COVID-19 Faculty & Staff FAQs

The health, safety and well-being of the university community is paramount. University officials and medical experts are continuously monitoring and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Austin Public Health (APH) and other official sources.


College Response Overview

  • The University of Texas at Austin campus is continuing its essential operations and core functions (Modified-open).
  • The College needs to maintain a rotating core working onsite if at all possible, to ensure continuity of research, instruction, and operations.
  • Individuals who have both the job duties and adequate technology resources to work remotely may request to do so if they are uncomfortable working on campus.
  • There is an expectation to maintain minimum in-person staffing in all work groups necessary for continued college operations in the context of the campus being ‘Modified-open’.
  • For questions or concerns that cannot be addressed through the channels listed below, please don’t hesitate to contact the college Dean’s Office
  • Check the University COVID-19 (coronavirus) resource page daily as the situation evolves continuously.

The information below includes specific information about how the College of Pharmacy will conduct operations during this temporary period of time (Modified-open). At this point, our expectation is that these plans will be in place for the next two weeks, before classes resume on March 30, 2020.

Areas of Focus

Continuity of research, instruction and college operations

Our overriding focus continues to center on ensuring, to the extent possible, the continuity of research, instruction and college operations during this evolving health crisis.

We consider all faculty and staff positions in the college as essential in supporting this mission.

These are challenging times, and we are all learning as we go.

Make data-informed, common sense decisions


Focus on doing what’s best for our community.

We will encounter many situations where we have to make quick choices without sufficient guidance or policy precedence.

We will follow all guidelines where they exist and do what is right when the guidance is limited.

Give grace to one another. Be caring and empathetic.

It is reasonable to assume that everyone is doing the best they can to support our community, even as we make mistakes or have to walk back from a decision to respond to changing needs.

Be adaptable. Things will continue to change.


Some of the plans we are making right now will most assuredly change as conditions unfold and as we learn more.

Flexibility is essential.

College of Pharmacy Operational Plan Overview

College Dean’s Office

One or two of the leadership team (associate and assistant deans) will be on campus at all times during normal business hours. Others will work remotely when not on campus. In addition, there will be administrative support (rotating across a small pool) in the Dean’s Office during normal business hours. Other administrative personnel who work directly in the Dean’s Office will work remotely.

Division Heads

Across divisions, division heads will continue to maintain a campus presence either onsite or by working remotely. The Dean’s Office will serve as backup for any major decisions that must be made in the event a division head is unreachable.

College Administrative Staff

Have the right to request telework accommodations from their supervisor, following applicable college policies and guidance. Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate. Staff do not need to disclose underlying medical conditions or any other health information to you.

Given that, and to the extent possible, each of our six divisions will coordinate onsite staff schedules, some having one on-site staff member present during normal business hours, depending on the size and needs of the division.

 

If the division head determines that a staff member is needed onsite, then the staff members who fill this role may rotate.

All other staff who are able will work remotely, providing their job duties can be performed remotely, and we are preparing additional support resources and guidance for them to do so.

Development

All development staff will work primarily remotely. Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate.

Student Affairs

For the period of March 16 to March 27, there will be a minimum of one staff member present in the office to perform duties and complete transactions that must be handled in person. There will be a minimum of one advisor onsite also. Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate.

Administrative Affairs

(includes Operations, Academic HR, HR, Leave, Security, Facilities, etc…) For the period of March 16 to March 27, there will be a minimum of one staff member present in the office to perform duties and complete transactions that must be handled in person. Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate.

Business Office

(includes purchasing, deliveries, finance, etc…) For the period of March 16 to March 27, there will be a minimum of one staff member present in the office to perform duties and complete transactions that must be handled in person. All other staff members will telework if their duties can be performed remotely. . Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate.

COP Research Administration

For the period of March 16 to March 27, there will be a minimum of one staff member present in the office to perform duties and complete transactions that must be handled in person. Personal leave may be utilized as appropriate.

Information Technology Office/Learning Resource Center

From March 16 to March 27, this unit will likely have the majority of staff working on campus to facilitate transition to teleworking and online course preparation activities across the college. These staff members will exercise social distancing practices. After March 30, staff members will begin to shift to more teleworking, with two to three staff members likely to be on campus at any time to field on-campus IT issues.

Additional Resources

As you can tell, a tremendous amount of planning effort is taking place. Many of us are being asked to do things for which we may feel minimally prepared: teaching classes online, working to maintain progress on research during partial closure situations, trying to conduct normal duties from home, etc.  Thank you for all you do.

On Campus

Building Access

All buildings will be closed – Badge access only until further notice.

ID Center

ID Center Emergency Remote EID Upgrade Process

HR Personnel should complete the attached spreadsheet and email it to ID_Center@utlists.utexas.edu. The file includes instructions.  ID Center personnel will validate the information and establish a video chat appointment with the new hire to verify identity. In the event a video chat appointment is not feasible (large groups of 10 or more- e.g., NEWO session), it will be the responsibility of the requestor to have confirmed identity.

Central HR Readiness

HR is participating with other major public employers like the City of Austin, Travis County, AISD and ACC to understand each other’s temporary COVID-19 related temporary HR policies. HR recognizes that many of your CSU business continuity plans rely on knowing what functions are available from central HR. At this time, central HR is prepared to have100% of our staff able to work remotely and online effective for Monday. However, a small subset of staff would rotate and continue to come to campus, following social distancing and other public health guidelines, to retrieve U.S. mail and perform duties not feasible from a remote location. The new event guidelines published on the UT COVID-19 website provides easy-to-read social distancing & public health considerations that can be adapted for the office context, i.e. conducting core office business functions where 2+ people need to come together.

What does central HR readiness mean to you? This means that central HR will be able to perform the following HR core functions:

    • Hiring and Onboarding
    • Compensation and Position Adjustments
    • Separations and Off-boarding
    • Employee Relations and Teleworking Consulting
    • Benefits Delivery for Active Employees and Retirees
    • Workers’ Compensation Processing
    • Absence and Leave Management Processing and Consulting
    • Timekeeping and HR Records Management/Open Records
    • HR Service Center Ticket Response
    • EAP Telecounseling Services
    • Occupational Health Consulting Services

I-9 Management

Marlo has been connected with Homeland Security and is keeping up with all COVID-19 related updates to federal processing requirements from the National Law Review, USCIS and other entities. Unfortunately, the federal government is not waiving the need to inspect original documents in person. We had advocated for Zoom, Skype or other webcam enabled technology to verify documents and identity, but at this time, the response remains no.

For now, candidates being hired in the Austin and surrounding areas, should have their original documents inspected in-person following social distancing guidelines, where feasible. Brief contact to exchange paperwork is not prohibited in social distancing. For example, HR plans to have signs posted advising individuals to remain 6 ft away from the HR Service Center reception desk while waiting for notary services.

For candidates being hired remotely (i.e. out-of-state workers), the federal government is allowing the employer to designate an authorized representative to verify the identity documents. At this time, HR is recommending remote worker candidates use a notary or similar service (e.g. banking institutions often provide this service to their customers free of charge). The candidate would fax the completed I-9 form to the HR Service Center, keep a copy for themselves as back-up and mail the original. The HR Service Center would be checking regularly for faxed remote-worker I-9’s to process.

From the National Law Review, “in a special situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic that we are now facing, there may be an increased need to complete Forms I-9 remotely–and it may become more difficult for an employer to identify an individual who is willing and able to act as an authorized representative for I-9 purposes. When designating an authorized representative, employers should exercise discretion. This is because the employer remains liable for Form I-9 violations and violations in the verification process, as well as any violations of employer sanctions law that the authorized representative may commit.”

Leave Issues

I know leave issues are on your mind for both leave-eligible and non-leave eligible employees. I will be sending an email later today that will cover a variety of leave topics, including options for non-leave eligible staff and expansion of SLD and SLP criteria related to COVID-19 presumed or confirmed diagnosis.

HR is also partnering with UT System Office of General Council, UT System Risk Management and UT Austin Legal Affairs to review unemployment insurance claims for reduced hour work, financial assistance options, and continuation of wages for work study employees. We will publish updates once the recommendations are finalized.

HR has added a new webpage to our HR website specific to COVID-19 updates. As additional is known, this webpage will be updated. Also, please reference the COVID-19 FAQs page frequently. Many of your employee’s and manager’s questions may already be answered and published, such as questions about “who is a close contact?”, “when do I self-monitor?”, etc.

IT Resources

Security Guidance for Working Remotely

Whether it’s a normal part of your job or as an alternative if access to campus is temporarily restricted, the ability to work remotely (also known as telecommuting or teleworking) can help keep the University’s operations running from afar. Though potentially of great benefit to your department’s operations, it’s essential that all remote work be performed in a secure computing environment.

ITS Service Desk

The FAC walk-up Service Desk is closed with the campus is closed. However, our Service Desk coverage at (512) 475-9400 and help@utexas.edu remains open. Effective now, we have temporarily extended our hours of operation for phone and email:

Social Distancing

Social Distancing document exists to assist decision-making by faculty members, staff members and students for those in-person classes, meetings, or other gatherings that are deemed essential and cannot be postponed or moved to an online format.  EVENT = MEETING/CLASS

For all classes, meetings, events and other gatherings of 2+ people:

  • Consider the use of online technology for small meetings and events, if it is feasible (e.g. teleconferencing, Zoom, Skype, etc.).
  • Maintain a roster of all individuals involved in the activity. This log should include name and contact information. This log should be maintained for at least two months.
  • Send an email to participants ahead of time with the guidelines below, encouraging individuals to not attend if they are sick or high risk, explaining expected hygiene during the event, laying out expectations of social distancing and how that will work in the space provided, and discussing cleaning procedures before and after the event.
  • Facemasks are not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in people without symptoms. Facemasks are not needed for meetings and events.
  • Additional prevention guidance can be found on the university’s COVID-19 website.

Guideline 1: Limit participation of sick individuals and encourage immunocompromised/high-risk individuals to not participate

  • Individuals feeling unwell or experiencing any respiratory symptoms should not participate in the activity. Organizers have the discretion to ask attendees with respiratory symptoms to leave the event.
  • Individuals who are in a high-risk population are encouraged to not participate in the activity.
    • Reasonable accommodations should be made for people who cannot participate in the activity because they are in a high-risk population. High risk includes older adults (age > 60) and people with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or who are immunocompromised. More details about People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19 is on the CDC website.

Guideline 2: Implement social distancing techniques

  • Participants must be able to maintain social distancing of 6 feet when possible.
  • As a rule of thumb, the number of attendees should generally not exceed 25% of the room’s maximum capacity for seated individuals for meetings and events where attendees are expected to be seated.
  • Limit the duration of the event and number of attendees. Meet no longer than the time needed to complete the task.

Guideline 3: Maintain hygiene during the event

  • Ensure access to hand-washing stations or hand sanitizer.
  • Healthyhorns materials should be displayed within the immediate activity space and at the closest hand-washing station. Additionally, an education slide should be shown or provided at every meeting. These materials are on the University Health Services Healthyhorns website.
  • Facial tissues and waste baskets should be present within the activity space.
  • The more open and well-ventilated a space, the better. Consider options for outdoors.
  • Avoid food service when possible or select individually packaged options. Self-serve buffet style must be avoided at classes, meetings and events.

Guideline 4: Clean after the event

Perform routine environmental cleaning. Read the CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations.

  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops and tabletops, remote controls, computer mouses and keyboards, A/V controls, arms on chairs, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
  • No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.