As the dental school begins to reopen classrooms, clinics, and labs, our most important priority is protecting the health and safety of the dental school community, while ensuring the academic success of our students.
We have an incredible community of faculty, staff, and students, who have pivoted quickly and are demonstrating a resilience perhaps not required since World War II. IUSD faculty and staff have rapidly transformed didactic curricula to online formats and reconfigured spacing in the classroom, labs, and clinics to ensure safe physical distancing and to mitigate aerosol production and transmission.
The timing of our reopening has been dependent upon university and state mandates. Now that IU has released its return-to-campus guidance, IUSD can answer many of the questions posed by our various constituencies. As the status of the pandemic in the city, county, and state is dynamic, we will update these questions and answers whenever there is new information.
General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the school calendar for Academic Year 2020-2021?
To ensure the academic success of our educational programs, IUSD at IUPUI will follow the standard 15- or 16-week semester calendar, with some modifications to winter and spring breaks. The mix of online versus in-person instruction is subject to change based on public health conditions.
Will all students, faculty, and staff return to the dental school at the same time?
No, there will a phased re-entry to limit the number of people in the dental school building at one time. The entire school community will be trained about significant changes to the environment and on our new processes as we return (See Health and Safety FAQs below).
We began a slow restart of clinical activities in June, prioritized by patient needs in some graduate clinics and Faculty Practice, in addition to the Emergency Clinic, Pediatric Dentistry at Riley Hospital, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at University Hospital, which have been operating since March, even when other dental clinics were closed.
Beginning the week of July 6-10:
- New D2s and D3s will resume in-person, pre-clinical lab instruction.
- D4s and returning graduate residents, and IUPUI Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting students will resume clinical education activities.
- Faculty, student, and staff schedules will include strategies to maintain physical distancing and reduce the density of people in the building, especially during the lunch hour.
- To ensure physical distancing, clinical activities will resume at 25% to 50% of normal activity levels, including Dental Faculty Practice. In the pre-doctoral dental clinic, D4s will be paired to assist each other. All patient care, but especially aerosol generating procedures, will be performed using four-handed dentistry (provider and an assistant) techniques. Students will alternate morning and afternoon shifts. We may anticipate additional clinic sessions and possibly weekend sessions, as well as flexibility in work assignments for staff.
What do I need to do before I can return to work/study at the dental school?
Prior to entry, all students and employees must complete IU’s Community Responsibility Agreement (CRA). Contained in the Community Responsibility Agreement are Indiana University’s return to work protocols and procedures to mitigate infection (see Health and Safety FAQs below). Employees also must complete the return-to-work checklist.
What is the status of campus parking fees?
Please see parking updates at https://parking.indiana.edu/announcements/.
What is the status of IUSD’s continuing education classes?
Through at least Fall 2020, IUSD's continuing education courses will be held online. When in-person IUSD continuing education offerings resume, participants will follow the same infection control protocol as the dental school.
HEALTH & SAFETY PRACTICES
What is COVID-19 and how is it transmitted?
The 2019 novel coronavirus, SARS- CoV2, causes the COVID-19 disease. This virus is a member of a large family of viruses, which can cause a variety of illnesses, including the common cold, in animals and humans. The COVID-19 virus has spread worldwide, causing illness to hundreds of thousands of people, with a death rate that is substantially higher than the seasonal flu. The virus is transmitted mainly by exposure to droplets containing the virus from coughing and sneezing, or through close physical contact.
The best sources for up-to-date information on COVID-19 are the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC)’s website and the Indiana State Department of Health’s coronavirus information page.
What steps is the dental school taking to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission?
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are driving IUSD’s infection control practices. Additionally, we are monitoring and implementing best practices from dental professional and dental education organizations.
To protect the health and safety of the school community, compliance with the following is required by everyone:
- Cloth face coverings or level 1 masks will be worn at all times in public spaces on campus by students, employees, and patients when they are not engaged in direct patient care. Public spaces include: hallways, classrooms, elevators, restrooms, and other common spaces. Masks may be removed in private offices and workspaces when a person is alone. IU will be providing two cloth face coverings to all faculty, staff, and students before the Fall 2020 semester begins. These face coverings will be mailed to everyone’s home address. Prior to receiving these masks, you may use your own mask or a level 1 mask will be provided at the dental school.
- N95 masks are required for all clinical faculty, students, and staff during direct patient care activities that may produce aerosols. All clinical personnel will be fit tested to ensure proper fit of N95 masks and understanding of its proper use, as part of the IUSD’s respiratory protection program.
Patients, during your visit, you will see clinical personnel wearing enhanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidance, including various type of masks that are suited to individual provider needs.
- Practice physical distancing at all times. Physical distancing measures include:
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from others whenever possible
- Separate work stations by at least 6 feet or use physical barriers (e.g., shields, curtains)
- Avoid large gatherings (greater than 10 people) when feasible, especially indoors
- Eliminate contact with others (shaking hands, embracing, etc.)
- Avoid and report those who appear to be demonstrating symptoms (coughing, sneezing, or stating they feel like they have fever-like symptoms)
- Avoid touching common surfaces (where possible) and ensure frequent hand washing
- Allow only infrequent and intermittent passing within 6 feet
- Encourage employees, students, and patients to take the stairs when possible instead of elevators with others
- Maintain physical distancing during breaks and at shift start and end times
- Stagger break times and work schedules
- Limit in-person meetings to fewer than 10 people and maintain at least 6-feet spacing
- Minimize the number of people in a work area at the same time
- Everyone can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by:
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home while sick and avoiding close contact with others.
- Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately disposing of used tissue.
- Always washing your hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- Before exiting the laboratory
- After using the toilet
- After contact with high-touch surfaces (e.g., elevators, lobby areas, reception desks, etc.)
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After removing gloves or other personal protective equipment
- After touching an animal or animal waste
- After touching garbage
- Until further notice, dental school water fountains are for refillable containers only.
What happens if students, faculty, or staff develop symptoms of COVID-19?
The Indiana University Return to Campus Guide (pages 15-18) details step-by-step actions to take for screening, testing, and isolation.
The following are Indiana University’s guiding principles for illness and screening:
- Students and employees should stay home if sick or if a household member is diagnosed with COVID-19.
- All students and employees must be prepared to isolate or quarantine when necessary.
- Everyone must be prepared to participate in any case investigation and contact tracing with state, local, or university health officials.
- All students and employees must self-monitor health for symptoms of COVID-19 and use the IU Health Virtual Screening Clinic when symptomatic.
- All students and employees should notify close contacts when sick with COVID-19 in accordance with state and local contact tracing protocol. (Note: Close contacts are defined as people one has been within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, within the 48 hours before symptom onset and while symptomatic.
IU students, faculty, and staff at any IU campus or facility who have symptoms of COVID-19 have access to no-cost virtual screenings and visits. Additionally, local clinics near or on IU campuses will be available for virus testing. If you need screening or testing, please reach out to the 24/7 IU Health Virtual Screening Clinic. The clinic is staffed with IU Health nurses and physicians who will advise you on the next steps for screening, care, and/or testing.
How will cleaning practices be enhanced at the dental school?
Cleaning service will be provided for all public spaces after clinic hours. Three times daily, cleaning service personnel will wipe down touchpoints (elevators, doors, stair handrails) with a virucide disinfectant. Each office will receive a full-office cleaning once per month. Students and employees are responsible for cleaning their work stations and lunch areas with disinfecting products provided by campus. Wall mounted air purifiers will be installed in the restrooms and small seminar rooms.
What new infection control practices will be implemented in the clinics?
In the clinics, we follow the most current CDC guidance for safe dental practices. After four months of using these protocols in IUSD’s Emergency Clinic, where we cared for almost 900 patients from March through June 2020, we know of no COVID-19 infections in our patients, and our faculty and staff have remained healthy. There have been no reports in the United States of virus transmission in dental practices that are following CDC infection control protocols.
At IUSD, all patients are screened for active infection before they enter the building, by history and by measuring temperature. In the Fritts Clinical Center, where all pre-doctoral, DH, and DA clinical experiences will take place, students and faculty will practice physical distancing, working in every other operatory. Start times will be staggered to reduce interactions.
In the predoctoral program, everyone in the clinic with direct patient contact will wear N95 masks, after undergoing medical evaluation and fit-testing. The N95 mask is a particulate-filtering facepiece that filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
All clinic personnel will be trained on IUSD’s infection control protocols, which are based on the best available science.
Do we have enough personal protective equipment (PPE)?
As we resume clinical operations in July, we have the necessary amount of PPE for our estimated operating level for the next two months. We expect to continue to procure enough PPE as our clinical activity increases.
How are we controlling the transmission of aerosols?
Indiana University has increased HEPA filtration in the air handling system. We are installing air purifiers in rooms where people will be eating lunch and in the bathrooms. However, the most effective methods to restrict exposure to virus particulate in the air are wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and limiting the number of people in the building.
In the clinics, we are following CDC guidelines for dentistry and are continuously investigating technologies that minimize aerosol generation and transmission. We will practice four-handed dentistry (provider and an assistant), as well as high-speed evacuation (suction) with rubber dam isolation or isolite auxiliary suction when rubber dams are not feasible. Additional controls include installing auxiliary dental aerosol evacuation units.
Do you have additional questions for IU leadership regarding COVID-19 that have not been answered here?
Please email email@example.com.