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Human Resources COVID letters archive

Mountains near the Hampshire College Campus

May 26, 2020: Return-to-Work Planning Update

Staff and Faculty,

The state published its Reopening Massachusetts plan last week and Hampshire College will follow its guidelines as we develop our plan for when and how our employees may return to work on campus. While we are developing our return-to-work policy, employees are required to continue to work from home and to only come to campus if necessary to support the small number of students in residence on campus or to complete essential tasks. Requests to work on campus must be approved and coordinated by your supervisor or the Dean of Faculty. Hampshire employees who need to work on campus are required to follow our current Human Resources Campus Work Policy:

  • Perform a daily COVID-19 self check before leaving your house and do not come to work sick.
  • Practice physical distancing of at least six feet from others, indoors and outdoors, at all times.
  • Wear a mask/face covering in all situations at work indoors and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained, and in all shared indoor spaces, in compliance with Governor Baker’s order of May 6. A face covering is anything that covers your nose and mouth, including scarves and bandanas. Exceptions are allowed for those unable to do so due to a medical condition and children under the age of two. See more from the state Department of Public Health.
  • Contact your supervisor if you require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for specific tasks.
  • Wipe down commonly touched surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Practice preventive measures including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer.

According to the State’s Reopening Massachusetts report, until further notice:

  • Workforce presence in any workspace is restricted to less than 25% of the room’s maximum occupancy.
  • Gathering sizes on campus are limited to 10 people or less, and all must follow prevention, social distancing, mask, and hygiene protocols above.
  • College-sponsored travel (e.g., business travel, conference travel, etc.) is prohibited.
  • Our Campus Post Office, Dining Commons, and Hampstore will follow summer hours as posted on the Daily Digest, and all visitors to these spaces are required to follow the prevention protocols above.

Our goal is to gradually and safely resume use of campus office spaces during the summer, with a policy and protocols that protect the health of everyone on campus and the community at large. The College is aligning our return-to-work policy with the State’s four-phase approach to reopening.

Our Emergency Response Team is developing protocols so Hampshire can comply with requirements in the Reopening Massachusetts plan:

  • Prepare a COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how we will prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Require an online training module to be completed by all employees prior to returning to campus (training module currently in development).
  • Implement the state’s Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards and any subsequent sector-specific safety protocols developed for higher education institutions.
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social/physical distancing.
  • Post signage in occupied areas of campus as reminders of safe social distancing policy.
  • Provide supplies for employees to regularly sanitize their personal workspaces including high-touch areas, e.g. workstations, equipment, screens, and personal office doorknobs.
  • Develop a plan for when employees may fall ill from COVID-19 at work.
  • Establish campus cleaning and sanitizing protocols including for when an active employee may be diagnosed with COVID-19.

If we all work together to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the state can proceed through each phase of Reopening Massachusetts. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Human Resources at hr@hampshire.edu.

April 14, 2020: Employee Guidelines for Campus Work during Covid-19

In accordance with the Governor’s March 23 stay-at-home advisory and current best practices, Hampshire College has implemented a number of measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 among students and employees including: remote instruction, remote work for those employees able to do so, closing campus buildings, physical distancing, and alternating employee shifts.

Some employees have positions and assigned tasks that require them to be on campus regularly, while other employees may need to come to campus occasionally to complete an essential task.

Hampshire College asks all employees, staff and faculty, to practice the following recommendations as you exercise good judgment when planning to come to campus, and to also please read through the attached training deck and complete the training form within (if you need an accessible version, contact ehs@hampshire.edu).

Perform a Self Check-In

We are recommending that staff and faculty who must come to campus during the stay-at-home advisory complete a self check-in before coming to campus. Before you leave your house, ask yourself:

  • How do you feel today? Do you have any of the following symptoms: sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, and/or muscle aches?
  • If you feel unwell or have cold or flu-like symptoms, please take your temperature. Is it greater than 99F?
  • Have you, or anyone you have been in close contact with been diagnosed with Covid-19, or been placed on quarantine for possible contact with Covid-19?

If you are not feeling well or may be at risk of having Covid-19, do not come to campus, and please inform your supervisor or dean that you are unable to report to work.

If you are feeling well and are likely not at risk, please ask yourself:

  • Is this trip critical to complete an essential task?
  • Is there an alternative means of accomplishing the task without reporting to campus?
  • How can you perform the task(s) on campus in a quick manner minimizing exposure for yourself and others?

Employees are encouraged to check in with their supervisor or dean to discuss options for minimizing work on campus.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment

Some employees require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to job-specific tasks. These employees include our Health Services staff, employees who normally require PPE for specific tasks, and any employee involved with the transportation of, interactions with, or cleaning of an area occupied by an individual with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.  PPE appropriate for specific tasks is available for employees by contacting your supervisor. If you have questions about whether a task you are doing requires additional PPE, please consult with your supervisor.

See additional recommendations for wearing facial coverings below.

Recommendations for Preventing Spread of Covid-19 in the Workplace

All employees who work on campus are asked to practice the following to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace:

1. Do not come to work sick, even if you feel mildly ill.  Covid-19 symptoms include dry cough, nasal congestion, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, chills, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Some cases of Covid-19 are extremely mild, but you can still spread the illness to others when you have mild or no symptoms.

2. Practice social/physical distancing of at least six feet from others both at work and elsewhere:

  • Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Use the telephone or online channels to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
  • If your work requires you to get closer than six feet to do an essential task, both employees should wear a mask or other face covering and do the task for a minimum period of time, see recommendations below.
  • Avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Do not congregate in any work areas.
  • Request information and materials or place orders via phone and e-mail to minimize person-to-person contact. When items or materials must be collected in person, have them ready for fast pick-up or delivery.

3. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use a 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

4. Wipe down any commonly touched surfaces, shared equipment, vehicles, or other work areas with disinfecting wipes between use or wear disposable gloves that are changed between use. Do not touch your face when wearing gloves.

5. Consider wearing a face covering of your mouth and nose when in public spaces or for work tasks where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially if the work function involves any potential contact with other workers or students.

6. Face coverings are not a substitute for other prevention practices.

Facial Covering Recommendations

As of April 3, 2020, the CDC recommends that all people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. This recommendation is voluntary and is meant to prevent people with no symptoms (pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic) from spreading Covid-19 unknowingly.

A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. The CDC has posted guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

Important things to remember:

  • The best defense against Covid-19 is washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and physical distancing.
  • The primary intent of cloth face coverings is to prevent the wearer from spreading the virus to others, based on evidence that the virus can be unintentionally transmitted by asymptomatic individuals.
  • Do not develop a false sense of security because your face is covered or you’re around someone else that is wearing a face covering, continue to maintain physical distancing
  • Cloth face coverings should be clean and cover your mouth and nose snugly but comfortably. You should be able to breathe without restriction. Do not wear a face covering if it restricts your breathing or if it causes other physical or mental stress
  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering. Do not touch your mask or face with unwashed hands. Wash your hands again after removing or handling your face covering.
  • Do not repeatedly pull the face covering up and down or repeatedly adjust it, which could cause you to inadvertently touch your eyes, nose or mouth, which are the points of entry for the virus.
  • Wash your face covering routinely and let it dry thoroughly before wearing. Do not wear a dirty or wet mask.
  • Practice wearing your mask for short durations at home.  Face coverings can make you hot. Acclimatize yourself and ensure it’s a comfortable fit.

In Summary

  • If you must come to campus to work or for an essential task, perform a wellness self-check before leaving your house.
  • Do not come to work sick.
  • Practice physical distancing of at least six feet from others.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wipe down commonly touched surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Consider wearing a cloth face covering in public and in situations at work where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. This will prevent you from unknowingly spreading Covid-19 to others. Remember: Face coverings are not a substitute for other prevention practices.
  • Please read through the attached training deck and complete the training form within.

March 23, 2020

Hampshire Staff and Faculty,

Some of Hampshire College’s employees have jobs that cannot be done remotely, but that do not qualify as “essential” under the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Hampshire will continue to compensate employees in this category, at least through April 7, 2020.

We have heard that the federal government is making plans to reimburse employers for wages paid to employees who are unable to work due to Covid-19. Protecting our employees cannot wait for the government to finalize its plans. Human Resources will soon clarify how we will implement this temporary policy.

If you do not know if you fall into the category of employees who are not essential (according to the Governor) but who cannot work during the duration of the stay-at-home order, please contact Jake Toomey in Human Resources at jthr@hampshire.edu.

Please stay safe and support one another during this stressful time.


Dear Staff and Faculty,

We are striving to keep you up to date with relevant and important information. Last week the federal government passed a new bill into law, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which provides:

This law goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and we are expecting additional guidance on how employers should follow the law and implement these changes. As such, we'll be drafting new policies and procedures over the next two weeks and will share this information with you as soon as possible. In order to implement these policies and comply with the law, we'll need to know when you are out or plan to be out for Covid-19 related circumstances including:

At this time we are requesting that any employee who is currently taking time off or expects to take time off for the specific circumstances listed above advise their supervisor and Human Resources (email jtHR@hampshire.edu) so that we may track this information as we implement new policies, and, ultimately, best support you.

We hope to continue to share information as it becomes available and relevant. If you have any questions about this law, please do not hesitate to speak with Human Resources.

Jake Toomey
Director of Human Resources


March 17, 2020

Dear staff and faculty,

We would like to express our appreciation to employees for your patience and continued work during this unique and unprecedented time. Your welfare and concerns are important to us. As such, we have been working to clarify expectations and provide guidance in regards to employment practices as circumstances continue to change and evolve. The following is meant to provide some immediate clarity to the best of our ability at the current time. Dear staff and faculty, We would like to express our appreciation to employees for your patience and continued work during this unique and unprecedented time. Your welfare and concerns are important to us. As such, we have been working to clarify expectations and provide guidance in regards to employment practices as circumstances continue to change and evolve. The following is meant to provide some immediate clarity to the best of our ability at the current time.

Our health plan provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has posted additional information on their website that may be helpful for employees and participants.

Our employee assistance program, e4Health, has many benefits and supports for all employees and their immediate family members. You can call e4Health at 800.828.6025.

Employees who have a retirement plan through TIAA can find general information here.

In light of the current market conditions, TIAA has provided some resources and information regarding concerns about the market.

This week we are focusing on moving as many employees as possible to working remotely and providing flexible work assignments to the essential staff who will continue to report on campus. In the coming weeks we will be shifting our planning to more long term aspects including sick leave policies, pay, cross training, and sharing work.

Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented event. We are dedicated to continuing our support of employees through this challenging period. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your supervisor or human resources.

View work-from-home guidelines.

Jake Toomey
Director of Human Resources

 

  1. Do not come to work sick, even if you feel mildly ill.  Covid-19 symptoms include dry cough, nasal congestion, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, chills, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Some cases of Covid-19 are extremely mild, but you can still spread the illness to others when you have mild or no symptoms.
  2. Practice social/physical distancing of at least six feet from others both at work and elsewhere:
    • Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Use the telephone or online channels to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
    • If your work requires you to get closer than six feet to do an essential task, both employees should wear a mask or other face covering and do the task for a minimum period of time, see recommendations below.
    • Avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
    • Do not congregate in any work areas.
    • Request information and materials or place orders via phone and e-mail to minimize person-to-person contact. When items or materials must be collected in person, have them ready for fast pick-up or delivery.
    1. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use a 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
    2. Wipe down any commonly touched surfaces, shared equipment, vehicles, or other work areas with disinfecting wipes between use or wear disposable gloves that are changed between use. Do not touch your face when wearing gloves.
    3. Consider wearing a face covering of your mouth and nose when in public spaces or for work tasks where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially if the work function involves any potential contact with other workers or students.
    4. Face coverings are not a substitute for other prevention practices.
    • The best defense against Covid-19 is washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and physical distancing.
    • The primary intent of cloth face coverings is to prevent the wearer from spreading the virus to others, based on evidence that the virus can be unintentionally transmitted by asymptomatic individuals.
    • Do not develop a false sense of security because your face is covered or you’re around someone else that is wearing a face covering, continue to maintain physical distancing
    • Cloth face coverings should be clean and cover your mouth and nose snugly but comfortably. You should be able to breathe without restriction. Do not wear a face covering if it restricts your breathing or if it causes other physical or mental stress
    • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering. Do not touch your mask or face with unwashed hands. Wash your hands again after removing or handling your face covering.
    • Do not repeatedly pull the face covering up and down or repeatedly adjust it, which could cause you to inadvertently touch your eyes, nose or mouth, which are the points of entry for the virus.
    • Wash your face covering routinely and let it dry thoroughly before wearing. Do not wear a dirty or wet mask.
    • Practice wearing your mask for short durations at home.  Face coverings can make you hot. Acclimatize yourself and ensure it’s a comfortable fit.
    • If you must come to campus to work or for an essential task, perform a wellness self-check before leaving your house.
    • Do not come to work sick.
    • Practice physical distancing of at least six feet from others.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Wipe down commonly touched surfaces with a disinfectant.
    • Consider wearing a cloth face covering in public and in situations at work where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. This will prevent you from unknowingly spreading Covid-19 to others. Remember: Face coverings are not a substitute for other prevention practices.
    • Please read through the attached training deck and complete the training form within.
       
    1. expanded Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligibility (with pay),
    2. expanded required paid sick days, and
    3. expanded unemployment benefits.
    1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to Covid-19.
    2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to Covid-19.
    3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
    4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or health care provider advisory, as described above.
    5. The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to Covid-19 precautions.
    6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
    1. As of this week, all employees who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so in accordance with CDC Guidance and best practices. We are issuing new Emergency Remote Work Guidelines applicable to both staff and faculty, attached below. To simplify the process, these guidelines supersede the previous policy and application process regarding telecommuting. We ask that employees and supervisors read these guidelines carefully. Employees can request/ and are encouraged to work from home due to COVID-19-related concerns. Employees should work with their supervisor/department head in determining if their role will allow them to work remotely based on the essential duties of the job, as described in the job description, and considering the department’s operation needs. Supervisors will be provided additional guidance on managing employees who are working remotely or working flex assignments.
    2. Some positions will require employees to report to campus given the job function and needs of the department. Many employees must work on campus to provide services that are essential to residential life, campus health and safety, critical research, the protection of physical and intellectual assets, or the continuity or resumption of academic programs and operations. As such, some positions may not be eligible for remote work. They may, however, be approved for flex-assignments. An example of this may be to change the hours of the position to the evening rather than the day so that the employee can provide childcare during the day. Such requests and determinations should be coordinated with your supervisor. Supervisors will be provided additional guidance on managing employees who are working remotely or working flex assignments.
    3. If an employee cannot work remotely and also cannot report to work due to a COVID-19 related circumstance, then they may take time off using accrued sick, personal, and/or vacation time. As of now, if an employee exhausts their time, the college will extend their accrued sick time and continue to track sick time that is in arrears (time that is in the negative). An employee who leaves the College with sick time in arrears will not be asked to pay for that time. This policy will be reevaluated within the next few weeks.
    4. Hampshire College has a variety of benefits available to eligible employees. For more information, please visit the benefits summary page.
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