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HR Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Plans

As we continue to navigate COVID-19 together, please know that we are actively monitoring and assessing the situation and potential impacts to the Idaho States community.  We urge you to track the latest developments on the ISU COVID-19 website.  The health and well-being of the ISU community remains our highest priority, and we will continue to act thoughtfully as we respond to COVID-19.

The HR Office encourages all faculty and staff to be diligent in monitoring and preparing for all possible scenarios to ensure we have plans and resources in place at all university levels, following the expert guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities.

We are quickly adjusting all staffing plans to support the Governor’s executive stay-at-home order for a 21-day period beginning March 25.  Exceptions to the stay-at-home order include essential critical infrastructure and those employees and units that are critical to protect the health and well being of Idahoans and our campus community.

Effective immediately, March 25, all University employees, other than those below who have been designated as essential, should work with their supervisor immediately to begin telecommuting if they have not already done so.

The University is still open for business, however, all services will be provided by remote delivery where possible. Classes will still resume using distance-based instruction on Monday, March 30. At this time, employees will continue to be paid during the duration of the stay-at-home order.

Essential employees that will be needed for on-site work, with mandatory social distancing, are designated as those critical for the continued operations of Idaho State, and include:

  • Public Safety officers and staff
  • Critical Facilities Services staff (as directed by Glen Nelson, Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs, and Cheryl Hanson, Associate Vice President for Facilities Services)
  • University Health, Bengal Pharmacy, and Family Medicine clinicians and staff
  • Food services staff supporting take-out options for University Housing
  • Clinical activities conducted with our partner practice plans and hospitals
  • Research laboratories are expected to convert to minimal essential personnel as needed to maintain lab function. Research laboratories and activities should follow the communication guidelines that will be sent out shortly from the Office for Research.
  • Core research facilities, such as support for experimental animals, under the guidance of the Office for Research.

Employees who have questions about whether your role is considered essential, please reach out to your supervisor first. If there are issues that are unresolved, contact your department/unit director. 

The HR Office has prepared additional guidance and resources for working remotely. Additionally, Human Resources can advise managers and employees as needed. Please contact us at 208-282-2517 or for further guidance.


Actively Identify and Assign Telecommuting Opportunities

Effective immediately all managers and supervisors, in consultation with their college or division leadership, will implement alternative work arrangements and temporary telecommuting plans through the end of the semester, across all of our campuses for all categories of employees, including student employees if possible.  During this time, there will be NO requirement for completing formal telecommuting applications or agreements. When considering alternative work arrangement ideas, managers and employees may wish to consider the following:

  • What work could be performed remotely?
  • What equipment/technology is needed to support a telecommuting work arrangement?
    • If employees do not have adequate equipment at home, departments are authorized to allow the use of departmental laptop and desktop computers at home to facilitate remote working needs where needed and as appropriate to the work.
  • Can an employee be assigned online training or other work related learning activities online while working remotely? 
  • Are there any projects or items that the department and employee have always wanted to work on but have never had the time?  
    • This may be an ideal time to invest time on such a project while working from home.
  • Consider service-level needs within your unit, and implement either essential personnel staff rotation or use of technology to meet these needs while continuing to serve our ISU community and student population. 
    • For example, some departments may find it to be a successful strategy to divide essential personnel working units into staggered/rotating teams that are scheduled for alternating days between working from home and then working on-campus when absolutely necessary to complete departmental-critical work.  When on campus, work must occur with occasional skeleton crews, and employees MUST practice social distancing along with continuity of operations.
  • Consider partial telecommuting shifts that could be implemented in partnership with in-office tasks when departmental critical tasks must be completed on-site.  
    • For example, could an employee complete in-office, mission critical tasks for a small portion of a day, and then complete related projects and other tasks remotely from home for the remainder of the week?
  • Consider workforce needs of your colleagues. 
    • Are there opportunities to collaborate and utilize employees to support needs in other departments?

Department Heads should review and discuss their Continuity of Operations Plans.  

  • Review your workplace processes including how to access voicemail, email, and other departmental resources and systems remotely, (including VPN access if necessary). Options through Information Technology Services
  • Each department should carefully consider if there are any mission-critical tasks that must be completed onsite, and how to staff them appropriately, utilizing staff rotation, technology or other means. Departments should also take immediate steps to identify mission critical personnel who will be required to report to work if able to do so.  All managers and supervisors, in consultation with College or Division leadership will have the authority to determine what personnel will be needed to complete on-site mission critical tasks in accordance with unit continuity of operations needs.


Social Distancing Efforts

When work must occur on campus, Department heads and managers MUST consider the mandatory need for social distancing.

  • All meetings must take place through telephone or video conferencing services such as Zoom.
  • Ensure access to, and encourage virtual meeting capabilities such as video, teleconferencing, and webinars (information on Zoom video accounts).
  • If needed, establish new, regular technology-based communication (i.e. daily or weekly zoom or teleconferenced staff meetings) within your team to ensure continuity of projects/tasks with a remote workforce. 
  • Any remaining on-campus employees and work teams MUST be scheduled and assigned work in a manner that will ensure employees regularly maintain at least 6 feet of space/distance throughout their work shift.


Employee Sick Leave

When sick, employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are not feeling well.  Employees are directed not to be on-campus or work if they are sick. It is with any cold and flu symptoms, including coughing, congestion, fever, to remain home and focus on self-care. All departments will be asked to be supportive of any needs for sick leave related absences for employees and their families. Managers are instructed NOT to request any physician notes/documents in support of using sick leave at this time to avoid putting any additional burden on the health care community. Additional information regarding new State and Federal leave programs in response to COVID-19 is accessible below.  

Per CDC guidelines, if an employee appears to have respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath), upon arrival to work, or who becomes sick during the day, the employee should be separated from other employees and sent home as soon as possible.  If you are concerned about a co-worker showing signs of illness and still coming to work, talk to your supervisor or HR representative. Nonetheless, employees need to be cautious to ensure they are not violating their co-workers’ rights, discriminating against them, and/or interfering with their privacy.

Please see COVID-19 Leave of Absence Options, for additional guidance regarding options for employee leave, including new State and Federal Leave of Absence Options.


FMLA and ADA Considerations

Managers should apply extra consideration and flexibility for immunocompromised or other high risk employees.  Employees and managers should consult with the HR Office and/or Disability Services in considering leave of absence options under the FMLA and/or ADA as well as when accommodating disabilities with alternative work arrangements from home.  


Student and Temporary Employees

Supervisors should be flexible and accommodating in assigning work-from-home arrangements and/or social distancing strategies when on-campus work must occur,  to ensure student and temporary employees are in a safe working environment. When those strategies are not feasible for the employing unit, or in the event the student or temporary employee is unavailable to work due to illness or self-isolation, (when remote work is not feasible), departments are authorized to continue to pay the employee based on their average weekly work schedule at their standard rate of pay through the end of the semester. 

Student and temporary employees will report the use of advanced sick leave through time reporting in Bengal Web using the entry of “Student/Temp Paid Time Off” as needed when work cannot be performed.


Search Committee Interviewing/Candidate Travel

In support of the university’s suspension of all business travel, ISU has also suspended all travel related to job finalists and on-campus interview activities and events.  At this time, search committees and hiring departments are encouraged to continue in interview activities by telephone and video conferencing services. However, all travel to campus for in-person interviews are suspended and will need to be postponed to a later date.  The university will provide an update at a later date when university-sponsored travel has been reinstated.

 Hiring and Personnel Action Freeze

In response to the financial impact associated with COVID-19, the University has implemented a strategic hiring and personnel action freeze.  As positions become available, searches will not immediately be launched. Open positions will require approval from the Administrative Council to start a hiring process. HR in collaboration with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, will prepare a regular report for review and consideration by the Administrative Council on all personnel actions and requests to fill positions through search processes and/or emergency hire proposals. The freeze will apply to new positions, vacancies, reappointments, salary increases, and requests to reclassify a vacant or currently filled position. 

Departments may contact the HR Office at 208-282-2517 or for additional guidance.


Additional Assistance

For employees experiencing heightened anxiety, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to help with counseling services. The EAP may be reached at 877-427-2327 or via the EAP website.

Idaho State University is committed to diversity and equity.  ISU will not tolerate discriminatory remarks or behavior toward any member of our community.  If you experience or witness discrimination or harassment based on race, color, or national or ethnic origin, please report concerns to the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

The primary method for communication with faculty and staff about this ongoing situation will be through email. Please continue to check your ISU email, monitor the ISU COVID-19 webpage and contact the HR Office if you have HR related questions.

This is not a time to panic, it is our time to come together as an ISU community and provide a supportive and calming environment for faculty, staff, and our students as we work through this challenge together.