Return to Campus Plan for Employees

Union College cares about ensuring a safe and healthy environment for our students, employees and guests. Each of us has a shared responsibility to comply with the guidelines, ask questions and support one another as we return to our campus. Adapting to a new normal is essential for protecting ourselves, our families and community against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Union’s return to campus plan must meet the requirements outlined in the NY Forward Safety Plan template. Because guidance can change frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic, this plan will be updated as needed by consulting the NY Forward website and applicable Executive Orders on a periodic basis, or whenever notified of the availability of new guidance. Employees will be notified when significant changes are made to the return to campus plan.

We offer the following guidance, assembled by careful review of CDC and New York State guidance.

Employee Expectations and Resources

All employees (faculty, staff and administrators) are expected to fully comply with the policies, protocols and guidance outlined in this plan as part of workplace expectations and guidelines. Employees who fail to comply may face disciplinary action.

Employees who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 or who are concerned about returning to work, should consult with their supervisor and Human Resources about the possibility of working remotely or pursuing other options that are available.

The College understands and recognizes that these can be stressful times. Employees seeking support are encouraged to talk with their supervisor, Human Resources or contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), New Directions, (reminder company code is Union College and password Guest) or the Employee Resource Network (ERN) Success Coaches Danielle Williams (518) 709-8575 dwilliams@schenectadyworks.com or John McCarthy (518) 344-8905 jmccarthy@schenectadyworks.com.

Key elements for preventing infection:

  • Daily screening

    As part of adapting to the new normal during the pandemic, each of us has an obligation to stay home if we have COVID-19 symptoms and not “push through” by going to work. By doing this, employees play a vital role in keeping our colleagues and community healthy, and will be supported by their supervisors.

    Prior to being on campus each day, employees must self-monitor using the COVID-19 Daily Checklist [PDF]. This will be sent to either your home or work email address prior to returning to campus, and will include a link where you must attest each day that you have self-monitored and are symptom free before coming to campus. If you are unable to complete the online version, you will be required to sign a log attesting that you completed the self-check and are symptom free. This information will be kept separately from any personnel records.

    If you are experiencing symptoms potentially related to COVID-19, stay home from work, contact your healthcare provider and notify your supervisor. If your healthcare provider requests you to be quarantined and/or tested, the College must receive clearance from your healthcare provider in order to return to work.

    If you begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms while at work, please notify your supervisor and go home as soon as possible. Your supervisor will notify Human Resources. Once home, contact your health care provider for guidance. Your supervisor or Human Resources will contact you for updates. If your healthcare provider requests you to be quarantined and/or tested, the College must receive clearance from your healthcare provider in order to return to work.

    Employees who are 65 or older, or have an underlying medical condition that might place them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, should contact Human Resources to determine the best return-to-work plan for them. Underlying medical conditions include, but are not limited to:

    • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • serious heart conditions
    • immunocompromised:
      • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune-weakening medications
    • severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
    • diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • liver disease

    Employees who come in direct contact with a person who is lab-confirmed or a suspected case for COVID-19 should contact their health care provider for guidance and testing as appropriate. If you do not have a healthcare provider please contact Hometown Health at (518) 370-1441.

    If you test positive for COVID-19, you must notify your supervisor or EHS. The College will immediately notify the appropriate local health department and will cooperate with contact- tracing efforts -- , including notification of potential contacts, such as employees, students or visitors who had close contact with the individual -- , while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations. The College must receive clearance from your healthcare provider in order to return to work.

    In addition, Union’s COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocol will be implemented for those areas where individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 have visited or resided.

  • Social distancing

    Social distancing must be practiced. Individuals should maintain 6 feet distance from each other at all times. This is one of the key elements for reducing the spread of infection. To help members of our community visualize 6 feet, the College will be placing signs and floor markings in densely populated areas.

    For work required indoors, the total occupancy is limited to 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area, as set by the certificate of occupancy. Facilities Services will partner with departments across campus on final layout and implementation.

    Meetings should be conducted remotely via Zoom or a similar platform. If an in-person meeting is required it must be limited to no more than 10 people. The meeting space must be large enough to allow a distance of 6 feet for all people in the meeting and masks must be worn.

  • Masks

    You are required to have your mask with you and available at all times.

    Masks or cloth face coverings must be worn at all times when it is difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others. If you have restrictions that prevent you from wearing a mask, please consult with Human Resources. Accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

    Masks are not required if you are working alone and inside a space where there are physical barriers such as doors and walls.

    If you routinely interact with members of the community at a distance less than 6 feet while working, you must wear your mask during this time.

    Union will provide all employees with a cloth mask and a CDC information sheet with information on how to wear, care for and store masks properly. Employees are also allowed to wear their own masks.

    Departments can contact EHS for a limited supply of disposable masks for employees who forget their mask at home. Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash.

  • Personal safety practices

    Individuals are expected to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water following CDC guidelines or use hand sanitizer when unable to wash their hands. This is another key element for reducing the spread of infection.

    If you are around others and do not have your cloth face covering on, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

    Hand sanitizer stations will be clearly marked in high traffic areas.

    Hand hygiene will be demonstrated through training, communication and signage.

    Sharing of objects is discouraged. If items must be shared, disinfection protocol must be clearly posted and reviewed with all participants.

Guidance for Administrative Units:

Prior to employees returning to campus, each administrative unit must provide a COVID-19 Safety Plan specific to their work areas by completing the COVID-19 Safety Plan for Administrative Units. The completed form will be submitted to EHS and the Vice President for your area for review and approval. Instructions for completing this form will be provided to supervisors and managers. The plan must be communicated to employees in the area to ensure they understand the scheduled date to return to campus and the requirements for working safely.

There are several options departments should consider to maintain required social distancing measures and to reduce density within buildings and work spaces. Managers and supervisors will be provided training on employee safety and guidance on the information below.

  • Staggered work schedules to reduce the number of people in the office space.
  • Remote Work - Employees who can work remotely to fulfill some or all of their work responsibilities should continue this practice to reduce population density on the campus.
  • Flexible scheduling to allow employees to accommodate special circumstances.

Modified Facilities Operations

Areas that have a high volume of people and require close interactions such as registers, counters or service desks will have a clear barrier guard installed to provide an additional layer of protection.

Facilities Services will be modifying existing infrastructure to increase safety on campus including:

  • implementing modifications to HVAC systems to include increased air circulation
  • altering existing restrooms and showers to facilitate social distancing by reducing the number of fixtures available for use

Cleaning and Disinfecting

The Union College Facilities Services Housekeeping department is following cleaning and disinfecting protocols provided by the CDC and New York State Department of Health. Cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces will be completed daily.

Facilities Services staff will monitor hand sanitizer and soap dispenser stations to ensure proper quantity at all times. Stand-alone hand sanitizers have been added to various locations around campus. Facilities Services will maintain a cleaning log of dates, time and scope of cleaning performed.

Individuals will be responsible for cleaning their work area and equipment. Disinfecting kits will be provided by EHS.

Individuals will be responsible for disposing of trash and recyclables in the main bins in hallways instead of their workspace.

Communications for Employees and Visitors

Union’s COVID-19 website will have information and updates for the community.

All employees will be required to complete a Union-provided COVID-19 training course prior to starting work. Those who are already working on campus will be required to complete the training; this will be coordinated with their supervisors.

Training will include responsibilities for members of our campus community, available resources and safety policies.

The College will produce official COVID-19 signage, which will be installed by Facilities Services. If a department wishes to install additional signs or floor markings in their work area, EHS can meet with them and assess what is appropriate.

Travel

Staying home is the best way to prevent yourself and others from getting sick. If you are considering travel for personal reasons in the United States, you will need to adhere to CDC, state and local health department guidelines for traveling and isolation requirements after travel.

CDC recommends all travelers avoid non-essential international travel.

The College will limit all non-essential business travel. Please secure approval from your supervisor before making business travel plans.

Questions?

These guidelines are the framework for providing a safe environment at Union College during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comments or questions may be directed to EHS (dobsonde@union.edu) or Human Resources (karavols@union.edu).