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AUM Employee FAQ Regarding COVID-19

AUM Employee FAQ Regarding COVID-19

Warhawk Champions

Warhawk Champions is an initiative to recognize those that have gone above and beyond in service to AUM during this time.  Check out those that have been recognized already and take a moment to give a shout-out to someone that should be.

COVID-19 AND ME

    • You are urged to take basic preventive measures to avoid exposure to or infection by the virus causing COVID-19.
    • Utilize social distancing, hand washing, and wearing face mask.
    • You should review the information that is on the COVID-19 resource page at least once a week.

    If feasible, and working with your supervisor, you should begin preparations to work remotely, possibly for an extended period of time, if it becomes necessary.

If a person has questions about being tested for COVID-19, they should call Warhawk Health Services to schedule an appointment for testing at (334) 244-3281 or contact their healthcare provider to make arrangements for testing. According to current CDC guidelines, If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, then you should wait at least 4 days from day of exposure before you get tested, unless you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

As the university continues contingency planning related to ensuring learning, business, and educational continuity, it is important to remember that the University remains open and operational. The university has established its practices following guidance set by CDC and other health authorities, and everyone on campus is expected to follow the policies and practices to ensure a safe campus. Employees shall follow the operational plans approved for their department. Employees who wish to take leave because they feel uncomfortable coming to campus due to COVID-19 do not qualify for leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), Expanded FMLA (FMLA+), or Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave (ECAL). Such employees will be permitted to use accrued annual leave. Upon exhaustion of all accrued annual leave, employees will be permitted either to use accrued sick leave, accrued comp time, or to enter leave without pay status.If you choose to take leave, you must follow the University’s leave policies and obtain your supervisor’s permission prior to taking leave.

  • Notify your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources at 334-244-3641 to discuss leave options available to you. Do not report to campus until cleared to do so.
  • Refer to the CDC website.

If you are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, you should notify your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources at 334-244-2641 and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of your potential exposure. If you need to take leave to care for an eligible family member due to COVID-19, HR can provide guidance regarding available leave options.

According to the CDC, people with certain preexisting health conditions are at a higher risk to develop complications from a COVID-19 infection. Your health is the top priority, so public health officials may recommend that you stay home if there is concern of community spread. The CDC has developed guidance to help you plan and prepare in the event of needing to limit time in public or if you become sick. Your healthcare practitioner can also help you assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and your household.

Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisor or department head to identify actions or adjustments to the work environment such as room configuration, or the installation of dividers or plexi-glass shields, that can reduce the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. If an employee is ordered by a medical provider to self-quarantine, they should contact HR to discuss leave options available to them. If necessary, the Salary Continuation Program (SCP) may be available for eligible employees who have exhausted their sick leave. Eligible employees can also apply for job protection under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Under federal law (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, FFCRA), the Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (FMLA+) expands an employee’s FMLA entitlement to include the employee’s inability to work because the employee must care for a son or daughter whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 (Qualifying Reason 5).

The FMLA+ does not increase an employee’s overall entitlement to FMLA leave; employees may take up to 12 weeks combined in a 12-month period for any FMLA or FMLA+ qualified reason. While existing FMLA leave is unpaid, under FFCRA, FMLA+ will be paid. FMLA+ will be paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate and will not be charged against an employee’s accrued annual or sick leave. (Approved through December 31, 2020)

Employees may submit requests to use vacation or sick leave during the modified operating model, and are expected to communicate with supervisors and seek approval of any absences in which they are not available for work.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals are encouraged or even required in some cases to engage in social distancing, especially if it is possible that they may have come in contact with COVID-19.

  • Connect with Others: Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing and isolation. You can use the telephone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.
  • Maintain a Routine and Take Care of Your Body:
    • Stick to a scheduled sleep routine (see the Sleep Page on A Sound Mind website)
    • Eat healthy and avoid excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, or other substances
    • Infuse some variety into daily activities
    • Read (books, magazines, blogs, etc.)
    • Do homework: stay connected with professors by email and keep up with classwork
    • Spend time in meditation or just taking deep breaths and stretching
    • Journal about your experience during this time
    • Monitor time spent on social media
    • Engage in or develop a hobby: try something new you have never tried before!
  • Manage Emotions: Expect that this may be challenging at times and it is normal to feel a variety of emotions.  Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with others.  “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is a normal thing to feel; use social media sparingly if you start feeling this way and turn your attention to things you enjoy. Have actual conversations with others if you feel lonely.

The website “Calm” is providing free meditations during this time; this may be a great resources to maintain emotional health.

Additional resources include: “Taking Care of Yourself during COVID-19”, which is provided by the Auburn University Department of Psychological Sciences, and “Manage Anxiety & Stress” from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

More links

AUM is committed to fostering an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion. While the spread of disease may cause fear and uncertainty, we reject discrimination and any speech or action that would be biased toward any member of our campus community. If you or someone you know has experienced harassment based on discrimination, contact the Office of Human Resources at 334-244-3641

COUNSELING AVAILABILITY

      • Through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is administered by American Behavioral, all full-time employees — even those who don’t subscribe to our Auburn University health insurance plan — have access to six EAP calls (up to 30 minutes each) per employee and per covered family member free of charge.
      • AU health insurance plan subscribers can receive up to 30 visits for mental health, behavioral health, or substance abuse services each calendar year. If the claim is filed with a COVID-19-related diagnosis, the copay, deductible and inpatient admission copay will be waived.

      -Updated March 24, 2020

    •  

Taken from “Mental and Emotional Self-Care during COVID-19”, which is provided by Auburn University Student Affairs.

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been stressful for many people and communities. Fear about the spread of a novel virus can be overwhelming and cause various emotional responses.  Auburn University has been actively monitoring the evolving nature of COVID-19 and has implemented guidelines to ensure the safety of the campus environment.

This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing and/or self-isolation. It also suggests ways to care for your mental health during these experiences and provides resources for more help. Further, it offers ways to reduce social stigma or discrimination of groups of people in relation to COVID-19.

What to Expect During This Time

Typical Reactions

Every person may experience their own unique reaction to a stressful situation such as the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, you may feel some combination of what is listed below.

You may feel:

  • Anxiety, worry, or fear related to your own health status.
  • Concern about effectively managing your life demands while choosing to isolate for your own safety and safety of others.
  • Concern about friends and family back home, if home is in an area heavily affected by COVID-19.
  • Stigmatized or singled-out, including if you are part of a group of people who may experience stigma related to COVID-19 (see Social Stigma section below).
  • Anger and frustration about having your movements in the world confined to one space.
  • Boredom and frustration because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities.
  • Uncertainty or ambivalence about the situation.

Not-as Typical Reactions (But Can Still Occur)

Some people have pre-existing emotional or psychological conditions that can be exacerbated by a high-stress event, such as the COVID-19 outbreak. This may include:

  • A desire to use unhealthful coping behaviors that interfere with normal sleeping, eating, and self-care behaviors such as excessive late nights, over-eating, and excessive use of substances.
  • Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, lethargy, isolation, or sleeping too little or too much
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as intrusive distressing memories, flashbacks (reliving the event), nightmares, changes in thoughts and mood, and being easily startled

FACULTY FAQ

Faculty should notify the Office of Student Affairs concerning reports of positive COVID-19 test results or close contact information received from students. Contact Student Affairs via email at accountibility@aum.edu or by phone at 334-244-3106.  Student Affairs will conduct contact tracing, provide isolation or quarantine information, provide housing instructions, and offer additional resources to the student. Student Affairs will work with faculty members to provide options for student remote access to courses if they are advised to quarantine or isolate.

It depends. When you contact the Office of Human Resources or the Office of Student Affairs, they will conduct contact tracing, provide isolation or quarantine information, and offer additional resources and guidance based on the set of facts presented.

No. The Office of Student Affairs will notify students and the Office of Human Resources will notify employees, as necessary. We advise against staff and faculty sharing information regarding potential COVID-19 contact with students or other employees, as it can create unnecessary alarm in the absences of full information about the level of exposure and resources regarding next steps. The Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources are positioned to contact students and employees in a manner that provides all the information they need to take any necessary next steps and can provide additional information regarding available resources and protocol.

Students are required to complete a clearance process before returning to class.

The answer is dependent on the wellness status of the student and if he/she is symptomatic or asymptomatic.

EMPLOYEE FAQ

Several tactical approaches have been ongoing to safeguard the AUM community.

  • Transitioning all in-person courses to remote delivery through the end of spring semester to limit the possibility of community spread of COVID-19 through large groups while allowing students to continue their studies.
  • Implementing telework for all employees to limit employee, student and community exposure.
  • Increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations and positioning them at building access points.
  • Implementing social distancing (a 6-foot buffer zone between individuals) and restricting visitor access to campus housing.
  • Modifying dining services to provide pre-packaged foods to campus housing residents.
  • Encouraging students to continue their studies from home, if possible, while promoting social distancing and offering wellness checks for those students electing to remain in campus housing.

AUM prioritizes the health and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff. AUM follows current protocol and guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control should an employee report a positive test:

  • The employee will self-quarantine off-campus for at least 10 days.
  • The employee will not be identified by name as having contracted the virus, in keeping with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • The Office of Human Resources will talk with the employee to identify information that will help determine potential exposure to other personnel. Steps will include asking the employee when they tested positive, determining their work schedule and work activities, identifying individuals the employee may have interacted with, and immediately sanitizing in accordance with CDC guidelines all workspaces in which they were recently present on campus.
  • Without disclosing the affected employee’s identity, the Office of Human Resources will contact those employees who may have had contact with them and advise them that an individual that has been physically present in their work area has tested positive for the virus. They will then be advised to self-quarantine off campus for the next 14 days. Employees can work with their supervisors to discuss the feasibility to work remotely while they are in self-quarantine. Impacted employees will be encouraged to reach out to a qualified healthcare provider to seek advice on what potential next steps, if any, should be taken.

Faculty and staff testing positive for COVID-19 or reporting close contact should email or call the Office of Human Resources. Contact Human Resources via email at hr@aum.edu. Human Resources will contact the faculty or staff member to conduct contact tracing, provide isolation or quarantine information, and offer additional resources. Human Resources will provide assistance with messaging students concerning transitioning to online delivery, isolation or quarantine procedures (if required) and discuss any other protocol and considerations.

FFCRA and Auburn: New Leave Categories (Modified Dec. 16, 2020)

  1. FEDERAL LAW – Emergency Paid Sick Leave (Expires Dec. 31, 2020)

Under federal law (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, FFCRA), all employees receive 2 weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to use for a list of approved COVID-19 related reasons (“Qualifying Reasons”). This leave is available for employees to use through December 31, 2020. 

The number of hours of leave received by an individual employee will be based on the average number of hours the employee is scheduled to work in a two week period (for an employee with a normal work schedule) or the employee’s average number of hours worked in a two week period over the previous 6 months (for an employee with a variable work schedule).  

Although federal law includes a daily cap on an employer’s obligation to pay employees for use of EPSL, Auburn has decided to compensate EPSL at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate with no daily cap.

  1. AUBURN POLICY – Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave (UPDATED ON DEC. 28, 2020)
    IMPORTANT: Beginning Jan. 4, 2021, the university will modify Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave (ECAL) and extend it through the end of May.

Eligible employees will have a maximum of four weeks (20 working days) of ECAL available through the end of May that can be used for all six qualifying reasons listed under the current Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (ECAL is currently unlimited and only applicable for reasons 1-4 and 6.)

  • ECAL will now be available for eligible employees to use when childcare or on-site learning is not available due to COVID-19 related issues. 
  • ECAL will not be applicable in instances where childcare or on-site learning is available but the parent chooses not to participate.
  • Although all eligible employees would have four weeks of ECAL available to use if necessary, unused ECAL will not carry over into the summer.
  • If the government extends or replaces FFCRA leave, the university reserves the right to terminate ECAL at any time.
  1. FMLA+: A New Reason to Take FMLA (Expires Dec. 31, 2020)

Under federal law (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, FFCRA), the Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (FMLA+) expands an employee’s FMLA entitlement to include the employee’s inability to work because the employee must care for a son or daughter whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 (Qualifying Reason 5).

The FMLA+ does not increase an employee’s overall entitlement to FMLA leave; employees may take up to 12 weeks combined in a 12-month period for any FMLA or FMLA+ qualified reason.  While existing FMLA leave is unpaid, under FFCRA, FMLA+ will be paid.  FMLA+ will be paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate and will not be charged against an employee’s accrued annual or sick leave.

INSURANCE

Medical Services Coverage 

Telehealth services are available to all members. Telehealth allows in-network PPO providers to provide medically necessary services to members that can be appropriately delivered via telephone consultation. This is applicable for members who wish to receive their care remotely and wish to limit their exposure. It can also serve as an initial screening for members who need to be tested for COVID-19.

In addition to office visit consultations, telehealth also includes physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral health. You may ask your provider if they are equipped to provide telehealth services instead of an onsite office visit.  In many cases providers are calling patients and scheduling existing appointments via telehealth.

Telehealth services provided by in-network PPO providers will be covered at 100 percent with no member cost sharing regardless of diagnosis code. Telehealth services provided by out of network non PPO providers will be covered at the out of network benefit level.

In-network diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will be covered at 100 percent with no member cost sharing. Out-of-network diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will be covered at the out-of-network benefit level.

If an in-network office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service results in a claim being filed by the in-network PPO provider with a COVID-19 related diagnosis as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association, that office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service will be covered at 100 percent with no member cost sharing. Out-of-network services will be covered at the out-of-network benefit level.

More than one in-network office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service for the same member incurred on the same day will be covered if the urgent care visit, emergency room visit, behavioral health visit, or telehealth service is rendered by different in-network PPO providers and the claims are filed with a COVID-19 related diagnosis as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association.

Inpatient facility deductibles, copays and co-insurance will be waived if a member is admitted to an in-network hospital with a COVID-19 related diagnosis as outlined by the CDC and American Medical Association.

Please be assured that Blue Shield of Alabama/American Behavioral will continue to meet the needs of groups, members and providers. For additional information, please visit AlabamaBlue.com or www.americanbehavioral.com.

Answers for general COVID-19 questions and other resources are available at “AlabamaBlue.com” under Important Information Regarding COVID-19 (https://www.bcbsal.org/web/coronavirus).

Members looking for information on testing sites in their area can visit https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html to access health departments links in all 50 states, 8 U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.

SUPERVISION AND MANAGEMENT

You should prepare business continuity plans in the event that the University has to implement alternative operational plans.  This includes:

Operations

  • Strongly encourage all open position interviews to be conducted remotely (for example, through Zoom). Collaborate with Office of Human Resources for consistency in conducting all interviews in the same manner.
  • Prepare for the work that must be done during the period, as defined by departmental leadership.
  • Identify the essential work that must continue and designate essential personnel in collaboration with senior leadership. Identify the essential work that can be handled remotely and at the worksite. Identify non-essential work that may be postponed on a temporary basis,
  • Identify equipment, resources, and access that may be available for working remotely (VPN, Zoom, laptops, etc.), and, how you will communicate with your staff, reminding them that they should regularly visit the University’s coronavirus website and also register for AUM ALERT.
  • If you are assigned to work from home, we encourage regular communication between the Supervisor and the employee throughout the workday. The Supervisor will communicate clear expectations to employees who are working remotely.
  • Instruct employees to login to AU Access to ensure that personal and emergency contact information is updated.

Personnel

  • Identify those employees who will be performing essential work on the worksite, and those performing essential work remotely; provide an update to the Office of Human Resources for continuity purposes.
  • Establish and validate all non-exempt employees who have access to clock in and out remotely utilizing Kronos.

You should encourage any employee who has a fever, difficulty in breathing, or other COVID-19 symptom to reach out to their healthcare provider for guidance prior to reporting to campus. It is recommended that they call their office in advance, as they may have protocols in place to minimize risk of exposure to others.

Yes, as with any other illness, good judgment must be used. A decision to send someone home may be based upon the following factors:

  • If they have been or may have been exposed,
  • If they are under a doctor’s care,
  • If they have a fever, or
  • If they are experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, fatique, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or any other related symptom.

Please contact AUM Human Resources at hr@aum.edu if you have any questions.

You should encourage any employee who has been exposed to COVID-19 to call their healthcare provider and confirm arrangements before visiting their office to limit potential exposure.

Faculty and staff testing positive for COVID-19 or reporting close contact should email or call the Office of Human Resources. Contact Human Resources via email at hr@aum.edu. Human Resources will contact the faculty or staff member to conduct contact tracing, provide isolation or quarantine information, and offer additional resources. Human Resources will provide assistance with messaging students concerning transitioning to online delivery, isolation or quarantine procedures (if required) and discuss any other protocol and considerations.

Yes, a manager and supervisor have the right to temporarily reassign employees to work outside their usual classifications/responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work. This includes employees with the necessary skills that are needed to work outside their colleges/divisions. Depending on the circumstances, the University will notify these employees that they are designated as performing essential functions and when and where they must report to work.

It is important that AUM employees avoid stigmatizing or generalizing about coronavirus in the workplace. You should avoid making assumptions about individuals who you believe may or may not have been exposed to the virus.

There have been individuals at colleges and universities who reported encountering discrimination and harassment due to biased assumptions and overreactions. It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis. However, it is also important to remember to not make assumptions about others’ perceived symptoms, travel history or identity. For employees who are looking for support, the Employee Assistance Program is a resource available to help employees through stressful situations and events. Additional information.

Our procedures and guidance will evolve as conditions or circumstances with the pandemic change, our current guidance is through January 8, 2021.  We encourage all employees to closely monitor university communications for further updates.

 

  • Determine if modified work schedules, with flexible start and stop times, or alternating days can encourage physical distancing and provide for a safer work environment.
  • Consider staggered or alternating assignments to accommodate multiple employees and to encourage physical distancing.
  • You may temporarily reassign employees to work outside their usual classifications/responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work.
  • Compressed work schedules may also be an option.
  • Meal and rest break policies adjusted to stagger times and processes implemented to encourage physical distancing.
  • Evaluate access areas to the department and implement entry and waiting areas that encourage physical distancing.
  • Reduce in-person meetings of employees on campus. Where feasible, meetings – even those involving on-campus staff – should utilize the extensive range of available collaborative tools in lieu of in-person discussion (e.g., Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, telephone).
  • Communicate with colleagues on-campus via email, instant message, telephone or other available technology rather than face-to-face when possible.
  • Ensure all responsibilities and functions within their units and departments are performed in a seamless and timely manner, regardless of whether employees are on-site or engaged in remote work environments.
  • Strongly encourage all open position interviews to be conducted remotely (for example, through Zoom). Collaborate with Office of Human Resources for consistency in conducting all interviews in the same manner and for tips to providing a positive experience for candidates.
  • Identify equipment, resources, and access that may be available for working remotely (VPN, Zoom, laptops, webcams, etc.) and work with Information Technology Services as needed. 
  • Encourage regular communication among your teams throughout the workday.  Supervisors will communicate clear expectations to employees and are always available to answer questions and provide information.
  • Ensure you are registered on AUM Alert to enable up-to-the minute messaging to your office phone, home phone, cell phone and email in the event AUM needs to push urgent updates.
  • Instruct employees to login to AU Access to ensure that contact information such as cell phone numbers and emergency contacts is updated.

Maintaining a 6-foot wingspan through physical distancing and adhering to our Cover Your Beak face covering practices is a key tool in reducing exposure to others who may either have COVID-19 or have come in contact with others who have COVID-19. If you are notified that you have come in contact with someone who had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that you self-monitor for fever and symptoms. We can all contribute to a healthy environment and reduce the spread of the virus by consistently practicing healthy actions including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Monitor your health daily and use the GuideSafe™ HealthCheck app.

TRAVEL

According to the CDC, travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and community after travel.

If you have a known exposure to COVID-19 you should delay travel, quarantine yourself from other people, get tested, and monitor your health.

Don’t travel if you are sick or test positive for COVID-19. Don’t travel with someone who is sick. Check your state or local health department for information about local quarantine requirements.

Following updated guidance from the CDC, if you traveled to the U.S. from countries subject to a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice (e.g., China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy), you must self-quarantine for 14 days from the time you left the impacted area and be free from symptoms of COVID-19 prior to coming onto campus. If you fall into this category, you will be required to comply with the self-quarantine protocol. Please contact human resources and advise them of this situation.

Your employee should inform you and utilize available personal leave.  If outside the United States, sick employees who are covered under the University’s health insurance plan carry their healthcare benefits with them through Blue Cross and Blue Shield Global (https://www.bcbsglobalcore.com/). Contact BCBS Global for assistance in finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services.

Want More Info About AUM?

Location

Taylor Center 101

Address

7400 East Drive Montgomery, AL 36117

Office Hours

8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday

Call Today

334-244-3000

Fax

334-244-3795

E-mail

admissions@aum.edu

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