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COVID 19: Updated Employee Guidance for Safe Return

From: Keri Powers , Vice President for Human Resources & Talent Management

Date: August 24, 2020

Re: Updated Employee Guidance for Safe Return

 

Introduction

In June of this year guidance was issued to employees announcing the university’s plan for the gradual and phased return of employees to campus. The gradual and phased return during the months of July and August occurred in compliance with the guidance provided by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board and focused on returning employees to a safe and healthy workplace.

 

Safe & Healthy Workplace

Bridgewater State University has complied with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Mandated Safety Standards  for office spaces as identified by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board. These safety standards include but are not limited to assessing office/workspace configurations, planning pedestrian traffic flows, practicing physical distancing, implementing hygiene protocols, signage requirements, and cleaning & disinfecting best practices. To demonstrate compliance with these safety standards, the university has completed the Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Office Spaces Checklist , the Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan (PDF) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Compliance Attestation (PDF).

 

Returning Employees

As was noted in the previous employee guidance memorandum, the need to maintain a minimum number of employees on campus (de-densifying) will continue and the expanded return of employees will be controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and to ensure the safety of all employees and the BSU community.

The initial return of employees during the months of July and August occurred under the guideline of 25% office capacity. While guidance provided by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board allowed office spaces to progress to 50% office capacity, the university maintains its priority of safety and is only returning employees at the capacity of 25%. Therefore, as we begin the 2020 – 2021 Academic Year, we will remain at 25% office capacity. If, however, there is a critical business need and a department identifies a peak period, which may require an office to consider operating at the 50% office capacity it can be requested through the office of Human Resources & Talent Management (HRTM), but will only be allowed if all safety protocols can be fully adhered to while doing so. Returning employees are utilizing staggered reporting and departing times, alternating schedules, days, and times, and telecommuting/remote work options.

 

Telecommuting Workplans

The continuation of telecommuting workplans, where feasible, is an identified practice within the Governor’s Reopening Plan. For those positions that have been identified as eligible to telecommute and the work performed remotely is being accomplished effectively, a telecommuting workplan can be continued.

The continuation of telecommuting workplans for employees in high-risk categories should also be considered, where feasible. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified individuals 65 years of age or older and individuals with underlying health conditions as candidates for continued telecommuting during this public health emergency. There may also be other circumstances precluding an employee from returning to campus where an alternate work option may need to be considered – vulnerable family member within the household or other conditions limiting their ability to be on campus. Please contact HRTM for guidance on alternate work options in these circumstances.

Employees who work in a position that has been identified to work on campus and falls under the high-risk categories may request consideration for a telecommuting workplan via a confidential process through HRTM and the Office of Equal Opportunity.

 

Training

Employees returning to campus will be required to complete Safe Return Training. This training is a requirement of the Governor’s Reopening Plan and mandatory for any employee returning to campus. The training is an on-line module focusing on four key health & safety protocols:

  • Stay at Home When Sick
  • Maintain Physical Distance
  • Wear Face Coverings & Masks
  • Practice Good Hygiene

Employees must read the Safe Return Training document and acknowledge their review of the content and relevant CDC guidance. Again, this training must be completed by all employees. If you have not yet completed the training, please review and complete the Safe Return Training before returning to campus.

 

Assessment & Progression

On-going assessment of the return of employees to campus will occur to ensure employees are working in a safe and healthy environment. Department leaders will be monitoring the return of their staff and assessing the workplace protocols that have been implemented. As the phases of return are assessed, if any adjustments are to be made, departments will be provided with additional guidance. Departments cannot increase staffing beyond the guidelines set forth in this guidance.

 

Symptom Monitoring

Employees who return to the workplace will be required to conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to work. They should also be reminded that if they feel ill, they should stay home. Employees reporting to campus for work must be free of any symptoms related to COVID-19. The following resources are available to employees to check symptoms:

Employees who are not feeling well or believe they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should contact their doctor. Employees should not report to work until they have been cleared as healthy to return to work by a medical professional. Medical professionals will advise on treatment, testing, and whether self-quarantine may be necessary.

 

Testing

Asymptomatic testing is available to employees who return to campus BSU has partnered with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in the administration of testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Testing will be available from 12-4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1st and every Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for the remainder of the semester. All asymptomatic testing will take place in the Weygand Parking Garage, 1st Floor, and takes only a few minutes. Employees interested in being tested should send an email to safeemployees@bridgew.edu. The Wellness Center will provide you with information about the testing process and an appointment for your test. Test results will be available within 24 hours.

For employees experiencing symptoms of COVID, or who may have been in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID, please contact the Wellness Center at 508-531-1252 for consultation about the safest testing options.

Additional guidance is available on the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page.

 

Employee Diagnosis & Exposure

An employee who has been diagnosed positive with COVID-19 or an employee who has close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, should not report to work. The employee should notify their supervisor and report their sick leave absence in accordance with established university policies and practices. In addition, the employee should be in touch with HRTM so they can be advised of their leave options.

The disclosure of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is necessary so the proper cleaning and disinfecting of the employee’s workspace can be done. In addition, the university will trace contacts in the workplace and will advise those employees who have had contact with an infected person to isolate and self-quarantine.

All communication will follow appropriate confidentiality measures prescribed by the American Disability Act (ADA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) related to the protection of personal medical information.

 

Contact Tracing

The university is operating under an integrated model of contact tracing with the Bridgewater Board of Health (BBoH). Under this model, the university will handle the testing and tracing of all employees and students on campus and will allow the BBoH access to this information through contact tracing information systems.

To properly conduct campus-wide contact tracing, the university has established a contact tracing team consisting of communication monitors, data collection agents, contact tracing callers, and contact tracing managers. All contact tracing team members have been trained on relevant database systems, necessary documentation, processes, and case management.

The BSU IT division has designed a comprehensive multi-layered approach to contact tracing to rapidly identify and notify individuals potentially exposed. The data sources noted below will be used for contact tracing:

SafeSwipe

A contact tracing application which checks-in students, faculty, or staff as they visit offices or other locations on campus. Individuals can be checked in by swiping their BSU Connect Card or by providing their username or Banner ID. Information logged includes the person’s first and last name, email address, phone number, date, time, building, and room number. Non-BSU community members (guests and vendors) can also be manually checked-in by providing the same information. Data is automatically purged after a period of twenty (20) days.

SafeScan

The BSU Mobile App is used by 97% of students on the BSU campus and has native Quick Response (QR) Code scanning functionality which can be used for contact tracing purposes. The university is referring to this as SafeScan. QR codes have been generated for approximately 500 locations across campus. Language on the SafeScan signs encourage users to re-scan a minimum of every hour.

In addition to these two systems, there are several other systems being used to obtain test results, to self-report symptoms, and to contact trace through building access, dining transactions, and class registrations. Further, the Wellness Center has also established contact tracing reporting processes for students and employees. These processes are critical to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 on campus. For more information pertaining to contact tracing, please visit the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page.

 

Travel

Effective August 1, 2020 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts instituted a Travel Order . All visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts, who do not meet an exemption, are required to:

  • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form unless visiting or traveling from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health.
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.

If you are traveling and have questions concerning the Travel Order, please contact HRTM.

 

Workplace Protocols

All employees will be expected to comply with all policies, protocols, and guidelines established by the university to provide for a safe and healthy workplace.

Face Coverings/Masks

All employees who return to campus will be required to wear face masks or coverings in indoor and outdoor public spaces while on campus. Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical to minimize the risks to others and aligns with the Executive Order signed by the Governor. Disposable masks will be provided by the university, if needed. Employees may also wear their own cloth face mask or covering. Employees who are not able to wear a face mask due to medical reasons should be in contact with HRTM and the Office of Equal Opportunity.

Face masks or coverings should:

  • Cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction

When putting on and taking off a mask, do not touch the front of it. Masks should be handled by the ties or ear straps only. If using a cloth mask, please make sure the mask is washed regularly. Hands should be washed or sanitized after touching the mask. For more information about the proper use of masks, please review the How to Use Face Coverings Effectively guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

All employees should familiarize themselves with the university's face coverings policy. Employees will be expected to comply with this policy. Matters of non-compliance will be addressed through education and training. Instances of continued non-compliance will be referred to an employee’s supervisor and HRTM.

Additional guidance is available on the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page.

Hygiene Protocols

All employees are asked to practice good hygiene. Good hygiene includes:

  • Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using an alcohol-based hand gel if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Regularly clean high touch areas — doorknobs, office equipment, counter tops, etc.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze using a tissue or your inner elbow rather than your hands.
  • Avoid sharing or passing items within the workplace.
Bear Buckets

To assist with the above hygiene protocols, the university will provide departments with Bear Buckets. Bear Buckets will include face masks, paper towels, disinfecting spray, and gloves. These items can be used by employees to help keep their workspaces clean. Using the supplied products, all employees are advised to wipe down their work areas and other commonly used surfaces before and after use.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Employees returning to campus will be provided with two (2) face masks and two (2) face shields. This PPE will be distributed to employees returning to campus through Central Receiving & Inventory Management (CRIM) using the workplan schedules submitted to HRTM.

Campus & Building Access

To minimize exposure and limit interaction, employees who do return to campus will only have access to the building in which their workspace is located and access will be provided to any additional building(s) necessary for them to accomplish their job responsibilities. Generally, staff will be provided access for normal business hours or the shift they are assigned to work.

Staff can expect that most buildings will have restricted access. This means employees will always need to have their BSU Connect ID Card with them. Staff are expected to swipe into each building they enter to support the best possible COVID contact tracing protocols. Doors should not be held open for others allowing multiple people to enter without swiping.

There are places on campus where entry doors will remain open with unrestricted access — the Welcome Center, the Shaw Road main entrance to the Maxwell Library, the rear lower level entrance to the Office of Teaching & Learning at the Maxwell Library, the East Campus Commons, and Crimson Dining Hall. Upon entry into these spaces, patrons will traverse the public area and upon entry into a department, store, or dining service vendor be logged in via SafeSwipe, Blackboard, or other means to facilitate COVID contact tracing.

If you are not returning to campus and will be telecommuting, before coming to campus for any reason you will need to receive authorization to do so to ensure your return is safely planned for and in accordance with the established office capacity of 25%. Employees needing to come to campus for an urgent need must first make a request by emailing safeemployees@bridgew.edu. The appropriate department will then be contacted regarding the request so the visit can be coordinated at an appropriate time.

To further ensure the safety of our university community, zones have been designated for employees and students. Employees will only be able to access buildings to which they have been designated and will be required to use their Connect Card for entry. Similarly, students will only be able to access buildings to which they have been designated and will also be required to use their Connect Card for entry.

Employees are encouraged to use virtual appointment technologies for communication with other employees and/or students when possible. In-person contacts should be limited and by appointment in designated meeting spaces where physical distancing is possible. A small number of employees have access to more than one work zone due to the nature of their work and will follow physical distancing, mask use, and other COVID-19 guidance to assure safety. Additional guidance is available on the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page.

Appointments & Meetings

Virtual appointment technologies — Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. — should be used to hold appointments and meetings with students, employees, vendors, and guests. In-person appointments should be limited and should only occur, if necessary, in designated meeting spaces that provide the ability for physical distancing. Office contact information for virtual appointments will be posted to the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page. This web page and the IT Telecommuting Resources site  has information and access to tools, best practices, and other steps for success.

Building & Pedestrian Traffic Flows

Employees should follow the measures implemented to physically distance from others when walking through buildings. Employees should watch for visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, and signs. Hallways and stairwells will have directional signage for one-way designations and up and down directions.

Restrooms

When using restrooms please be mindful of the size of the room to ensure at least six feet of distance between individuals. Signage will note occupancy maximums.

Elevators

There should not be more than one person in an elevator at a time.

 

Wellness & Support

Employee wellness is a priority for the university, always. During this public health crisis, it is even more important to ensure our employees have the support they need during this stressful time. Whether transitioning to telecommuting, balancing work, life, & home responsibilities, or caring for others, this crisis has impacted everyone.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) available to employees is:

Mass 4 You
1-844-263-1982
liveandworkwell.com  

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The FFCRA Employee Rights poster  can be found on the HRTM web page.

Resources on the Web

BSU COVID-19 Safe Return
HRTM COVID-19 Resources for Employees  
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Reopening Guidance  

 

BSU Notice of Risk Related to COVID-19

COVID-19, a highly infectious, life-threatening disease, has been declared to be a global pandemic. There currently is no known treatment, cure, or vaccine for COVID-19. The disease may be contracted through contact with infected persons who may be symptomatic, asymptomatic or from contact with the virus left on surfaces.

In accordance with the recommendations and guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), the university has taken steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the health and safety of the community depends upon all its members accepting the shared risk associated with the disease.

There are inherent risks associated with participating in university required, sanctioned or voluntary activities on or off campus. It is not possible for the university to limit all potential sources of COVID-19 infection. Individuals must rely on their own judgment in assessing the safety of, or risks associated with, participating in university activities. Further, campus community members must understand that campus safety in respect to COVID-19 is a shared risk and that everyone must do their part to contribute to the health and safety of the community.

To that end, the university has implemented certain policies and procedures intended to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. The university may update or revise these protocols at any time in response to new information, recommendations, or guidance from the CDC or MDPH.

Members of the university community are expected to comply with all mandates of the CDC, MDPH, and associated policies mandated by the university such as wearing face coverings, adopting good hygienic practices and cleaning protocols, physical distancing, monitoring of symptoms, and self-reporting of symptoms or a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

Please consult the BSU COVID-19 Safe Return web page for additional information.

Working together, we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring a rich academic experience for every member of the university community.

 

BSU Code of Public Health Pledge

As a community, BSU students, staff, faculty, and others have an important responsibility in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to care for each other by making sure our actions minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. If we all employ some simple public health best practices, we can protect ourselves and our entire BSU community.

As a member of the BSU community, I pledge that I will:

  • Check my symptoms and remain home if I am sick.
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from others outside of your home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Wear a mask or other face covering in public and common areas; and
  • Practice good hygiene by washing my hands regularly and cleaning high-touch areas.