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COVID-19 FAQs for Employees - March 27, 2020



Are all employees expected to work from home?

Telecommuting is available to all APA and Non-Unit Professional employees. Telecommuting is also available to AFSCME employees during this interim period for those positions to which it would appropriately apply. Employees participating in telecommuting are strongly encouraged to create a telecommuting workplan with their supervisor during this interim period to work from home unless they have been directed by their supervisor to work on campus. Employees designated by their respective vice president to be an “essential employee” for purposes of responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency will be physically present on campus unless otherwise directed by their supervisor.

What if I prefer to work in the office? Am I allowed to do this?

We are discouraging employees from working on campus as the purpose of telecommuting is to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. You should not work on campus unless you have been expressly required or authorized to work on campus by your supervisor.

What if I need to retrieve files, papers, etc. from my desk that I need to do my work?

Please make arrangements with your supervisor to pick-up items you need to perform your duties.

Are we expected to work the same hours as if we were on campus?

Yes. The general expectation for a telework arrangement is that the employee will effectively accomplish their regular job duties within their regular work hours, regardless of work location.

Do I fill out my timesheet the same way? Is there a special code for telecommuting?

Updated 3/26/20

There are some slight changes to the time reporting codes. All employees that are working during the COVID-19 Emergency from campus should report their time as they normally would (blank TRC). Employees working remotely should report their time worked using the code TEL.

Employees who took pre-approved vacation, personal or comp time, (or used sick time) should report this time taken using the appropriate leave time reporting code this includes employees who are telecommuting. Employees that are at home caring for children, family, etc and are unable to work from home, should use the appropriate leave time.

Questions pertaining to your timesheet should be directed to the Payroll Office at should be directed to the Payroll Office at

Do I still get a lunch break if I am working from home?

Yes. Employees should take regular meal periods and breaks as outlined in the collective bargaining agreements. Employees eligible for overtime, should not work overtime unless requested and approved in advance by their supervisor.


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Essential v. Non-Essential Designations

What does it mean in the context of COVID-19 to be an “essential employee”?

Essential employees are those who are considered necessary to ensure the business continuity of the university during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Essential employees are required by their supervisor to be physically present on campus to perform their functions. In some instances, as directed by their supervisor, essential employees may also be able to perform their functions remotely. Your supervisor should give you specific guidance. Designations of essential or non-essential are in no way intended to be reflective of your importance or performance.

What if I am an essential employee in the context of COVID-19 and I need to utilize accrued leave or I have been previously approved to take accrued leave?

If you are deemed essential and you have a need to utilize accrued leave or have been previously approved to take accrued leave, please have a conversation with your direct supervisor. While the University has designated your position as essential for a reason, we recognize the personal and family needs of our employees and will work to be as flexible as possible during this unprecedented time. Supervisors should seek guidance from HRTM if there are any questions.

What does it mean in the context of COVID-19 to be considered a “non-essential employee”?

Employees deemed non-essential are those who are not required to be physically present on campus. During this COVID-19 public health emergency, non-essential employees, however, are still expected to perform their job responsibilities remotely as directed by their supervisor to ensure business continuity. Designations of essential or non-essential are in no way intended to be reflective of your importance or performance.


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Access To Technology

Does BSU provide access to the full Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, Teams, etc.) for personal computers?

New 3/26/20

Yes we do! Sign into Office 365 by visiting   and logging in with your BSU username and password. In the upper right corner, you will see a button titled “Install Office.” Follow the instructions on the screen. All users can install up to 5 copies of Microsoft Office including mobile apps.

How can I access Microsoft Teams on my personal computer?

New 3/26/20

The web based version of Microsoft Teams is accessible by visiting   and logging in with your BSU username and password and launching the Teams app. You can also install the full Teams app on your computer by following the instructions above to install the full Microsoft Office Suite.

How do I access tools and software that are only available on-campus (e.g., Banner, Argos, EMS, G:\ drive etc.)?

BSU is happy to announce the release of Windows Virtual Desktop! This service provides access to a Windows 10 virtual computer with access to all business applications. You can access Windows Virtual Desktop by logging into Office 365   and clicking the Windows Virtual Desktop icon from the waffle menu (upper left-hand corner). Please visit the Windows Virtual Desktop   intranet page for more detailed information. 

Does BSU have a traditional virtual private network (VPN) client to access on-campus resources (e.g., Banner, Argos, EMS, G:\ drive etc.)?

BSU has a Cisco AnyConnect VPN client that can be installed on any university owned laptop and with multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled. For non-BSU owned computers, we recommend using Windows Virtual Desktop. Please email to request the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client be installed.

What if I don’t have the necessary technology (e.g., computer, internet access) at home to do my job?

Updated 3/27/20

BSU has a limited number of loaner laptops and Chromebooks to loan to employees who don’t have access to technology at home. Please email to request a loaner.

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to increase access to free or discounted internet/ data during the COVID-19 period. The FCC’s “Keep America Connected” (pdf)   initiative pledges to suspend common penalties and expand internet access across the U.S. Several internet and telecom service providers are committed to offering free access to the internet (via WiFi hotspot), discounted internet service and/or increased data allowances to ensure people can get online during this unprecedented time. To learn more, review offerings from the service providers below.

Finally, BSU can also provide you with a cellular based wireless hotspot for use in your home. Hotspots cost $39.99/month and require approval from your Director or divisional VP. Send any requests to

What if I need support with Blackboard, Email, Office 365, or other technical support?

Contact the IT Service Center at 508-531-2555 or for questions about Blackboard, Email, Office 365, and other IT-support technology services.

What video conferencing solution does IT recommend?

Information Technology highly recommends using Microsoft Teams for video conferencing. Skype is also available. Both solutions allow you to schedule web/video calls directly though Microsoft Outlook. Want to learn more about Teams? Visit Microsoft’s Teams Video Training site  .

NOTE: BSU does not have a license for Zoom. Teams, Skype, and Zoom all have similar features and all faculty, staff, and students are licensed for Teams as part of our Microsoft agreement.

What is the easiest way for me to share documents with colleagues?

Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Teams provide cloud storage and the ability to work interactively and collaboratively on documents. IT recommends that employees copy their data to OneDrive or Teams and share and collaborate with colleagues.

How can I get further training on some of the Microsoft applications available through Office 365?

If you are interested in learning more about the different apps in Office 365, Microsoft has an excellent training website with short videos -  

What if I need additional technology peripherals (i.e. Webcam, headsets, etc.) to work efficiently?

Any computer peripherals can be purchased out of departmental operating budgets using a procard from online retailers.

What should I do about calls to my personal office phone line?

BSU does not currently have softphone capability but is exploring options. In the meantime, you can request your office phone line be forwarded to an external number such as your cell phone. Please email to request your phone be forwarded. Voicemail can still be checked from Outlook.

How do I change my department’s voicemail greeting?

Please email to request a change to your departmental voicemail greeting. A member of the IT Division will provide you with temporary credentials to change the greeting.


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