Helping Our Employees to Navigate a Safe On-Campus Work Environment

We will work as a community to operate in the safest manner possible, that promotes the health and wellness of our campus community. Our campus is multi-generational and diverse, and all the solutions we propose may not be suitable for every single member of our campus community, but we will do our utmost best to reasonably accommodate all employees, where possible.

The operation and staffing of the various units are dependent on the emergency preparedness of the Howard University campus in relation to COVID-19 based the following interventions:

  1. Vaccinations will be required for faculty and staff at Howard University. Please click here for additional information.
  2. Masks are required on campus regardless of your vaccination status.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), (i.e. masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other necessary agents) will be provided to employees, as required according to guidance provided to the University by the CDC and the Department of Health, and must be worn in public spaces on-campus at all times. COVID-19 safety training and management for all personnel.
  4. No physical distancing requirements are in place at this time. However, a minimum of three-foot distancing is recommended for classrooms between students, where feasible.
  5. Flexible work arrangements (teleworking, etc.).Routine cleaning, and deep cleaning of facilities
  6. Facilities adjustments will be made where determined to be necessary or prudent to promote social distancing. Adjustments may include plexiglass barriers, touchless door closures, etc.
  7. Daily self-administered health checks via the Bison Safe app. Self-reporting when one is ill or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms is required. The University has formalized a telework policy which is posted on the University Policy website.

Telework

  • Howard University ("University") supports telework as a viable, flexible work option, when both the employee and the job are suited to such an arrangement. Telework allows employees to work from home or an offsite workstation for all or part of their workweek. Telework may be appropriate for some employees and jobs but not for others. Telework is not an entitlement and in no way changes the terms and conditions of employment with Howard University. It is deployed in situations in which the employee's work can be performed reasonably at an alternate location to the employee's Howard University office, without compromising work quality, productivity, customer service or required office coverage.
  • The Office of Human Resources will designate whether a position is eligible for a telework arrangement. If a position is not designated as telework eligible, a supervisor cannot permit Episodic or Intermittent Telework. Emergency arrangements may be allowed.
  • Once a position is deemed telework eligible, a supervisor may consider telework arrangements for Eligible Employees when, in the supervisor’s opinion, telework will foster productivity, create utility or space cost savings, and allow for alternative methods of collaboration. An Eligible Employee’s telework arrangement should not inequitably increase other employees’ workloads or impose unreasonable burdens on the supervisor.  Teleworkers should not be inequitably excluded from work activities available at the physical worksite (e.g., meetings). Schools, colleges, administrative and operations divisions may wish to coordinate their employee’s telework schedule to maximize space sharing or reduction in utility consumption by Howard University.

A detailed telework policy will be published once it is reviewed and approved by the University’s Policy Committee.

Additional Guidance

  • Divisional leads will work with their teams on specific work schedules.
  • Faculty and staff who wish to request a reasonable accommodation should contact eeo@howard.edu.
  • Student employees seeking accommodations should follow the University’s existing protocol for doing so through the Office of Student Services.
  • University services will be delivered online and face to face by appointment only (e.g., Enrollment Management, Human Resources).
  • To the greatest extent possible, meetings will be conducted online and via telephone.
  • All attendees conducting face to face meetings will be required to wear masks or face coverings.

Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Health services are available through primary care providers, especially to provide emotional support during this period of heightened anxiety. Telephonic or video counseling is available, and you can access this service using most smartphones, tablets and computers with a camera. Employees should contact the Office of Human Resources to learn more about available support, while students may contact the Student Counseling Center for remote support, even during summer months.

Please utilize Howard University’s web resources to learn more about support services, managing stress and enhancing individual resilience during this time.

No community as large as Howard’s campus can guarantee an environment free of COVID-19, and the measures described in this plan recognize that reality. While much has gone into this effort to protect the Howard community, we trust that all its members — faculty, staff, students and visitors alike — will ultimately take responsibility for their own health and safety and act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for those around them.

Testing Guidance and Protocol

Faculty/staff  are required to take a COVID-19 test within the seven days prior to reporting to campus or at the designated on-campus laboratory. Unvaccinated faculty, staff and students must be tested twice weekly. Vaccinated individuals must be tested once weekly. A testing site has been established for the University community. Any stakeholder who is awaiting test results must self-isolate until a negative test result is obtained.

Re-testing and screening will occur at a frequency determined by health professionals based on health indicators designed to measure the prevalence of the virus on campus or in the geographic region. Residential students will be tested on a weekly basis.

  • Any student or staff member who has symptoms or has had close contact with someone who has tested positive must get tested 3-5 days after exposure, in coordination with Student Health Services (for students) or their primary healthcare provider (for staff).
  • Students who have either tested positive, have results pending, or are showing symptoms for COVID-19 should be immediately isolated while ensuring their medical, social, and academic needs are met.
  • Staff and faculty who have either tested positive, have results pending, or are showing symptoms for COVID-19 must stay home and self-isolate.

Surveillance and Reporting 

The University uses the Bison Safe app for daily screening parameters, and reporting, to monitor for a potential outbreak and to report positive cases of COVID-19 an any other COVID-19 data obtained to the District of Columbia Department of Health. Cases will be reported for implementation of contact tracing.

University Communications Plan 

The University will implement a communications plan with the following objectives:

  • To disseminate information about the availability of healthcare resources, testing, mental and physical health promotion, and where to find local public health information about COVID-19 and updated CDC and District of Columbia guidance.
  • To educate the University community about infection prevention and control measures, the symptoms of the virus and what to do if they are symptomatic, specifically, the need to stay at home.
  • To advise students to get tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus.
  • To advise students who are unable to test prior to returning for the Fall Semester to obtain a COVID-19 test within one week of arriving on campus and to present the results to the Student Health Center.
  • To educate the campus community to self-isolate if they have symptoms or have come into close contact with infected persons and to quarantine if infected themselves.

Guidance on Isolating Stakeholders who are Exposed to COVID-19

The health and safety of all Howard University faculty, staff and students are our number one priority. The University will provide masks and/or face coverings and sanitizing agents to all faculty, staff and students as part of an initial University care package. Plans for additional provisions of PPE are being reviewed, and will be announced at a later time.

The most important and critical mechanism to manage the spread of COVID-19 is compliant individual behavior and self-assessment. We are asking each Howard University stakeholder to monitor their individual actions to ensure they are operating in the safest manner possible.

If you are unwell, or have an elevated temperature, please do not attend classes in person and employees should not report to work on campus, but arrange with your supervisor to work remotely.

Contact Tracing Measures on Howard University's Campus

The liaison with the Department of Health will be the Director of the Public Health (MPH) Program.  Further coordination for faculty and staff will be directed to Human Resources, and for students to the Director of the Student Health Center.  Information will be gathered regarding possible contacts with positive individuals and Howard will assist DOH with contact tracing efforts.

  • Contact tracing will be conducted in accordance with the DC Department of Health, in the case of any positive COVID-19 cases identified on campus. The Department of Health is working in concert with all higher education institutions in the District to coordinate this activity.
  • We are also reviewing the suitability of contact tracer software, which would be utilized in concert with the contract tracing activities conducted through the Department of Health.

Communication Structure for COVID-19

  • A secured (password protected) Excel database be developed with the required reporting information (name, DOB, location, symptoms, symptom-onset, and contact tracing) and housed on SharePoint for the information to be entered daily by the designated individuals.
  • A standard reporting time will be established within the University so that data can be reported daily to DOH at a specified time.
  • The report should be sent to DOH and the University Provost (or a designee).

 

Questions and Answers

If students refuse to wear masks properly during class, what is the appropriate action to take for the faculty member teaching the class? How should a faculty member proceed when a student is not following mask protocol outside the classroom?

The University’s requirement that students, faculty and staff wear masks indoors, and outdoors in group settings has been communicated to students repeatedly. These measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of the community. Failure to comply with University and public Health guidelines constitutes a violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct and could result in sanctions up to and including expulsion from the University. Faculty are advised to remind students of the mask mandate, as necessary. If a student refuses to comply, faculty should not engage with them confrontationally, but should report the incident through appropriate channels as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  Please see the complaint form.

If a faculty member tests positive for COVID-19, what processes will the University follow? And how will this positive test result impact in-person class meetings?

If employees test positive, their supervisors will be notified that they are off duty. Employees must secure clearance to return to work from their primary care practitioner prior to returning to campus. School/College administrators will implement the contingency plan outlined by each faculty member regarding class. This may include conduct of the course by another faculty member, either face-to-face or virtually, until the original faculty coordinator is cleared for return to the classroom.   

Will faculty in “high risk groups” (age 65+, qualifying health conditions, etc) be able to collaborate with their department chairs and deans to determine the feasibility of teaching remotely?

Faculty who may be immunocompromised, or those who have qualifying health conditions, may request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Human Resources. The University does not delineate faculty based on protected categories, of which, age is one.  

Communication concerning accommodations can be directed to Ms. Michelle Chapman, Director of Employee Relations and EEO at eeo@howard.edu. Further instructions can be found on the HR website: https://hr.howard.edu/eeo