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Guidance for Faculty and Staff for Lehigh's Phased Return to Campus

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General Guidance

Guiding Principles for Phased Campus Opening
  1. Provide the best Lehigh education and experience for students that is possible in these circumstances

  2. Protect the health and safety of all members of the Lehigh community

  3. Uphold our principles of equity and community as we balance the previous two principles. Equity does not mean that all people are treated equally, but that all people are treated equitably and according to their needs.

Examples of the Guiding Principles in Action

As an example of how these principles would work in planning for staff return to campus, an office with six staff members and high student contact will want to have some number of those staff on campus (principle #1), but will perhaps want to set up a rotating schedule with fewer staff present than usual (principle #2), and the supervisor needs to carry out that scheduling with the Guiding Principles goal of equity in mind (principle #3). 

 

The same would be true for delivering first year courses. For the first-year educational experience, the goal might be to offer an in-person component of most English 1 courses (principle #1). The exceptions to this goal should be based on individual instructor’s COVID related health/childcare/etc need first and preference second (principle #2). And finally, decisions about course assignments should be made equitably by chairs; in this case all faculty and TA needs and preferences should be considered and addressed based on merit not on rank or other structure (principle #3).

Pandemic Remote Work Policy

Lehigh will re-open with faculty/staff/RAs/TAs/GAs being recalled to campus in a phased approach taking into consideration the core mission and the ability to effectively work remotely. In the Open I and Open II phases of Lehigh’s reopening plan, staff, faculty and RAs/TAs/GAs who are not designated essential should not return to campus until receiving approval from their Dean or unit manager. In the Open III phase, this permission may be granted by the Supervisor, Department Chair or PI consistent with the Safety Management Plan they have developed for that area.

 

Remote work will continue “where feasible” for the majority of faculty/staff/RAs/TAs/GAs. Those who can work remotely, should continue doing so. After receiving approval to return to campus, consideration should still be given to remote work when possible.

Required Training

Before returning to campus, all staff, faculty and RAs/TAs/GAs are required to verify they have completed a 20-minute online training module. At the end of the module, each employee must acknowledge and commit to understanding and abiding by the health and safety standards expected of everyone on Lehigh’s campus.  

Performance Expectations

At a time when we are all pulling together to maintain Lehigh’s legacy in education, research and service, each staff, faculty and RA/TA/GA is expected to do the best they can in a compromised environment. As long as schools, daycare and other restrictions are in place, performance expectations for remote work will be more relaxed. As we gradually re-open campus, performance expectations will continue to evolve. It is everyone’s responsibility to seek out ways to perform our work as effectively as possible even before being approved to come onto campus. 

 

Consistent with the Guiding Principles, once approved to return to campus, staff, faculty and RAs/TAs/GAs are expected to perform their primary responsibilities successfully. We acknowledge this may, at times, still not be the optimal standard. It may also require a balance of compliance with the Guiding Principles.  

 

If successful performance can be maintained remotely, it should be. If attaining this standard of performance remotely requires regular or occasional visits to campus, such arrangements are subject to the manager/Chair/PI’s approval. Temporary adjustments in goals and expectations, physical work spaces, hours, use of technology, etc. while doing our best to responsibly serve our students, may be necessary. 

 

Managers and staff should discuss work expectations, goals and accountabilities regularly. For staff, these discussions should be documented in the Draftbook process. Should any of these discussions result in changes to job description accountabilities due to the pandemic, they should be documented in the Draftbook process even though they are temporary.  

 

For faculty, these discussions should occur with your Department Chair and follow the same overarching Guiding Principles, which is to provide the best Lehigh education and experience for our students under these circumstances; protect the health and safety of all members of the Lehigh community; and to uphold our principles of equity and community as we balance the previous two principles.  

 

During re-opening phases I, II, and III, if staff, faculty, or graduate students are not a designated essential employee and they feel nervous or anxious about reporting to campus, they are not required to do so. 

 

When the University reaches the Open IV phase, most undergraduates will be allowed on campus and the expectations of in-person  service will become more imperative. Staff who are unable to perform the requirements of their job successfully via remote work, may use paid or unpaid time off. Staff should notify their supervisor of their situation and all days should be logged into TimeClock Plus. Faculty should notify their department chair of their situation and make arrangements for coverage of any on-campus duties. RAs/GAs/TAs should notify their department chairs, PIs, or other supervisors to make arrangements for coverage of any on-campus duties. 

 

We expect supervisors, department chairs, PIs and all unit heads to continue to explore creative and adequate solutions consistent with the Guiding Principles. Where such resolutions don’t readily avail themselves at the local level, there may be a need to explore reasonable accommodations via ADA and FMLA regulations. See the Accommodations and Options section.

Maintaining Safe Work Spaces

From staggered shifts to space modifications, there are a variety of strategies to help keep work spaces safer. Supervisors and department chairs have been charged with developing Safety Management Plans for their areas in accordance with the guiding principles of safety, quality and equity. 

After receiving approval to return to campus, departments and units should still limit the number of people in office suites and closed work spaces to adhere to social distancing requirements. This can be done by dividing the department into shifts that come in at different times or on different days. This may be more effectively scheduled a week at a time, although business needs will drive the schedules. Those not in the office are expected to work remotely and perform their primary responsibilities as successfully  as possible. In order to contain “germ circles,” it is best to schedule the same people on the same shifts. 

 

Traditional work days (8:15 to 4:45) may bring many people in close contact at arrival and departure. If this is a risk, departments should stagger start and stop times where feasible. Consideration can also be given to working non-traditional hours including evenings and weekends where that provides desirable options.

 

In many cases there will be some faculty and staff who want to return to campus. Where practical, supervisors and department chairs should ask about and consider these preferences in their staffing planning. In shared spaces a departmental calendar can be created where people will log and plan their trips to campus in order to coordinate and avoid unintentional overlaps.

 

Some adjustment of workspaces may also help meet social distancing requirements. Consider how to use private offices and meeting rooms. Avoid scheduling people who work in close cubicles for the same shifts. Or rearrange office workspaces according to shift schedules to achieve the same results.  For guidance in making alterations in physical space, please refer to the Safety Management Plan.

Individual Responsibility to Observe Public Health Directives

All staff and faculty (and students) are required to conduct a personal health self-screening each day before coming to campus. A self-screening tool is available within the HawkWatch app or, for those unable to download the app, a Qualtrics instrument will soon be available for PC. 

 

Lehigh will provide cloth face coverings to all faculty and staff (and students) upon return to campus. Everyone is responsible for maintaining and cleaning their individual face coverings. All employees and students are also permitted to use their own personal face coverings. If an employee’s work responsibilities require additional or specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), these will be provided by Lehigh. All PPE must be worn appropriately according to directions and instructions.

 

Faculty and staff are required to adhere to all safety protocols while on campus.

 

Lehigh custodial services will continue to clean offices and workspaces on an enhanced protocol developed with CDC and PA Dept of Health guidance, however all staff, faculty and RAs/TAs/GAs  must take additional responsibility to wipe down commonly used surfaces after use (including shared printers and copiers, meeting room tables and chairs, microwaves, light switches and doorknobs, etc.) with disinfectants made available by the University.

Illness or Exposure Protocols

Individuals who have been approved to return to campus must continue to monitor personal health for symptoms and risk of exposure. Daily use of the self-assessment tool will provide faculty and staff with guidance on if/when to return to campus safely. 

 

If you don’t feel well, stay home and notify your supervisor, department chair, or PI. If you arrive on campus and begin to feel symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus:

  1. Immediately notify your supervisor, department chair or PI and go home.

  2. Contact your primary care physician immediately (telemedicine may be the most efficient option) and follow their advice, including scheduling a COVID-19 test as soon as possible if recommended.

  3. You may be asked to provide a doctor’s clearance before being allowed to return to campus.

 

Employees who work in certain work locations (for example, the Health & Wellness Center) or have certain responsibilities may require additional periodic, on-campus screening. 

 

Staff may use any type of paid leave to accommodate the need to stay home or leave campus early. In some cases, if leave balances have been exhausted, additional days may be approved. If staff are in need of additional days, notify HR by filling out this questionnaire

 

If RA/TA/GAs fall ill, they should stay home until they are cleared to return to campus. If the department or PI needs to pay someone to cover the RA/TA/GAs duties, the Provost Office will provide funding for up to 5 weeks of coverage. AFTER the student has returned to his or her duties, the department coordinator should submit this Grad Funding Replacement form to request replacement funding. Departments with questions about replacement funding for RAs/TAs/GAs who are ill should email covidg@lehigh.edu.

 

Positive Test or Exposure to Confirmed Case

If faculty or staff test positive for COVID-19, they should self quarantine and follow their primary care physician’s advice. This may include directions on contact tracing to identify where the infection may have come from and to where it may have spread. You are not required to notify your supervisor, department chair or PI of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, however you should follow normal departmental protocol as you would for missing work due to any other illness.

 

Faculty and staff who have been on campus or in close proximity with other Lehigh community members within the last fourteen days since experiencing symptoms, should notify Lehigh through the confidential survey to begin contact tracing at work. If you have any questions in addition to the survey, please contact Lehigh University Human Resources at INTRACE@lehigh.edu

 

RAs/TAs/GAs who have been on campus or in close proximity with other Lehigh community members within the last fourteen days since experiencing symptoms, should contact the Health and Wellness Center: 610-758-3870.  

 

Following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Lehigh requires a clearance note from your physician before returning to work. Faculty and staff may deliver this note to their supervisor or directly to Human Resources before returning. Graduate students should fill out this brief form, uploading a PDF or jpeg of the doctor's note. The form will be viewed by staff in the Provost Office who will notify those you identify that you are cleared to return to campus. If you have any questions, please contact covidg@lehigh.edu

Time Away From Work

Faculty or staff who may need time away from work to address their own serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member (spouse/partner, child or parent) with a serious health condition may qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

 

For your own serious health condition, you may qualify for Short Term Disability leave.  Please contact Human Resources at 610-758-3900 with questions.   

Accommodations and Options

Accommodations and Options for Staff

Staff who are asked to return to work on campus and who are concerned about doing so, should consider the following information:

Some members of the Lehigh community may have a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Staff who fall into one of these risk categories or who have a mental health condition exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, should inquire about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation process by submitting to incovada@lehigh.edu these forms:

Staff who are concerned about returning to work on campus for reasons other than their own health (including age 65 or older, protecting vulnerable members of their households, childcare concerns, or general concern about being in public places during a global pandemic) may request modifications. To initiate this process, please contact your supervisor to begin a dialogue. Supervisors and department chairs are charged with balancing the principles of providing the highest quality educational experience for our students, protecting the health and safety of all members of the Lehigh community, and treating individuals equitably.                                         

Accommodations and Options for Faculty and Instructors

On July 10, the Provost issued a statement that given the health and safety concerns and the importance of instructors of all types to the Lehigh community, no instructor will be required to teach in person for the Fall semester.  As a result, instructors with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 will not be required to complete the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation process if they wish to teach remotely.  

 

Decisions about alternative approaches and duties will be made at the department or college level. These decisions must be rooted in the overall educational goals and needs of the particular department or college, bearing in mind our shared commitment to providing an exceptional academic experience for our students through all modes of delivery.

 

If you plan to teach in person and would like to identify changes in the classroom configuration for increased safety, contact facilities (inreopen@lehigh.edu) to discuss possible classroom changes. If you would like access to enhanced PPE for teaching, visit this site to request PPE.

 

If you are currently scheduled to teach in person and would prefer to teach remotely this semester, the process is as follows:

 

  • Work within your academic unit and with your chair to make the appropriate arrangements to formalize your instructional mode for the fall semester.

  • If you are unable to come to a satisfactory agreement with your academic unit and chair, please engage an associate dean within your college for problem-solving assistance.

  • If a solution cannot be found at the college level, faculty should consult the deputy provost for faculty affairs, Jackie Krasas (jkr205@lehigh.edu). Graduate student teaching assistants should consult the deputy provost for graduate education, Beth Dolan (bdk3@lehigh.edu). 

 

If at some point during the semester your mode of teaching should change significantly, you must notify your department chair.

Accommodations and Options for Graduate Students

On July 10, the Provost issued a statement that given the health and safety concerns and the importance of instructors of all types to the Lehigh community, no instructor, including TAs,  will be required to teach in person for the Fall semester.  As a result, instructors with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 will not be required to complete the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation process if they wish to teach remotely.  Instead, all instructors who wish to teach remotely regardless of the reason will be required to notify their Department Chair or PI about their decision to opt out of in-person teaching for the Fall semester and ensure that they have a plan in place to meet student learning expectations and outcomes or to make alternative arrangements.

 

Some graduate students, including RAs and GAs may have a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. Graduate students, other than TAs, who are concerned about coming to campus because they fall into one of these risk categories should contact Disability Support Services (610-758-4152) to discuss ADA-based accommodations. Graduate students should not discuss medical issues with faculty or supervisory staff, nor should faculty or supervisory staff members decide disability accommodations. In developing accommodations, DSS will consult with academic program/faculty advisor/instructor/supervisor as relevant to the situation. 

 

RAs/GAs who are concerned about coming to campus for reasons other than their own health (including protecting vulnerable members of their households, childcare concerns, or general concern about being public places during a global pandemic) may request modifications. If the campus activity relates to  coursework or thesis/dissertation research, the graduate students should first  discuss concerns with the course instructor or faculty advisor. Faculty are asked to implement remote options where feasible. If the graduate student and faculty member are not able to reach a satisfactory modification, the student should consult the Director of Graduate Studies in the department. If unsuccessful, please see Resolving Conflicts below.

 

If the campus activity relates to assistantship duties, the graduate students should first discuss the concerns with the  supervisor or PI. Supervisors and PIs are asked to implement remote options where feasible. If the graduate student and supervisor or PI are not able to reach a satisfactory modification, the student should consult the Director of Graduate Studies in the department. If the issue is not resolved, the student should discuss with the Department Chair. If unsuccessful, please see Resolving Conflicts below.

 

Resolving Conflicts--RA/TA/GA

RA/TA/GAs have four options for help resolving a conflict with a Supervisor, PI, or Department Chair:

1. Contact the Graduate Associate Dean of your college:

2. Contact Beth Dolan, Deputy Provost for Graduate Education (covidg@lehigh.edu)

3. Contact Kathleen Hutnik, Associate Dean for Graduate Life (kaha@lehigh.edu).

4. Or, contact the University Ombudspersons, who are available to any faculty, staff, or student, including graduate students.

Community Expectations

How to Report Concerns

In order to create and promote a healthy, safe and inclusive learning and working environment on Lehigh’s campus for all community members, we have established standards to reinforce practices and protocols related to hygiene, sanitation, face coverings and social distancing. Read more about these safety and health standards here.  These standards are informed by national, state and local guidance. 

All members of the Lehigh community, prior to being permitted on campus, must certify through an online training that they understand that taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections at Lehigh is a shared responsibility and that they must do their part to fulfill that responsibility.  All community members must agree and commit to adhere to national, state and local health guidelines as well as any additional measures implemented by Lehigh.  We must hold each other accountable.

If you experience or witness a situation in which members of our community, regardless of whether they are students, faculty, staff, or visitors are not adhering to these standards, you have the following options:

  1. If you can safely address the concern directly with the individual or group, you may do so by reminding them of University standards and our shared responsibility in promoting a healthy, safe and inclusive learning and working environment.  We will issue guidance for ways in which you can address these situations.  Supervisors are expected to address these issues with their direct reports. 

  2. If addressing the concern directly is not an option, or if you are not satisfied with the response you receive or the behavior doesn’t stop, you may report the concern to the COVID Response Team (CRT) by completing this form at http://lehigh.edu/go/covidreporting.  While we encourage you to provide your name and contact information with this form so that the CRT may follow-up with you, if necessary, you may also submit this report anonymously.  

 
Non-Retaliation Policy

University faculty, staff or students shall not retaliate[1]  against any individual who, acting in good faith, reports suspected or actual wrongful conduct. University faculty, staff or students shall not directly or indirectly use or attempt to use the official authority or influence of their offices for the purpose of interfering with the right of an individual to make such disclosure to the individual’s immediate supervisor or other appropriate administrator or University official. Any violation of these prohibitions against retaliation shall constitute a violation of University policy and may result in disciplinary action. 

 

[1] Retaliation refers to an adverse action that would dissuade a reasonable person from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity.  This may include, but is not limited to, actions such as disciplining, denying benefits, intimidation or harassment, and more subtle actions such as isolating, ostracizing, mocking, or falsely accusing someone of poor performance.

Manager, Department Chair and PI Responsibilities

Required Training for Supervisors

During COVID-19, managers, department chairs and PIs play an important role in determining, establishing and supporting realistic work expectations and goals for their teams while adhering to the guiding principles.  

 

As part of these responsibilities, a self-guided online training course for Lehigh supervisors designed to help supervisors, department chairs and PIs effectively plan for and manage their team’s return to campus is required. CLICK HERE to take the training.

Responsibilities

Unit heads are responsible for establishing realistic work expectations and goals to further the core mission of Lehigh University in light of COVID-19. In all re-opening phases, this includes a Safety Management Plan for your area, regular performance conversations, determinations on return to work requests, scheduling staggered shifts or alternating schedules to maintain distancing protocols, supervision of compliance with all health and safety requirements, and confidential reporting of any medical information that may be shared with them. Managers should learn what protocols are expected for social distancing, meeting and gathering size, and the consistent use of PPE and other hygienic guidelines, and communicate these protocols to their employees.  

 

Managers should clearly communicate expectations about adhering to national, state, local and University COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies and hold team members accountable. In order to ensure the minimum 6 foot distance requirement, managers may set limits to the number of individuals allowed in the work environment (for example no more than 33 percent of the team at any one time, or no more than five people in an office suite). Where possible, begin by identifying individuals who wish to return to campus. Managers need to review and possibly adjust schedules, including start and stop times, and should be aware of all team members scheduled to be the workspace. For more strategies see the Strategies for Maintaining safe work spaces section.

Discussing Returning to Campus with Employees

When it is found necessary for certain employees to return to campus, be flexible. When discussing with your employees or RA/TA/GAs the expected return to campus, understand there may be times where they  express fear.  Please keep in mind the following three Principles that the university is expected to abide by: 

  1. Providing the best Lehigh education and experience for students that is possible in these circumstances;

  2. Protecting the health and safety of all members of the Lehigh community; and

  3. Upholding our principles of equity and community as we balance the previous two principles. 

Again, you should be flexible and it is your responsibility to come up with a creative approach that meets the needs of both the University and the employee. Try to address their concerns by explaining Lehigh’s proactive approach to the health and welfare of our campus community. Talk about the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices that are in place as well as the protective equipment being provided and social distancing practices that all must adhere to. Remind them of the specific safety measures addressed by your local Safety Management Plan. Be mindful that certain circumstances fall under ADA or FMLA.

In order to maintain a consistent and fair approach when making these decisions,  discuss the following questions: 

1. What are your concerns? This is not intended to discuss health or medical situations, rather to learn the areas of concern. For example, is the individual worried about their ability to continue to perform remotely (mobile equipment)? Are they concerned about returning to traditional hours due to child care issues  (scheduling)? If they are concerned about health issues make sure they understand the accommodation avenues open to them.

2. Can we address their concerns with a combination of a remote and on campus schedule or a completely remote schedule?  If so then: 

a. What are the essential functions of the employees’ or RA/TA/GAs’ job?

b. Can the essential functions of the job be performed remotely on a part time or full-time basis and maintain the quality and level of customer service needed, and/or to meet performance expectations agreed upon by the supervisor and employee?

3. Can we address their concerns with staggered shifts, flexible start and stop times, rotating days at work?

4. Can we address their concerns with technology and affordable remote equipment?

5. Can we address their concerns with physical space modifications?

When an Employee Shares a Positive COVID-19 Diagnosis

If an employee shares with a manager or department chair that they have tested positive for COVID-19, remember that this information is sensitive and confidential and should not be shared with team members. (Any need to inform university colleagues will be handled through contact tracing.) Tell the employee to

  1. Stay home and self-isolate

  2. Follow the instructions of their primary care physician, and 

  3. If the employee has been on campus or in close proximity with other Lehigh community members within the last fourteen days since experiencing symptoms, ask them to notify Lehigh through a confidential survey to begin contact tracing and send an email to Human Resources at INTRACE@lehigh.edu.   

 

RAs/TAs/GAs who have been on campus or in close proximity with other Lehigh community members within the last fourteen days since experiencing symptoms, should contact the Health and Wellness Center: 610-758-3870.  

Communicating Performance Expectations

Managers should be creative and open-minded when exploring processes and technology to accomplish core departmental goals and accountabilities. They should be especially attentive to establishing a respectful and equitable work environment for all team members in this challenging pandemic situation.

 

As long as schools, daycare and other restrictions are in place, performance expectations for remote work will be more relaxed. As we gradually re-open campus performance expectations will continue to evolve. It is everyone’s responsibility to seek out ways to perform our work as effectively as possible even before being approved to come onto campus.

 

Once approved to return to campus, staff, faculty and RAs/TAs/GAs are expected to perform successfully. If this can be done remotely, it should be. If attaining this standard of performance remotely requires regular or occasional visits to campus, such arrangements are subject to the manager’s approval. Managers should discuss work expectations, goals and accountabilities regularly.