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Reopening

Information for Students | Information for Staff and Faculty

Quadrangle

Fall 2020 Student Repopulation Plan

UPDATED AUG. 10, 2020

We are excited for your return to campus and looking forward to a great – albeit different – fall semester. Along with academic changes, we have also been planning for the out-of-class services, opportunities, relationships, connections, and community that are an essential part of living and learning at Fitchburg State. 

Because Fitchburg State University cannot guarantee zero cases of COVID-19, nor prevent all community infections, we must expect that every member of the University community will be committed to creating a culture of safety and accountability to maintain a healthy campus. Everyone who comes to campus for classes and work must understand and acknowledge this reality. Every member of the Fitchburg State community must also acknowledge that they have a responsibility to themselves and their fellow Falcons to do their part to be safe, honor restrictions, follow appropriate public health guidelines, including those from the Centers for Disease Control, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Fitchburg city Department of Health, and comply with all written university guidance posted or otherwise communicated to the campus community.

We are confident that we can have a safe, healthy, productive and fun semester on campus this fall. Some have suggested that college students cannot be expected to live together safely in the midst of a pandemic, but I know we can do this. Now is the time for all of us to come together for the common good. 

This guidance document provides protocols, requirements, training, and plans to reduce risk and promote a healthy environment for our campus community. Our expectations for students, faculty, and staff related to reducing the risk of COVID-19 follows the guidance provided by the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, established by the Office of the Governor. This document is focused on students. Please know that a similar document was developed for all staff and faculty and can be found below. The health-related requirements detailed below apply to employees as well as students. 

This plan will remain fluid and is subject to change as further guidance and/or orders are directed from the Governor of Massachusetts and other state and federal authorities. The website will offer the most up-to-date information as circumstances evolve. 

Prior to returning to campus, all students are required to review a series of online training videos and policies to meet requirements to repopulate campus. The required training videos and other resources are located in Blackboard COVID Required Training Modules for Students. In addition, students must self-monitor their health daily. Students who are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 should inform the Student Affairs Office and not come to campus or leave their residence hall.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and assistance. Repopulating our campus will require care for each other and ourselves, continued flexibility and patience, and a close monitoring of the environment. Everyone has a part to play in maintaining a healthy and safe environment. We ask all students and employees to share in taking care of our facilities, our classrooms and workspaces, and commonly used equipment. Please carefully review these guidelines and contact the Student Affairs Office at 978.665.3130 or studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu to address any questions.

Introduction

Core Concepts

The first step toward repopulating the campus is the continued implementation of necessary health and safety protocols. The university is in compliance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Mandated Safety Standards for classrooms, residence halls, office spaces, and common areas of campus as identified by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board. These safety standards include, but are not limited to, assessing space configurations, pedestrian traffic flows, densification guidelines, social distancing, hygiene protocols, signage requirements, and cleaning & disinfecting practices. 

The following core concepts guide the university’s plan for the repopulation of campus:

  • Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and deliberately.
  • Require personal daily wellness checks, social distancing, handwashing, staying home when sick, and the use of face coverings.
  • Maintain cleaning protocols.
  • Remain aware of and address the disparate impact on vulnerable populations and minority communities of students, faculty and staff.
  • Continue to build on the innovations developed in the last few months to teach and serve remotely and to automate work processes.
  • Be ready to adjust plans based on guidance from local, state and CDC health officials.
  • Continue to update the campus community.

A Commitment to the Fitchburg State Community

Public health is everyone’s responsibility. The next section defines Fitchburg State’s expectations for students, employees, and visitors to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in our community. 

The safety of the campus community in respect to COVID-19 is a shared risk. All community members must do their part to contribute to the health and safety of the community. To that end, the University has implemented new safety rules and precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which the University may update or revise at any time in response to new information, or recommendations or guidance from the CDC or Massachusetts Department of Health. All students are expected to comply with the rules and precautions implemented by the University, including, but not limited to, wearing face coverings, washing or sanitizing hands, social distancing, monitoring of symptoms, and self-reporting of symptoms or a positive COVID diagnosis. Behaviors that jeopardize the health and safety of the University community will not be tolerated. Students suspected of, or found to be in violation of, the preceding may be immediately removed from the residence halls and/or the University, pending further action. Failure to comply with these rules and precautions implemented in response to COVID-19 is a violation of the University’s Code of Conduct and could subject students to sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the University. Consistent with the university’s statement of non-discrimination, Fitchburg State will not tolerate discrimination, profiling, bias, or any form of racial intimidation in conjunction with this or any other COVID-related policies. Any reported incidents will be addressed in accordance with university policy.

 

The following portions of the Code of Conduct allow for adjudication of these types of violations:

  • 2.01 Obstruction or disruption (participating in or inciting others to participate in the disruption or obstruction) of teaching, administration, disciplinary system, the university or   community or other university activities.
  • 2.02 Conduct, regardless of where it occurs, that is in violation of federal, state and/or local law or university policies that brings into question one’s suitability as a member of the university community, or has a detrimental effect on the reputation of the University..
  • 2.13 Violation of published University policies.
  • 3.01 Physical assault, harassment, or bullying, of another person or threats of injury or harm to oneself or another person or any action, which may subject oneself, or another person to physical or mental injury.
  • 3.06 Trespassing, forcible entry, or unauthorized entry and/or presence in buildings or property where posted or restricted, or attempts to commit the same. Reasonable notice of authority, or lack thereof, shall be given.
  • 3.13 Failure to maintain community health and living standards as outlined in the Housing Agreement/Policies and Procedures.
  • 4.04 Failure to comply with a reasonable request of a university official.
  • PART XII, Interim Restrictions Clause. 

Find the full code at www.fitchburgstate.edu/judicial.

 

Health and Safety Expectations

Standards

Anyone returning to campus will be asked to follow the standards below:

TRAINING PROGRAM. Prior to returning to campus or starting the semester, every student must participate in a training program on Blackboard that details our health and safety guidelines, and attest that they understand and will comply with expectations.

SOCIAL DISTANCING. Stay at least six feet apart when able, and be mindful of distancing in enclosed spaces.

HANDWASHING. Wash hands often.

FACE COVERINGS. Everyone on campus is required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when indoors. This includes classrooms, public restrooms, open office and common spaces, hallways, meeting rooms, libraries, and other indoor spaces. Face coverings are also required outdoors when six-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.

  • Students will be provided a face covering upon return to campus. Each student will receive one Fitchburg State-branded face covering. Residential students will receive them in their residence hall and commuter students can pick one up at the information desk on the street level of Hammond Hall.
  • Students may use face coverings provided by the university or supply their own.
  • Face coverings may be cloth or disposable.
  • Students may remove face coverings in their own residence hall rooms or apartments.
  • Students should have a face covering with them whenever they are on campus.
  • Students who enter facilities without a face covering will be asked to leave.
  • Students may remove face coverings when actively eating or drinking or strenuously exercising. Note that there is no food or beverage allowed in classrooms.
  • Guests, visitors, vendors, and contractors will be expected to honor these guidelines and provide their own face covering to keep the Fitchburg State community safe.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear cloth face coverings due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability may wear an alternate face covering, such as a shield, and maintain a minimum six-foot physical distance at all times. Students with individual conditions that prevent wearing cloth face coverings should work with the Disability Services Office..

CLEANING: Students will be responsible for maintaining their personal spaces across campus, including periodic cleaning of frequently used items. Capital Planning and Maintenance has altered their cleaning protocols to prioritize reducing the risk of COVID-19.

CLASSROOMS, WORK SPACES, COMMON AREAS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING: The Environmental Health and Safety Office has evaluated spaces across campus for physical distancing requirements. Spaces that cannot be altered may be closed. Guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will help us determine if it is possible to offer services in person in addition to remotely.

GATHERINGS: Students should continue to use technology for meetings and appointments. If necessary to meet in person, no more than twenty-five people may gather in one place and all must adhere to social distancing requirements. Students should wear a face covering per the instructions above until new guidance is provided.

GUESTS, VISITORS, AND VENDORS: The presence of guests, visitors, and vendors on our campus will be minimized, including those from off campus who wish to visit Fitchburg State students. Exceptions will be made on a limited basis for family members. Those who are allowed on campus will be expected to adhere to our expectations.

For questions about protocols, students may contact the Student Affairs Office at 978-665-3130.

Symptom Monitoring Checklist Requirement (Daily Wellness Check)

Students who are coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room must conduct symptom monitoring every day prior to leaving. All community members must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 upon arrival on campus. All students should remain where they are and notify the Office of Student Affairs (978.665.3130) if they are experiencing symptoms. If the onset of the symptoms occurs after regular business hours, notify remain in place and call University Police (978.665.3111).

At this time, symptoms include one or more of the following:  

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing  
  • Fever of over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills  
  • Repeated shaking with chills  
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion  
  • Muscle pain  
  • Headache  
  • Sore throat  
  • Fatigue  
  • New GI symptoms  
  • New loss of taste or smell

Surveillance Testing and Contact Tracing

Fitchburg State will be conducting its own COVID-19 surveillance testing, in partnership with the Broad Institute. We will be testing a randomized sample of members of the Fitchburg State community (students and employees) each week to track trends of the spread of the virus, if any. Students will be notified if they are part of this randomized sample for a given week, and be notified of test results. We urge you to make time to be tested in this process to support the ongoing monitoring of our community.

In addition, the university has partnered with the ACTION Center of Community Health Connections located in Fitchburg for students to be tested if they have been exposed to COVID-19. Payments and insurance rates apply. Please see the information below:

130 Water Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
978.878.8100
https://www.chcfhc.org/services/action-health-services/
Mon - Fri: 8 am - 5 pm / Sat - Sun: Closed
Walk-up COVID testing is Mon - Fri: 9 am - 4 pm (no appointment necessary)

Fitchburg State University is in the process of determining our process for contact tracing.

Travel

Students who are traveling out of state and return to Massachusetts should complete a Travel Form.

Per guidance from the state (Travel Information in Commonwealth), people from the following states do not need to quarantine when coming into Massachusetts: Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New York, and New Jersey. If you are visiting these states, you are not required to isolate upon your return.

If your travel takes you out of the region, you must isolate upon return for 14 days. See the section on Residence Halls for information about students who will be coming to campus from out of the region. Here is a link with information about travel from the Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

 

Teaching and Learning

Course Modalities

Changes to Fall 2020 course instructional modes of delivery (modalities) have been made so that we can offer all students a robust combination of learning environments, while protecting students’ health and safety. The existing, public health guidelines require the university to ensure social distancing protocols. This requires that we spread courses out throughout the day, find larger classrooms, and find innovative ways to teach high-enrollment courses.

When you view your schedule on Web4, you will see terms assigned to your courses related to the mode of delivery (modality). Some courses will be completely remote while others will take a hybrid format, meaning that part of the course will take place on campus and part will be conducted remotely. Still, others will meet on campus as originally scheduled, face to face. These terms are defined below:

ONLINE: This means that your course will be taught remotely but the course is taught through recorded lectures and other activities (asynchronously), meaning that the student does not have to be logged on at any specific time; they can receive and complete course work on their own time.

ONSYNC: This means that your course will be taught remotely but the course is taught live (synchronously) during the times specified by the schedule. You will access the course lectures via Google Meet or some other remote platform selected by the course instructor.

HYBRID A: This modality means that all students in the course will come to the classroom face-to-face (F2F) during one of the scheduled class periods. During the other classroom period(s), the students either participate live, but through a remote platform, or they may engage in other learning activities. For example, if the class is scheduled Monday and Wednesday, 8:00am - 9:15am, then the class will be held F2F on Monday; but on Wednesday, the students will receive the material remotely.

HYBRID B: This modality means that half the students in the course will come to the classroom F2F during one of the class periods, and the other half will watch the lecture live remotely, or they may engage in other learning activities. Then, the next class period, students will switch and the students who received the class material remotely will come to the classroom F2F, and the students who had been in the classroom will receive the material remotely. For example, if a class of 40 students is scheduled Monday and Wednesday, 8:00am - 9:15am, then on Monday, 20 students will come to class F2F and the other 20 will receive the material remotely. On Wednesday, the students would switch, and the 20 who were in class F2F on Monday would receive materials remotely, and the students who were remote on Monday would come to a F2F class on Wednesday.

HYBRID C: This modality means that half the students in the course will come to the classroom F2F during one week, and the other half will watch the lecture live remotely, or they may engage in other learning activities. The following week, students will switch, and the students who received the class material remotely in the first week will come to the classroom F2F, and the students who had been in the classroom F2F will receive the material remotely

HYBRID: This modality means that the students in the course will come to the classroom F2F sometime during the semester; however at least 50% of the course will be delivered remotely. In addition, given the variability of this model, it will be the faculty’s responsibility to communicate with students. NOTE: A hybrid course modality will have two lines on the seats list. One line will show the classroom where your class will meet on campus. The hybrid line will describe which hybrid modality your instructor is using. Please communicate with your instructor for details.

Academic Advising, Academic Support, and Career Development

All Academic Coaching and Tutoring Center (ACT) academic support services—peer tutoring, peer mentoring, academic coaching, and academic success workshops—will be available remotely, by Google Meet, phone, or email. We also hope to offer in-person services consistent with guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

All services from the Career Services and Advising Center will be performed remotely either by phone or via google meet. We will continue to provide all our regular services virtually. Services include:

  • One on one career and academic advising
  • Mock interviews
  • Workshops and Information Sessions
  • Programming/Events (career fair, panels, etc.)
  • Daily drop-in hours

Students can contact the office at 978-665-3151 or via email careercenter@fitchburgstate.edu to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Library

VISITING THE LIBRARY: All students, faculty and staff who enter the library building must adhere to the COVID-19 protocols established by Fitchburg State University, including wearing face coverings, social distancing, symptom monitoring, and hygiene standards. Furniture in the library will be moved and/or will have signage on it to allow for social distancing.

Go to fitchburgstate.edu/library to check hours as we get closer to opening.

ONLINE LIBRARY ACCESS: The vast majority of library resources, services and tools, including ebooks, articles, and help from a librarian, can be accessed via the Library Website at fitchburgstate.edu/library.

RESEARCH HELP: Librarians will be offering research help online via chat and Google Meet appointments. In-person research help will be offered on a limited basis.

COMPUTER ACCESS: The computers located on the main floor of the library were moved so they are at least 6 feet apart to maintain social distance. Computers are now located on the main level, 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors. Plastic keyboard covers were added in order to facilitate cleaning. Cleaning supplies will be readily available for students to wipe down equipment before and after using.

GROUP STUDY ROOMS: The library is currently developing safe capacity limits for each roomy.

CIRCULATION OF BOOKS: Physical books will be available for check-out in fall 2020. The check-out process will be modified to reduce contact. For those who wish to use it, the library will offer a “grab-n-go” nocontact check-out system. To ensure safety, returned books will be quarantined for a time period. NOTE: The library’s extensive ebooks collections now surpass the print book collections and are available online through the library’s website for use on campus and off campus.

RESERVES: Due to sanitation restrictions, physical course reserve books may not be available. The library is currently working on expanding access to digital reserves.

INTERLIBRARY LOAN: Interlibrary loan services will resume borrowing and lending for the fall 2020 semester. An interlibrary loan is when the library gets access to books and articles from other libraries for Fitchburg students and faculty.

ARCHIVES / SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: The Archives will be closed to in-person visitors, but will be available digitally. Please access the current and growing digital archives collection by clicking the Digital Archives quick link on the library homepage.

PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS: Library events will be online/virtual. Check our news feed at fitchburgstate.edu/library and follow FSUlibrary on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay informed on Library news.

 

Campus Life

New Student Orientation (The Falcon Experience)

Incoming students will continue to meet virtually with the orientation groups formed over the summer. These transition groups will work to help new students adjust to university life, and will be staffed by our Orientation Leaders (OL).

  • OLs will be available online and will be part of the transition for first-year students.
  • The OLs will connect new students through Falcon Connections including, Google Meets, email, and use of social media.
  • Remote programming will be provided.
  • A comprehensive on-line summer orientation program will be offered.
  • A virtual fall orientation program will continue post-arrival.

Residential Life

DE-DENSIFICATION: To meet the health requirements from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Centers for Disease Control, the residence halls have been de-densified as follows:

  • Traditional Floors: Single Occupancy
  • Suites: Double Occupancy
  • Apartments: Single Occupancy

The de-densification process has allowed for all Housing Occupancy Agreements currently entered to remain in effect for 2020-2021. Residents are requested to follow the cancellation policy stipulated within the agreement, as amended.

THE MOVE-IN PROCESS: Residential students will receive information about move-in on Thursday, August 13. Note that the move-in experience will be expanded to include drop-off days during the week of August 24. The drop-off days will allow you to reserve a time to drop off belongings in your assigned space. This will de-densify the move-in process for new students on August 31 and returning students on September 1 and  2.

  • All participants in the Move-in Process are required to wear face coverings and comply with all other guidelines stipulated.
  • All residents will be able to have at maximum two people in their party to support their move-in. Residents should bring only their essentials to support the Fall Semester.
  • Additional communication on Move-in is forthcoming.

MOVING TO CAMPUS FROM HIGHER RISK STATES: Students moving to campus from higher risk states should arrive on campus on the morning of Friday, August 28. Please see the travel section of this document for more information. Massachusetts keeps a list of states it considers lower risk, and residents coming from these states do not need to quarantine. Note that states are added and removed from this list as needed.

BATHROOMS: All residence hall bathrooms are cleaned by Capital Planning and Maintenance. Cleaning supplies will be accessible to supplement the cleaning that students are required to do in suites and apartments. Personal belongings should not be kept in shared bathrooms at anytime time as to not obstruct required cleanings. The Residence Life Staff will communicate with residents about the specific expectations in terms of scheduled usage and/or assignment of sinks as part of the move-in process.

COMMUNAL SPACES: The residence hall communal spaces including walkways, stairwells, laundry rooms, elevators, bathrooms, kitchens, lounges, and seating areas may have additional guidelines to support social distancing and best-practices including, but not limited, to:

  • Directional signage
  • Face covering when in the space
  • Scheduling for use
  • Limited or no use of the space

GUESTS: Guests are not allowed in any residential buildings, including Fitchburg State students who do not live in your designated family unit (those who live within your apartment, suite, or floor).

OVERNIGHT GUESTS: No overnight guests are permitted in the residence hall.

VISITORS: Residents who are assigned to the building in which you live but not your assigned bed unit. Visitors are permitted within your designated family unit (those who live within your apartment, suite, or floor), but not from other family units in your residence hall.

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT: Residents will have increased engagement with Building Staff and peers via virtual formats. Face-to-face contact will be limited. Building staff will provide networking, programs and community resources through virtual environments.

COMMUNITY CONTACT: The residence halls will continue to include professional staff, resident assistants and community desk assistants to support a 24/7 on-call program.

On-Campus Dining

RESIDENTIAL DINING MEAL PLANS: Seating in Holmes Dining will be closed during this period of modified service. Menu items will be made available as takeout options.

Service in Holmes Dining will include a variety of prepackaged takeout items, as well as meals served in takeout containers, sides, snacks, desserts and beverages served in takeout containers.

Our dining locations will continue to offer a variety of healthy items, vegan or vegetarian options, as well as items for those with special dietary needs. It is important to communicate these needs to our management staff so that we may better assist you.

Students will be able to complete one meal plan transaction per meal period. A meal plan transaction includes an order from one of our express pickup locations through BOOST or entry into Holmes Dining Hall.

Order ahead for express meal plan pickup will be facilitated through the BOOST mobile ordering app.

BOOST Mobile orders should be placed within the meal period you intend to pick up, in order to accurately use your meal swipes. (Example: Ordering a lunch pickup during a breakfast meal period will take away your ability to participate in that breakfast period). BOOST ordering for each meal period will open 15 minutes prior to the meal period.

Multiple pickup locations will be available for express pickup around campus. Many items and daily specials may vary based on pickup location.

McKay school Cafe will be open for breakfast and lunch meal plan pickup. Retail sales at the McKay Cafe will be suspended during this time of modified meal plan service.

North Street Bistro will offer an express grill meal plan pickup option for lunch and dinner service.

Holmes Dining will offer express meal pickup at the front checkers stand through breakfast, lunch and dinner meal periods.

Guests are expected to maintain physical distancing. Floor markers are placed throughout the serving lines, and the waiting line prior to the serving area. These will aid in ensuring proper physical distancing.

Holmes Dining will be closed for a 30 minute sanitation period between meals.

These modifications have been developed based on the most current information as well as CDC guidelines and may be subject to change. It is important to stay informed of any changes, modifications, or just our daily menus by visiting our website dineoncampus.com/fsu, or follow any of our social media pages @FSUEats1.

RETAIL: The McKay Cafe will not be open for retail transactions during this modified service period. It will instead be an alternate pickup location for express meal plan orders.

The North Street Bistro and Cafe will still be accepting retail transactions. All retail items will be available through the BOOST mobile ordering app and use of the app is encouraged to increase safety and convenience.

SUBWAY, Burger 978, and Freshens orders will only be available through the BOOST Mobile App. There will be no walk-ins or service lines for these retail concepts.

The Café location will be accepting BOOST orders as well as walk-ins.

Guests are expected to maintain physical distancing. Floor markers are placed throughout the serving lines, and the waiting line prior to the serving area. These will aid in ensuring proper physical distancing.

These modifications have been developed based on the most current information as well as CDC guidelines and may be subject to change. It is important to stay informed of any changes, modifications, or just our daily menus by visiting our website dineoncampus.com/fsu, or follow any of our social media pages @FSUEats1.

Disability Services

The Disability Services Office arranges for reasonable and appropriate accommodations for Fitchburg State students with documented disabilities, in an effort to afford equal access to all University programs and services.

Students interested in discussing disability accommodations are encouraged to contact the Disability Services Office by calling 978-665-4020, or by emailing disabilityserviceslist@fitchburgstate.edu. Meetings will be available remotely, by Google Meet, phone, or email. We will also offer in-person services, if we can do so while safeguarding student safety, our paramount concern.

Students are encouraged to complete appropriate forms, including a form to register with the Disability Services Office. All registration forms can be found on our website: fitchburgstate.edu/disabilities.

NOTE: To receive accommodations for a disability, students are required to submit documentation (e.g., medical documentation, educational testing). Guidelines for the submission of necessary documentation can be found on our website fitchburgstate.edu/disabilities.

Typically, the process of securing accommodations involves an initial meeting with Disability Services staff, and such meetings may be arranged either prior to the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, or after the semester begins

Counseling Services

The Counseling Services Office will continue to provide free services to enrolled students via a “telehealth” platform during the fall 2020 semester. Students interested in scheduling an appointment with a counselor are encouraged to either call the office at 978-665-3152, and, as needed, leaving a detailed message including name and contact information, or email healthwellness@fitchburgstate.edu and provide contact information.

Services will either be offered via phone, or secure video chat platform, depending on a student’s particular needs and preferences. Counseling Services staff will discuss with students special privacy considerations associated with telehealth services.

Counseling Services will also continue to offer programming to support emotional and psychological wellness. Social media platforms (e.g., Instagram) will be used to provide programs, and information regarding accessing programming will be made available on the Counseling Services website, and via University communication channels.

Health Services

Fitchburg State University will be partnering with a local provider to offer a wider array of health-related services to our students. More information to come as plans are finalized.

Campus Engagement

Students live full lives at Fitchburg State University, engaging in a robust offering of events, organizations, clubs and activities outside of the classroom. For the most part, guidance and policy in this area will mirror that for academic classes, such as reduced capacity of spaces, social distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing, and other public health best practices. Given the range of activities at Fitchburg State and the leadership role students play in planning and carrying out events, the following principles and recommendations will be implemented:

  • Student leaders, with oversight and guidance from the Office of Student Development, will plan and manage activities and programs in a manner consistent with University and state public health guidance and restrictions, such as maximum crowd size, face coverings and other social distancing requirements.
  • Staff will continue to advise, train, and support students involved in Recognized Student Organizations. Staff will be available by appointment only for face-to-face meetings, and all meetings must follow current social distancing guidelines. Most event planning, training, and Club and Organization support can take place remotely through Google Meet, Zoom, or other formats.
  • We will communicate regularly to student leaders who will need to monitor those communications as they plan events, given that public health guidance and social distancing requirements may change frequently.
  • The University will prepare for the likelihood that at least for the fall term, in-person events will be limited and small, and travel to and from the campus will not be possible. Non-essential visitors will be prohibited from coming to campus. Student leaders and the offices that advise them should plan for the fall with that assumption.
  • All First Amendment rights will be supported by the university with an emphasis on working with student organizers to educate, strategize, and execute COVID-19 safety protocols to mitigate spread of the virus.
  • We will conduct a summer survey of student leaders and organizations with basic information about the anticipated guidelines and social distancing requirements and ask for their feedback and input about how they will plan events and programs; challenges and opportunities they foresee; and support they will need to be successful.
  • We will identify spaces available for activities and programs (following the reservation of spaces needed for academics, given the need to locate classes in larger rooms that normal) with information about their capacity and other characteristics readily available to student leaders and organizations. This may include outdoor spaces if possible, including potentially unused athletic spaces.
  • Greek Life recruitment will be conducted. Most, if not all, chapter programming will be held remotely if they are unable to follow the social distancing guidelines.

Cultural and Identity Centers

Cultural Centers and affinity spaces, including the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness, Veteran Center, Office of Student Development, and Commuter Lounge, will be open, if possible in accordance with public health guidelines for social distancing. All advocacy and support programs will continue to provide programs and services through a mix of in-person and virtual formats.

Recreation

Recreation Services will take a phased approach to reopening this fall. Our priority is to do our best to meet the needs of our students while adjusting our operations to ensure a safe environment for those that recreate under our roof. We plan to offer a variety of options for our campus community, both online and in-person. Based on state guidance, we hope to offer cardio equipment, weight equipment and other services. The activities taking place in the Rec Center or around campus will stress physical distancing, so that we can prioritize the health of the community while we chase our personal exercise goals.

Operations in the Recreation Center will look different this fall as we adjust to new guidelines. Games or activities that involve person-to-person contact and touching the same equipment without sanitizing (e.g., full-court basketball) will be eliminated. There will also be restrictions on locker room use and a change in how we use fitness equipment in a way that allows time for additional cleaning between each user.

Athletics

The MASCAC and Fitchburg State University have announced that all competition for our fall sports has been suspended for the fall 2020 season. The programs impacted by this decision include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country, and football. This news is tremendously disappointing, but was made in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff members.

This decision does not include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track or ice hockey, as the status of those seasons will continue to be evaluated as we progress through the next several months.

Fitchburg State intends to provide practice opportunities for all of the impacted programs during the fall semester and we will continue to evaluate the possibility of spring competition for the fall teams that have been impacted.

Check the Athletics website (fitchburgfalcons.com) for updates. Student-athletes can forward all questions to their head coach or contact Athletic Director Matt Burke at 978-665-3313 or mburke43@fitchburgstate.edu.

Contact Information

Fitchburg State University:

Student Affairs
978-665-3130
studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu

Office of Environmental Health and Safety
978-665-3756
lfernan7@fitchburgstate.edu

Capital Planning and Maintenance
978-665-3115
fitchburgstate.edu/offices-services-directory/capital-planning-maintenance

Technology/Help Desk
978-665-4500
fitchburgstate.edu/technology

University Police
978-665-3111
fitchburgstate.edu/police

Off Campus:

Community Health Connections ACTION Site
978-878-8100
chcfhc.org/services/action-health-services

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
617-624-6000
mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health

City of Fitchburg Board of Health
978-829-1870
ci.fitchburg.ma.us/244/Board-of-Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
800-232-4636
cdc.gov

Sources

American Enterprise Institute
aei.org/research-products/report/national-coronavirusresponse-a-road-map-to-reopening

Brown University
brown.edu/sites/g/files/dprerj316/files/healthy-brown2020-21-plan.pdf

California State University-Fullerton
coronavirus.fullerton.edu

Centers for Disease Control
cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019

Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management
emergency.nait.ca/Alerts/COVID-19

Duke University
duke.edu

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
cupahr.org

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of the Governor
mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information

Elon University
elon.edu/u/ready-and-resilient

Society for Human Resource Management
shrm.org

UMass Amherst
umass.edu/coronavirus/sites/default/files/2020-06/ Fall-2020-Reopening-Plan_1.pdf

University of Tennessee
utk.edu/coronavirus

Worcester State University
worcester.edu/Safe-Return

 

Information for Staff and Faculty

 

Fitchburg State University is commencing work for the phased return of employees to repopulate the campus. Though the campus has remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, administration adhered to guidance provided by state and federal authorities and reduced the number of staff, faculty and students on campus to mitigate risk and slow the spread of the virus.

Our phased approach to return employees follows the guidance provided by the Reopening Advisory Board, established by the Office of the Governor, and focuses on providing employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This guidance addresses the components necessary for planning a phased return, ensuring that the mandated safety standards are met, identifying how a repopulation of the campus should occur, sharing a process by which services are determined and employee input on return is received, and implementing workplace protocols, requirements, and training to ensure a safe & healthy workspace.

This plan will remain fluid and is subject to change as further guidance and/or orders are directed from the Governor of Massachusetts and other state and federal authorities.

The number of staff working on campus will gradually increase over the summer and into the fall, as the Reopening of Massachusetts Phases increase percentages to repopulate businesses. Employees who are not able to return to work on campus due to medical, high risk, child care or other extenuating circumstances may be eligible for pandemic leave or alternative work options. A request form will be made available to staff and faculty who may need to request an alternate work assignment and/or medical accommodations. Human Resources will work with individuals to determine whether alternate assignments can be provided; please review Appendix E for further details.

Prior to returning to work on campus, employees will be required to review a series of online training videos to meet requirements to repopulate campus. The required training videos and other resources are located in Blackboard COVID Required Training Modules. In addition, employees must self-monitor their health daily. Employees who are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 should inform their supervisor and not report to work.

As we begin our phased approach for repopulation, supervisors have been asked to develop staffing plans. These plans should include a combination of staff working onsite and teleworking, with staggered start and end times. Also, alternate work schedules may be necessary in certain areas to allow for social (physical) distancing. The first phase limits our staffing to 50% of staff in office spaces. If employees have an individual office, they do not need to be included in this percentage. The Vice President’s Office and Human Resources will work with supervisors to ensure that we are in adherence with collective bargaining and other governing statutes as we stagger our workforce onsite.

Health and safety continue to be a top priority, and we will continue to update our policies and plans as appropriate, as more information becomes available.

We ask for your continued cooperation and assistance as we move forward. This will require care for each other and ourselves, continued flexibility and patience, and a close monitoring of the environment. Everyone has a part to play in maintaining a healthy and safe environment. We ask all employees to share in taking care of our facilities, our workspaces and commonly used equipment. Please carefully review these guidelines and contact your supervisors or Human Resources at 978-665-3172 or hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu to address any questions.

Repopulation Plan

Introduction

The executive staff and other employees who support 24 hour operations on campus have continued their roles over the last several months. Employees who maintain facilities, capital plant activities and other roles began repopulating the campus on May 18. Our goal is to ensure the health of employees, the well-being of the community, and to carefully and deliberately prepare for the fall semester. The plan will be updated as the phases progress.

The first step toward repopulating the campus is the continued implementation of necessary health and safety protocols. To assure employees of its efforts to provide a safe and healthy workplace, the university will comply with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Mandated Safety Standards for office spaces as identified by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board. These safety standards include but are not limited to assessing office/workspace configurations, pedestrian traffic flows, social distancing, hygiene protocols, signage requirements, and cleaning & disinfecting practices.

Before the university can repopulate the campus, these safety standards must be in place. To demonstrate our compliance with these safety standards, the university will complete the Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Office Spaces Checklist, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Control Plan, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Compliance Attestation. These standards will be in place by June 30, 2020.

The following core concepts guide the university’s plan for the repopulation of campus:

  • Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and deliberately.
  • Be ready to adjust plans based on guidance from local, state and CDC health officials.
  • Work with employees who are members of a vulnerable population or who live with someone who is a member of a vulnerable population during the phases as applicable.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA to employees who have a medical condition or disability that places them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Establish a rotating, staggered approach for staff to return to campus and continue some telework.
  • Require social distancing, handwashing, staying home when sick, and the use of face coverings/masks.
  • Maintain cleaning protocols.
  • Departments continuing to build on the innovations developed in the last few months to automate work processes.
  • Continue to evaluate workforce needs as it relates to the COVID- 19 pandemic.
  • Continue to communicate updates with the campus community.

Employee Prioritization for Repopulation to Onsite Work

The university understands the need to continue to promote telework and flexibility with staff during these phases. Employees who cannot return to campus due to extenuating circumstances shall work with Human Resources & Payroll Services to discuss options. With that said, the university must begin to assess employees that are not able to perform the majority of their duties remotely or have duties that may require them to return to onsite work; these employees may require access to particular equipment, technology, connectivity to perform essential functions.

Employees who are interested in returning to campus now to begin establishing a new routine onsite, may speak with their supervisor to establish a return date. Please consult with Human Resources if an employee wishes to return prior to July 13.

Expectations of Employees

Employees returning to campus will be asked to follow the standards below:

  • Social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart when able, and be mindful of distancing in enclosed spaces.
  • Handwashing. Wash hands often.
  • Face coverings. Employees will be provided a face covering upon return to campus from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Masks will be delivered to each department. Employees are expected to follow state guidelines and wear a mask when they cannot safely social distance. i.e. When you can maintain a minimum of 6 feet from another person, masks do not need to be worn. When passing someone in a common space such as going to a printer, break room or restroom, masks shall be worn by the person in transit.
  • Cleaning. Employees will be responsible for maintaining their personal workspace, including periodic cleaning of frequently used items.
  • Telework. Telework is still one option, as the university begins to repopulate the campus based on state standards regarding the percentage of staff allowed in work spaces.
  • Scheduling. Employees will begin repopulating campus in a rotation and staggered schedule in adherence with university and state guidelines.
  • Work spaces. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety has evaluated work spaces for physical distancing requirements, spaces that cannot be altered will require a staggered rotation to repopulate the department with a continuation of telework. Classrooms, open spaces, labs, etc. will be reviewed in adherence with state standards.
  • Processes. Continue to identify and digitize processes.
  • Gatherings. Employees should continue to use technology for meetings and appointments. If necessary to meet in person no more than ten people may gather in one place and must adhere to social distancing requirements. Employees should wear a face covering if social distance cannot occur, until further guidance is provided.

Culture of Care

The university promotes a culture of collective accountability for the health and safety of ourselves and each other.  It is normal to be stressed during uncertain times.  Employees should listen, validate and respond empathically and supportively to all members of the community.

The university will continue to respond to concerns as it relates to the current health situation and the impact on our employees, by providing resources and support. These resources are the Employee Assistance Program, informational programs, webinars, google meets for connecting with colleagues, virtual social gatherings and other dialogues with employees as we transition to onsite work.

Employees may feel increased stress during this pandemic. Seek immediate help in a crisis, please visit the CDC for information.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
  • Make time to unwind and do some activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Symptom Monitoring Checklist Requirement

Staff and faculty who are returning onsite must conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to work. Employees must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 in order to report to work. Employees will adhere to the COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring Checklist (Appendix A). Employees experiencing symptoms shall notify their supervisors/chairs that they will not be in attendance, remain home and monitor their symptoms. If symptoms worsen employees should contact their primary care physician. Supervisors/Chairs should dialogue with staff and faculty on the importance of this practice as all members of the community have a duty for the wellbeing of the campus community.

At this time, symptoms include one or more of the following:  

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever of over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New GI symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell

Health Monitoring and Contact Tracing

The university has partnered with Action Community Health Connections located in Fitchburg for employees to be tested if they have been exposed to COVID-19. Please see the information below:

130 Water Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
P. (978) 878-810
action-dental@chcfhc.org
Mon - Fri: 8:00AM - 5:00PM / Sat - Sun: Closed

If an employee’s absence is COVID related, the supervisor/chair will notify Human Resources. A HR representative will contact the employee to address pertinent facts. The representative will also contact any members of the campus community that could have potential exposure or have been directly exposed.

Human Resources is not an official contact tracing authority as defined by the local Boards of Health and CDC, and is not responsible for information that is not provided by the employee. If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, Human Resources is required to report the exposure of confirmed cases to the Fitchburg Board of Health.

To assist with contact tracing a check in system will be established for each department to maintain. All visitors (internal and external individuals) will be logged using a google form. (Appendix B)

Repopulation of Campus - Guidance for Supervisors/Employees

The Executive Cabinet will identify business operations that are integral to preparing for the new academic year, and will notify those areas that will begin to return onsite.

  • Employees who cannot perform pertinent duties remotely and or require additional access to particular equipment, technology, internet connectivity to perform essential functions of their job should be identified by the area supervisor and return to onsite work.
  • Employees interested in returning to campus now to begin establishing a new routine, should contact their supervisor.
  • The initial repopulation phases only allow offices to have 50% of staff in an open office setting during the initial repopulation. Employees in single person offices are not counted towards this percentage. Administration will continue to monitor the  percentage of staff permitted in spaces as the states Reopening Massachusetts plan is updated. Managers will begin to introduce more staff to campus per university guidance. The staffing plans should be updated as employees return and share with Human Resources. 

Staffing Options:

Telework & Rotating/Staggered Shifts: In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments should schedule rotating /staggered shifts which will enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces and smaller office spaces.

Face Coverings

  • The university will provide employees with face coverings which will be distributed by the Office of Environmental Health & Safety to department offices.
  • If an employee requires a face covering, please contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 978-665-3756. The office is located on Main Street.
  • Employees are expected to follow state guidelines and report to work with a face covering. Employees must have a face covering with them at all times during the work day.
  • A face covering should be worn in public spaces and must be worn anytime employees cannot maintain a safe physical distance (6 feet) from others.
  • Employees are not required to wear a face covering in private working spaces such as a single person office or outdoors if alone.
  • Any employee who comes to work on two occasions without a face covering will be provided a disposable mask.  On the third occurrence, the employee will be asked to leave campus and may be asked to use their own accrued time and return back to work with a face covering. Subsequent violations will result in further action.
  • Some employees may have health issues that do not allow them to wear a face covering. We must be sensitive to these circumstances. The executive order on face coverings as well as other federal governing authorities does not permit the university to ask employees with health issues why they cannot wear a face covering. We encourage employees to speak with an HR representative if they are unable to wear a face covering so we may provide support within the work environment. We ask all employees to please be respectful of others as we navigate these new protocols.

Resources

Please see CDC recommendations on proper face coverings and how to wash them.proper face coverings and how to wash them.

Hand Washing/Hand Sanitizer

  • Employees should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as feasible.
  • Hand washing should be performed after being in a public place, after riding on any public transportation, after touching frequently used items or surfaces, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or removing face coverings.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%  alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching surfaces until hand sanitizer dries.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. how to properly wash hands.

Social Distancing

  • Employees will remain in their respective building locations during the initial phases of repopulation; employees shall not enter other buildings until further guidance is provided.
  • Employees must practice social distancing, by staying at least 6 feet from other people when feasible.
  • Employees should establish appointments with other employees if necessary to meet face to face; employees shall greet the other employee at the appropriate building entrance to let them into the building for the meeting during this first phase if technology cannot be utilized.
  • Employees should utilize meeting spaces that will allow for social distancing. Staff are  prohibited from gathering in groups larger than ten people per state standards and must adhere to social distancing, wear face covering unless social distancing can be maintained until further guidance is provided. Technology resources should continue to be utilized for meetings through the phases.
  • Employees shall adhere to physical distancing in small spaces including elevators, hallways, stairwells, and restrooms. When walking in corridors or hallways, stay on the right side according to the direction you are heading in order to distance when passing others.
  • Face coverings must be worn in elevators and restrooms at all times.
  • Employees should eat in a location that allows for appropriate physical distancing from peers (e.g. outdoors, in an enclosed or private space, in an office with the door closed, etc.).
  • Supervisors will work with employees to allow for staggered breaks and meal periods to accommodate social distancing.

Vulnerable High-Risk Population - FFRCA, Extended FMLA, EEO, and ADA Considerations

The university administration understands that communication, compassion, and flexibility are central to working with our employees in response to COVID-19. There are many concerns raised by employees who are at high risk, have formal care responsibilities for high-risk individuals, child care or have a medical issue that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Employees should review the Interim Process Guidelines to Request Telework to request alternate assignments, accommodations or flexible arrangements. (Appendix C, D & E)

Human Resources and the supervisor will discuss requests for alternate or flexible assignments for the individual employee. The supervisor will provide approval for alternate work assignments.

Faculty wishing to teach remotely have provided their preferred teaching modality to their Chair for review by the Dean. Human Resources will work with individual faculty who require an accommodation or who may be seeking a flexible assignment.

Human Resources will address medical accommodation requests and work directly with the employee.

There may be other employees who do not meet any formal CDC and or Department of Public Safety high risk factors, but who are uncomfortable or have genuine concerns about returning to the workplace. Human Resources and the supervisor will assess these requests. Once an employees request has been addressed to the extent practicable given operational needs, Human Resources will contact the employee with an outcome of the request. Employees cannot presume that arrangements are an automatic entitlement.

Definitions

Accomodation: Under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), a modification or adjustment to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which a job position is customarily performed, made to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential function of that position.

Flexibility: A more general term encouraging alternative work arrangements, flexible scheduling, and other arrangements to allow employees to be more comfortable in their return to the workplace.

High Risk Person is currently defined by the CDC guidance. While this guidance may evolve as the COVID-19 event progresses, persons at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 at this time include the following:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long term care facilityPeople of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, include the following:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised
    • People with severe obesity
    • People with diabetes
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • People with liver disease

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

  • Employees covered by the FFRCA include:
    • Employees subject to FFRCA government quarantine or isolation order;
    • Employees required to self-isolate on the advice of a healthcare provider;
    • Employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
    • Employees caring for an individual subject to government quarantine order or a healthcare provider’s self-isolation recommendation;
    • Employees caring for a child as a result of a school or childcare closing; or employees experiencing another substantially similar condition that may be specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

In the event an employee is not covered by the FFCRA, the employee will utilize appropriate accrued leave to cover an absence from the workplace. Human Resources will assist employees with leave entitlements.

Expanded Family Medical Leave of up to 12 weeks is available for those caring for their child/children whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 reasons.

Employees with COVID-19 Symptoms or with a Sick Family Member at Home with COVID-19

  • Employees who exhibit symptoms as defined by the CDC  should not come to work.
  • Employees who believe they may have been exposed should not come to work.
  • Employees' family members exhibit symptoms, and or have been diagnosed should not come to work.
  • Employees should contact their primary care physician to address symptoms and if potential exposure has occurred.
  • Employees must notify their supervisor of their absence in accordance with the department’s regular call-in procedures.
  • Supervisor will instruct the employee to complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/Travel Form after the employee has seen or spoken with their primary care physician and if told to isolate.
  • Employees may be able to return to work immediately, if the primary care physician states that the potential exposure does not require isolation. They should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/Travel Form. This will assist with tracking all potential exposures or confirmed exposures.

What You Need To Do

Employees should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/Travel Form if they:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Develop symptoms of a COVID-19 infection
  • Have had close contact with someone known to be diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have recently returned to the US after traveling abroad
  • Have recently returned from business and or recreational vacation out of state

Self-Isolation/Quarantine

If a staff or faculty member must isolate, they will complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/Travel Form. After a staff member completes the self-isolation form, they will be contacted by a Human Resources representative to learn more about their health situation, the people with whom they may have had close contact, and the places they have been on campus. The campus will contact the Fitchburg Board of Health if an employee is quarantined.

  • Human Resources will explain what benefits may be afforded to employees under state and federal law, as well as extended union benefits during the pandemic.
  • Human Resources will provide updates to supervisors related to affected employees following confidentiality measures prescribed by the American Disability Act (ADA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) related to the protection of personal medical information.
  • Human Resources will maintain confidential information related to medical documentation as prescribed by the American Disability Act (ADA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as it relates to COVID-19 exposure and/ or diagnosis to assist with appropriate return to work dates and documentation if quarantined.
    • Human Resources will evaluate if employee’s duties and responsibilities can be accomplished while isolating and/or in quarantine.
    • If telework cannot be performed due to the nature of the position and/or illness, the employee will utilize applicable leave as required under state, or federal law and pre-existing paid leave under respective labor agreements.

 

Health and Safety

  • Employees should cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing, use a tissue when available and discard tissues in trash receptacles. In the event tissues are not available, employees should use the inside of their elbow to avoid the spread of germs.
  • Employees should avoid touching their eyes, nose and face.Employees should refrain from shaking hands with others.
  • Employees should avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  • Employees are required to report to a supervisor if they begin to feel ill while at the workplace and leave campus. It is very important that we remain flexible and grant the use of sick time when applicable. All employees are responsible for ensuring adherence to health and safety protocols and should feel comfortable reminding colleagues to follow these practices as well.
  • The university administration is assessing high traffic areas for plexiglass or other materials to establish a protective shield.
  • Paper towels will be provided in restrooms that have hand dryers, additional trash receptacles will be placed outside of the restrooms. Individuals should be mindful to use these receptacles when discarding towels to maintain a clean and healthy environment for others.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided in high traffic areas.
  • Any employee who has questions and or concerns about others adhering to safety in a COVID-19 environment should contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 978-665-3756. For questions about protocols, staff and faculty should speak with their supervisor and or an HR representative at 978-665-3172.

Cleaning and Disinfectant

  • Capital Planning and Maintenance staff will be responsible for maintaining, cleaning and disinfecting restrooms, office spaces, break rooms, etc.
  • In the event a positive case of COVID-19 occurs on campus, the university has contracts in place with cleaning contractors that specialize in cleaning and disinfecting.
  • The Office of Environmental Health and Safety has reviewed and developed a plan for offices that may be impacted.
  • High touch surfaces will be regularly cleaned, sanitized and disinfected daily, in accordance with the CDC and professional standards.
  • Employees will assist in disinfecting shared spaces, equipment and technology. Cleaning items will be available in labs, classrooms and work spaces for employee use.
  • If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus, the common work space within that departmental office will be cleaned and disinfected; the area will be closed temporarily for a minimum of 48 hours for cleaning.
  • Employees will be responsible for cleaning their personal workspace items upon return to the department.
  • Facilities will provide disinfectant spray and paper towels to each department and will be refreshed on a regular basis or as needed. If the department runs out of these supplies, they should contact Facilities at x3115.
  • It is a shared responsibility to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Information about Capital Planning and Maintenance protocols on cleaning and disinfecting can be found at COVID-19. 

Behavioral Signage and Markings

COVID-19 specific signage and markings will be added to each building. These serve to inform and remind community members and visitors alike of required measures to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Compliance with posted signs and notices are required by state guidelines. The university will utilize digital information boards and the FSU website to share safety practices/protocols and updates. (Appendix F)

Public Access to Campus Constituents/Public/Contractors/Vendors

  • The university will phase in public access to campus buildings during the repopulation phases and as more guidance is provided.
  • Campus Constituents/Public/Contractors/Vendors will be required to schedule appointments prior to coming to campus as we begin the first phases of repopulation, unless there are extenuating circumstances.Campus Constituents/Public/Contractors/Vendors should be instructed to visit only the office they have an appointment with, they should be told prior to their appointment that they must review the university’s safety protocols. Staff should greet these individuals at a designated entrance.
    • If in person service is provided, the individual coming to campus must conduct the Symptom Monitoring Requirement Checklist prior to arriving on campus. (Appendix A)
    • The individual must notify the university point person that they have completed the checklist and have no symptoms in advance of their arrival.
    • If an individual has any sign of symptoms they should be told not to come to the campus and contact their primary care physician.
    • All persons coming to campus should be told that face coverings are required.
  • Departments will be provided an electronic check-in form from Human Resources; all staff in the department should be provided the link. Guests, employees, etc. that enter an office area shall be logged in as required by the safety standards defined by the state. (Appendix B)  FSU Guest Sign In
  • Contractors and vendors will be asked to contact their university point person upon arrival.
    • The point person will meet the contractor/vendor at the area in which services are to be completed.
    • The point person will provide access, instructions and other materials as required.
    • The university point person will log in the contractor/vendor on the log in sheet.This practice will reduce outside contractors entering multiple locations and offices and will continue to mitigate risks; this practice will begin immediately and will be reassessed over the phases.
  • Vendors that provide deliveries across campus will be asked to check in with Materials Management before beginning their delivery route on campus. Material management will enter the vendor on the log sheet and will provide guidance to company/drivers to verify they are adhering to safety protocols as defined by the university. Material Management will deliver supplies that have been delivered to the Service Center.

Workspaces/Common Areas

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety in collaboration with the Capital Planning and Maintenance department has evaluated campus spaces to determine the occupancy that meets physical distancing protocols.  There is an ongoing review of common spaces, classrooms and lab areas on campus due to the nature of interactions that take place and or the high volume of people in certain spaces. The administration is assessing the de-densification of areas with furniture. Campus signage reminds members of the community about methods to keep themselves and others safe. Signs have been placed throughout campus by Capital Planning and Maintenance.

  • Employees and students should wear face coverings when in common areas.
  • Practice social distancing and avoid congregating in break rooms and dining areas.
  • Adhere to designated signage.Do not remove signage or rearrange chairs and tables which have been strategically placed for distancing measures.
  • Limit elevator capacity and take the stairs if able. Under no circumstances should employees enter an elevator or wait in an elevator lobby without a face covering.
  • Open windows where it is feasible to do so.Shared common spaces, labs, resource rooms, office and work spaces due to size or configuration that cannot be rearranged will be addressed with the supervisor of that area; staffing plans will need to be altered as to maintain social distancing.
  • Decommission large gathering spaces (ie. tables, chairs, furniture) to allow for physical distancing if necessary or place signs stating do not use.
  • Designate flow of foot traffic in office entrances where feasible.  

Accomplishing 6’ of Separation

Social distancing in shared spaces—classrooms, laboratories, open offices, lounge areas, etc.—can be especially challenging and requires cooperation on everyone’s part. The goal is to maintain at least 6 feet of physical separation at all times, which may be accomplished by removing or rearranging furnishings, modifying work practices, and/or eliminating unnecessary foot traffic. Such measures should be incorporated in the departments specific repopulation plan in coordination with other key offices. (CPM, HR, EHS)

When 6 Feet Isn’t Possible

Given the many historic buildings on campus, there will be instances where it is impossible to achieve a full 6 feet of separation. This is especially true of hallways and stairways. Where feasible, modifications may be made to provide one-way travel, in other instances we must all do the best we can to use common sense to minimize contact in locations. (This is why other measures such as PPE and good hygiene are so important!)

Training

  • Employees in front line positions will be provided training on safe interactions with students, guests, etc.
  • Employees will be trained on social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitization, face coverings and hygiene protocols
  • Employees will be trained on new protocols and practices as necessary.

Helpful Links

Travel

If employees are traveling for business and or recreation out of state and return to Massachusetts they should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/ Travel Form; travelers arriving in Massachusetts are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days. People from the following states do not need to quarantine when coming into Massachusetts per- RI, NH, CT, Maine, VT, NY, and NJ, if you're visiting these states you are not required to isolate upon your return.  Human Resources will monitor and work with employees to determine safe reentry to campus.

The university will hold all travel for faculty and staff until further guidance.

Check CDC travel advisories.

Re-Exit Plan

Supervisors should assess technology, access to systems and software, etc. that they use during telework and what challenges, if any, they encounter when performing the duties remotely. All supervisors should be prepared to seamlessly move operations remotely if there was a resurgence of COVID. Please work with Technology to address any needs if future telework is necessary.

Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Employees Assistance Program is a confidential resource for assistance with work life balance. Please find the link at the Employee Assistance Program or at 800-451-1834. This service is provided by AllOne Health. The EAP is staffed by licensed counselors who respond quickly to your request for help in a caring, respectful and confidential manner.

On July 1 we will be transitioning to the Commonwealth EAP plan, The Mass4You Employee Assistance Program - Liveandworkwell.com. 844-263-1982; TTY Support 711+1-844-263-1982; Substance Use Treatment Helpline 855-780-5955.  Please make note of this transition.

Many people consult the EAP just to be reassured that what they are experiencing is a typical response to their concerns. The EAP does not replace or prevent you from accessing the mental health benefits of your own medical insurance. 

  • Employees: Recognize when there is a health wellness related issue (physical, emotional, financial, social) that is interfering or has the possibility of interfering with life balance
  • Employees: Seek assistance from supervisors, Human Resources and or confidential resourcesEmployees: Be aware of changes in co-workers behavior that could signal a wellness issueEmployees: Depending on your comfort level refer employee to EAP services Supervisors: Provide atmosphere that encourages open communication between employees and supervisors
  • Supervisors: Be aware of changes in employees’ behavior that could signal a wellness issue
  • Supervisors: Provide employee information on wellness resources
  • Supervisors: Be present, maintain confidentiality, provide support, be understanding, follow-up

EAP Services

  • Three in person or Tele-EAp (virtual) counseling per issues per-year at no cost
  • 30 minute telephone consultation or in person legal or mediation consultation per issue per year at no cost
  • get referrals for a variety of Work Life convenience services; child care, elder care and more
  • Access to Optum’s 24/7 confidential Substance Abuse Treatment Helpline and a licensed clinician

Please find below the contact information related to the health insurance plans, employees may also contact their plans to access other assistance related to their mental well being. 

COVID-19 Resources and information

Appendix A

Symptom Monitoring Requirement

Review this COVID-19 Daily Self Checklist each day before reporting to work.

If you reply YES to any of the questions below, STAY HOME. Call your supervisor and report your absences per normal departmental process, please share if the absence is related to COVID-19. Please contact your primary care physician if you're experiencing symptoms.

Employees should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/ Travel Form if required to isolate or quarantine. A Human Resource representative will contact the employee. If you should have questions for the HR team please call us: 978-665-3338 or 978-665- 3850 or email hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu to discuss next steps.

If you start feeling sick during your shift, please contact your supervisor immediately and notify them you are experiencing symptoms and go home and contact your primary care physician. Please make sure to bring items home that you may need prior to leaving the campus. You may be required to isolate and or quarantine.

Do you have a fever (temperature over 100.4F) without having taken any fever reducing medications?  (Yes/No)

Muscle Aches? (Yes/No)
Chills? (Yes/No)
Sore Throat? (Yes/No)
Loss of Smell or Taste? (Yes/No)
Headache? (Yes/No)
Shortness of Breath? (Yes/No)
Cough? (Yes/No)

Have you experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea/ vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite? (Yes/No)

Have you, or anyone you have been in close contact with, been diagnosed with COVID-19, or been placed on quarantine for possible contact with COVID-19? (Yes/No)

Have you been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a medical professional or a local public health official? Please complete the form if yes; Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation (Yes/No)

If employees wish to utilize a Monitoring Symptoms app, please see below.

Appendix B

FSU Guest Sign In link to Google Form

Appendix C

Interim Process Guidelines to Request Telework:

High Risk Employees, Vulnerable Family Member, & Childcare Concerns

Introduction:

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance states that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  The university acknowledges that there are likely employees who fall into one or both categories.  In addition, the university is aware of many employees who have a vulnerable family member within the household or are managing childcare concerns during this public health emergency.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is reopening under a phased approach as established by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board.  While the university has remained open, staffing on campus was significantly reduced and, as a result, the university will also be following a phased approach to return employees, while also ensuring alignment with the framework provided for the higher education sector. 

The purpose of these Interim Process Guidelines to Request Telecommuting is to outline the appropriate process to follow should there be a need for an employee to request an extension of their telecommuting assignment as a result of being in a high-risk category identified by the CDC, having a vulnerable family member within the immediate household, and/or having childcare concerns. The university recognizes, however, that not all positions are feasible for telecommuting and the responsibilities of the position and operational needs of the university are among the various considerations to be discussed when deciding about a temporary telework request. 

Underlying Medical Conditions:

People of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition(s) might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  The CDC lists medical conditions such as:

  • Chronic Lung Disease or moderate to severe Asthma
  • Serious Heart Conditions
  • Immunocompromised
  • Severe Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (undergoing dialysis)
  • Liver Disease

Employees identifying with one of these medical conditions or other medical conditions or disabilities that may render them as high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may apply for a reasonable accommodation through the Office of Human Resources/ Equal Opportunity. Employees will be asked to submit a request for accommodation through the HR/EO Office and to supply appropriate medical documentation to support the request.  Please complete the form that applies Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form; Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19. Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19.

Older Employees:

The CDC identifies older adults – people 65 years of age or older – as those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. To reduce the risk of getting sick, social distancing and proper hygiene practices are recommended.  In addition, the Governor’s Reopening Massachusetts in Phases plan encourages older employees to stay home, if possible. 

Telecommuting may be an alternate work option for older employees, if feasible.  Employees who believe they need this alternate work option should submit a request form to the Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services. When assessing the request, Human Resources will verify the age of the employee, verify their position, and dialogue with the employee’s supervisor(s) about the effectiveness and feasibility of telecommuting for the type of position held.

Childcare Concerns:

While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts proceeds through the phased reopening approach established by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board, childcare options for employees may be limited due to day care, school and camp closures as a result of COVID-19. 

Telecommuting may be an alternate work option for employees, if feasible.  Employees who believe they have a need for this alternate work option should submit a request form to the Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services.  When assessing the request, HR will verify the school, day care or camp closure and dialogue with their supervisor(s) about the effectiveness and feasibility of telecommuting for the type of position held.

Employees interested in learning more about Families First Coronavirus Response Act(FFCRA) on leave eligibility and/or other leave options should contact HR for assistance.

Vulnerable Family Member in the Immediate Household:

During this public health crisis, employees who have a vulnerable family member – a person who is considered high-risk per CDC guidelines – living in their household may be eligible for telecommuting as a temporary alternate work option. 

Employees who believe they need this alternate work option should submit a request form to the Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services.  When assessing the request, HR will request medical documentation to verify that the family member within the immediate household is considered high-risk due to a medical condition or disability and will dialogue with the employee’s supervisor(s) about the effectiveness and feasibility of telecommuting for the type of position held.

Employees who have a family member deemed vulnerable due to age are also eligible to request an extension of their telecommuting assignment.

Short-term Leave:

Not all positions are structured for or are conducive to remote work.  For positions where a remote work option cannot be offered and an employee is unable to work due to at-home considerations, there may be short-term leave options available.  The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides employees with the ability to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, for certain qualifying reasons.  For more information about the qualifying reasons and eligibility, employees can view FFCRA Employee Rights Poster.

Employees interested in learning more about FFCRA leave eligibility and/or other leave options should contact Human Resources for assistance.

General Understandings:

When assessing requests for telework, the university must remain mindful of the volume of requests and the university’s ability to grant all requests, especially in small departments.  Telework is a temporary alternate work privilege being offered by the university during this public health crisis and there is no requirement that telework be offered or granted.   Telecommuting privileges will be periodically assessed for its continuation and can be canceled at any time and for any reason by the university.  Further, the university has the sole discretion to amend, modify or replace this Interim Process to Request Telecommuting at any time and for any reason.

Employees approved for an interim telecommuting assignment must complete a Telecommuting Workplan approved by their supervisor and submitted to HR.  Employees must comply with university rules, policies, practices, and instructions while telecommuting.  Short-term telecommuting in extraordinary circumstances does not change the basic terms and conditions of employment with the university.  Interim telecommuting assignments do not change an employee's classification, compensation, or benefits.  The policies applicable to leave and the use of accrued leave shall be applicable to all benefited employees, regardless of telecommuting privileges.  

All injuries incurred by employees during the performance of official duties and during working hours must be reported promptly, and applicable Workers’ Compensation laws will apply.  While telecommuting, employees are required to maintain a safe working environment. 

Appendix D

Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form

This form is to be used by any employee seeking an accommodation.

The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) has deemed COVID-19 a pandemic, therefore an employee that voluntarily discloses that he has a specific medical condition or disability that puts him or her at increased risk of COVID-19 complications and may not be able to perform their duties, shall document their needs for an accommodation. Fitchburg State will maintain this information as confidential. We will ask that the employee describe the type of assistance they think will be needed.

For the purpose of obtaining a reasonable accommodation, the following terms are relevant:

Disability means: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a history or record of having such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. 

Reasonable accommodations are: modifications to rules, policies, or practices; environmental adjustments such as removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers; or auxiliary aids and services.

Essential eligibility requirements means the legitimate educational, work and/or professional experience or other requirements for employment with the University or participation in the University’s programs, services, or activities that an individual must be able to meet with or without an accommodation. 

This is a confidential form maintained separately from an employee’s personnel file.  Filling out this form is not mandatory.  Requests for reasonable accommodations may also be made orally.   Please contact Human Resources, Kimberly Page, 978-665-3172 or kpage3@fitchburgstate.edu to make an accommodation request or to discuss any questions regarding the accommodation process at Fitchburg State.

Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form

Appendix E

Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is reopening under a phased approach as established by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board.  While the university has remained open, staffing on campus was significantly reduced and, as a result, the university will also be following a phased approach to return employees, while also ensuring alignment with the framework provided for the higher education sector. 

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance states that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  The university acknowledges that there are likely employees who fall into one or both categories.  In addition, the university is aware of many employees who have a vulnerable family member within the household or are managing childcare concerns during this public health emergency.

Employees interested in learning more about Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave eligibility and/or other leave options should contact Human Resources for assistance.

More Information on FFCRA

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights Employee-paid-leave

For the purpose of being considered for an Alternate Work Option During COVID-19, please complete this request form.

Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19

Appendix F

Signage Posters

STAND HERE FOR SERVICE signPlease Stand Six Feet Apart While You Wait signPlease Keep Your Social Distance signNo Entry Without Face Mask signStop the Spread of Germs signHow to safely wear and remove cloth face covering sign

Contact Information

  • Human Resources and Payroll Services: 978-665-3172, 3177
  • Office of Environmental Health and Safety: 978-665-3756, 4801
  • Capital Planning and Maintenance: 978-665-3115
  • Materials Management: 978-665-3118, 3170 or 3206
  • Technology/Help Desk: 978-665-4500
  • University Police: 978-665-3111
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health: 617-624-6000
  • City of Fitchburg Board of Health: 978-829-1870
  • Center for Disease Control: 800-232-4636 (TTY 888-232-6348)