Covid-19 Information for Staff and Student Workers
Staff Operations Status
EFFECTIVE JULY 2, 2020: A gradual return to in-person working has begun. During this transition, our priorities remain the same: to protect the health and safety of the campus community and to communicate clearly and consistently.
For summer semester 2020, teleworking and staggered shifts will continue to be encouraged to promote social distancing, and those who can work remotely should continue to do so to the extent that teleworking does not affect their ability to serve students. If you are part of the campus workforce that has been reporting to campus for work to serve students, support remote instruction, or researchers, please continue to work with your supervisor to maintain your normal schedule.
For fall semester 2020, it is expected that employees will return to campus by the start of the fall semester to conduct their work. In the limited cases where social distancing cannot be practiced, supervisors will determine how employees continue to utilize teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing.
(Left) Mark Demyanek, senior vice president (Interim) for Administration, and (right) Georgia Tech staff working safely.
Senior Director of Stamps Health Services Dr. Benjamin Holton, Interim Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Demyanek, and Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Kim D. Harrington share information and guidelines on how everyone in the Georgia Tech community can help make returning to campus as safe and healthy as possible.
[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on July 10, 2020.]
Which employees will begin returning to work on campus this summer — and when?
Campus groups affected immediately include additional essential research personnel and custodial and facilities employees.
The ramp-up is beginning in June. Only researchers and staff who must return to campus in order to carry out their duties should return to working on campus. To reduce the number of people on campus, researchers and staff who can substantially carry out their work at home should continue to do so. Shift work and split work — part-time on campus and part-time at home — are encouraged to lower personnel density.
In mid-June and July, staff who support student services will be invited back to campus as we work toward an anticipated return to in-person teaching during Fall 2020.
In late July, staff who do not directly support research or student services will continue to work remotely until further notice or may begin returning to work in staggered shifts.
Supervisors will provide specific direction to their teams about returning to in-person work. Anyone with questions about what category they fit into or when or how they should start reporting to work in person should, first, ask their supervisor. A phased plan for returning to in-person work has been created to guide those choices.
Georgia Tech has identified six categories of campus-based operations and services that will either be continued, enhanced, or resumed prior to the anticipated start of in-person instruction in August 2020. Specific guidance and information on each category below are available in the initial return-to-campus plan:
Ongoing activities related to support for on-campus students.
Broadening of research activities from the current essential research to a phased return of all sponsored (essential and nonessential) research activity.
Operations and services that will need to be conducted in anticipation of the start of in-person instruction in August 2020.
The final three categories include operations and services that may be resumed during the summer, pending additional guidance from the USG, public health authorities, and the NCAA. These are:
In-person, non-credit classes.
Summer camps and other community events.
Student-athlete training and team activities.
Will staff in administrative and academic units begin to return to campus this summer?
For units not explicitly covered in the initial return-to-campus plans, telework is encouraged for those employees able to perform their job functions remotely.
Administrative units and academic departments that perform customer service or other functions requiring on-campus preparations (reconfiguring space, adding signage, practicing new service protocols, etc.) prior to the start of the fall semester are asked to submit a specific summer return-to-work plan that is compliant with all existing workplace health and safety guidance. Those plans should clearly specify employees who are required to return to work in person and include appropriate measures for social distancing that may involve staggered shifts and other scheduling adjustments.
Once those plans are complete, affected staff will be notified directly about the details related to their return to work.
Will all staff return to campus in the fall?
For fall 2020, it is expected that employees will return to campus by the start of the fall semester to conduct their work. Employees can expect social distancing will be practiced. We are working diligently to create an environment where social distancing can be relied upon as the best tool in reducing the spread of Covid-19.
In the limited cases where social distancing cannot be practiced, supervisors will determine how employees continue to utilize teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing. Any alternate work arrangements should not interfere with our ability to serve students. The Institute will provide appropriate PPE for employees who must return to campus and who are unable to practice social distancing.
Are there plans for furlough days next fiscal year? When will we know?
In its closing session June 26, the state of Georgia General Assembly passed a 10% budget cut for all state educational agencies, which is considerably more favorable than the original 14% reduction to state appropriations. In addition, the General Assembly is not requiring furloughs, which means state employees, including Georgia Tech, will not have to take unpaid time off in FY21. The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents approved FY21 budgets for all 26 institutions in the system on July 1.
We are grateful that the USG recognized that each institution in the system has unique enrollment situations that should be factored into the equation. For Georgia Tech, the USG approved a budget cut to state appropriations of 8.7% or $29,073,905 with no furloughs.
Covid-19 effects are also adding strain on other areas of the FY21 budget, and Georgia Tech is anticipating a reduction in fall tuition and fees that could extend into spring semester. To address this projected shortfall in revenue, additional reduction plans will be developed. Strategic decisions on the reduction amounts and action plans will be reviewed and approved by the Executive Leadership Team. These decisions will be made in alignment with how fall enrollment materializes.
To facilitate these budget reduction plans, Institute Budget Planning & Administration, in partnership with Georgia Tech Human Resources, will work with affected units across campus to implement these budget reductions, which may include workforce strategies. Unit leadership will receive instructions including budget reduction allocations by July 14. Instructions will include a reminder to focus on the guiding principles, which include prioritizing student academic progression and quality of instruction; self-funded sponsored research that supports Georgia Tech; and putting people first by protecting as much employment as possible.
Unit budget reduction plans, including the additional 2.5% reduction, will be due July 31.
Is Georgia Tech offering a voluntary separation or early retirement plan to help meet budget reduction targets?
Yes, to assist in achieving planned budget reductions, the USG also approved a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP). The VSIP is one-time, limited, separation incentive for retirement-eligible employees. Employees will have until August 15 to sign up for the program.
Key benefits of VSIP include:
Exemption from layoffs and reductions in force until retirement date.
Approved participants who sign the VSIP agreement will receive a taxable cash payment direct-deposited to their accounts within 45 days after their retirement dates.
The incentive payment will be the equivalent of four (4) months of the employee’s salary (not including payments such as overload, overtime, weekend/shift/night differential, standby pay, summer salary, or temporary pay for additional duties) in effect on the last day of employment.
What kinds of preventative practices will be in place to protect students, faculty, and staff when they return to campus?
Everyone will be expected to continue to follow basic guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, including:
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Use hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inner elbow.
Social distancing (6 feet of separation from others) at work:
Be respectful of others’ personal space.
Assess and adjust workspaces to maximize social distancing, including spacing furniture with 6 feet of separation.
Hold meetings virtually whenever possible.
Provide services remotely whenever possible.
Do not share phones, desks, offices, computers, or other equipment. In cases where equipment is shared, it should be disinfected before and after each use.
Do not gather in groups of more than 50 people when social distancing cannot be maintained.
When interacting in open environments (e.g., outdoors, atriums, auditoriums) or in indoor common areas, keep a safe social distance.
Limit occupancy in elevators and bathrooms to one person at a time, unless social distancing can be maintained.
Do not use a restroom when it is being cleaned.
Supervisors should allow employees to take meals outside or in separate locations.
Cancel or postpone any events or activities (networking happy hours, lunch-and-learns, etc.) or consider hosting them virtually.
Avoid all person-to-person contact, including handshaking.
Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.
Signs will be posted at building entrances prohibiting anyone with a fever or symptoms of Covid-19 from entering. Contact-less thermometers will be supplied to all buildings as they reopen.
To mitigate the spread of Covid-19, Georgia Tech is implementing a wellness check protocol designed to help protect the health and safety of our community. This wellness check will include temperature screenings. All employees are strongly encouraged to administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before coming to campus.
All employees and students will be asked to complete an online Covid-19 health and safety training prior to arriving on campus and will be encouraged to take a health and safety pledge as part of the training.
How will cleaning and disinfecting protocols be stepped up to protect students, faculty, and staff when they return to campus?
Building managers and Facilities Management will adhere to the following measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 and promote a healthy and safe campus:
Buildings and labs to reopen as a result of resumption of services and operations will first undergo proper sanitation protocols.
All uses of indoor common areas must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some common areas may be closed if social distancing cannot be maintained while in use.
Elevators and bathrooms will have signs posted indicating only one person is permitted at a time. Additionally, bathroom doors will be equipped with occupancy indicators.
Bathrooms will be closed to anyone other than cleaners during cleaning times.
Cleaning of labs will be performed regularly by research personnel. They will be trained in proper cleaning methods prior to resuming lab operations.
Instructions will be posted for proper hygiene and handwashing, according to guidelines from GDPH, CDC, and the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force.
Will accommodations be made for employees who are at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19? What about for those living with a high-risk individual?
For Summer semester 2020, teleworking and staggered shifts will continue to be encouraged to promote social distancing. A “staggered shift” is a defined as a work period with modified start/end times to reduce the number of employees in a work location at a specific time. Managers are asked to allow at least five business days’ notice to permit employees to plan for their transition back to campus.
For Fall semester 2020, it is expected that employees will return to campus by the start of the fall semester to conduct their work. Employees can expect social distancing will be practiced. We are working diligently to create an environment where social distancing can be relied upon as the best tool in reducing the spread of Covid-19. In the limited cases where social distancing cannot be practiced, supervisors will determine how employees continue to use teleworking, split shifts, staggered shifts, and other measures that promote physical distancing. Any alternate work arrangements should not interfere with our ability to serve students. The Institute will provide appropriate PPE for employees who must return to campus and who are unable to practice social distancing.
Employees who care for or live with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should plan to return to campus as scheduled and work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors known to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Employees may utilize appropriate leave options as necessary, and they should contact the Human Resources Office to identify appropriate leave options.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for managing Covid-19 related issues. Among the changes are to definitions for people who will need extra precaution due to age and underlying medical conditions. In response to those changes from the CDC, the University System of Georgia (USG) is providing updated guidance on the wearing of face coverings and for who is eligible to seek alternate work arrangements due to falling into one of these categories.
The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a health care provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled.
People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions
People with the following underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements under the previously developed process:
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
Sickle cell disease
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
The accommodations review process minimizes the number of individuals involved. Only GTHR will have access to forms submitted and any medical documentation requested. Accommodation request and supporting documentation are not maintained in the employee’s personnel file and are kept separately in a confidential file. All individuals reviewing requests understand the highly sensitive nature of the information being disclosed and have been instructed not to share this sensitive information. If you need assistance or have questions regarding accommodation requests, please email Ann F. Harris, GTHR-Employee Relations Compliance Advisor.
Will testing be available to Georgia Tech students, faculty, and staff?
Georgia Tech will provide testing to the community through two major efforts: testing of asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff, and testing of symptomatic students.
Students with Covid-19 symptoms: Rapid testing will be available through Stamps Health Services.
Faculty and staff with Covid-19 symptoms: Staff and faculty should seek tests through their primary care physicians, Georgia Department of Public Health testing facilities, or through Georgia Tech’s Molecular Evolution Core Lab, which is seeking certification as a medical diagnostic lab.
Students, faculty, and staff with NO symptoms: Pending certification, Georgia Tech’s Molecular Evolution Core Lab will provide testing to the community in the following cases:
An asymptomatic person who thinks they may have been exposed to a positive case.
An asymptomatic person in a vulnerable population, or who is a caretaker of or lives with a person within a vulnerable population.
An asymptomatic person who is a frontline employee.
Specific groups with unique needs (e.g., athletic teams).
Random groups of students, faculty, and staff (e.g. classes, offices, residence halls) to assess the rate of infection at the community level.
What should faculty and staff do if they develop symptoms of Covid-19?
If you start to feel sick on campus, you should notify your manager or supervisor, leave campus immediately, avoiding all rideshare, public transportation, and taxis if possible, and contact your primary care physician.
If you’re at home and start feeling sick, or if you answer “yes” to any of the questions on the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before coming to campus, stay home. Please notify your manager or supervisor and contact your primary care physician.
If I need to be tested for Covid-19, will my USG-sponsored health plan cover the costs?
For Covid-19 related in-network provider visits and testing, out of pocket costs such as deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance will be waived ($0.00) if you are enrolled in one of the USG healthcare plans through Anthem BCBSGA or Kaiser Permanente (including employees enrolled in the Consumer Choice HSA).
All telehealth visits through LiveHealth Online, including those unrelated to Covid-19, will be covered at 100% with no out of pocket costs for all USG healthcare plans through June 30, 2020.
Screenings are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost and no appointment required. You log into the app from home. Screenings are done by a provider who is a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant and trained to screen for Covid-19.
For those without access to technology, please call AU Health’s Covid-19 hotline at 706.721.1852.
When any member of the Georgia Tech community tests positive for or is diagnosed with Covid-19, the Institute will follow the direction and guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH). For employees, Stamps Health Services will notify Human Resources, who will:
Ensure the employee is briefed on their responsibility to isolate themselves.
Ensure the employee’s department leadership is aware.
Georgia Tech will support contact tracing efforts led by GDPH and be prepared to assist GDPH by collecting initial information from patients. We also will be available to engage in further tracing of potential on-campus exposures as directed by GDPH.
We will determine where a person with a positive test result or diagnosis of Covid-19 has spent significant time and deploy a specially trained team to clean and disinfect those specific areas.
Anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 may not return to campus or leave isolation until all three of the following criteria are met:
No fever for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
We will continue to report all confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the Exposure and Health Alerts web page, which is updated daily at noon.
Will employees be required to wear face masks? Will they be provided?
Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing.
Face coverings are not required in one's own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.
Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff, or students.
Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.
Cloth face coverings may be used in lab spaces that do not contain chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. Single-use surgical masks are required to be worn, and will be provided, while in lab spaces containing chemical, biological, or radioactive agents. In labs where these agents are present, normal lab safety and PPE protocol will remain in place.
Georgia Tech will provide reusable cloth face coverings to our community prior to the Fall 2020 semester.
How can I get personal protective equipment (PPE) for my office/department/unit?
Georgia Tech will centrally manage the acquisition and distribution of PPE to ensure usage is consistent based on job function, risk of exposure, and other factors, and we will maintain adequate supplies of only approved PPE (in general, cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, forehead thermometer strips, tissues, dry wipes/paper towels). Coordinating across campus also will help the Institute make more cost-effective purchases.
Building managers or unit heads can use the Building Ops web form at ehs.gatech.edu/Covid-19/request to request PPE supplies for their building. This includes cloth masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and tissue boxes.
What is Georgia Tech doing to ensure a consistent, adequate supply of PPE?
We have established a PPE subgroup of the Covid-19 Task Force to focus on this issue throughout the Fall 2020 semester. Faculty members in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering are developing models to determine consumption rates and project future consumption to aid in scheduling purchases.
Will outside vendors or other visitors be allowed on campus?
Yes, but all campus visitors and attendees at campus events will be expected to follow Georgia Tech’s health and safety guidelines.
What resources are available to help me and my family cope with the stress and anxiety we might be feeling?
What’s happening with the search for a new provost?
The search for the next provost is moving forward, but we will not make the original Sept. 1 deadline. Most likely, we will make a decision between October and December with an optimal start date of Jan. 1, 2021. Of course, with so much still in flux, that may be adjusted as circumstances evolve. This timeline will allow us to conduct a full process and for the candidates to interview on campus. It’s best for our potential candidates, who are navigating the pandemic wherever they are, as well as the search firm and Georgia Tech.
We are planning to conduct a semi-public search. Finalists will not be announced publicly and will meet with representatives of the faculty, students, and administration confidentially.