Employees: COVID-19 Information

Return to Campus

Revised guidance coming soon (7/16/2020)

We already know the Fall 2020 semester will be unlike any before. We also anticipate that the progress of COVID-19 and guidance from public health and academic officials may require changes to our plan for operations. COM is committed to remaining flexible as we incorporate guidance from public health and academic authorities, expertise from our campus leadership, and feedback from the entire COM community.

Reopening Plan

Information on the Reopening Plan can be found in the COM COVID-19 REOPENING GUIDE (June 19, 2020).

Facility Closure/Virtual Operations:

Ended May 1. Stay-at-home orders in place. Very limited campus access. Services and instruction online.

Minimal Campus Access:

May 1 until additional services required. Likely through most of Summer II. COM campuses remain closed for normal operations. Services and instruction online. Limited campus activity for approved skills and operations.

Pre-Opening:

This is being adjusted. More information soon.

Limited on-campus Student Services to facilitate Fall registration. Non-instructional staff return based on approving staffing schedules August 10. Convocation begins August 17 with instructional faculty and staff. Convocation may be partially or entirely online.

Open with Restrictions:

This is being adjusted. More information soon.

Return to on-campus instruction, with flexibility in case we need to return to online. Workers return to campus in phased manner based on needs of college. Extensive health and safety measures in place.

Blue Skies:

Return to normal/new normal Trigger: COM President declares emergency ended. It remains to be seen if we will return to what we think of as normal or if certain modifications to scheduling, office and classroom arrangements, event scheduling, cleaning schedules, distancing, and other protective measures will persist

FAQs: Return to On-Campus Work

Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the return to on-campus work.?These FAQs will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have a specific question not addressed below, please email your question to coronavirus@com.edu.

How is COM determining the gradual return to campus?
Our gradual return to campus is based on guidance from local, state, and federal public health and higher education authorities. In compliance with this guidance, we considered the needs of our campus community in an effort to stay as safe as possible while fulfilling our academic mission. Departments will have the flexibility to adjust based on specific departmental and position needs.
How will employees know when they need to return to on-campus work?

School leadership will create return to workplace plans to determine the needed personnel in each department / role / or workspace to allow for proper social distancing, and service delivery. Modifications could be made to schedules, work processes, and work spaces. Supervisors will notify employees of changes and anticipated dates those changes go into effect.

All employees will need to complete the SafeColleges online COVID-19 Awareness training prior to coming back to campus.

What if I want to return to campus earlier than my supervisor tells me I can?
Return to campus is being scheduled to reduce potential exposures to COVID-19. Departments and positions will be brought back as needed and with possible changes to on-campus schedules. If you would like to be one of the first brought back for your department, please let your supervisor know.
What if I am in a high-risk group for COVID-19 or care for a household family member who is at high-risk?
Employees are not required to disclose if they are in a high-risk category based upon preexisting medical condition. If an employee considers themselves to be high-risk for COVID-19 based on the CDC guidelines and have concerns regarding returning to on-campus work, the employee may voluntarily discuss with their manager or may request an accommodation from COM HR. If an employee voluntarily discloses, this information will be kept confidential in accordance with COM personnel policies.
Supervisors, in coordination with HR, will work with employees who are requesting ADA accommodations to care for self, or job modifications to care for or protect a family member with high-risk conditions. Supervisors and HR can discuss options that support a healthy and safe work environment while determining ways to complete job duties. Some employees may be permitted to continue with telework arrangements through extended phases of return to campus with periodic reviews of return to campus dates for individual positions.
What are the basic safety requirements for on-campus work?

Employees are asked to self-screen BEFORE coming on to campus for any new or worsening symptoms of possible COVID-19.

Employees will be required to maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other individuals not within the same household. Employees should comply with social distance guidelines and wear face coverings when in public/common areas and when within 6 feet of others while outside. This includes classrooms, lobbies, shared workspaces, etc.

COM encourages the use of telephone and web conferencing tools for all meetings. In-person meetings should be limited in attendance and duration.
Will face coverings or masks be required while at work or on campus?
Employees and students must wear face coverings when in any common/shared area. This includes classrooms, shared office spaces, lobbies, labs, etc. This also includes outdoor areas where people may be within 6 feet of you.
Will employees be allowed to travel for business purposes during the return to on-campus work phases?
Non-essential College travel is not allowed through the summer. All employees should monitor travel guidance from CDC when considering personal or essential business travel. Fall travel will be limited to essential travel approved by executive leadership. We continue to monitor all federal or state guidance regarding travel both international and domestic and will provide updates as needed.
Will telework options remain available for employees who can perform their work duties from home?

COM supervisors were tasked with determining staffing needs for Fall term. These staffing plans emphasize minimizing on-campus contact through limiting and alternating staff on-campus, maintaining telework, and other modifications. Telework requires employees to be available during normal business hours to perform their regular tasks, as well as to attend meetings using phone or web platforms. Employees working remotely may be required to report to campus at times for meetings and may be asked to return to their regular, in-office work location with short notice.

Any request for accommodation according to Americans with Disability Act should be directed to HR. If you are uncertain of your workplace arrangements for Fall term, please contact your supervisor.
How will COM respond if someone on campus becomes ill due to COVID-19?

Any employee who has been on campus recently or will be on campus soon is asked to report if they have symptoms, confirmed illness, or close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. You must notify your supervisor of any needed absence, just as you would for any other absence. Please notify HR if you believe you have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, symptoms that could be COVID-19, or close-contact exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

COM asks all employees to self-monitor daily before coming to work and requires employees to stay home when sick. A return-to-work protocol has been drafted to provide guidance on when people may return to campus after case exposure or a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections.

COM will work to isolate any area(s) of possible exposure and follow CDC guidelines to clean and disinfect areas used by ill employees or students.

Galveston County Health District will handle case investigations and contact tracing to notify possible close contacts. COM may assist in these investigations and notifications if needed.
Will employees be required to provide a doctor's note now that we are returning to on-campus work if they have been ill?
Employees may be asked to provide a notice from a healthcare provider as outlined in the College's DEC(LOCAL) - Compensation and Benefits: Leaves and Absences policy. Employees are asked to communicate with their supervisors about absence due to illness.
Will employees still be required to self-quarantine if there has been a potential exposure to COVID-19?
Employees should notify and work with their supervisors if they believe they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Should any employee start to experience symptoms of fever and/or upper respiratory illness, he or she should notify his or her supervisor, seek medical treatment and stay or go home. Employees who have potential exposure to COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms should follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days. Galveston County Health District also permits return to campus if an exposed person receives a negative COVID-19 test five or more days after their last close contact with a confirmed case. During the period of self-quarantine, employees continue to telework unless they are otherwise on leave.
What if I am not comfortable coming to work on campus due to the potential for exposure?
Employees should bring their concerns to their supervisor and discuss available options. If an employee would like to request reasonable accommodation under ADA, they should work with HR to request accommodations.
The COVID-19 situation has left me feeling anxious and worried. Where can I turn for help?

COM recognizes this is a stressful situation for many members of our community. Employees who are eligible for employee benefits, please contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). UTEAP provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all full-time COM employees and their dependents. Through the EAP, you can access free, convenient, and confidential services. The services include short-term counseling, crisis management, legal and financial advice, identify theft services and assistance with work/life matters. Please review the EAP brochure to learn more. You can contact UTEAP at (800) 346-3549 or www.mylifevalues.com.

For employees who are not eligible for benefits, there are a number of community resources available, such as United Way of Galveston County https://www.uwgcm.org/.
How will social distancing be practiced in offices with shared spaces?

We understand this is a concern of many employees. Each department and office setting is arranged differently. Department leadership is working with employees and Facilities to determine the best possible seating and work arrangements to enhance social distancing.

Face coverings must be worn at all times on campus when in common/shared areas.

Some areas will reduce on-site staffing, install barriers, or rearrange workspace to improve social distancing. Clear plastic barriers are being installed in areas with frequent public face-to-face interactions.

Will campus visitors be required to wear a face covering?
Yes. Any visitor to our campuses or facilities will be required to wear a face covering. Appropriate use of face coverings is essential to minimizing risks to others near you, though it is not a substitute for social distancing.
What are the recommendations around the use of restrooms?

Restroom occupancy should be limited based on bathroom capacity to ensure at least a?six-foot distance between individuals. Some sinks, urinals or stalls may be marked out of order to encourage distancing. Please wait outside the restroom if 6 foot distancing cannot be maintained while waiting within.

Please wash?their?hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds to reduce the potential transmission of any germs.?Restrooms?will be cleaned as necessary during normal business hours with enhanced?spot?cleaning. Detailed cleaning and disinfection activities?will?occur nightly.
What are the recommendations around the use of elevators?
Elevator occupancy?should be limited to no more than one individual at a time.?Everyone should?avoid touching the elevator buttons with exposed fingers, if possible, and should clean their hands with hand sanitizer upon exiting the elevator.
Will COM provide COVID-19 testing for all employees and/or students prior to returning to campus?
No. COVID-19 testing is widely available throughout the community at healthcare providers and free testing sites. There are many testing locations throughout Galveston County and surrounding areas. Please see the Galveston County Health District testing information page for testing sites in Galveston County. The Texas Department of State Health Services provides information on testing types and locations.
What if I have childcare issues that prevent me from reporting to on-campus work when requested?

Employees should discuss any issues which prevent them from returning to work as scheduled with their supervisor. Any issues related to disability or the need for family medical leave should be addressed to Human Resources.

If you have concerns about your current childcare arrangements, please address them as far in advance as possible. Please do not bring children or other family members to the workplace at this time. Limitations on workplace capacity are based on existing staffing and do not account for guests.

One of our employees has a suspected but unconfirmed case of COVID-19. What should we do?

Please report known or suspected cases of COVID-19 in employees to Human Resources. Human Resources will contact any known employees who are cases or close contacts and advise them on when they may safely return to campus.

The precautions in place throughout campus are designed to protect everyone on campus. Social distancing, face coverings, and frequent handwashing prevent the spread of disease. When employees and students adhere to these precautions, no one on campus would qualify as a close contact.

The Galveston County Health District will handle case investigations and notification of close contacts. COM may assist with investigation and notification if needed.
How will the college notify faculty and staff if a fellow employee tests positive for COVID-19?

The Galveston County Health District will handle case investigations and notification of close contacts. COM may assist with investigation and notification if needed.

The College will not announce cases of COVID-19 among specific employees or students. This is protected health information. If GCHD determines that a close contact has occurred, the specific contact will be notified.

All classroom and common area surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. All desks will be wiped at the beginning of each class, and entire classrooms will be disinfected by Facilities each evening.
What about COM part-time employees?

Over the past few months, COM has paid its part-time employees based on their typical work schedule regardless of actual hours worked.? Effective June 30, 2020, part-time employees will only be paid for actual hours worked rather than continuing to pay them for hours not worked.? The College is aware that not all part-time employees can work remotely because of the nature of their employment.? The decision to move to actual hours is transparent and is aimed at conserving funds.

Part-time employees who do not have actual hours in their current department cannot be transferred to other department to meet the actual hour requirements.? Their employment is not being terminated; as this situation develops and more hours should become available, those part-time employees may be asked to return to their normal schedule when appropriate.? If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at?HR@com.edu.

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