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Augustana's response to COVID-19

Frequently asked questions

Information for Augustana College employees as of March 13, 2020.

Why did the college decide to start spring break early?

Campus leaders have been monitoring this situation and relying on the advice of experts. With these factors in mind, the college made the decision to begin spring break one week early so that the majority of students can leave campus. 

Students who are unable to leave will be allowed to stay on campus, and campus operations will continue. This situation will continue to be assessed and additional decisions made as developments occur.

Does this change work days or expectations for my position?

Next week (March 16-20) all employees are expected to report to campus and for non-faculty employees. Most duties will remain the same. 

During the following week (March 23-27) academic year employees are normally not scheduled to work. We anticipate no changes to that schedule. We expect to monitor the situation and resume classes on March 30. 

What steps is the college taking to keep me safe?

The college continues to follow CDC guidelines that have been published and remain available here:  https://augustana.edu/student-life/dean-students/coronavirus

Our facilities staff continues with more frequent cleaning of shared spaces, and buildings have been supplied with additional cleaning materials, soap and hand sanitizers.

Experts recommend the following for personal safeguarding:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

What if I don’t feel comfortable coming to work?

As always, we ask that employees make good decisions about whether they are healthy enough to come to work. Those who feel they cannot safely come to work should be in contact with their supervisor or department chair. 

For employees who have paid leaves, that time will be used to cover absences.

Will the college send employees home if they are sick?

We encourage employees who have flu-like symptoms to remain at home. The college is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment and may ask employees who appear to have flu-like symptoms to go home. 

If you are unsure, the Office of Human Resources is happy to assist with individual questions or circumstances.

Will I know if my co-worker tests positive for COVID-19?

No. To maintain privacy, the health condition of any individual student or employee will not be shared. 

However, non-identifying information about positive test results will be shared to the extent possible. 

Is telecommuting available to employees to avoid exposure?

We will need the majority of our community to be on campus to keep operations functioning and meet the mission of the college. 

If telecommuting is needed, those requests should be directed to the Office of Human Resources so that consistent decisions are made.

What if I’m sick, but don’t have sick or vacation leave available?

It is very important that employees who do not feel well stay home.  We have a variety of benefits/options available to individuals who are unable to report to work due to an illness.

Are there any changes to meetings and events?

With an early start to spring break, most student events have been canceled and will be rescheduled as possible. 

Departments and individuals should make good decisions when it comes to large meetings and consider alternatives to bringing large groups together in confined spaces.  

The college will continue to keep the campus apprised as additional decisions are made about events and gatherings.

Will my job duties change?

For the next two weeks, we do not anticipate major changes to current work assignments and/or schedules. 

As the situation continues to progress, the college may ask some employees to take on new or different duties to make sure that the needs of our students are met and important college operations continue.

Should we follow recommendations for "social distancing" in my area?

Yes. When possible, if meetings with visitors can be handled virtually or by phone, this is encouraged. Limiting physical contact by not shaking hands is also a practice that should be adopted. Adding distance between workspaces as available is encouraged. 

How does this affect student employment?

There is no prohibitition on student employment during this two-week spring break. If you have student workers who choose to remain on campus and have work available, there is no issue with utilizing them. However, the regular limitations on student work hours continue. 

Should my department start working on a continuity plan?

While we hope this will not be a long-lasting situation, much work has already been put into emergency planning. The college encourages individual departments to form a continuity plans and update those as appropriate.

Are there limitations on travel for Augustana employees?

At this time, there are no restrictions by the college on domestic or international travel. Of course, travelers should follow all steps outlined by the CDC to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses such as COVID-19. There are areas in the United States and abroad that are experiencing community spread of COVID-19, and travel to these areas should be limited or canceled.

As a precaution, please report any planned domestic or international travel between March 13-April 1, 2020, to the Office of Human Resources. If CDC guidelines require any quarantine or testing before returning to work, you will be contacted.

Please be aware that the situation is being monitored on a daily basis, and restrictions on travel — whether internationally or domestically — are subject to change.

How can I support and care for those directly affected by this situation?

It is important to be mindful and supportive of college colleagues and students with ties to areas that are impacted by the virus who may be concerned for family and friends impacted by the outbreak.

If you are in need of additional support, our employee assistance program is available to you and your family members at no charge:   Genesis EAP (1-800-475-1641).

Office of Human Resources
639 38th St.
Rock Island, Ill., 61201

humanresources@augustana.edu

Phone: 309-794-7352

Fax: 309-794-8962