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Employee Reopening Plan

Bethel University is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of our employees. To ensure that, we have developed the following Employee Reopening Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees are responsible for understanding and complying with all aspects of this plan. We know our community at Bethel is unique. As Christ-followers, we care deeply for each other, our students, and their safety and wellbeing. Together, by adhering to this plan, we can mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 at Bethel and create a safe and welcoming community for our students when they return. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation and circumstances can change quickly. As such, this plan will change as needed. We will provide updates when changes are made. This plan is heavily informed by outside medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and follows the guidance from Governor Walz. 

This plan was developed by a subgroup of the COVID-19 Emergency Response team. Facilities management, safety and security, health services, and human resources staff played key roles in the development of this plan. We also want to acknowledge the essential personnel who have remained on campus during the Shelter-in-Place to maintain our grounds, perform deep cleaning and essential administrative functions, and ensure the security and safety of the campus. Without their sacrifice and service, this reopening plan would not be possible.

Reopening Phases

Group 1 Tentative return: June 1
Group 2 Tentative return: July 1
Group 3 Tentative return: August 1
Group 4 Continue remote work through at least fall semester

 

We are excited to announce, consistent with the State of Minnesota’s direction, that we will gradually begin allowing more employees back on campus using a deliberate and diligent approach. To facilitate this, employees will be allowed to return to campus in three groups over the course of the summer. A fourth group will remain working remotely through the fall semester. Our reopening criteria were created by gathering feedback from supervisors, managers, directors, deans, ELT, and Cabinet with the goal of returning employees to campus in a manner that ultimately best serves our students while providing a safe working environment.

Currently, given the Governor’s Stay Safe Order, until further notice, all employees must continue to work remotely on a regular basis. Employees who have been approved to work from campus prior to this plan may continue to do so. Decisions regarding when employees can return to work on campus regularly will be announced at a later date.  

We recognize that employees may need to come to campus occasionally to perform work that can only be completed on campus. As department needs vary, supervisors should work with their employees to further define and clarify what this means for their position. 

Department heads will inform employees which group they are in and will clarify in what instances they are allowed to come to campus. We recognize that personal situations may prevent employees from returning on the start date noted for their group. While ID card access to campus will be activated on the start date for each employee’s group, employees do not have to return to work by that date if their personal situation prevents them from doing so, e.g., lack of childcare. Employees should work with their supervisors to develop a plan to return to work. 

Accommodations will be made for those in a vulnerable group or those who live with someone who falls in a vulnerable group. (See Accommodations for Vulnerable Persons later in this plan.) 

Depending on the configuration of the department space, department heads and supervisors also have the flexibility to use one or more of the following options to ensure proper social distancing:

  • Staggered work days on campus
  • Staggered start and end times
  • Various combinations of on-campus and remote work
  • Use of “swing” space

If one or more of these options is desired, department heads should propose a plan for review by human resources at bethelhr@bethel.edu.

GROUP 1 Criteria: Option to return to campus occasionally beginning June 1

  • All faculty so they can adequately prepare for summer or fall classes or conduct summer research.
  • Students who are working with faculty on summer research.
  • Student workers whose work cannot be done remotely.
  • Staff whose functions:
    • Must be done on campus and/or where work is meaningfully affected by working on-campus.  
    • Include enrollment and recruiting which require a physical presence on campus to facilitate physical enrollment events.
    • Support students for both the spring and fall semester that require a physical presence on campus.

Staff position examples include, but are not limited to: select enrollment counselors, enrollment operations, and advancement personnel, all bookstore and instructional media staff, head coaches, and the president’s office. 

GROUP 2 Criteria: Option to return to campus occasionally beginning July 1

Staff whose functions:

  • Must be done with some regularity on campus (e.g., dealing with US mail, physical files, etc.)
  • Require them to be physically present before the rest of the community arrives in August to support a return to face-to-face operations for the fall.

Staff position examples include, but are not limited to: additional enrollment counselors, fall sport assistant coaches, academic deans, and select academic support, financial aid, registrar, university library, student life, human resources, and administrative staff.

GROUP 3 Criteria: Option to return to campus as needed beginning August 1

Staff whose functions require them to be physically present to support a return to face-to-face operations for the fall.

Staff position examples include, but are not limited to: remaining staff not in groups 1 or 2 who are not in group 4.

GROUP 4 Criteria: Continue remote work throughout at least the fall semester>

Staff whose functions can continue to be performed remotely and are not meaningfully affected by working remotely. Periodic access to campus would be allowed.

Staff position examples include, but are not limited to: select advancement, business office, ITS, marketing, registrar, CAPS/Seminary/GS academic development and operations, and administrative leadership and support staff.

Screening and Policies for Employees Exhibiting Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

Daily Health Screenings and Accountability

Prior to entering campus at either site, 3900 or the Anderson Center, all employees must complete a daily online health screen. If the form is not completed or the results show that staying at home is advised, ID card access will be denied for that day.

Daily Screening Process

Complete the daily online Health Screening Form. Employees will be asked two questions regarding their current health status and then asked to attest to their answer. 

QUESTION 1: Are you showing any signs of one or more of the following symptoms: fever, new cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell?

QUESTION 2: To your knowledge, have you been in direct contact within the last 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (clinically or test-confirmed)? Direct contact is defined as being with the person infected for an hour or more at less than 6 feet distance.

  • If the answer is NO to both questions, ID card access will automatically be updated as approved to be on campus that day.
    • If entering at 3900, employees should proceed to the main entrance off of Old Snelling (near the West Parking Lot) and enter through the far-right side, swiping their ID card to gain entry.
    • If entering at the Anderson Center, employees should proceed to the reception desk to gain entry.
  • If the answer is YES to one or both questions, do not come to work and follow the steps below for reporting COVID-19 illness while at home.

Reporting COVID-19 Illness Policy While at Home

Employee Steps: 
  1. Notify your supervisor that you are ill and not coming to work.
  2. Do not come to work.
  3. Complete the Health Services COVID-19 Notification Form. Note that the answers to these questions will only be sent to and stored by Health Services.
    • What are your symptoms?
    • When did your symptoms start?
    • What locations have you been at Bethel within the last 14 days?
    • Who have you been in direct contact with at Bethel, i.e., been with for an hour or more at less than 6 feet distance?
  4. Seek immediate guidance from your healthcare provider.

Supervisor Steps:

  1. Notify human resources at bethelhr@bethel.edu.
  2. Notify facilities management at facilities-management@bethel.edu so that they can properly disinfect the workspace as needed.
  3. Inform your team that a member of your team is out sick, being careful to share only the information your employee wishes be shared.

At a minimum, employees must stay home until they are fever-free for three consecutive days without fever-reducing medication and ten days since the onset of symptoms.

Reporting COVID-19 Illness Policy While at Work 

Employee Steps: 
  1. Ensure you are wearing a mask.
  2. Inform your supervisor.
  3. Go home immediately. If immediate departure is not possible, you should stay isolated in your department’s isolation space until a ride home is available.
  4. Complete the Health Services COVID-19 Notification Form. Note that the answers to these questions will only be sent to and stored by Health Services.
    • What are your symptoms?
    • When did your symptoms start?
    • What locations have you been at Bethel within the last 14 days?
    • Who have you been in direct contact with at Bethel, i.e., been with for an hour or more at less than 6 feet distance? 
  5. Seek immediate guidance from your healthcare provider.
Supervisor Steps:
  1. Ensure your employee is wearing a mask.
  2. Send the employee home immediately. If immediate departure is not possible, the employee should stay isolated in your department’s isolation space until a ride home is available.
  3. Notify human resources at bethelhr@bethel.edu.
  4. Notify facilities management at facilities-management@bethel.edu so that they can properly disinfect the workspace as needed.
  5. Inform your team that a member of your team is out sick, being careful to share only the information your employee wishes be shared.

At a minimum, employees must stay home until they are fever-free for three consecutive days without fever-reducing medication and ten days since the onset of symptoms.

Communication of Exposure

If an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (clinically or test-confirmed), MDH will notify individuals having been identified as direct contacts of a potential exposure and advise about next steps. 

Health Privacy Policy

All COVID-19 data collected from the Health Services COVID-19 Notification Form will only be sent to and stored by Health Services. In addition, all HIPAA Privacy and Security Policies will govern the privacy of data shared.

Employee Leave Policies for COVID-19

Caring for Yourself

For employees who are unable to work due to being ill with COVID-19, sick leave should be used to cover time away from work. If employees are unable to return to work after using five consecutive sick days, they will need to utilize short-term disability. Employees should contact human resources at bethelhr@bethel.edu if they need to begin using short-term disability.

Caring for Relatives

Sick leave can also be used to care for relatives ill with COVID-19, up to five days per occurrence, per relative. If the individual is still ill after using five days of sick leave, employees will be required to use accrued paid leave (vacation and/or personal leave) for the duration of that occurrence.

Quarantine Policy

Employees will not be allowed on campus for 14 days after they have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (clinically or test-confirmed). Direct contact is defined as being with the person infected for an hour or more at less than 6 feet distance. All other contact is considered indirect and does not necessitate being quarantined.

If quarantined, employees must/will:

  1. Inform their supervisor.
  2. Work remotely to the degree their position allows.
  3. Record their quarantine time as C19 on their timesheet, if they are non-exempt. Exempt staff do not need to report anything.
  4. Be paid at 100% during this time.
  5. Begin using sick leave and short-term disability, as needed, if they become ill with COVID-19 during quarantine.

Accommodations for Vulnerable Persons

We recognize and support the need to provide accommodations for employees who are vulnerable to COVID-19 or employees who live with individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Currently, per the CDC, an individual falls into the vulnerable category if they are over age 65 and/or have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Immuno-compromised (e.g., cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow/transplant, immunodeficiencies, prolonged use of steroids or immune-weakening medication)
  • Severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease

Employees should contact human resources at bethelhr@bethel.edu if they need an accommodation. If an employee’s work cannot be completed remotely, or only on a limited basis, the following accommodations will be made in priority order below:

  1. Remote work from another department will be sought on their behalf, paid at their normal position rate.
  2. If the employee is benefits-eligible, partial or full short-term disability will be provided for up to 26 weeks.
  3. If neither of the above are available, employees will have the option to apply for unemployment.

Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Practicing basic hygiene and respiratory etiquette has been proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also demonstrates to others our care and concern for their health and wellbeing. While practices such as frequent hand washing or wearing a cloth mask may seem inconvenient to us personally, to those around us, especially to those in the vulnerable category, these are tangible expressions of thoughtfulness for one another.

Masks

Cloth masks are required in public spaces on campus where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as when entering or exiting campus, lounges, hallways, restrooms, etc. In addition, where workstations do not permit at least six feet between employees, employees must wear cloth masks at all times. The use of cloth masks is encouraged within office suites even if social distancing measures can be practiced. 

Employees may bring their own cloth mask to work. If employees need a cloth mask, Bethel will provide up to two per employee at no cost. Masks can be requested online through the Campus Store

Handwashing

Employees are expected to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, but especially at the beginning and end of their time on campus, after visiting high traffic locations, prior to any mealtimes, and after using the toilet. Hand sanitizer dispensers are also available and can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water if hands are not visibly soiled.

Cover Your Cough or Sneeze

Employees are expected to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and avoid touching their face—in particular their mouth, nose, and eyes—with their hands. Tissues should be disposed of in the trash and individuals should wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward.

Social Distancing Policy

To ensure the protection of employees and students, the following social distancing practices must be followed:

  • Until further notice, meetings must continue to be held virtually if:
    • Social distancing cannot be practiced and/or
    • The group is larger than 10.
  • All meetings must have a virtual or remote call-in option.
  • Employees and students must not gather in groups in confined areas, including elevators.
  • Employees and students must not use anyone else’s personal protective equipment, phones, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, workstations, offices, or other personal work tools and equipment. There are some situations where Bethel-owned vehicles or work tools must be shared. In those situations, employees should take precautions to sanitize them between use. These materials will be provided by facilities management.
  • Common spaces such as break rooms, lounges, huddle rooms, and conference rooms must have furniture rearranged to promote social distancing. 
  • Break rooms and lunchrooms will be limited to food preparation only. When possible, employees are encouraged to bring meals that do not require refrigeration or heating.

Campus Visitor and Contractor Policy

Until further notice, Bethel will not allow employees to have visitors (e.g., friends, family, etc.) on campus, unless the employee lives on campus. Employees who live on campus should complete our Campus Visitor Request Form for their visitor in advance of their visit.

Where business-critical, in-person visits must occur on campus, such as to allow equipment or facilities to remain operational, adherence to this plan is required. Employees who oversee these entities will need to complete the Campus Visitor Request Form for their visitor in advance of their visit. 

All visitors will be required to complete the Health Screening Form before they enter campus. The campus visitor policy forbids visits from persons who have had known exposure to persons with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19.

Cleaning Protocol

Regular cleaning practices are being enhanced by Bethel, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces, equipment, tools, and machinery, and other areas in the work environment. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted in areas with highly touched surfaces such as door knobs and handles, classroom furniture, handrails, light switches, vending machines, elevators, and water fountains. Facilities management will also clean public spaces such as building lobbies and restrooms at least once daily, and more frequently if deemed necessary.

Departments will be provided with sanitizing products for shared-use equipment so that they have the ability to disinfect areas, including the following, after each use:

  • Department reception areas
  • Break rooms and kitchenettes
  • Workrooms
  • Huddle and conference rooms 
  • Training areas
  • Circulation areas 
  • Shared computers, printers, or other technology
  • Other shared resources

All custodial staff and their supervisors have been provided refresher training on proper cleaning techniques, as well as background information on COVID-19. All cleaning products meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. If there is a confirmed positive case reported to Bethel, facilities management will coordinate cleaning and disinfecting of that employee's work space and other places they have touched or used.

Communications and Training

This plan has been adopted by the Bethel University Cabinet and was first distributed to all faculty and staff on May 20, 2020. It will be updated, as necessary. The most up-to-date version of this plan will remain posted on the COVID-19 Information website. It is also being communicated via a systemwide email from the President’s Office and will be reinforced through direct communication to supervisors, managers, directors, deans, ELT, and Cabinet. 

Additional communication will be ongoing as circumstances surrounding the pandemic require. Supervisors, managers, directors, deans, ELT, and Cabinet are required to monitor how effective the program has been implemented by reporting observations and concerns to their supervisor and Cara Wald, chief human resources and strategy officer, at c-wald@bethel.edu.