being persistent and intentional in our efforts to keep our campus safe- Mask up! Make Space! Stay Safe!
Together, over the past five weeks, we have:
- Completed the phase-in of all essential and nonessential staff and faculty.
- Completed registration and admissions, including residential check-in.
- Completed two- weeks of virtual and online courses.
- Integrated in-person classes to fully implement our synchronous course method of instruction and learning.
- Completed SGA and Miss and Mister Benedict elections
- Delivered two major virtual events – 2020 Commencement and Convocation, the official start of the Fall 2020 semester.
In August, I shared with the campus the status of our COVID-19 efforts. I outlined four phases of re-opening – Agility, Resilience, Capacity and Sustainability. At the time of our re-opening we were transitioning from three (3) – Capacity – IT enhancements, learning resources, faculty development and computer/online certifications to where we are today, Sustainability which involves, start of the academic calendar, hybrid learning, social distancing and safe occupation.
Tigers, to continue to the end of the semester, October 30, it will take all of us to adhere to guidelines. We will continue to monitor the state of South Carolina, CDC and SCDHEC for COVID-19 updates and changes to the guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Our top priority remains the safety of Tiger Nation – staff, faculty and students.
Below is a summary of the information that I shared with the Board of Trustees regarding our COVID-19 response and approach. You will note that Phase 4: Sustainability is where we currently are:
We reacted quickly on all fronts to ensure the health and safety of the entire Benedict community. I appreciate the efforts of our staff who worked diligently to evacuate the campus and to the faculty who returned from spring break in the midst of our new reality. Thanks to the generosity of our Board of Trustees and community partners, we were able to safely evacuate the campus by March 18, 2020.
Our faculty worked diligently to transition to online instruction virtually overnight. Thank you to the faculty for your hard work and your flexibility as you guided our students through the remainder of the semester. Faculty efforts were fully supported by our Student Success and Retention efforts – these individuals worked around the clock to assist and support our students with virtual learning needs, faculty engagement and emergency assistance. Additionally, most of our staff developed comprehensive work plans and transitioned to telework – thank you for your diligence. The Facilities, Campus Safety, Student Life, Student Health, IT, HR, Finance, Cabinet and others have worked on the campus consistently since March 18, to ensure that the critical functions of the College were maintained. In true Benedict fashion, we made the BEST out of difficult circumstances.
With the end of the semester comes the summer planning and Covid-19 has certainly added a new dimension to these planning efforts. We are making significant IT upgrades and providing updated computers to many of our staff and faculty. Faculty development efforts will be centered around Online Teaching Certification and Course Development efforts in order to prepare for the fall. Revisions are being made to the academic calendar and plans are in place to safely repopulate the campus.
Protective equipment, policies and procedures, housing plans, social distancing policies etc. have all been drafted. While things will look and feel different, we look forward to welcoming you back over the coming weeks. As of June 1, 2020, we began transitioning staff back onto the campus. Clearly, we need time to adapt and to gain a comfort level with our new reality prior to bringing students back into our environment. You will receive more detailed information regarding your return dates and safety protocols from your supervisor.
As we look toward the fall, we are working through multiple academic and financial models. Our primary objective is to re-open the campus safely and to resume the important work of transforming students through the provision of high quality educational opportunities. To be sure, we will experience challenges. We are carefully monitoring retention and enrollment efforts and will make whatever decisions are necessary to ensure the financial stability of the College. Travel will be curtailed and non-essential functions will not be maintained. The fall semester will be anything but normal. However, we will weather this as we have a host of other challenges these 150 years. While our celebration has been delayed in light of Covid-19, our history cannot be denied. We are committed, we are resilient, we are faithful and we are BCStrong!
Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis
President & CEO – Benedict College
2019 HBCU of the Year #TheBESTofBC #BC=BESTChoice!
Re-Opening Tiger Nation: Current Status
Click on the image above to view updated CARES Act for Benedict College. (updated September 4, 2020).
Click on the image above to view Re-Opening Tiger Nation Fall 2020 plan. (updated September 2, 2020)
Re-opening Tiger Nation
Over the next several months, as our city, state and nation responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Benedict College will continue to work towards Re-Opening Tiger Nation within the guidelines and recommendations from the City of Columbia, State of South Carolina, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
The BC Emergency Response Team in collaboration with our sister HBCUs in South Carolina and across the country have worked to recommend and implement the following safety practices that are in alignment with CDC, SCDHEC, the American College Health Association and other public health entities.
STAFF & FACULTY
- What To Expect
- Fall Registration & Tiger Prep is Underway
- Residential Housing Updates
More than 110 Mobile COVID-19
Testing Clinics Scheduled Statewide
As part of our ongoing efforts to increase testing in underserved and rural communities across the state, DHEC is working with community partners to set up mobile testing clinics that bring testing to these communities. Currently, there are 118 mobile testing events scheduled through July 2 with new testing events added regularly. Find a mobile testing clinic event near you at scdhec.gov/covid19mobileclinics.
There also are 168 permanent testing locations at health care facilities throughout the state. These testing sites can be found at scdhec.gov/covid19testing.
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Tyrone Adams Burroughs School of Business Administration
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Getting you through the Enrollment Process
LIVE Student Talk
Residential Life Fall 2020
COVID-19: Safety Guidelines
LIVE Student Talk
COVID-19: Ask Doctor Lyn
STAFF & FACULTY
As we return to work and begin this “new normal” in our workplace, we understand that many employees are concerned about safety as well as the changes to company policies and procedures that we have implemented. We want every employee to be assured that we are taking your concerns and the well-being of our employees seriously.
Our overall focus will be the continued reduction of the spread of COVID-19 to protect our staff, faculty and students, and that will mean that in all that we do the following will serve as our guiding principles and focus areas are:
- Prepare the Physical Campus
- Manage & Control Access Points
- Social Distancing is Top of Mind Always (TOMA)
- Reduce Touch Points
- Prepare the Workforce
- Communicate and reinforce the BEST of BC
Social Distancing (6-ft ): BC Tigers Are Stronger Together Standing Apart. Modifying shared spaces –living, learning, working – with will include staggered seating and directional signage for traffic flow, we can continue to operate while maintaining a healthy physical distance.
Sanitation & Hygiene. Heightened attention to cleaning to support the health and wellbeing of faculty, staff and students is a top priority. While our custodial team will be focused on this area, in order to keep our campus environment as safe as possible and in accordance with CDC and DHEC guidelines, the entire campus community shares responsibility in this effort, washing hands as needed, cleaning areas before and after individual use, etc…
Directional Signage and Reminders. Reminder will be placed throughout campus community on traffic flow, room capacity, sanitation and other reminders will be placed throughout campus to assist in navigating the “new” Tiger Nation flow.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The use of PPE’s, including face coverings has been noted by public health officials as key in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, masks or face coverings must be worn in common areas and in public places on campus
ZONE Check-in. According to guidelines from SCDHEC and CDC, daily check-ins are required for faculty, staff, students as well as visitors to campus. Details on Zone and Residential Hall health monitoring will be forthcoming.
Communication. We encourage faculty, staff and students to keep abreast of updates regarding our campus response to COVID-19 via the BC website, Tiger Portal, Omnialerts and emails.
Cleaning and Disinfection
According to the CDC and DHEC, in order to protect yourself and others, more frequent cleaning of high touch areas is important to reducing the spread of the coronavirus. To this end, we will:
- All staff and faculty will be encouraged to disinfect (clean, wipe-down) their desks at the start and end of each day.
- All staff and faculty will be required to wear face coverings/masks when not at their personal workspace; if the workspace is in the open and shared- social distancing compliant- the face covering/masks must be worn while at the workspace.
Meetings & Lobby Areas
- Conference rooms, where possible, the seating will be arranged to comply with the 6-ft. social distancing policy and seats will be marked.
- Whenever possible, in-person meetings will be discontinued and replaced with virtual meetings.
- Virtual meetings are strongly encouraged, however, if virtual meetings are not possible, in-person meetings will be limited to groups of 10 or less, and social distancing must be maintained.
- Adherence to capacity levels signage on meeting room doors and elevators is required.
- Meeting rooms must be reserved at least 24 hrs. in advance.
- Attendance should be recorded at all in-person meetings (do not share pens).
- Any meetings that are held off campus, employees are recommended to not return to the office and the meetings must be approved by the division Vice Presidents.
- Whiteboard pens, erasers will be removed, and if used, do not share to reduce touch points and cross-contamination
- Remove shared beverages and food from meeting rooms and break rooms.
- Remove high-touch items such as magazines in lobby areas, coffee pots and water stations.
- Seats in lobby areas will be removed or stacked.
- Cleaning products will be kept in all meeting rooms, work and learning spaces.
Shared Responsibility. It will be almost impossible for custodial teams alone to perform these functions with the frequency and extent needed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Each member of the BC Tiger Campus Community has a joint responsibility for sanitation in their own areas and shared areas (meetings, commonly spaces, etc…).
The use of PPE’s, including face coverings, and good hygiene are critical elements to a successful re-opening plan. In compliance with the CDC and DHEC, in response to the pandemic, everyone (over the age of 2) should wear a cloth face cover when in public, everyone should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and high touch points should be eliminated to reduce cross-contamination and spreading. The college will comply with this recommendation as long as the United States remains in a designated emergency response period to the coronavirus. To that end:
- All faculty, staff, students and visitors, including third party vendors, are required to wear face coverings at all times while in public spaces or shared spaces on campus (see appendix on CDC guidelines for face coverings and masks).
- Faculty, staff and students will continue to be encouraged and instructed through constant messaging to wash hands for at least 20 seconds especially after returning from a public place, blowing nose or coughing or sneezing.
- “High touch” items will be removed to reduce touch points and reduce the spread of the coronavirus–magazines and reading materials in lobby areas, water stations, coffee pots, dry erasers and pens, ..
- Sanitation Stations will be placed throughout the campus, including hand sanitizer, wipes and disposable masks.
- Non-essential travel will be minimized and the College will adhere to CDC and health officials travel policies.
In an effort to maintain a healthy workplace during the COVID response, the following detection and reporting guidelines and practices are in effect:
- Faculty and Staff who present or believe that they have coronavirus symptoms (see CDC symptoms in appendix) should remain at home, contact their medical provider and their respective department Vice President or Human Resources.
- Students who present or believe that they have coronavirus symptoms must report to their medical provider and the Benedict College nurse.
- DHEC recommends that employees not come to work until 7 days have passed since their symptoms began AND they are free of fever (100.0° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer) for 3 days without the use of fever-reducing medicines AND their other symptoms have improved. Please coordinate return to work actions with medical provider and Human Resources.
- In the event that a positive case is confirmed on campus among the student population we will follow and comply with CDC polices for Higher Education and SCDHEC, that include, but are not limited to:
- Nurse New will be contacted and lead the campus response in collaboration with local public health policies and officials and HR.
- Disinfect the possible contaminated areas.
- Academic Affairs to considered possible class suspension.
- Notifying faculty/staff will be led on the recommendations by HR.
- Contract Tracing policies will be coordinated in collaboration with HR and the Health Dept.
Search for Paycom using the search bar in your app store. Select the app and click on Install (Google Play Store) or Get (App Store).
After install, click open and enter your Username: 0VA91and the last 4 digits of employee ID, password, and Last 4 of SSN. If you do not know your login information, please contact Human Resource for assistance.
To recover your Paycom Username and Reset Password on your phone, click LOGIN HELP at the bottom right of your screen.
After you login, click on the notification bell in the upper right of your screen.
Click on the “COVID19 Return to Work Final” link to complete the check-in survey.
Frequently Asked Questions
ZONE Check-in. According to guidelines from SCDHEC and CDC, daily check-ins are required for faculty, staff, and visitors to campus.
ZONE check-in locations will be set-up on campus where staff and faculty can complete a self-check health form regarding COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature monitoring. Staff and faculty will complete an electronic form that will sent to a protected cloud server only accessible by the employee and HR. Entry to your work area will only be permitted to those who have completed the Zone check-in process.
Employees who refuse to complete the process, will be marked with an unexcused absence in these circumstances and may be subject to disciplinary action. Please see your employee handbook/policies regarding use of paid and unpaid leave for unexcused absences.
It is likely that some employees will have to change their normal commuting practice. Using mass transit may not be an option or may be considered too risky for some. You should take steps now to identify all potential options for a safe commute, such as using a personal vehicle or ride-share services. If you have difficulty with transportation to work, please discuss this with your Division Vice President.
Employees who feel ill should notify their Division Vice President per the company policy and not report to work. If you are already at work and begin feeling sick, you should notify your manager and go home immediately. Employees can utilize accrued paid-time-off hours and/or other paid leave (Family First Cares Act) that may be available. Contact Human Resources for more information.
All faculty, staff, students and visitors, including third party vendors, are required to wear face coverings/masks at all times while in public spaces or shared spaces on campus (see appendix on CDC guidelines for face coverings and masks). If you have a medical condition that restricts you from wearing one, please contact Human Resources.
In order to promote social distancing in the workplace, virtual meetings are encouraged. Whenever possible, replace in-person meetings with virtual meetings. If a virtual meeting is not possible, in-person meetings will be limited to groups of 10 or less, and social distancing will be maintained. Policies for in-person meetings must be adhered to:
- At the conclusion of the meeting, the meeting room must be cleaned using disinfectant wipes and sanitizer that are available in the room.
- Do not share ink pens or other high-touch items
- A participant sign-in sheet must be completed
- Meeting rooms must be requested and reserved 24 hours in advance
Despite all precautionary measures, there is always a risk of workplace exposure to communicable diseases. Should an employee contract COVID-19 and expose others in our workplace, HR will immediately inform all employees of the possible exposure. Employees who have been potentially exposed will be sent home and asked to telework for 14 days. A thorough cleaning of the workspace used by the infected individual will be conducted after the area has been closed off for at least 24 hours.
Employees are responsible for paying their portion of health insurance premiums that were missed while on unpaid leave or furlough. Employees have several options for paying these premiums including a lump-sum payroll deduction or a series of deductions spread over time. You should contact your Human Resources department to make arrangements for these payments.
Social Distancing will force us all to change how we interact, we see it now – elbow and fist bumps, “air hugs.” Although some of these changes may be disappointing to you, we know that these efforts will be critical to our ability to keep you and our community safe.
In the classroom, seats will be arranged to fit social distancing policies. Students will be expected to use disinfectant wipes provided in the classrooms and wipe down their seats. The same will be true for faculty and staff when and if they use a meeting or conference room. Again, these are in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations from CDC and DHEC.
Please be assured we will all continue to work hard to make sure we’re creating a classroom environment that meets your needs.
Each division Vice President has created return to campus plans to include accounting for the number of personnel in the department, physical work setting to allow for proper social distancing, work activities needing to be prioritized, and level of service needed to provide to constituents as campus begins to open as part of a five phase plan.
Employees will receive communication from their respective Vice President regarding the anticipated date of return to on-campus work, including a timeline to prepare for that transition.
Additionally, in preparation of returning to campus, all employees will be required to review a return to work document on the BC website “Re-Opening Tiger Nation” section. This presentation will provide ways to return to the campus in the safest way while protecting the health of our co-workers, students and visitors. An Employee Acknowledge Form will be provided and will be housed in HR.
Employees are not required to disclose if they are in a high-risk category based upon preexisting medical condition. If an employee considers him or herself to be high-risk for COVID-19 based on the CDC guidelines and have concerns regarding returning to on-campus work, the employee may voluntarily discuss with his or her division Vice President or HR. If an employee voluntarily discloses, this information will be kept confidential in accordance with Benedict’s personnel policies.
Each situation will be individually evaluated in compliance with the existing guidelines of ADA, FMLA, and FFCRA (Family First Coronavirus Response Act).
Retail food establishments in the Student Center will be closed until further notice. Plans are still being worked on regarding “To Go” meals in the cafeteria for students.
Meals and luncheons provided by departments should be avoided if possible. If a necessity, meals should be boxed. Disposable plastic ware must be used.
Non-essential business domestic and international travel is temporarily suspended. Employees should be mindful of COVID-related travel advisories for personal and essential business travel. Any mission-critical exceptions must be approved in advance by the appropriate senior administrator. We continue to monitor all federal or state mandates regarding travel both international and domestic and will provide updates as needed.
Employees may be asked to provide a fit for duty certification as outlined in Benedict’s Return to Work policy. Due to COVID-19 impact to the health care system, it may not be reasonably possible to obtain a doctor’s note from your health care provider. Therefore, employees should communicate any changes in their work status and their ability to perform their job duties to their direct supervisor to determine needed documentation for a return to campus.
Employees should discuss with their Vice President issues regarding availability to report for on-campus work, including for childcare. It is encouraged that employees who are asked to return to on-campus work should talk with their childcare provider to look at options that may be available. Employees are also encouraged to refer to the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Employees should not bring their children or other family members to the workplace to respect the health and safety of co-workers. This approach is critical to being able to maintain social distancing at all times.
Benedict College COVID-19 Dashboard
All Benedict College students received COVID-19 rapid testing upon arrival to the campus — prior to starting the registration and move-in processes. Students with negative test results were allowed to complete registration and move-in to assigned residence halls. Due to COVID-19 safety measures, the are no commuter students for the Fall 2020 semester-only students who elected to live on campus are allowed access to the campus, including classrooms and dining areas. Benedict College classes are synchronus. See the Re-Opening Tiger Nation plan for more information