COVID-19 Information for Employees

COVID-19 Information for Employees

The Winthrop University leadership and the Critical Incident Management Team are closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation related to COVID-19 and will provide updates as necessary.

EMPLOYEE NOTIFICATION OF COVID-19 EXPOSURE OR POSITIVE TEST RESULT

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus, click here to notify Human Resources.

CDC Updated Close-Contact Definition

Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

    Phase 1B of the South Carolina Vaccination Plan includes Winthrop’s faculty and staff and begins on Monday, March 8, 2021.  Vaccination sites are scheduling appointments now.  For additional information see the March 2, 2021 news release from SC DHEC

    Vaccination location options

    • Winthrop employees may visit the City of Rock Hill COVID Update website to register in the VAMS system and schedule an appointment at the Rock Hill Community Vaccination Clinic. The registration process is open now for individuals who meet the Phase 1B criteria and it can take 24-48 hour for the registration to be accepted. Once the registration is accepted you will receive an email with instructions for scheduling an appointment.  Employees may call (803) 980-2684 with questions
    • Additional vaccination sites can be found on DHEC’s VAXLocator and the vaccine location web map.

    Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information regarding taking leave to receive a vaccine, expectations regarding quarantine for someone who has had the vaccine, etc.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

      According to DHEC, individuals eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1b may make appointments beginning Monday, March 8, 2021.

       Currently, five groups of individuals are eligible in Phase 1b. Those groups are:

      • Anyone age 55 and older.
      • People with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
        • People age 16-54 with one or more of the following high-risk medical conditions:
          • Cancer (current, not a history of cancer), chronic kidney disease (any stage), chronic lung disease, diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), Down syndrome, heart disease (congestive heart disease, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension), HIV/AIDS, solid organ transplant, obesity (BMI >30), pregnancy, sickle cell disease.
          • People who have a developmental or other severe high-risk disability that makes developing severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection more likely.
        • Front-line workers with increased occupational risk.
          • Must be in-person at their place of work; and
          • Perform a job in which they are at increased risk of exposure due to frequent, close (less than 6 feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment.
          • Examples of state employees who meet these criteria include staff that are in the workplace such as teachers, law enforcement officers, and other employees who have regular, sustained contact with customers or clients. It does not include all essential employees but is limited to only those employees working in-person at their place of work, working on the front line and who are at increased occupational risk of exposure.
        • Individuals at increased risk in settings where people are living and working in close contact.
          • Residents and workers in group home settings for the mentally or physically disabled or those with behavioral or substance abuse conditions
          • Workers and residents in homeless shelters
          • Workers and residents in community training homes
          • State and local correctional facility staff with direct inmate contact
          • Correctional and immigration detention facility inmates
          • Migrant farmworkers living in shared housing or reliant on shared transportation
          • All workers in health care and community health settings who have routine, direct patient contact and were not vaccinated in Phase 1a
        • All workers in health care and community health settings who have routine, direct patient contact and were not vaccinated in Phase 1a

      Eligible employees should contact providers directly to schedule an appointment unless the agency has an enrolled provider available to employees. To locate a vaccine provider, employees should visit scdhec.gov/vaxlocator.

      The type of documentation required to make an appointment and/or receive a vaccine will vary from provider to provider and be based on the qualifying reason. For example, individuals qualifying based on age (age 55 and older), will likely be asked to provide a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s license, which lists their date of birth.

      No, the vaccine will not be mandatory for Winthrop or state employees as they become eligible for the vaccine. Winthrop and state employees are strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine when they become eligible to receive it.

      Employees are encouraged to be vaccinated during lunch breaks, outside of work hours or on-site, if available. Agencies are encouraged to be flexible to allow employees the opportunity to obtain the vaccine when it becomes available.

      If an employee is unable to receive the vaccine during non-work hours, or to make up the work time missed to receive the vaccine, the employee will be required to use leave for their time away from work.

      Yes, even after employees have received all required doses of the vaccine, all Winthrop employees are expected to continue to follow the health and safety protocols including maintaining physical distancing, washing hands for 20 seconds, and wearing face coverings. Currently, the CDC and DHEC recommend using “all the tools” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because there is not enough information to endorse disregarding other protective measures after receiving the vaccine.

      According to DHEC, if a fully vaccinated person has close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case, they will not be required to quarantine if they meet the following criteria:

      • Are fully vaccinated (two or more weeks following receipt of the second shot in a two-dose series, or more than two weeks following receipt of one shot in a single-dose vaccine);
      • Are within three months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and
      • Have remained asymptomatic since the current exposure.

      No, the federal government will cover the cost of the vaccine and individuals will not incur out-of-pocket expenses for the vaccine or for vaccine administration. However, health care providers may charge an office visit fee in some cases. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee, and no one should receive a bill for receiving the vaccine.

      Anyone who has received their vaccine and has a question about any charges, fees or associated costs should contact their vaccine provider.

      If an employee experiences a reaction, employees and supervisors should follow their normal sick leave policy and practices. Employees may contact their health care provider if they have questions about post-vaccination recovery.
      According to the CDC, a person will be able to gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. They can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household and if they have been around someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 they do not need to stay away from others unless they have symptoms. Currently, the CDC recommends using all preventative measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all employees will be required to continue to follow Winthrop’s health and safety protocols.

     

    According to Governor McMasters’ March 5, 2021 Executive Order, all state employees, including Winthrop employees are required to return to their on-campus work locations on March 15, 2021.  Employees who have not already done so must go to the HR COVID-19 Information for Employees website and click on the “Faculty and Staff Return to Work Notification, Training, and Resources” to view training and expectations for working on campus, and to complete the Online Acknowledgement that they viewed the information. 

    Frequently asked questions are provided to assist employees in understanding more about the directive from the Governor:

      Yes. Winthrop will still employ measures to reduce the likelihood of transmission in the workplace including, but not limited to, requiring employees to wear masks in all buildings, classrooms, and common areas.  Employees are reminded to wash hands frequently, continue virtual co-worker meetings when possible and not to congregate in common areas.  Employees should to stay home when they are not feeling well.
      Yes. However, employees with disabilities should continue to work with Human Resources to request workplace accommodations when necessary for their own health conditions.  if an employee has a disability (e.g., congestive heart failure) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies as placing the individual at higher risk for severe illness resulting from the COVID-19 virus, Winthrop will work through the interactive process with the employee to evaluate a request for a temporary reasonable accommodation to work remotely until the individual has had an opportunity to be vaccinated. The CDC provides a list of conditions that place an individual at a higher risk of severe illness from the COVID-19 virus. View the CDC’s list.

      Requests for accommodation based on other types of disabilities, such as anxiety will be handled on a case-by-case basis and in a manner consistent with the ADA, FMLA and other laws relevant to individuals with a disability and/or in need of medical leave.  In most all situations employees being physically present in their on-campus work location is considered an essential job function. Therefore, Winthrop will engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to identify accommodations that would enable the employee to report to the workplace. Examples include access to additional personal protective equipment, a staggered reporting time, and reasonable work area modifications such as sneeze guards or the movement of a desk within the cubicle.
      As stated in previous communications, Winthrop will not require employees to receive the COVID vaccine.  However, an employee’s choice not to receive the vaccine will not be a consideration for allowing continued work from home.  As of March 15, 2021, physically reporting to the on-campus work location is an essential function of an employee’s job.
      Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply when the individual with a disability is a family member or household resident of the employee. Qualifying employees may be eligible for leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they need to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Requests for FMLA leave will need to be made by the employee and will be processed in accordance with federal law and Winthrop’s policy.
      Yes.  Employees who are experiencing any symptoms that can be associated with COVID-19 (runny nose, cough, fever, headache, etc.) should not come to work until the symptoms have subsided.  Employees who are exhibiting any of the COVID-related symptoms are encouraged to obtain a COVID-19 test.
      Yes. All guidelines regarding isolation and quarantine are still applicable. If an employee is required to quarantine based on DHEC’s guidance, an agency has discretion to allow the employee to work from home during the period of quarantine if the employee can perform his or her job functions remotely.  If an employee does work from home while quarantining, the employee must return the back to the workplace immediately upon competition of the quarantine period.
      Yes. However, we recognize there are some issues regarding child care associated with K-12 school schedules.  The following information regarding child care was approved by the Division of State Human Resources for Winthrop.
      • March 22, 2021 – Understanding that most local school districts will return K-12 students to five-day in-person learning in the coming weeks, Winthrop will require employees with children in K-12 schools who have child care issues to return to their on-campus work location on a full-time basis on March 22, 2021.
      • April 5, 2021 – Winthrop will allow employees with children in K-12 schools who chose the virtual academy option for their children to remain in their current work from home situation until April 5, 2021. Parents who chose the virtual academy for the 2020-2021 school year do not have the option to alter their choice.  The additional 3 weeks will allow employees time to locate alternative adult supervision for their children, or to develop a plan with their supervisor to request leave. 
      Requests for continued work from home for child care concerns that are not associated with K-12 school schedules will not be approved.  As Winthrop is required to return to normal operations and return all employees to their on-campus work locations as soon as possible, employees are responsible for securing child care in order to comply with the Governor’s orders.
      Employees may work with their supervisors to request annual leave, sick leave, or compensatory time (non-exempt, timesheet employees) if additional time is needed, and supervisors are asked to remain flexible to the extent possible in approving leave requests for a limited time due to child care concerns.
      Temporary continued work from home due to K-12 child care concerns may be requested and approved according to the following:
      • Employees with children in school districts that will soon move to 5-day in-person instruction must return to their on-campus work location full-time no later than March 22, 2021.
      • Employees with children in the virtual academy and who are unable to secure alternate adult supervision for their children must return to their on-campus work location full-time no later than April 5, 2021. 
      Process:
      1. Employees must submit a request in writing (email is sufficient) that must include a statement from the employee identifying the employee’s individual circumstances (either children in a school system that has not yet returned to 5-day in-person learning, or the virtual academy), and a request to remain in their current work from home arrangement until the appropriate date above (or sooner depending on the individual circumstances).
      2. Supervisors must provide a written response (email is sufficient) to approve the request and clearly state the date the employee is expected to return to their on-campus work location.
      3. The supervisor must forward the request/approval to HRHelp@winthrop.edu.
      No. Due to safety and liability concerns, children are not allowed to accompany adults in the workplace.
      Effective March 15, 2021, Winthrop will resume the regular Winthrop work schedule (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday) and any work from home approval going forward must follow the Winthrop University Telecommuting/Remote policy and guidelines.  At this point, work from home at Winthrop University will be approved rarely and only when extenuating circumstances are present.  Requests for ADA/FMLA accommodations regarding health conditions will be considered when necessary.  Occasional or casual work from home will not be approved, unless one of the situations described in the above FAQs apply to the individual employee.  Winthrop leadership may consider long-term work from home for some specific position types in the future, but the state Department of Administration has made it clear that all employees should return to the workplace per the Governor’s order before an agency considers work from home requests.

      Supervisors should continue to identify ways to modify the workplace to the extent possible to promote the safety of employees. Examples of modifications include:

      • Offering staggered start times to mitigate the congregation of employees at points of ingress/egress. (See the Flexible Work Schedule guidelines and Flexible Work Schedule Request form.
      • Spreading out workstations to increase the distance between work areas.
      • Utilizing common space (e.g., conference rooms) as temporary worksites for some employees to promote social distancing.
      • Use one of the virtual meeting platforms (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) for staff meetings or other meetings with co-workers.
      • Installing sneeze guards or Plexiglas barriers. (Most offices have already installed sneeze guards and barriers where appropriate. Supervisors may make additional requests through the Facilities Management Work Order System.
      • Ensure that all offices are stocked with hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and paper towels. Supervisors may request additional supplies through the Facilities Management Work Order System.
      • Place signage in break rooms and other common spaces directing employees to avoid gathering in these spaces and to disinfect after using common appliances and equipment.
      • All spray and sanitizer bottles should be retained for refilling and not disposed of in the recycling bins.
      No. Employees are not obligated to inform their supervisor of their plans to receive or not receive the vaccine as this is protected health information.  Supervisors should not ask, or in any way imply, that employees within their departments disclose their individual vaccination status or plans.
      Yes.  However, only those temporary employees with current work assignments.  Temporary employees with current work assignments must obtain guidance from their supervisors regarding their need to report to work on March 15, 2021. Temporary assignments that were in place in March 2020 would have ended on or before June 30, 2020.  Winthrop IS NOT recalling all temporary employees who were working in March 2020 - only those with current work assignments.  Adjunct faculty will continue with their current schedule and teaching modality.
      Supervisors should follow pre-COVID practices with regard to temporary assignments. If the temporary assignment would have been performed on campus before March 2020, the temporary employee who has a current work assignment should report to work on campus on March 15, 2021.   Work from home will not be allowed for temporary employees whose duties would normally be performed at an on-campus work location.
      In some cases. Student employees are not considered state FTE employees and for the Spring 2021 semester may be allowed to continue work from home only if they are currently not residing on campus or in the local community. Students who live on campus or in the local community are required to report to work at the on-campus location. Winthrop will not provide computers, phones, or other equipment to facilitate student work from home.

    Phased Return to Work Plan (pdf 334kb)

      • Until further notice, employees will be asked to wear protective face coverings at all times, except when the employee is working alone in a private office.  Specifically, face coverings must be worn when the employee leaves their private work space and in all face-to-face interactions.  Currently Winthrop is supplying face coverings, and other PPE for facilities employees based on CDC guidelines for employees in certain professions.  For their own comfort and convenience, employees are encouraged to bring their own face covering when possible.
      • In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the campus community, all Winthrop employees are asked to practice social distancing, follow CDC protocol for self-care, and wear face coverings while on campus.
      • See the Phased Return to Work Plan for additional information regarding what Winthrop is doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and how we are managing employee concerns.
      • Stay at least 6 feet from other people
      • Do not gather in groups
      • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going into the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
      • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
      • Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
      • At the time of publication of this communication, according to DHEC, symptoms of COVID-19 include shortness of breath, coughing, fever of 100.4 °F or greater, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and/or new loss of taste or smell.
      • If you are experiencing symptoms or are sick, do not come to work.
      • If you become ill while at work, notify your supervisor, GO HOME IMMEDIATELY, CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER, and contact Human Resources (fscovidreporting@winthrop.edu) for additional information and instructions.
      • If you appear sick, your supervisor may require you to go home.  (Supervisors should use discretion in determining when to send an employee home, taking into consideration symptoms associated with general allergies and the common cold.)  Please contact the office of Human Resources, Employee Diversity, and Wellness for assistance if necessary.
      • If you have been in close contact with any person known to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 DO NOT COME TO WORK.  You must first notify your supervisor and then contact Human Resources (fscovidreporting@winthrop.edu) regarding the need to self-quarantine and for additional instructions.  Should symptoms arise during your self-quarantine, you should follow CDC guidance regarding what to do if you are sick.  CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY if your symptoms become severe.  You will need clearance from Human Resources, Employee Diversity, and Wellness before being allowed to return to work.
      • If you have been diagnosed with an active COVID-19 infection DO NOT COME TO WORK.  Employees who are diagnosed positive should contact the Office of Human Resources, Employee Diversity, and Wellness for additional guidance.
      • If you were diagnosed and have recovered from the COVID-19 virus, contact Human Resources (fscovidreporting@winthrop.edu) for clearance to return to work.
      • Known reckless behavior on the part of any employee may result in a requirement to self-quarantine and/or in disciplinary action.
      • See the Phased Return to Work Plan for additional information regarding what Winthrop is doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and how we are managing employee concerns.

      If you have tested positive for COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, please submit the Employee Notification of Exposure or Potential Exposure form below.

      If you are home, DO NOT REPORT TO WORK. If you are at work, isolate yourself immediately, leave work if well enough to drive or contact a family member.

      Human Resources will contact you promptly to discuss next steps and the need to quarantine or isolate, if applicable.

      Employee Notification of Exposure or Possible Exposure to COVID-19

       

    Protocol
    DHEC Mobile Testing Clinics

    Employees in leave-eligible positions must continue to submit timesheets and leave reports following the submission deadlines on Wingspan (regardless of whether the employee is working from home or not working at all).

    • Employees may use accrued sick leave for COVID-19 related absences if they are not working.
    • Employees are eligible to request up to 15 days of advanced sick leave to use during this time, if they have exhausted all other available leave. Complete and submit the Sick Leave Advancement Request form.
    • The March 23, 2020 communication to faculty and staff includes additional information about reporting work time.

    In our continuing efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the pandemic, Winthrop employees may request temporary accommodation if they have a medical condition that could cause an increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 as identified by the CDC. An employee’s temporary accommodation request may include working from home for a reasonable amount of time to allow the employee to become fully vaccinated, changing the physical layout of the work area, purchasing special items (such as a face shield) or other related requests. Medical documentation to support the request may be required.

    Employees who are interested in requesting a temporary accommodation due to COVID-19 should contact HRHelp@winthrop.edu. The employee will be asked to engage in an interactive process with the employee’s supervisor and Human Resources to determine if the request can be reasonably accommodated without undue hardship on the University.

    Resources for Faculty and Staff

    DHEC PSA: Coping with Stressful Events

    Unemployment Benefits and COVID-19 Changes:

    The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SC DEW) launched the COVID-19 hub to answer questions related to unemployment claims and provide instructions as to online filing for benefits.  Only SC DEW can tell you whether or not you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits and the amount that will be awarded.

    A DEW Fact Sheet with common questions is also available.

    Some of the normal eligibility requirements have been waived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by the SC Governor’s March 19 Executive Order in Section 2. With new federal laws being enacted in recent days changing the normal procedure and awards for unemployment, additional updated information will likely be published in the future.

 

The Office of Human Resources can be reached via email at hrhelp@winthrop.edu for questions regarding this topic.

Last Updated: 3/16/21