CoHE and TSE Release Guide for Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic

October 7, 2020

A cooperation protocol was signed between the Council of Higher Education (CoHE) and the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) to determine the general standards that include measures for the development of healthy and clean environments at the campuses of Turkish higher education institutions within the scope of the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic and infectious diseases last month. Within the scope of the protocol, which was signed by Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology, and Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç, President of the Council of Higher Education, CoHE and TSE prepared the “Guide for the Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic".

In the introduction, CoHE President Saraç noted that the guide was prepared under the cooperation protocol signed between the Council of Higher Education and the Ministry of Industry and Technology. Saraç wrote that the guide, the first of the works to be carried out in cooperation with TSE, aimed to develop healthy and clean environments in higher education institutions, to provide hygienic conditions, to contribute to the development of the necessary infrastructures for the implementation and monitoring of infection control measures and to determine general standards within the scope of the combat against the global COVID-19 pandemic and infectious diseases. “It is important for universities to provide safe campus environments so that they can continue their education and training activities, research and community service activities during the pandemic. In this context, the guide was prepared as a reference work. However, considering that the pandemic is a dynamic period, the decisions of the Council, related ministries, institutions, organizations and local authorities should also be watched closely,” he added.

- Measures to protect academic and administrative staff and students from the pandemic

The guide includes the measures for the protection of academic and administrative staff and students, hygiene and cleaning practices and infection control measures in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic, COVID-19 in particular, at universities. Protective measures to prevent the spread of infection in educational areas and work environments, personal protective equipment, the creation of the spaces for student groups by taking into account their physical features, and general principles for the use of social areas were also explained in the guide.

- The relevant boards of universities have authority in pandemic-related practices

According to the guide, the relevant boards of the universities will have the authority in the educational practices to be carried out for different programs according to the local course of the pandemic. In the guide, it was also pointed out that the decisions of the relevant institutions and organizations of the state as well as the local authorities should be observed and changes should be made accordingly during the pandemic. The following were also included in the guide: "As universities can make general plans through their committees on coronavirus and other relevant boards and committees, they should also be able to prepare alternative plans and put them into practice when necessary. In addition to the face-to-face theoretical and practical trainings, they should also pay attention to personal protective measures in internships.”

- What to do in case of positive cases and contacts?

It was underlined that “contacts” and “close contacts” should be identified and the relevant health units should be informed in case positive cases are detected on campuses. It was also noted that close contacts should be isolated immediately.

- Masks should be used and areas should be ventilated frequently

It should be ensured that everyone in closed areas wear masks at all times. If it is necessary to be at close range in joint activities, face shields should also be used in addition to masks. Air conditioners or ventilators should not be used in common areas as much as possible and areas should be ventilated frequently.

- Personal hygiene and disinfection of common tools

Masks should be worn in public transportation vehicles or shuttles used for transportation to and from campuses, and hand hygiene should be performed when getting on and off the vehicles. Common tools such as microscopes, computers and T-squares should be cleaned with material-compatible disinfectants that are effective against enveloped viruses, and should be kept clean after use. Banners should be prepared and hanged in appropriate places for students and all staff to remind them to disinfect common tools such as computers, laboratory devices, telephones and desks before and after use.

- Recommendation of one person per four square meters in classrooms

Common areas such as classrooms, libraries, laboratories, dining halls, and sports facilities on campuses should be cleaned periodically. The number of people should be reduced in common areas. Meetings and social activities should be held outdoors or online as much as possible, depending on the regional and local course of the pandemic. It is necessary to determine the capacity of classrooms as one person per four square meters, and to maintain a distance of at least one meter between people in the seating arrangement. Visual materials containing information indicating the maximum student capacity of the classroom should be included at the entrance of the classroom and the seating arrangement and distance should be pre-arranged. Informative materials such as banners and posters for protection and precautions should be placed in appropriate places.

Click here for the Guide for the Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic.