The primary goals for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are to protect the health and safety of our stakeholders and continue the institution’s critical mission of excellence in education, embracing diversity and inclusion, inspiring positive change and enriching and sustaining our community. As such, UTC’s policies, guidelines and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are rooted in safety for employees, students and the community we serve, and they support our mission throughout the UTC Phased Reintegration Plan. The key strategies are:
- Staffing: Increase on-site staffing incrementally to support operational needs.
- Innovation: Continue and expand innovative workplace practices, design and scheduling.
- Hygiene: Incorporate CDC-recommended hygiene practices into cultural norms.
- Health Monitoring: Monitor health to ensure the well-being of our campus community.
UTC’s plans will also be aligned and consistent with local orders and ordinances of the City of Chattanooga and state government, as well as the UT System phased reintegration model. Plans will follow recommendations from the federal government opening guidelines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Hamilton County Health Department and the UTC Fall 2020 Task Force.
All employees are expected to fully comply with protocols and guidelines outlined in this document, which are aligned with the UTC Interim COVID-19 Policies. Knowledge and understanding of the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, and policies and plans will be updated as more information becomes available.
Jump to a topic covered on this page:
- Preventing the Spread of Illness
- Workplace Expectations and Guidelines
- Staying Informed
- Health Monitoring and Reporting Requirements
- Health and Safety Protocol Requirements
- Frequently Asked Questions
Preventing the Spread of Illness
In the event that vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, requirements on receiving the immunization will be communicated. The virus has been found to spread in similar ways as the seasonal flu – by airborne droplets and aerosols and by contact with surfaces or someone else’s hands and being introduced into your eyes, nose or mouth inadvertently during daily activities. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid someone who has the virus and practice good protective measures. If you are in an area with a high number of cases, best practices require maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, avoiding close contact (no shaking hands, hugging) and washing hands with soap and water when possible. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content is recommended.
Frequently cleaning hands, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth without clean hands, and maintaining social distancing of six feet or more are the best ways to prevent spread of the virus and are even more important if you are in an outbreak area. Face masks that comply with CDC guidelines are strongly suggested and, in some areas, are required in public places and when an individual is experiencing symptoms. Face masks are a critical preventive measure and are most essential when social distancing is difficult as they help keep respiratory droplets from being spread.
COVID-19 Symptoms Source: CDC
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
Understandably, members of the UTC community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety at this time. Employees who feel anxious or worried about friends and family because of the coronavirus are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, which is available to help. Call 855-437-3486 or visit here4tn.com.
Additional resources, including (a) Your State Medical Insurance and COVID-19; (b) How to Use Telehealth; and (c) Mail Order Pharmacy Benefits, are available on the Partners for Health website or on this Coronavirus Benefits Information PDF.
Workplace Expectations and Guidelines
- Monitor https://blog.utc.edu/coronavirus/ for important campus updates
- Check your UTC email regularly for important communications
Health Monitoring and Reporting Requirements
DAILY SELF-CHECK HEALTH SURVEY
Employees need to closely monitor their health to ensure the well-being of the campus community. Before you come to work on campus each day, check your temperature and answer the basic COVID-19 health questions in the self-check survey at https://selfcheck.utc.edu/.
When answering questions about possible symptoms, it is important to remember that you should identify only symptoms you have had in the past 14 days that are not known to be associated with another cause which may be common for you and are unusual for your baseline health patterns.
Upon completion, an email is sent to your supervisor to confirm your participation and alert him or her if any negative health indicators were reported. Specific symptoms and responses are not shared with supervisors.
Send bug reports, your questions, or feedback regarding the survey to email@example.com.
Printed versions of the daily self-check health survey can be provided to employees who do not have access to computers or smart phone devices in their homes. Printed versions and translation to other languages can be requested by contacting Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-425-4221. Employees utilizing printed versions are not expected to complete and submit a printed survey each day. Instead, they should utilize their personal printed copy as a prompt to review the self-check health survey questions each day, following the instructions identified above if they answer “yes” to any of the survey questions.
REPORTING ILLNESS, EXPOSURE CONCERNS OR TRAVEL
If an employee or student reports:
- Having been asked to self-observe, self-monitor, or actively monitor symptoms compatible with COVID-19
- Having been in close contact with someone who has symptoms consistent with or a diagnosis of COVID-19
- Having symptoms compatible with COVID-19
- Having been tested for COVID-19 for any reason
- Traveled by cruise ship in the last 14 days
- Traveled internationally in the last 14 days
Then he or she should notify his or her immediate supervisor, seek medical guidance from a health care provider or the Hamilton County Health Department, and then submit a formal notification via the COVID-19 Notification Form and await instructions from University Health officials regarding next steps.
Employees who are directed to remain off campus while their personal health is being assessed or directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate will be expected to work remotely to the extent possible. Employees who cannot perform work remotely will receive paid administrative leave. All paid administrative leave hours should be recorded on employee time sheets as: Unscheduled Administrative Closing. No employee will receive more than his or her regular salary or wages while on paid administrative leave.
Employees who fail to comply with directives from University Health officials regarding self-quarantine or self-isolation may be subject to disciplinary action.
PRECAUTIONS DURING PERSONAL TRAVEL
Employees and students should take precautions prior to traveling outside of the Chattanooga area based on recommendations from the CDC as well as local and state health departments. Travelers should look at the recommendations that are in place in each area they are traveling to or through in order to determine if a quarantine is recommended. If a quarantine is recommended based on travel plans, the employee or student should fill out a COVID-19 Notification Form no more than seven days before leaving the Chattanooga area. Decisions related to travel should be considered prior to leaving Chattanooga to determine what impact this would have on your return to campus. If you have questions related to upcoming personal travel, call University Health Services at 423-425-2266.
If you choose to travel to or through an area that requires that you quarantine before you return to campus, you may be required to use your personal annual or sick leave for the time you miss from work, or if you do not have any paid leave, you may be put on unpaid leave for the time you miss from work. Questions regarding type of leave recorded during a required quarantine period following personal travel should be directed to the Office of Human Resources at 423-425-4221 or email@example.com.
UNIVERSITY-RELATED BUSINESS TRAVEL
If business travel needs are deemed essential, then departments within the University may permit travel for individual employees or groups of employees and students subject to prior approval of the dean of the college within which the department resides (if an academic department in Academic Affairs) or the next level of administration of the other division within which the department resides (if a non-academic departments).
What You Need to Do:
- Complete the Self-Check Health Survey daily before coming to campus and follow instructions outlined above for reporting information.
- Supervisors should monitor daily email notifications and ensure all employees are completing the self-check health survey before reporting to work.
- Utilize the COVID-19 Notification Form for reporting any illness, exposure concerns or travel to University Health Officials.
- Consult your supervisor or department head to request approval of essential business travel.
Health and Safety Protocol Requirements
UTC CAMPUS SAFETY TRAINING
Instead of considering use of physical spaces on campus as a return to normal, we should view that as an opportunity to establish new routines to uphold our commitment to maintaining the health and safety of our campus community.
All faculty and staff will be required to complete the UTC Campus Safety Training prior to working on campus during the 2020/2021 academic year. This brief training module will provide an opportunity for employees to learn important information about best practices for reducing risk for COVID-19 exposure and related campus health and safety protocols. Training participation will be monitored and reported to each respective division vice chancellor to ensure compliance with this requirement.
Faculty and staff may access the training module in the Canvas learning management system by logging in with UTCID and password at https://utchattanooga.instructure.com/courses/11484.
FACE MASK REQUIREMENT
All Students, Employees, Contractors, and Visitors are required to wear face masks while inside any University-controlled facility, with the exception of designated dining areas (e.g. Crossroads Cafeteria, University Center Food Court, West Campus Food Court), specific areas within the Aquatic and Recreation Center or areas without risk of interacting with others (e.g. private office, residence hall room).
All students, employees, contractors and visitors are required to wear face masks while outdoors on University-controlled property, except while in an area in which social distancing is being actively practiced and can be maintained without risk of interacting with others (e.g. private office, residence hall room).
All students, employees, contractors and visitors shall be required to wear face masks in classrooms and other instructional spaces at all times.
In accordance with CDC and state guidance, as well as professional standards, certain departments and contractors may maintain modified protocols for use of face masks, such as the use of alternate personal protective equipment (PPE), based on services provided to the campus community. Modified protocols must be approved by the Office of Safety and Risk Management and University Health Services prior to implementation. In the event more stringent face mask protocols are approved and implemented for a department or contractor, the more stringent protocols must be followed. In some cases, employees on campus will be required to wear additional PPE due to the nature of their work. The University will supply any additional PPE when necessary.
Employees who fail to comply with face mask and PPE requirements may be subject to disciplinary action.
To enable communication with people who may rely on lip reading, the University has a limited supply of face masks with a transparent window that can be requested by calling the Disability Resource Center at 423-425-4006 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees with disability-related concerns about wearing face masks should contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) to initiate a review for possible ADA accommodations HERE or at 423-425-4221.
Ordering Face Masks: UTC Emergency Services will provide face masks for all employees. Unit heads are required to determine the number of employees within each department under their purview and whether those employees have substantial contact with the public or typically work in an office or other environment without substantial walk-in or public contact. Employees with substantial public contact will receive three masks each. All others will receive two. Once this information is provided, Emergency Services will prepare masks for pickup. Email Faith Garner (email@example.com) with this information, and she will arrange pickup times for each department or group.
If you work in an area with frequent outside interactions from visitors, you may request extra disposable face masks from Emergency Services. Call or email Faith Garner at 423-425-5741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These disposable masks may also be used in the event a faculty, staff or student forgets to bring his or her mask to work or class.
What You Need to Do:
- Complete the UTC Campus Safety Training module in Canvas.
- Comply with the University’s face mask requirement.
- Report employee face mask and PPE non-compliance concerns to the supervisor of employee(s) observed not complying with requirements. If the supervisor is unknown, reports can be submitted to the Office of Human Resources at 423-425-4221 or email@example.com.
- Unit heads should establish a point of contact within their respective unit(s) for monitoring supply and resupply orders of face masks from Emergency Services.
The University will adhere to best practices and CDC, federal and state government guidelines for social distancing campuswide. All students, employees, contractors and visitors will maintain social distancing whenever possible while on University-controlled property, whether indoors or outdoors.
Social distancing expectations include:
Workplace redesign efforts should include repositioning office, classroom and common area furniture to accommodate social distancing requirements to the extent feasible. At least 40 square feet of workspace represents six feet in all directions for maintaining social distancing standards.
- Use of alternating work schedules and shifts may be used to enable social distancing in the workplace.
- Interaction should be conducted by telephone or technology, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, whenever possible.
- In-person business meetings of more than 10 people are prohibited unless socialdistancing standards can be achieved.
- Adherence to all social distancing signage and floor markers placed throughout campus.
In any case where social distancing is not possible, all faculty, staff and students will comply with UTC protocol on wearing appropriate face masks. Employees who fail to comply with social distancing requirements may be subject to disciplinary action.
WORKPLACE AND ACADEMIC SPACE REDESIGN REQUIREMENTS
Assistance with Managing Social Distancing Requirements in Academic Spaces: Facilities Planning and Management is collaborating with Emergency Services and Academic Affairs to prepare all academic spaces for proper social distancing for the fall 2020 semester.
Concerns or requests related to academic space redesign should be directed to the Facilities Planning and Management work request system via one of the following methods:
(1) Service desk (https://fpmis.utc.edu/) from the campus network
(2) If off-campus or without access to the campus network, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(3) Call 423-425-2254
Assistance with Managing Social Distancing in Office Spaces: Unit heads and individual departments are expected to address specific details of their office spaces and common use areas. Assistance with workplace redesign can be provided by scheduling an appointment with a member of the Safety and Risk Management (SRM) staff. Call Bob Jackson at 423-425-5949, Robert Mullins at 423-425-5820 or Joel Wands at 423-425-5794. The SRM team will be help you determine the best way to manage the needs of your personnel within your workspace.
Informational Signs and Floor Stickers: University Health Services, Communications and Marketing and Emergency Services have collaborated to design and offer floor distancing stickers for interior spaces on campus. Requests for floor stickers should be emailed to Faith Garner (email@example.com) in Emergency Services, and she will arrange pickup times for each department or group.
Informational posters (11″ x 17″) also are available for pickup from Emergency Services. Choose from the following content options:
- “10 Ways to Manage Respiratory Symptoms at Home”
- “Germs are all around you”
- “Self-monitor and Practice Social Distancing”
- “Stop the Spread of Germs”
- “Covid-10 Fact Sheet”
All employees must wash their hands upon entering their work areas and prior to exiting at the end of their shifts/workdays.
Frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the best ways of protecting yourself and others from germs and the spread of infectious disease.
Among the many ways you can spread, share or come in contact with disease-causing germs are:
- Touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Preparing or consuming food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touching unclean, contaminated surface or objects
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
Wash your hands often—before preparing food; before and after eating or drinking; after touching surfaces such as doorknobs or handrails; after contact with any surface or object that may not be clean; after restroom visits; after blowing your nose or coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer stations are available at numerous locations across campus.
DISINFECTANT AND CLEANING REQUIREMENTS
Custodial services will continue to clean restrooms and common areas, with enhanced attention given to high-touch areas such as door handles, hand rails and so on. Facilities Planning and Management has bottles of disinfectant spray filled with the recommended disinfectant per CDC guidelines.
All employees must disinfect their common-use work areas at the start and end of each shift as well as before the space is occupied by another user.
Ordering Disinfectant Spray for Office Spaces: Each unit head must determine the number of disinfectant spray bottles needed for each department under his or her purview and submit this information to the Facilities Planning and Management work request system via one of the following methods:
(1) Service desk (https://fpmis.utc.edu/) from the campus network
(2) If off-campus or without access to the campus network, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(3) Call 423-425-2254. Facilities will arrange for delivery of supplies to departments.
When ordering resupply of disinfectant spray bottles, please maintain empty bottles for exchange with Facilities Planning and Management.
Hand Sanitizer Station/Soap Dispenser Resupply Service: If you see an empty sanitizer station or soap dispenser, call Facilities Planning and Management at 423-425-4521. Someone will be dispatched to refill the station as quickly as possible. This does not apply to individual containers on desks or personal workstations.
What You Need to Do:
- Adhere to all social distancing requirements and signage on campus.
- Request assistance with workplace redesign in office spaces from the Office of Safety and Risk Management (SRM) staff.
- Practice proper hand hygiene protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Unit heads should establish a point of contact within their respective unit(s) for monitoring supply and resupply orders of disinfectant and cleaning supplies from Facilities Planning and Management.
UTC established Work-from-Home Guidelines to provide standards for regular, temporary or student employees in an active pay status seeking a Work-from-Home arrangement voluntarily or when required by the University.
What is a work-from-home arrangement?
Work-from-home arrangements give employees the opportunity to work at a place other than their regularly assigned on-campus work location, such as their residence or an alternate location approved by administration. Employees who use this work from home arrangement will be assigned their residence (or alternate approved location) as their official work station for the days they work away from campus. The employee’s permanent, on-campus work station will remain as designated by the University, as employees may be required to report to their on-campus work station location as requested by management for meetings, continuity of critical services and so on.
Who is eligible for a work-from-home arrangement?
Before working from home, employees must obtain advance approval from their immediate supervisors, along with the review and approval of the vice chancellor for an employee’s administrative division. The option to work from home is at the discretion of administration, and consideration of such includes collaboration with all appropriate levels of administration and the Office of Human Resources.
Employees may request individual consideration of a work-from-home arrangement, or University administration may execute a work-from-home arrangement for employees as part of emergency response procedures. Approval will not be granted where physical presence is required to perform the essential functions of the employee’s job, where working from home is not in the University’s best interest or for those identified as essential personnel during administrative closings or other emergency response situations.
Please reference the UTC Work from Home Guidelines and the Work-from-Home agreement form for additional information. Procedures for applying for a work-from-home arrangement as a COVID-19 related accommodation are outlined below.
What should I do if I need to take care of personal obligations during my work-from-home arrangement?
When an employee needs time away to attend to non-work-related matters, the employee should request sick or annual leave (as appropriate) from his or her supervisor and then record the appropriate leave on the employee’s timesheet.
Process for Evaluating Employee Requests for COVID-19 Related Accommodations
These guidelines provide an overview of the process for requesting a work-from-home arrangement or other COVID-19 related accommodation and how such requests are evaluated.
For purposes of these guidelines, “COVID-19 related accommodations” refer to any work-related accommodations the University grants an employee due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, including, without limitation, agreeing to allow an employee to work from home or to have an alternating work schedule (e.g., work certain days at home and certain days on campus). However, “Covid-19 related accommodations” do not refer to accommodations that may be granted to an employee based on disability pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- University expectations regarding work on campus
- Are all employees expected to work on campus?
Yes, unless an employee is (i) approved for a work-from-home arrangement either pursuant to the process outlined in Section B below; or (ii) provided with remote work/alternate scheduling arrangements by their unit head pursuant to the reintegration plan for the employee’s unit.
In establishing unit reintegration plans, unit heads may incorporate efforts to promote social distancing into their unit reintegration plans such as alternate scheduling, in which a faculty or staff member works on campus and remotely on alternating days or shifts throughout the work week. These arrangements can be established by the unit head for some or all unit employees separately from any COVID-19 related accommodation in the summer or fall 2020 semesters.
- Who determines employee expectations for working on campus?
The unit head. The date of an employee’s expected return to campus or dates worked on campus will be driven by the unit’s reintegration plan developed by the unit head. The unit reintegration plan should identify which employees are expected to return for each reintegration phase (Phase 1, 2 or 3). Thus, the unit head determines when each employee in his or her unit is expected to return to campus to work.
2. Process for Evaluating an Employee’s Request for COVID-19 Related Accommodations
1. Employee submits request to Human Resources:
If an employee desires to work from home (and not return to campus on the employee’s expected return date established by the unit head), the employee must submit a request for consideration to Human Resources (not the unit head) by the filling out the form linked HERE.
- Human Resources will evaluate eligibility of an employee for consideration for COVID-19 related accommodations:
- Upon receipt of an employee’s request form, Human Resources may require the employee to provide additional documentation to justify the basis for the employee’s request.
- After evaluation of any required documentation, Human Resources will determine only whether an employee is eligible for consideration for a work-from-home arrangement or other COVID-19 related accommodation. An employee will be considered eligible for COVID-19 related accommodations if the employee is:
- A member of a vulnerable population
- Has family in their direct care who are members of a vulnerable population
- Cannot report to work on campus due to the need to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons.
- A determination by Human Resources that an employee is eligible for consideration does not mean that Human Resources has approved the employee’s request or that the employee’s request must be approved by the unit head.
- Human Resources will communicate the employee’s eligibility status to the unit head:
If not eligible, Human Resources will communicate the employee’s ineligibility to the employee’s unit head. In such case, generally, one of two things may happen:
- If the unit head wants the employee to return to campus, the employee must return to campus to work on the date established by the unit head. The unit head will communicate this decision to the employee
- If the employee is not eligible for a COVID-19 related accommodation but the unit head does not need the employee to return to campus based on a determination by the unit head that the employee can satisfactorily perform all of his or her duties working from home, then the unit head may agree to allow the employee to work from home. In such case, the unit head may establish a work-from-home agreement (attached) for the employee.
- If eligible, Human Resources will communicate with the unit head to confirm the employee’s eligibility with the recommendation that the employee’s request be considered to the extent feasible based on the factors outlined in Step 4 below.
- Unit head will determine whether to accommodate employee’s request.
The unit head will decide whether to approve the employee’s request based on consideration of the following:
- Operational needs of the unit
- Essential functions of the position the employee(s) occupies
- Service expectations
- Staffing levels
- Available resources
- Documented work performance concerns
As needed, the unit head shall consult with Human Resources for assistance with evaluating whether to approve an employee’s request and with communication of the unit head’s decision to the employee.
All approved arrangements should align with the UTC Work from Home Guidelines, and a Work from Home Agreement form should be completed and signed before being forwarded to Human Resources for record retention.
Any approved remote work or alternate scheduling will be considered temporary and can be discontinued at any time by administration based on, but not limited to, consideration of the factors listed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
If an employee’s request to work remotely conflicts with the reintegration plan and operational needs of the employee’s unit, then the unit head will direct the employee to submit his or her request to Human Resources as provided under Step 1 of the process above, and the unit head will notify Human Resources that they received the employee’s request. The unit head should not take any action on the request until provided further instruction from Human Resources.
However, if an employee’s request to work remotely aligns with the operational needs, the unit head’s reintegration plans and efforts to promote social distancing through remote work or alternating schedules, the unit head can establish such arrangements with Employee without the need to go through the process outlined above. Any such arrangements will be considered as part of the unit reintegration plan and not as a formal COVID-19 related accommodation to an employee.
No. The unit head has discretion to approve or deny the request based on factors outlined above in Step 4 of the process. If an employee is deemed eligible for COVID-19 related accommodations but the unit head determines that the employee needs to work on campus due, for example, to the nature of the employee’s job duties, it is recommended that the unit head consult with Human Resources regarding other alternative work arrangements or accommodations that would potentially address both the employee’s concerns and the unit’s needs. Ultimately, the unit head has discretion on what, if any, accommodations to provide based the factors outlined above in Step 4 of the process.
Generally, if the unit head determines that an employee can satisfactorily perform job duties from home, the unit head has the discretion to allow the employee to work from home, regardless of whether the employee is deemed ineligible for a COVID-19 related accommodation. In such case, the work for home arrangement would not be considered a COVID-19 related accommodation. The unit head may wish to consult with Human Resources before agreeing to such an arrangement.
Unit heads may incorporate efforts to promote social distancing into their reintegration plans such as alternate scheduling, in which a faculty or staff member works on campus and remotely on alternating days or shifts throughout the work week. These arrangements can be established by the unit head separately from any COVID-19 related accommodation in the spring 2021 semester.
If, in submitting a request form to Human Resources, an employee identifies or potentially identifies the need for accommodation based on disability (as defined under the ADA), Human Resources will refer the employee’s request to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) for evaluation under the ADA, instead of continuing under the process outlined above. If the request qualifies as a disability accommodation request under the ADA, then OEI will follow its standard process for evaluating such requests, which includes an “interactive process” between the employee, the unit head and OEI in determining what, if any, reasonable accommodations the University may provide to the employee. An employee request that falls under the ADA will not be evaluated under the process outlined in Section B above.