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Return to campus fall 2020 and other COVID-19 updates   READ MORE »

Faculty and staff updates and information regarding COVID-19

Fall semester COVID-19 strategy for faculty, staff and student leaders

In-person education at UW-Eau Claire has resumed for the fall semester, and we have been working hard to create guidelines and protocols that outline the "new normal" for all faculty and staff for teaching and working on our campuses in Eau Claire, Rice Lake and Marshfield. Our commitment to our students remains unchanged and these steps will ensure safer and healthier campuses. Please become familiar with the plan for daily life and educational interactions, and be sure to check this page frequently for updates.

Stay in the know

Return-to-work information and resources

  • In-person semester began Sept. 2.
  • Just over 25% of classes are totally online.
  • Students will remain in classes on campus through the end of the semester in December. We will continue to monitor health conditions in case this needs to change.
  • There will be minimal breaks, and class schedules will be set to make the most of the limited space in available classrooms.
  • Classrooms have been reconfigured to observe 6-foot physical distancing guidelines.
  • Nonacademic spaces like Zorn Arena and Davies Center will expand academic capacity by converting large spaces into physically distanced learning spaces.
  • Students with underlying health issues or risk factors that the CDC says warrant extra precautions should carefully consider whether returning to on-campus classes is safe for them. If a student determines the risk to their health is too great to return to campus, they are to contact their academic and faculty advisors to see if any online or remote delivery classes are available for the student’s specific academic program.
  • Providing students with a quality education while keeping the campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Establishing policies and procedures that reflect best practices as identified by local and national health and other experts.
  • Developing a science-based response to the pandemic that prioritizes safety while allowing us to meet the educational needs of our students.
  • Prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as we monitor and respond to an ongoing pandemic.
  • Upholding the campus hallmarks of quality classroom instruction, meaningful interaction with students and extraordinary outside-the-classroom learning opportunities.

The full detail of the plan for safe return to work for faculty and staff can be found in the return-to-work plan, which outlines a unified guide for health, safety, infrastructure, academics and student life/housing.

Return-to-work plan

Classroom Responsibilities for Instructors:
  • Instructors must wash or sanitize their hands before they enter the classroom.
  • Instructors must wear recommended cloth face coverings or disposable masks in the classroom. If it is necessary for students to see their instructor’s mouth for effective instruction, the instructor may wear a transparent face covering.
  • Instructors may not reconfigure classroom layouts.
  • Instructors must stay within the “instructor space” near the computer station and board while teaching.
  • Instructors should leave classroom doors open if possible.
  • Instructors should minimize distributing hand-outs in class.
  • Instructors cannot penalize students for not attending class in-person when ill, isolated, or quarantined.
  • Small group work must follow physical distancing guidelines.
  • Instructors must end class on time so that students have time to exit safely.
Classroom Responsibilities for Students:
  • Students must wash or sanitize their hands before they enter the classroom.
  • Students must wear recommended cloth face coverings or disposable masks in the classroom.
  • Students may not reconfigure classroom layouts.
  • Students must not change or move seats during class.
  • Students must sit in assigned seats for possible contact tracing.
  • Students may clean their seating area with wipes from the Sanitizing Stations.
  • Students must stay outside the “instructor space” outlined on the floor, unless presenting to the class.
  • Students must follow physical distancing guidelines when approaching instructor before or after class.
  • Students must wait for classrooms to empty before entering.
  • Students must follow directions for navigating hallways and entering and existing classrooms.
  • Students must follow physical distancing guidelines when entering and exiting the classroom.
Office Hour Protocols for Instructors and Students:
  • Instructors should be available for virtual office hours or student meetings throughout the semester.
  • In-person meetings must be in rooms of sufficient size to follow physical distancing guidelines.
What steps will we be taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Staying safe requires that everyone participates in preventing the spread. We can do that with several nationally recommended health precautions. All students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear face masks in all common areas of campus buildings and in our classrooms. We encourage people to wear masks outside when they cannot be six feet apart. Masks are not required when residence hall students are in their rooms with their roommate or when faculty or staff are in their offices alone. Our classrooms and common spaces will be reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. Additionally, everyone will be required to self-report their temperature and symptoms every day using a mobile application (which is also accessible via web portal). The application will be available later this summer.

We know that when we all observe safe, healthy practices like wearing masks, keeping a safe distance and monitoring our health, we reduce the spread and help keep us all healthier.

Do I have to be screened for symptoms every day?

Screening for symptoms enables us to more quickly identify individuals who may be ill or exposed to the virus and to prevent the spread more effectively. We will be using a convenient mobile phone-based app, Blugold Protocol, that will requires only a few minutes to use each day. All students, faculty, and staff will screen themselves every day and record their temperature and symptoms using the app, which is also accessible via web portal. This includes weekends and also those individuals working from home. The university will provide thermometers for all students, faculty, and staff to facilitate the use of this symptom-monitoring tool. The app will alert users if their symptoms indicate they should be tested. Tests will be provided at the Student Health Service for students, and faculty and staff will be alerted to contact their primary care provider to be tested. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department confirmed that the Chippewa Valley’s testing capacity is sufficient to accommodate such employee requests for testing. 

Will any personal protective equipment (PPE) be provided?

The university will provide everyone with two high-density, double-ply, washable face masks at the beginning of the semester. As face masks require washing and care, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to purchase additional face masks. Hand sanitizer will be widely available in all campus buildings, and faculty and staff may request a face shield in addition to masks if desired. 

Can UW-Eau Claire require that I wear a mask?

UW System policies provide expectations for conduct in the workplace that apply to all UW-Eau Claire faculty, staff, volunteers and other representatives when they are speaking or acting on behalf of the university (UWS Administrative Policy 1292, Workplace Conduct Expectations). This policy also permits UW-Eau Claire to establish additional rules that it determines are necessary for the effective operation of the university.

This requirement is based on the need to protect ourselves and others so that we can be together on campus. To better ensure the safety of our entire campus community, all UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff must fully comply with the policies and protocols outlined in the return to work guide—including wearing masks and logging your temperature and symptoms daily—as they are considered additional workplace conduct expectations. These practices are a requirement of employment; failure to follow them may result in disciplinary action.

These policies are applicable for anyone who works on UW-Eau Claire’s campuses in Eau Claire, Rice Lake and Marshfield. Guidelines also apply to faculty and staff working at instructional sites off campus.

How will we prevent visitors to the campus from possibly spreading the virus?

In general, visitors to campus will be discouraged this academic year, excluding prospective students and parents attending campus tours and visitors participating as clients in selected curricular activities. Every visitor who comes to campus will need to arrive at a designated check-in point, provide their name and contact information, have their temperature taken, and wear a mask before entering any campus building. This minimizes the risk of spreading the virus and also allows the university to contact those visitors if it seems probable they were exposed to the virus while on campus. When possible, faculty and staff should have classroom guests attend virtually.

What do I do if a student in one of my classes refuses to wear a mask, or removes their mask and refuses to put it back on?

We can all help to remind each other that wearing a mask is one way we show respect for others and a critical factor in helping prevent an outbreak that could result in sending students home again. Just as wearing a mask is a condition of employment for faculty and staff, the Dean of Students Office will establish and institute similar requirements for all UW-Eau Claire students. 

What do I do if a student tells me they have tested positive for COVID-19?

Students are asked to let instructors know immediately if they are ill or quarantined. Students are not obligated to disclose whether that illness is COVID-19. However, as a member of the Blugold community, if you are made aware of a student who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you test positive or become ill, you are REQUIRED to notify Student Health Services immediately. You can contact SHS through phone (Hotline is 715-836-5075) or email (COVIDinfo@uwec.edu).

Are students required to sit in assigned seats for each class, and what about students who regularly miss class?

Students will be required to sit in assigned seats and instructors will need to keep records of attendance. Because students will be encouraged to stay home whenever they are ill, instructors cannot penalize students for not attending class in-person when ill, isolated, or quarantined, and instructors should not require medical documentation for absences.

What if I have an underlying health condition that may prevent me from safely teaching my classes in person?

Faculty and staff members who have a physical and/or mental health condition that may be exacerbated by being on campus during a pandemic, should complete the appropriate accommodation request and/or family and/ or medical leave (FLMA) paperwork. If telework or distance education cannot be approved given the existing guidelines, alternative accommodations, such as a leave of absence or additional personal protective equipment, will be evaluated as part of the accommodation process.

Instructors with concerns about infecting an at-risk family member, or about being infected without an underlying condition and/or mental health issue, will be handled by the deans in consultation with department chairs.

Will large gatherings like concerts, sporting events, or recreation activities take place this semester?

Many of these decisions rely on outside organizations and health officials for guidance, and shifting conditions may change what is feasible. You can continue to find the most up-to-date information on our COVID-19 Updates page.

For now, the university is cancelling all external requests to use university facilities for this academic year as we will be using those spaces for instruction. This will also reduce the number of people coming to campus who are not students or employees, thereby limiting the potential spread of the virus. Major events may seek virtual alternatives. Additionally, other large university events are being reconsidered, as our spaces hold fewer people when physical distancing is in place. If a university event does take place, members of the public will not be able to attend, though some events may be live streamed for public viewing.

What if I need to leave Eau Claire for an area outside the county and then return?

Most university-sponsored travel is suspended, and students, faculty, and staff will all be encouraged to refrain from leaving the Eau Claire area. Members of the campus community will be discouraged from travelling to any areas deemed hotspots for the pandemic, which will be based on timely public health data. We strongly encourage you to limit personal travel to protect yourself and others. See the Return-to-Work guide for additional scenarios. 

What might the “new normal” staffing level look like for my non-academic department?

Each non-academic department will develop plans that suit their mission and physical space. Options for alternative staffing arrangements may include: extending minimum staffing levels through the fall semester; arranging permanent work-from-home arrangements if feasible; flexible scheduling to allow staff to alternate days on campus; staggering work schedules to decongest high-traffic arrival and departure times; or returning to pre-COVID-19 staffing levels. For more details, see the Return to Work plan.

Can I come to work if I am showing any symptoms of COVID-19? What about symptoms of other illnesses?

Faculty and staff who show symptoms should self-quarantine at home and consult your healthcare provider. If a test is advised, and you test positive, you must not return to campus for at least two weeks or until completing a negative COVID test.

To safeguard the health of the campus environment, there are multiple other scenarios in which we will tell you not come to campus to work. These conditions may include: you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (see Return-to-Work guide for listing of symptoms); you live in a household with someone exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms who either has not been tested for COVID‐19 or tested positive for COVID‐19; you have had direct contact with someone who has a laboratory‐confirmed positive case verified by public health authorities; and/or you have recently traveled to an area that is deemed high-risk for COVID.

In these situations, you can use work-from-home, sick leave or other leaves such as vacation so long as it’s handled pursuant to existing UW System and UW-Eau Claire policies and procedures.

If I need to self-isolate at home but do not yet have results from a COVID-19 test, am I expected to continue teaching my classes remotely? What if I test positive?

Instructors who are required to self-isolate at home or who test positive for the COVID-19 virus should consult with their department chair and dean to develop a plan for continuity of instruction for students in their classes.

Symptom monitoring and testing

UW-Eau Claire is taking multiple steps to promote the safety of our students, faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, including introducing a new tool to track symptoms and establishing on-campus capacity for student testing.

The Blugold Protocol app was modeled after the app used by the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome at Mayo Clinic to monitor patient symptoms at home and has been enhanced to monitor COVID-19 symptoms for members of our campus community. The app will allow all faculty and staff users to conveniently complete a daily log of their temperature and any symptoms indicative of COVID-19. Daily use of this application will be mandatory for all faculty, staff and students during the 2020-21 academic year.

COVID-19 app

Students whose app data suggests they need a COVID-19 test will be able to receive them at Student Health Service, and faculty and staff will be referred to their primary care providers to get tested.

In general, visitors to campus — whether in classrooms or residence halls — are strongly discouraged this academic year. To facilitate contact tracing in the event of an outbreak, visitors to campus will be asked to check in at predetermined locations, provide their contact information and have their temperature taken.

Learn more about Blugold Protocol

Furlough resources

See to the following page to find up-to-date information about furloughs and find out how they affect your position. 

Go to HR furlough info page

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