Dear staff Red Wolves,
We want to provide the campus with some specific COVID-19 items for the fall semester that relate to our staff. Many of these items parallel the FAQ that was shared with faculty and academic personnel. Also, as a reminder from the Chancellor's email to campus this week, with the official declaration of a health emergency in the state by the Governor, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is meeting regularly.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Fall 2021
- May staff or offices switch their modality to online?
Employees cannot unilaterally shift their work or the operations of their office to virtual. Again, any department-wide changes would come to the EOC for consideration. Individual requests for workplace accommodations (such as disability-related accommodations) should be brought to Human Resources.
- Are employees required to wear a mask?
Yes, during times when the university has declared an official mask mandate. To start the fall 2021 semester, Arkansas State University has invoked a requirement for mask wearing indoors in any situation where physical distancing is not practical. This includes classrooms, meeting rooms, hallways and building entrances, and elevators. This is subject to future change to comply with ASU System or state of Arkansas guidance. Any requests for modification of how the policy is applied for a specific individual for disability or religious reasons should be brought to Human Resources.
- May employees ask others about their vaccination status or for proof of vaccination?
No. Requiring proof of status or requiring vaccination is prohibited by state law. We recognize that third parties may ask or require.
- Will the university provide supervisors the names of employees who have been placed in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19?
Employees are asked to directly advise their supervisor if they know they will not be reporting to work or leaving work due to coronavirus protocols. Human Resources will email both the employee and the supervisor to advise them on what to do when an employee is placed in isolation/quarantine and when they can return to campus.
- What is the current university protocol for isolation and quarantine?
The same as currently recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please consult this website.
- Can staff members use alternative or remote working arrangements if they are at high risk for COVID-19 complications?
Employees should consult with Human Resources to explore what options might be available to them. Supervisors may not unilaterally grant these requests.
- Will students, faculty and staff have access to free COVID-19 testing?
The university will collaborate with the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine on providing on-campus testing of A-State students and employees.
- Will the university continue contact tracing?
Yes, A-State will continue contact tracing. Contact tracing is a strategy in which a representative from the A-State Health Team works with an individual to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. A liaison from the university’s medical team will be in contact, and it is important that students and employees respond to calls, emails or text messages from A-State.
- Are students, faculty and staff required to report symptoms and positive COVID-19 results?
Yes. This remains a requirement of all to continue to use the university’s COVID-19 reporting form. This information is vital to the university’s contact tracing.
- Do I need to report if I am a direct contact of positive COVID-19 case?
Yes, please use the reporting form to let the A-State Health Team know about contacts you may have had outside the work place. On-campus contacts will be traced and you should be notified.
- What should I do if I feel sick?
Stay home. If you believe you have certain symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 such as fever, body aches, runny nose, diarrhea, or shortness of breath, report those symptoms with the A-State COVID-19 reporting form. The current variants of COVID-19 may not evoke the previous tell-tale symptoms of loss of taste or smell. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and report, seek testing, and protect others.
- What if a member of the A-State community does not report?
It is vitally important that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 report that to the university and not expose other members of the campus community. When infected people continue to come into work or to attend classes, it puts others at risk. The statewide reporting system informs the university any time that a student or an employee tests positive for COVID-19. In the very rare situations where that has not been reported to the university, the non-reporters have faced disciplinary actions.
- Will members of the staff be required to use sick leave if they are required to quarantine or isolate?
New guidance from the ASU System is expected soon related to the reinstatement of the “COVID-19 leave” that was provided last academic year.
- If the university transitions to online class delivery, may staff work remotely?
As with last year, the university will likely remain open to support students living on-campus and ongoing teaching. Employees, offices and functions deemed by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as essential for continuing operations will be required to continue to report to their campus work locations. Please do not assume that you are (or are not) deemed as a continuing on-campus reporting employee. If this becomes necessary, you must consult with your supervisor, Human Resources and the EOC.
- Will the university supply masks for the fall semester?
Cloth or paper masks will be supplied to any student, staff or faculty member who requests one. Students can locate additional masks at the Reng Student Union information desk (second floor, near the main stairs). Employees can request masks from the Environmental Health and Safety office.
- What improvements have been made or are planned to add filtration and ventilation to clean air and protect our faculty, staff, and students in classrooms, hallways, rest rooms and offices on campus?
Upgrades for several facilities are planned for this year utilizing ARPA funds, and more details will be forthcoming later this fall.
- Will I be able to work remotely in quarantine?
Supervisors should work with Human Resources to determine if this is a viable option for employees. As with last academic year, each individual work situation is unique, and certain jobs simply do not lend themselves to authorization for remote working. We also recognize that this has been difficult for persons who are not able to work remotely. This situation does not fall under the new remote working policy, which is designed for individuals who are tasked to complete their jobs from off-campus locations.
- What if a member of my family is in quarantine or isolation?
We anticipate more information related to whether accrued sick or annual leave would be used if an A-State employee needed to stay home. We would note that if a family member living in the home is isolating (which is a positive COVID-19 case), it would be reasonable to consider the family members as direct contacts of that case. A related situation could be the loss of daycare as a result of a closure and the need for an employee to stay home with children. Again, we’d ask staff members to reach out to their supervisor and HR to see if remote work is possible.
If you have questions, please reach out to my office. If you're interested, you can read the versions of this email that were sent to faculty (view the email) and students (view the email).