Frequently Asked Questions for Employees
Employees who cannot wear face masks or other PPE because of underlying medical conditions must contact, or be referred to, Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE) for assistance. AAEOE will engage in an interactive process with the employees and their units to determine any reasonable accommodations that might be necessary to assist the employees in performing their jobs.
If employees self-disclose that they or their immediate family members with whom they live are at-risk, DO NOT ask those employees to disclose or identify any specific medical conditions that they or a family member might have. Instead, please let the employees know that if they have underlying medical conditions, they can seek reasonable accommodations for those conditions by contacting Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE).
Please see the CDC’s guidance on effective masking. Gaiters and bandanas are not permissible masks at NIU.
People with disabilities should contact the Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE) for assistance.. AAEOE will engage in an interactive process with the employees and their units to determine any reasonable accommodations that might be necessary to assist the employees in performing their jobs.
Some employees and other members of our community are more vulnerable or “at-risk” for contracting or having complications with COVID-19, depending on their individual risk factors. Risk factors include but are not limited to pregnancy, older age or the presence of chronic medical conditions, including immunocompromising conditions. There are also environmental risk factors to consider—for instance, having “at-risk” people at home, such as immunocompromised family members, the elderly or newborn or young children; or working, living or interacting with others in areas that might have potentially higher exposure risks to COVID-19.
If you have an underlying medical condition that you believe puts you at risk, please notify your supervisor and directly contact the Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE) to speak with a staff member about reasonable accommodations for a medical condition. AAEOE will engage you in an interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations you might need to assist you in the performance of your job. As an employee, you are under no obligation to disclose any specific medical condition that you or your family member might have. Please understand, though, that you might have to disclose such medical conditions to an AAEOE representative during the reasonable-accommodations process.
If you are working at home or off-site, please remain there until you receive approval to return to campus facilities. Please do not wait until the last minute to raise your concerns or issues. Many of these situations can be complicated, and there might not be an immediate answer. Issue resolution at the local level is typically the most effective and efficient manner to address employee concerns. You can also raise the concern or issue with Environmental Health & Safety or Human Resource Services.
If you are sick, or suspect you might be getting sick, you must inform your supervisor, go home immediately and not come to campus or any NIU facility until cleared to return. Please immediately contact your health care provider and self-quarantine until further guidance is provided by your health care provider or the DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD). You must also complete the COVID-19 screening checklist. Until cleared to return, you will be prohibited from entering the workplace or physically interacting with co-workers or students. Those who refuse to answer questions about whether they have COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been tested will also be barred from campus.
Employees who are able and feel well enough to work from home can do so. Otherwise, employees should use available sick leave benefits.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must notify Human Resource Services immediately and complete the COVID-19 screening checklist. HRS will maintain confidentiality and work with the DeKalb County Health Department to determine exposure to other members of the NIU community. Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 can return to work once they have documentation showing clearance from a doctor or a county health department.
You may be able to work remotely. Please contact your supervisor to discuss your work schedule and/or location.
Flextime arrangements are available year-round to all employees, subject to the operational needs of your department. University departments and offices are required to maintain full operations Monday through Friday, either in person or virtually. See more about flextime arrangements on the HRS website.
Per Gov. Pritzker’s Executive Order issued August 26, 2021, all higher education employees must be vaccinated or submit to weekly surveillance testing. Those unwilling or unable to be vaccinated will be required to participate in frequent surveillance testing. Please see the August 30 message to employees for more detailed information.
Yes, it is permissible to bring simple, retail cleaning supplies.
Yes, this is coordinated with Central Stores.
For the vast majority of offices on campus, there will be no charge for paper towels, face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays. (Only auxiliary operations will be charged.)
Yes. To avoid stagnant water concerns while buildings are not regularly occupied, building water systems have been and will continue to be flushed monthly from all water points until buildings are regularly utilized to maintain regular water flow. This flushing action helps sustain appropriate water quality throughout the distribution system and allows the water source treatment methods from the City of DeKalb public water system to properly function.
The below CDC references provide general guidelines for water quality and the general recommendation for flushing water systems when building water systems do not experience regular use. This includes flushing all domestic water systems, hot and cold, throughout entire facilities where a person could access potable domestic water, such as showers, bathtubs, sinks, drinking fountains, utility sinks, kitchen sinks, etc. Additionally, NIU is a registered community water system/drinking water system operator under the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (IEPA) drinking water program and regularly monitors water quality to adhere to standards set by IEPA.
According to the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and professional trade associations, such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), primary efforts for ventilation systems should focus on increasing overall air flow (air change rate), increasing filtration levels, and increasing the outside air mix.
The guidelines acknowledge that building ventilation systems are designed specifically for the unique air quality demands for each facility and will have limitations for accommodating increases for these system parameters. NIU staff is working diligently to adjust ventilation system parameters in concert with each other, as system capabilities allow, and achieve an overall increase for these complex building systems.
Enhancements to accommodate HEPA-level filtration or ultraviolet germicidal irradiation are being reviewed for feasibility and effectiveness. In general, most enhancements of this nature require ventilation systems to be entirely redesigned to be effective towards addressing the possible risk of COVID-19 transmission through the ventilation system. Introducing possible enhancements to one parameter of a ventilation system without accounting for all operating factors could be counterproductive for the overall system and air quality for a building.
Yes. However, food and drink in refrigerators should be clearly marked with the person’s name and removed at the end of each day. Employees should not share food, including condiments and creamer.
Yes, but you should wipe down the surface with disinfectant before and after use.
Before and after using the desk or workspace, wipe down the area, including your chair, with disinfectant.
Yes, you can have in-person meetings on campus. All employees, students and guests, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors while on campus. While there is no limit to how many people can meet at one time, we advise that meetings be held in rooms large enough to accommodate attendees practicing physical distancing.
Eating and drinking are permissible in all spaces except classrooms and where otherwise posted.
The university expects supervisors to work with employees who are members of vulnerable populations or have close family who are members of vulnerable populations, and who express concerns or issues with the workplace environment in relation to “at-risk” factors. If an employee is represented by a union, supervisors must consult with Employee/Labor Relations in Human Resource Services before implementing any resolutions to employee concerns/issues.
Supervisors should practice patience and compassion, while exercising flexibility and exploring all available options in addressing the concerns or issues raised by employees. Employees should be encouraged to speak up and responded to in a clear and respectful manner.
If employees self-disclose that they or their immediate family members with whom they live are at-risk, DO NOT ask those employees to disclose or identify any specific medical conditions that they or a family member might have. Instead, please let the employees know that if they have underlying medical conditions, they can seek reasonable accommodations for those conditions by contacting the Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE). Otherwise, please ask the employees to describe any issues or concerns they might have with protocols, procedures, use of PPE, etc., so that you can work with the employees on resolving their concerns. Should an employee self-disclose any medical condition to you, you must keep this information confidential and refer the employee to AAEOE for a determination on reasonable accommodations that the employee might need.
The university understands that not all concerns or issues raised by employees will have easy answers or satisfactory resolutions for all involved. Employees should not return to the workplace until there is some resolution to the issues or concerns raised. In the event that a supervisor and an employee cannot reach a resolution, supervisors should advance the matter up their administrative supervisory chain and seek additional consultation from appropriate offices on campus, such as Human Resource Services and/or the Office of General Counsel, before making any final decisions.
The work area of the employee will be cleared, and deep cleaning and sanitization will take place before employees can return. You will receive a call from the health department if they believe you might have been exposed. Generally, that would require you to have been in regular contact with the person for more than 15 minutes and at a distance of less than 6 feet. If you do not hear from the health department, it is unlikely you have been exposed.
Contact tracing is conducted with each person who tests positive for COVID-19. The local health department will ask the person a series of questions about who they have had contact with over the last several days. The health department will contact you if they believe you might have been exposed. Generally, that would require you to have been in regular contact with the person for more than 15 minutes and at a distance of less than 6 feet. If you do not hear from the health department, it is unlikely you have been exposed.
If you are fully vaccinated and have been exposed to someone who is positive or presumed positive with COVID-19, you do not need to report or quarantine. However, you should monitor for symptoms and it is recommended that you get tested 3 to 5 days following exposure to ensure you are not positive and asymptomatic. If symptoms develop or you test positive, please complete the COVID-19 Screening Checklist.
If you are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to someone who is positive or presumed positive with COVID-19, do not report to work. You should contact your health care provider, quarantine and complete NIU's COVID-19 Screening Checklist.
The employee should be instructed to call his or her health care provider and complete the COVID-19 screening checklist. The supervisor should then notify HRS at HRSCOVID@niu.edu and their own supervisor. Until cleared to return, the employee will be prohibited from entering the workplace or physically interacting with coworkers or students. Those who refuse to answer questions about whether they have COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been tested will also be barred from campus.
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