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Human Resources

University of Mississippi

Frequently Asked Questions – Coronavirus Edition

STAY UP TO DATE

Campus notifications can be found at https://communications.olemiss.edu/coronavirus/

July 1, 2020

General Questions

What do I need to do before I return to campus?

1. All employees (including faculty, administrators and supervisors/managers) are required to complete the “Return to Work on Campus” presentation that is accessible at blackboard.olemiss.edu.

2. All employees (including faculty, administrators and supervisors/managers) are required to review the expectations of employees related to return to work on campus and certify via the digital attestation that it has been read and the expectations are understood.

3. All employees (including faculty, administrators and supervisors/managers) are required to complete the UM COVID-19 Daily Symptom Checker which is based on current CDC guidance. Employees will use this interactive tool daily to check for coronavirus symptoms and learn about resources available to help protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.  The submissions are anonymous and no identifying information is collected.  The Checker is a public health program and a necessity as we promote a safe community.

How do I get proof that I completed the online training?

A completion badge is available within the course, under “Learning Materials” or you can also view the test score.  If you supervisor requests proof, simply take a screen shot of the completion badge.  If the badge does not populate immediately, log out of and log back in, blackboard.olemiss.edu.

How do I get proof that I submitted the online attestation?

Once they submit the attestation they receive an email, with the subject “COVID-19 Attestation – Submission Received.”  The email may have gone to their Junk mail.

If you cannot locate the email, email MeMe Mullen at mmullen@olemiss.edu and include your SAP number with your request.

Am I required to use the complete the UM COVID-19 Daily Symptom Checker Daily?

Yes, the complete the UM COVID-19 Daily Symptom Checker each day before reporting to work. Employees will use this interactive tool daily to check for coronavirus symptoms and learn about resources available to help protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.  The submissions are anonymous and no identifying information is collected.  The Checker is a public health program and a necessity as we promote a safe community.

What if I don’t want to come to work because I don’t want to get sick?

Employees who express reluctance or apprehension about returning to campus because of potential exposure to COVID-19, but otherwise have no underlying health condition that puts them at increased risk, and have none of the six Qualifying Reasons specified above, are not eligible for EPSL, FMLA+, or paid Administrative Leave. In such cases, the employees may use their accrued leave or other available leave, in accordance with the terms of applicable University policy. Employees are also encouraged to contact Human Resources, 662-915-7431, with specific questions regarding the applicability of the ADA or FMLA to their individual circumstances.

Am I a Vulnerable Employee?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specified that persons 65 years old or older and individuals with certain serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart conditions, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and the immunocompromised, may be at a higher risk for severe illness if exposed to COVID-19.

I am considered a vulnerable individual.  Do I need to contact HR and if so, how much information do I have to share?

If there are safeguards, ideally telecommuting, and you and your supervisor are confident with the arrangement, it is not necessary to contact Human Resources.  If telecommuting is not feasible and you may be at higher risk, please contact Human Resources to discuss your specific circumstances, other work options, and the availability of other benefits under the ADA and FMLA.  If you are considering FMLA, you are only required to provide the standard medical certification completed by your physician with only “need to know” information.  Email Human Resources at hr@olemiss.edu

If am under the required self-quarantine and able to work from home, am I able to still work via telecommuting?

If you are working during your self-quarantine, you don’t need to enter leave of any type for the hours you are working.  If work is not available to you and you are an hourly/non-exempt employee, you may replace any hours you are not assigned to work with personal leave. If personal leave is not available or you prefer not to use personal leave, this time will be unpaid.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Employees who feel ill should remain home and use the appropriate leave.

If you believe that you have been exposed to or contracted the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Employee Health Center is available by appointment only for in-person and telehealth appointments.

Contact Employee Health by phone (915-6550) for an appointment.  The Health Center is open Monday – Friday, 8AM-12PM and 1PM-5PM.

Need care outside of Employee Health operating hours?

  • Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline through MSDH (7 days a week, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.): 877-978-6453
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital – North MS 24-hour hotline: 866-941-4785
  • Oxford has several urgent care clinics with extended hours

Just like with other illnesses, you are required to contact your supervisor to inform them that you are unable to report to work.

What should I do if I test Positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19 at a facility other than Employee Health, you must report this result to Employee Health.

Call 662-915-6550 to speak with one of their physicians.

Employee Health will collaborate with Mississippi Department of Health to determine what additional precautions may be warranted for the campus.

The anonymity and confidentiality of persons with COVID-19 will be protected during this process.

What if I need to self-isolate and can’t come to work?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides employees with a maximum of 80 hours of paid sick leave (pro-rated if part-time) for the following qualifying reasons.

  1. subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19,
  2. advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19,
  3. experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis,
  4. caring for an individual subject to an order described in paragraph (1) above, or self-quarantine as described in paragraph (2),
  5. caring for the employee’s child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, or
  6. experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

EPSL is only available through December 31, 2020, whether or not an employee elects to exhaust the leave by that time and does not rollover from one year to the next. Employees are not entitled to reimbursement for unused EPSL upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.  Learn More

What if it is believed someone is abusing this situation?

We very much hope that this isn’t the case.  If you do have concerns, please contact Human Resources.

Who can I talk to if this situation makes me stressed or overwhelmed?

The University Counseling Center continues to be a resource for faculty and staff.  https://counseling.olemiss.edu/

Supervisor’s Responsiblities

How can I prepare my team to return to normal operations?

In addition to the “Employee Responsibilities” of training, understanding confirmation, and self-monitoring, supervisors have additional responsibilities, https://coronavirus.olemiss.edu/return-to-work-on-campus/supervisors-responsibilities/.

As the scientific research evolves and public health recommendations change, the University will update its guidance on COVID-19 accordingly.

What do I do if an employee or student discloses they either tested positive for COVID-19, resides with someone who tested positive, or has been within six feet or less of someone who tested positive for longer than 15 minutes?

If on campus, the employee or student should be discretely separated from others and sent home. If not on campus, the individual should be advised to stay at home. All employees or students should be asked to identify 1) any persons in our university community with whom they had contact with recently before the onset of symptoms, and 2) any areas of campus they visited during that time.

As you engage the student or employee, show empathy but do not provide medical advice.

If the student or employee has yet to be tested, advise the student or employee that they may contact the physicians at University Health Services for questions, including guidance on treatment and preventive measures to minimize the risk of infection to others. The telephone number for Student Health is 662-915-7274. The telephone number for Employee Health is 662-915-6550.

If the student or employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at a facility other than Employee Health, they must report this result to Student Health (662-915-7274) or Employee Health (662-915-6550).

Use provided checklist for further guidance.

May I advise my department that an employee tested positive for COVID-19?

Yes. You are encouraged to provide accurate information to employees about a possible risk of exposure to COVID-19, but there are limits on what you can say. The anonymity and confidentiality of persons with COVID-19 must be protected. You may only disclose that an employee tested positive. You may not disclose the employee’s name, nor any information about their medical condition, treatment, or prognosis. You may not disclose any other facts or circumstances about the employee, either alone or in combination, that would allow someone to discern their identity. For example, no reference should be made to the employee’s department or title. MSDH handles the necessary contact tracing with the individual infected and will seek additional information as needed.

May I direct an employee with COVID-19 or symptoms associated with the virus to stay home?

Yes, and refer the employee to Employee Health or their physician of choice.  Remind the employee that should they test positive, they are required to contact Employee Health.

If an employee in my department reports being ill or calls in sick, may I ask whether they have symptoms associated with COVID-19?

Yes. You are authorized to make a targeted, limited inquiry about the student’s or employee’s condition to determine if they present a risk of COVID-19 infection to the university community.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.  People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.  Some people have no symptoms whatsoever.

If you need assistance understanding the significance of the employee’s responses or deciding what precautionary measures the university should take, please consult a physician at Employee Health 662-915-6550.

Recording Time

What if I need to take care of a family member who has COVID-19?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides employees with a maximum of 80 hours of paid sick leave (pro-rated if part-time) for the following qualifying reasons.

  1. subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19,
  2. advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19,
  3. experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis,
  4. caring for an individual subject to an order described in paragraph (1) above, or self-quarantine as described in paragraph (2),
  5. caring for the employee’s child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, or
  6. experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

EPSL is only available through December 31, 2020, whether or not an employee elects to exhaust the leave by that time and does not rollover from one year to the next. Employees are not entitled to reimbursement for unused EPSL upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.  Learn More

If your child’s school or regular care provider is closed, discuss with your supervisor the option to telecommute.  If telecommuting is not an option, all employees who are unable to work due to caring for a dependent, are eligible for our traditional administrative leave with pay until June 30, 2020.

Qualifying employees may be eligible for up to 480 hours of expanded family and medical leave (“FMLA+”), if unable to work or telework because they must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.  Learn More

What if I need to take care of an individual who is not a family member who has COVID-19?

Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (Administrative Leave) is available to care for an individual.

Can supervisors allow employees to work remotely on a temporary basis?

Yes, temporary telecommuting arrangements are recommended for all employees whose position allows for it and the arrangement has proven effective and productive. These arrangements may continue due to COVID-19 with no expectation of ongoing continuance. Supervisors may approve a request from an employee to telecommute or recommend a telecommuting option for an employee.

All employees have the option to work from home with their supervisor’s approval. Employees and supervisors will need to be actively engaged and clear on expectations.

 What if my child’s school or regular care provider is closed?

If your child’s school or regular care provider is closed, discuss with your supervisor the option to telecommute.  If telecommuting is not an option, all employees who are unable to work due to caring for a dependent, are eligible for our traditional administrative leave with pay until June 30, 2020.

Qualifying employees may be eligible for up to 480 hours of expanded family and medical leave (“FMLA+”), if unable to work or telework because they must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.  Learn More

Is donated leave an option for employees who do not have sufficient accrued personal leave and major medical leave?

Conditions that are short-term in nature, including, but not limited to, common illnesses such as influenza, the measles, and common injuries, are not catastrophic and not eligible for donated leave consideration.  A catastrophic injury or illness, life-threatening injury or illness of an employee or a member of an employee’s immediate family which totally incapacitates the employee from work, as verified by a licensed physician, and forces the employee to exhaust all leave time earned by that employee, may be eligible for donated leave.

If an employee or their immediate family as defined by University policy is diagnosed with COVID-19 becomes completely incapacitated (i.e. hospitalized), they may qualify for donated leave and should contact Human Resource for guidance.

Working Off-Site (Telecommuting)

Can I work from home?

Temporary telecommuting arrangements are strongly encouraged when possible amidst COVID-19 concerns. These arrangements are approved with no expectation of ongoing continuance. Supervisors may continue to approve a request from an employee to telecommute or recommend a telecommuting option for an employee if the arrangement has proven effective and productive.

Are non-exempt staff members (hourly paid) eligible for flexible work arrangement, such as telecommuting?

Temporary telecommuting arrangements are strongly encouraged when possible amidst COVID-19 concerns. These arrangements are approved with no expectation of ongoing continuance. Supervisors may approve a request from an employee to telecommute or recommend a telecommuting option for an employee.

Supervisors may approve a request from an employee to telecommute or recommend a telecommuting option for an employee.  (Refer to the link below, “More about Telecommuting” for best practices and recording time for non-exempt employees.)

Are student employees able to work?

Reducing the number of employees, including student workers, in the workplace is a critical step to protect the health of our colleagues whose jobs cannot be performed from home.

Students may continue to work on campus or remotely in essential areas whereas the conditions and work environment provide adequate social distancing,  students need to work for their livelihood, and their role is essential.

If the tasks and assignments can be performed remotely, i.e., tutoring via Zoom or Google Meet, hourly students may work remotely with adequate supervision.

Students cannot be required to report to work while the University is working to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the continuing good health of our university community.

Are students able to telecommute?

If the tasks and assignments can be performed remotely, i.e., tutoring via Zoom or Google Meet, students (hourly or paid on a stipend) may work remotely with adequate supervision.

More about Telecommuting

Travel Considerations

Are we allowed to travel?

This information will be updated as CDC guidance changes.

  • All university-affiliated international and domestic travel is prohibited until further notice.
    • Faculty who believe their travel is essential must apply for a waiver with the Office of the Provost.
    • Staff who believe their travel is essential must apply for a waiver through their respective Vice Chancellor.
  • Students, faculty or staff members returning from international travel will be required to self-quarantine, self-monitor, fill out the Travel Reporting Portal, and follow CDC recommendations for what to do for a minimum of 14 days.
  • All personal international travel is strongly discouraged.