In a letter from Vice President of WVU Talent and Culture, Cris DeBord addresses employee expectations for the Return to Campus in the fall.
Dear West Virginia University Campus Community:
West Virginia University is committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. And as we prepare to resume on-campus operations across the WVU System for the fall 2020 semester, the University has developed plans and guidelines for faculty and staff to ensure we are working in as safe a manner as possible amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support these efforts, WVU has created a Return to On-Campus Work Playbook for Faculty and Staff. The playbook aligns with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines as well as guidance from University leaders and local, state and federal public health agencies. The playbook also includes several checklists for supervisors and employees to support their return to on-campus work.
However, circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to rapidly evolve, and WVU will update its plans and guidelines as additional information becomes available. Below are some of the precautionary measures we are implementing to keep our faculty and staff safe this fall:
Phased Return to On-Campus Work
- WVU will return staff to on-campus work over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate physical distancing and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Supervisors currently are notifying employees of whether they will return to on-campus work or continue to work remotely this fall.
- The University will assess expanded staffing levels for campus-based on operations that must be completed onsite, the ability to control and manage specific work environments and the necessity to access onsite resources.
- The need to minimize the overall number of people on campus (i.e., density) to meet physical distancing requirements and preserve PPE will continue for some time.
- Faculty and staff who will be working on campus this fall will be required to complete COVID-19 testing. After completing testing, faculty and staff should receive their results within three to five days. Faculty and staff will be asked to maintain social separation as much as possible and avoid large gatherings to the fullest extent possible until their test results are available. Faculty and staff may leave their offices/workspaces but should wear a mask/face covering as mandated and stay physically distant as much as possible.
- Employees who will be exclusively working remotely this fall will not be required to undergo testing at this time.
- If employees who will be working on campus this fall fail to take the COVID-19 test by Aug.15, they will be subject to employee disciplinary actions until they take the test including, but not limited to, being placed on administrative leave without pay and/or being placed on administrative leave while using the employee’s annual leave.
- Supervisors are encouraged to continue to be flexible with their employees. Once
employees have been instructed to return to on-campus work, there are several
options departments and units should consider:
- Remote Work – Employees who can work remotely and fulfill their work duties should continue to do so to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of COVID-19. These arrangements, which should be approved by the employee’s immediate supervisor, can be done on a full or partial day/week schedule as appropriate. Employees who work remotely must complete a Telecommuting Agreement.
- Alternating Days – To limit the number of individuals and interactions on campus, departments and units may consider scheduling partial staffing on alternating days. These schedules support physical distancing (especially in areas with large common workspaces).
- Staggered Reporting/Departing – The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of campus buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes may reduce traffic in common areas, which would support physical distancing requirements.
- Departments and units that can effectively work remotely likely will continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings. Expanded on-campus staffing will be controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of employees and WVU’s broader campus community.
- Departments and units should not increase staffing levels on campus beyond current needs to support onsite operations.
- As on-campus staffing increases and operations expand, University officials will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of COVID-19 as well as existing policies and procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
- If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced on-campus staffing levels may need to be implemented.
Symptom Monitoring Requirements
- All faculty and staff who have been instructed to return to their on-campus workplace
are required to conduct symptom monitoring each day before reporting to work.
Faculty and staff must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19
to be eligible to report to work. These symptoms currently include one or more
of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Runny nose or new sinus congestion
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New gastrointestinal symptoms
- New loss of taste or smell
- Symptomatic employees should immediately contact their healthcare provider for guidance and notify their supervisor.
COVID-19 Workplace Accommodations and Modifications
- According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk
for COVID-19 infection. These conditions include:
- Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
- People with HIV
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Chronic lung disease
- Serious heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
- Severe obesity
- Being immunocompromised
- Currently, medical conditions that necessitate reasonable accommodations related to COVID-19 are being addressed as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodations. In accordance with the ADA Amendments Act, certain factors do not meet the definition of a disability (e.g., age, pregnancy and the caregiving of vulnerable family members). In these cases, employees will be referred to WVU Medical Management.
- Reasonable modifications will be determined on a case-by-case basis. When applicable, other provisions may run concurrently with accommodations such as FMLA, FFCRA, leave and other University programs.
- Faculty and staff who have been instructed to return to on-campus work and have concerns due to a medical condition that places them in a higher-risk group, those who have members of their household who are considered higher-risk, those who are pregnant or those who wish to seek ADA Accommodations should contact email@example.com. Visit the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website for more information and to access the COVID-19 Modification Request Form.
Personal Safety Practices
- Face Masks/Cloth Face Coverings – Face masks or cloth face coverings must be worn by all faculty and staff working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where physical distancing measures may be difficult to maintain (e.g., common work spaces and classrooms).
- Physical Distancing – Keeping space between individuals is one of the best tools we have to avoid COVID-19 exposure and slow its spread. Faculty and staff working on campus should adhere to the University’s guidance on physical distancing practices.
- Handwashing – Individuals should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after they have been in a public place or after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or touching their face). If soap and water are not readily available, individuals should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Gloves – Healthcare workers and others in high-risk areas should use gloves as part of PPE. However, according to CDC guidance, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. In general, if the employee’s on-campus work duties previously required the wearing of gloves, they should continue to wear them.
- Goggles/Face Shields – Employees do not need to wear goggles or face shields during general activities on campus unless these items are required as part of their work duties (e.g., labs).
- Personal Disinfection – While Facilities and Services crews will continue to clean offices and workspaces based on CDC guidelines, additional care should be taken to wipe down commonly used surfaces. Before starting work and before leaving any room in which they have been working, employees must wipe down all work areas with EPA-registered 60% alcohol solution. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, A/V equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.). Tissues, hand sanitizer and disposable wipes may be requested from your building supervisor. These items also are available for purchase in Mountaineer Marketplace (using the PPE Request Form).
- Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene – If employees are in a private setting and do not have on their mask or face covering, they should always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of their elbow. Employees then should throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, employees should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Guidance for Specific Workplace Scenarios
- Working in Office Environments – If more than one person is in a room, employees should wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times, including while in a shared workspace (e.g., cubicles, reception/receiving areas, hallways, break rooms, etc.).
- Using Restrooms – Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least six feet of distance between individuals. Employees should wash their hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19.
- Using Elevators – All riders should wear face masks or cloth face coverings, avoid overcrowding elevators and exercise extreme caution. Riders should only board elevators if they feel comfortable with occupancy. Additional signage will be placed to direct flow to stairwells.
- Meetings – All meetings must include an option for remote participation (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, conference line, etc.).
- Meals – Before and after eating, employees should wash their hands thoroughly. If dining on campus, employees should wear their mask or cloth face covering until they are ready to eat and then replace it afterward. Employees are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside whenever possible. Employees also should wipe all surfaces (e.g., tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, etc.) after using common areas.
- WVU/Mountain Line Bus Service – If employees use WVU/Mountain Line bus transportation, they should wear a face mask or cloth face covering before entering the bus and avoid touching surfaces with their hands. Upon disembarking, employees should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible and before removing their mask or cloth face covering.
- Travel – All non-essential University travel will be extremely limited. All employee travel must be submitted to their vice president or dean for approval.
- Anyone traveling domestically outside of West Virginia is subject to a 5-day self-quarantine/self-monitoring period. This does not include commuting to work.
- Individuals who are returning to the WVU campuses from any international/cruise ship travel are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine/self-monitoring period.
- Employees must notify their supervisor and work with them for a remote work assignment during the self-quarantine/self-monitoring period. If a remote assignment is not available, employees should contact their HR Partner for additional options.
- Due to the nature of their work, WVU clinical faculty, residents and fellows will follow WVU Medicine guidelines on travel.
Guidance for Campus Visitors
- All non-essential visits to campus are strongly discouraged. Visitors whose physical presence is required on campus to perform certain services must follow recommended CDC and OSHA guidance as well as federal, state and local guidelines. Compliance by visitors with the University’s COVID-19 policies and procedures also is required.
- All visits to campus must be coordinated with the appropriate WVU host with as much advance notice as possible. The host is responsible for sending the Visitors and Contractors Self-Screening Checklist and asking the visitors to complete the checklist prior to the visit.
- Interviews with Job Candidates – All initial candidate screenings should occur via telephone or video conference (e.g., Zoom or Microsoft Teams). In-person interviews should be limited to final candidate pools and follow the appropriate guidelines.
- Suppliers, Contractors and Vendors – All non-essential visits by suppliers, contractors and vendors to WVU’s campus are strongly discouraged. Discussions or interviews for bid proposals should be conducted via telephone or video conference and continue to follow procedures outlined by WVU procurement guidelines.
- Contractors/Construction Workers – Contractors and construction workers engaged in new construction, renovation and capital improvement projects who have been approved to continue work onsite must complete the Visitors and Contractors Self-Screening Checklist and follow WVU’s guidelines for visitors on campus. Contractors and construction workers also should follow the Guidance for the Construction Workforce and other federal, state and local guidelines.
We will share more information about our employee expectations for safely returning to on-campus work at the Return to Campus Conversation on July 16 at 10 a.m. In the meantime, visit the Return to Campus website and check out the full Return to On-Campus Work Playbook for Faculty and Staff for additional details. A downloadable version of the playbook also is available.
Our safe return to campus relies on everyone taking personal responsibility. And we recognize we may face some challenges as faculty and staff return to on-campus work this fall. However, if we continue to place the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront of everything we do and lean on our Mountaineer Values, I am confident we can build a stronger and safer campus community.
Vice President, Talent and Culture
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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