New 4/15If I am in public or coming to campus, should I be wearing a cloth mask?
The CDC and the Oregon Health Authority are generally advising people to wear cloth masks when out in public—especially where social distancing may be more challenging to sustain (such as in grocery stores). Hopefully, it is abundantly clear that the masks are intended to keep others safe, they do not provide notable protection to the person wearing the cloth mask. COVID-19 affects people differently and there can be asymptomatic cases where the person may not be aware they have the virus. Wearing a mask limits the spread of mask wearer’s respiratory droplets.
Anyone who is still coming to campus is certainly permitted to wear a mask, but we are not requiring them and we do not have masks to provide (masks required as PPE for certain job tasks will continue to be provided). It is important to wear a clean mask each day and to wash your hands after you touch the mask—every single time. The CDC hesitated giving this guidance as the masks give the wearer a false sense of security. Some people still do not understand that the mask is intended to protect the people around you, it does not protect you. It is also important to recognize that the mask itself can become a contaminant after use (e.g., when you touch it and fail to wash your hands or if you wear the same mask repeatedly without washing it).
New 4/15How can I make a cloth mask?
First, don’t make just one. There are many patterns available online to make masks. Here are some good resources: the CDC
offers guidance on making masks. Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Portland released a helpful guide
on mask making. Joann Fabrics provides instructions and a pattern. See here
and a video here
. As a reminder, if you are going to wear a cloth mask in public, you should only wear it once per outing and then promptly wash it. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling a dirty mask.
I understand there are some new federal laws that were passed to help employees impacted by COVID-19. What can you tell me about them? How do I know if I qualify to use them?
Oregon Tech’s regular employees can now access 80 hours of paid emergency sick leave, and for childcare situations also may have extended leave available. Please contact Sarah Henderson
in OHR to explore what leave options may work for your situation. See also this simplified summary of options “COVID Leave-at-a-Glance Guide” available under File Downloads.
Are potential impacts to my benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Possibly. Depending on your situation, your PEBB benefits and FLEX spending needs may have changed. For more information, visit OHR’s page: Benefits – COVID-19
. If you have specific questions, please email Sarah Henderson (Sarah.Henderson@oit.edu
My child(ren) are not in school due to K-12 closures and they are in need of direct supervision, what are my options?
First, please speak to your supervisor about a modified work schedule, including working from home. Each situation is unique, so we are encouraging supervisors to work with employees on solutions which are mutually beneficial and meet the needs if our students and our University. If a workable solution is not possible, or only a part time work solution is possible, leave may be an option. Please contact Sarah Henderson
in OHR to explore what leave options may work for your situation. See also this simplified summary of options “COVID Leave-at-a-Glance Guide” available under File Downloads.
I am an employee and have used the staff fee privilege discount for my child. Now that the courses will have remote delivery in the spring term, can I still use the Staff Fee Privilege for them?
Yes. The switch to remote delivery this spring term has no impact on the applicability of the Staff Fee Privilege.
I have been reading guidance from health officials about social distancing practices. I share an office with another person or closely interact with others during the work day. How can I do my job and also follow health official guidance?
There are several pieces in motion right now to make social distancing easier. First, we are asking that supervisors determine who can work remotely. Fewer people on campus will generally make social distancing easier. For the next several weeks, there will be fewer students and faculty on campus as well, resulting in even less congestion. Additionally, we will be asking building managers to review shared office space.
For those employees who share space, we will be looking for specific solutions, if remote work does not already address that. For interactions that are typically in-person, we are asking that more meetings and conversations take place by phone, Skype, or email. Our hope is that this combination of actions (which may still take a few days to work themselves out) will result in an easier path for everyone to practice social distancing.
My job is the type that can be performed remotely. Can I just work from home?
Not unless your supervisor gives approval. We are now asking as many employees to work from home as possible. However, this is still a supervisor decision and your supervisor may want you to come to work some or all of the time. Your supervisor should be reaching out to you to discuss coming up with a modified work schedule, which may be revisited and tweaked, as needed. We are asking that employees and supervisors work together to come up with a game plan for the next several weeks.
UPDATED 4/23What is the COVID-19/Coronavirus?
COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
- Symptoms: individuals with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic but still contagious (i.e., there are not symptoms and thus the person may be unaware that they are infected and possibly unknowingly spreading the virus). For this reason, it is advisable that even if you don’t have any reason to think that you have been infected, to take precautions as if you do. People with COVID-19 who develop symptoms may experience: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, and/or fatigue.
- Incubation: As common with other coronavirus strains, signs of illness usually show up 2–14 days after exposure.
- Transmission: While the science isn’t yet definitive, it’s currently thought that the virus is primarily spread through droplets and contact. The CDC indicates that COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes of individuals who have the illness. Through these means, the virus can be transferred to surfaces as well as possibly aerosolized, (suspended in the air around the infected individual), where you may come into contact. It’s currently thought that the most common method of transmission is from touching your face with your hands after they have come in contact with the virus, where the virus then has an opportunity to enter your system via your mouth, nose or eyes.
Washing your hands frequently and cleaning often-touched surfaces with disinfectant will help to prevent both the spread of the virus as well as your chances of becoming infected.
- Treatment: Treatment for patients with COVID-19 is currently supportive care only. There are currently no known disease-specific medications or vaccines.
- Further information, as it becomes updated, can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
How can I protect myself against COVID-19?
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and reduce likelihood of transmission is to take the same basic precautions to prevent any flu or cold strain including:
- Thoroughly washing hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds
- Refraining from touching ones face
- Covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
- Avoiding close contact (within 6 feet) of others who appear to be ill.
Do I really need to stay 6 feet away from people to comply with the “social distancing” guidelines?
Yes. As awkward as it may be around friends and colleagues, the social (physical) distancing is a critical component to minimizing the likelihood of someone acquiring COVID-19. If someone gets too close to you, it’s okay to remind them (some people are giving friendly reminders, like: “you’re in my bubble”). Remember that many people who acquire COVID-19 are symptom free for all or part of the time. In other words, you cannot tell by just looking at someone whether they may be carrying the virus. Play it safe, respect other’s space and mind your own.
What should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?
First, if have active COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath), do not come to campus. Follow your regular call-in process.
If you develop symptoms (including mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath) and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider before going in person. Tell them about your recent travel or contact. They will work with the local or state public health departments to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
What should I do if I have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
Many people with fever, cough, and mild illness can recover at home. They don’t need to seek medical care. If you are feeling reasonably well, you might not need to go to visit a clinic or hospital. That allows healthcare providers to focus on care of people who most need care. If you are unsure, please contact a health provider by phone to report this (such as your primary care doctor, local hospital or local urgent care facility; or Oregon Tech Integrated Health Center at 541-885-1800 if you attend Klamath Falls campus) and they will direct you to the right resources and/or medical site.
If you very ill or have trouble breathing those are important reasons to be seen. In this case, call 911 or call your doctor. Tell them if you have traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 or had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, within the last 14 days. If you let them know, they can take precautions and make a plan to see you without exposing others.
I have an underlying health condition and I think I may be at a greater risk of getting sick (i.e., I have a compromised immune system). Do I still have to come to work?
We are now pushing to have as many people work remotely as possible. If you have the type of job that can be done remotely, your supervisor should be working with you make those arrangements, just as your supervisor is with each of your co-workers. In other words, if you can perform your job from home, the institution’s new guidance should address your issue without a need for you to disclose your health condition.
If you do not have the type of job that can be done remotely and you think you may be in a high-risk category, please contact Sarah Henderson in the Office of Human Resources (e: email@example.com; p:. 541.885.1028). Sarah can facilitate an abbreviated disability accommodation process (if you can safely still perform some of your job) or medical leave analysis (if your health condition warrants leave) to determine what process to assure that your medical needs are met. If you do not have a medical note from your medical provider, please get one. We realize that some medical providers may be extremely busy right now and visiting a medical office visit may be the last thing you would want to do. If that’s the case, let Sarah know. With your authorization, we may be able to get necessary medical information by phone, email, or fax and spare you the trip to the doctor’s office and save some of your medical provider’s time.
I’m very worried about COVID-19 and I am starting to feel a bit stressed out. What can I do?
First, know that this is very normal. The abundance of news and updates about COVID-19 is making many people feel anxious. The American Psychological Association has put together tips to manage your anxiety, put news reports in perspective, and maintain a positive outlook. If you’re having trouble managing your concerns on your own, reach out for help. Oregon Tech offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as a free benefit to its employees. EAP offers free counseling to eligible employees, their dependents, and eligible household members through Cascade Centers, Inc. Counselors are available 24/7. To access the EAP just call: Portland (503) 639–3009; Salem (503) 588–0777; Toll Free (800) 433–2320.
Our EAP provider recently held a 30 minute webinar which is now available on YouTube and can be watched at any time: (Webinar) COVID 19 - Managing Stress and Anxiety During Uncertain Times.
Who should I notify if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
First, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, do not come to campus. Follow your regular call-in process.
As soon you can, regardless of what site you are affiliated with, contact the Klamath Falls Integrated Student Health Center at 541-885-1800 if you have been on a campus or teaching site within the last 3 weeks. The university will take the necessary steps to alert/safeguard campus or site authorities and will contact local public health entities as appropriate.
If I appear to have symptoms of the Coronavirus, can Oregon Tech force me to see a doctor, take a test, or send me home?
Oregon Tech can always send an employee home on paid administrative leave, if Oregon Tech determines it is in the best interests of the employee, other employees (or students), or the institution. Under normal circumstances, Oregon Tech cannot require employees to go to a physician (some existing exceptions apply, for example, if the employee files a workers’ compensation claim, files for leave under FMLA/OFLA, or in cases of an urgent medical emergency, Oregon Tech can call for an ambulance). However, employees may be required by the local, state, or federal public health officials to be medically examined to determine if they have contracted COVID-19.
What should I do if I suspect that a student, employee, or other person on campus is ill?
Remember that just because someone has a fever or cough does not mean that they have COVID-19. Encourage them to call their health provider to determine whether they need to receive medical care. Try to refrain from being in close contact with anyone who appears to be ill, staying at least 6 feet away if possible.
What guidance or directives is the state providing to Oregon Tech and other universities in the event of a positive case of COVID-19?
The Governor established a statewide response team and information will be shared as the situation develops. Any new positive results in the state will be communicated to the public.
On March 16, the Governor issued new orders on COVID-19 cancelling all events and gatherings with more than 25 attendees; and asking for social distancing to be put into use (The social distancing model advises 6 feet of physical distance between all individuals.
Social Distancing Guidance
University Events: All in-person university sponsored public gatherings and events will be cancelled unless otherwise announced. Work related events will provide remote participation options. Per orders from the Governor, all events will be strictly limited to no more than 25 participants and encouraged to be less than 10 participants and in spaces designed to accommodate at least double the number of occupants.
Sporting Events: The NAIA athletic conference cancelled the spring 2020 sports season.
Continuity of Work and Remote Work: Wherever possible, Telework and Remote Work for employees will be approved. When employees are on campus, supervisors are working to maximize social distancing, and janitorial operations are being adjusted to increase disinfecting of utilized spaces.
I am concerned about COVID-19 being an excuse to target certain nationalities or races. What should I do if I encounter this within the Oregon Tech community?
Remember that viruses don’t discriminate based on nationality or race. Unfortunately, there have been reported incidents of anti-Asian discrimination over COVID-19 fears in Portland
and the Pacific NW
generally. Concerns about such sentiments need to be taken seriously. Racism, nationality bias, and xenophobia have no place at Oregon Tech. If you feel you have been targeted or witness an incident involving one or more Oregon Tech community members, please contact Maureen De Armond (e: firstname.lastname@example.org
; p: 541.885.1108), who serves as Oregon Tech’s Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Title IX Coordination, and Affirmative Action.
How is Oregon Tech preparing to handle a positive case of COVID-19 on campus?
Oregon Tech has assembled a response team that is developing and implementing (as needed) plans related to all known aspects of a university response, should one be needed. Oregon Tech prefers to be proactive rather than reactive in case such a closure becomes necessary. The contingency areas upon which the response team are focused include: academics – including teaching delivery; student affairs/life/residence halls and housing; business continuity; and communication with internal and external stakeholders. These areas will be examined from the perspectives of the different Oregon Tech campuses and sites, as response tactics may vary depending on the location.
If an Oregon Tech student, faculty, or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, will the university shut down for a period of time?
While every situation will be evaluated based on the circumstances, there may be a temporary closure of a campus for thorough cleaning and evaluation.
Oregon Tech will inform the campus in a timely manner if there is a closure.
How will Oregon Tech let the university community know if there is a positive case of COVID-19 on a given campus/teaching site; and if there is a campus/site closure?
Oregon Tech will use multiple channels to contact students, faculty and staff if there is a positive case with a student, employee or visitor who has interacted with others on one of our campuses/sites. This will include email, the Oregon Tech website, and social media. Although unlikely, if there is a campus closure in Klamath Falls or at the Portland-Metro campus in Wilsonville, Oregon Tech will use its alert system to notify students and the campus community by text, email and phone (go to Campus Alerts sign up to make sure all of your contact information is in the system).
What happens if Oregon Tech closes? Will I still get paid?
In the event that we did have a closure, how employees would get paid would depend on their job classification and whether they are able to perform work remotely during a closure (similar to an inclement weather closure). If we have a closure, we will provide detailed information at that time based on employee status (such as classified, unclassified and faculty and any existing union contract provisions)—to assure that our response takes into consideration the specific situation at hand.
Can I still travel for work?
Do not schedule any work travel without getting your supervisor’s approval. Oregon Tech will be limiting work-related travel to only essential matters. Any institutionally sponsored travel must be approved by the employee’s direct supervisor and student event travel will be approved by Vice President for Student Affairs, athletic travel will be approved by the Director of Athletics.
What about personal travel (e.g., spring break)?
If an employee is on an approved vacation, Oregon Tech cannot restrict an employee’s travel. We would ask that you exercise reasonable care, since your health and well-being is important to us. If you develop any signs of illness, contact your supervisor and use sick time until you are well enough to return to work without getting others ill (this applies to any potentially contagious illness, not just coronavirus).
The university strongly recommends that students, staff and faculty limit travel, particularly international travel or to areas of the United States that have higher infection rates. If you have been to areas with high infection rates, have reason to believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19, or have cold or flu like symptoms, practice increased personal hygiene and social distancing techniques as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you do travel and become ill, please delay your return to campus until you do not have a fever or other symptoms for 24 hours.
How is Oregon Tech staying apprised of the most up to date information on COVID-19?
The university takes health and safety of all its community members as highest priority, and is planning for a variety of contingencies in the event of a virus case on any of our campuses/teaching sites. University administration receives updates from the Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) and the Oregon Health Authority. The university’s Director of the Integrated Student Health Center (ISHC) is in regular contact with Klamath County Public Health and participates in a weekly meetings facilitated by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) regarding COVID-19, and provides daily updates to the administration.
Oregon Tech employees are encouraged to watch their emails for periodic updates and to regularly check back on the COVID-19 website (www.oit.edu/coronavirus), which is regularly being updated and expanded with new information.
Do student workers earn sick leave?
Yes. Student workers (excluding work study positions) accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrued sick leave is available for student workers to us use on 91st calendar day after beginning work on campus. The maximum hours that can be earned and used per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) is 40 hours. The maximum balance of accrued sick leave that a student worker can have is 80 hours (i.e., it is a cap and additional hours will not accrue beyond the 80 hours). Unused accrued sick leave hours will roll over up to a maximum of 40 hours to the following fiscal year.
To find out how many accrued sick leave hours a student worker has earned, students can log into Web for Students, go to the Employee Menu, and pick Leave Balances.
Does Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)/Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) leave apply for employees or immediate family members who may contract coronavirus?
Possibly. The treating medical provider(s) would have to conclude that the employee or immediate family member’s experience with coronavirus qualified as a "serious health condition" (it may for some individuals and it may not for others). If you needed guidance on your particular situation, simply reach out to Sarah Henderson (e: Sarah.Henderson@oit.edu, p: 541.885.1028), the Benefits Consultant in Human Resources who is the primary contact for matters relating to benefits, leave, and workers’ compensation. There is also general information about family and medical leaves available on the Office of Human Resources webpage.
If an employee contracted the coronavirus at work, would that be a workplace injury and subject to workers’ compensation?
Since these benefits are administered by the state, we cannot provide a definitive answer. The best answer right now is: maybe, if it is determined that the Oregon Tech employee contracted the disease in the course and scope of their employment. As with any workplace illness or injury or suspected illness or injury, we want the impacted employee to file a workers’ compensation claim just to be sure. This would be done pursuant to the existing process. Details on filing a claim be found here: https://www.oit.edu/faculty-staff/human-resources/benefits/workers'-compensation, or contact Sarah Henderson (e: Sarah.Henderson@oit.edu, p: 541.885.1028), the Benefits Consultant in Human Resources who is the primary contact for matters relating to benefits, leave, and workers’ compensation.
If an employee contracted the coronavirus, would they be eligible for short- or long-term disability?
We cannot provide a definitive answer, as our short-term and long-term disability plans are administered by The Standard. If you are enrolled in short-term disability and you have any non-work related illness lasting longer than five (5) business days it would be worthwhile to file. To file a claim call 1‐800‐842‐1707. Our policy number is 442210-D. Long-term disability likely would not apply, as it would require, depending on enrollment and illness lasting greater than 90 or 180 days before coverage would start.
Has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided guidance on how to handle coronavirus?
Yes. OSHA has issued a fact sheet regarding protecting workers in the case of a global health emergency. Employers should train employees on the following:
- Differences between seasonal epidemics and worldwide pandemic disease outbreaks.
- Which job activities may put them at risk for exposure to sources of infection.
- What options may be available for working remotely, or how to utilize an employer's flexible leave policy when employees are sick.
- Social distancing strategies, including avoiding close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) and large gatherings of people.
- Good hygiene and appropriate disinfection procedures.
- What personal protective equipment is available, and how to wear, use, clean and store it properly.
- What medical services (e.g., post-exposure medication) may be available to them.
- How supervisors will provide updated pandemic-related communications, and where employees should direct their questions.
Has the Oregon Heath Authority posted information about coronavirus? What about Washington State?
Has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC) provided any guidance on how coronavirus interacts with federal disability laws?
Yes. The EEOC has some information available on its website.