Information for Employees

As William Paterson University continues a phased return to campus from the remote work necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, the health and safety of our employees and community members remains our priority. The University continues to monitor state and federal guidelines and regulations, as well as guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, to determine when and how to resume operations.

A Phased-In Approach

The return to campus for staff is being accomplished through a University-wide, phased-in approach. This is being accomplished through assessing mission-critical operations focusing on the institution’s ability to effectively manage the work environment while maintaining social distancing practices and protocols, balanced with the need to access on-site resources. This phased-in approach includes: 

  • Return of select employees critical to key functional areas to campus;
  • Implementing a staggered work week for employees in offices and departments as additional employees return to campus; and/or
  • Staggering reporting and departing times in order to adhere to social distancing requirements.

When expanding the number of staff returning to campus, careful consideration will be taken to mitigate risks and ensure the safety of employees, students, and visitors. Staff are responsible for and must continue to follow policies, procedures, and protocols established for returning to work on campus.

The University is committed to sustaining a safe campus environment by continuing to:

  • Monitor and assess potential and actual COVID-19 spread;
  • Review existing policies and procedures to ensure effectiveness;
  • Disseminate and adhere to existing and updated public health directives; and
  • Adjust restrictions and reduce on-campus staffing as needed.

A Phased-In Approach

For its return to campus in terms of staff, the University has developed a University-wide, phased-in approach. This is being accomplished through assessing mission-critical operations focusing on the institution’s ability to effectively manage the work environment while maintaining social distancing practices and protocols, balanced with the need to access on-site resources. Plans include an Orange and Black schedule consisting of a staggered work schedule to reduce the on-site workforce to 50 percent capacity or less within each department. Staggered reporting and departing times in order to adhere to social distancing requirements may also be implemented. The University implemented the Orange and Black schedule the week of August 31.

[As of September 9, 2020, University is in Phase 2.]

Workplace Environment

All workspaces have been inspected and assessed for safety recommendations and will be cleaned, sanitized, and modified as necessary prior to an employee’s return to work. Plexiglass barriers have been erected in offices where deemed appropriate to ensure social distancing. Before employees are cleared to return to campus, work areas will be evaluated to ensure that all safety measures have been taken. 

In addition, all HVAC filters have been upgraded and will be changed frequently, and the air conditioning systems have been adjusted to provide for increased amounts of fresh air in campus buildings. Signage has been posted and furniture has been arranged to support social distancing. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be located at building entrances.

The University’s Department of Physical Plant Operations is working diligently with custodial staff to ensure cleanliness of all instructional areas, offices, common areas, and restrooms. Guidance has been provided to custodial staff on recommended disinfection practices, proper use of PPE, and applying social distancing guidelines.

Instructional areas, common areas, and restrooms are disinfected daily. All areas are cleaned using CDC-recommended disinfecting and sanitizing sprays, cleaners, and wipes. Cleaning schedules have been established for high-touch areas. Deep cleaning of buildings occurs on a daily basis and incorporates usage of fogging and spraying equipment. Cleaning and work orders for other maintenance needs are scheduled to minimize contact and take into account department work schedules and classroom usage.

While on campus, employees are required to practice social distancing and wear a face covering when in the presence of others. They are directed to practice preventive hygiene such as frequent hand washing.

COVID-19 Reopening Safety Policy/Code of Conduct

All faculty and staff are required to sign the COVID-19 Reopening Safety Policy/Code of Conduct which requires all members of the campus community to adhere to public health practices and follow the University’s procedures and protocols that have been developed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Face Coverings

Every member of the William Paterson University community, including visitors, is required to wear a face covering on campus, as outlined in the Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy. This includes classrooms, teaching labs, and other instructional spaces, even when social distancing is possible. Face coverings are not required in private spaces and situations such as while alone in an office or workspace. This policy is in effect until further notice.

The University is providing two reusable, washable, cloth face coverings for each employee. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable masks and gloves, will be available for use and used in appropriate circumstances. 

An employee with an identified health reason prohibiting the wearing of a face covering must contact the Office of Human Resources to discuss possible accommodations.

Social Distancing

Social distancing of at least six feet, as recommended by the CDC and the NJ State Department of Health, is required on campus and in all campus buildings. Occupancy limits have been determined for classrooms, labs, lecture halls, seminar rooms, conference rooms, and offices to meet social distancing requirements. Some workspaces may be reconfigured, and some rooms may be closed for the fall semester. Department heads should work with their employees to post signage specific to their work areas or reconfigured spaces. 

Signage is posted throughout the campus to remind the community about social distancing requirements. Such signs may include floor markings to identify six-foot spacing in high traffic where waiting lines for services form.

Elevator use is restricted to those with accessibility needs and is single use where possible. Stairwells are marked for one-direction usage (up or down). One-way directional traffic flow is in other areas, where appropriate. 

Use of common areas such as kitchens, community refrigerators and other break areas is limited.  Employees should bring lunch and coffee from home rather than preparing them in shared kitchens. If used, these areas must be sanitized by employees before and after each use.

In-person meetings are discouraged; telephone, email, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom conferences are used to communicate with colleagues who are working remotely as well as in the office. If weather permits, in-person meetings and other activities may be held outside.

Contact with high-touch equipment, such as the copier machines, should be limited and should be sanitized before and after each use by the user.

Policies

The Office of Human Resources, in partnership with the Counseling, Health and Wellness, Center, Facilities, Public Safety, and others, will revise policies as needed and will include information during training to ensure that employees understand processes, procedures, and expectations.

Policies which may be or have been revised or created include:

Guidance and Training

Prior to the return to campus, all employees must complete training to ensure an understanding of how to work within the new guidelines.

Training includes a review of CDC and New Jersey Department of Health guidelines on social distancing protocols, health information on COVID-19 symptoms and testing, prevention of COVID-19, appropriate cleaning procedures, and institutional policies and procedures designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as the use and care of face coverings, and other topics. Resources provided to faculty and staff include:

In addition, custodial staff will have received specific guidance and training regarding recommended disinfecting practices, proper use of PPE, and social distancing guidelines.

Additional periodic training to refresh or enhance their knowledge will be provided to faculty and staff. Supervisory and managerial staff will regularly review practices in order to maintain compliance measures.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, including disposable masks and gloves, is available to employees as needed. Essential employees, including University police and public safety officers, designated physical plant and facilities members, athletic training staff, and designated Counseling, Health, and Wellness staff, may be supplied with N95 face masks/respirators. Hand sanitizer stations are located at building entrances.

Employee Screening

The health and safety of the University community during this pandemic is a shared responsibility among faculty and staff. All faculty and staff are required to conduct a daily health self-assessment prior to the start of the workday to screen for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. The self-assessment includes a temperature check. A symptom checklist is available to all faculty and staff to fill out daily along with the temperature check. 

This web-based form must be completed daily prior to arriving on campus and sent to Payroll and Benefits, who will maintain confidentiality.

Individuals with COVID-19 have reported a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these signs and symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Other less common symptoms have been reported including, but not limited to, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Since the list in this document is not all-inclusive, employees and visitors should visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html for more information. 

Faculty and staff who have tested positive for, or who are showing symptoms of, COVID-19, should stay home and seek medical care. Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or higher should stay home. In addition, anyone who has recently had close contact (less than 6 feet of distance for more than 15 minutes) with a person with COVID-19 should stay home and monitor for symptoms.

As part of the University’s ongoing commitment to help ensure a safe and healthy learning and work environment, the Travel Registry process that was implemented for international travel in the initial phase of the pandemic has been expanded. Now, in addition to registering information related to international travel, faculty and staff are required to notify the University of travel to states which are on the New Jersey Travel Advisory list. View the policy and the registration form links for more information. Additionally, employees are requested to complete the registry as part of the employee daily health screening to ensure a review by the University as the advisory changes frequently.

While employees may cough or sneeze at work, it must be understood that these signs can be caused by allergies, the common cold, or pre-existing conditions and may or may not be COVID-19-related. Any employee who is ill and/or exhibiting signs of COVID-19 and the signs are of new onset and not attributable to known allergies, the common cold, or a known pre-existing condition, should leave the workplace immediately and contact their physician. Similarly, any supervisor or manager who either notices a potentially ill employee, or who is informed of symptoms exhibited by an employee, should speak with the employee and tell the employee to leave work and seek medical consultation if the symptoms are new onset and/or not related to known allergies, common cold, or known pre-existing conditions. Call 911 or University Police to assist any employee in significant medical distress. 

If you think you have been exposed to COVID- 19 or are not feeling well, with symptoms that you believe might be COVID-19, please stay home, consult with your health care provider, and contact the Office of Human Resources at humanresources@wpunj.edu  to initiate discussion about a plan.

Accommodations

Employees who are expected to return to the workplace and have a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group for COVID-19 infection may wish to seek a reasonable accommodation. These employees should complete an abridged reasonable accommodation form: https://www.wpunj.edu/human-resources/covid-19-HR-for-employees.

Accommodations for faculty, where warranted, may include fully online teaching, either via shifting one’s courses online or switching with another instructor currently teaching online who is willing and not health compromised. Department chairs and College deans are charged with the oversight of this matter and its optimal consideration of students, faculty, and pedagogy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Asthma: moderate to severe
  • Being immunocompromised
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
  • Serious heart disease
  • Severe obesity
  • Pregnancy or childbirth

If deemed eligible for an accommodation through Human Resources, the employee should then speak with their supervisor/dean to review remote work options that may be available. If there are no suitable options, contact the Office of Human Resources to determine next steps.

Compensation for Employees Unable to Work Related to COVID-19

The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides paid time off for an employee whose child’s school is closed or place of care is closed; or for an employee who has to quarantine, is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis, or is caring for an individual subject to self-quarantine.   

Paid leave time under this FFCRA applies in instances where remote work, full-time or part-time, is not available based on the responsibilities of the position.

With regard to school closures, employees must contact their supervisor to discuss if they can adjust their schedules or work remotely. The employee must provide documentation as follows:

  1. Employee submits request to supervisor to work remotely (fully or intermittently).
  2. Email request should include name of child(ren) and name of school; school reopening plan; and representation that no other suitable person is available to provide care.

If the supervisor approves the request, no further action is required. If other arrangements cannot be made, the supervisor should contact the Benefits Office at payroll@wpunj.edu

For more details, see  https://www.state.nj.us/csc/employees/FFCRA%20FAQs.FINAL.June%2030.2020.pdf

Visitors

Guests are discouraged from visiting campus. All visitors who are invited to campus are required to adhere to established health policies to ensure the safety of the University community. All visitors must wear face coverings while in the presence of others and must participate in a self-administered health screening and temperature check prior to coming to campus. Employees who invite a visitor to campus must fill out and submit a visitor log form on the day of the visit.

[Updated February 1, 2021]