Employee Guidance for Coronavirus

As the number of COVID-19 cases surges throughout most of the country, Washington College made the decision to move all Fall 2020 classes online. We know this decision raises questions for our employees.

updated Aug. 3, 2020

To mitigate the risk of virus spread on campus, all staff members who are able should continue to work from home, unless Senior Staff or their designee deems that they are critical to on-campus operations. 


Frequently Asked Questions From Faculty and Staff

No, the academic calendar that was announced earlier in the summer remains unchanged.

Staff and faculty should continue to monitor their own symptoms daily, whether working remotely or on campus. Before coming to campus, employees should complete a daily “self-attestation,” documenting responses to various prompts about symptoms. The self-attestation form is available for download here until our app is rolled out later this fall. Please do not come to campus if you do not feel well.

  • If you are symptomatic, you should seek care from your health provider; testing may be part of that process. If you need guidance about using sick time or other time off, please reach out to Human Resources (hr@washcoll.edu).
  • If you are asymptomatic, free testing may be of interest to you and may be available in your home county and in Kent County (your workplace location).
  • If you have a positive test result and have been to campus or been in contact with employees and/or students, report your positive test results to Human Resource (hr@washcoll.edu). THIS INFORMATION WILL BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL and only used for contact tracing purposes.
  • If you have questions about using sick time or FMLA, or if you need to have a change in your work location, please connect with Human Resources for support (hr@washcoll.edu).
  • Wear a mask whenever on campus, per the mask policy, and keep appropriate distance on campus, limiting close, prolonged contact in indoor spaces.

The hard truth is that some employees cannot do their jobs from home, and that other jobs are dependent upon students’ physical presence on campus. Senior Staff members, working with department leaders and Human Resources, may identify some positions for temporary furlough. Other positions may come on and off furlough throughout the semester, and still others may need to be laid off. Furlough periods vary based on departmental need, but we expect fall semester furloughs/layoffs to last until at least January 11, 2021.   

Staff members being furloughed or laid off will be contacted directly by their supervisors.  Employment decisions will be communicated with as much lead time as we can give. Please remember this is a rapidly evolving situation and in some cases there may be little notice.  

A layoff generally means no pay or health insurance, whereas a furlough results in some combination of partial pay and/or benefits.  Please refer to this helpful article for more information about what it means to be furloughed. We have been developing our practices in keeping with evolving federal and state legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, some legislative provisions are expiring, while others continue until Dec. 31.

Health insurance stays active during a furlough.  For a paid furlough, contributions to FSA, HSA, and TIAA, and any other payroll deductions remain in place. For an unpaid furlough, employees must pay for their portion of health insurance premiums and should work with Human Resources to arrange a payment schedule. For staff that are laid off, employees will become eligible for continued health insurance through COBRA, where they will be responsible for 102% of the health insurance premiums to remain on the College’s health plan.  Employees who are laid off can also explore health insurance through the Maryland health insurance exchange.  In the event you are furloughed or laid off, you will still be eligible for tuition exchange/waiver benefits for 2020-21.  Individuals affected by furloughs or layoffs will receive detailed information about health insurance and other college benefits.  

Holiday eligibility will continue for people who are on paid furloughs, or whose furloughs are intermittent.  Employees who are laid off or who will have a total continuous furlough of at least six months will be ineligible for holiday pay or use.  

If you are called back to work within six months of your original furlough date, you will receive the holiday pay OR be provided the opportunity to use the paid days off.  If you have a continuous furlough of at least six months, these holidays will be lost.  

Furloughed staff are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance. Unemployment benefits typically cover 50-54% of an employee’s weekly wages. Through July 31, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide an additional $600 per week to those who are collecting unemployment benefits due to the pandemic. There is currently discussion in the US Congress about providing similar supplemental unemployment insurance benefits, but nothing has been decided at this point.   

There is no requirement for leave to be used prior to applying for unemployment, and the only benefit to using it is to make up for a partial paycheck.  If an employee is being laid off, vacation benefits will be paid out in a lump sum.  The Department of Labor generally requests information regarding vacation payouts directly from the College, so employees who are on partial furlough should not use vacation if they are also collecting partial unemployment benefits.  

State of Maryland guidelines state that if an employee can work remotely, they should continue to do so. Depending on your position, the resumption of an academic schedule, even with students doing online learning, may result in a need for some on-campus support that wasn’t necessary during summer months.  This may also be true for certain recurring events or seasonal needs.  Your supervisor will let you know if you are required to report to campus. If you believe you need a workplace accommodation creating an exception to on on-site work requirement, you should complete this survey 

Anyone returning to work on campus should expect to adhere strictly to public health guidelines regarding masks, face coverings, and social/physical distancing for a period of 14 days prior to returning to campus.  Face coverings are required on campus at all times, and all visitors must have appointments. The College may require personal protective equipment or COVID-19 testing, depending on factors including but not limited to job function, likelihood of virus transmission during performance of the job, accommodations made to protect high-risk community members, and related factors.  

Yes! Unemployment benefits typically cover 50-54% of an employee’s weekly wages. Generally, you should apply for unemployment through your state of residence.  Here is a link to Maryland’s Unemployment Claim Center.  

We encourage you to speak with your supervisor about remote work with a flexible schedule.  You can also request an accommodation creating an exception to on on-site work requirement by completing this survey.  If you believe you need a partial or full leave for the semester, there may be leave plans available to cover you; you should contact someone from Human Resources for more information.  

Student workers who are funded through federal work-study funds or external grants should be given priority opportunity for work that must be done on-campus or that can be completed from wherever the student is living (e.g. at home, on-campus, off-campus apartment).  The operational funds that employ other students will be very limited in the fall, given the fiscal impacts of our online/predominantly non-residential semester.  

You will need to evaluate if that student position is still needed in this new model and whether there is federal work-study funding or external grant funding for the position; if the position is no longer needed or not appropriately/sufficiently funded, you will need to work with Campus Student Employment to determine how to let the student know that they no longer have that employment opportunity.  

Positions that would normally be paid positions cannot become “volunteer opportunities.”  However, there may be bona fide research opportunities or other education-related situations that fit into unpaid internships.  Please work with the Campus Student Employment Office and Assistant Dean for Curricular Enrichment Tya Pope regarding such opportunities.  

As is our normal guideline, students can work no more than 20 hours per week through campus employment, but there is no limit to the number of jobs they can have.   

No, students are only approved for work if they are enrolled in classes.  

Miller Library and the HelpDesk will be open for in-person visits during the fall semester by appointment only. The library will not be available for group or individual study space. Expanded services and support will be available as detailed below. 

The library’s physical collections will circulate for semester long loans and will be quarantined upon return for six days to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. Library stacks will be open only to LAT staff who will retrieve requested materials and deliver them by mail or pickup at the front of the building. 

Miller Library online resources are available 24/7. Online services will be staffed, subject to change, Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All reference interactions will be virtual through the Ask A Librarian (AAL) form, real-time online chat, or a librarian’s personal email. Zoom consultation with a librarian is also available upon request. 

All course reserves will be digital; faculty members should submit requests early to allow for the digitization of physical items (e.g., journal articles, book chapters). We will work with suppliers to make eBooks and films available for courses. Faculty and staff should consult the library website for more information about electronic resources, including textbooks. 

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) will be limited to digital articles and book chapters whenever feasible, although delivery times may be longer than usual. If requested items are not available, consult with a librarian about alternative sources. 

Library instruction will be delivered by Canvas, Zoom or another application decided after consultation with the instructor. Instruction sessions also may use in-house resources such as the FYS LibGuide, the Research Basics Canvas page and LAT’s video tutorials. 

Support for Archival research and consultation is available from Lindsay Sheldon, Director of Archives. Submit a request via our request form. 

The Help Desk will operate remotely from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please email the Helpdesk at helpdesk@washcoll.edu or "Submit a Ticket."

For questions about Canvas: Nancy Cross at ncross2@washcoll.edu or Raven Bishop at rbishop3@washcoll.edu. 

For questions about IDEAWORKS and Digital Media Services contact Brian Palmer at bpalmer2@washcoll.edu or Ande Hearn at ahearn2@washcoll.edu. 

Central Services will maintain its part-time operations, augmented or adjusted as volumes of incoming and outgoing mail may indicate. Department representatives may pick up mail, wearing masks and appropriately distanced, from the mail room in the CAC.  

Take a deep breath… let it out like a sigh. Repeat. It may be helpful to remember you are not alone. Everyone has had enough of COVID-19 and we’re still in it for the long haul. The Washington College community is a special supportive place but when everyone is this taxed, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone with your emotions, and it’s natural for emotions to run high. If you’re ready for some in-person support, visit our EAP Guidance Resources, or call them at 800-272-7255. For daily support, sign up for Headspace, with sleep casts, wind downs, courses to help with productivity and concentration, and quick workouts – any of which may help you feel more centered and confident as you face the challenges and vulnerability this situation brings up. It’s free for Washington College employees and members of their households.