What will a phased return look like for employees?
As always, the safety of faculty, staff, students and the community is our top priority. A return to work for employees is being approached deliberately and is being organized into phases. Some employees have continued to work on campuses to perform mission-critical work and others have begun returning in stages, including researchers who are unable to perform their work from home. Moving forward, other employees whose work must be completed on site will continue to return to campuses, including those preparing facilities for the return of students. Employees who are currently telecommuting but whose work can be more effectively performed on campus will be the next group to return to on-site work.
As the semester unfolds and the University continues to monitor the situation, employees who can effectively work remotely will be the last group to return to their workspaces, if needed. More information will be shared with individual units and employees regarding when they should expect to return to campus. In these cases, managers will be asked to develop plans that will facilitate the safe return of staff members, which will include social distancing, wearing appropriate face coverings, limiting the numbers of people in offices at any time and plans for additional cleaning.
Additional and up-to-date information related to return to work is available at the Return to Work website.
Because classes will be held on Labor Day, are all employees required to work on Labor Day? For those who would normally not work the holiday, will they receive a compensatory day? What about faculty?
Individual units will determine whether employees will be required to work on Labor Day based on their specific needs. Employees who work Labor Day will be compensated based on University policies or the appropriate collective bargain agreement.
When classes transition to remote delivery on Nov. 30, will all employees also shift to remote work, or will those who have returned to campus remain on campus to work?
Once classes transition to remote delivery, each unit leader will determine who needs to be on site based on work responsibilities and unit needs at the time. Employees should work with their direct supervisor to determine if they should continue to report to campus or if they will be able to work remotely.
What is the expectation for employees during Thanksgiving week, with students departing campus Nov. 20? Will the break operate like previous years with respect to holiday time off and campus closure?
There are no changes to the University holiday schedule. The University will continue to observe the staff holidays set in Penn State policy and respective collective bargaining agreements.
Will masks be provided to all employees (technical services, administrative, etc.)?
Yes. Employees will receive two cloth face masks. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all employees reporting to campus will be expected to wear masks — ideally cloth — while on campus, including outdoors, in hallways and in shared work areas. Masks should be worn at all times, even while practicing social distancing. Masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, when isolated in a private office or vehicle, or when use adversely affects an employee’s safety or health.
Will Penn State provide hand sanitizer, PPE, disinfecting wipes, etc. to supervisors/employees?
Yes. Face masks, soap and hand-sanitizer stations, disinfectant sprays and wipes will be available for all units to purchase through General Stores. The University also has procured several thousand additional hand-sanitizer stations, which will be placed in high-traffic areas.
Can I continue to work from home if I can accomplish my work remotely? What if I am immunocompromised or part of an at-risk population?
The health of faculty and staff members remains the University’s top priority as part of a phased return. If you have questions or concerns about your individual health circumstances, contact your supervisor and/or HR Strategic Partner. While there are processes and protocols being put in place to help support safe working environments across the campuses, those who can work effectively from home should continue to do so and will be last to return to campus. Phasing will prioritize those who have a need to perform work on-site.
What if I am feeling ill, who should I notify?
If you are feeling ill, you must stay home and/or leave work immediately. Employees should contact their health provider for guidance and notify their supervisors and follow normal unit-based notification protocols, so that their unit can begin a process to conduct contact tracing, notify individuals to monitor for symptoms, and begin temperature checks and health screenings. To learn more, visit the Return to Work website.
As a community, we must support each other by encouraging and following these guidelines, which are in place to protect each employee’s health and well-being.
You can also use the symptom checker feature in the Penn State Go app, to determine if you should stay home when you begin experiencing a sudden onset of symptoms related to Covid 19. Learn more about the Covid-19 Symptom Checker.
What if one of my colleagues is sick?
As part of the planning process for a phased return to work, processes and protocols have been put in place to support supervisors and employees when a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19. Among these protocols, contact tracing will begin and employees and students who have been in close contact with the individual will be notified, asked to quarantine while the individual is tested (even if asymptomatic), and to begin monitoring for symptoms. The individual’s work area will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedure in compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols.
What if I cannot find child care or my own child is still at home from public school (K-12)? What are my options?
Given uncertainties about the status of local schools for the upcoming school year, as well as the individual circumstances of employees, the University is asking supervisors to be flexible in working with employees who find themselves without child care. Telecommuting may be an option for employees currently working remotely who can continue to perform the duties of their jobs from home. Faculty members teaching in-person classes in the fall should discuss their circumstances with their academic supervisors. However, all employees need to have individual conversations with their supervisor/HR regarding their specific circumstances. For some employees, FMLA-Public Health Emergency leave also may be available. (Please visit this Box Folder for more information.)
What will happen if/when employees test positive?
Individuals who are sick, think they have been exposed to coronavirus, exhibit symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19 are expected to stay home and/or leave work right away. Employees should isolate, monitor their symptoms and seek medical care as needed. The University is developing isolation guidance for employees.
Employees should notify their supervisors, so their unit can begin a process to conduct contact tracing, notify individuals in the unit to monitor for symptoms, and begin temperature checks and health screenings for those who have been in contact with the sick individual.
Policies and programs will be in place to support employees who are recovering from and/or caring for partners and family members with COVID-19. Most individuals who need to miss work due to COVID-19 to care for themselves or another individual are eligible to receive pay (up to certain maximums) for up to the first 80 hours, depending on full-time or part-time status, regardless of available sick time. Additional time off will be paid through accrued sick leave or short-term disability, if elected.
Where can employees go if they have specific questions?
Staff members who have questions or concerns regarding returning to work should visit the Return to Work website. The site includes FAQs and contact information for more specific questions.