We know that this is a difficult and stressful time and the decisions we face are equally difficult as we work to fight the spread of the virus.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has provided an Employee FAQ for questions related to COVID-19, leave time and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Please see questions below specific to East Stroudsburg University.
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Human Resources Office at askHR@esu.edu.
What are the protocols for an employee who may have been exposed to, has symptoms
of, or tested positive for Covid-19?
- All members of the ESU campus community and guests are required to wear masks in all public spaces (inside and outdoors), including hallways, classrooms, public spaces, common areas, and during office visits.
- Continue to practice social distancing (six-feet apart), when possible, while wearing a mask.
- Frequent hand washing is one of the best prevention measures to combat all illnesses. Wash hands frequently throughout the day. If it is not possible to wash hands, use hand sanitizer.
- Signage is in place in all campus buildings to remind everyone of traffic flow and other recommended CDC guidelines. Policies and procedures have been developed for those who do not adhere to University health and safety requirements associated with COVID.
- All individuals entering all buildings on campus must wear a face mask and continue to wear a face mask when in hallways, classrooms, public spaces, common areas, and during office visits.
- Any meetings among faculty, staff and students should continue to be conducted remotely as much as possible.
- Anyone affiliated with East Stroudsburg University should monitor their own health on a daily basis. If you do not feel well, stay home, stay away from others and seek medical advice if needed. Employees are encouraged use the daily ESU Conversa app to self-check for any COVID-19 symptoms.
The success of the university’s response to a positive or presumed positive case for a faculty and staff member relies heavily on the individual promptly self-reporting their circumstance and any medical exam/test results to the university. The following protocols related to COVID-19 should be followed by all ESU employees.
For Employees Who May Have Been Exposed by Close Contact with Someone Who Tested Positive for COVID-19:
What counts as close contact?
- Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
- Providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- Direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- Sharing eating or drinking utensils
- Sneezing, coughing, or somehow coming in contact with respiratory droplets
According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, the self-quarantine of close contacts exposed to COVID-19 prevents transmission to others and is critical to the success of case investigation and contact tracing efforts. For most, self-quarantine can take place at home. If possible, contacts should be asked to voluntarily stay home, monitor themselves, and maintain social distance from others. The time frame for self-quarantine is 14 days following the last day of exposure to a patient with COVID-19, even if you test negative during this time period, to ensure that the contact does not get sick themselves and spread the virus to others. Adherence to self-quarantine instructions may depend on the support provided to contacts. Visit the CDC website for more information about self-quarantine support needs.
For Those Employees with Suspected Exposure by Close Contact or Symptoms of COVID-19:
Employees experiencing COVID-like symptoms should contact their healthcare provider for diagnosis, testing and/or treatment. Your healthcare provider will provide details on if you should self-quarantine or isolate and for how long.
If an employee is advised to self-quarantine or isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure, has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, they should contact their supervisor and share the instructions provided by your healthcare provider. The supervisor will want to know where and when the employee has been on campus and if they were in close contact with others. This information will be confidentially managed, ensuring only those with a need to know are informed. Generally, those with a need to know are an employee’s supervisor, certain members of the administration, and Human Resources.
Employees who have shown symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19 should not to return to work until at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test and only when symptoms have improved and the employee is fever-free (without the use of fever reducing medications), for at least 24 hours.
The university will take reasonable precautions to protect health information, pursuant to all applicable laws and statutes, including, but not limited to, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. You can help by not engaging with others who do not have a need to know, and by refraining from open dialogue or discussion about the medical status of individual employees.
None of the situations described above warrant an extra sanitization of the employee’s office area, outside of the normal schedule for that area. Any common areas the employee may have used will be addressed for sanitization, as needed.
Employees Who Have Been in Direct Contact with Someone Who is Awaiting COVID-19 Test Results:
Contact your healthcare provider and follow their directions.
Faculty and Staff Testing Positive for COVID-19:
Any ESU employee suspecting they may have COVID-19 should report to their healthcare provider for examination and testing.
Because of the potential for delay in receiving test results (as long as 2-14 days), and out of concern for the members of the ESU community, the university has taken the position that if an employee is presumed to have the COVID-19 virus, they will need to immediately begin isolation while awaiting test results.
The efficacy of these protocols is dependent upon timely self-reporting by the employee who must contact their supervisor immediately if:
- During the office visit, they exhibit symptoms and their medical care provider determines they should be presumed positive for COVID-19 pending test results or;
- They receive confirmation that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Once a positive test result is received by the healthcare provider, they are responsible for notifying the patient and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH). At this point, the patient will be required to continue isolation to prevent further transmission. PADOH will then begin the contact tracing process to identify any other individuals that may have been affected and need to be in quarantine.
Supervisors should coordinate any leave of absence or remote work with the Human Resource Business Partner for their area. Note: these time frames for quarantine or isolation cannot be shortened with a note from a medical provider.
Current CDC guidance states that if someone has tested positive for COVID-19, they may return to work when:
- It has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*
- If test positive and asymptomatic, 10 days since the date of positive test
- If exposed to someone with COVID-19, with a negative test at least 5 days after exposure, may return to work in 7 days
*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.
Notification to Campus:
If an employee has been directed to quarantine due to possible exposure or has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, their supervisor will ask what areas of campus the employee may have used or been to and/or any other employees or students they have been in close contact with during the two to three days before leaving campus. While every effort will be made to keep the identity of an employee confidential, other employees, and perhaps students, who have been in close contact with the infected individual will be notified of the situation and recommendations will be provided on a case by case basis regarding the release of specific information to any other employees or students who may have been in close contact with the employee.
For Employees Who are Traveling for Personal Reasons:
As soon as possible, employees should notify their supervisor of any plans to travel in or outside the United States. The PADOH and CDC websites listed below provide proper protocols to follow when returning home. Based on PADOH guidelines, if a period of self-quarantine is recommended, a supervisor may require the employee to work remotely or use their own leave to cover this period of recommended quarantine; each case will be evaluated individually, based on job responsibilities. Plans to work remotely should be approved before the employee’s travel.
Cleaning/Sanitization of Areas:
All areas/offices are scheduled to be sanitized on a weekly basis. All common areas are scheduled to be sanitized daily. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, Facilities Management will be notified of any areas the employee may have used recently, in order to schedule a sanitization of those areas.
If an employee has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or is isolating while awaiting COVID-19 test results, and they work in a common/open area, this work area and any other common areas the employee may have used recently (e.g., restrooms) will be addressed immediately. If an employee works in an individual office that has a door; that door should be closed as soon as possible and kept closed until the custodial staff enters to sanitize it. When the office has been sanitized, custodial staff will place a blue piece of tape, with the date of sanitization, on the door. Note: For the safety of our Facilities Management personnel, this may be a day or two after the infected employee’s last day in the office.
ESU’s COVID Dashboard:
Information about positive COVID-19 tests at ESU can be found on ESU’s dashboard.
Please check the CDC and PADOH websites for any updated guidance that may be available since the date this document was prepared.
What are the protocols in place for a supervisor who has an employee who may have
been exposed to, has symptoms of, or tested positive for Covid-19?
The following protocols are to be followed when addressing employees with suspected exposure and/or have received a positive test result for the COVID-19 virus.
Suspected Exposure or Positive Test of an Employee:
- Encourage employees to stay home if they, or people they have been exposed to, have shown symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19.
- Encourage employees to use the daily ESU Conversa app to self-check for any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Send an employee home if they report to work showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- If an employee reports that a co-worker is demonstrating COVID symptoms, investigate with the employee believed to be ill, while maintaining a social distance, and evaluate whether they should be in the workplace.
- If an employee is instructed to quarantine or self-isolate, refer the employee to their HR Business Partner to discuss leave options.
- If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employee’s supervisor should report this to their Vice President. The Vice President will inform the President, Vice President for Administration and Finance, Director of Health and Wellness, Facilities Management, and other members of administration, as necessary.
- If an employee has been instructed to quarantine due to suspected exposure or has tested positive for COVID-19, the supervisor should ask the employee what areas of campus, including their work area, they have been to or students or employees they have been in close contact with in the two to three days prior to leaving campus.
- The Vice President of the employee will contact the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Director of Facilities Management, and the Custodial Manager to coordinate the sanitization of the employee’s area/office and any common areas that may have been used by the employee.
- Advise employees who have shown symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19 not to return to work until at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test, symptoms have improved, and the employee is fever-free (without the use of fever reducing medications), for at least 24 hours.
- Existing policies remain in effect regarding FMLA and how other types of leave and absences are handled.
- Practice good hygiene and supplement the work of custodial services by ensuring commonly touched surfaces are frequently cleaned and disinfected.
Concerns and Communication:
- Remind employees to follow CDC recommended protocols including social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing hands, wiping down commonly used equipment (e.g., copiers, scanners, etc.) and/or the use of hand sanitizer.
- The timelines for quarantine and when you report back to work cannot be shortened with a note from a medical provider.
- Failure of an employee to report for duty based on fear of exposure will be managed in accordance with existing policies, with all due consideration given on a case-by case basis; but these instances may not be excused if you are short-staffed or the work is essential.
- Encourage employees to bring concerns to you. If you perceive or receive information that employees are communicating with each other inappropriately, intervene as soon as possible.
- Respect employees’ and students’ right to medical privacy and be careful that information is shared without personal identification. While public health concerns may legally outweigh some privacy rights, information must only be shared on a strict need-to-know basis. Employees may have a need to be informed if there is a potential exposure but be mindful not to personally identify any one individual or provide information that would lead to a person’s identity.
- The COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health remain fluid. Changes to these protocols are likely as more information about COVID-19 is obtained.
- If I work a few days and still receive pay will the benefit and retirement deductions
still come out of my pay?Yes, retirement and other benefit deductions will continue where there are funds available.
- If I am reduced to half time or no time would I still qualify for a tuition waiver?Yes, still employed all the same rules apply.
- Am I eligible for unemployment? If I apply, do I still have healthcare benefits and
at what cost?You can apply for unemployment for any time that is not paid, meaning you are not using paid leave or getting your regular salary for those days. You will have healthcare benefits and will be billed by your healthcare provider.
- Can I apply for partial unemployment?Yes, you may apply for the days you are not using paid leave or getting your regular salary for those days.
- Where do I go to file an unemployment claim?
- Am I eligible for FFCRA?FFCRA is not for the reduction in work hours due to no work. See an explanation of FFCRA eligibility.
- If I use sick Leave, does everything stay the same (Salary & healthcare benefits)?Yes - if you use any type of paid leave everything in your check stays the same as long as all 10 working days in a pay period are covered by paid leave. If you have unpaid time, you will be billed by your health insurance carrier.
- Can I use sick leave and then switch over to unemployment?Unemployment would be for any unpaid days. If you normally get paid for 10 days and you are only getting paid for 9, then unemployment could be applied for.
- Should I be entering my leave in ESS with the COVID reason type?Yes, please select the appropriate leave type. Annual COVID, Sick COVID, Sick Family COVID, Personal COVID, Comp Time COVID, Unpaid COVID.
- Can I save my leave time and just file for unemployment?Yes, you can go in an unpaid status and apply for unemployment. If you go into an unpaid status you will be billed by your health insurance carrier.
- Would I be able to use my family sick leave?Yes, you may use all leave types that you have available to you.
- Can I opt to waive my benefits when I go into an unpaid status? And Can I pick them
back up at a later time?
Yes, you may opt out of benefits (healthcare/insurances/FSA’s) for the commencement of LWOP and opt back in (healthcare/FSA’s only) upon your return. However, we highly caution any employee that wants to cancel their healthcare since we are currently experiencing a covid-19 pandemic. Insurances would require Evidence of Insurability to re-enroll.
Employees would be billed for their portion of the benefits while LWOP by either SSHE/PEBTF.
- If I live in a different state and work in PA in which state do I file for unemployment?If you live in one state and work in another, you file unemployment in the state where you had the job. Most states allow you to file online or by phone. If you lost your job, then moved to another state, the same rule applies.
- I am only scheduled to work a few days a week. Who do I need to send my work schedule
to?You will need to communicate your schedule to your supervisor and enter leave in ESS for any days that you are not working.
- If I decide to go on unpaid leave how will the health insurance carrier know to bill
me for my portion of the benefits?The State System will notify you and bill you for your portion of the benefits.
- I received a letter today from my supervisor about leave effective Monday. I am being
told that I will be back in two weeks. Do you know the date I will be back?I need to plan my leave accordingly. There is no return to work date at this time. Please contact your supervisor for clarification.
- I have been informed my last day of employment will be the end of the semester. What
date will that be?According to the academic calendar the last day of the semester is May 8th however we advise you to check with your supervisor for your exact date.
- Do I have to wait until the last day of employment to open an unemployment claim?You should file a claim the day after the last day you worked.
- How often do I enter my leave time in ESS?You should enter all of your leave by Friday.