As our students, faculty and staff fully return to campus, we thought it would be helpful to share answers to some of the more frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19.  The university has enacted a number of measures to ensure safe campus operations, including vaccine and face covering mandates.  It is hoped that the following list of questions and answers will help alleviate any concerns with classes starting.

Will I know the vaccination status of my direct reports? May I ask the vaccination status of my direct reports?

Supervisors will be made aware of approved exemptions to the vaccination mandate in accordance with applicable union agreements. This will allow them to help enforce surveillance testing and potentially changing face covering mandates. Note that the percentage of staff that have been granted exemptions is less than 1%.

A direct report informs me that they think they have COVID and/or has pending COVID test results. What do I do?

Tell them to stay home. This is the equivalent of failing the Daily Symptom Checker. You can work with them to ensure continuity of operations or take sick leave if continuity cannot be maintained remotely. Remind them that if their test comes back positive, they need to notify HR via covid19hr@uml.edu.

A direct report informs me that they failed the Daily Symptom Checker. What do I do?

Tell them to stay home. You can work with them to ensure continuity of operations or take sick leave if continuity cannot be maintained remotely. Recommend  they contact their health care provider.

A direct report informs me that they have COVID and have been instructed to isolate. What do I do?

Work with the direct report to ensure continuity of operations. An investigation will ensue as to whether any other actions are necessary for the workplace. If they haven’t done so already, instruct them to contact HR using the COVID reporting email.

A direct report informs me a “close contact” (e.g., family member, friend) has tested positive for COVID. What do I do?

Completing the Daily Symptom Checker will help with these processes. However, note that being identified as a contact means that someone has been closer than six feet to someone with a definitively diagnosed case of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer. The direct report will only have to quarantine if they are unvaccinated or if vaccinated and they are symptomatic.

Where can staff be tested for COVID?

They should contact their personal health care provider.  They can also visit the state's testing website to find locations in Massachusetts.

Can staff work remotely if they have tested positive for COVID? If so, for how long?

Supervisors can work with staff to ensure continuity of operations that may include remote work if appropriate and available for that position. Staff can use their sick leave if remote work is not available. Typically, a staff member would receive guidance from their health care provider as to when to return to work. The CDC also provides guidelines as to when the staff member can return to work.

Can staff work remotely if a member of their household has tested positive for COVID?

We are committed to providing a positive experience for our students, and continuity of operations is an important component of that experience. If childcare cannot be arranged, we ask you to work with your supervisor to best ensure that work continues, which may include remote work. If this is not possible, sick leave may be taken.

What can I tell co-workers who think they may have been a close contact of a colleague who tests positive for COVID?

You may inform your direct reports that colleagues who are considered a “close contact” will be notified by local public health officials. The university may ask supervisors to assist HR in the assessment process but a supervisor does not need to notify co-workers.

A direct report has a child whose school has gone remote due to a COVID outbreak and they say they need to stay home due to a lack of childcare. Can I accommodate this person?

We are committed to providing a positive experience for our students, and continuity of operations is an important component of that experience. If childcare cannot be arranged, we ask the employee to work with their supervisor to best ensure that work continues, which may include remote work. If this is not possible, sick leave may be taken.

Colleagues are aware of an employee from their office having COVID and they request to work remotely. What do I do?

With a highly vaccinated staff it is unlikely the co-workers will need to quarantine. Staff considered a “close contact” will be notified by university and/or health professionals. Staff will not be routinely assigned remote work if a colleague has COVID.

Can staff work remotely if they have failed the Daily Symptom Checker and/or pending COVID test results?

If an employee fails the Daily Symptom Checker, they should stay home and contact their personal healthcare provider. We are committed to providing a positive experience for our students, and continuity of operations is an important component of that experience.  We ask employees to work with their supervisor to best ensure that work continues, which may include remote work. If this is not possible, sick leave may be taken.

If an office is densely populated with multiple colleagues being in close contact with each other, when one staff member tests positive can I switch department operations to remote until everyone can get tested?

Decisions of this nature will be made by the unit/division dean in collaboration with the COVID response team. We anticipate the current mask and vaccine mandates on campus will minimize the need for remote work.

What are the cleaning protocols when an employee within a department tests positive for COVID?

The work environment and specific conditions of each reported case will be reviewed by the COVID response team. Depending on the work environment and duration between the employee(s) being on campus and the reporting of a positive test the cleaning response will vary. Surface-to-person transmission of COVID-19 is very rare, typically normal cleaning protocols will provide ample protection.

What are the daily cleaning protocols for conference rooms?

Conference rooms are cleaned daily.  Furthermore, cleaning kits are provided for individuals to clean their personal area before use.

Is an employee who has failed the Daily Symptom Checker and/or pending COVID test results required to submit proof of negative COVID test results? Is a home test considered sufficient proof?

No. Proof of a negative test is required. Employees are asked to follow current CDC guidance or are cleared to return to work by their healthcare provider.

What happens if an employee does not want to be vaccinated and does not qualify for an exemption? Is the department able to hire a temporary replacement to minimize disruption to student service and office operations?

According to the union agreements, employees that are not vaccinated or receive an approved exemption may use compensatory time, personal time, accrued vacation, or unpaid leave (in that order).  If needed, the supervisor should request additional support from their vice chancellor.