August 4, 2020 – Following the July 29 Santa Fe College Town Hall, SF Executive Leadership and other panelists received the complete list of submitted questions. Knowing that they would not be able to answer every question, President Paul Broadie and the college vice presidents wanted to make sure to address the concerns of the college community and provide responses to all of the questions they received.
SF students, faculty and staff can review the complete list below.
Q: Will there be more testing opportunities for students, faculty and staff as we get closer to the start of the fall term?
A: Yes. Our next opportunity is August 17. (Open to SF employees and all our student athletes will be tested.)
Q: Are there any additional precautions being implemented for students on campus – will testing for students, faculty or staff become a requirement – and if not now, is leadership discussing possibly making testing mandatory? Especially since asymptomatic carriers are an issue, and not all individuals infected with COVID-19 experience high fevers.
A: There are many additional precautions. It starts with us opening at “Level 3,” basically the College remaining largely remote with only approx. 25% of our educational offerings on campus and many employees working remotely.
For testing, the CDC currently does not recommend widespread testing in higher education with the understanding that Colleges should primarily encourage testing for students and employees with symptoms. Broader testing may be considered in areas with higher transmission rates. Our quick closure in the early Spring prevented much exposure at Santa Fe College and we will closely monitor our exposure rates going forward.
In part because of the existence of asymptomatic carriers, we are especially committed to everyone being socially responsible and concerned for each other. Face coverings (masks) will remain mandatory for some time, enhanced cleaning is being performed at the College, and we will continue to ask everyone to practice good hygiene including hand washing. Everyone should conduct a Daily Self-Assessment before coming to any campus and throughout the day, and anyone sick with any symptoms should not come to campus.
Q: If I test positive for COVID-19 – or if I am not tested but am showing several symptoms, do we have to use our sick leave if we likely acquired the virus while working at the college?
A: There are several options for employees who are unable to come onsite due to the need to self-isolate other than using accrued sick leave. How or where someone contracts the virus is not a factor. Options may include such things as working remotely with an approved Temporary Alternative Workplace Assignment (TAWA) or utilizing the 10 days provided as emergency sick leave through the FFCRA that is for both full and part-time employees. We will work together to find solutions based on each situation.
Q: If one of my colleagues’ tests positive for COVID-19 and I am exposed as a result of working on campus, will I have to use my sick leave? Or, will I be allowed to work remotely until I am cleared to return
A: Advanced planning and adherence to safety protocols are designed to prevent exposure as much as possible even if colleagues on campus test positive. An exposure will only exist when individuals are within <6ft for at least 15 minutes or longer. With appropriate physical distancing, wearing protective face coverings and following proper cleaning protocols, we should limit exposures significantly. In the event of an exposure, options include working remotely with an approved TAWA, utilizing the 10 days provided as emergency sick leave through the FFCRA, utilizing employee accrued leave (sick/vacation) or other creative solutions based on the specific situation.
Q: If I have allergies, or a mild cold that is NOT COVID-19, but I am told to go home because I am coughing or sneezing in the office and concerning my coworkers, do I have to use my sick leave?
A: The college takes the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and is proactively taking many measures to stop the spread. Employees are required to self-report any symptoms of COVID-19, and those symptoms that are consistent with COVID might require self-isolation subject to options like remote work through an approved TAWA or emergency sick leave through the FFCRA before dipping into employee accrued leave. At the discretion of the HR Director or Associate Vice President or their designee, interim measures may be enacted to mitigate potential exposures that include having individuals temporarily stay away from campus while sufficient information is gathered to make a determination of status.
Q: Should we have to move to distance learning and remote operations again, what safety nets will be put into place for our TempForce employees?
A: The majority of our TempForce workers continued to provide service during the move to offsite operations. There were limited reductions during the summer as some work was no longer needed.
Q: Who do I contact if one of my coworkers is not wearing a mask and refuses to wear one?
A: The Face Covering Protocol instructs employees to contact HR if they are unable to resolve their concerns through their supervisor.
Q: UF has reportedly provided staff with weekly updates on COVID-positive tests among employees – will SF provide that information – numbers of employees who tested positive and what departments they work in?
A: Our COVID Exposure Protocol details the process and communication plan for when students or employees test positive and ensures that notification is made to those who are directly impacted whether it is due to close contact with the individual or to enact cleaning protocols and closing of facilities. We recognize the responsibility of sharing information with those who are directly impacted and need to know when they have potentially been exposed while respecting the privacy of an individual’s personal health information.
Q: What will happen if my child or other family member in my home is exposed or sick and I must quarantine, when I have already returned to campus to work, will I be able to return to telework? Or will I have to take sick/vacation/FMLA/unpaid status?
A: There are several options for a situation where a person is required to self-isolate due to their direct close contact with a COVID positive person. Some of those may include remote work through an approved Temporary Alternative Work Assignment or using the FFCRA Emergency Sick Leave that does not come out of the employee’s accrued leave balances. We will work with each employee to find solutions based on their specific situation.
Q: When can TempForce employees return to campus?
A: TempForce workers have continued working remotely and have been returning in accordance with each department’s return to campus plan. TempForce workers receive notification regarding their specific campus return date in the same way that SF employees do.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Q: What safety protocols are being put in place for the public restrooms?
A: Public restrooms, like all common areas around campus, will receive enhanced cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day. These spaces will also be disinfected each evening by nighttime custodial services.
In addition, the closest restroom facility should be used when possible and signage posted on doors indicating restroom occupancy must be followed since many restrooms on campus have limited space. There are times when an individual may need to use a different bathroom or wait for someone to leave before entering. With a limited number of students, faculty and staff on campus, it hopefully will not create much inconvenience.
Q: What if I see the plastic shields in other offices, but my office does not have one and I am concerned because I get a lot of people walking up to my desk – does the college have extra plastic shields? Do I have to come in before they are installed?
A: Facilities Services has been working in conjunction with area Vice Presidents and supervisors to determine which workspaces need additional protective barriers. Many clear protective shields have already been installed in common areas.
If an employee returns to campus and believes he or she needs additional environmental controls, they should review the workspace with their supervisor to determine if additional protection is necessary. If determined necessary, please submit a work order through Facilities Services. The college will do its best to make sure people feel comfortable in their workspace.
Q: As cases surge in Florida, and given the extended time to get test results, sometimes longer than 10 days past the test, how is SF going to conduct effective and accurate contact tracing?
A: We are treating individuals who are symptomatic as presumed positive and following our exposure protocol, as adapted from CDC and state and local Department of Health guidelines, which does not require us to wait for a test.
Q: The Level 3 opening indicated that we would operate that way if
- public health trends stabilized and
- virus transmission in a downward trend.
Can SF leadership or Mr. Myers confirm that these two conditions reflect the current state of Alachua County?
A: SF leadership continues to consult with Mr. Paul Myers and his team in making decisions relating to COVID-19. We are reopening at Level 3 which lets us serve a limited number of students and have limited staff on campus. It also allows us to closely monitor the situation. If needed we can move down to Level 4. Although there has been an increase in cases, there is a downward trend in positive tests. In Alachua County, the positivity rate has been hovering around 5% over the last two weeks. Our hospitals continue to have sufficient capacity and ICUs have about the same vacancy rate as before COVID-19 while fewer than 10% of our ICU beds are filled with people hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Q: If an office is not well ventilated, and staff are not able to be physically distanced from each other, what precautions are being put into place?
A: We will not have anyone working together in offices where physical distancing cannot be maintained for periods of 15 minutes or more.
Q: According to the Florida Department of Health, as of July 24, Alachua County has 2,933 positive cases with 30% in the 15-24 year age range and 24% in the 25-34 year age range, so why are any courses other than limited hands-on labs being offered at all on campus since many of our students are not following proper safety protocols?
A: As stated earlier, a variety of students in our adult education, prep, general education courses, and other programs, have legitimate needs for on-site access, and departments have made hard decisions about how they can best serve those students. We all know there are digital divide issues among our student population, and that many of our rural students don’t even have reliable internet service. Sometimes our prep or first-time-in-college students really need on-campus contact, and faculty in those departments have made conscious and very intentional decisions about the best way to serve those students. In terms of following safety protocols, we will absolutely enforce them when students are on campus, in addition to promoting safety off-campus as well.
Q: What happens if numbers continue to rise with positive cases? At what point do we decide that current progress is no longer safe?
A: Since peaking in early July, the general statewide outlook has improved somewhat, with fewer new cases overall and better outcomes. (The statewide public health information shown by Johns Hopkins University for Florida shows a declining number of new cases.) If we determine that safety is compromised and transmission is increasing rapidly, or if we are unable to deliver instruction on campus, the college will reevaluate and shift to an alternate plan for teaching our students.
Q; If a professor is teaching in a classroom such as an auditorium that allows them to maintain more than a six foot distance between themselves and students, can that professor teach without a mask on?
A: The current protocol states that “Face coverings are required in classrooms and labs unless alternative protective measures or equipment is being utilized.” The best way for all of us to contribute to the health of our community, and also to set a good example for students, will be for all instructors to set a good example of face covering (mask) compliance. All faculty are asked to follow the college-wide protocol. After the start of the semester, we will have opportunity to revisit this policy upon request in our largest auditoriums or in other situations in compliance with the governing protocol.
Q: Will professors be given microphones perhaps if they cannot social distance?
A: Yes. In the larger rooms, including the Fine Arts Hall and E auditorium, in R-01, S-29/30, WA-104, and so forth, we’ll have microphones automatically in place. If faculty find they need microphones in a standard classroom, they can contact their chair or the ITS Help Desk.
Q: What happens when an entire office of staff/faculty is considered immunocompromised?
A: We will work together to find appropriate solutions based on each specific situation.
Q: Are masks required inside buildings at all times, and then if people are outside and six feet apart, masks are recommended but not required?
A: Face coverings must be worn by all faculty, staff, contract workers (including TempForce talent), vendors, students and visitors while on any SF campus or center, both inside and outside, except in cases where it is certain that social or physical distancing of 6 feet can be maintained. This includes but is not limited to office and common areas, sidewalks, concourses and even parking lots. Please refer to the Face Covering Protocol for additional information.
Q: Who provides the PPE to clean what could be considered bio-hazardous material? Where will the cleaning supplies be discarded after one-time use? If faculty members are required to clean class rooms, who is liable if a student gets sick?
A: The Facilities Services staff has confirmed that faculty members are not required to clean classrooms. Under the current plan, disinfectant wipes (similar to a household cleanser) as recommended by the CDC will be available in each classroom, allowing anyone who comes in to clean their work area as they sit down. With far fewer classrooms in use, Facilities Services will take care of waste collection every day.
Q: Is protective equipment available in Blount DC Building?
A: Cleaning supplies and environmental controls are available for all SF property. If supplies run low, review with your supervisor and contact Facilities.
Q: Does the 10 days start over each time or once you use all 10 that’s it and will need to use your own sick leave
A: The FFCRA provides a total of 10 days emergency paid sick leave. In the event a person needed to be out for an additional period of time, we would look at other options like Temporary Alternative Work Assignments before using accrued sick leave.
Q: Will staff and/or faculty be asked to take students temperatures prior to entering buildings or classrooms? If so who will be tasked with this and what training will be provided?
A: Generally, no. Although a fever is one possible sign of COVID illness, some individuals who have the virus show no symptoms, and some individuals who might just have a fever from a cold may not be infected with coronavirus. However, in certain areas, such as the Dental Clinic or Little School where physical distancing might be impossible, special arrangements might be made in accordance with a customized safety and wellness plan for temperature-taking or special Personal Protective Equipment,
Q: Is there a protocol for handing out papers or collecting papers from students?
A: Not at this time. The COVID virus is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person, and the CDC suggests that transmission through mail, paper products, or packages is unlikely. One strategy will be to have students submit papers through Canvas and take tests online. Another will be to have students place tests or other papers on an unused classroom desk or table for pick-up by the instructor.
Q: Will staff be required to report students who have shared that they have COVID or have contracted the virus for the trace tracking? If so, how? Who does the information go to?
A: Our COVID Exposure Protocol confirms mandatory reporting for COVID positive individuals. In addition to the mandated reporting, additional information sharing is encouraged. For students, the AVP for Student Affairs is responsible for tracking and monitoring; contact (352) 395-5648 or email@example.com. All students and employees should contribute to a supportive but direct culture on campus that supports our mutual commitment to public health and attempts to resolve non-compliance frankly, professionally, and quickly.
Q: What happens to the attendance policy for our students should they be infected with the COVID-19 infection? Especially our Vocational Certificate programs?
A: Under the current circumstances, all departments and instructors are asked to be as flexible as possible with attendance requirements, so that students will have no worries about missing a class if they feel sick. Even in clock-hour certificate programs, students who are ill should not be penalized, and their financial aid should not be at risk, if all documentation is received and processed appropriately.
In cases of extended absence due to medical hardship, a withdrawal or an incomplete may be appropriate. A petition for a drop with refund may also be favorably considered with submission of appropriate paperwork and documentation.
The Financial Aid Office will automatically process approved COVID-19-related Registrar petitions so that affected coursework is not counted against a student’s financial aid record.
Students without a Petition also have the option of completing a separate Qualifying Emergency Form on eSantaFe to remove unsuccessful coursework from the financial aid completion ratio.
Q: Who do I notify if a student is in my classroom and refusing to wear a mask? Do I call SFPD?
A: Students without a mask should be directed to comply with the policy and also provided an opportunity to obtain a face covering.
Free masks are available for students in all Student Affairs offices, Educational Centers, Learning Commons, and at the SFPD.
Students unwilling to wear a face covering as directed should be instructed to leave immediately.
Failure to comply will subject the student to disciplinary action as a violation of the Student Conduct Code.
Q: Other than signage, what measures have been taken to ensure that students do not congregate outside of classrooms or in common areas?
A: We have significantly reduced class size and the number of students on campus.
We have reconfigured furniture, cordoned off furniture in some areas (like the library), removed furniture in some areas, and provided signs online to place on furniture in common areas to help maintain distancing and reduce seating. You can place a work order with Facilities Services if it is necessary to do additional rearranging of furniture or equipment to support physical distancing. The Return to Campus Guide contains additional information and members of our college community are asked not to congregate or loiter in common areas. Faculty are asked to request a staggered departure from the classroom. Most importantly, it is crucial that we all play a role in reminding people to follow important safety measures when needed. In moments of noncompliance, be quick, kind and professional in reminding each other of our commitment to public health.
For continuing concerns which don’t improve, talk to a supervisor about other measures or to your division vice president or other college leaders who can assist.
Q: For students who do not necessarily have a good working space at home (too noisy, connectivity issues, etc.) Is the college planning on designating spaces on campus (and at the centers) where A) it is designated as a quiet space for taking exams – and B) where it is an active space where students can engage in classroom discussions?
A: Students who choose virtual hybrid courses may be more comfortable taking their courses at home, where they may be able to participate more actively than they would in any public place. But if they are on campus–where social distancing rules will be in effect—the library and our academic buildings will be open.
Also, while our contract with Honorlock will continue throughout this year, the testing center will also reopen for the fall to support students who need to take tests on campus.
Q: Will there be specifically designated areas on campus for students to use their laptop for virtual-hybrid classes? If a student has a hybrid class immediately followed by an on campus class – how would that work?
A:Students who choose virtual hybrid courses may be more comfortable taking their courses at home, where they may be able to participate more actively than they would in any public place. But if they are on campus, where social distancing rules will be in effect—the library and our academic buildings will be open.
Also, while our contract with Honorlock will continue throughout this year, the testing center will also reopen for the fall to support students who need to take tests on campus.
Q: If a student is claiming an exemption from wearing a face covering on campus, are there easily accessible guidelines that describe medical conditions that would allow them to be exempt?
A: We are keeping with our practice of accommodating disabilities in accordance with Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) policies. Students will need to complete requests through the DRC.
Q: Do we have to have the entire semester’s content able to be delivered virtually? If a student exhibits signs of COVID-19 and has to self-isolate, do faculty have to have a virtual form of that class available to that student immediately?
A: Actually, a lot of our departments already have this in place, especially in high-enrollment courses where faculty have agreed on essential learning outcomes and an assignment sequence that everyone uses. However, in other cases, that may not be practical, and if a student registers for an on-site class, then they may not even be able to access online materials. As in the spring semester, we would typically work with students on a case-by-case basis to see that their needs are met.
Q: Will faculty, who are teaching online, still be able to periodically access their offices – and can they do so without having to get prior approval?
A: Yes. Even today, if you’re trying to just access your office to prepare for fall courses, there is no longer any need to get VP level approval. However, it is important to notify Facilities Services so that cleaning can be performed in cases where buildings are not currently open for regular use. Some of our buildings are currently locked, because there is no one in them, but the police can let you in. By the week before classes start, our goal is to have those buildings back on a regular schedule, so that they’ll be open to staff just like in previous semesters. And at that point, faculty who need to spend time working in their offices will be able to access them as usual.