Welcome to Issue 02 of Recap, MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

Welcome to issue 02 of Recap, MICA’s regular communication on the College’s progress and planning around the return to campus for Spring 2021 and beyond.

If you’re new to Recap, it’s important to know that it is a different kind of communication that’s not intended to be an official record of finalized policy or agreed-upon decisions, but rather a regular snapshot of MICA’s current thinking, developing planning, and emergent ideas around safely and successfully mounting the 2021 academic year.

For those of you who are familiar with Recap you’ll notice that — thanks to several readers who used the story-specific comment feature — some continuations, clarifications, and follow-ups from previous stories are in this issue as well. That’s the nature of Recap. It’s an ongoing conversation to keep everyone informed as we evolve and refine our thinking and planning during our progress toward the spring semester together as One Team MICA.

We hope you find it useful and, as always, your comments are valued and welcomed.

While Recap is intended to be a general update on MICA’s AY 2021 reopening efforts, some information may not apply to all programs and constituents, such as Open Studies. For specific information, please use the departmental directory at the end of this issue.

In This Issue:

  1. On Track: Space Planning and Room Layouts

  2. Ready to Go: MICA’s Personal Protection Equipment

  3. Current Thinking: Space Cleaning Protocols

  4. Deep Dive: Don’t be MERVous, Building Ventilation Upgrades

  5. Follow Up: Cohort Survey Redux

  6. What if: Real-World Questions from the Community

  7. Transparency Report: Comments from the Last Issue

Space Planning and Room Layout
In issue 01 of Recap the concept of “operational modes” and a “progressive return to campus” was introduced. This approach is based on the assumption of Operational Mode 3, which will provide opportunities for limited on-campus access for students, including the ability to house a limited number of students in the residence halls. (See issue 01: Operational Modes and a Progressive Return to Campus)

In order to safely bring our students, faculty, and staff back onto campus, physical distancing measures will be established wherever people will be interacting. To accomplish this, the College has partnered with Gensler, a worldwide architecture and design firm, to assist with auditing, reviewing, and then developing maximum occupancy and density layouts for various campus spaces including all academic classrooms.

An example of the floor density layout diagrams provided by architectural partners Gensler. This layout of Bunting 330 shows recommended density and location of people. The density guidelines, developed by MICA with CDC COVID-19 guidance, allow 81 square feet of clear space per person.
Since physical layout may not accurately reflect how spaces are normally used during classes, Academic Services and Enrollment Services are consulting with individual departments for further layout refinement based on specific teaching activities and program needs. These refined layouts will be completed around the end of November.

Once all primary academic spaces are mapped, additional shared and common spaces will be completed as part of a secondary engagement with Gensler. These “tier 2” and “tier 3” spaces include exhibition spaces, public spaces, ABOX, BBOX, etc. The refined or alternate layouts based on instruction as well as additional ancillary spaces are both part of the second Gensler deliverable and should be completed by December.

MICA’s PPE Kits and Face Coverings
Keeping our on-campus community safe also means providing proper personal protection equipment (PPE) and establishing clear policies on their usage. Here are some details regarding what MICA will be providing in terms of PPE and services.

A MICA welcome bag that includes PPE will be offered to all on-campus students, faculty, and staff, and are available for pickup at the Campus Safety office. Included are:

(2) reusable cloth face coverings – Face coverings are required when on campus. Please be sure to wear your face covering as identified in the MICA plan to reopen the campus.

(1) four oz. personal hand sanitizer bottle – This bottle can be refilled at one gallon refill pump stations located at all MICA guard stations.

(1) personal digital thermometer – In addition to the personal thermometer, temperature sensor stations are located at various building entrances.
In addition to the welcome bag, MICA will be providing disinfectant wipes to all departments and residents for sanitizing spaces and materials such as residence hall apartments, offices, personal equipment, and studio lab equipment.

Space Cleaning Protocols
As an important layer of on-campus public health and safety, MICA has enhanced all standard cleaning protocols to adapt to the unique requirements presented by the pandemic. There has been strong interest in getting a better understanding of these enhanced cleaning protocols. The following summary list provides more clarity about this important element of MICA’s on-campus experience.
  • Buildings cleanings will continue to take place during two shifts per day. This cleaning protocol will begin as MICA returns to campus for the spring semester.

  • The Building Services staff will double on the 1st shift in order to increase cleaning and sanitizing in high-touch areas.

  • All Building Services employees will work a 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM shift Monday through Friday. An external vendor will augment the evening shift in order to maintain cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization efforts. 

  • A 2nd shift crew will clean from 2:30 PM to 10:30 PM. They will clean restrooms, remove trash and recycling, and vacuum and clean general areas as outlined in a Weekly Routine worksheet that has been developed.

  • Each weekend four Building Services staff members will work from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM to clean, disinfect, and sanitize campus buildings.

  • Several MICA buildings — Main, Meyerhoff, Bunting, Lazarus, Fox, Brown, Dolphin, and Station — will be assigned two 1st shift employees for daily and ongoing cleaning and disinfecting of high touch area throughout their shift.

  • Microban 24 hour protectant wiping of high touch surfaces and cleaning shall be the primary focus along with other daily duties as outlined in the Weekly Routine worksheet.

  • Kleen Green 36 hour disinfecting will be completed three times each week: Tuesday, Thursday during evening hours, and Sundays during daytime hours.

It’s important to note that, while these enhanced protocols are an important part of keeping our campus community safe, they are not the only part. Leadership, directors, chairs, faculty, staff, students — our entire campus community — must all work together to collectively keep our campus spaces clean. It’s all of our responsibilities.

For classrooms and offices, notices with the date when the space was last cleaned will be placed on door handles. All cleaning products used will be EPA approved as listed on List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Building Airflow and Filtration Systems
While this may seem like a somewhat esoteric topic, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has officially stated that “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning [HVAC] systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

To support this recommendation for the safety of our on-campus community, the following are key actions that have been, or will be, implemented for the spring semester.

The air filtration systems of most MICA buildings (see list below) have been upgraded from “MERV 8” and “MERV 11” filters to the much higher performance “MERV 13” filters.

What exactly does MERV mean? MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it is a standardized method to report the smallest particle size that will be trapped by a filter.  The higher the number, the smaller the particle size. Smaller particles being trapped means more effective filtration.

The previous MERV 8-11 filters used in MICA’s building are capable of filtering 75% of particles between .3 to 10 microns. The new MERV 13 filters installed can effectively filter out 90% or more of those particles.

So how big is a micron? See the chart below to gain a better understanding of just how small a micron is.
MERV 13 filters have been installed in the following buildings: Dolphin Design Center, 1501 Mt Royal, 1515 Mt Royal, Station Building, Main Building, Bunting Center, Leake Hall, Meyerhoff, Fox/Brown Center, Art Tech, 81 Mosher, 1801 Falls Rd, JHU-MICA Film Centre, Firehouse, The Annex, Lazarus Center, and Gateway.

Where MERV filtration upgrades are not possible, portable air filtration units with similar filtration compatibilities will be installed, for example, in lower Founders Green (Carter, Glace, and Spear).

Building Airflow
Airflow within a building is also an important part of MICA’s health and safety program. We’ll cover details about building airflow upgrades in an upcoming issue of Recap.

Cohort Survey Redux
Based on comments received from the last issue of Recap (thanks for everyone who responded!), it’s clear our summary of the student survey inadvertently omitted some key data points (such as total surveyed and total responses) necessary to interpret the data. Our apologies. In an attempt to keep things brief, we muddied the message. And that’s obviously not the goal of Recap.

To help clarify, we are providing the complete student survey (which includes undergraduate and graduate students) as well as a Graduate Studies community survey (which includes Graduate Studies students, faculty, and staff) in their entirety as found below:

Additionally, there were several comments suggesting MICA provide similar surveys for staff and faculty. Here’s one representative comment:

The membership at the meeting asked if there could be additional surveying of staff and faculty to transparently compare attitudes across all groups. Given this is an existing survey, would it be possible to open it up again to the constituencies?

Thanks for the excellent suggestions. We agree and will be issuing a staff-specific survey in the coming weeks. The results of the survey will be reported in an upcoming issue of Recap.

Regarding faculty surveys: As you’ll see from the complete Graduate Studies community survey linked above, students, faculty, and staff were all solicited for input, and that input is represented in the data.

Real-World Questions from the Community
If you read the first issue of Recap, you’ll remember one of the planned ongoing features is What if. The idea is to help create a shared understanding of what the 2020 - 2021 academic year will look and feel like by posing real-world questions from the community that illustrate a vivid What if scenario.

The following What if was received from last issue:

What if a manager in the fabrication studios gets ill? Will students still be able to access the spaces? What happens if one of those student cohorts gets sick - does the whole department go to quarantine?

Thanks for that question. To help answer it, we consulted with Wendy Price, AVP for Academic Services, and Ben Kelley, director of Fabrication Studios. Here’s their answer:

MICA is fortunate to have a highly skilled team of fabrication professionals who possess a wide range of expertise in multiple disciplines, and they can cover multiple shop areas. If a fabrication studio manager becomes ill or has to go into quarantine, every effort will be made to provide some coverage for open shop hours by other managers. That will likely mean reduced hours in several of the shops or asking students to complete work in a different shop location, but closures only as a last resort.

Spring semester access for undergraduate seniors and/or graduate students is for the purpose of working on thesis projects.  Some of that work may be completed independently, but it is possible that a cohort will be meeting occasionally as a group.  If anyone in a cohort becomes ill, MICA's safety protocols (including, testing, contract tracing, and quarantine measures) would be implemented in concert with the Baltimore City Health Department.

A Snapshot of Responses from the Previous Issue of Recap
As mentioned previously, we’ve included the ability to provide comments on individual topics for each issue of Recap, in order to help provide an open dialogue around the complex and evolving issues of mounting the 2021 semester.

Many have already submitted thoughtful comments from the first issue and those comments will be used to inform future issues, raise awareness on topics, and ultimately help build shared understanding as one team MICA. And while we cannot provide individual recognition for each comment, we are providing a summary snapshot of those comments to promote transparency.

As the chart illustrates, there were a total of 13 comments submitted from the last issue of Recap. Of those 13, the highest number of comments were about the Student Cohort Surveys, with Academic Approach, Operational Modes, and The 5 Tensions next.  What If and Campus Testing Strategy received one comment each.

Please address specific questions to an appropriate departmental contact.
Graduate Studies:

Undergraduate Studies:

Student Affairs:

Open Studies:

Finance and Operations:


Strategic Communications:

Human Resources:

Strategic Initiatives:



Parent Relations:

That’s it for this installment of Recap. Thank you for your engagement in this ongoing dialogue and building of shared understanding. If there are any topics you would like to have addressed in future installments, please provide your ideas here.

Stay safe and be well.

Coming Up in the Next Issue: updates regarding on-campus and departmental policies and practices.

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