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Employee Notifications

  • Dear Colleagues,

    The President has just been informed that the State of Connecticut has determined that faculty who are teaching on ground courses at Eastern this spring semester are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase, Phase 1b, as this phase covers educators. Vaccinations for those in Phase 1b are expected to begin this week or next week.

    Under the State's decision, faculty who are only teaching online this spring will not be eligible to receive the vaccine solely because they are educators, though they may qualify based on age or some other criteria, or they will be included in a later phase.

    My office will compile a list of the faculty who are teaching on ground or on ground hybrid courses this spring and provide that information to the State. As I understand the process after that, those on the list will then receive notification that they are authorized to receive the vaccine in Phase 1b. You will take that authorization to a vaccination center to receive your vaccination. We do not have the capacity to provide vaccines on campus, but they are available at locations throughout the state.

    Eastern faculty who are eligible may decline to get the vaccine if they choose and we will continue to follow all COVID safety protocols on campus throughout the spring semester.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thank you.

    Bill Salka
    Provos

  • Dear Colleague:

    I know that many of you have been working hard over the break to prepare for the spring semester. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, conditions are changing daily and there are many unanswered questions. I would like to share with you the plan for the spring semester as it stands at this point:

    • ·University offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 19. Office staff will be limited to 50% on ground each day, using our established A/B rotational schedule.
    • All COVID Safety Protocols from the fall will remain in place for the spring, including the requirement that masks be worn at all time on campus except in private offices and dorm rooms.
    • Residential students will move into the residence halls on Sunday, January 24 and Monday, January 25. These students will be required to arrive with a negative COVID test. They will be in a “limited quarantine” for the first week, where they will be allowed to attend on ground classes, pick up meals from Hurley Hall, and go to the Bookstore to get their books.
    • All residential students will be tested weekly at least through the end of February. Commuter students in on ground classes will also be offered the option of being tested weekly.
    • Spring classes will begin on Tuesday, January 26 under the COVID safety protocols. All on ground and on ground hybrid classes will meet in their classrooms like they did before Thanksgiving in the fall.
    • The State has decided that all faculty teaching on ground courses and all staff who are scheduled to regularly work on campus during the spring semester will be eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1b, which should begin this week or next. Please understand that this decision was by the State, and Eastern has no say in which groups are included in which phase.

    Of course, we are constantly monitoring the conditions as they evolve locally and across the state. I am confident that the new student testing protocols will allow us to monitor conditions on campus more effectively than was possible in the fall, when we were testing only a sample of students. As I said repeatedly in the fall, if conditions reach a point where it is no longer safe to have students, faculty, and staff on campus, I will not hesitate to close the campus and move all instruction and operations online.

    Sincerely,

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • Dear Colleague:

    Among the many challenges Eastern Connecticut State University successfully met when the campus reopened for the fall 2020 semester was bringing faculty, staff, and students back safely. While the distribution and administration of the COVID vaccine offers hope and promise, we are preparing for the spring 2021 semester while remaining vigilant of this serious disease. I am writing to update employees on the policies and protocols in place to ensure the continued safety of the Eastern community when we return to campus.

    Reopening Campus to Classes

    We are still planning to open with the same course formats (on-ground, hybrid and online) that we used this fall. As such, classes (on-ground, hybrid and online) will begin on January 26. For instance, if you are teaching an on-ground course, you and your students will be in the classroom when the semester begins; hybrid classes will begin meeting in the A/B rotating student model. The University Meeting will be live streamed at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 25.

    “A” and “B” Team schedules

    Beginning January 19, 2021, employees will resume working from campus, maintaining the “A” and “B” team schedules in place before on-campus work reverted to telecommuting in November 2020. Supervisors will work with employees to develop telecommuting and on-campus schedules for employees, adhering to the “A” and “B” teams to prevent potential exposure across departments.

    As a starting point, because the first on-campus work week begins on a Tuesday, the “B” Teams will start their two-week alternating schedule (Tu/Th in week one; M/W/F in week two) on Tuesday, January 19 with the “A” Teams starting their two week alternating schedule (M/W/F in week one followed by Tu/Th in week two) on Wednesday, January 20. Both teams will continue this practice until further notice.

    Work schedules and requirements

    Employees working in either mode – on campus or telecommuting – must be on duty during their regularly scheduled hours, perform all assigned duties, and be prepared to report to campus as requested by their respective supervisors. Employees with approved medical exceptions on file with Human Resources will continue to telework, and should also follow these protocols, although they will not be asked to report to campus.

    Health and Safety

    The mandatory face mask policy that requires masks be worn at all times on campus will remain in effect. The exception to this policy is limited to those in a private office and can maintain six feet or more of physical distance between yourself and visitors to that space. Hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the campus, and we urge everyone to continue to sanitize and wash their hands frequently.

    Employees who are ill or experiencing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat or headache should notify their supervisor and remain at home. If remote work is available and the employee is feeling well enough to perform their duties, the supervisor may arrange for the employee to telework until symptoms are no longer present and/or they test negative for COVID-19.

    Employees should also remain out of work and advise their supervisor if they reside with someone who is experiencing similar symptoms; again, teleworking can be arranged with the prior permission of the supervisor and the employee should work remotely until such time as all members of the household are well, and/or have tested negative for COVID-19. If teleworking is not available due to the nature of an employee’s duties, the employee must contact Maria Weinberger in Human Resources at weinbergerma@easternct.edu for information about paid leave time under Connecticut General Statutes Section 5-248a, available in certain instances to employees impacted by COVID-19.

    Please be aware that the paid leave and partial payments for absences due to child care under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) concluded December 31, 2020, and are no longer available. The State benefits remain in effect, however, if a portion of the benefits have been used, only the balance may be available. If changes are made to the State leave entitlement provisions, or Federal FFCRA benefits are extended, we will notify all employees.

    “Close Contact” defined

    According to the CDC and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, exposure to COVID-19 occurs when an individual has had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact is contact with a positive individual for a total of 15 minutes or more in the aggregate over a 24-hour period, less than six feet apart, with or without face masks worn by either person. Exposure to someone who has been identified as a “close contact” to another individual who has tested positive is not considered exposure.

    If Tested Positive

    Employees who test positive or supervisors who learn an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 must inform Maria Weinberger at weinbergerma@easternct.edu immediately so appropriate notification to the state can occur, and contact tracing initiated if necessary. Every effort will be made to safeguard employee confidentiality, while simultaneously protecting the wellbeing of potentially impacted co-workers and students.

    If you have tested positive, you should complete the CDC-recommended quarantine period of 14 calendar days from the day of your test. Prior to returning to campus you must retest, and provide Human Resources (weinbergerma@easternct.edu) with a copy of your negative test results, and/or you or a medical provider must confirm in writing to HR (weinbergerma@easternct.edu) that you are no longer ill or have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms for the previous three days. Alternatively, employees may return to campus after 10 workdays by following the procedure outlined above. You may not return to work on campus until notified by Human Resources that you are cleared to do so.

    CFDRC, Campus Police and Facilities protocols

    Because the demand for childcare in our community is greater than ever, the Child and Family Development and Resource Center (CFDRC) will remain open and its employees will work on ground in compliance with protocols from the licensing agency and public officials. In addition, designated employees will continue to be present on campus daily to protect the Eastern community and carry out the enhanced cleaning, sanitizing and maintenance protocols imposed by the pandemic. The ongoing contributions of the employees in these departments are particularly appreciated.

    Vaccinations

    While the decision to have the COVID vaccine is a personal decision, the University is working with federal and state officials to gain as much information as possible, including where vaccines are available and when various groups are eligible for the vaccine. We have just learned from the CSCU System Office that our health care providers, staff in the Child and Family Development Resource Center, and faculty teaching face-to-face classes will be eligible for the vaccine in the State of Connecticut’s Phase 1B of the vaccination rollout plan. The University will share information as it is available when additional groups are eligible for the vaccine. For the latest vaccine news, visit https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/covid-19%20vaccinations

    Going Forward

    As we have since March 2020, Eastern will continue to follow all state of Connecticut policies, CDC guidelines, Board of Regents’ policies, and Connecticut Department of Public Health guidance to keep students, faculty and staff safe and healthy.

    We will share new or updated details with employees on COVID-19 related issues as information becomes available. In the meantime, I want to express the Administration’s appreciation to Eastern’s faculty and staff for your commitment to our students and each other. Despite the stress and challenges of these unprecedented times, our campus community has risen to the occasion. Once again, it is our people who keep us strong. Thank you!

    Kenneth J. DeLisa
    Vice President, Institutional Advancement and Chief Human Resources Officer

  • Dear Colleagues:

    As you were advised through recent communications from Provost Bill Salka and Chief Human Resources Officer Ken DeLisa, the Governor’s COVID-19 Advisory Group has determined that employees of educational institutions will soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1b of the distribution plan.

    We have prepared the requisite workforce roster for Eastern, and are ready to submit that data to VAMS, the Department of Public Health’s third-party vendor responsible for vaccine scheduling. Faculty and staff, with the exception of employees who are teleworking due to an approved medical exemption, or employees in Departments previously scheduled in group 1a, are included on Eastern’s roster. At the current time, the DPH has not yet enabled Eastern and many similar employers to upload rosters for employees; unfortunately, no information is available as to when that will take place.

    When Eastern is able to submit its roster, we will advise faculty and staff that has occurred. Employees should then expect to receive a communication from VAMS sent directly to their Eastern email address. The employee must respond to that message and provide VAMS with information necessary to schedule the vaccine, including confirmation of home address, and health insurance provider, with group and individual id numbers.

    Although Eastern can verify that an employee is on its roster, we cannot confirm when the roster will be processed by VAMS or when an employee will be scheduled to receive the vaccine. In the event you are contacted through your health care provider, health insurance company, or local health department to schedule a vaccine appointment, you should do so; there is no need to notify Eastern. Simply keep that appointment, and do not respond to any scheduling notification from VAMS.

    We will continue to share new or updated details with employees about vaccine scheduling and other COVID-19 related issues as information becomes available. In the meantime, thank you for your continued patience, and please do not hesitate to contact Human Resources at weinbergerma@easternct.edu with questions or concerns.

    Maria Weinberger
    Associate Vice President for Employee and Labor Relations
    Office of Human Resources