Page last updated at 3:45 PM PST, March 13, 2020
John F. Kennedy University is closely monitoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as State and County Public Health Departments to proactively respond to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect the health and well-being of our campus community.
What is novel coronavirus?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, is a virus strain that has only spread in people since December 2019. COVID-19 is a new disease, and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread. For more information please visit the websites for the CDC and California Department of Public Health.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Information suggests that older people and those with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease or lung disease, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person. This includes being within approximately 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes
What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?
If you are experiencing fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, tell your health care professional about your recent travel or contact. Your health care professional will work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. Of course, if you feel like you need immediate help, call 911.
What can I do to avoid getting sick?
Take the CDC-recommended precautions to reduce your risk of exposure, including proper handwashing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a trash receptacle; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Do I need to wear a facemask?
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Are University events and activities being cancelled?
The University has determined to limit on-site events and community gatherings at JFKU facilities. All events that are able will be moved online. Events that are unable to be presented online will be cancelled or postponed. Please visit our events page for further details about the specific event you are interested in.
For those students approaching graduation, we are currently meeting with administrators and formulating a plan of action. Stay tuned to your University issued email for further information.
Will JFKU campuses be shut down? What happens if JFKU campuses are shut down because of the coronavirus?
JFKU is closely monitoring recommendations from the CDC, as well as state and county public health departments. No confirmed cases of the virus exist among members of the JFKU community. However, in an abundance of caution we have determined the best course of action is to cease in-person classes starting Monday, March 16 through March 27. Classes are not in session March 30 through April 3 for Spring Break
Faculty and students are strongly encouraged to minimize their physical presence on campus over the two weeks prior to spring break.
During this time, we do expect staff to continue to report to work, unless you are sick or caring for someone who is sick . If that is the case, please stay home.
We want to ensure the health and safety of everyone at JFKU, and each manager will work with individuals on their own specific needs and determine what works best for any given situation. Please speak to your manager about your individual situation.
There is no set end date to this new arrangement, and we will continue to monitor the situation. As with all communities, our hope is to return to normalcy as soon as possible, but we must plan and prepare for the longer term.
What are the risks of traveling outside of the U.S. at this time?
Risk varies greatly depending on location. Travelers should consult the CDC’s Travel Notices page prior to traveling. In addition, given the extraordinary coronavirus situation, you should consider the risks of (i) not being allowed to leave if a quarantine were issued by the authorities of that country; (ii) not being allowed to enter into a another country by the authorities of that country, because you had been in a country with widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission, that may be considered “at risk”; (iii) being placed into mandatory quarantine, upon arrival in the United States or another location, because you were in a country with widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission. The university cannot guarantee the level of care you will receive while abroad. When the CDC warning rises to Level 3: avoid nonessential travel in a country or region.
Based on recommendations from the CDC and U.S. Department of State travel advisories, we are suspending university-sponsored travel to countries outside of the United States until further notice, this specifically includes study abroad. NU also recommends limiting university-sponsored travel within the United States.
Am I required to come into work during a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?
The University is closely monitoring developing reports and new incidents of the coronavirus and at this time has decided to transition all courses online for the month of March. Otherwise, these campuses/facilities are operating under normal schedules, and all staff are expected to report to work as usual. This may change at any time, and a timely message will be disseminated to the University campus and community if it does. Staff with specific concerns regarding reporting to work are encouraged to contact Benefits at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 858-642-8199 to discuss their situation.
In the event that operations, not just classes, are temporarily converted online, your manager will work with Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) to assist you with remote access to University information systems. Strict adherence to current University policy including, but not limited to, timekeeping, performance, and information security is expected. If you’re feeling sick, please utilize your sick time to rest and recuperate.
What is the University doing to protect the university community?
The health and well-being of the university community is our top priority, and a variety of university officials are continually monitoring reports from the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) to stay up to date. The University has proactively decided to move all March classes online to limit the exposure and interaction at all campuses. Specifically, the university has also:
- Advised employees of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) currently recommended health and safety precautions. These include:
- Wash hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Encouraged sick employees to stay home (please use your sick time) or work remotely.
- Limited work-related travel – if you can do the work remotely then please do not travel.
- The CDC has established geographic risk-stratification criteria for the purpose of issuing travel health notices for countries with COVID-19 transmission and guiding public health management decisions for people with potential travel-related exposures to COVID-19. Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. We encourage employees to work with their immediate supervisors to review and follow the CDC’s travel recommendations.
- Increased the rate/frequency of cleaning at our facilities. We have added Day Porters to continuously wipe/disinfect doors, elevators, restrooms, and stair handrails.
- Adding additional hand sanitizer dispensers – please note we are expecting the dispensers/sanitizer during the first week of April due to high demand and shortages.
- Increased the approval of sick time for those who have reached their annual limit.
I am feeling ill, but I don't have any sick time available. I am afraid that if I stay home, I might be financially impacted. Can I show up to work?
Your health and safety are the University’s number one priority. If you feel ill and show up to work, you risk the health and safety of the rest of the community. If you do not have sick time available and staying home may cause you a financial burden, you are encouraged to contact Benefits at email@example.com or call 858-642-8199 to discuss your specific situation. Employees may also choose to take vacation time in this circumstance.
If you are experiencing fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, tell your health care professional about your recent travel or contact. Your health care professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. Of course, if you feel like you need immediate help, call 911.
Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California Family Rights Act (CFRA) entitle an employee to take leave to avoid contracting COVID-19?
No. FLMA is provided as job-protected medical leave to care for your current serious medical condition or that of a family member. It is the University’s policy to require medical documentation for FMLA, which typically results in five (5) or more days out from work.
Can I use sick time if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 or if I need to care for a diagnosed family member?
Yes. Sick leave allows an employee to take days off due to illness, the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventative care for the employee or the employee’s family member. If employees have exhausted sick leave, then PTO can be leveraged in this circumstance.
When is it safe to return to work after having a fever, flu, or other contagious illness?
CDC guidelines recommend that all employees should stay home if they are sick until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. Note: Not everyone who is sick will have a fever. Individuals with suspected or confirmed flu-like symptoms who do not have a fever should stay home from work at least 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms.
Can I just avoid certain people who I think have COVID-19 and be OK?
We understand that everyone wants to protect themselves from getting ill, but we want to remind our community that we also want to protect ourselves from any actions based on unsubstantiated fear or uncertainty, which can lead to individuals acting out of character or against our Core Values. The university empathizes with anyone who has been a victim of this virus and for those affected by ancillary actions related to its spread. We support those who are affected by these circumstances.
Most importantly, as this situation continues to evolve, we understand that individuals may be fearful about catching the disease based on inaccurate or incomplete information. It is important for the University community to remember that the coronavirus does not discriminate. While the origins of the virus are from specific geographical regions, it is now on nearly every continent and is not exclusive to any one national origin. Discrimination against any group associated with an infectious disease is unacceptable and goes against the University’s Core Values. Treating fellow staff, faculty, and/or students adversely because of their race, religion, national origin, medical condition, or other protected characteristic is against policy and will not be tolerated. Instead, community members are encouraged to refer to and utilize resources to better inform themselves of the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. It is moments such as these in which it is incumbent on us as a community to work, support, and help each member of our community.
Do I have options for remote access to health care through my health insurance plan so I can speak with a medical professional without visiting a medical clinic?
Will short-term disability insurance benefits be paid for absences related to COVID-19?
If you are located in California, you are eligible for benefits under the State Disability Insurance Plan (SDI). SDI will pay up to 60% of your weekly earnings to a weekly maximum. SDI will pay benefits for:
- The quarantine period for yourself. It will not cover time off to care for a family member who must be quarantined.
- Should you be diagnosed with COVID-19, SDI will pay for the period of time you are unable to work.
What resources are available to help me and my family navigate concerns regarding coronavirus?
Can managers and staff telecommute if they are required to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19
What steps should be taken if an employee becomes ill with fever, cough, or other concerning symptoms?
Can managers require a staff member who is using sick time (regardless of whether it is COVID-19 related or not) to provide a health care provider's note?
Can managers prohibit staff from coming to work if the staff is known to have contracted COVID-19 themselves or to have had close contact with someone who has?
Do employees get paid if the campus is closed? For how long?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus Disease Outbreak
- California Department of Public Health – Guidance for Colleges and Universities
- CDC: Resources for Institutes of Higher Education