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Home » Faculty & Staff » COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Employees

Faculty & Staff

MSSU has been working on plans to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our MSSU community. Below are FAQs addressing a number of key business operations for faculty, staff, and student employees. As common questions arise in your area, please share those with [email]  and we will add them to the list as appropriate.

Important Resources

FAQs


In response to COVID-19 and in conjunction with communication from the CDC, Missouri Governor Parson and local and state health officials, MSSU is providing this FAQ to help employees understand how the University is responding to the return to operations across campus. This FAQ document is just guidance and is not a contract with any student or employee. MSSU reserves the right in its sole discretion to interpret this guidance and amend it at any time. These FAQs are intended to provide guidance until further notice.

General Workplace Questions

The campus of Missouri Southern has reopened to the public and university personnel have returned to work. What does this mean?

Following guidance from the Governor of Missouri and local and state health officials, Missouri Southern reopened campus on May 11th. This means campus operations resumed in full with faculty and staff returning to their on-campus work environments. Remote work is no longer required, and employees made the necessary arrangements to move their remote offices back to campus. Employees who are not normally scheduled to work on campus during the summer months were not expected to return to campus on May 11th, but will be returning prior to the start of the Fall semester.

In all cases, employees are expected to follow CDC’s guidelines while on campus and take everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including:

  • Practice social distancing (6 feet apart)
  • Wear facial coverings (cloth masks and face shields are available)
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue

Will personal protective equipment be provided to university personnel?

Yes. The University is providing cloth facemasks and reusable face shields to campus employees. Disposable facemasks are also available. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) are provided for employees whose positions place them in high risk to exposure (i.e.: custodial staff, health center personnel, etc.). Employees should contact their supervisors for details on when and where to pick-up PPE items.

Who will ensure employees are adhering to prescribed precautions such as wearing masks, staying home if sick, and following social distancing guidelines?

Missouri Southern is currently requiring employees wear masks or face shields when on campus and within 6-feet of others. The University expects its employees to adhere to CDC’s guidelines while on campus by taking everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employees are asked to use common sense and courtesy in practicing good hygiene and distancing habits.

Will visitors to campus need to check in before they are allowed into buildings or be restricted in other ways?

Campus visitors will be encouraged to wear a facemask or face shield while on campus and within 6-feet of others. Visitors will not be required to check in prior to entering a building, however, they will be expected to follow the CDC’s guidelines while on campus by taking everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To assist with this effort, the university has installed a number of hand sanitizing stations across campus. Additionally, departments are encouraged to consider implementing processes and procedures that support social distancing. Employees should contact their supervisor for additional department-specific details.

What kinds of questions will be asked of students or new employees who are returning from a location that is currently identified as a “hot spot” for the COVID-19 virus?

At this time students and employees who have traveled outside the United States are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. There are no plans to request visitors to disclose if they’ve been exposed to or tested positive for the coronavirus.

In all cases, students and employees who have traveled in or outside the United States and are showing symptoms or are concerned they may be asymptomatic are asked to contact their physician immediately and HR (if applicable) for additional instruction.

How often and by whom will campus offices be cleaned throughout the day and week?

Regular cleaning schedules resumed once campus reopened in May. Custodial staff continue to empty trash; disinfect highly touched areas such as doorknobs and light switches; and vacuum/mop offices, bathrooms and public spaces.

To assist the University in managing and maintaining a safe and clean campus, employees are encouraged to adapt routines that aid in the cleaning of their own office space and/or instructional areas. This may include daily cleaning of keyboards, desks, tables, and other office furniture with disinfectants and/or sprays; and, wiping down or disinfecting classroom furniture and common use areas between classes. Employees are asked to check with their supervisors and custodial staff prior to implementing supplemental cleaning efforts to ensure proper cleaning procedures are being followed.

Most campus buildings have multiple entry points. Will access to and from buildings be limited to one central location?

Every effort is being made to return to a “business as usual” environment, which includes access to buildings in the same manner they were open prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. If the need arises to monitor the flow of traffic in and out certain areas, supervisors will be notified and a formal process will be communicated.

Departments that see a lot of visitors may wish to implement a modified traffic flow for their specific area. Employees should contact their supervisor to discuss limiting access to specific offices and areas. If limited access is determined necessary, supervisors should relay the modified traffic flow to their appropriate PC member and HR for review and formal approval.

How should campus meetings or departmental events be handled?

All meetings or activities are to be conducted following the CDC’s guidelines with employees taking everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes practicing social distancing (6 feet apart), wearing facial coverings, and following proper prevention hygiene including washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

If it is determined a face-to-face meeting is not feasible, campus meetings should be conducted online via a web-based platform like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Skype. As a Microsoft campus, it is preferred employees use Teams to host group meetings and share necessary documents. For more information about Teams, contact IT at 659-4444.

As a supervisor, how do I manage/supervise my employees to ensure we are doing what is needed to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

There are a number of ways supervisors can help employees remain safe while at work. Suggestions include:

  • Review work requirements and guidelines with personnel. Explain facial covering and social distancing protocol (6 feet apart), discuss disinfection measures, outline any modified processes or procedures, recommend using additional personal protective equipment, etc.
  • Promote personal hygiene. Provide alcohol-based sanitizer, disinfectants and disposable wipes as needed.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces frequently. Make wipes and cleaners accessible, clean break areas and commonly touched areas routinely.
  • Encourage social distancing by maximizing distancing, allowing 30-minute buffers between shifts, using visual markers on the floor for six-foot distancing, limit flow in and out of workspaces, conduct virtual meetings when possible or hold meetings in large spaces where attendees can spread out, space out desks to construct temporary walls.
  • Offer curbside delivery to students and visitors when and if applicable.

It’s important to remember none of us are able to anticipate every issue that may arise, but together we can work to ensure we won’t have to close campus because of a new outbreak. To be as prepared as possible, it’s important to take the time to think through office operations and communicate those procedures and expectations to your personnel.

I have been asked to take on additional duties and responsibilities outside of my typical assignments. Do I have to do these?

Yes. These are unprecedented circumstances and your flexibility in helping the university conduct business differently than we’ve done before is greatly appreciated. You may be asked to do things outside your normal responsibilities.

I still have questions, who should I contact?

Please contact Human Resources should you have additional questions not covered in these FAQ’s. Your HR team is listed below.

We appreciate your patience, particularly in situations where we may not have immediate answers or need to research additional information.

COVID-19

Are there circumstances in which I should NOT report to campus?

Yes. Do not report to campus if you are sick, have been advised to self-quarantine due to potential exposure, or fall within one of the provisions outlined within the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In these situations employees are to submit an MSSU COVID-19 FMLA Request Form with corresponding documentation to HR as soon as possible.

I don’t have a medical condition, but I am concerned about exposure to COVID-19. What should I do?

Missouri Southern is closely monitoring COVID-19. Watch for University updates and information on the University’s COVID-19 Information website. The Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) website contains lots of great suggestions for ways to protect yourself, including but not limited to:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Practice social distancing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue
  • If you feel sick, stay offline and at home to rest (per university policy, sick time should be used to record your absence)

What do I do if I learn I have been exposed to the coronavirus or I have an employee I supervise who is in this situation?

All employees should refer to the “How to Protect Yourself” and “What To Do if You Are Sick” guidance on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Employees who have been notified they were exposed should report their exposure to HR for further instruction. In some cases employees may be asked to submit an MSSU COVID-19 FMLA Request Form with corresponding documentation.

For more information on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act visit the Missouri Southern Federal and State Employment website.

I have been diagnosed with COVID-19, what options are available to me?

If you have a diagnosis of COVID-19, do not report to work. Instead contact your immediate supervisor and Human Resources. In all cases employees will be asked to submit an MSSU COVID-19 FMLA Request Form with corresponding documentation.

If an employee is immune-compromised or caring for someone who is, can they work remotely for a period of time? If so, how long?

At this time remote work is not an approved alternative to working on campus. If an employee is immune-compromised or caring for someone who is, they should work through the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and submit an MSSU COVID-19 FMLA Request Form with corresponding documentation to HR as soon as possible.

What does it mean to work from home?

Working from home, also known as telecommuting or remote work, is the act of working from a remote location, while using the Internet, email and telephone to complete your assigned work duties. At this time remote work is not an approved alternative to working on campus unless the request is associated with a qualifying FFCRA reason for leave.

My co-worker looks sick. Can I ask them if they have COVID-19?

If you are concerned about a colleague’s health, there is nothing wrong with asking if they feel okay, however it is recommended you not ask if they have any specific illness such as COVID-19. If the colleague responds they feel poorly, encourage them to talk to their supervisor and go home if necessary.

All employees should refer to the “How to Protect Yourself” and “What To Do if You Are Sick” guidance on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

I am not feeling well, what should I do?

If you are ill and not feeling well for any reason, please follow your department’s existing procedures for calling in sick. Sick time will be used to record your absence, however, some duties may need to be reassigned until you are feeling better and can return to work. In some circumstances, you may qualify for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Please contact Evan Jewsbury (Jewsbury-E@mssu.edu / 625-9805) should you have questions regarding FMLA qualification.

My supervisor has asked if my illness is related to COVID-19, do I have to answer that?

Yes, in the case of a potential pandemic situation, you may be asked to disclose whether your absence/illness is related to COVID-19.

Will temperature checks be required, and if so, who will conduct them and how?

At this time MSSU is not implementing temperature checks of employees. However, the University is asking employees to conduct a daily personal wellness check using CampusClear, a daily self-screening app. Results will be used to monitor the health of the campus and assist with contact tracing efforts required by local health departments.

Are there resources available if I am feeling anxious or upset about what’s happening?

These situations can, understandably, be challenging and stressful. The Cigna Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24/7 and can be reached at 1-877-622-4327 or by visiting www.CignaBehavioral.com. Our employer ID is MSSU. To learn more about the services provided by the EAP check out the EAP Overview brochure on the HR SharePoint site.

Additionally, another EAP provider is available to all employees through The Standard. You may contact them at 888-293-6948 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Their website also has helpful information for all areas of your life by visiting www.workhealthlife.com/standard3

Travel

I already have booked and/or have submitted a travel request. What do I do?

In alignment with MSSU’s preventative approach, effective immediately all university-sponsored domestic and international business-related travel is to be discontinued until further notice, and such business must be conducted remotely to the extent possible. Any current requests for travel and for travel reimbursement are on hold.

Can I book travel for later in the year?

No new plans for business travel should be made or submitted until after the university notifies campus that business travel my resume.

We have a search currently in process, and are preparing to interview candidates. How does this affect our process?

Candidates are also subject to university travel restrictions. Departments need to utilize video conferencing protocols to interview candidates in lieu of bringing candidates to campus. Search chairs should reach out to the IT Help Desk at 659-4444 for guidance on how to conduct interviews via Teams or other methods. If video conference is not possible, phone interview or postponing the recruitment to a later day are options as well.

The conference I was supposed to attend has been cancelled. What do I do?

Please contact your department head, dean or director regarding any business travel cancellations. Documentation of expenses and credits will be required to be maintained and submitted by the traveler. The university will reimburse out-of-pocket costs already incurred by the employee for business-related travel. Employees should monitor airline refunds as well as the use of subsequent credits.

What do I do if I am returning from a location in which the CDC advises self-isolation or I have an employee I supervise who is in this situation?

Employees and supervisors should follow CDC travel health guidance when self-isolation is advised.

Employee Benefits

I’m not feeling well, but I don’t want to go to the doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic due to the current COVID-19 outbreak. What are my options?

If you have medical coverage through the university, Cigna offers two telehealth services, AmWell and MDLIVE, which allow clients to visit with board certified physicians by phone or video chat. The cost of each visit is compared to your standard office visit co-pay, however, if you are on the HSA plan you pay a discounted rate of $42 or $45 depending on the service provider.

Additionally, telehealth services are provided for mental health services, dermatology, pediatrics, etc. To learn more about AmWell and MDLIVE, including how to register and utilize these services, review the Cigna Telehealth Connection flyer on the HR SharePoint COVID-19 page.

Mercy and Freeman Hospital also have telephonic visits available to university personnel. Mercy & Freeman are offering video and telephonic visits at most clinics to patients who are currently scheduled or that are calling in for an appointment. Patients can contact their primary care physician’s office if they are ill or in need of a visit and ask for a telephonic or video visit.

Where is the local COVID-19 drive through testing center and will it be covered under my university health insurance plan in full?

There are multiple COVID-19 testing locations within the Joplin area. It is important to note that testing services are only covered by the Univeristy’s healthcare provider, CIGNA, if ordered by a physician for diagnostic purposes.

Testing Location #1:
Freeman Health Call for screening/appointment: 417-347-6444
www.freemanhealth.com/services/COVID-19

Testing Location #2: WalMart Store #79
2623 W 7th Street, Joplin
Drive-Thru testing available: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 7AM-9AM
1-800-635-8611
Complete the online form for screening/appointment at www.joplilnmo.org/1080/Walmart-eTrueNorth-TestingSite

Testing Location #3: Ozarks Community Hospital Jasper County Clinic
327 E Airport Drive, Carthage
417-358-4567

I want to make a change to my health care FSA deductions. Can I do that?

Maybe; changes are only allowed when certain events occur and if the change requested corresponds with that event. Please see the FAQs listed on ASIFlex’s website; scroll to the bottom section titled Enrollment for detailed information.

ASI requested follow-up documentation for one of my card swipes, but my provider is too busy or is currently unreachable. What do I do?

ASI has made the business decision to not inactivate debit cards during the immediate crisis. The letters that are sent to participants asking for such documentation will soon indicate that the documentation must still be submitted but that ASI will not suspend the card for lack of documentation at this time

Will the grace period be extended?

No, the grace period time period (2 ½ months following the end of the plan year) is set by the IRS. It cannot be extended by the client.

I still have questions about available resources relating to my employee benefits, where should I go?

An HR SharePoint COVID-19 page has been created and will be updated regularly with COVID-19 related resources associated with medical, dental, mental health, EAP and other employee benefits.

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