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UC Answers: How is UC keeping campus safe this fall?

Executive director of University Health Services gives advice for staying healthy during COVID era

Kim Miller is a physician in the UC College of Medicine and an internal medicine specialist who serves as executive director of University Health Services at the University of Cincinnati.

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Q: Could you speak in general about your assessment of the health risks that may be present on campus when students return in the fall?

Miller: While there is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, we have learned a lot about how to prevent the spread of infection, and the university is dedicated to making campus as safe as possible for our students in the fall.

Q: What sort of safety measures will be in place to minimize health risks?

Miller: All members of the university community will care for and protect each other by following the prevention measures that have been proven to work:

  • Facial coverings will be required for all employees and students.
  • Social distancing of 6 feet or more whenever possible.
  • Frequent disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
  • Frequent hand washing with readily available hand sanitizers when soap and water aren’t nearby.
  • And education, so everyone is aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and knows to self-isolate and seek medical advice as soon as they are not feeling well.

Q: It seems everyone will have a role to play in keeping the university community safe. Could you speak in more detail about what will be asked of students?

Miller: We are asking for a significant culture change for college students, and we know that is hard. But we also know that our students are capable of extraordinary acts of caring, and we will ask them to care for themselves and each other by following these important preventive measures.

Q: Why will it be important for the UC community to undergo wellness checks and to self-report health concerns?

Miller: The earlier we are aware of symptoms, the more rapidly we can respond. Daily wellness checks, self-reporting and early medical guidance will be key to preventing viral transmission on campus.

Q: The university is changing its normal fall semester schedule to end in-person learning by Thanksgiving. Why is that necessary?

Miller: There are several reasons for this. We know that travel is a risk factor in the spread of COVID-19, so by limiting travel around Thanksgiving and eliminating fall reading days, when students often travel for a long weekend, we are greatly reducing the risk of returning travelers bringing virus back to campus. In addition, it allows students to go home before flu season really starts and get out of their congregate living settings on and off campus.

Q: What advice would you give students and families who may be feeling anxious about all these changes?

Miller: Take time for self-care. Remember to exercise, eat healthy food and maintain a regular sleep schedule. All these things will both strengthen the immune system and help manage anxiety. 

Q: What sort of mental health support will be available to students?

Miller: In addition to the resources mentioned above, both CAPS and UHS will be offering telemental health. See the websites for information on how to access services.

Q: The UC community will be asked to complete online training modules about these health issues to prepare for fall. Could you speak to why that is necessary and what will be involved?

Miller: As I mentioned, this is a new virus, and we are learning all the time about how it is transmitted, how to identify and treat infections and hopefully how to prevent infection with a vaccine. Online trainings make sure everyone has access to the most up-to-date information so that we can all take care of each other during this challenging time.

Q: Anything we haven’t covered that you wanted to share?

Miller: One of the benefits of being a large research university is the incredible pool of knowledge and talent among its members. There are a myriad of active research projects and innovative programs directed at the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 right on our campuses. For me personally, it’s wonderful to have a wide variety of colleagues who are subject matter experts and can advise me on the best recommendations to keep everyone safe and well.

Featured image at top: Kim Miller, MD, is the executive director of UC's University Health Services. photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

Return to campus safely

Follow UC’s complete Return to Campus Guide to learn all the details for fall semester, and find more UC Answers to your important questions.