What cleaning and sanitation protocols is Southwestern implementing during the pandemic? 

The Facilities Management team is working on a schedule that will increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all campus buildings. Spaces with higher occupancy and activity will be cleaned more frequently. All cleaning protocols are according to CDC guidance and include the following:

  • Routine cleaning: waste removal, floor cleaning, and wipe down of horizontal surfaces
  • Routine restroom cleaning: waste removal, cleaning and disinfection of floors, sinks, toilets, and urinals
  • Enhanced cleaning: disinfection of high-touch surfaces, with wipe down of high-frequency touch points (e.g., door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, shared equipment, and control panels) using EPA-approved disinfectants
  • Enhanced disinfection: disinfection of horizontal work surfaces in classrooms and common areas using EPA-approved disinfectants


Studies are showing that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread not just through larger respiratory droplets but also through aerosols that circulate with central air conditioning and heating. How is Southwestern combating the possible transmission of the virus through A/C?

All occupied spaces at Southwestern will maintain HVAC system operation for maximum space occupancy; this allows for maximum fresh-air supply, regardless of reduced occupancy or use. However, we are learning that central A/C and heating are likely sources of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems can circulate aerosols that carry the pathogen. This means that, ideally, gatherings such as college classes would be best held outside while physically distanced. Unfortunately, because of the central Texas climate, classes will need to be held inside, in air-conditioned classrooms. This is why everyone is required to physically distance and wear appropriate masks at all times on campus, including while in classrooms: to reduce the circulation of the airborne virus.


What will Southwestern community members be asked to do to improve hygiene and sanitation on campus?

All faculty, staff, and students are asked to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. Southwestern is providing every community member one four-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (the amount recommended by the CDC) for use when soap and water are not nearby. Hand-sanitizer dispensers are being placed in every classroom and are available for on-the-spot use as well as to refill personal hand-sanitizer supplies.

The university will also supply disinfectants in every classroom so that students, faculty, and staff can wipe down desks, chairs, and equipment whenever entering and leaving campus spaces, such as classrooms, study lounges, offices, Sarofim studios, workout rooms, gyms, chapter rooms, etc. The Office of Student Life will provide guidance for how to clean and disinfect rooms reserved for social activities.


What is the best way to wash my hands?

According to the CDC’s evidence-based approach to handwashing, you should follow these steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap (avoid antibacterial soaps to avoid developing antibiotic resistance).
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, scrubbing your palms, the backs of your hands, your fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel, or air-dry them.


Why is it important to wash my hands and disinfect surfaces using the techniques recommended by the CDC?

Bacteria and viruses can enter our bodies when we touch our faces—especially our eyes, noses, and mouths, which many of us do absentmindedly but frequently. Pathogens can also be transmitted when preparing foods and beverages or transferred through high-touch objects, such as light fixtures, doorknobs, handrails, tabletops and desks, and toys. By washing our hands frequently and disinfecting contaminated surfaces, we can help remove viruses such as influenza or SARS-CoV-2 and help prevent the spread of diseases such as the seasonal flu or COVID-19.