Coronavirus Faculty and Staff Frequently Asked Questions

What is Novel Coronavirus?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.

Who is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19? What should I do if I’m at higher risk?

Based on information from the CDC, early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who are immunosuppressed.
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

As a community, we understand there are diverse needs of students, faculty and staff. Individuals with chronic medical conditions may have concerns about their health during this time of uncertainty.  Please contact your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation. Besides taking the usual hand/respiratory hygiene precautions and social distancing, the CDC has additional advice to help keep you healthy and safe: //www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

How can I best protect myself?

The CDC recommends following the same guidelines as flu prevention:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I'm sick?

Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or is having difficulty breathing, should seek medical care immediately and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms.

Immediately call the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic at 919-966-9119 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or your health care provider. There is an employee policy regarding Flexible Work Arrangements: employees may work with their manager to arrange to work remotely until the 14-day incubation period from the time of potential exposure expires or if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

What is Carolina doing to prevent the spread of illness on campus?

The University’s Communicable Diseases Working Group is prepared to respond to prevent the spread of any infectious disease. That group, along with the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and is using their guidance and recommendations to inform our campus response. We work closely with local and state officials, Carolina’s Environment, Health and Safety office, and UNC Hospitals to help address communicable diseases and help keep our students, faculty, staff and University community safe and healthy.

I feel anxious about the possibility of exposure from people who I think may have been exposed. How can I find help?

It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis. It is important to remember to not make assumptions about others’ perceived symptoms, travel history or identity. For students struggling with anxiety, they can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services 500 Internal Server Error

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 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a resource available to help employees through stressful situations and events.

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additional advice to help keep you healthy and safe.

How can I report an anonymous health and safety concern to the University?

Anyone who has concerns about their immediate health or safety should call 911. Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or is having difficulty breathing, should seek medical care immediately and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms.

Other incidents or concerns can be reported using the Carolina Ethics Line at 866-294-8688.

 

What should I do if I witness or experience harassment or discrimination due to the coronavirus?

Carolina committed to fostering an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion. While the spread of disease may cause fear and uncertainty, we reject xenophobia and any speech or action that would be discriminatory toward any member of our campus community. It is wrong to assume that because of someone’s perceived country or region of origin that they have come in contact with or have contracted the new coronavirus. If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or harassment, contact the University’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.

How are we cleaning and disinfecting campus?

All shifts of Housekeeping Services staff are wiping all surfaces with disinfectants that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria and are virucidal. These products have been used previously on campus for other viruses including coronavirus and are EPA registered.

Our housekeeping staff are provided with training regarding the appropriate and effective use of these disinfectant products. Staff are also provided with PPE (gloves, eye protection) as appropriate for their job duties and products used.

How are we protecting our frontline staff?

As a reminder, there are no cases of COVID-19 reported on campus. As precautionary measures, all shifts of Housekeeping Services staff are wiping all surfaces with disinfectants that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria and are virucidal. These products have been used previously on campus for other viruses including coronavirus and are EPA registered.

Our housekeeping staff are provided with training regarding the appropriate and effective use of these disinfectant products. Staff are also provided with PPE (gloves, eye protection) as appropriate for their job duties and products used.

In the event that a quarantine area (i.e. rooms for isolation) should be implemented on campus, we will utilize an off-campus third-party vendor to manage the disinfection and cleaning of those rooms.

What does it mean that spring break is extended?  

There will be no academic instruction offered the week of March 16, and we strongly encourage our students to remain off campus that week, though residence and dining halls will beopen.    

How will classes resume after March 23?  

Starting March 23, the majority of our class offerings will be offered remotely and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. We will transition as many classes as possible, understanding there may be some small classes, such as labs, that require in-person attendance. We will work with deans and department chairs to determine which classes meet that criteria. Faculty and teaching assistants will hear from the provost’s office soon regarding the resources on Keep Teaching that will be made available. 

I am a student or employee at the School of Medicine, Pharmacy or Dentistry. What does this mean for me?

These schools may have different operating schedules or class requirements. Refer back to any communication you have received from the school, or work with your professor or dean for information.

What are guidelines for staff related to any University status change?

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz sent an email to faculty and staff Thursday night encouraging teleworking and staggered work schedule. Additionally, HR is maintaining a list of FAQs on hr.unc.edu. HR directors and managers were given additional guidance from the UNC System and UNC-Chapel Hill HR. We encourage you to work with your supervisor for specific questions.

Are campus events canceled?

Campus events for more than50attendees are canceled.Organizers of these events must postpone, cancel or explore virtual options for any University-affiliated events with more than 50 people both on- and off-campus until further notice unless prior written authorization is given by the chancellor or the provost.

Event organizers must postpone, cancel or explore virtual options for any University-affiliated events with more than 50 people both on- and off-campus until further notice.

What about athletics events?

Carolina’s Athletics will immediately suspend athletic-related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice in accordance with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s decision.

Has Commencement been canceled?

At this time, we hope to hold Spring Commencement as originally planned. However, we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and reevaluate the situation daily. Future updates regarding Spring Commencement will be posted at this commencement.unc.edu

I have been quarantined by a public health official. What leave can I use?

Employees who are quarantined at the direction of public health officials will receive paid administrative leave until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill with the communicable disease, whichever comes first. Written verification from a public health official is required to confirm this status as soon as practicable. Once an employee becomes ill, then the employee can use available compensatory leave, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave. If an employee does not have enough sick leave, the institution may work with the employee to advance leave or make arrangements for the employee to make up the time if the University determines that the work situation will allow it.

Can my manager send me home because they believe I have coronavirus symptoms?

If an employee is not subject to official quarantine by public health authorities, but the UNC System president or UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor believes that an employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, the UNC System or University may direct the employee not report to work, in which case use of compensatory time off, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave is required. Likewise, employees who opt to not report to work at their own discretion due to potential illness would use appropriate leave.

My child’s school and my elderly parent’s facility is closed, can I work from home to care for them?

When the UNC System or the University is open but a non-mandatory employee is required to stay home with a qualifying parent or child (as defined in the Family and Medical Leave Act) because of the closure of a daycare facility, public school or elder care facility, the non-mandatory employee may, with approval of their supervisor, be allowed to work at home or elect to:

  • use vacation leave,
  • use bonus leave,
  • use sick leave,
  • use compensatory leave,
  • take leave without pay, or
  • make up time in accordance with the parameters for making up time during adverse weather.

The UNC System or the University may extend the make-up time to 24 months if necessary. The UNC System or the University has the right to request appropriate documentation to substantiate need.

Will I be reimbursed for work-related travel canceled due to COVID-19?

For those traveling on University business, UNC Travel Policy does allow for reimbursement of cancellation and change fees for trips to areas where travel has been prohibited or restricted by the University. If a traveler has booked travel to a non-prohibited or restricted destination, but the traveler elects to cancel their trip due to individual safety concerns, reimbursement is at the discretion of the sponsoring department. In all cases, travelers must first contact the conference organization, travel agency, airline, or hotel as soon as they know they will not be traveling to start the cancellation process, as there may be refunds or credits given by these vendors. For more information visit this website //finance.unc.edu/services/travel/ and go to resources, then question and answer on  “university business travel affected by coronavirus.”

 

Will I get paid if campus is closed but I can work from home?

Yes, you will be paid for any work you do remotely just as if you were performing the work at your normal work location. If the emergency is severe, the governor, public health officials, the UNC System president, or the UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor may order the University, or part of the University, to close for a period of time. If alternative work locations or teleworking are available, employees should plan to work remotely.

If campus closes, but my job is one where working from home is not possible, will I get paid?

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My co-worker traveled to a location where there have been confirmed outbreaks of coronavirus. Can I work from home to avoid being near my co-worker?

Management may request/require that the traveler work remotely during the incubation period if there is a high risk of exposure. If the traveler has been cleared but the coworker doesn’t want to work near them, it is at the supervisor’s discretion to allow the employee to work remotely. They can enforce other social distancing practices for them to minimize contact.

I have a medical condition that is impacting my ability to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. What should I do?

Employees with medical conditions that could be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office to request an accommodation. This may apply to employees who are immunocompromised or who have certain anxiety disorders. Accommodations may include work from home arrangements, adjustment of work schedule, adjustment of work location, or other accommodations. Employees will be required to provide medical documentation of their condition and how it may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees may contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at eoc@unc.edu for more information.

I am pregnant and am concerned about exposure if I report to work. What should I do?

You should contact Elizabeth Hall, Assistant Director of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, at elizabeth.hall@unc.edu or (919) 962-7185. The University is monitoring information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 and pregnant women. While the University does yet have a formal pregnancy accommodation policy for employees, the University will work with you to meet your needs, considering the essential functions of your job, information from your health care provider and the most recently available CDC and other relevant public health guidance.

Can I tell employees who are not feeling well and appear to have coronavirus symptoms to stay home?

First, contact your school or division’s HR representative and they will coordinate with the central Office of Human Resources and other campus officials to provide guidance. If an employee is not subject to official quarantine by public health authorities, but the UNC System president or the UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor believes that an employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, the UNC System or constituent institution may direct the employee not report to work, in which case use of compensatory time off, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave is required. Likewise, employees who opt to not report to work at their own discretion due to potential illness would use appropriate leave.

Can employees who are concerned about potential exposure to the virus work from home?

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If an employee indicates that they have a medical condition that heightens their risk for exposure, you should refer them to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office to request work from home as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They should email eoc@unc.edu for more information.

I have an employee who has recently traveled within the United States to locations where a state of emergency has been declared related to COVID-19. Can I instruct them to self-quarantine for a period of time before returning to work?

Before instructing an employee to self-quarantine, contact your school or division’s HR representative and they will coordinate with the central Office of Human Resources and other campus officials to provide guidance.

Is there a communicable disease policy?

Yes, the Pandemic and Communicable Disease Emergency Policy is available on the OHR website.

What are Communicable Disease Mandatory Employees?

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I am a manager and I have not designated anyone as Communicable Disease Mandatory what should I do?

Your department’s leadership determines what critical operations need to continue in the event of a public health emergency, and also which positions must be staffed to continue those operations. A primary and secondary Communicable Disease Mandatory Employee should be designated. Management must notify employees of their mandatory personnel designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations, or to work from home or other alternative location as deemed appropriate. Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the work site for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.

Can I designate additional employees as Communicable Disease Mandatory?

Yes. Additional employees may also be designated to work if needed due to the length of the emergency, illness of mandatory employees or other needs. In this case, management must follow the same notification procedures: Management must notify employees of their mandatory personnel designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations, or to work from home or other alternative location as deemed appropriate. Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the work site for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.

I am a mandatory employee who is ill. Should I still report to work?

Mandatory employees may be excused from work if they are quarantined or ill, if they are required to care for a member of the immediate family (as defined in the Family and Medical Leave Act) who is quarantined or ill or if they are required to stay home with parents or underage children because of the closure of a day care facility, public school or eldercare facility. Employees will be required to use available compensatory leave, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave.

More information

For more faculty and staff information, visit the Human Resources website.