Guidance for
Exposure and Contact

List of actions to take for employees and supervisors for when you are exposed or have contact with someone who has COVID-19. 

Guidance for Exposure and Contact

Technology Continuity for
Working Remotely

MSU has a variety of technologies to assist you while working remotely. These technologies may be utilized to achieve a working experience comparable to your campus office.

Working Remotely Technology

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

What if I am exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19? Can I get tested for COVID-19 on campus? What if my child’s daycare or school closes or moves to online instruction and I must stay home? What if my child’s after school program is not available due to COVID-19? I returned from overseas travel. Do I need to get clearance to return to work? I returned from a domestic area that I believe to be a high-risk location. Do I need to get clearance to return to work? What if a family member or I am at high risk for the virus? Are face coverings still required? What if I am not able to wear a mask all day? Can I accept/use donated leave for time away due to COVID-19? I had University travel planned for the fall. Are there any restrictions on this? Can my department host camps or conferences this fall? Are there any restrictions on meetings? I’m feeling really stressed worrying about COVID-19. How can I get support? How will the mask policy be enforced for employees? What are the thresholds or triggers that would result in a campus shutdown? What happens to a class if the instructor becomes ill with COVID-19? If a course is face-to-face, is the instructor required to offer online accommodations if a student does not want to attend face-to-face? What does an MSU employee do if we see a visitor or contractor without a face covering? Does an employee behind plexiglass need to wear a face covering? Is it acceptable for an instructor to remove their face covering while lecturing? Who is responsible for class lecture recording in face-to-face classes? How is MSU working with the community to address the problem of noncompliance with social distancing and face coverings off-campus? Is there standard syllabus language that has been developed unique to the fall semester? What sanitization procedures are being used in classrooms? Will an instructor be notified if a student in their class tests positive for COVID-19? How does an instructor deal with missed classes for reasons other than COVID-19 symptoms? What happens when a student tests positive and is quarantined, from an academic standpoint? Do instructors need to provide an online test option for face-to-face classes? Will we return to the standard grading system as opposed to pass/fail? Does the university have accommodations for students with limited access to technology? If a student tests positive, does the whole class have to quarantine? Will all classrooms be optimized with technology? Will MSU require testing of all students at the beginning of the semester? What will happen in the spring semester? Will it be the same as the fall? What precautions are being taken for air flow and filtration? What is the capacity of the health system in the campus area to handle COVID-19 cases? How do we handle students that want to shift all-online, or all face-to-face? Is information available on the number of positive cases on campus? Is the sick leave policy the same with COVID-19 as with all other illnesses? Do we have our own ability to test for COVID-19 on campus?

What if I am exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19?

Please see the page for Guidance for Exposure and Contact.

Can I get tested for COVID-19 on campus?

Yes, the Longest Student Health Center is conducting testing. You can call 662-325-2055 for additional information related to COVID-19 health procedures.  For more information regarding medical questions, please see the the page for Guidance for Exposure and Contact.

What if my child’s daycare or school closes or moves to online instruction and I must stay home?

If you are unable to work because you have children at home, you should consider taking Expanded Family Medical leave. For more information, please visit www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/additional.php.

Some employees may be able to work flexible hours and/or complete some portion of their duties by telework. If you believe that this is an option for you, please discuss this with your supervisor and visit www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/trp.php.

What if my child’s after school program is not available due to COVID-19?

If you are unable to work for a portion of the day because you have children at home, you should consider taking Expanded Family Medical leave for those hours that you need to care for your children.  For more information, please visit www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/additional.php.

Some employees may be able to work flexible hours and/or complete some portion of their duties by telework.  If you believe that this is an option for you, please discuss this with your supervisor and visit www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/trp.php.

I returned from overseas travel. Do I need to get clearance to return to work?

No. Most travelers can go back to work but should take precautions, such as distancing and wearing a mask. Some travelers may have higher risk of exposure and should stay home for 14 days.  Please contact the Longest Student Health Center at 662-325-2055 with any questions regarding your return to campus.

I returned from a domestic area that I believe to be a high-risk location. Do I need to get clearance to return to work?

No. Because all areas of the United States are currently at high-risk, you do not need clearance to return to work unless you believe that you came into close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. If you believe that you have had a close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, please contact University Health Services at 662-325-2055 before returning to campus.

What if a family member or I am at high risk for the virus?

If you or a member of your household is at a high risk and you would like a medical accommodation, you should complete a medical accommodation request form. This form is available on the HRM website. Your medical accommodation request will require medical documentation. The steps are available at www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/medacc.php

Alternatively, telework may be an option for you. If you believe that this is an option for you, please discuss this with your supervisor and visit www.hrm.msstate.edu/benefits/leave/trp.php.

Are face coverings still required? What if I am not able to wear a mask all day?

Face coverings are required inside all campus buildings. Employees may remove their face coverings in their individual office or at their workspace if they can maintain physical distance from all other individuals. It is imperative our faculty and staff model the behavior we expect of our students.

Face shields are allowed instead of face masks. Your building manager is able to order to face shields directly from the University.

Can I accept/use donated leave for time away due to COVID-19?

Donated leave is only available for catastrophic an illness or injury. A catastrophic injury or illness is defined as a life-threatening injury or illness of an employee or a member of an employee’s immediate family which totally incapacitates the employee from work, as verified by a physician, and forces the employee to exhaust all leave time earned by that employee.

If a person becomes catastrophically ill because of COVID, donated leave could be used. The donated leave form and procedure is available on the HRM website.

I had University travel planned for the fall. Are there any restrictions on this?

University-sponsored international travel is not permitted at this time. Domestic travel requests will follow the standard approval chain.

Passengers may not exceed 50% capacity in any in buses, vans, vehicles, etc. that are owned, leased, or rented by MSU. All occupants and the driver must wear a face covering, unless an individual is traveling alone.

Hotel room occupancy for any hotel room rented by MSU is limited to 2 people regardless of the hotel’s occupancy limits.

Can my department host camps or conferences this fall?

No camps or conferences can be hosted at this time without VP approval.

Are there any restrictions on meetings?

All departments are encouraged to continue hosting meetings on an on-line platform or by conference call to the extent possible. If a meeting must take place in person, conference/meeting rooms should be limited to no more than 50% of the room capacity and physical distancing and face coverings are required. Additional spread-reduction techniques should also be used, such as sanitizing meeting areas after use and making available hand sanitizer (if not readily accessible in your building).

I’m feeling really stressed worrying about COVID-19. How can I get support?

We know the news about COVID-19 can be stressful; please feel free to utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by calling 1-866-219-1232 (Toll-free) or visit the Human Resources Management page for more information.

How will the mask policy be enforced for employees?

First, we will be providing extensive education on the merits of face coverings.  Second, we will create a culture in which it is expected.  Third, each employee should feel that it is appropriate to point out the need to wear a face covering properly. Finally, an employee can communicate with their supervisor if another person is not complying with the policy.

What are the thresholds or triggers that would result in a campus shutdown?

A number of factors will go into this decision, rather than any one factor.  These would include capacity of the area healthcare system, capacity of quarantine facilities, fraction of students who have tested positive, fraction of faculty who have tested positive, decisions by the governor or IHL, shortage of testing or PPE.

What happens to a class if the instructor becomes ill with COVID-19?

This would be dealt with similar to any other instructor illness and would be treated specific to the situation following our normal administrative procedure with the department head and dean being responsible for finding an instructor who can teach while the instructor is absent.

If a course is face-to-face, is the instructor required to offer online accommodations if a student does not want to attend face-to-face?

Yes, in almost all cases.  We have asked this of instructors in large part to 1) encourage students who are experiencing symptoms to not attend face-to-face classes, and 2) as an accommodation to students who are health compromised or afraid to attend face-to-face classes.

What does an MSU employee do if we see a visitor or contractor without a face covering?

Every employee should feel responsible to instruct visitors of the MSU policy requiring face coverings.

Does an employee behind plexiglass need to wear a face covering?

No, if the employee is in a separated workspace with 6-ft of physical distance from other employees.

Is it acceptable for an instructor to remove their face covering while lecturing?

No, face coverings are always required in classrooms.  A face shield can be worn in lieu of a face mask while teaching.

Who is responsible for class lecture recording in face-to-face classes?

Information Technology Services will provide the equipment, training, and support.  Instructors are responsible for ensuring the lecture is recorded and uploaded.

How is MSU working with the community to address the problem of noncompliance with social distancing and face coverings off-campus?

MSU administration is having regular conversations with city and county government leaders about consistency of messaging and enforcement, as well as stringent adherence to all executive orders.

Is there standard syllabus language that has been developed unique to the fall semester?

Yes, it is as follows:

To safeguard the health of all members of the MSU campus during this global pandemic, the university has reconfigured classroom spaces and adjusted room capacities to assure adequate physical distance between all individuals in each room.  In addition, the university has published requirements for the use of face coverings for everyone on campus, including specific requirements for their use in all classrooms, labs, and shared office spaces regardless of physical distancing.  In order to mutually protect the students’ freedom to learn and the instructor’s ability to teach in a safe classroom environment, everyone in this classroom is required to wear a face covering in the classroom in accordance with MSU policy (provide link).  If a student cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, they should request an accommodation via the Office of Disability Support Services.  If a student simply doesn’t want to wear a face covering, they will not be permitted to remain in the classroom or lab. 

In the event that face-to-face classes are suspended due to the pandemic or its effects, the instructor will continue instruction in a manner that best supports the course content and student engagement. In this event, all instructors will notify all students of the change via their university email address (the official vehicle for communication with students).  At that time, they will provide details about how instruction and communication will continue, how academic integrity will be ensured, and what students may expect during the time that face-to-face classes are suspended. If a student becomes unable to continue class participation, the student should contact their instructor and advisor for guidance.
 

What sanitization procedures are being used in classrooms?

Here is a summary:

  • The goal is to clean each classroom space between each class meeting.
  • The spray solution that will be used for the rooms is extremely effective and at the same time very environmentally friendly.
  • This process will take approximately 10 minutes for application and subsequent drying time, thus instructors will need to encourage students to exit the classroom space as soon as possible after class ends. 
  • There may be some instances where this may not be possible, but facilities is carefully reviewing the classrooms schedule to prepare proper staffing assignments so that cleaning can be accomplished in all classroom spaces. 
  • Sanitizing wipes will be available for students and faculty to use in case they want an added layer of security in their personal space.
  • Facilities is conducting trial runs of the cleaning process to be sure they can meet their objectives and maintain a high degree of rigor in the cleaning process.
  • Restrooms will be cleaned at least three times per day.
  • Signage on flow, distancing, and posted guidelines has begun to be installed, and Facilities is on track to have this signage installed in all academic spaces before classes begin.
  • We have obtained sufficient supplies to have more than enough to begin the semester, and a supply pipeline has been created to ensure we will have adequate supplies throughout the semester.

Will an instructor be notified if a student in their class tests positive for COVID-19?

Only if the instructor has been in close contact with the student (close contact is defined as being within 6 ft for at least 15 minutes).  This is following CDC guidance.

How does an instructor deal with missed classes for reasons other than COVID-19 symptoms?

This semester will require a great deal of tolerance of missed classes, unfortunately.  Instructors should emphasize viewing all lectures online if the student misses class.  And, regular conversations about the value of in-class interactions should be stressed.

What happens when a student tests positive and is quarantined, from an academic standpoint?

The instructor should work with the student to ensure that there is a plan for delivery of lectures, homework assignments and exams. The instructor should advise the student to contact the Longest Student Health Center COVID hotline at 662-325-2055 to report their positive test result if they have not already done so.

Do instructors need to provide an online test option for face-to-face classes?

Instructors should be prepared for this as an option, given the expectation that some students may test positive and be quarantined.

Will we return to the standard grading system as opposed to pass/fail?

Yes.

Does the university have accommodations for students with limited access to technology?

Yes.  Laptops and wifi hotspots will be available for loan through the library.

If a student tests positive, does the whole class have to quarantine?

No.  Only those who have been deemed as close contact will be required to quarantine.

Will all classrooms be optimized with technology?

Yes, every attempt is being made to provide video and audio capture in classrooms.

Will MSU require testing of all students at the beginning of the semester?

No.  Medical advisors have indicated there is not sufficient value in mass testing to warrant the expense.

What will happen in the spring semester? Will it be the same as the fall?

MSU administration will monitor the local, national, and global situation as we move through the fall semester. Decisions regarding the spring 2021 semester will be made later in the fall as we assess the situation.

What precautions are being taken for air flow and filtration?

Facilities Management has assessed the HVAC systems in every campus building to optimize air flow and exchange.  In a number of buildings, additional UV light systems have been installed that kill viruses in the air.

What is the capacity of the health system in the campus area to handle COVID-19 cases?

MSU is in regular communications with health providers in the area, as well as leadership in Jackson, to closely monitor any threats to capacity in handling patients who are ill with COVID-19.

How do we handle students that want to shift all-online, or all face-to-face?

Students should be referred to their advisors to adjust their class schedules so as to best meet their needs.

Is information available on the number of positive cases on campus?

Yes.  The MSU COVID19 website is now reporting this information.  See https://www.msstate.edu/covid19/campus-testing

Is the sick leave policy the same with COVID-19 as with all other illnesses?

No.  For COVID-19, there is additional leave available.  Please see the HRM website.

Do we have our own ability to test for COVID-19 on campus?

MSU has developed the ability to conduct in-house testing with several additional purchases, which will dramatically improve the time for reporting results.