Here’s what to expect when you return to Franklin Hall
When students return to Franklin Hall on Monday for the first time in 163 days, the facility won’t be exactly as they left it.
Megajeff has moved on, and every facet of the building has been adapted to keep students, faculty and staff safe during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Most classes are being taught entirely online, with about 25-30 classes meeting per day in Franklin Hall and 15 in Radio-Television. That amounts to 20-30 instructors teaching 500-600 students in Media School buildings each day, estimated Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies.
Signs outside each room mark its seating capacity. Red circles on the floor, 6 feet apart, mark safe spaces to stand in areas where students might need to queue — in front of the reception desk, in the hallway by the equipment checkout desk. Signs all over the building remind students to wear a mask, sanitize their spaces before and after use, and to stay positive.
Even Ernie Pyle is wearing a mask.
Here’s what to expect:
Franklin Hall will be much emptier than in previous semesters.
Seating in classrooms and common areas has been decreased to allow for at least 6 feet between people. Classrooms that ordinarily seat 18 students can now fit about nine, depending on the size and shape of the room. The building’s largest lecture hall, which ordinarily seats 60 students, will seat 20. The third-floor screening room can now seat four people. In computer labs, every third computer can be used.
In the commons, which ordinarily seats 50 people on the ground floor and more on the second, about 33 seats remain between the two floors. Furniture has also been moved to ensure all seating leaves 6 feet for pathways through the commons, to the stairs and to the elevator.
The stacks, where faculty offices are located, will remain locked except to faculty who choose to work on campus and students with scheduled in-person appointments.
The Indiana Daily Student’s newsroom will operate at limited capacity, with all meetings conducted virtually.
“It’s going to be really different, said Jay Kincaid, director of facilities and technology. “We’re all trying to get our heads wrapped around it.”
Passing periods between class times have been extended university-wide to ensure fewer students entering and exiting buildings at once. Reduced numbers of students, faculty and staff in the buildings will ensure all who enter and exit Franklin Hall and RTV on a daily basis can do so with ample space.
“It’s a little sad, but necessary,” Kincaid said. “The building usually feels so alive, and to see it dead is kind of heartbreaking. But we have to keep people safe.”
The school’s facilities will be deep cleaned by staff every night, but students will have to sanitize their own workspaces before and after use. Every classroom will have its own supply of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for student and faculty use. Hand sanitizer dispensers are installed around the building. The school will have disposable masks for students who’ve forgotten theirs at home, available at equipment checkout.
Plexiglass barriers will keep staff separated from students and visitors at the reception desk in the commons and the equipment checkout window. Plexiglass can also be installed in classrooms upon faculty request.
Markings on the floor will help designate pathways and acceptable seating to maintain safe social distancing.
Staff have done their best to anticipate what will best keep students, staff and faculty safe, but procedures may change as the situation evolves.
“I think we’re all waiting to see how this is gonna play out a little bit,” Kincaid said. “We’ve done all the measurements in Franklin and Radio-TV, we’ve got all the classrooms where they should be, we’ve got all the public spaces where they should be, and now we’re just kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen.”
Labs and equipment checkout
Students will continue to have access to Franklin Hall and RTV equipment checkout as long as classes are being taught face-to-face. The procedure for students will remain the same: They’ll book equipment checkouts in advance using Connect2, The Media School’s online resource booking system.
Students will still pick up and drop off equipment at the checkout windows at the time they’ve scheduled. Added buffer periods between rentals will provide time for employees to properly sanitize the equipment. Employees will also wear masks and gloves to ensure safe handling of items as they are checked out and returned.
Lauren Math, director of visual communications laboratory, said that if classes move entirely online at any point in the semester, all equipment will need to be returned.
Media School students will still have the opportunity for hands-on learning in the school’s production studios — albeit with some amendments to usual procedures.
“Everything that we have planned will be flexible and subject to change,” said Daniel Brown, assistant director of facilities and building manager. “Once we are in session, I’m sure new situations will arise and we’ll have to adjust.”
For video production studios, procedures include allowing fewer people in the control room, lessening rotations through control room positions and adding buffer periods between usages to properly sanitize the spaces and equipment.
All positions have been spaced out to maintain safe distances. Students will not share or exchange headsets during production. For courses that teach on-camera reporting, designated areas of the studio may be used to position student reporters at a safe distance.
Brown said studios may also make use of alternative microphone placements to keep students properly spaced out and to prevent multiple students from needing to handle the same piece of equipment without cleaning it first.
In the audio studio, Studio 8, overall seating has been reduced to maintain safe distances between people. After each booking and usage of the studio space, all surfaces will be sanitized. Buffer times have been built into the studio’s booking schedule to allow for proper cleaning.
“The long and short for studio productions, really, is finding ways to reduce potential contamination and spreading while maintaining course objectives, and cleaning everything between sessions,” Brown said.
Keeping studios clean poses a unique challenge because of the equipment they house, Brown said. To ensure that equipment is cleaned properly and safely, he’s been in contact with various manufacturers about recommendations and correct cleaning practices.
Academic advising appointments will remain virtual for the duration of fall semester, said director of student services Eliza Erxleben. The exact format — whether by Zoom or over the phone — depends on the student’s needs and preferences.
Erxleben said students with pressing concerns that may require an in-person appointment can reach out to her to arrange an appointment.
She also said advisors can help students make schedule adjustments to accommodate their preferences or health needs as they navigate the variety of learning modes the school will adopt for the fall.
Students can make their own adjustments via Student Center and search courses for specific learning modes to narrow down their search.
Institute for Communication Research
Student and faculty research will continue in the Institute for Communication Research with altered protocols to ensure researcher and participant safety.
As stipulated in the ICR’s restart plans, researchers should conduct their work with minimal contact, where possible. For the 2020-21 academic year, no research may include subjects in the CDC’s high-risk categories.
Any research that necessitates in-person interaction must begin with COVID-19 screenings and adhere to 6-foot minimum safe distance requirements. Researchers will also be responsible for disinfecting their own spaces before and after use.
Researchers must also complete the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Transmission Prevention Training before returning to the ICR for the fall semester.
The ICR has been reconfigured to ensure safe distancing. Students have also been scheduled on an alternating day and time basis so that no two adjacent desks will be occupied at once.
All contaminable items, such as shared pens, books and magazines, have been removed from the ICR’s common areas.
Rob Potter, director of the ICR, said the restart plan’s requirements will be subject to change, both for continued safety of researchers and participants as more is learned about the novel coronavirus and to ensure smooth operations as in-person research resumes.
Some of the ICR’s researchers on tighter deadlines will conduct research following the ICR’s restart plan as soon as is feasible. Other researchers, Potter said, will wait to continue in-person research until more information on safe protocols and/or safer conditions are available.
Changes to the plan may also come as the CDC updates its high-risk categories list, or from the IU Office of the Vice President for Research, Potter said.