UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the fall semester arrives, Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has implemented an operational strategy to focus on cleaning and ventilation that will promote health and safety, while allowing the University to return to pre-COVID-19 classroom capacities for the fall semester.
Over the course of the last year, OPP conducted a comprehensive inventory of all University facilities and upgraded air filtration in thousands of indoor spaces by introducing higher-rated filters.
In addition, among the many measures taken, the University will continue providing hand-sanitizing stations in public areas and disinfecting wipes in classrooms for the upcoming semesters, with the anticipation of greater use as more students return to campus, according to Erik Cagle, manager of custodial operations at Penn State, who oversees the University’s cleaning operations.
“Understanding the transmission of COVID-19 is crucial to understanding the University’s response,” said Cagle. “Last year, we were very focused on disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and anything that we could identify as a heavily trafficked area, along with making sure we were using the right disinfectant products that fought against the virus. This semester, more is known about the virus and CDC guidance has changed.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surface transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is not the main route of how the virus spreads and the risk is considered low, yet Penn State’s operations have continued to undertake an abundance of cleaning precautions. The current custodial services can be found on OPP’s website.
Additionally, wherever feasible, OPP will continue to provide increased building ventilation that exceeds code minimums to follow the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerators and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance.
The CDC reports there is “no definitive evidence to date that viable virus has been transmitted through an HVAC system to result in disease transmission to people in other spaces served by the same system,” but the University is taking precautions nonetheless.