Vice Chancellor Dorene Novotny sent the following message via email to Foothill-De Anza district employees.
March 10, 2020
COVID-19 and Employee Guidelines
In an effort to anticipate potential decisions that may impact employees and in consultation with union and other employee representatives, we have prepared a set of guidelines regarding employees who may be affected by disruptions to their normal work location or assignment, placed off work due to closure, or who may be called upon to serve as essential personnel during this time.
Please see below.
HR Phone & Email Directory: http://hr.fhda.edu/_hr%20contacts.html
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) District Guidance for Employees
Employee Work Expectations
Work areas may include your office, your classroom, your front desk service area, your lab, or the physical area you are assigned to maintain – essentially, the area(s) where you normally work and provide service to students or employees. During this time, there is a variety of scenarios that could affect your work area or program:
- Your work area remains open and continues to provide services to students and/or employees without change;
- Your work area is disrupted and there is an expectation that services continue but in a different way, such as through remote work location or electronic delivery of service; and
- Your work area is closed and no services continue.
Work Area Remains Open
If your work area continues to provide service without interruption, you are expected to continue work as normal, to the extent you are well and able to do so. If you are experiencing illness yourself, you are not expected to work and may need to use leave (see below). If you are well but have health concerns that may place you at higher risk, please discuss these with your supervisor to determine if alternate arrangements can be provided, or call the District Office of Human Resources to discuss accommodation for your unique needs.
Work Area is Disrupted but Work Continues in a Different Way
If your work area is disrupted you may be asked to continue work from an alternate work location, such as your home, another location at the district or college, or another work location off district or college property. Under these scenarios, you are expected to continue working to the extent that you are able. In this case, services may be provided in a different format, within different time periods, etc.
Work Area is Closed and No Services are Provided
If your work area is closed and services are not expected to continue in some way, you will not be expected to work. Employees identified as “essential personnel” may be required to work through any closure to the extent that they are able and it is safe to do so.
Deciding Whether a Work Area Remains Open, is Disrupted, or Closed
The District will only make a decision to disrupt or close one or more areas of the district following consultation with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department (county health department). The health and safety of our community continues to be our highest priority; as such, recommendations will be made in light of the actual risk factors that may be present, based on the most current data, and in accordance with recommendations of the county health department and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An individual employee, program, service area, or college is not authorized to make decisions independently. Any request to consider a disruption or closure must be made to the vice president (or senior director in Central Services) of your area, who shall discuss the request with the president or vice chancellor, who will discuss it with the Chancellor’s Cabinet. Chancellor’s Cabinet will typically make the final decision following the guidelines described above.
Employee Leave Usage
While it may be possible that you or someone you know may acquire the COVID-19 virus, the season for colds and flu will continue for some period of time and not every illness means that someone has COVID-19 or requires quarantine. If you need to be off work due to illness, you may access leave as follows. Please also see below for expectations if respiratory illness symptoms are present.
Employee Unable to Work Due to Own Illness
If you are unable to work due to your own illness, you may use sick leave to account for your absence, in accordance with your Union Agreement or Association Handbook. If you have exhausted your available sick leave, you may use vacation or leave without pay, or request to be place on extended sick leave. In the event you anticipate you might exhaust all your sick leave, you may contact your union or association representative to seek assistance with requesting donated leave. If you have questions about donated sick leave or extended sick leave please contact your union or association representative or the District Office of Human Resources.
Employee Unable to Work Due to Illness of an Immediate Family Member
If you are required to care for an ill family member but you have not been quarantined because of this family member’s illness, you may use sick leave, personal necessity leave, vacation, or leave without pay to account for your absence in accordance with your Union Agreement or Employee Handbook. Classified employees and program administrators may use up to seven (7) days of sick leave per year for the illness of a family member. Faculty and academic administrators may use up to six (6) days of sick leave for the illness of a family member.
Employee Unable to Work Due to Employee Quarantine Because of the Illness of Another Person
If you are not ill but you have been quarantined because of the illness of another person, you will be paid by the district for the duration of the quarantine and shall not be required to use leave to account for your absence from work. However, in order to receive district-paid leave you are required to register the official document of quarantine with the District Office of Human Resources.
Employee Requests to Work in a Different Manner
In the event your work area is open and no disruption or closure is in effect, and you are uncomfortable performing your work under the circumstances or you are concerned with risk to your health or safety due to having higher risk factors, you may request to perform your work under an alternate work arrangement. An alternate work arrangement may include working remotely, working electronically, or other creative solutions that would allow for continuation of the service you provide.
Employee Requests to Not Work
In the event your work area is open and no disruption or closure is in effect, and if you are uncomfortable performing your work under the circumstances or you are concerned with risk to your health or safety due to having higher risk factors, you may request vacation or leave without pay. Such a request shall be made in accordance with your Union Agreement or Employee Handbook.
If your work area is disrupted, you may be reassigned to another work location or expected to perform your work in a different way or by using different technology. If you are uncomfortable performing your work under these circumstances, you may request vacation or leave without pay to account for your absence. Such leave requests shall be made in accordance with your Union Agreement or Employee Handbook. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible and to approve such requests where feasible and when such requests do not significantly negatively impact services that may need to continue. If you have a medical condition or other unique circumstances which make performing work difficult or unduly challenging, you are encouraged to speak with your supervisor or contact the District Office of Human Resources to explore accommodation or alternatives in lieu of leave.
Employee Can’t Work Due to Closure
If your work area is closed and you are not reassigned to an alternate work location or work assignment, the district will continue pay starting with the first day of a closure, and you would not be required to use leave during this time. In the absence of information about the length of a closure, the availability of emergency state or federal funding, state mandates, or other information that may have a bearing, it is difficult to predict how long pay would need to continue. As more information becomes available, the district will be in a better position to evaluate the matter in light of state mandates or other declarations that provide for paid leave coverage and our ability to respond.
Temporary Employees Who Are Unable to Work Due to Closure
Normally, temporary employees, including student employees, are paid only for the hours they work. In the event of a closure that lasts more than two weeks, the district will evaluate the situation and make a determination regarding continuation of pay at that time.
Employee Expectations if Ill
Employees who are ill or presenting symptoms of a respiratory or other potentially contagious illness should stay home. If you are concerned you have a serious illness or have contracted COVID-19, you should follow the directives as outlined by the county health department and/or your medical provider for any further follow up or diagnosis. If you come to work and your supervisor determines there is a reasonable basis to believe that you are or are becoming ill, your supervisor has a right to send you home. Reasonable basis is determined by such things as change in appearance (you look flushed or pale); you are lethargic; you are coughing, which is unrelated to non-contagious conditions such as allergies; you complain of being hot or chilled, or are overly warm to the touch, which may indicate a fever; you have shortness of breath; etc. Not all conditions must be present to warrant “reasonable basis” but some combination, which would indicate the potential for transmission of illness, should be observable. Supervisors are asked to be particularly attentive to signs of illness, yet not react based on false assumptions related to an employee’s race, ethnicity, or national origin.
Return to Work Following Illness
In addition to the right to send you home if you appear ill, your supervisor has a right to prevent your return to work until such time as you can return to work safely (for yourself and others). This can be demonstrated by providing medical certification that you are able to return. In lieu of a medical certification, you may be asked to confirm that you have met the guidelines for self-isolation and have been without a fever or other indicators that signal you may still be potentially contagious for the requisite period of time. As mentioned in prior district communications, at some point, obtaining medical certification to return to work may not be feasible if direct care needs outpace the capacity of providers. In that case, decisions for return to work are made in accordance with the guidelines established by public health officials.
What to do If You Think You’ve Been Exposed
At this time of high cold and flu activity and with heightened concerns, it is important that each of us monitor ourselves for signs of respiratory illness and stay home if sick.
If you have been in close contact with an individual with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, you should follow the county health department guidelines for ensuring you do not transmit the virus to others; those guidelines currently include staying home, even if you do not have symptoms.
If you develop flu-like symptoms, stay home, and report your absence to your supervisor. If you have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient or the symptoms seem serious or are of concern to you, EMAIL or CALL your health care provider for advice. Do not go into a health facility without first contacting for advice; doing so may unnecessarily result in further transmission of the virus rather than containment. For symptoms, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html
If you are in an age group or have a health condition that places you at higher risk, you are encouraged to contact your health care providers for recommendations.
What Happens if There is an Outbreak at Foothill-De Anza
Responding to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will depend on the circumstances of the person who tested positive. In each case, the county health department and CDC have established protocols for responding. If a case of COVID-19 directly related to a Foothill-De Anza community member is confirmed, the district will work in cooperation with the county health department to immediately determine how best to address any increased risk to our community. Protocols could include additional sanitizing of certain areas, temporary closing of a room or facility, moving classes or support functions online, or temporary closure of a program, part of a campus, or one of the colleges.
Protective Equipment to Wear While at Work
The widely adopted advice at this time is that wearing protective equipment, such as masks, is not recommended for persons who are not ill. It does not necessarily provide the protection you might be seeking, and contributes to a shortage of masks for persons who need them the most: those that are ill or caring for someone who is ill. We definitely want those who are ill or caring for someone to have the equipment they need. It helps to prevent the transmission of an illness, which serves to protect us all.
Other protective equipment, such as gloves and eyewear, are provided for our colleagues who are cleaning, deodorizing, and sanitizing the district’s facilities.
Essential Personnel in the Event the District/College Closes
Essential personnel typically include police officers and certain members of the classified and administrative staff, as well as potentially some faculty, depending on the circumstances. For example, persons assigned to do sanitizing, such as our custodial colleagues, as well as administrators, persons working in communications, and faculty in counseling and psychological services, may be needed. Decisions about essential personnel will depend on the length of the closure and the reason(s) for deciding to close. If you are activated as essential personnel, you will be contacted with further information.