UPDATE JANUARY 2021
The College continues to monitor the progress of the virus and impact upon operations. Classes with hands-on, in-person meetings may be required to convert to remote delivery options at any time throughout the course of the semester. Should circumstances arise in which a transition is warranted, Faculty will inform students via Blackboard, BRCTC email, and/or any other communication medium used within the course.
WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS AND GUIDELINES
All employees are expected to fully comply with the protocols and guidelines outlined in this document as part of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College’s Workplace Expectations and Guidelines. Failure to do so may result in corrective action.
SYMPTOM MONITORING REQUIREMENT
Employees who have been instructed to return to the workplace must conduct symptom monitoring each day before reporting to work. You must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 to be eligible to report to work in one of our facilities.
Symptoms include one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Runny nose or new sinus congestion
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New GI symptoms
- New loss of taste or smell
Employees experiencing symptoms association with COVID-19 should contact their healthcare professional and/or the Berkeley County Health Department for COVID-19 Testing procedures. Wear a face covering in public, self-isolate, and follow all guidance provided by a healthcare professional.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:
- People 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised. Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
- People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
Employees who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodations related to returning to the workplace should reach out to their supervisors or contact Human Resources.
A phased return of employees shall be used to coordinate the return of Blue Ridge CTC employees to the workplace. This coordinated process ensures appropriate social distancing and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Blue Ridge CTC assesses expanded staffing based on mission-critical operations, ability to control and manage specific work environments, and necessity to access on-site resources. These decisions, once approved, are communicated through each employee’s respective manager, Dean or Vice President.
Blue Ridge CTC continues to reduce the number of people on campus (density) to meet social distancing requirements. Support units that can continue to effectively work remotely should work with their direct supervisor to continue to do so until restrictions are eased for large gatherings.
Expanded staffing is tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities served. No unit or department should increase staffing levels beyond current needs to support critical on-site operations without approval from the respective manager, Dean or Vice President. Upon the expansion of on-site staffing, employees should follow the policies and protocols detailed in this guide for returning to work on campus.
Blue Ridge CTC continues to closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus. If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may be implemented.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUPERVISORS
Due to the complex nature of business operations at the College, Supervisors are responsible for developing a plan for returning employees to the workplace. When developing a return to campus plan for your employees, please consider the following practices to ensure the continued safety of the campus community. Should you need assistance with your plan, please contact your immediate supervisor or Vice President.
- Allow employees to continue to work remotely where feasible to reduce the number of individuals on campus. Consider a rotating schedule as applicable for your department.
- Require use of offices by assigning one person per office while on campus, considering a rotating schedule. Only one person per enclosed space is permitted at any time.
- Stagger start and end times to comply with social distancing measures.
- Require all employees attend the Weiss Brothers “Workplace Hygiene Workshop” or review the pre-record video, prior to returning to campus.
- Require employees to self-monitor symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath and fatigue daily.
- Require masks and maintain social distancing within each communal office area, including break rooms, copier rooms, etc.
- Require employees to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces in communal spaces. Items include microwave, refrigerators, copiers, countertops, etc.
- Water coolers within pods are out of service. Bottled water is being provided to employees as a substitute to this service.
- Prohibit guests in office spaces. No employee should have a student, faculty or staff member in an office. All meetings must occur within a neutral location that allows for 6 feet social distancing to be maintained.
- Should you have employees with concerns about returning to campus, please refer them to the appropriate Vice President or Human Resources.
HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDANCE
CONSIDERATIONS FOR FACULTY
Blue Ridge CTC offers a variety of practical training solutions that may include small group meetings. When providing in person instruction, faculty are required to enforce all campus safety practices.
- Require face masks/shields of all participants in classes or meeting groups.
- Maintain a 6 foot social distancing between all students and participants at all times.
- Clinical courses, field experience courses, Career Advancement courses and Contract Training courses are continuing based on the ability and restrictions in place at the respective location. Faculty should work with their supervisor regarding details surrounding clinical and field experience courses.
- Small meetings and classes should maintain a 9 student + 1 instructor ratio. Adjustments may be made based on environment and size of meeting location. Faculty should consult with their supervisor regarding modifications to classroom limits.
- Students participating in hands-on labs that do not permit 6 ft. social distancing should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. Learning activities should be concluded as soon as possible without compromising educational benefit to students. Upon conclusion, 6ft social distancing should be resumed.
- Faculty should remind students to stagger arrival times and discourage any congregation of students both inside and outside of the classroom. Faculty should promote the importance of social distancing when on-campus meetings are occurring.
- Faculty are responsible for using the designated EPA disinfectant on all surfaces between classes.
- Faculty members are encouraged to utilize Calendly, or similar software, to schedule appointments with students. Virtual appointments should be scheduled when possible. On campus interactions should be limited.
- When working on campus, Faculty should not permit guests in an office space. Any required meetings should occur in a neutral location that allows for 6 feet social distancing to be maintained.
SYLLABUS STATEMENT REGARDING SOCIAL DISTANCING AND PPE
The syllabus statement below, effective immediately, should appear in all BRCTC course syllabi.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College understands the importance of the health and safety of our campus community. In an effort to serve our students and community members, we are taking continual efforts to reduce risk and increase cleanliness of our campus locations. As part of our effort to protect the campus community, all students, staff, and instructors are required to observe social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines as outlined by Blue Ridge CTC at all times. While in class, students must be seated appropriately to support social distancing and must wear the appropriate PPE. Should a student forget to bring PPE, they should visit the Security Office at the campus location or a cleaning station to obtain a face covering. Students who fail to comply will be dismissed from the classroom and may be referred for sanctions as outlined by the Student Handbook. Students who require PPE accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services to submit the appropriate documentation.
Should you become sick or be required to quarantine during the semester, notify the instructor immediately using the contact method described in the syllabus. Students should contact the Office of Disability Services in order to implement the appropriate accommodations required to submit course work during an extended absence.
PERSONAL SAFETY PRACTICES
Face masks/coverings must be worn by all employees working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common work spaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, etc.). Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you. Spread of COVID-19 to others is possible without experiencing symptoms. A mask or face covering is not a substitute for social distancing. Employees who fail to comply with this requirement are subject to disciplinary action. Employees who require a reasonable accommodation must submit documentation to Human Resources.
Blue Ridge CTC has a variety of masks available for the campus community. Disposable masks may only be worn for one day. Reusable masks or face coverings should be laundered after each use. Having a week supply of cloth face coverings may help reduce the need for daily laundering. All employees receive an allotment of masks to promote the use of face coverings on campus. Employees should contact their immediate supervisor to obtain an allotment.
USE AND CARE OF FACE COVERINGS
Putting on the face covering/disposable mask:
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask.
- Ensure the face-covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
- Situate the face-covering/disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
- Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
- Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face covering/disposable mask.
Taking off the face covering/disposable mask:
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering/disposable mask.
- When taking off the face covering/disposable mask, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
- Wash hands immediately after removing.
Care, storage and laundering:
- Keep face coverings/disposable mask stored in a paper bag when not in use.
- Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day at a time and must be washed after use. Cloth face coverings should be properly laundered with regular clothing detergent before first use, and after each shift. Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (e.g. ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated.
- Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after your shift or if it is soiled, damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.
Maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet is one of the best defenses to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The virus is able to be spread, even if no symptoms are present. Social distancing is important for everyone, especially to protect people who are at higher risk. Employees on-site should follow these social distancing practices:
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people at all times
- Do not gather in groups
- Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings
Employees should wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after visiting a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.
Healthcare workers and others in high-risk areas should use gloves as part of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) According to the Center for Disease Control (2020):
“For the general public, CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. In most other situations, like running errands, wearing gloves is not necessary. Instead, practice everyday preventive actions like keeping social distance (at least 6 feet) from others, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol), and wearing a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.”
Staff do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Proper hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face are generally sufficient for non-healthcare environments. Instructors/employees who need face shields due to the nature of their position should work with their direct supervisor to obtain the necessary equipment.
While housekeeping staff continues to clean office and work spaces based on CDC guidelines, additional care should be taken to wipe down commonly used surfaces. Before starting work and before leaving, employees are responsible for cleaning their immediate work environment using the College provided EPA certified disinfectant. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, door knobs, microwave, refrigerator, etc.).
Private Office Cleaning Procedures
- Remove the trash: Remove trash and recycling to central collection area as needed.
- Dust: Working from the top toward the bottom, dust your workspace as needed using microfiber or other dusting tool. It is important that the tool capture dust as opposed to spreading it around.
- Keyboard, Mouse, and Phone: Clean and disinfect the keyboard, mouse, and phone. First clean the areas, then use the disinfectant.
- Computer Monitor (Touch Screen): You don’t need to rub hard to remove fingerprints or oily spots. Use a soft, lint-free cloth (ex: microfiber cloth) or a screen cleaning wipe to gently wipe the screen. Either dry or dampened with water or eyeglass cleaner. NEVER use a glass cleaner or other chemical.
Remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Immediately dispose of used tissues in the trash and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
GUIDANCE FOR SPECIFIC WORKPLACE SCENARIOS
Travel: Employees who are traveling or planning to travel should review the CDC Considerations for Travelers guide. Travel increases your chances of contracting COVID-19. Individuals traveling to known hotspot locations should consider self-quarantining for 14 days upon returning home. Work related travel is restricted which includes meetings and conferences.
Public Transportation: When using public transportation, wear a mask before entering the bus and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible and before removing your mask.
Working in Office Environments: If working in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet distance from co-workers. If possible have at least one workspace separating you from another co-worker. Wear a face mask or face covering at all times while in a shared work space/room.
Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees, other coworkers, and customers.
When working in an office, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required 6 feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, masks/face coverings should be worn at all times.
Masks/face coverings should be worn by any employee in a reception/receiving area. Masks/face coverings should be used when inside any BRCTC facility where others are present, including walking in narrow hallways where others travel, in break rooms, conference rooms and other meeting locations.
Using Restrooms: Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
Using Elevators: No more than two persons may enter an elevator at a time. Please use the stairs whenever possible. If you are using the elevator, maintain 6 foot social distancing, wear your mask or face covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol upon departing the elevator.
Meetings: Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or part using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, telephone, etc.).
In person meetings are limited to the restrictions of local, state and federal orders, assuming individuals can still maintain 6 feet of separation for social distancing requirements. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between attendees.
When on campus, employees are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone or other available technology, rather than face-to-face. Employees should use available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Spark, etc.).
Meals: Before and after eating, wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
If dining on campus, employees must wear a mask or face covering until ready to eat and replace it afterward. Eating establishments must meet requirements to allow at least 6 feet of distance between each customer, including lines and seating arrangements. Individuals should not sit facing one another. Employees are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside, if this is reasonable for your situation.
Wipe all surfaces, including table, refrigerator handle, coffee machine, etc. after use in common areas.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) from The Standard is a confidential, workplace service that is paid for by Blue Ridge CTC and is free to all employees.
Our program can provide guidance to employees with various work-related and personal problems. EAP services can help with:
- Depression, grief, loss and emotional well-being
- Family, marital, and other relationship issues
- Life improvement and goal-setting
- Addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse
- Stress and anxiety with work or family
- Financial and legal concerns
This list isn’t exhaustive. Our EAP supports anyone experiencing problems that affect well-being and work performance. The EAP program includes up to three assessment and counseling sessions per issue. These sessions can be done in person, on the phone or by video and this benefit applies to employees and their dependents. Additional information can be found by visiting Employee Assistance Program Guide and The Right Direction – EAP.
Employees can reach our EAP by contacting our free 24/7 hotline at 1-888-293-6948, downloading the MY EAP app to your mobile device or by visiting the website. This benefit is 100% free for all BRCTC employees and their dependents and is always confidential.
ENTER AND EXIT CONTROL
Entry to buildings is regulated and monitored. Do not hold or prop open exterior doors for any other person. All employees should observe and obey the respective entry and exit points designated by signage throughout each campus location. Departments and building coordinators should identify usable building access points and coordinate arrival and departure times of employees to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of the business day. Employee arrival and departures should be scheduled in 30-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, etc.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do employees know when they are to return to work on site?
Each department supervisor is evaluating the needs of their department. Once your supervisor has established a plan, they will contact you via e-mail and/or phone at least one week before your expected return.
What if an employee becomes ill with fever, cough or other concerning symptoms?
Managers and supervisors should recommend that employees who are sick seek medical assistance as appropriate and remain out of the workplace until symptoms resolve. Employees will not be permitted to return to work on site until you have been cleared by your medial provider. Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 should immediately inform the local health department in their county for contact tracing purposes.
What if an employee believes he/she has been exposed to COVID-19?
If an employee is in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and/or develops symptoms of the virus, they should call their healthcare provider and tell them about the symptoms. The healthcare provider will decide whether or not the employee needs to be tested. Stay home if COVID-19 symptoms develop and go home immediately if symptoms occur at work.
Will all employees be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work on site?
No. Current public health guidelines do not call for testing unless an employee has symptoms.
Will there be daily health checks/temperature screenings for employees?
Blue Ridge CTC is not performing on site health or temperature checks. Employees should self-monitor symptoms each day prior to reporting to the work site.
Does the college have the capability to do antibody testing to find out if employees have already been exposed to COVID-19?
The college does not have plans to provide antibody testing.
How can I get tested for COVID-19?
Contact your healthcare provider to schedule a COVID-19 test or contact the Berkeley County Health Department for updated locations.
What about leave if an employee or immediate family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
An employee who is sick, or whose family members are sick, may be entitled to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act benefit or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave under certain circumstances.
Can the College prohibit an employee from coming to work on site if the employee is known to have contracted COVID-19 or to have had close contact with someone who has?
Yes. The college is obligated to provide a safe workplace and may take necessary and reasonable steps to minimize health risks for its employees, including requiring that employees not come to work on site if they have been diagnosed with, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.
What if an employee has been told by a healthcare provider that they need to be isolated or quarantined due to exposure?
Telecommuting should be considered and used where feasible. If you are unable to telework due to a need for leave because you are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or (3) are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis, you are eligible for Emergency Paid Sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Please reach out to Human Resources if you have questions.
What is the plan for those employees who are considered high risk for contracting COVID-19?
Employees who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 may continue to telecommute, with advance approval from their supervisors. Requests to continue to telecommute may invoke the interactive process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may require physician documentation, and may be assessed for a reasonable accommodation and/or undue hardship on the department or the college. You should discuss any medical concerns you have with your supervisor, your physician and/or Human Resources.
Will the college provide face coverings?
The college has provided every employee with a supply of disposable and reusable masks. Employees should inquire with their supervisor to receive the allotment. Employees may also bring their own face coverings from home, if preferred.
Will the college provide cleaning supplies for offices?
Every office will receive a kit containing disposable and reusable masks for each employee, a supply of hand sanitizer, disinfectant and towels/wipes.
Will there be a “deep clean” of campus facilities before employees return to work on site, and will cleaning measures remain rigorous after we return?
The College’s housekeeping staff continuously disinfects high-touch surfaces. These high-touch surfaces include, but are not limited to entryway touchpoints, doorknobs, water fountains, elevator panels/call buttons, stairwell handrails and restroom fixtures (sinks, faucets, toilets, towel dispensers, etc.)
If I have a vacation scheduled, am I still able to go?
Employees can continue to utilize annual leave, provided the supervisor has approved the request. Dates of previously approved annual leave may need to be altered to ensure appropriate coverage. Employees should work with their supervisor for verification. Employees should closely monitor COVID-19 outbreaks around the country and be aware of known hot spots.
Are you able to wear a mask or a face shield?
Employees, students and visitors are required to wear either a face shield or a mask. It is not necessary to wear both.
Are faculty required to be on campus for their office hours required by their division?
Faculty must continue to hold regular office hours. Virtual meetings are the default option. Calendly or another form of scheduling should be utilized to provide meeting options to students.
Are we still able to utilize our refrigerators, toasters and microwaves in our individual common areas?
Yes, you are able to use the amenities located in the kitchenettes in each department; however, employees will be responsible for cleaning before and after each use. Housekeeping will continue deep cleaning efforts; however, employees should disinfect surfaces before and after use.