Coronavirus FAQs - Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff FAQs

Accountability for Conforming to Flashes Safe Eight: Question and answers

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges, and we have met each one head-on while planning for future hurdles. Keeping Kent State University safe and healthy is reliant on a cooperative effort from all of us. We are thankful to those who have already made a faithful habit of following the Flashes Safe Eight and practicing the behaviors that will ensure that we all get to remain on campuses for the entire semester.

To practice, support and sustain accountability, please refer to the Flashes Safe Eight Accountability web page to find a listing of relevant policies, requirements and ways to share concerns. 
 

Cleaning Enhancements and Requirements: Questions and answers

EMPLOYEES WILL NEED TO CLEAN WORKSPACES

Following the Flashes Safe Eight principles, and as part of the university’s reopening plan, custodial staff have and continue to systematically clean buildings, classrooms and of spaces. If you have work materials or personal items on the surfaces in your office, those areas are  not cleaned. You will need to clean those areas yourself before you use them.

Our custodial staff continue to clean all spaces that are accessible to employees as well as the public. These spaces include but are not limited to waiting rooms, seating areas in corridors, conference rooms and bathrooms. In classrooms, instructors are responsible for cleaning their workspace (e.g., podium, keyboard, camera, table). Supplies are available at the entrance to each classroom for student use.

All of the office suites have cleaning supplies available for employee use. If you work on the Kent campus and do not want your office cleaned by custodial staff, then contact Todd Burdette at tburdet @kent.edu (mailto:tburdet @kent.edu) to opt out of any custodial staff cleaning. Employees managing reception counters will need to clean the counter/high-touch surfaces after each guest. Employees who share spaces that are not accessible to the public (e.g., break rooms, copy rooms, supply rooms) are expected to sanitize contact areas in these spaces after each use.

Disinfecting wipes are available through Flashtrack.

If you need disinfecting wipes for your office area, please order them through Flashtrack.

HOW DO I ORDER CLEANING SUPPLIES FOR THE CLASSROOMS IN MY COLLEGE? 

You do not need to place an order for cleaning supplies for the classrooms in your college. University Facilities Management (UFM) and custodial staff at the Regional Campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine will provide the surface disinfectant for each classroom and replenish them as needed.

ARE PAPER TOWELS BETTER TO DRY YOUR HANDS WITH THAN AIR HAND DRYERS?

The CDC recommends drying by either paper towels or air dryers. Using either method, it is recommended that hands be dried thoroughly to reduce the spread of contamination.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAND SANITIZERS THAT ARE ON THE MARKET?

Unless hands are visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand rub is preferred over soap and water in most clinical situations due to evidence of better compliance compared to soap and water. Hand rubs are generally less irritating to hands and are effective in the absence of a sink.

Due to increased sales of isopropyl alcohol-based sanitizers, making them hard to find, most hand sanitizers are ethyl alcohol based, which is the same alcohol used for consumption.

Buyer beware, as percentages can vary. It is important to check the label.

Recently, hand sanitizers have made their way to the market with methanol, a toxic substance that can be absorbed through the skin. The Food and Drug Administration has published a list of banned hand sanitizers.

HOW WILL BATHROOMS BE CLEANED?

All bathrooms will be cleaned daily with an EPA approved disinfectant that kills COVID-19.

HOW OFTEN ARE PUBLIC SPACES (WATER FOUNTAINS, BATHROOMS, GENERAL SPACE, ETC.) BEING CLEANED? 

Water fountains and bottle filling stations have turned on and will be cleaned daily.

Questions About Use of Face Coverings

ARE THERE TIPS FOR CHOOSING A FACE COVERING?

If I am interested in face coverings beyond the one provided to me by Kent State, what should I consider? When selecting a face covering and verifying best practices for how to wear a face covering, please see this CDC web page. Per the CDC, bandanas are not suitable face coverings as they are too thin and too loose to provide the needed protection.

Colleagues who test positive for COVID-19 in my work area: How should I expect that to impact me and/or my workspace? 

if an Employee Tests Positive

When an employee in a department tests positive for COVID-19, that individual must contact the Covid Response Team, which will work to identify their close contacts.

  • Anyone who is COVID-19 positive must be isolated for 10 days from the first day of symptoms or 10 days from the date of testing if showing no symptoms, or until that person is released by their  local health department.
  • The employee should inform their supervisor of the required isolation and when they are expected to return. 
  • If an employee is ill and cannot work, they must use sick leave for their absence during isolation. 

Isolation

As a general rule, if the employee is able to work effectively from home during isolation, they should be allowed to do so. 

  • Employees in this circumstance should discuss their options with their supervisor and all cases should be reviewed on an individual basis.
  • If the employee cannot work effectively from home due to the nature of their job, they must use sick leave for this absence

Close Contacts

The Covid Response Team or the local health department will notify close contacts of the COVID-19 positive individual of their exposure. 

  • Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic will continue to engage in normal work practices and adherence to the Flashes Safe Eight principles.  
  • An unvaccinated individual who was a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will need to be quarantined for 10 days (seven days with negative tests) and released at the end of that period if there are no symptoms. 
  • If symptoms develop, contact your healthcare provider.

Quarantine

As a general rule, if the employee is able to work effectively from home during quarantine, they should be allowed to do so. 

  • Employees in this circumstance should discuss their options with their supervisor and all cases should be reviewed on an individual basis. 
  • If the employee cannot work effectively from home due to the nature of their job, they are required to use sick leave for this absence due to quarantining.

Please Note

  1. Because of our Flashes Safe Eight safety principles, there is no need for a department to transition to work-from-home operations if a colleague in the area tests positive for COVID-19. 
  2. Only close contacts will be notified with quarantine instructions.
  3. It may be necessary to issue a health alert to a department, at the discretion of the health department.

 

COVID-19 Occurrences, Reporting and Testing: What do you need to know?
Employee Vaccination: Getting my shot during working hours

Supervisors are asked to cooperate with their employees if there is a need to take working time off when getting vaccinated. If possible, try to modify work schedules to accommodate this. And, of course, employees can always take sick, vacation, or other earned leave time if necessary. As a general matter it is suggested that employees be allowed up to two hours of paid time (per shot) before having to use any earned leave. For timekeeping purposes for hourly employees, the supervisor will enter job code “University Business” AND a note in Time Clock Plus of “COVID PTO”. Any questions about individual situations can be directed to hrweb@kent.edu.

Face Coverings: Where can they be ordered or accessed?
Faculty FAQs: In-Person Instruction & Short-Term Distance Education

In-Person Instruction

Can I require students to wear a face covering?

Approved face coverings are required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, on all Kent State campuses, with very few exceptions. Students requesting an accommodation not to wear a face covering should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS).  As always, any accommodation granted by SAS will be communicated to you in writing.  You can require students who have not been granted an exception by SAS to wear a face covering.

Do I have to wear a face covering while teaching?  

Instructors may choose not to wear a face covering while teaching in-person if they can maintain a safe distance of at least six (6) feet from their students.

What should I do if a student refuses to wear a face covering but has not been granted a SAS accommodation?   

Instructors should first remind the student that face coverings are required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, on all Kent State campuses.  If the student does not comply, the instructor should ask the student to leave.  If the student continues not to comply, the instructor may dismiss the class for the day.  For additional information see, Guidelines for Reporting Students Who are not in Compliance with the Flashes Safety Principles.

Can I ask students for their vaccination status?  

No. 

If I teach an in-person course and get COVID symptoms, can I deliver my course remotely for a limited period?  

Yes. As with any time when you are sick, you can provide alternative assignments or deliver your course synchronously.  Please make sure you notify the unit administrator (e.g., department chair, school director, campus dean) and communicate the alternative arrangement for the course period including how students can access the course remotely (e.g., Teams Link).  Also be sure to notify students in the syllabus that this approach could be used to deliver the course if you are unable to meet in person. Except in unusual circumstances, use of online technology to hold synchronous class sessions should not extend beyond five consecutive weekdays.

What happens if a student in my in-person class tests positive for COVID-19?  

If the COVID-19 response team is made aware that a student in your course has tested positive for COVID-19  (note that the student in question has to contact the COVID-19 response team), and if the positive case does not know the names of the close contacts, the COVID Response Team will issue a health advisory to you and the students in the course stating that they may have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case.  The local health department will conduct contact tracing and inform any individual (including the instructor) who may need to quarantine or isolate.  The instructor will not be notified about a positive test result by the COVID-19 response team, but instead by the local health department if deemed necessary. 

What if a student tells me they have COVID symptoms? 

Refer the student to the Flashes Safe Eight principles.  Instruct the student to go home and not attend any classes.  Also, tell the student to reach out to the COVID Response Team at 330-672-2525 to report symptoms, ask health questions, seek treatment or arrange for a COVID-19 test.

How should I handle student absences related to COVID? 

Please continue to be flexible concerning student absences for COVID-19 related reasons.  In any given year, students may miss class for various health reasons. For more information see, Guidelines for Instructors When a Student Becomes Ill During the COVID-19 Pandemic and What it Means to be Reasonable, Flexible, and Equitable When Students are Required to Quarantine or Isolate Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Students residing in residence halls are required to get tested for COVID prior to coming to campus.  If they test positive, they will remain home for their isolation period. These students will need to work with their instructors during the first one to two weeks before they can come to campus or class.

How can I assist with keeping my classroom safe?  

Encourage students to follow the Flashes Safe Eight principles.  Encourage students to stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, be flexible around student absences and wear a face covering indoors when others are present.  

How are office hours impacted by COVID-19?  

Your students must have the opportunity to meet with you to discuss any issues, concerns or questions they may have.  See, University Policy 6-18.101.  You should offer office hours in person only if the Flashes Safe Eight principles can be followed. 

How do I hold office hours in person? 

Instructors must model safe behavior for students by observing the Flashes Safe Eight principles during class and office hours. You should hold office hours in person only if all the following conditions apply:

  • The office space is clean and sanitized.
  • The best practice would be to ensure that a facial covering is close by in case you are approached by a colleague or a visitor.  For up-to-date information on facial covering requirements, please see Facial Covering and Physical Distancing Guidelines.

If your office does not meet these criteria, you may try to reserve an alternate space on campus to meet with students or hold your office hours remotely.

How do I hold remote office hours?  

When you hold office hours remotely, students must be able to communicate with you synchronously.  At a minimum you could be available to receive and respond to student emails in real time during regularly scheduled times.  For more direct communication, you can make yourself available to students by phone or in a virtual office using BlackBoard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another similar platform.  This may be done during regularly scheduled times or using an appointment system, provided the required minimum number of hours of availability is maintained.
 


When Is Short-term Use of Distance Education Technology an Option?

The Office of the Provost has created a dedicated web page to address options, scenarios and guidelines around short-term use of distance education technology when teaching in person

HVAC: Kent State's Commitment to Air Quality & Circulation

AIR QUALITY AND CIRCULATION, KENT STATE’S HVAC COVID-19 RESPONSE

  • In response to COVID-19, the university is following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) as it relates to the effects of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems on disease transmission in the workplace.   
    • Per the CDC, organizations must “Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air.”  ASHRAE further notes, “principles of social distancing (1 to 2 m or 3 to 6.5 ft), surface cleaning and disinfection, hand-washing and other strategies of good hygiene are far more important than anything related to the HVAC system.” In addition, ASHRAE supports improved filtration and increased ventilation with outdoor air where reasonable as measures to reduce the risk of transmission of an airborne virus.
  • While the primary focus should be on social distancing and personal hygiene, Kent State University is proceeding with increasing the amount of outdoor air brought into buildings where sensible, which will have a beneficial effect on indoor air quality (IAQ) during COVID-19. 
  • In addition, HVAC systems will also be run in normal occupancy mode each day for a minimum of two hours after the last building activity to further dilute indoor spaces with outdoor air. 
  • The type of air filters currently installed varies based on age and type of air handling unit (AHU). Currently KSU utilizes air filters with a rating range of MERV 8 to MERV 12. MERV values mean: Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Using a MERV 13 or greater filter media, which is considered a high-ranking air filter, would reduce the particle size that is able to pass through the AHU and back to the space. Larger virus particles could be captured by the enhanced media filter. Due to catching finer particles, using a MERV 13 or greater rated filter would require more frequent replacement and the increased cost does not support their minimal advantage. Existing AHU fans also cannot overcome the increased pressure from higher MERV filters. Our filters are typically replaced quarterly unless more outside air and excessive pressure mandates more frequent replacement. As noted above, one recommended method to combat pollution is dilution, or increasing outside air when practical. Any changes to the filters, filter banks, filter changing frequency or operating parameters will greatly increase our operating cost, with questionable impact on the spread of COVID-19.
  • Buildings have been adjusted for proper occupied temperature and airflow to maximize safety and system performance during our response to COVID-19.
  • Another HVAC technology KSU is using at many dining facilities, athletic facilities, select lecture rooms, select Residence Halls, elevator cabs and all instructional spaces is needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI).  The devices are installed in select main air handling units, small room HVAC units, in portable rolling fan units, and in elevator cabs of 5-stops or more and select others such as DeWeese Health Center elevator.  The devices discharge low power positive and negative ions which are then distributed by the fans into the rooms.  The ions do not produce ozone and do not adversely affect indoor air quality. This technology has been proven to inactivate up to 99.4% of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (current COVID-19) virus after 30 minutes of exposure.  This is NOT in place of the Flashes Safety principles, but is another tool being used to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This technology is being installed at the Cleveland Clinic and many other institutions. Learn more at: https://globalplasmasolutions.com/ .
  • All HVAC concerns for a facility should be brought to the attention of the Building Curator and entered in Flash Track to be addressed by University Facilities Management (UFM).  For questions about Regional Campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine please contact your facility managers.

 

Resources and Technology: What is available for remote work and how do I safeguard university property, data and documents?

Resources and Technology Available

The Division of Information Technology has created a hub of information to facilitate working from off-site. Access that information, as necessary.

Working from Home

In the event you have been approved to work from home during the current period that Kent State is taking precautionary measures to mitigate the Coronavirus (COVID-19), there are steps that should be taken to safeguard university property, data and documents.

Working from Home with IT Support

Faculty/staff are expected to work with local IT support to verify that your computer is up-to-date and set up to enable you to be productive remotely and that data remains secure.

This includes:

  • Any software you may need, such as Microsoft Office and Teams
  • Email access
  • Access to shared resources, such as file shares, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive
  • Global Protect VPN to access some university resources and data (Many systems such as Blackboard Learn, email and Microsoft Teams do not require a VPN for access.)

Please address these items before beginning to work remotely. The current public health situation is a new experience for Kent State and working remotely is unfamiliar to many faculty and staff members. Supervisors should be clear in stipulating work expectations for any of their remote employees and communication should occur no less than weekly between supervisor and their remote-working employee(s). Email communication is sufficient.

To support technology-related questions, the university has assembled a Working from Off-Site website that includes best practices and information about tools and resources available to you. For general questions related to university operations for faculty, staff and students, see the FAQ’s located within this COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) information page for Kent State.

If you need any technical assistance, please contact your local IT support professional or the Kent State Helpdesk.

Supervisors: If an employee tests positive for Covid-19, please follow these steps

As a supervisor, you should advise the employee to contact the Covid Response Team, who will give the employee a recommendation regarding isolation. You should also coordinate with the employee regarding their ability to work from home, if applicable.

You should not communicate to others that an employee has tested positive.  Any communication regarding close contacts will be handled by the local health department, as determined by the employee’s place of residence.  

As the supervisor, you do not have the authority to send home someone who may be a close contact. If a close contact needs to quarantine or isolate, a determination will be made by the close contact’s local health department, based on the employee’s place of residence.

If a coworker is concerned about being exposed to someone with COVID-19, they may get a COVID-19 test. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should go home and notify their supervisor.

Travel Guidelines: Questions and Answers

Temporary Guidelines Related to University-Sponsored Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Guidelines for university-related travel are described in Administrative Policy 7-02.8. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the following additional guidelines are in place:

  1. Where possible, university-related travel should be replaced by a remote event/meeting and only conducted if required and critical for the job position. In evaluating the necessity of travel, employees are asked to use good judgment.
  2. If it is necessary to conduct university travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are expected to adhere to the Flashes Safe Eight principles throughout the duration of the travel.
  3. Any travel should adhere to CDC and state, and destination guidelines, including expectations for health requirements (e.g. testing, quarantine) before/after travel.
  4. Any university travel is subject to supervisor review and approval. 

student group travel

Access guidelines and expectations related to student group travel.

State Guidelines

Travel can increase your chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. Anyone traveling should carefully review the continuously updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding travel. 

The CDC’s travel website offers detailed information about airline travel, both foreign and domestic, and other travel.

Kent State GUIDELINES

Kent State requires university community members to contact the COVID Response Team in certain instances. Please get familiar with Kent State's COVID-19 reporting guidelines.

 I handle the budget for my department. how do I address travel cancellations?

The first step is to ensure that the traveler has exhausted all measures to obtain a refund or credit/voucher toward a future trip. If the traveler receives a refund and the traveler has been reimbursed (i.e., airline tickets, first night’s hotel deposit, etc.) by the university, then the traveler owes the university. Please seek reimbursement from the traveler.

If the traveler receives a refund and the traveler has not been reimbursed, there is nothing else you need to do.

Please note that most airlines are providing transferable vouchers if the travel was canceled, but this differs greatly by the airline and the circumstances related to the travel cancellations. Most if not all hotels will refund for the first night’s deposit.

If your traveler used one of the university’s preferred travel providers, the agency will work with you and provide information on unused vouchers. One of the advantages to using one of the university’s preferred travel providers is the support provided with cancellations and the visibility to unused tickets/vouchers.

If the traveler receives a voucher or credit toward a future trip and the original purchase was not through one of the university’s preferred travel providers, you will need to keep track of it to determine if there could be a use for a future trip either for that traveler or another traveler within your department (if it is a transferable voucher). Currently, airlines are allowing for transferability with some future vouchers. Please keep in mind, there is an expiration date on the airline vouchers.

If the traveler receives a voucher and has not yet been reimbursed, the traveler should seek reimbursement and ensure use on a future trip. If the traveler has been reimbursed, the voucher still needs to be tracked for future use.

If the purchase was made via a department P-card, the same steps apply with respect to receiving and tracking a voucher for future trips.

Vaccine Status and Vaccines: Questions and Answers

Can instructors or supervisors ask to see proof of vaccination? 

No.

What are the university's vaccine requirements?

Find information about Kent State's vaccine requirements for students, faculty and staff.

Where can I find vaccine FAQs?

Find helpful information about vaccines, ranging from CCP students requirements and study abroad implications, to health concerns, to logistics around getting a vaccine on our Vaccine FAQs page.
 

 

 

Wellness and Mental Health Offerings for Faculty and Staff: Questions and answers

What physical, emotional and financial well-being resources are available for faculty and staff?

Just because we may be physically distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected, and make ourselves and our health a priority along the way. A wide range of faculty and staff wellness resources are accessible via our employee wellness web page.Take advantage of some of these highlighted resources, as well as others, which you can access from the employee wellness page:

  • Calendar of Events - Displays all faculty/staff in-person and remote events, including faculty and staff Group X classes, well-being workshops, financial wellness and more.
  • IMPACT Solutions - Offers a full complement of mental health and counseling services, legal, financial services available to all full- and part-time faculty and staff and their eligible dependents. Live, immediate assistance 24/7, 365 days. Includes a Stress Less Center and complimentary Mindfulness coaching.
  • Be Well (physician-owned wellness partner) – Staffed by professionals experienced in patient care and education, including physicians, health educators, diabetes educators and certified wellness coaches. Complimentary telephonic and virtual coaching for all full-time faculty and staff.
  • We are on Blackboard! If you missed one of our valuable workshops, we likely have recorded it. To see our previously recorded workshops, go to Blackboard, accessible through FlashLine. Once logged in, go to My Courses and select "Wellness Your Way" to view a variety of our workshops.
  • Teleworking Guidelines – Resources to adjust to teleworking during a pandemic. This includes guidance on how to maintain your "work space" as well as vetted resources to support nutrition, physical activity and taking care of your mental health.
Working on Campus: What Should I Expect?

View the FAQ Archive