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Skidmore College
Fall 2020 Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs will be continuously updated as new questions are asked and information is available. Staff are also encouraged to view general FAQs, which provide additional information here.

Skidmore is located in the Capital Region of New York and is under the phased reopening plan called “New York Forward.” Higher education administration falls under Phase 2 of the reopening plan, and the College has developed its own Reopening Safety Action Plan with an effective date of June 29, 2020. The plan outlines how College employees will begin to return to campus in a safe way, which is our primary goal.

The New York State Department of Labor has clarified that the final unemployment assistance payment scheduled for New York employees will be for the week ending July 26. Therefore, all furloughed Skidmore employees will return to their regular schedules Monday, July 27. 

Employees who can work remotely should continue to do so, in order to reduce density on campus. 

The vice president of each division will develop a plan for reopening their offices. Some departments will continue to work from home, and others will allow a safe percentage of employees to return to work.  

Supervisors will work directly with their employees to determine individual dates for return to office work and work schedules. For some employees, this will involve a partial return to campus, and others will continue to work from home. 

Skidmore is taking steps to ensure the campus workplace is safe, and employees will be asked to do their part as well. Facilities will clean all common areas on a regular basis and record when and where cleanings occur.  

Employees will be asked to clean and sanitize their work areas on a daily (or more frequent) basis. Safe practices should also be maintained, such as frequent hand-washing, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and wiping down surfaces. 

Employees will also be required to certify daily that they do not have a temperature above 100.4 and do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Employees will receive a list of requirements to follow when they return to campus to keep themselves and those around them safe. The requirements are listed in detail in the Reopening Safety Action Plan.   

Each department will determine, based on duties, work assignments and the physical design of the work area, the appropriate number of employees who will return.

Skidmore will conduct a weekly testing program for most employees who will be on campus this semester.

Only employees who are in one or more of these categories will NOT require testing:  

-Employees who work remotely 
-Employees who are not scheduled to work on campus 
-Employees who may need to be on campus briefly, such that they are on campus no more than twice per week and for a period that amounts to no more than 30 minutes each time. An example would be coming in only to pick up mail or make a copy. 

Employees who will be on campus irregularly but who do not fall within the third exemption, above, must be tested before working on campus.

Please see the Employee Testing section below for more information. 

It is important for all employees to follow safety protocols. We want everyone to be safe and feel secure working in a clean environment. The best way to do that is for everyone to wear a mask, frequently wash their hands, refrain from touching their face and follow safe distancing practices. Everyone should attempt to stay more than six feet apart, avoid congregating in common areas and wipe down equipment before and after contact with it. Cleaning supplies, gloves and masks will be provided to those who request them from Facilities (facilities@skidmore.edu) or Human Resources (hr@skidmore.edu). All employees should carefully review the Reopening Safety Action Plan, which outlines requirements for social distancing and mask usage.

A review of campus has been completed, and each department working with Facilities and Human Resources, will make the determination on any necessary precautions. In some cases, this may mean a reduced number of employees working in an area to maintain a 6-foot distance between work areas, or a slight modification to equipment. Care must be taken with equipment that is shared between employees, such as common area printers, so they are cleaned before and after each use. All employees must share in these responsibilities.

Our primary concern is that everyone stays safe.  For this reason, we are requiring employees to take these daily steps:

  1. Before coming to work, employees must certify that their daily temperature is not above 100.4 degrees. Employees can go to Campus Safety before reporting to work to have their temperature taken.  Symptoms of COVID-19 are listed in the Reopening Safety Action Plan and should be observed. If an employee is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, Skidmore reserves the right to ask the employee to go home for the day to protect our employees. 
  2. Employees will be required to keep a log of everyone they are in contact with at less than 6-feet for 10 minutes or more. Each department will also be required to keep a daily log of visitors to the area. These logs will be critical in tracing contacts should someone become positive for COVID-19. 

The College is required to do so as part of Skidmore’s Reopening Safety Action Plan, which complies with New York state requirements. It is important for Skidmore to be able to contract trace in the event someone contracts the virus. In order to accurately develop a record of contacts for tracing, we need everyone to cooperate to ensure we can maintain a safe working environment for all.

Bathrooms will be cleaned daily. Occupancy will be limited to one person at a time in common area bathrooms.  

Common area occupancy will also be limited, and areas such as office kitchens will have plates and utensils removed. Also, common water sources (bottles) should not be used at this time. 

Although we know it is not always possible to stay on campus every day, we ask employees to bring their own food for meals, and we request they remain on campus during the workday. While this may seem onerous, our intention is to limit the chances of an employee contracting COVID-19 and to limit the campus from exposure to the virus as much as possible. 

Employees who are in high-risk groups or have underlying health conditions that place them at a higher risk should take great care in avoiding exposure. While on campus, that means always wearing a mask, avoiding common areas entirely and maintaining social distance.  

Employees who do not feel safe coming back to work at this time may be able to plan to continue working from home. We are sensitive to protecting information about anyone’s personal health situation. Anyone who feels they need an accommodation should contact Laura Goodwin in HR at lgoodwin@skidmore.edu. We will do everything we can to work with individuals who need an accommodation to keep them safe and healthy. 

Recordings of the training sessions may be found on the Fall 2020 Reopening Planning website.

Engagement with staff serving on the Academic Planning working group and Covid-19 working group has been significant. Faculty and students were surveyed regarding fall planning, but we have yet to conduct a broad-based survey of the entire Skidmore community regarding fall planning. The community forums, like the one held July 7, are designed to serve as a space for staff to ask questions, provide feedback and engage in dialogue.

Staff are encouraged to view the community forum held July 7 here for additional, detailed information regarding the budget and potential options to address any negative budget impact.

While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides employers with a tax credit for and provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits for situations when a primary caregiver needs to stay home because school is closed due to COVID-19, that law only applies to employers with less than 500 employees.  Therefore, Skidmore and our employees do not qualify for this benefit.  The CARES Act does, however, expand eligibility for unemployment benefits to cover this situation.  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is available to employees who cannot work because they are the primary through December 31, 2020 for any employee who cannot work because their child cannot attend school or daycare due to COVID.  PUA is not available if an employee can telework and, unfortunately, does not cover an employee's full wages or salary while they have to stay home to care for their school-aged children.  

State unemployment benefits generally do not cover an employee's full wages or salary.  The current maximum benefit rate is $504.  Prior to 7/26/20, there was a $600 supplemental benefit available from the federal government to help make employees whole.  You may have heard the federal government, through Executive Order, extended half ($300) of this benefit.  Based on news reports, this amount will be paid to NY claimants but there has been a delay.  The DOL reported today that they will be announcing new information on the $300 payments "in the coming weeks."

The College will work with employees who are impacted by school closures to provide as much flexibility as possible, including a leave of absence if necessary and feasible.  While we are hopeful that schools will remain open, we know that this is a very uncertain and stressful time for parents.  Our goal is to help employees through this time using whatever tools we have available.  If a situation arises, please contact a member of the HR team so we can explore all possible options together.

The College’s first commitment is to the safety of our internal community: students, staff and faculty, but we recognize that there are a number of crucial units that are outward-facing. College staff will continue to support community-facing aspects of our work in a manner that aligns with key planning principles and protects the health and safety of our community.

Employee Testing

Most employees who are working on campus will be tested on a weekly basis.  Employees who come to campus occasionally will be required to have a test completed at least 24 hours prior to their arrival on campus.   

Testing will continue based on the same initial schedule established for employees unless your manager or supervisor has communicated a different schedule to you. If you miss your scheduled appointment or the schedule conflicts with your teaching or work schedule, you may select a time that is more convenient M-F, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. You do not have to notify HR that you are going during a different testing window. However, it is your responsibility to make sure you are tested each week that you will be on campus.

The testing site is a large tent behind Kimball Hall.

Employees who receive a negative test result will receive an email that will allow them to access a confidential online portal provided by CareEvolve to view the negative test result. Employees who test positive will be contacted by the College’s ordering physician, who will provide the positive test results by phone. Dr. Holland will also provide employees who test positive important information regarding quarantine and following up with your regular physician.

If an employee is a new user and being tested for the first time, the process is outlined here. 

Test results are released in real time. Participants with negative test results will receive an email notification.  Positive test results will be provided by telephone by the College’s ordering physician.   

Employees who are already registered can login in here to view test results. 

Yes, all employees need to complete the Daily Health Certification on days they are working on campus.

In order to work on campus after August 21, 2020, an employee will need to get tested. Objections may be directed to HR who will address them on a case-by-case basis.

Before your first test, you will be asked to sign a HIPAA-compliant release allowing Broad Institute to share the results of test with the College.  The College will maintain any information received related to the exposure or diagnosis of COVID-19 as confidential medical records in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and New York State Human Rights Law. What this means is that the College will keep employees’ test results private and will not disclose them except as required by state and local health officials and to the extent necessary to carry out the College’s protocol for responding to an employee who tests positive as described in the College’s Reopening and Safety Action Plan. 

If an employee gets a positive test, they will be notified by a physician who the College has contracted for this purpose. In response to a positive test result, the College will follow its Action Plan for Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 as set forth in Section 3(b) of the Reopening and Safety Action Plan. Employees who test positive will be required to quarantine for 14 days and the College will assist the local health department’s contract tracing efforts to identify any individuals who may have come into close contact with the infected individual within the 48-hour period prior to the positive test. Those individuals who are identified by public health officials and/or the College as having close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 14 days with some exceptions for essential employees. The College will close off the affected work area(s) and will follow Department of Health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection of affected areas before individuals are permitted to return. Employees may be relocated or sent home while the College deploys the cleaning and disinfection protocol. Individuals will be notified the area is reopened.

Employees who are quarantined and who can work remotely and are medically able will be expected to do so.  Employees whose job cannot be performed remotely will be eligible for Emergency Sick Pay for up to 14 days of quarantine due to a positive test result or because of close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

Broad Institute will administer the SARS-CoV-2 Real-time Reverse Transcriptase-PCR Diagnostic Assay. This is a molecular test. The College is not offering antibody testing.

The turnaround time for test results is 24-48 hours.

Yes, all employees who are working on campus will be required to be tested.

Faculty members should decide what their office hours will be for the semester and get tested before coming to campus with enough time for the College to receive test results. For example, if office hours are scheduled on Wednesday or Thursday, you should get tested on Monday or Tuesday, respectively.  If the office hours are scheduled earlier in the week, you should test the Friday before. 

Yes, all employees that will be on campus for more than 30 minutes two times a week must be tested, regardless if they are working alone or in a non-shared office. Test results are received by the College the day following your test, so please plan on testing two days prior to coming on campus.

If you cannot get tested during your scheduled testing window, you may go to the testing site M-F 9:00 am – 4:00 pm to be tested. You do not need to notify HR prior to rescheduling your appointment. We do ask that employee try to adhere to the testing windows provided to the greatest extent necessary to avoid congestion and wait times at the testing site.