Faculty & Staff Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Related FAQs

What is the COVID-19 vaccine policy at Simmons?

COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are required for all graduate and undergraduate students who participate in face-to-face curricular and co-curricular activities at any of our Boston or remote locations. This mandate covers all face-to-face classes, immersion weekends, off-site cohorts, and other in-person events at these locations. 

All faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated and boosted with the exception of those with approved medical and religious exemptions. Unvaccinated employees without an approved exemption are not permitted on campus.

Are masks required?

As a result of rising COVID-19 positivity rates on campus, we are reinstating the indoor mask requirement at Simmons – effective Friday, May 13, 2022, until further notice. Masks will be required indoors unless eating or drinking, or in a private office. This also applies to all on-campus events including Senior Week or Commencement Week events.

Students, faculty, and staff should wear a tight-fitting KN95 or N95 mask whenever possible. There are many counterfeit KN95 masks for sale on the internet, so please visit ProjectN95 or the CDC to find safe and effective masks. Alternatively, you may wear a medical/surgical paper mask with a close fitting cloth mask over it.

What do I do if I forget my mask?

You can pick up a mask at Public Safety.

What campus upgrades have been made to ensure the safety of the community?

There have been many upgrades to campus facilities to enhance health and safety. All HVAC systems across campus have been upgraded with CDC-recommended MERV-13 air filters and, where needed, increased airflow from outside air. Portable air filtration units have been added to classrooms and high-traffic areas. Regular surface cleaning will continue, and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available across campus.

Is social distancing required?

No, but it is encouraged. According to current CDC guidelines, social distancing or increased spacing is not required in college classrooms or labs.

What will the testing protocol be for faculty and staff?

This Fall, we are partnering with the Broad Institute to facilitate the required testing of all campus-based employees.  Employees are required  to be tested once per week, Monday - Friday. Learn more about our testing protocols which are constantly being reviewed and updated to align with public health guidelines and recommendations. 

Do I have to get tested if I am vaccinated?

All campus-based faculty and staff must participate in weekly testing regardless of vaccination status.

How is testing compliance monitored?

All employees will be required to download the CoVerified app. This app tracks testing compliance, scheduling, and test results.

What do I do if I miss a COVID-19 test?

You are required to test once per week every week you are on campus. If you miss a week of testing, you will receive a warning the following Monday morning that you must test within 5 days to return to compliance.  Failure to do so, will result in notification to you and your supervisor that you are prohibited from campus.   If you are away from campus for a week, you must test as soon as you return to remain in compliance. If you are going to be away from campus for two weeks or more, you can set your status in CoVerified to be “Remote” so that you are not penalized for missing tests. However, if your status is “Remote,” you are not allowed to be on campus, and if it has been over 12 days since your last test, your status will be “Restricted.” When you return to campus, you should report to the testing site as soon as possible to get back into compliance. 

Can I cancel and reschedule a test?

Yes, you can reschedule a test but you must be tested each week within the week you are on campus. If not, the “missed test” process will be triggered.

Do I have to test while I am away on vacation?

No, you are not expected to test until you are back on campus. 

Can I get a COVID-19 test at another location instead of Simmons?

Yes, employees may test offsite. If an employee wishes to get a test offsite, they should email their results to [email protected] each week to remain in compliance.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 on campus?

If an employee receives a positive test they should immediately go home, begin isolation and consult with their doctor as needed. Employees are required to remain isolated for ten days from the positive test result. They should not return to campus until the 10-day period has lapsed, and until they are free from fever or COVID symptoms for 24 hours without the use of medication. A negative COVID test will not be required to return to work.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 off campus?

If an employee receives a positive test from an off-campus COVID testing site, they must notify HR promptly of the positive test and inform their supervisor. It is important to tell HR that you have tested positive so that they can track positive cases. You should also tell HR if you have been in your office within the past seven days so custodial staff may employ enhanced disinfecting techniques in your workspace. Contact tracing follow-up for employees will be conducted by your local board of health, not campus staff. 

Employees are required to remain isolated for ten days from the positive test result. They should not return to campus until the 10-day period has lapsed, and until they are free from fever or COVID symptoms for 24 hours without the use of medication.

What if I'm on campus less than once per week? Do I still need to get tested?

It's best if you are able to get tested 48-72 hours before coming to campus so you're able to know your status before coming. However, if you can't, then you should get tested on the day you're on campus so that we can make sure we do proper follow-up. All students, faculty, and staff coming to campus, even briefly, should be fully vaccinated.

What do I do if I’m not feeling well or experience symptoms of COVID-19?

If you have flu-like symptoms or do not feel well, stay home and consult your doctor as needed. Employees may work remotely if they feel well enough and have approval from their manager.

How long will Simmons extend COVID-19 leave?

We have extended the COVID-19 Related Leave Policy for FY22. 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, 2021.

What will we do if we have a significant number of faculty or staff who are sick?

The goal of requiring vaccines and mask wearing is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a large number of employees getting sick. However, should a significant number of faculty/staff become sick, we will need to assess impact on a department by department  and/or course by course basis.  For staff, managers may need to  revisit and revise hybrid work arrangements to ensure proper coverage on-campus.

What if I’m identified as a close contact?

Vaccinated employees who are identified as being in “close contact” with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. You should still get tested around 3-5 days after exposure just to be sure.

Unvaccinated employees who are identified as being in close contact with someone who has tested positive must quarantine for 10 days. If after 10 days, there are no symptoms, you can end quarantine. If employees are tested on or after the fifth day post-exposure and that test comes back negative, they may end quarantine after the seventh day. Employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor that they will not be able to come to campus. If the employee is not able to work while in quarantine, they can use the COVID-19 leave or accrued sick time to continue salary payments.

How do I request a COVID-19 vaccination exemption?

Faculty and staff will be able to file a request for an exemption to the vaccine requirement for medical reasons or because of  a sincerely held religious belief. Please visit the Simmons Policy Index and search ‘exemption’ to find the necessary form.

How do I upload my vaccine status into Workday? 

Have your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card in hand and follow the steps below:

  1. In Workday, click on your profile photo in the upper right.
  2. In the dropdown menu that appears, click on View Profile.
  3. On the left blue menu area, select Overview.
  4. On the Overview screen, select Additional Data
  5. Edit your COVID-19 Vaccinations data and Save
Workday screenshot showing steps to upload vaccine verification

Will Simmons consider going fully remote for a period of time if the pandemic worsens?

COVID-19 is a continually evolving pandemic that requires the ability to make adjustments based on changing circumstances on the ground - so we cannot rule out the possibility that we will return to a fully remote work environment for a period of time. There are a variety of factors Simmons will monitor and consider to determine whether to pivot to remote learning temporarily or longer term. These factors include the availability of isolation spaces; positive cases trends for faculty, staff, and students; and public health guidance and other community trends.

What mental health and wellness resources are available to me?

The Simmons Employee Assistance Program provides three free counseling sessions for faculty and family members.

Faculty & Students

What if one of my students tests positive for COVID-19?

If a student tests positive, they will be notified by the Health Center. They must isolate for 10 days and be free from symptoms to be cleared to return to the classroom. Faculty will be alerted about students in their classes who test positive. The student is responsible to communicate with faculty about missed work. Faculty will be notified when a student receives clearance to return to class.

What if a student refuses to wear a mask in class?

If a student is violating a policy in a classroom or lab, for example, refusing to wear a mask or attending a class without clearance, a faculty member should ask that student to leave, since this is behavior that may be disruptive, harmful or pose a threat to the health and safety of the Simmons community. If a student refuses to leave, the faculty member should call Public Safety at 617-521-1112 to have the student removed from the classroom.

If I’m a faculty member, how will I know the vaccination status of my students

Faculty will be notified about students in their class who are not in compliance with COVID-19 vaccination requirements. If a student is non-compliant, they should not be allowed in the classroom. Faculty will not be informed whether the students who are in class are vaccinated or have been granted an exemption.

Students have COVID-19 questions and I'm not sure how to help them. Where should I direct students

Students can send COVID related questions or concerns to [email protected] or drop into the COVID Questions Office Hours hosted by Renique Kersh, Vice President for Student Affairs, on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. on  Zoom.

What is the COVID-19 positive case notification policy regarding students in class?

If a student has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been placed into quarantine after exposure due to having a vaccination exemption, faculty will receive a notification letter from Student Affairs to alert them of this circumstance. As of September 27, based on faculty feedback, we have updated the notification letter to clarify whether a student has tested positive or is in quarantine due to exposure. If a student in your class has tested positive, you will also receive a link to the class notification letter that you should send to your students. This letter informs students that a student in class has tested positive and provides information on any steps they should take. If a student has been placed in quarantine, no further action is needed, per CDC guidelines.

How can I help share communications to my class?

We've created a slide deck that we encourage you to share with your students through your LMS or on the screen at the beginning of a face-to-face class. Graduate and undergraduate students also receive regular information through the Anchor, which is sent bi-weekly.

Can students drink in the classroom?

Students may briefly remove their mask to drink a beverage while in class, but they MUST put their mask back on immediately after drinking. This is also true for faculty. This decision is based on public health guidance and feedback from faculty and students, and it takes into consideration longer classes and student/faculty health needs that may require regular hydration.  

Where can students eat on campus?

Masks can be removed while consuming food or drink in designated dining areas, but should be replaced promptly. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, food is not allowed in classroom spaces. Students and faculty may remove their mask to drink in the classroom, though masks must be promptly replaced. Food is discouraged in closed meeting spaces (i.e., conference rooms). Eating is allowed in Bartol Hall, Common Grounds, The Fens, at social events and activities while seated at a table, residential lounges and kitchens, personal offices and workspaces, and outdoors. Eating is also allowed in other lounge spaces and public seating areas if physical distancing from others is maintained. Signage about eating throughout campus buildings is forthcoming.

What should I do if I see a student without a mask or violating a COVID-related policy?

Each of us has a responsibility to follow COVID-19 policies and to keep each other accountable in a thoughtful and appropriate way. If you see a student or a colleague not following COVID-19 policies, which are critical to help us remain face-to-face, healthy, and safe, we encourage you to say something. For example, if you see someone without a mask, politely suggest that they put their mask on and remind them of their commitment to other members of the Simmons community. We must all do our part to help ensure the health and safety of our friends and colleagues.

Campus Access & Protocols

Will employees be allowed to park on campus?

Yes, employees can park on campus. Monthly parking or daily passes are available. Employees who do not plan to drive to campus every day will likely be best served with the pay-as-you-go parking option rather than the monthly pass.  Don’t forget to set up your account in advance. Please be aware that the first level of SOM garage is under construction. Follow the signs and barriers to parking. 

Where do I get my office key?

You can pick up your office key at Facilities, basement level of the Main College Building.

What is the policy for in-person meetings and office hours?

Faculty are strongly encouraged to hold office hours remotely, not in-person, to minimize interactions in enclosed spaces. Meetings should be held virtually whenever possible, and meetings of more than four people must be done virtually. 

Can I have food and drink in a classroom or in my office?

Food and drink will not be allowed in classroom spaces to alleviate any potential risks in these spaces. Food and drink are discouraged in closed meeting spaces (i.e., conference rooms). Eating is allowed in Bartol Hall, Common Grounds, The Fens, at social events and activities while seated at a table, residential lounges and kitchens, personal offices and workspaces, and outdoors. This policy will be evaluated periodically throughout the year. This policy will be evaluated periodically throughout the year.

How do I reserve a meeting or event space?

All space reservations should be made via events.simmons.edu. Space requests are reviewed by the Conferences team within 24-hours.

What are the safety procedures for onsite meetings and events?

It is the event host’s responsibility to notify any non-Simmons attendees of the current University COVID-19 safety requirements and policies in advance of the meeting or event. All event attendees must wear a mask. Exceptions include when actively eating and drinking in approved or pre-designated areas. It is recommended that the host collect contact information for all attendees, should it be needed for contact tracing or other follow up. Hand sanitizer will be available in meeting and event spaces.The event host should ensure that extra masks are available for event attendees who forget to bring their own. Masks can be requested in advance via fixit.simmons.edu

Can I have food at my indoor event?

Food is not allowed at events unless it is pre-packaged or plated/served—no ‘reception,’ self-serve style of food.

Who do I reach out to regarding event questions?

Reach out to the Conferences team if you have any questions or concerns regarding the event. 

What is the travel policy for faculty and staff?

Domestic travel is not restricted due to the COVID pandemic. However, budgetary considerations have resulted in limited funding for travel. Please make sure travel is pre-approved by the academic unit head and dean. No international travel is approved for Fall 2021. A decision will be made about Spring 2022 at a later date.

Remote Work

Can I continue to work from home?

Simmons has returned to face-to-face teaching for our on-ground programs, undergraduate and graduate, with only a few exceptions. Faculty are expected to teach on campus, in-person. Staff in certain roles may be considered for remote or partial remote work pending manager approval and in accordance with the remote work policy and process. 

How has the Remote Work Policy been revised?

The Remote Work Policy has been updated to include faculty and staff, both exempt and non-exempt positions and has been designed to be inclusive of continued hybrid work options, important to employee engagement. Review the FAQs.

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.

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. 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. Our newsletters will continue to provide information insights and resources related to inequities associated with COVID-19 and combating racism.