Faculty and Staff Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if I am in a high-risk group for COVID-19 or care for a household family member
who is at high-risk?
Employees are not required to disclose if they are in a high-risk category based upon preexisting medical condition. If an employee considers themselves to be high-risk for COVID-19 based on the CDC guidelines and has concerns regarding returning to on-campus work, the employee may discuss this with their manager or may request an accommodation from the Office of Equal Opportunity by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 405-744-9153. If an employee voluntarily discloses, this information will be kept confidential in accordance with OSU personnel policies.
Supervisors, in coordination with HR, will work with employees who are requesting accommodations to care for themselves or a family member with high-risk conditions to discuss options that support a healthy and safe work environment while determining ways to handle their position responsibilities. Some employees may be permitted to continue with temporary telework arrangements through extended phases of return to campus with periodic reviews of return to campus dates for individual positions.
- Will employees still be required to self-quarantine if there has been a potential
exposure to COVID-19?
Employees should notify and work with their supervisors if they believe they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Should any employee start to experience symptoms of fever and/or upper respiratory illness, they should notify their supervisor, seek medical treatment and stay home in a non-work status in order to support full recovery. Faculty and staff who have potential exposure to COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms should follow CDC guidelines for self-quarantine. During the period of self-quarantine, employees may use accrued sick leave or may work with their supervisors to continue to telework.
OSU's goal is to return workers to work in the safest manner possible while acknowledging possible limitations that may impact the ability to perform the essential functions of the job thus requiring modifications. While a return to work typically requires the assessment and documentation by the employee's health care provider, this may not be reasonably possible due to COVID-19. Therefore, employees and supervisors should follow CDC guidelines to determine the appropriate time to return to work, while OSU asks returning employees to be symptom free and fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to work.
- What if I am not comfortable coming to work due to possible exposure and I’ve been
requested to start reporting to on-campus work?
Employees should bring their concerns to their supervisor and discuss options available to support the work needing to be done while supporting health and safety of our employees. HR can also provide support in facilitating conversations with supervisors and employees to determine needs and accommodations available to meet those needs. Possible accommodations may range from continuing telework arrangements to office restructuring, possible schedule rotations, to approving temporary use of appropriate accrued leave. Any request for accommodation for a disability should comply with the Americans with Disability Act in coordination with the Office of Equal Opportunity.
- What should an employee do if they suspect a co-worker of being high-risk and reporting
to on-campus work?
Employees are entitled to protections against discrimination based upon age, disability, and a number of other protected categories. Others should not presume to determine if someone is in a high-risk category. Each individual should assess oneself with the CDC guidance and/or their health care provider to determine if they believe it is safe to come to work. If a co-worker learns of a high-risk factor, they must maintain confidentiality of that information, only reporting it with HR or a supervisor, or sharing it with permission of the individual with the risk factor.
- I have a new employee who was going to start next week but they contacted me to say
they have COVID-19 or associated symptoms. What do I do?
Please contact your HR Consultant to discuss the specific situation. Guidance is subject to change based on current CDC guidance, state or federal mandates to ensure workplace safety. Email email@example.com or call (405) 744-2909 for information.
- Responding to COVID-19 Infection Report on the Stillwater campus
- If you become ill while on campus, quickly isolate yourself from others. If you have fever, cough, loss of smell or taste, or other symptoms out of the ordinary for you, you might have COVID-19. Please contact a healthcare provider to determine if you should get tested for COVID-19. You can call your primary care provider, Payne County Health Department, or UHS at 405-744-7665.
- If you need to get tested for COVID-19, call University Health Services at 405-744-7665 or schedule an appointment through their online portal. Payne County Health Department is also available for testing, as is your primary care physician.
- Remain isolated from others until you get further instructions from a healthcare provider. This includes staying home from class, work, activities, or even grocery or convenience stores.
Within 24-48 Hours
- Notify your professors, supervisors or activity sponsors of your need to isolate because you are sick.
- If living on campus, work with UHS and OSU Housing to determine if you should remain in your current room. If you live off campus, continue to isolate yourself at your home, utilizing a private room and bathroom if possible.
Within 48-72 Hours
- You should get notification from UHS on your results. If results are negative, you should remain home until you are no longer sick and you are fever free for 24 hours. If you are positive, call Payne County Health Department at 405-372-8200 for further instructions on the mandatory quarantine, as required by the state of Oklahoma.
Within 5-7 days
- You will be contacted by the state health department to discuss your symptoms. They will release you for public contact somewhere between 10 to 14 days if you are exhibiting NO symptoms.
- You will be contacted to provide a list of your possible contacts so that they may take precautions as well. Please provide as many details as you can at this time. In accordance with CDC contact tracing guidelines this would include any individual within six feet of you for at least 15 minutes.
- Continue to answer daily calls from the state health department in order to comply with state regulations and ensure your health and safety.
- Is there a mechanism for faculty who are uncomfortable with in-person instruction
to request that their courses be offered online?
Faculty can discuss accommodations based on their risk factors with the Office of Equal Opportunity.
- What if students say they aren't comfortable coming to class or must quarantine? What
accommodations do faculty need to make?
If students have concerns about coming to class, they should contact Student Accessibility Services. Students who need to quarantine should contact University Health Services for instructions. Instructors should make reasonable accommodations to help quarantined or sick students, just as they would for sick students in any semester. Students should have a reasonable amount of time to make up missed work. Instructors are not required to livestream or record classes, but they may if they wish, and they may choose to provide students with lecture notes, slides, etc.
- Can faculty still take attendance? Can attendance be required?
Faculty may take attendance, and it is helpful if they do so for contact tracing purposes. However, instructors are not required to take attendance. Instructors may require students who are not sick or quarantined to attend class; the attendance requirements in any course should comply with the university’s Attendance Policy for Students (2-0217). To assist with contact tracing, instructors should maintain a seating chart.
- Should seating charts be used in class?
Please keep in mind the seating capacity for all university classrooms and laboratories transitioned to pre-COVID numbers during the summer. As such, the OSU COVID Response Team has determined faculty are required to create a seating chart for each class to aid University Health Services with contact tracing should the need arise. The Canvas platform includes an option to create a seating chart under the “Class” tab, next click on Edit Seating, and then drag students’ names to the appropriate space on the chart. Questions about this option in Canvas should be directed to the ITLE classroom support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How can I encourage students to wear masks in the classroom?
Please consider adding this statement to your syllabus:
"OSU encourages the use of masks indoors in public. Masks reduce the risk of being infected and possibly spreading it to others. Read the latestCDC guidelines.
Under Oklahoma law (EO 2021-16 and 70 O.S. 1210.189), we are not permitted to require the use of masks in public spaces. These exceptions exist: Masks can be required in the classrooms — which are not considered public spaces while class is in session — for limited periods of time or following positive cases, on transit buses due to Department of Transportation requirements, and masks may be required in certain areas such as University Health Services.
If you feel sick, do not attend class. Contact University Health Services at 405-744-7665 immediately and communicate with me as soon as possible about any work you miss."
- What if faculty with unvaccinated school-aged children must quarantine because of
their children being exposed? Can they switch to teaching online?
An instructor who needs to quarantine should consult with their department/school head. If the instructor and department head believe it is feasible to teach the instructor’s course(s) online, the instructor may teach online for the duration of the quarantine. The class should return to its original delivery mode when the quarantine is over.
- What are the criteria under which OSU would consider putting instruction fully online,
The OSU COVID Response Team is diligently looking at numerous factors in consultation with city, county, and state health officials.
- Can office hours, dissertation defenses, faculty meetings, etc. still occur via zoom?
If a student wishes to have virtual office hours or a virtual defense, that is acceptable. There is no prohibition against virtual faculty meetings. The Office of Academic Affairs suggests there always be a virtual option for attending any faculty meeting in which governance issues are discussed. In addition, face-to-face classes should have some in-person office hours, though some office hours and advising appointments may be virtual, as noted in the University’s Syllabus Attachment. Students are strongly encouraged to confirm the format when requesting an appointment. Although it is optional for faculty and advisors to wear a mask, provided below is a statement reviewed by OSU Legal Counsel that could be used when appointments with students are being confirmed.
"This semester you can choose for office hours and/or advising appointments to be in-person or by zoom. For in-person appointments, you are strongly encouraged to wear a mask, as social-distancing is not possible in my office. I will be wearing a mask."
- What if a staff member with unvaccinated school-aged children must quarantine because
of their children being exposed? Can they switch to work remotely?
A staff employee who needs to quarantine should consult with their department/school head or supervisor. If it is feasible for the employee to telework, this may be a temporary option. Otherwise, the employee may use accrued sick leave.
- Will there be another tenure clock extension? How can it be requested?
Policies are in place for a tenure-track faculty member to request the extension of a period of appointment and probationary period as follows:
Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Continuing faculty, hired prior to January 2021, who are experiencing disruptions to their professional goals are encouraged to visit with their department/school head about a potential, automatic one-year extension of their current appointment period.
For more information regarding FMLA and other extenuating circumstances, please visit the faculty development health and resources page.
- Is it true faculty who want to teach while wearing a mask need to seek permission
from Student Accessibility Services, record their lectures, and wear a microphone?
OSU encourages the use of masks indoors in public settings. Instructors do not need any special permission to teach with a mask on, but should ensure students can hear them and make adjustments as needed.
- News articles seem to suggest that OSU could legally institute a mask mandate, if
it applied to everyone (not only to unvaccinated individuals). Is this the case?
News reports addressing this topic dealt only with legislation, not with the Governor’s Executive Order (EO 2021-16) that prevents mask mandates.
- Plexiglas barriers and directional signage related to COVID (e.g. traffic direction
in stairwells) has been removed from my building. Will it be reinstated?
There are no plans to reinstate the plexiglass and directional signage, but signs encouraging masks are being developed.
- Does OSU require vaccination for employees?
The federal vaccine mandate that applies to all university employees of OSU-Stillwater, OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences as well as all OSU Extension and OSU Ag Research personnel statewide has been blocked in federal court.
- We were informed that instructors cannot ask students to mask or require social distancing
in office hours. Is this the case?
While instructors may not require masks except temporarily in the case of a positive case in the classroom or during a temporary university-wide classroom mandate, they may always encourage students to wear masks, including during office hours. If an instructor feels there is insufficient space for distancing in their office, they may seek out a larger space in which to hold office hours where more distancing is possible.
- Are all campus buildings targeted for better air filtration systems? When will this
Yes, campus buildings have upgraded their filtration systems since the start of the pandemic.
- What should a faculty member do if a student shares directly with them that they have
tested positive for COVID-19 or have been told to quarantine?
Respond with compassion and thank them for informing you of their situation. Ask the student to do the following:
- Unless you have been tested at University Health Services, please fill out the reporting form found at https://uhs.okstate.edu/. Sharing information is critical right now. This form is for both tests done outside of UHS and exposures to confirmed cases.
- Please refer to the following guidelines for more information on when it is safe to return to class or lab: https://go.okstate.edu/coronavirus/faq/index.html. If you are still unsure, we highly recommend erring on the side of caution.
- Please stay caught up in the course to the best of your ability, and let us know if we can answer any questions about course material. We know that these are challenging circumstances. [Insert here how you are making information/materials available to students who miss class for quarantine: recording, class slides and lecture notes, etc.] Please keep an eye on the Canvas course to stay updated on the material while you are out of class.
Daily Life Resources
Online Teaching Resources
OSU’s Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence has helpful tutorials for faculty teaching online courses.
Human Resources Guidance
The Supervisor Toolkit offers information for hiring supervisors and details about OSU’s temporary telecommuting guidelines.
Information Technology Support
If your supervisor recommends telecommuting, review these tools and settings when working from home.