Safety Guidelines: Questions and Answers

What safety precautions will be in place?

Awareness of the Flashes Prevention Information will be required for all members of our university community. It includes requirements on wearing face coverings and maintaining safe physical distance from others. These guidelines will be based on the current science and recommendations from federal, state and local health agencies and are subject to change.

Health guidance on wearing face coverings has been changing depending on whether people are fully vaccinated. Vaccines do not prevent a person from getting COVID-19 or spreading it. They do, however, lessen the severity of illness thereby preventing many hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccination status does not currently affect wearing of face coverings or physical distancing on campus. However, this guidance is subject to review and changing pandemic conditions.

Prior to Returning to Campus

Before returning to campus, employees must acknowledge the return to on-campus work guidelines. You just need to perform this step one time.

While on Campus


General Safety

Air Quality and Circulation, Kent State’s HVAC COVID-19 Response

In response to COVID-19, the university is following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) as it relates to the effects of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems on disease transmission in the workplace.   

Per the CDC, organizations must “Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air.”  ASHRAE further notes, “principles of social distancing (1 to 2 m or 3 to 6.5 ft), surface cleaning and disinfection, hand-washing and other strategies of good hygiene are far more important than anything related to the HVAC system.” In addition, ASHRAE supports improved filtration and increased ventilation with outdoor air where reasonable as measures to reduce the risk of transmission of an airborne virus. While the primary focus should be on social distancing and personal hygiene, Kent State University is proceeding with increasing the amount of outdoor air brought into buildings where sensible, which will have a beneficial effect on indoor air quality (IAQ) during COVID-19. In addition, HVAC systems will also be run in normal occupancy mode each day for a minimum of two hours after the last building activity to further dilute indoor spaces with outdoor air. 

Some questions have come up regarding air filtration and MERV values (MERV=Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The type of air filters currently installed varies based on age and type of air handling unit (AHU). Currently KSU utilizes air filters with a rating range of MERV 8 to MERV 12. Using a MERV 13 or greater filter media, which is considered a high-ranking air filter, would reduce the particle size able to pass through the AHU and back to the space. Larger virus particles could be captured by the enhanced media filter. Due to catching finer particles, using a MERV 13 or greater rated filter would require more frequent replacement and the increased cost does not support their minimal advantage. Existing AHU fans also cannot overcome the increased pressure from higher MERV filters. Our filters are typically replaced quarterly unless more outside air and excessive pressure mandates more frequent replacement. As noted above, one recommended method to combat pollution is dilution, or increasing outside air when practical. Any changes to the filters, filter banks, filter changing frequency or operating parameters will greatly increase our operating cost, with questionable impact on the spread of COVID-19.

Most buildings on campus have been operating with temperatures adjusted to save energy during the largely unoccupied COVID-19 closure period since March 16, 2020. As staff and students return to campus, buildings will be adjusted for proper occupied temperature and air flow to maximize safety and system performance during our response to COVID-19.

All HVAC concerns for a facility should be brought to the attention of the Building Curator and entered in Flash Track to be addressed by University Facilities Management (UFM).  For questions about Regional Campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine please contact your facility managers.

Also read more about cleaning enhancements and requirements