Questions Regarding Return to Campus

June 15, 2021

Below is a list of questions and answers about the return to campus for students, faculty and staff. New guidance about face covering and physical distancing was issued on June 9, 2021. The University will continue to monitor local, state and federal guidelines, as it has since the onset of the pandemic, and all policies and guidance are subject to change.

Current guidance dictates that employees should be on campus three days or more per week, increasing days incrementally, for a full return of five days per week by August 2. Employees should speak directly with their supervisor for any exceptions.

What is guiding the University’s current approach to COVID-19 protocol?

Since March 17, 2020, President Rochon made it clear the University’s priority was the overall well-being and safety of the entire campus community. The USI COVID-19 Presidential Task Force has ensured that focus continues, utilizing the CDC as a guiding resource. As vaccinations have become widely available and CDC guidance has been updated, a host of things are being considered and the 130+ member task force has been regularly consulted along the way as well as local, regional and federal guidelines.

What if students or employees have questions or concerns that have not been addressed yet?

Employees are encouraged to speak with governance chairs in their particular area who serve as ambassadors for input and discussion among the task force, which is regularly consulted. Students should contact the Dean of Students Office.

fa-caret-down
Employee Work Flexibility

What guidance is currently available for supervisors regarding the phased return to work on August 2?

Employees were directed to work with their supervisor to re-acclimate to campus a minimum of three days per week starting May 24, 2021, increasing days incrementally, for a full return by Monday, August 2, 2021.

The University understands that some employees may need workplace accommodations as they return to campus due to their own serious health condition.  As such, those seeking accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) for disability or leave allowed under other laws, such as FMLA, should consult with their supervisor or directly with Human Resources.

A Medical Accommodation Certification form, which is designed to obtain the necessary information from an employee and his/her respective medical provider to describe the nature, severity and duration of an impairment, any functional limitations, the extent to which an impairment limits the employee's ability to perform essential job functions and confirmation of the need for an accommodation, would be required.

The pandemic demonstrated that employees have the ability to work remotely in an effective manner. Going forward, will USI support remote work on certain occasions when appropriate, either full time or on a hybrid schedule?

Not for Fall 2021. In the longer term, the University will review possible flexibility in work arrangements post COVID.

fa-caret-down
Immunocompromised or Ill Employees and/or Family Members in Immediate Household

Is there a process for immunocompromised employees or those with health concerns who do not feel comfortable returning to work fully on campus?

Employees were directed to work with their supervisor to re-acclimate to campus a minimum of three days per week starting May 24, 2021, increasing days incrementally, for a full return by Monday, August 2, 2021. The University understands that some employees may need workplace accommodations as they return to campus due to their own serious health condition. As such, those seeking accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) for disability or leave allowed under another law, such as FMLA, should consult with their supervisor or directly with Human Resources.

A Medical Accommodation Certification form, which is designed to obtain the necessary information from employees and their respective medical provider to describe the nature, severity and duration of an impairment, any functional limitations, the extent to which an impairment limits the employee's ability to perform essential job functions and confirmation of the need for an accommodation, would be required.

For those with small children who have an illness and cannot be vaccinated yet, will there be any exceptions in work schedule flexibility?

Employees were directed to work with their supervisor to re-acclimate to campus a minimum of three days per week starting May 24, 2021, increasing days incrementally, for a full return by Monday, August 2, 2021.

Effective July 1, 2019, a maximum of 20 days of an employee's accumulated sick time may be taken each fiscal year for illness of a covered family member. For the purpose of this Sick Time Policy, covered family members include spouse or domestic partner, children, parents, siblings, relatives who live with the employee, and relative (in-laws) of the same degree of the spouse/domestic partner who are dependent on the employee for emergency care.

As of September 1, 2013, covered family members also include grandchildren and grandparents. The preceding relationships include step, adoptive and foster relationships. Such sick time will be designated by the employee as "family sick" on Time Reports. Employees will be allowed to use family sick leave through July 31, 2021, to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reason.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave may be available to qualifying employees through July 31, 2021, when the employee needs to care for an individual who is subject to a quarantine/isolation order.

Should employees with ill family members who live in their immediate household reach out to Human Resources’ Benefits staff team about FMLA benefit leave?

Temporary alternative work arrangements for employees with household family members that may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are no longer being provided. Employees are expected to work with their supervisor to re-acclimate to campus a minimum of three days per week starting May 24, 2021, increasing days incrementally, for a full return by Monday, August 2, 2021.

Employees may have the option to use family sick leave or vacation leave with supervisor approval if leave from work is needed. In addition, FMLA may be available to qualifying employees when the employee needs to care for certain qualifying family members (child, spouse or parent) with a serious health condition. 

fa-caret-down
New CDC Recommendation on Masks

How will the new CDC guidance about vaccinated individuals not needing to wear masks impact USI?

The University has followed CDC guidance from the beginning of the pandemic. With the recent CDC update to guidance allowing vaccinated individuals to resume activities they participated in prior to the pandemic, it is time for the University to pivot again:

Beginning June 9, 2021 and until further notice:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a face covering indoors or outdoors on campus. However, those who may be uncomfortable in a group environment where some or many may be unvaccinated, are encouraged to continue wearing a covering.

  • Those who are not vaccinated should continue wearing face coverings indoors.

  • Those who are not vaccinated should continue wearing face coverings outdoors when distancing is not possible.

  • Physical distancing of 3 feet or more is recommended whenever possible and continued regular hand sanitizing is recommended.

  • USI strongly encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Immunity is the key to protecting us all.

Information on how USI students and employees can receive the Pfizer vaccine on campus during vaccination clinic dates throughout the summer can be found on the USI Health Center website.

It is important employees and students, vaccinated or not vaccinated, continue to self-monitor and check daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If you exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, you are required to fill out the Self-Report Form.

We will continue to monitor and evaluate local, state and federal safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust accordingly.

fa-caret-down
Vaccination Requirements

Will vaccinations be required for students or employees? 

No, the University of Southern Indiana currently strongly encourages, but is not mandating, all members of our community, employees and students, be vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and evaluate local, state and federal safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on how USI students and employees can receive the Pfizer vaccine on-campus during Vaccination Clinic dates throughout the summer can be found on our website at www.usi.edu/vaccine.

Will vaccinations be required for students living on-campus?

No, the University of Southern Indiana currently strongly encourages, but is not mandating, all members of our community, employees and students, be vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and evaluate local, state and federal safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on how USI students and employees can receive the Pfizer vaccine on-campus during Vaccination Clinic dates throughout the summer can be found on our website at www.usi.edu/vaccine.

IU and other universities are requiring vaccines to return to campus. Why isn’t USI?

Again, the University of Southern Indiana currently strongly encourages, but is not mandating, all members of our community, employees and students, be vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and evaluate local, state and federal safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do we monitor who has been vaccinated?

We can’t, but ask that employees and students live up to the USI core value of integrity and continue wearing face coverings if not vaccinated. USI strongly encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Immunity is the key to protecting us all.

Will guidelines shift again when and if booster shots are needed?

Guidelines may shift for that reason, for a local surge in cases or for a worldwide end to this pandemic. We will continue to monitor and evaluate local, state and federal safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should vaccine requirements differ based on group? (Examples: housing, theatre, athletics)

No, see above regarding vaccination status.

Could incentives be offered for vaccination?

Altruism is the biggest incentive: Being free of masks and social distancing for the common good. The University is not offering monetary or other incentives at this time.

What percentage of individuals would have to be vaccinated to lift all restrictions?

See above guidelines. We are following CDC guidance.

Will booster shots be offered on campus?

Yes, when and if booster shots are needed and/or offered, the University will do all it can to provide access to those booster shots on campus.

fa-caret-down
University Meetings and Events

Are virtual meetings/events still encouraged?

Virtual meetings are welcome as are in-person meetings or a hybrid of the two. These decisions can be made by individual departments and/or groups. Safety and distancing protocols should be followed.

Will the new CDC face covering guidance change how meetings/events are run or structured during the Summer and/or Fall Semester?

Meetings/classes should maintain 3 feet or more of physical distance. Those who are vaccinated may choose to wear a face covering or not. Those who are not vaccinated should continue to wear a face covering.

Will there be different requirements for meetings versus events? (For example: wearing masks, being physically distanced, the amount of distance between individuals, number of attendees, employees versus students, food and drinks, vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals, etc.?)

Restrictions for large events are being considered on a case-by-case basis until further notice. A full list of guidelines for meetings and events can be found on the Special Events website.

Will the Student Involvement Fair be in-person again?

Yes, the Student Involvement Fair will return to an in-person event at this time.

Will club meetings be in-person again?

Yes, they can be if the club chooses to do so. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a face covering but may choose to continue to wear one. Unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear a face covering.

How will move-in be handled in on-campus housing? Will people help like they have in the past?

Housing will be sending out information to residents.

Will Welcome Week events be in-person?

Many Welcome Week event will be in-person this year.

fa-caret-down
Sodexo / Food Service

Will dining options still be cashless?

Cash will be accepted unless pandemic conditions dictate we return to cashless.

Will seating still be limited in The Loft, UC West Eagles’ Nest and C-Store dining areas?

Yes, the University is now recommending distancing of 3 feet or more.

Will lines and seating arrangements still be distanced in dining spaces?

Yes, see above.

Will face coverings still be required in all dining spaces when not eating?

Only for those who are not vaccinated.

Will dining options still have scaled back menus?

Menus will not be scaled back for the 2021-2022 academic year unless pandemic conditions warrant a return to a scaled back model.

Will orders still have to be placed through Grubhub?

No, but this will remain an option for those who wish to do so.

Will Starbucks seating reopen?

Yes, seating with 3 feet of distance will be available.

Will The Loft salad bar still only offer prepackaged salads?

That is being considered as we have received positive feedback about the prepackaged salads.

Will drink refills and self-serve coffee be available?

Yes, these offerings will return for the Fall Semester

Will water fountains still be disabled around campus?

Yes, out of caution, water fountains will still be disabled. Bottle fillers will continue to be operational.

What will take the place of Steak n’ Shake in UC West?

This will be reviewed during the 2021-2022 academic year and input will be gathered before any final decision is made.

Will Red Mango reopen in the Fall Semester?

Yes, Red Mango will reopen for the Fall Semester.

Will food restrictions be lifted for student organization events?

Yes, food restrictions are being lifted unless the pandemic dictates a return to restrictions.

fa-caret-down
Building, Classrooms and Office Areas

Will some offices still have restricted access without an appointment?

No, with return to campus, all offices should return to normal availability.

Will common and lounge spaces in buildings still be physically distanced?

Yes, however some space configurations may be changed with the new 3-foot guidelines.

Will plexiglass partitions remain in place across campus?

Yes, with a few exceptions, plexiglass partitions will remain in place across campus.

Will hands-free door openers remain on restroom doors and other high-traffic entrances?

Yes, hands free door openers will remain in place.

Will elevators still be limited to single or double occupancy?

Limited occupancy is still encouraged, but not required.

Will offices and classrooms still be sanitized?

Frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, handrails, etc.) will be sanitized by custodial staff, cleaning supplies will still be available for use in classroom spaces.

Will students still be asked to wipe down desks before and after classes?

Cleaning supplies will remain available in classes and students can still wipe down areas if they choose.

Will the University loosen group-study restrictions?

Restrictions will still be in place, however physical distancing of 3 feet or more is now recommended when possible.

fa-caret-down
Distancing

Will physical distancing remain at 6 feet for all areas or be reduced to 3 feet?

While physical distancing is still recommended, it will be reduced to 3 feet in classrooms and other locations until further notice.

Will maximum room occupancy levels be adjusted?

Yes, with the new 3-foot guidance, classroom, meeting room and lounge occupancy levels will be evaluated and adjusted.