Current Return To Campus Plan    

Current Plan
Current Plan

In consultation with University leadership, the Human Resources office issued additional guidance in late-June regarding an adjustment to the University’s phased approach to returning employees to work on campus. The adjustment postponed the implementation of Phase 3 until July 20. In light of the continued growth in COVID-19 cases, we are further adjusting Phase 3 which will still begin on July 20. We recognize that some units will need additional personnel on campus to prepare for the beginning of the academic semester. Therefore, we are adjusting the maximum percentage of employees in any given physical location from 50% to up to 75% until further notice. We do not anticipate a full return of staff to campus by mid-August and foresee remaining under 100% through the fall semester. As we have stated before, these percentages are not targets that must be achieved but rather maximums that may be necessary for division, college or departmental operations as the fall semester preparations continue.  If what your college/division is currently doing is working well and meeting your operational needs, there is no need to adjust your current practices. Units seeking to exceed 75% of employees in any given physical location will be required to submit a written request explaining the business need for additional employees and measures being taken to minimize the risk of exposure.  Approval of the Executive Associate Vice President, Senior Associate Vice President or Associate Vice President of the division and the Chief Operating Officer will be required in these instances.

A few important reminders:

We will continue to monitor and adjust this plan accordingly. If additional adjustments are needed, these adjustments will be communicated to you in a timely manner. We encourage all employees to review relevant COVID-19 information available on the university COVID-19 website at https://www.tamug.edu/covid-19/.

Return to Campus Scenarios
Return to Campus Scenarios

Scenario 1
An employee 65 years of age or older is notified to return to the worksite and they request to continue to work remotely because they face an elevated risk from COVID-19 due to age.

Response: The department should make every effort to allow the employee to continue to work remotely through the summer. If remote work is unavailable, the department should contact Human Resources at hr@tamug.edu discuss other alternatives.


Scenario 2

An employee is notified to return to the worksite but they report that they are unable to do so because of child care issues (schools and/or day care is closed) resulting from COVID-19 related reasons.

Response: The department should attempt to work with the employee to adopt a work schedule either remotely or on-site that satisfies the employee’s childcare issues. If the employee is still unable to satisfy their work requirement, the employee maybe entitled to leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (EPSL and/or EFMLA).


Scenario 3

An employee is notified to return to the work-site but they object stating they have a valid health condition or serious illness/injury that places them at greater risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

Response: Assuming remote work is no longer available, HR should require medical documentation to substantiate the illness/injury/health condition. If the employee is able to produce medical documentation, they will be entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL). If the employee is unable to produce medical documentation, the employee may use other accrued leave (vacation time off and/or comp time) or request leave without pay.

An employee (staff, faculty & student workers) who requires a reasonable accommodation should inform their manager and/or HR. Departments can find support for responding to ADA Reasonable Accommodation requests by contacting Human Resources at hr@tamug.edu or 409-740-4534.


Scenario 4

If an employee when notified that they are being required to return to the worksite objects stating that they are uncomfortable returning to work due to personal concerns associated with COVID-19.

Response: Assuming remote work is no longer available, the employee may use other accrued leave (vacation time off and/or comp time) or request leave without pay.


Return To Work
    

When should employees plan to return to work on campus?
When should employees plan to return to work on campus?

Employees will be asked to return to work on campus (worksite) based on the unit’s operational needs and managerial discretion. Managers will provide advanced notice to employees outlining when the employee is expected to return (minimum of 2 days of notice is recommended). Managers will try to accommodate employees who wish to return to work on campus sooner, as well as those individuals who have increased risk or child care issues who wish to wait before returning to campus.

Can employees return to work before their manager/supervisor has asked them to?
Can employees return to work before their manager/supervisor has asked them to?

No. Employees may not return to campus (worksite) unless they have been authorized to do so by their manager/department head. If an employee wishes to return to work on campus sooner rather than later, the employee may contact their manager and request permission to return sooner.

Can a manager request documentation, including medical certification, if an employee who has been asked to return to their worksite is uncomfortable doing so?
Can a manager request documentation, including medical certification, if an employee who has been asked to return to their worksite is uncomfortable doing so?

A manager may request documentation to support an employee’s request to continue working remotely.  If the request to remain working remotely is related to a medical condition or the medical condition of a member of the employee’s household, documentation may include a medical certification. Medical certifications should be handled by the HR Office in the same way that FMLA or ADA-related medical documentation is kept. All questions related to FMLA or ADA can be directed to hr@tamug.edu.

Are current Alternate Work Location (AWL) authorizations still valid?
Are current Alternate Work Location (AWL) authorizations still valid?

All COVID-19 related AWLs are still approved and will remain in effect unless expressly terminated by a manager and/or department head due to operational needs.

Will employees be required to undergo health screenings including temperature checks before returning to work?
Will employees be required to undergo health screenings including temperature checks before returning to work?

No. At this time the University at Galveston is not requiring that any Departments/Colleges/Divisions undertake health screenings including but not limited to temperature checks upon the return of employees to campus.  However, Departments may choose to conduct health screenings to ensure the safety of their employees/students/visitors, as long as the screenings are conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines. The University in accordance with CDC guidelines reserves its right to modify or change its policy at any point.

What can I do if I feel my employees are engaging in unsafe practices in the workplace (e.g. not practicing physical distancing, hosting external visitors, etc.)?
What can I do if I feel my employees are engaging in unsafe practices in the workplace (e.g. not practicing physical distancing, hosting external visitors, etc.)?

An employee may:

  • Report their concerns to the individual’s manager or department head.
  • Report their concerns through the Risk, Fraud & Misconduct Hotline by calling 1-888-501-3850 or selecting a “To Make a Report” topic on the right side of the TAMU Ethicspoint website.
  • Submit a Tell Somebody Report at https://tamug.edu/care/Tell_Somebody.html.
What is the protocol when a University employee shows symptoms/signs consistent with the coronavirus(COVID-19)?
What is the protocol when a University employee shows symptoms/signs consistent with the coronavirus(COVID-19)?

Supervisors must complete the NEW COVID-19 Ill Employee Protocol Supervisor Checklist for all employees, including student employees, if any of the following circumstances occur:


Leave & Benefits
    

Is an employee eligible for Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits and paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act simultaneously?
Is an employee eligible for Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits and paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act simultaneously?

No. Employees who have received or are in the process of receiving unemployment compensation benefits may not use FFCRA leave to be paid for the same work hours.

If an employee is currently receiving unemployment compensation benefits, what happens if they reject a call from the University to return to work?
If an employee is currently receiving unemployment compensation benefits, what happens if they reject a call from the University to return to work?

All employees, particularly student workers, should be prepared to return to campus to work when their hiring department needs them to return. If an employee (including student workers), whom the university calls back to work, states that they do not want to return to work, they may no longer be eligible to receive Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits. Refusal to return to work could result in a large financial liability to the individual if a post-payment audit were to take place. If it is found that the employee was ineligible to receive the unemployment benefits, or was overpaid, they may be in a situation of owing a large sum of money back to the State. Employees or supervisors with questions regarding unemployment benefits should contact hr@tamug.edu.

If a faculty or staff member needs to take leave for the death of a family member, can the employee use the leave beyond 30 days from the date of the death?
If a faculty or staff member needs to take leave for the death of a family member, can the employee use the leave beyond 30 days from the date of the death?

Emergency leave due to death of a family member usually must be taken within 30 days from the date of death, per section 2.1 of System Regulation 31.03.03. Given the impact on funeral and celebration of life events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 30-day requirement has been waived by the Texas A&M System through December 31, 2020.

Is an employee eligible for Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits and paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Simultaneously?
Is an employee eligible for Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits and paid leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Simultaneously?

No. Employees who have received or are in the process of receiving unemployment compensation benefits may not use FFCRA leave to be paid for the same work hours.

For the purpose of determining FFCRA eligibility, was Texas A&M University at Galveston considered closed for business?
For the purpose of determining FFCRA eligibility, was Texas A&M University at Galveston considered closed for business?

No. Although Governor Abbott’s Executive Order called for Texas residents to “shelter in place,” Texas A&M University remained open to faculty, staff, and students with a limited number of employees continuing to work on-site to support essential functions while other employees continued to work remotely.

According to the DOL guidance, for the purposes of the FFCRA, a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order includes stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders issued by any federal, state, or local government authority. However, for such an order to qualify an employee for leave, being subject to the order must be the reason they are unable to perform their job on-site or remotely.


Face Coverings
    

Who is responsible for providing face coverings to faculty, staff and students? What about visitors and contractors?
Who is responsible for providing face coverings to faculty, staff and students? What about visitors and contractors?

It is the responsibility of the individual to provide their own face covering. However, each unit may keep a small amount of disposable face coverings on hand for visitors.

Are face coverings required while operating a university vehicle?
Are face coverings required while operating a university vehicle?

Yes, face coverings must be worn in a shared vehicle, even if no one else is in the vehicle, to decrease respiratory secretions on surfaces within the vehicle. Contaminated surfaces may still be a source of infection after you have left. If the vehicle is assigned to a single employee, and that person is alone in the vehicle, a face covering does not need to be worn.

Are face coverings required in work areas that are seperated by cubicle walls or partitions?
Are face coverings required in work areas that are seperated by cubicle walls or partitions?

Face coverings must be worn in any public area, even if you are in your own workspace. However, a workspace is not in a public area when it allows for reliably maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others and includes a physical barrier between other workspaces. In these areas, a face covering is highly recommended but not required.

Can a student, faculty or staff member request an exemption from the requirement to wear a face covering?
Can a student, faculty or staff member request an exemption from the requirement to wear a face covering?

Student requests for exemptions based on a religious concern should contact the Todd Sutherland within the Division of Student Affairs at sutherlt@tamug.edu. Faculty and staff should contact Galveston Campus Human Resources at hr@tamug.edu.

Some students, faculty or staff may not be able to wear a face covering due to a pre-existing medical condition or other disability (e.g., asthma, respiratory disease, inability to remove a face covering without assistance). Students should contact the Office of Career and Counseling Services at (409) 740-4736 or studentservices@tamug.edu to request an exemption through the accommodations request process. Faculty and staff should contact Galveston Campus Human Resources at hr@tamug.edu.

Advance notice of the need for accommodations/exemptions can help to ensure that there is adequate time to review the request and make a decision on a case-by-case basis. If a student has been approved for this exception to the policy, they will be given an accommodation or exemption letter to provide to faculty members to allow them to remain in class without a face covering. If possible, a face shield should be worn instead of a face covering. If this is not possible, the CDC recommends limiting exposure to others and maintaining a 6 feet physical distance at all times in the absence of a face covering. Students may also consider using available distance education options.

For areas or occupations where wearing a face covering is not feasible and is not based on a disability or religious concern, requests may be made to the Face Coverings Committee by sending an email message to facecovering@tamu.edu. Requests should include the reason that face coverings are not feasible and the additional safety measures taken to further mitigate the risk in the absence of face coverings.

Who reviews exemption requests for employees and visitors based on disability or religious concern?
Who reviews exemption requests for employees and visitors based on disability or religious concern?

Employee and visitor requests for accommodations related to a pre-existing medical condition or other disability (e.g., asthma, respiratory disease, inability to remove a face covering without assistance) will follow the University SAP for Accommodations. Employee and visitor requests for exemptions based on a religious concern should contact Texas A&M University at Galveston Human Resources.

Who reviews exemption requests related to areas on campus and/or job requirements?
Who reviews exemption requests related to areas on campus and/or job requirements?
Do I need to wear a face covering if it impairs my ability to do my job?
Do I need to wear a face covering if it impairs my ability to do my job?

To keep our community safe, a face covering must be worn in all public areas. If doing so impairs an employee’s ability to do their job based on a disability, the employee should follow the University SAP for Accommodations. With regard to areas on campus and job requirements unrelated to a disability or religious concern, please send a request for this exception to the Face Coverings Committee at facecovering@tamu.edu. Requests for exemptions should include the reason that face coverings are not feasible and the additional safety measures taken to further mitigate the risk in the absence of face coverings. In some cases, a face shield may be an acceptable face covering substitute. 

How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?
How should I raise a concern about someone not adhering to the face covering requirement?

Please contact the faculty or staff member who is supervising the person or the space where the infraction occurred (for example, the building proctor or department head). The department head or building leadership will be in a position to ascertain whether the person has an exemption and, if not, politely direct the person to wear a face covering or vacate the public space.

Can a student or employees be directed to vacate University property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?
Can a student or employees be directed to vacate University property by a supervisor if they refuse to wear a face covering?

Yes, unless they have received an exemption (described above) or the area or position has been granted a waiver from the face coverings policy. The agreement to come back to campus includes a requirement to follow all safety regulations. If individuals are not wearing a face covering in a public space, the first response should be a collegial reminder and an offer of a clean face covering, if one is available. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering, a supervisor (for students this could be a faculty member or a staff member overseeing the area) may direct the individual to leave the public space. For example, a faculty member could direct a student to attend a class remotely rather than in person. If the individual refuses to wear a face covering or leave the space, this should be reported to Student Affairs (students), Human Resources (staff) or Dean of Faculties (faculty) and dealt with using established disciplinary mechanisms.

Are there limits to the design of the face covering?
Are there limits to the design of the face covering?

The policy on Expressive Activity on Campus (08.99.99.M1) states: “Displaying a sign, gesturing, wearing symbolic clothing or otherwise protesting silently is permissible unless it is a disruptive activity or impedes access.” Disruptive activity is defined as obstruction, disruption or interference with classes, research, administrative functions or other university activities. Acts that are disruptive to the normal operations of the university, including classes and university business, or that invade the rights of others, will not be tolerated.


Faculty & Staff
    

What positions are impacted by the new hiring authorization process which requires President Young's approval for all recruiting, selection and hiring activities?
What positions are impacted by the new hiring authorization process which requires President Young's approval for all recruiting, selection and hiring activities?

Staff positions (budgeted, temp/casual, full-time or part-time).

Faculty positions (APT, tenure-track or tenure-review-upon-hire, full-time or part-time) – For additional information, visit the Dean of Faculties website.

Are there any positions that are currently excluded from this new hiring authorization process?
Are there any positions that are currently excluded from this new hiring authorization process?

Positions that are paid 100% on sponsored research funds (ex., 4XXXXX accounts) are excluded from the new hiring authorization process. For additional information, visit the Division of Research website.

Student employee positions are excluded from the new hiring authorization process.

Are there Telehealth Services available for employees who want to talk to a doctor remotely?
Are there Telehealth Services available for employees who want to talk to a doctor remotely?

Yes, MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services is available at no cost to facilitate access to medical care for all A&M Care members. Get access to health care 24 hours a day, seven days a week by online video, mobile app or phone. MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services provides safe and convenient care for non-emergency medical and behavioral health conditions, including the common cold and flu, ear problems, headaches, nausea and more. Additional information available online here.

  • To use MDLive, have your BCBSTX member ID card ready, and:
    • go to http://mdlive.com/bcbstx and activate your account,
    • download the MDLive app on your phone, or
    • call customer service at 1-888-680-8646.
What resources are available to an employee experiencing emotional challenges (such as anxiety) due to the coronavirus outbreak?
What resources are available to an employee experiencing emotional challenges (such as anxiety) due to the coronavirus outbreak?

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been stressful for many people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause a host of emotional responses.  TAMU Counseling & Psychological Services has compiled a page with ways to care for your mental health during these experiences and provides resources for more help. It also describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing and/or self-isolation.

Employees should contact their physician and/or Work/Life Solutions Program by GuidanceResources®. Work/Life Solutions employee assistance program offers a variety of services including consultations with clinicians for anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, life adjustments, relationship challenges, marital conflicts, etc..
Additional information is available at CDC Guidance on Managing Anxiety & Stress during COVID-19.

An employee's child's school or daycare is closed and they have no other childcare arrangements. What options are available?
An employee's child's school or daycare is closed and they have no other childcare arrangements. What options are available?

Employees in this situation should promptly notify their manager of the reason for their absence and the anticipated date of return to work. Children may not be brought to work for safety reasons. If the employee is able to work from home with an approved Alternate Work Location (AWL) while supervising their child, the employee will be paid for hours worked. Otherwise, employees may take other paid leaves as applicable to their position and situation. Leave information can be found at https://employees.tamu.edu/benefits/leave/.


Student Employees
    

Can student workers file an unemployment claim?
Can student workers file an unemployment claim?

Yes, it is possible for a student worker to file an unemployment claim and possibly receive benefits.  The University does not make those determinations.  As with any employee, the individual circumstances of that employee help make the determination.  It is possible that individuals who have suffered a significant reduction in work hours may be eligible.

The Texas Workforce Commission determines eligibility for unemployment. To learn more about qualifying for UCI benefits, see the Texas Workforce Commission’s Unemployment Benefits Handbook.

Additional resources from the Texas Workforce Commission regarding unemployment and COVID-19:


Important Information
Student workers should be prepared to return to work in their on campus positions when their employing department requests they return.  If a student worker who has been asked to return to work by the University chooses not to return to work, the student may no longer be eligible to receive Texas Unemployment Compensation Benefits.  Refusal to return to work could result in the student employee owing money back to the state if a post-payment audit were to take place and the student employee was found to be ineligible to receive the funds or was overpaid.

Where can a student employee find employment guidance as it relates to the Coronavirus pandemic?
Where can a student employee find employment guidance as it relates to the Coronavirus pandemic?

In addition to reviewing the TAMUG website for general guidance applicable to all employee types at Texas A&M University, student employees should refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for guidance specific to student employees.

If a student employee has traveled to high risk locations and is self-monitoring or self-isolating as required, what type of leave should they use?
If a student employee has traveled to high risk locations and is self-monitoring or self-isolating as required, what type of leave should they use?

Student employees including graduate assistants are not in leave-eligible positions; therefore, they do not qualify for any type of paid leave in accordance with System regulations.

If a student employee is not self-monitoring or self-isolating and is otherwise able to return to work, but chooses not to, what type of leave should they use?
If a student employee is not self-monitoring or self-isolating and is otherwise able to return to work, but chooses not to, what type of leave should they use?

Student employees, (including graduate assistants) who are not self-monitoring or self-isolating and are otherwise able to return to work, may choose not to return for whatever reason but they will not be paid. Managers should be flexible with student employees and not penalize them if they prefer to avoid campus.

Student workers should contact their supervisor regarding their ability to work. Students feeling ill should not come to work and should self-monitor and seek medical care if needed. Students not ill and not wishing to work in person will not be required to do so and will continue to be paid only if remote work is a possibility per above and approved by their supervisor. If students are unable to work in person or remotely, the student will not be paid.  Departments are encouraged to provide as much flexibility regarding duties as feasible.

Are there any exceptions for student employees on Federal and/or State Work Study financial aid?
Are there any exceptions for student employees on Federal and/or State Work Study financial aid?

University guidance regarding student employment is available here from the Student Employment Office in Scholarships & Financial Aid.  Please direct questions to workstudy@tamu.edu or leave a voicemail at 979.845.0686.

Can student employees work during class time?
Can student employees work during class time?

No. As always, regulations and university Standard Administrative Procedure 33.99.08.M0.01 do not allow students to be scheduled for work during scheduled class times. This includes online courses.

Can student employees work remotely?
Can student employees work remotely?

Yes. We encourage departments to be creative in identifying mechanisms to allow student workers to work remotely with the provision that appropriate duties can be assigned and that the department has mechanisms in place to monitor that work. Students on work study may also work remotely. Although strongly encouraged, you are not required to provide remote work opportunities.