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Pandemic Planning and Response

Pandemic Planning and Response

Policy

To define contingency plans, the organization of resources, and the establishment of protocols that will be needed, in the event of a pandemic outbreak. Brookdale Community College’s pandemic plan will be employed to ensure that student instruction and critical services/operations are not unreasonably disrupted, and that employees/community members are provided with the means to protect themselves and help prevent or mitigate the spread of infection.

General Information

Area that may be affected:

  • All Brookdale locations

Definitions:

  • Pandemic’: An epidemic [a sudden outbreak of disease] that becomes very widespread, person-to-person, and affects a whole region, continent or the world. There is little or no immunity to the disease among humans, which causes a higher than normal degree of mortality.
  • Coronavirus:  Any of a family (Coronaviridae) of single-stranded RNA viruses that have a lipid envelope studded with club-shaped projections, which infect birds and many mammals including humans,
  • COVID-19: A novel [new] coronavirus, which started in China in December of 2019. 
  • MERs: An acronym for ‘Middle East Respiratory syndrome, which was a virus that killed 858 people in 2012.    
  • SARs: An acronym for ‘Severe Acute Respiratory’ syndrome, which was a virus that killed 774 people during its 2002-2003 outbreak.
  • Influenza: Referred to as the ‘flu,’ an acute infectious viral disease marked by inflammation of the respiratory tract, fever, muscular pain, and bowel irritation. The flu is considered ‘seasonal.’
  • Incubation Period: Interval period between infection and onset of symptoms of a disease.
  • Self-Monitoring: Means someone monitors themselves for fever by taking their temperature twice a day and remain alert for respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)*. Anyone on self-monitoring should contact a medical care provider if they develop fever or respiratory symptoms during the self-monitoring period to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
  • Active Monitoring: means that the state or local public health authority assumes responsibility for establishing regular communication with potentially exposed people to assess for the presence of fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)*. For HCP with high- or medium-risk exposures, the ‘Center for Disease Control and Prevention’ [CDC] recommends this communication occurs at least once each day. The mode of communication can be determined by the state or local public health authority and may include telephone calls or any electronic or internet-based means of communication.
  • Public Health Orders: Legally enforceable directives issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state, or local entity that, when applied to a person or group, may place restrictions on the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, for the purposes of protecting the public’s health. Federal, state, or local public health orders may be issued to enforce isolation, quarantine or conditional release.
  • Isolation: Separation of infected persons from those who are not infected.
  • Quarantine:  Legally enforceable order that restricts movement into or out of the area of quarantine of one person, a large group of people, or community; designed to reduce the likelihood of transmission of contagious disease among persons in and to persons outside the affected area. When applied to all inhabitants of an area [typically a community or neighborhood], the intervention is referred to as a cordon sanitaire [sanitary barrier].
  • Conditional Release:  Release from quarantine provided an individual complies with prescribed medical monitoring and surveillance.
  • Close Contact:  Being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (such as caring for or visiting the patient], or having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the patient (e.g., being coughed on, touching used tissues with a bare hand).
  • Social Distancing: Measure taken to reduce close contacts between individuals in order to lower the chance of spreading the disease.
  • Congregate Settings: Crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums.
  • Controlled Travel:  Exclusion from long-distance commercial conveyances (e.g., aircraft, ship, train, bus). For people subject to active monitoring, any long-distance travel should be coordinated with public health authorities to ensure uninterrupted monitoring. Air travel is not allowed by commercial flight but may occur via approved noncommercial air transport. Public health orders or federal public health travel restrictions may be used to enforce controlled travel. Travel permits to define the conditions of interstate travel within the United States for people under certain public health orders may also be employed.
  • Symptomatic: Showing symptoms of a disease
  • Asymptomatic: Showing no symptoms of a disease
  • Vaccine: A substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.

Possible reasons for pandemic:

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza outbreak
  • SARs/MERs
  • Ebola
  • Other communicable disease

Warning signs of a pandemic:

  • ‘World Health Organization’/’Center of Disease Control and Prevention’ declaration of pandemic
  • Reports of increasing numbers of community members with symptoms of the pandemic disease
  • Monmouth County Regional Health Commission/New Jersey Dept of Health advisement

Incident Commander

Vice President for Learning

Pandemic Coordinator

Chief of Police

Incident Command/Emergency Operations Center Location

The Incident Command Center is located in the Administrative Conference Room.  The back-up center is the Gorman Hall Conference Room. If circumstances/unsafe conditions prevent assembly, then phone conferencing will be used for remote communications.

Key Personnel

  • Senior Leadership Team
  • Facilities Manager
  • Fire Safety and Environmental Compliance Officer
  • Exec Director of Operations
  • Brookdale Chief of Police
  • College Relations
  • Monmouth County Regional Health Commission #1
  • S. Department of Health and Human Services/Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • World Health Organization

Plan Activation

The plan is activated whenever proof or information is attained which would lead a reasonable person to believe that a pandemic may be at hand.

Incident Commander Roles

  • Develop a communications plan.
  • Ensure that the ‘Plan Responsibilities’ are executed.

Plan Responsibilities

Communication re: Preventive Measures and Pandemic Status

  • In order to mitigate the chance of becoming infected with such a virus/disease, initiate the following preventive measures:
    • Make the community aware of the pandemic threat, and of the symptoms/circumstances that they should be on the lookout for.  The community will be advised, as applicable, that pandemic disease may be present in individuals, but that those persons may be asymptomatic, as well as symptomatic.   If a vaccine is available, advise the community of the same and encourage them to get vaccinated.
    • Advise students/college community members to seek medical attention if they are displaying obvious symptoms. Advise the college community about the need to isolate and ‘self-monitor’ if they show symptoms or are exposed through ‘close contact,’ and about getting a medical exam if the same is needed.
    • Practice ‘social distancing’ from all persons, and avoid close contact with those who are sick, as much as possible.
    • Practice good hand/other hygiene. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds on a regular basis, and especially after making contact with frequently touched [public] items, or after sneezing or coughing.
    • Regularly use hand sanitizer, especially when you cannot wash your hands. Said sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol-based.
    • Avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth.
    • Clean and disinfect work areas/surfaces at the start of each work day, and as needed during the work day. Certain viruses are believed to be able to live on surfaces for a few hours up to approximately four or more days.
    • Do not travel to highly infected areas.
    • Handshaking and the other ‘close contact’ should be avoided.
    • Advise Brookdale police officers that they can expect to work longer and additional shifts.
    • Devise alternate College employee staffing options.
    • Arrange for the provision of remote services and operations to the greatest extent possible.
    • Have a legal review of any and all procedures which may involve the legal authority to impose the responsibility and authority of law enforcement officers and other BCC employees to enforce, regarding containment, isolation, and mandatory quarantines of civilians.
    • Arrange for enough food, water, toiletries, and personal protection equipment (PPE) [gloves, respirator masks, eye protection/goggles, soap, hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes], bedding, and related personal items on the grounds of BCC, for the handling of a pandemic.

 Initiate the following measures if a pandemic exposure/infection is confirmed:

    • Immediately advise the Incident Commander and/or the Chief of Police.
  • If a person on campus is experiencing symptoms of the pandemic disease, isolate or withdraw the person from others, and continue the call in a vacant room/area.
  • The Brookdale Police and appropriate administrative personnel may be notified.
    • Maintain social distancing from the potentially infected person and utilize all Personal Protective Equipment [PPE], as applicable. The Brookdale Police/Emergency Medical Technicians will provide immediate care, as needed.
    • If there is no need to touch or have close contact with the patient, try to remain at a 6-foot distance.
    • Offer the patient a respirator mask [N95 or higher level], if available.
    • PPE should be worn by all those who arrive at the scene.
    • Only first responders will be allowed in the treatment area, for both protection and privacy reasons. First responders cannot and will not share any HIPPA/personal information about the patient/diagnosis. Protection of the patient’s privacy is paramount.
    • Any suspected cases of the pandemic/COVID-19 should be reported to the Health Officer at the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission #1 at 732-493-9520. Agency Website: mcrhc.org; Public Emergency Contact After Hours Number: 732-493-9520
    • The appropriate first responder/official may also call the New Jersey Department of Health [NJDOH] with any questions or concerns,
        • 1-800-222-1222 or 1-800-962-1253 if using an out-of-state phone line
  • Any PPE that is utilized must be properly disposed of. All exposed areas must be properly cleaned. The BCC Fire Safety and Environmental Compliance officer, and the Facilities Manager, will provide guidance on the disposal of such items/cleaning of campus areas. Exposure, cleaning and disposal protocols may vary depending upon the pandemic disease.
  • Emergency messaging system messages will be sent out to provide the community with updated and accurate information.
  • The holding of events in congregate settings need to be assessed, and cancellations may be necessary to prevent further spread of the disease.

Essential Personnel Identified

A list of ‘essential personnel’ for a pandemic event will be devised for the College, to ensure that operations continue. Departments need to establish a command protocol within their unit that is at least ‘three deep’ with their personnel, so essential functions/Continuity of Operations can be managed.  The essential personnel for a pandemic plan may be different than that from other types of College emergencies.  At minimum, personnel within the Finance, Facilities, Police, Learning, and Administration departments need to establish these roles and persons.    A protocol will be established for communications to the Police when essential personnel are on site.

Public Health Orders, including quarantines, may be put in place by the appropriate authorities, and the College will abide by such Orders. State and local public health authorities may also prescribe conditions upon individuals [like ‘active monitoring’ or ‘conditional release’ from a quarantine, and/or ‘controlled travel’], as they see fit.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

  • Students seeking to use their accommodations in the classroom are responsible for initiating the process.  Students deliver their Alert Form or accommodation letters to their Professors, discuss which accommodations they would like to use and remind their Professors of their testing accommodations prior to the exam. This can all be done remotely.
  • In an on-line course, students are asked to email their request for accommodations to their Professor and attach the student Alert Form as verification of the accommodations.  Students can also email their Professors their request for accommodations and copy the Director of Disability Services who can verify the accommodations has been approved.  This process was well established prior to the current public health crisis.
  • Given the accessibility features of the Brookdale’s learning management system, Canvas, and the addition of technology like Zoom, many of the accommodations students receive in the classroom can easily be applied to on-line courses.

Flexibility for employees and staff who may be subject to isolation or quarantine

 A. Employees

  • Move employees to remote work to the extent possible
  • Provide Zoom accounts to all employees
  • Make VPN access available as needed to the extent possible to be able to work effectively from home
  • Allow flexible hours or accrued time to be taken for employees whose children’s schools close
  • Ensure the Office of Information Technologies staff are available to assist with laptop set up
  • Provide loaner laptops to employees to the extent possible
  • Provide remote training via the Teaching and Learning Center by the hour for several weeks on Zoom and Canvas to assist employees with use of these remote access tools
  • Provide weekly or more frequent communication to employees with information to help them cope with pandemic, work responsibilities, time off provisions, support resources, etc.
  • Continue pay to hourly and student employees for as long as possible with assignments provided to the extent possible

B. Students

  • Extend the date for medical “drops” to the end of the semester
  • Provide laptops as loaners for students who didn’t have them at home (400 provided)
  • Reach out to students to publicize our mental health resources, including counselors available via Zoom
  • Designate a high-level administrator as the go-to person for student complaints
  • Make phone calls to every enrolled student to check in with them
  • Encourage faculty to rethink deadlines and grading policies
  • Petition the state four-year colleges to accept grades of “pass” in transfer. (If that’s accepted, we’ll extend the deadline to designate a given course as “pass/no credit” until the end of the semester)
  • Develop an “in progress” designation for students in classes for which a physical presence is required to complete the course
  • Consider extending the “incomplete” deadline

Timely reporting of Pandemic Exposure While Maintaining Confidentiality in Compliance with the ADA and FERPA

  • The College follows the guidance provided by the county or local departments of health (DOH).  That is, the DOH will investigate positive test cases and will notify the College of any need for individual notifications.
  • Human Resources provides contact information to the county DOH and nearby local departments of health for ease of communication.  Email system provides voicemail messages left on office phones
  • If the college is notified by the employee or student that they have tested positive, general information is provided to the college without naming the individual and without any personally identifiable information.
  • RAVE alerts may be sent as appropriate in compliance with the Clery Act.
  • General information is provided on the College’s website regarding self-protection measures, support resources, reliable sources for more information about the disease/virus, as well as about changes in the laws to accommodate employees, including the process for accessing benefits.

Put Protocols in Place for Addressing Student Refunds

First, take actions to minimize drops and refunds:

  • A call campaign to check in with all students to make sure they were ok
  • Conduct a student poll to determine wi-fi and technology needs
  • If possible, purchase loaner laptops to provide students with technology needs
  • Provide funding to students with no internet access
  • Make outreach to students who are not attending remote classes
  • Conduct Zoom meetings to allow students to ask questions and share concerns

If refunds are requested:

  • Students can submit a request for a refund of tuition and fees paid when a student claims eligibility to receive a refund.
  • Requests are reviewed by an appeals committee.
  • Deadline for appeals is the last official day of the term during which the circumstance occurs.

Establish Protocols for Business Continuity

Every department on campus submits their business continuity plan

Ensure that Finance and Business Operations are prepared

Finance

  • Provide VPN access to the Executive Director of Finance & ITS, the Managers in each Finance department and the Finance Administrators.
  • The Finance department set up electronic approval systems for journal entries and purchase requisitions through Colleague and Web Advisor.
  • In the event that access to the College is restricted, the Finance department will accept electronic approvals for expenses reports, vendor invoices, time sheets, or other finance records by email. For email approvals there must be a trail beginning with the employee, next to their supervisor and/or cabinet member, and finally to Finance for budget approval and processing.
  • An emergency petty cash fund is set up. It is located in the Police Department. The key is held by the VP of Finance and the Police Chief.
  • The College has a general cash account in the bank in addition to the operating account that is used for regular operational expenses. To access these funds, the College needs approval from the Board of Trustees.Wiring of any funds, including those from the general account is a two-step process:
    • Wire initiating is done by the AR Manager with the Finance Manger set up as a back up
    • Wire approvals are done by the Exec Director of Finance or the Assistant to the VP of Finance
    • All four of these individuals can perform these tasks remotely.
  • Pre –BID meetings run by conference calls or Zoom.
  • The College has an electronic requisition system. This will continue to be utilized. If purchases need to be approved manually, emails are accepted from the approvers in order, in the absence of a live signature.
  • The College has EFT payment options to vendors and employees for reimbursements. The College will continue to encourage vendors to use this option, which minimizes the need to print paper checks.
  • The College accepts invoices to be sent electronically in lieu of paper copies in the mail.
  • The College accepts payments from vendors electronically.
  • The College uses Nelnet to accept student payments online.
  • The College utilizes and encourages direct deposit.
  • The payroll department has a designated email for all time sheets and additional compensation forms to be sent to the payroll department electronically. These forms must have electronic approval (email trail) in absence of a live signature.
  • Staff is on campus on a rotating schedule to process unemployment claims and address other payroll and risk management work that is received in the mail and cannot be handled remotely, including printing payroll checks.

Facilities/Fire, Safety & Compliance:

  • Verify that all fire alarm systems and devices are functioning properly.
  • Confirm that all fire suppression systems are current and functioning properly. Update Fire Marshal service n Middletown.
  • Ensure regional location Fire Marshal inspections are current
  • Confirm fueling station is topped off.
  • Check fuel levels on all generators.
  • Obtain quotes in the event of an emergency to activate a deep clean with state contactor for all BCC properties
  • Obtain quotes in the event of an emergency to activate a deep clean for Ultra Violet deep clean with Tru-D, same machine that is used for sanitizing operating rooms in hospitals killing 98.9 % of all germs and even kills Ebola and influenza virus.
  • Controlled accountability and limited access to campuses for contactors and employees. BCC PD is to be called via Monmouth County Sheriff’s emergency dispatch center for any and all 911 emergencies and to lock and unlock areas if needed.
  • Establish protocols with contractors for check in, sign in and out of campus daily via BCC Utility plant.   (Must be authorized by the BCC President and VP).
  • BCC Facilities fire safety manager will make arrangements with the government account manager for assistance and updates on emergency priority items when available such as gloves, hand sanitizers, and access for first responders disposable mask N-95.
  • In the event of power failure, in addition to emergency generators, BCC has purchased an electrically intrinsic portable gasoline fuel transfer pump to keep essential vehicles fueled if needed.
  • Communication is continued by all BCC essential personnel. Daily updates are verbal and via Zoom, and/or email.
  • BCC contracted custodial services to provide around the clock touch point surface cleaning and sanitation in all areas and repeat attention in areas where BCC staff frequent.
  • Contingency plans include emergency essential places of business that BCC has an agreement and or open purchase order for supplies for sanitizing/custodial/construction material/fueling etc. needs and food if necessary.
  • Middletown, Freehold, Hazlet, Wall and Neptune fire marshal services to be informed of our closures and minimal staff on sites.

Plan Termination

Brookdale Community College, through advisement of the New Jersey Department of Health and/or the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission #1, will announce when it is safe to resume normal activities.  The Incident Commander will cause notifications to be made to the community.

Plan Recovery to Deal with Business Operations Consequences

  • Restore all instruction and work schedules back to normalcy, and bring emergency supplies and equipment back up to acceptable response levels.
  • Plan for any type of crisis counseling that may be needed.
  • Support resources provided to employees and students to deal with losses
  • Communicate resources frequently and through multiple sources
  • Acknowledge losses through events established to honor their memories
  • Determine if the College response will include Foundation support for family, such as scholarship for dependents
  • Identify how employee job responsibilities will be handled
  • Each department to assess the effectiveness of their continuity plans and make adjustments as needed.
  • Assess financial consequences of the business interruption, including insurance claims, state and federal aid.
  • Analyze the structure of the organization post pandemic to determine if changes are needed.
  • Forecast enrollment and staffing needs.
  • Determine if protocols put in place during the pandemic will continue or can/should be transitioned back to pre-pandemic protocols.
  • Establish short and long term goals for recovery of operations.