Covid-19 Information for Staff and Student Workers

Mark Demyanek on campus and Georgia Tech staff in the office with face masks

(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.

Please note: The return-to-work information in this video is applicable from May to August 2020. While some information may still apply, please refer to the Campus Guidelines for the most up-to-date details and information. Due to the shifting landscape around Covid-19 and updates from the U.S. government, we ask for your continued patience as we develop and update institutional plans accordingly.

 

Questions? Get Answers

Institute leaders and experts answer your questions about our road to recovery in this series of virtual town halls. 

Employee Resources

Where employees can go for answers to questions about health, well-being, and campus resources.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on January 15, 2020.]

Table of Contents  
Health and Safety Technology
Campus Operations Travel

FAQ

Health and Safety

What kinds of preventative practices are in place to protect students, faculty, and staff on campus?

Everyone is expected to continue to follow basic guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the 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 10 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 to maintain social distancing.
    • Use care when entering or exiting restrooms to maintain a safe distance.
    • 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 required all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear appropriate face coverings while inside campus facilities/buildings where 6 feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use is in addition to,  not a substitute for, social distancing.

Signs are posted at building entrances prohibiting anyone with a fever or symptoms of Covid-19 from entering. Contact-less thermometers have been supplied to all buildings.

To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Georgia Tech implemented a wellness check protocol designed to help protect the health and safety of our community. This wellness check includes temperature screenings. All employees are strongly encouraged to administer the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist before coming to campus.

 

How have cleaning and disinfecting protocols been stepped up to protect students, faculty, and staff on campus?

Building managers and Facilities Management adhere to the following measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus and promote a safe campus:

  • Buildings and labs first undergo proper cleaning and disinfection protocols before reopening.
  • 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 have signs posted indicating their capacity to allow for proper social distancing.
  • Restrooms are disinfected four times a day. Use caution when entering or exiting to maintain social distancing.
  • Restrooms are closed to anyone other than cleaners during cleaning times.
  • Cleaning of labs is performed regularly by research personnel. They are trained in proper cleaning methods prior to resuming lab operations.
  • Instructions are posted for proper hygiene and handwashing, according to guidelines from GDPH, CDC, and the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force.
  • Campus Guidelines with health information and protocols are available for all faculty, staff, and students at health.gatech.edu/campus-guidelines.

Other precautions include installation of signage to encourage best practices regarding personal hygiene and the movement of people through campus spaces, upgraded air filtration systems (where possible), workspace modifications, and staggered scheduling for on-campus community members. Setup in offices, classrooms, labs, makerspaces, etc. is modified to facilitate social distancing and enable cleaning and disinfection protocols

 

Will Covid-19-related accommodations for Fall 2020 be automatically extended for Spring 2021?

Current Covid-19-related employment accommodations granted for staff, faculty members, graduate research assistants (GRA), and graduate teaching assistants (GTA) for Fall 2020  have been extended through May 2021.

Extensions must be documented via a signed addendum,  sent to each employee by Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR). Staff, faculty members, GTAs, and GRAs and their direct supervisors must sign the addendum and return a copy to GTHR and their respective HR Business Partner or HR Director.

 

 

Can I still request Covid-19-related accommodations if I have not before?

Please note: The deadline to submit a Covid-19 related accommodation was Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.  

Staff members who fall within the higher risk categories (underlying medical condition defined by the CDC or 65 years and older) may request an alternative work arrangement via GTHR.

Qualifying medical conditions include the following:

To request a Covid-19 accommodation, employees must complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form. For requests based on an underlying medical condition, supporting medical documentation must accompany the request form for the review process to begin. If an employee is requesting an accommodation based on age, no other information is needed once the request is submitted. GTHR will verify age through OneUSG.  

If an employee needs to request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is no deadline and employees may submit a request at any time by completing the Employee Accommodation Request Form.

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.

For assistance regarding Covid-19 or ADA 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 is taking an aggressive, multi-pronged approach for limiting the spread of the coronavirus on campus, a strategy that will depend heavily on support and participation from members of the campus community.

  • Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing Program – Relying on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus, this program employs a pooled testing approach that combines samples from multiple individuals and tests them as a group in an on-campus lab. Pooled testing dramatically increases the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to undergo frequent testing as part of this program. Several testing sites are offered for asymptomatic Georgia Tech students, faculty and staff: Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours.
  • Tests for Symptomatic Students – Testing for currently enrolled students with Covid-19 symptoms is available at the Stamps Health Center.

More details and FAQs are available on the testing web page.

 

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.

Please also refer to the Covid-19 Exposure Decision Tree to help you plan your next steps.

 

If I need to be tested for Covid-19, with 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, copayments, and coinsurance will be waived 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, 2021.

All USG employees are eligible for free Covid-19 virtual screenings through Augusta University Health System’s AU Health Express Care app.

Screenings are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost and no appointment required. You log in to 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.

Learn more about benefits and resources available to you through the USG Benefits programs.

 

 

What will happen if an employee tests positive or is diagnosed with Covid-19? How will contact tracing work?

If a person received a test at Stamps or through the CLIA-certified surveillance testing on campus, positive results will automatically be reported to Stamps Health Services.

Students and employees who utilize non-Georgia Tech-sponsored testing will be required to notify Stamps Health Services of their positive result through an online portal. All test results reporting will be conducted in compliance with HIPAA and other privacy regulations.

Optional Covid-19 Radar App 

Georgia Tech is using NOVID, a pandemic radar app that will help students, staff, and faculty get ahead of the spread of the coronavirus. NOVID is the only app that notifies you before you’ve been exposed to the virus so you can take the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost to members of the Georgia Tech community. Information about the app is available on the Covid Central portal

First, download the NOVID app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Enter the community code “JACKETS” when prompted, or at the top of the Settings page. 

  • NOVID anonymously detects nearby users to build a web of people connected to you. If any of them reports an exposure or positive test result, you will receive a notification through the NOVID app. 
  • NOVID captures no personally identifiable information from users.  
  • The app exchanges information with other phones also running the app. It records a frequently changing code to other devices so they can be alerted if necessary — but without sharing any personally identifiable information.  
  • Pairs of code interactions are stored on the NOVID server for a limited period of time. 
  • If a student receives a positive Covid-19 test at Stamps Health Services, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones the app has recorded as potential exposures. 
  • If a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is contacted by a contact tracer, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones within their network. 
  • Community members who have received positive tests elsewhere on campus or off campus are required, as part of public health regulations, to report this to Stamps Health Services. They will also receive an app notification code after they have contacted Stamps. 
  • Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Software Assurance Branch evaluated NOVID for privacy protections to make sure it doesn’t record personal information that could identify users — and for cybersecurity issues to make sure it protects the device. 
  • More details about the NOVID app are available on the Covid Central portal and at novid.org. 

 

How does the NOVID exposure notification app work?

First, download the NOVID app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Enter the community code “JACKETS” when prompted, or at the top of the Settings page. 

  • NOVID anonymously detects nearby users to build a web of people connected to you. If any of them reports an exposure or positive test result, you will receive a notification through the NOVID app. 
  • NOVID captures no personally identifiable information from users.  
  • The app exchanges information with other phones also running the app. It records a frequently changing code to other devices so they can be alerted if necessary — but without sharing any personally identifiable information.  
  • Pairs of code interactions are stored on the NOVID server for a limited period of time. 
  • If a student receives a positive Covid-19 test at Stamps Health Services, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones the app has recorded as potential exposures. 
  • If a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is contacted by a contact tracer, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones within their network. 
  • Community members who have received positive tests elsewhere on campus or off campus are required, as part of public health regulations, to report this to Stamps Health Services. They will also receive an app notification code after they have contacted Stamps. 
  • Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Software Assurance Branch evaluated NOVID for privacy protections to make sure it doesn’t record personal information that could identify users — and for cybersecurity issues to make sure it protects the device. 
  • More details about the NOVID app are available on the Covid Central portal and at novid.org. 

 

What do I do if I get a notification through the NOVID app that I may have been exposed to Covid-19?

Persons being warned through NOVID of a potential exposure will be encouraged to isolate themselves, monitor for symptoms, and be tested for the virus. The app will provide directions for how to contact relevant campus services when alerting a user that they have potentially been exposed.  

Persons being alerted that Covid-19 is in their network are encouraged to keep a close eye on their NOVID app and take proper precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19, including following all campus protocols. 

 

Will employees be required to wear face masks? Will they be provided?

Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions required 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 is 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.

For more information about face masks and coverings, review the guidelines from Human Resources.

 

How will the face covering mandate and social distancing requirements be enforced, and by whom? What about events that violate campus guidelines?

Each member of our community must take responsibility for their actions and adhere to the guidelines of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidelines issued by the University System of Georgia and Georgia Tech, to protect themselves and others while helping to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Adherence to these new measures is vital, so the Institute has established new formal and informal processes and recommendations for incorporating accountability into safety guidelines.

Students and Student Groups

Led by the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Provost, the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Student Educational and Response Team (GT CO-SERT) is a temporary collaborative team charged with reviewing reported questions and concerns related to students or student groups and adherence to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

The CO-SERT will review reported concerns or questions regarding students or student groups and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, communicate with individuals or groups, and determine further response or referrals, as necessary. Its actions may include follow-up with campus community members; clarification of current guidance and campus expectations; additional informational or educational efforts; and if necessary, referral to applicable campus resource or office to consider enforcement processes. CO-SERT does not to alter or supersede any existing campus enforcement processes; the team will be disbanded as circumstances related to Covid-19 dictate.

Note: Georgia Tech’s student code explicitly prohibits behavior that endangers any person(s), including self. Hosting on- or off-campus events of any size that do not allow for social distancing or don’t take precautionary measures, such as additional hand sanitation stations and disinfecting protocols, and required face coverings, will be considered violations of the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy

Questions and concerns from faculty, staff, and community members related to students and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines may be submitted to cosert@gatech.edu.  

Faculty and Staff

Equally important to helping to contain the spread of the coronavirus at Georgia Tech is ensuring that faculty and staff adhere to the guidance around preventive practices and cloth face coverings provided by the Institute.

Communicating with your co-workers – Keeping campus safe means recognizing that simple, individual actions affect everyone, and so responsibility also lies with individuals. The key to this guidance is recognizing that feelings and comfort levels vary.

A few recommendations for employee interactions:

  • Be mindful that your colleagues may not feel the same way you do about returning to campus. Some people will be eager to return, while others may be nervous and hesitant.
  • Be respectful of others’ feelings as you return and in your interactions with others.
  • Reinforce and remind other Yellow Jackets and visitors of the requirements and guidelines, where they can access face coverings in buildings, and to follow best practices to the extent you are comfortable.
  • Be mindful of language when addressing social distancing. Using words like “us” or “we” in the request to distance may help keep the situation from escalating. For example, “Let’s put a little more space between us at this table.”
  • Please step away from others or leave any situation if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Building signage should also be clearly displayed to assist other students, faculty, and staff in following expectations in different scenarios.  

If you are not comfortable speaking to any person directly, remove yourself from the situation and contact your supervisor and/or HR Business Partner/HR Director.

If the situation becomes a workplace dispute requiring conflict management, please work with your HR Business Partner/HR Director. You can also visit hr.gatech.edu/employee-relations/workplace-disputes for tips, recommended next steps, and resources.

 

Can I have in-person meetings with students I advise?

In most cases, we recommend one-on-one or small group meetings be conducted remotely. This is the preferred and most common option used by academic advisors and other student services. When in-person one-on-one or small group meetings are needed or requested, meetings should be set up in a place that accommodates social distancing and follows all health and safety protocols, including the use of face coverings.  

 

How can I get personal protective equipment (PPE) for my office/department/unit?

Environmental Health and Safety has established a PPE Depot at the EHS Building, 793 Marietta St. Building managers can put in PPE requests for staff and research operations through the EHS website at www.ehs.gatech.edu/covid-19/request.

 

What resources are available to help me and my family cope with the stress and anxiety we might be feeling?

Employees and their families have access to our Employee Assistance Program through Kepro. You can request confidential, no cost services at 844.243.4440. More details on the Health and Wellbeing website.

The State of Georgia has a new Covid-19 hotline that provides 24/7, free, and confidential assistance to callers needing emotional support or resource information.

  • The support line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and crisis counselors.
  • The support line is a partnership between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Beacon Health Options, and Behavioral Health Link.
  • Download the flyer for more information on the support line and other available services.

 

FAQ

Campus Operations

FAQ

Technology

FAQ

Travel

Can I travel — domestically or internationally?

No. In accordance with guidance issued by the  USG, only essential travel may be authorized at this time. All nonessential travel is prohibited until further notice. Adjustments may be made as additional guidance is received. For  additional details,   visit usg.edu/coronavirus.

 

Business requirements for Georgia Tech employees traveling for business and research purposes during the outbreak and pandemic were updated and effective July 1, 2020. 

Travel is considered essential if it is for: 

  • Research and business meetings that cannot be conducted virtually.
  • Projects and work that are time-sensitive with fixed deadlines.

International travel is being reviewed and guidance is pending. Restrictions have been placed in Workday to align with the recommended USG and CDC level 3 countries. For additional details,  visit CDC Map and Travel Notices.

If you have any questions, please contact covid19travel@health.gatech.edu.