FAQ: Faculty & Staff Fall 2020
We've created the following page to answer questions that faculty and staff may have about Fall 2020. We will update this page with more information as it becomes available.
Frequently Asked Questions
What faculty and staff will be prioritized for returning to campus?
Only those employees classified as essential will come to campus. All non-essential employees will work remotely until further notice.
Which employees are considered essential this Fall?
Our Public Safety and maintenance personnel remain essential to keep our campus safe. In addition, food service, housekeeping, mailroom, bookstore and parking employees are also considered essential for a return to campus. Other employees deemed essential will depend upon re-opening decisions and influenced by those services needed to support students, faculty and staff that cannot be done remotely.
Will our Remote Work Policy be revised? Will our guidelines and policies related to remote work be equitable and inclusive?
We are in the process of benchmarking and revising our current policy to consider and support emerging needs in a COVID-19 environment.
How will we address employees who must come to campus, do not have cars, and do not want to take public transportation?
Employees are responsible for finding their own transportation to campus; daily parking passes as well as monthly passes for the Simmons garage will be available for employee parking, discounted T-passes will also be offered.
Will employees be allowed to park on campus?
Yes, they will sign up for monthly parking, or daily passes as usual.
What is our policy for faculty/staff who want to go to campus but are not essential?
We will be adhering to our guideline of limiting the campus to essential employees with very limited exceptions for health and safety concerns as well as the extensive renovation on campus. Should faculty/staff need to be on campus, access will be coordinated through [email protected]. We will continue to evaluate campus access for faculty/staff throughout the fall semester.
How will we continue to support a remote workforce?
In the early days of remote work we asked that hours between 12pm to 2pm on Monday through Thursday and all day on Fridays be deemed "no meeting" time. We will continue that practice with the understanding managers and employees may need to make exceptions at times. We have extended the COVID-19 leave policy.
HR will continue to support managers with interpreting, analyzing and developing action plans based on their Gallup results. Professional Development offerings will be thematic, occur monthly virtually and will continue to be responsive to current demands and a remote workforce.
How will OCIE continue to support a remote workforce?
OCIE has had great success in engaging the broader Simmons community of students, faculty and staff in honest and difficult conversations racial healing, equity and inclusion at Simmons and in the world. Our newsletters will continue to provide information insights and resources related to inequities associated with COVID-19 and combating racism.
OCIE will continue to provide resources and support to faculty and staff with DEI specific activities and signature events, including workshops, events and guest speakers. University-wide speakers will be invited in coordination with the Provost Office and include one signature event per semester. Other activities include continued partnership with Colleges of the Fenway and their Undoing Racism curriculum currently being developed for online delivery. OCIE will continue to be strong partners with HR on an ongoing basis to supplement any existing professional development opportunities with additional equity and inclusion content.
How long will we extend COVID-19 leave?
We have extended the COVID-19 Related Leave Policy for FY21. The policy, available to all full- and part-time faculty and staff (including temporary staff), allows up to 80 hours of paid time off to be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to the pandemic. It began anew on July 1, 2020.
How will we accommodate faculty/staff who have young children at home, children in schools with abbreviated schedules, primary caretakers, etc?
- In an effort to support working parents, we have asked employees to avoid scheduling meetings between 12pm-2pm Monday through Thursday and all day on Fridays. We encourage continuing this approach and understand there may be exceptions at times.
- If you need more flexibility in your schedule as a result of childcare pressures, please consult with your manager to explore a reasonable accommodation or solution. For example, designating a different block of time to a “no-meeting” window.
- We encourage you to utilize vacation days as needed.
- Finally, we recognize there are no ideal solutions that fully support working parents during this time.
- Please visit Employee Resources for COVID-19 Transitions
Are there any plans for reimbursement or subsidy to support costs incurred by working from home(e.g., cell phones, internet access, etc.)?
Our Remote Work Policy does not include reimbursement for things like phone or internet access. If working from home has presented unique challenges as it relates to business expenses, please consult your manager.
What precautions will Simmons take to protect faculty and staff who must be on campus?
Currently, all visitors to campus must complete a COVID-19 self-certification form. Beginning in August, all students, faculty and staff will be tested regularly and will participate and contact tracing protocols will be in place. Masks will be required at all times in campus buildings and when social distancing can’t be maintained. As part of an enhanced cleaning plan all common spaces, bathrooms, and classrooms that are in use will be cleaned multiple times per day. Hand sanitizer or cleaning wipes will be available throughout campus. In addition, because most of the academic campus is currently under construction, hard hats and an escort will be required until further notice. Signage will be installed around campus reminding everyone of these expectations and best practices.
How are we addressing contact tracing and issues of privacy?
Our contact tracing procedures will be developed in conjunction with all federal, state, and local regulations, and we will ensure any information is stored securely.
What will the testing protocol be for faculty and staff?
We are partnering with the Broad Institute to regularly test anyone who will be coming to campus consistently. Testing frequency for faculty and staff will depend on how frequently you visit campus. Contact tracing protocols will be in place as well.
What are our internal mechanisms for handling COVID reports among faculty/staff?
Any positive test from a faculty or staff member who has spent time on campus will be properly reported to state and local health authorities. In conjunction with them, we will ensure that contact tracing protocols are followed while maintaining proper privacy. It may be necessary to keep the campus community informed if there are positive cases on campus, without divulging any sensitive information.
What is our quarantine policy for Faculty and Staff? Visitors?
If someone is exposed to a COVID positive case, or tests positive for the virus themselves, they will be asked to stay at home in self-quarantine for 14-days, or until they are cleared to return to work following recovery from the virus.
Can I come on to campus for printing and mail services?
Yes, the Copy/Mail Center has remained open as an essential service throughout the spring and will continue to be open. In addition, copiers and printers are online in specific locations on campus.
How are we protecting our essential staff?
All of our essential staff have gotten extensive information throughout the pandemic about PPE use, social distancing, and self-certification. There is PPE available to them at all times, and we are closely monitoring their health and wellness through individual department conversations.
When will we make a decision about the Spring?
While none of us yet know what the circumstances will be in the spring, we will adapt our plan accordingly based on state and public health guidance. Our hope is to have students return to campus as soon as it is safe to do so.