Personal Safety Practices

SHOW your Blazer spiritPersonal Protective Equipment:

Because you can spread COVID-19 to others even when you do not feel sick, the entire UAB community must follow critical safety practices to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19. Everyone on UAB's campus is required to wear a mask/face covering at all times when on campus except at a private workstation/private office that is in an enclosed space where no others are present. Study rooms and workstations in the libraries are public spaces and therefore require masks/face coverings.

UAB will provide each student with two masks. Distribution information to come. Students working in the healthcare environment should follow the PPE guidelines for their specific area.

Options for Masks and Face Coverings:

  • Cloth masks: Cloth masks/face coverings may be used to minimize the risks to others near you. Cloth face masks must be laundered each day. If you do not have one, a face-covering/mask may be obtained from your supervisor or Student Health. See CDC guidelines for the use of cloth face coverings.
  • Disposable masks: These are acceptable but must be disposed of safely and properly in trash bins.

UAB-branded face masks are available for purchase through a number retail stores. Here are the current online shops and brick and mortar stores that sell the officially licensed UAB-branded masks you've been looking for. As the demand for face masks grows, you can expect to find more retail options added to the list.

Note: N95 masks should be limited to first responders, health care providers, and employees working with materials that require N95 masks as part of their ordinary safety plan.

How to Clean your Cloth Masks

Wash it with the rest of your laundry

Just use regular laundry detergent and the warmest water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

...or wash it by hand

Mix non-expired bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite with room-temperature water and soak the mask for five minutes.

Use these measurements

  • 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room-temperature water or
  • 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water

Rinse the mask thoroughly with cool or room-temperature water and pour the bleach solution down the drain.

Then dry the mask thoroughly.

Use the highest heat setting for the fabric and leave the mask in the dryer until completely dry, or lay flat, preferably in direct sunlight, and allow to air-dry completely.

Per Centers for Diseases Control guidelines.

Social Distancing:

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are ill, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even when you have no symptoms.

 

Students, faculty, and staff should follow these social distancing practices:

  • Stay at least 6 feet apart (about two arms’ lengths) at all times.
  • When in open spaces such as labs, hallways, lobbies, maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet apart.
  • All workstations should be oriented to a minimum of 6 feet apart in all directions.
  • If you work in a private office, keep your door closed.
  • Do not gather in groups that cannot comply with social distancing.
  • Stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Meetings should take place online instead of conference rooms. If you must meet in person, wipe down surfaces, chairs, and equipment after each use, and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Minimize the use of common breakrooms, coffee stations, or refrigerators to store food.
  • Rearrange furniture in common areas to maintain social distancing.
  • Do not bring children, visitors, guests, or pets to the workplace.
  • Minimize non-essential movement around campus. If duties require movement to other physical areas on campus, practice social distancing, and follow all health and safety guidelines for those locations.
  • Some activities may require personnel to work within the 6-foot social distancing guidelines. It is critical to keep those interactions to a minimum.
  • Blazer Express will have a limited capacity to ensure social distancing.

Handwashing and Hand Sanitizers:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers will be available at multiple locations in your building, and you should place a hand sanitizer in your workspace for easy access.

Gloves/Goggles/Face Shields:

The CDC indicates that gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Students, faculty, and staff do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Health care workers and clinical and research personnel should follow the PPE guidelines for their specific work area.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene:

If you are in an enclosed workspace/private office and you do not have a mask, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with a hand sanitizer.

Exposure Guidance in a Healthcare Setting

Clinical Student has contact with a positive patient within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes NOT during an aerosol-generating procedure Student
wearing no mask
Student
wearing cloth mask
Student
wearing surgical mask, no eye protection
Student
wearing surgical mask or N95 with eye protection, no gown
Student
wearing gown, gloves, eye protection and N95
Patient not masked Exposed Exposed Exposed Not exposed Not exposed
Patient in cloth or surgical mask Exposed Exposed Not exposed Not exposed Not exposed
Contact with a positive patient for any amount of time during an aerosol-generating procedure Exposed Exposed Exposed Exposed Not exposed

Student Health & Wellness

UAB Student Health Services remains open, but anyone who suspects that they might be contagious should call first — (205) 934-3580 during regular hours or (205) 934-3411 after hours to page the provider on call.

Mental Health & Wellness Student Resources:

If you are experiencing a crisis, call 911, call the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255), call the Birmingham Crisis Line at (205) 323-7777, or text “UAB” to 741741 to text with a crisis counselor.

Disease outbreaks such as the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can bring stress and increased levels of fear and anxiety. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created this resource related to mental health and coping during COVID-19.

The Student Counseling Center provides mental and emotional well-being resources for students. The Student Counseling Services facility is currently closed to students, but counselors are working remotely and look forward to working with students in-person during the Fall 2020 semester. Here are a few things to know about the Student Counseling Center:

  • Student Counseling Services continues to provide counseling appointments during limited business operations through distance counseling appointments.
  • Students with scheduled appointments will be contacted by their counselor and should send a portal message to their counselor verifying the number they want to be reached. Students may cancel scheduled appointments through the patient portal.
  • Students requesting assistance may call the office at (205) 934-5816 during business hours (8 – 5) and will be able to leave a voice mail. Calls will be returned by a staff member the same or next business day.
  • Students experiencing a mental health emergency or crisis should follow the steps listed here.
  • Students may continue to send portal messages to their counselors. Counselors will respond within 24 business hours. Portal messaging is not for crisis or emergency situations.

UAB offers a wide array of options to support student mental health. For the most current information about services and resources to support student mental health, please visit the Student Counseling Services website at www.uab.edu/students/counseling. Some mental health resources include: 

TAO (Therapy Assistance Online)

Free and available to all UAB students. Through TAO’s completely self-directed, self-help app and online program, students are provided an opportunity to learn stress management, mindfulness skills, problem-solving and strategies to avoid rumination and develop more helpful thinking patterns. To sign up, go to https://thepath.taoconnect.org/.

Crisis and Emergency Resources

Students who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or another mental health emergency should call 9-1-1 or go to the UAB Emergency Department (ED), the UAB Highlands ED, or the nearest ED for immediate assistance. You may also access additional emergency and community resources here.

Distance Counseling Services

UAB Student Counseling Services is closed to in-person appointments during the UAB Modified Business Operations period; however, counselors are providing counseling services remotely.

Current SCS Clients

If you are a current SCS client with a scheduled appointment in the next 2 weeks, your counselor has reached out to you by phone and/or patient portal. If you need to communicate with your counselor or cancel a scheduled appointment, use your patient portal. Other students requesting assistance may call our main line at 205-934-5816 and leave a message and we will return your call within 1 business day. View additional Distance Counseling Services available.

Hotlines and 24/7 Support:

  • Emotional Support Help Line for COVID-19: (866) 342-6892. Free access to specially trained mental health specialists to support people experiencing anxiety or stress around COVID-19.
  • National Crisis Text Line Text “UAB” to 741-741
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Birmingham Crisis Center Crisis Line (205) 323-7777

Mental Health Apps

Numerous mental health apps exist to support and encourage positive mental health practices. Many of these are free and available for download on your device.

Recognizing Mental Distress:

Children; people who have preexisting mental health conditions, including problems with substance use; and people who are helping with the response to COVID-19, including doctors and other health care providers, may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis. People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.

Reactions to pandemic stress include fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Here are some signs of distress:

  • Increased anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Depressive symptoms that persist and/or intensify.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate accompanied by decreased work performance.
  • A feeling of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future.
  • Sudden anger and disruptive behaviors or noticeable changes in personality.
  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Isolating or withdrawing from others, fear of going into public situations.
  • Unhealthy coping (e.g., increased alcohol or drug use, engaging in risky/impulsive behaviors).

People can cope with stress and support themselves by:

  • Acknowledge reactions. Allow yourself time to reflect on what you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties of the future.
  • Maintain your day-to-day normal activities and social outlets as it follows guidance from the CDC, particularly when it comes to social distancing. Resist withdrawing and isolating yourself from the support and caring that others can provide.
  • Seek accurate information from the CDC and limit exposure to social media and news reports that provide no new information.
  • Pay attention to positive news instead of only focusing on negative and fear-producing reports.
  • Follow the protection and prevention tips given by medical professionals, national medical authorities, and your own medical doctor.
  • Practice calming rituals:
    • Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening. 
    • Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness exercises can help. 
  • Download the myStrength app. Call or email the UAB Employee Assistance Counseling Center for your access code. The app is free and confidential for UAB employees.
  • Take care of your body by getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep, eat healthy meals, take deep breaths, and stretch. Meditation may also help.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Take breaks from the news, make time to unwind, and do activities you normally enjoy.
  • Maintain positive thinking.
  • Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other and know when and how to seek help.

Facilities/Cleaning Info

Enhanced Environmental Health and Cleaning Procedures:

More detailed information regarding UAB’s COVID-19 Prevention:

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols

UAB buildings remain badge-access only. Building Services has enhanced its cleaning protocols for cleaning methods and frequency while using appropriate personal protective equipment. Workspaces and classrooms that should have the highest priority for cleaning and disinfection have been identified (e.g., door handles, railings, restrooms, breakrooms). Upon entering and leaving any room in which you have been working, you must wipe down all work areas with sanitizing wipes. This includes classrooms, shared space, or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, keyboards, mouse, phone, equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.).

Wipe In Wipe Out:

clean common areas graphicsThe emphasis will be placed on commonly touched items: doorknobs, restrooms — commonly touched surfaces where hand-to-hand transmission could occur. We also intend to provide hand sanitizer, wipes, and spray disinfectant in the classrooms. We have large-scale disinfecting mist machines that we will use a couple of times a day in the classrooms. UAB encourages students to use a process referred to as wiping in and wiping out. Students will clean your desk and workstation as you go in and clean it as you leave. Supplies will be provided to everyone with additional cleaning regimens in between.

Isolation & Quarantine

REQUIRED FOR STUDENTS

Definitions

  • Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. When a person is in “quarantine”, that indicates that they have been in close contact, or “exposed”, with someone with COVID-19 infection but do not have symptoms themselves.

  • Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. When a person is in “isolation” that indicates that they have had a positive COVID-19 test, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, and have been tested and awaiting their test result.

Click here for more information on quarantining and isolation from the Centers for Disease control.

Recommendations

According to the CDC, most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and once they are fever free for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms. A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days that may warrant extending duration of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset; consider consultation with infection control experts. For persons who never develop symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be discontinued 10 days after the date of their first positive COVID test.

When a student completes Healthcheck and receives a message to quarantine Student Health will contact them to further evaluate their concerns. If the student has had a true exposure they will be asked to quarantine, or stay home, for 14 days after last contact with a person who has COVID-19. It is not possible to “test out” of quarantine, i.e. a negative test does not end the quarantine early. A person could develop symptoms at any time during this 10 day period. However, testing can still be useful in exposed persons. Student Health will discuss testing options with quarantined students. Students in quarantine may choose to test but are not required to.

When a student reports symptoms on Healthcheck, they will get a message to isolate. These students will be contacted by Student Health to further evaluate their concerns. This may involve a visit with a healthcare provider and COVID-19 testing.

The Health subcommittee will provide campus health officers with regular updates on quarantine and isolation guidelines based on changing guidance from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). UA System campuses have protocols in place to contact campus members who report a COVID-positive test or multiple COVID-related symptoms through Healthcheck.

COVID-positive tests, suspected close contacts, or an increase in COVID-related symptoms MUST BE reported in Healthcheck. Compliance with quarantine and isolation requirements issued by ADPH, local health departments, or campus officials, includes any requirement for on-campus residents to relocate from their residence to dedicated isolation and quarantine space on campus.

During this time of national crisis, some healthcare workers in isolation or quarantine may be released to return to work earlier than the standard guidelines, due to workforce shortages. Students, even in clinical programs, are not considered essential healthcare workers in this setting and will be asked to quarantine or isolate for the standard times.

Employees will return to a daily healthcheck when they have completed isolation or quarantine. Students are required to complete healthcheck daily even in isolation and quarantine.