The Military Style Protocols for the Return of In-person Classes
Having gotten used to one-way aisles and six steps of separation in lines, we design protocols should we decide to go to back to in-person classes.
First, we radically reduce the number in any classroom, but shorten the classes, and repeat them during the day via videos, with short question sessions by zoom with the speaker. In addition, we expect and advise people with advanced age and vulnerable preconditions to just watch and participate from home. They can submit questions through the Q&A feature of Zoom, or text them to the class organizer.
Filing in and out will be done in a military fashion, with people entering in one door, and exiting through another. Seats are filled in the order of arrival, with nobody passing anybody during seating. Side seats can be reserved for handicapped people, and front row seats for those with hearing or vision problems, or the handicapped.
The seating pattern can be every third seat, but the old rows are just every other row now. So the room capacity is halved by every other row, and divided by a third for every third seat. Since there are less seats now, we don’t need the aisles, so we can expand the width of the seating. Instead of reducing the 180 seats to just 30, we may be able to expand to 40. The seats will be staggered row by row, so that nobody is directly behind anybody else, but centered between the people in front and behind. Nobody will have a blocked view.
Anybody coughing or sneezing is asked (ordered) to leave. No excuses. This would leave out somebody like me who has allergies, but I always have the at-home option, and I don’t want to make anybody nervous.
Lecturers who do not want to lecture in person, can lecture from home or their office, and have their talk projected onto our screen. Those who lecture in person would be guaranteed that the equipment is cleaned before every talk.
People will leave as in grade school or in the military: one row at a time, with an enforced six foot separation.
Everybody can take a disinfectant paper upon entrance, and wipe off the armrests of their seat. There will be small trash bins between seats. Everybody will wear masks, just like at the market, or businesses.
We will purchase an infrared camera, and monitor every entrant.
Classes can be an hour long, and staged with repeats every hour and a half. Those that register to attend, will choose their time, until extra will be assigned earlier or later.
Clearly, science, medical, opera, and other classes of 40 or less can be single hour and a half sessions, but with no breaks.
A suggested schedule for very popular classes with three sessions a day is Class A: 9:00-10:00, 10:30-11:30, 12:00-1:00. Then class B could be one session for 1:30-3:00, or if two sessions are needed, 1:30-2:30, 3:00-4:00.
The half hour break between sessions, allows for an orderly entrance and exit.
People line up outside to enter, staying at least six feet, and preferably 10 feet apart. People who enter hug the wall, and those who exit use the walkway next to the plants and the street. The elevators are a problem to be solved, but for OLLI classes at UC Irvine, for one hour classes, we can park in the ground floor lot next to the building. Wearing face masks will also help.
We should urge the use of the much better surgical masks, rather than cloth ones. They should be in supply by then. It would be nice if checking could be outside, with the operators sitting far back from the entrants and the cameras. Hand sanitizer should be provided to all those who think it is wise to use upon entering or leaving.
It might be better to use cross ventilation with open doors when possible, but that is noisy. Since we have betters filters on the air conditioning, that might be the best air cleaner. We need the filters changed on a schedule. When the class is unoccupied, UV-C lights can help disinfect the room. Unfortunately, the less people talk upon entrance or exit, the better.
For OLLI at UC Irvine, next to the Irvine train station, the city or Amtrak should be encouraged to have a permanent set of restroom and waiting room cleaners.
Participants will have to sign liability release forms, just as we do for class trips. They will be asked to inform OLLI if they come down with symptoms, and if they test positive for the Coronavirus. We may take high resolution pictures for each class seating, so that if anybody comes down with the Coronavirus, we can identify those in nearby seats, and notify them. Class attendance is recorded, so it is easy to know which classes to inspect.
Of course, a guiding committee and the University is going to have their policies. These are just suggestions. The safest thing to do is to not have in-person classes, but these do not seem to be that popular.
On the other hand, the web goes everywhere, and we could recruit a large web membership. We are participating in webinars and conferences all over the country, which we couldn’t do otherwise. We are also occasionally getting web class speakers from far away or even difficult to commute nearby Universities or companies that would not be participating otherwise.
We benefit that all of our participants are adults who are concerned and willing to follow sensible rules.