Breadcrumbs

COVID-19 title block

Page title

UT System Administration

Main page content

Updated Aug 21, 2020


UT System Administration Guide to Returning to the Workplace

This document provides guidelines to promote a healthy and safe environment as more employees and tenants return to working in the UT System Building.

 


 

The University of Texas System Administration is coordinating with local, state and national public health authorities to ensure it is doing all it can to minimize risks to its employees and the community.  In addition to regular email updates, Chancellor James B. Milliken held Virtual Town Hall Meetings to communicate with System Administration staff on March 24April 23May 29, and August 21.

Time-sensitive or emergency messages about the status of UT System operations and the building will be sent by text.  Employees should make sure that their cell phone information is enrolled and correct through this link: How to Contact Me in the Event of an Emergency

The following FAQs are intended to provide guidance to UT System Administration employees on the application of policies and best practices related to COVID-19.  The information on this page is not legal advice and is subject to change.  Specific practices may vary depending on each department’s unique circumstances and needs.  The UT System will update questions and answers as the situation evolves.

If you have questions that you would like considered for inclusion on this FAQ page, please submit them to COVID-19@utsystem.edu.  If you have a question that requires a direct and prompt response, contact the appropriate System Administration department office.  


FAQ Table of Contents


UT Systemwide Resources

 

UT System Administration Resources

 


Returning to the Workplace

 

How and when will employees return to the workplace?

The UT System provides critical support and leadership to the institutions and the state of Texas, and we have a responsibility to do so as efficiently and effectively as possible, which means working in the office for some System Administration staff. However, the health and safety of UT System employees and building tenants are the highest priority.

Employees will return to the workplace incrementally, taking into account the following: 

1. Job duties cannot be performed remotely, or employees indicate they prefer to work in the building; 

2. Job duties can partly, but not entirely, be performed remotely; 

3. Employee is needed to work in the building based on managerial priority; and/or 

4. Employee would be more productive onsite rather than working remotely.

Precautions have been in place to mitigate the risk for those who have continued to periodically report to the office. Additional safety precautions, procedures and protocol were implemented when increased staffing levels began June 15.

What happened to the three-phase approach to returning to the building?

As promised, revisions to the initial plans for returning to the building were made in response to changing conditions and health concerns in the community. In the first phase, which began June 15, up to 25% of System Administration employees were invited to return to the building if they wished to do so or to meet business needs. When the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Austin area began increasing in July, some staff members returned to working from home. As the numbers of cases and hospitalizations improve, additional employees may choose to work in the building. While specific percentage goals and dates have been suspended for now, the Return-to-Work Task Force and Executive Officers maintain their intent to gradually and incrementally increase staffing in the building based on employees’ preferences and personal factors, business needs and community risk.

Are all building tenants (such as AFC) coming back in phases, or will they be back to maximum capacity before UT System Administration?

Building Management is openly communicating and coordinating with tenants to confirm that local, state, and federal guidelines are observed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all UT System Building occupants. All building tenants have indicated that they will follow UT System’s directives with regard to the number of personnel in the building, daily screenings, physical distancing, face coverings, and exposure notifications as outlined in the UT System Administration Building Guide to Returning to the Workplace.

 

 Staffing

While most people do not require hospitalization for COVID-19, it can still be very serious and may even result in long-term or chronic health issues. That causes a lot of concern about returning to work in the building. Will returning to the building be optional for all—not just those who have a medical or childcare exception—until a vaccine or treatment becomes available?

The top priority is our employees’ health and safety. Telecommuting has been an effective way for many employees to safely fulfill their job responsibilities. But some jobs require presence in the building, and we have strict protocols, procedures and systems in place to provide a healthy work environment. As a public organization, the UT System is expected to maintain business continuity and provide needed services to UT institutions and the state of Texas. At some point when the risk of infection and community spread is considered safe, we anticipate most, if not all, roles will require at least some physical presence in the building. In the meantime, department heads and supervisors have been asked to take into consideration an employee’s risk and personal factors when scheduling staff to return to the building. 

What criteria will be used in determining when all employees will return to the building full-time? Will advance notice be provided?

We do not now yet when all employees will return to working in the building full-time, but we do not expect that to occur anytime soon. That decision will be made based on the best advice from state and federal health authorities. In the meantime, we will gradually and incrementally increase staffing in the building based on employees’ preferences and personal factors, business needs and community risk. Employees will be notified well in advance of being asked to return to the building to ensure they can make any personal arrangements needed.

What about families with K-12 students that are still attending classes from home?

We know there are many issues related to remote learning and available childcare. Employees who are able to work from home may continue to do so. Supervisors and department heads will take into consideration an employee’s personal situation along with business needs when making scheduling decisions.

How will staffing be coordinated for returning to the workplace?

Remote Work—Employees who can accomplish their work remotely may continue to do so with a supervisor’s approval to reduce the number of individuals in the building. Depending on the business needs of the department, employees could work remotely on a full or partial day/week schedule. 

Physical Distancing—Staff who are in adjacent workstations will not be scheduled to work the same days or hours. If there is a business need for individuals to be in adjacent workstations, as determined by the supervisor and department head, Facilities Management may provide plexiglass barriers or other controls if needed to mitigate risk.  

Alternating Days—Departments are asked to schedule partial staffing on alternating days to limit the number of individuals in the building and enable physical distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces. 

Staggered Reporting/Departing—To reduce the number of people coming together at the building’s entry/exit points, the beginning and end of the workday will be staggered.  

I have one of the higher risk conditions, but it is very controlled. Some of my job duties are better done at the office. Will my health condition preclude me from coming to the office at all?

No. While you will not be required to return to the workplace, you will not be prohibited, either.  Staffing decisions will be made by department heads and executive officers based on an employee’s risk and personal factors and associated business needs. There will be safeguards in place in the building to lower the risk of transmission, but we cannot fully eliminate that risk. Each employee will be responsible for following the required precautions to help mitigate the risk of infection for themselves and others.

 

Guidance and Training

Where can I find the UT System guidelines for returning to the workplace?

The guidelines are posted on the System Administration Resources COVID-19 website. Click on the Guide to Returning to the Workplace button.

Where can I find the training required for returning to the workplace?

You can access the training in the Learning Zone. The job aid to help you find the training can be found on the Office of Human Resources Coronavirus Resources website.

What is the deadline for completing the UT System Guidelines and Safe Practices for Returning to the Workplace training?

Please review and acknowledge the training before or immediately upon your return to the UT System Building.

Who should I contact if I am having issues completing the training?

Please contact Grace Depmore in the Office of Talent and Innovation for assistance with any training issues.

 

Screening

Will there be screening for people entering the building?

Yes.  Daily health screenings and temperature checks will be conducted in the first-floor lobby of the UT System building. Individuals who pass the screening and temperature check will have a sticker placed on their badge, enabling them to reenter the building the rest of that day without going through an additional screening process.  

Individuals who answers “yes” to any of the screening questions or who have an elevated temperature (above 100.4 degrees) will be denied entry. 

Each day, employees should be prepared to answer the following three screening questions before entering the building: 

  1. Have you developed new onset or increased symptoms consistent with Covid-19? 

  • Fever or chills 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache 
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat 
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  1. Have you been in known contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 14 days? 

  1. Have you traveled internationally in the last 14 days? 

How will situations of non-compliance with the building safety requirements be handled?

People who refuse the health screening will be asked to return home and not be allowed to enter the building. 

If you witness situations of non-compliance with safety guidelines once in the building, employees are encouraged to: 

  1. Remind those individuals of the guidelines;  

  1. Talk to your supervisor or department head; 

  1. Send a message to the COVID-19 email (COVID-19@utsystem.edu); or 

  1. Anonymous reports can be made through the Compliance Hotline (1-877-217-2426 or Online). 

 

Masks

Will masks or face coverings be required in the building?

Face masks or face coverings must be worn in common areas of the building and where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as elevators, shared workspaces, meeting rooms and breakrooms. 

Individuals should provide their own face masks and wear them as they come into the building. Disposable masks will be available if an employee forgets to bring their own. UT System has ordered cloth masks and will provide one per System Administration employee upon your return to work the building.

Masks should be washed and/or replaced regularly. Cloth face coverings should be laundered after each day they are worn. Disposable masks should not be used for more than one day and should then be thrown away. 

Will employees in cubicles be required to masks or face coverings all day? 

Masks or face coverings are required if at least 6 feet of separation cannot be maintained.  If workstations are less than 6 feet apart and adjacent staff will be working at the same time, Facilities Management may provide plexiglass barriers or other controls if needed to mitigate the risk and reduce the need for employees to wear a mask all day.  Supervisors and department heads have been asked to coordinate work schedules with staff to avoid having employees working in adjacent workstations.

 

Notifications/Precautions

What do I do if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

Any occupant of the building who is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 must immediately report that exposure or diagnosis to their supervisor, and their HR business partner, who will notify appropriate System Administration officials. Employees should not send any medical documentation unless requested by HR. If HR requires further information, they will contact the employee and will keep the information confidential in accordance with state and federal laws related to employee health records. Supervisors and department heads must exercise the same level of confidentiality and treat the information and records they receive from an employee as they would any ADA or FMLA documentation. 

Employees who contract the coronavirus will not be allowed to return to the workplace until at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, which is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.  A doctor’s note certifying fitness must be provided to Human Resources before returning to the workplace.  Employees who feel well enough to continue working while in quarantine may do so remotely if approved by their supervisor.

What should immediate supervisors do if one of their employees reports they suspect they have COVID-19 or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19?

Supervisors should treat the information confidentially and send it to HR.  Supervisors and department heads must exercise the same level of confidentiality and treat the information and records they receive from an employee as they would with any ADA or FMLA documentation.

What does System Administration do when there is a report of a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 within employees that someone in the UT System Building or other System Administration location?

As soon as a suspected case or known exposure of COVID-19 is reported, contact tracing is implemented to identify and notify anyone who may be at risk of exposure. The CDC defines “contact” as spending 15 minutes or more within six feet of an individual within the timeframe they would have been contagious. Those individuals are asked to proactively self-isolate until test results have been returned. The areas of the building where the at-risk individual spent time are also proactively cleaned and disinfected.

A confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis is confidential health information.  All System Administration employees will be notified in a timely manner if a positive COVID-19 case among staff, tenants or visitors (including vendors) is warranted by health and safety concerns and if disclosure is consistent with guidance from federal, state and/or local health authorities.  Employees identified as having been in close contact with a positive individual will be notified first and asked to continue self-isolating for 14 days at home.

Because most System Administration employees and building tenants are currently telecommuting, the risk of exposure has decreased.  If the positive case is an individual who has not physically worked or been in a System Administration location in 14 days or more, notification may not be warranted.  Also, not all System Administration employees work in the same city, and a confirmed positive case in one building may not warrant a notification to System Administration employees in all locations.

With confirmed reports of people working in the UT System Building who have tested positive for COVID-19, what is being done to make sure spaces are clean and safe?

PBS, the cleaning contractor, cleans and disinfects all common areas at least 3 times a day.  Upon notification of a confirmed report, Facilities Management will take steps to immediately clean and disinfect all areas known to have been accessed by the employee.  This includes the individual’s work area, any common areas, the screening area, lobby and elevators.  In addition to the cleaning, Facilities Management has also increased the amount of fresh air that is circulated in the building, the frequency of air filter maintenance, and filter changes.

When identifying individuals “who worked near” a person confirmed to have tested positive for COVID, are you able to track those who may have come in contact with the individual in the common areas, such as at the COVID screening area in the lobby or riding in the elevator together? What steps are taken to identify all individuals with whom the COVID positive person may have had contact?

When a confirmed case is reported, a member of the COVID-19 team will interview the individual to determine the dates, times and locations of the person in the building.  This includes the individual’s work area, any common areas, screening area, lobby and elevators. 

The team member will also ask whether the person had close contact with any individual in the building.  For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes within two days of exhibiting symptoms or of being tested.

If any close contacts are identified, the team member will notify these individuals, instruct them to self-isolate for 14 days, and advise them to consult their healthcare provider if COVID-19 symptoms develop.  Employees who are notified that they have been in contact with someone being tested for COVID-19 should not return to the workplace until test results have been returned and confirmed as negative.

Employees who may have been in the same area but do not meet the definition of “close contact” are not considered to have been exposed and are not notified.

What is the definition of “contact” in the context of contact tracing?

The CDC generally defines “contact” as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more within two days of exhibiting symptoms or of being tested. 

What should an employee do before returning to work after a period of self-isolation?

After the 14 days of self-isolation, individuals should contact Human Resources for updated guidance and requirements before returning to work in the building. Employees who are working remotely may be able to continue working during the self-isolation period.

Will System Administration share employees’ reports of suspected or positive COVID-19 cases with anyone outside of System Administration?

System Administration may provide information to local, state, or federal health authorities as requested to facilitate ongoing measures to address and prevent spread of the illness. System Administration will follow the CDC recommendations related to reporting.

 

Facilities (Including Cleaning, Meetings, and Use of Amenities)

What is the plan for keeping the building clean?

The building interior will be cleaned and disinfected according to CDC guidelines and Occupational and Environmental Safety Office requirements. The custodial staff will regularly clean all common areas, including lobbies, meeting rooms, breakrooms, restrooms, main hallways, and common area appliances and equipment, including printer keypads. Disinfectant wipes will be provided for employees to use in cleaning their own desks and workspaces and any shared equipment they use. 

HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will be regularly assessed and cleaned. 

Employees should use disinfectant wipes to clean the surfaces of commonly used equipment and surfaces, such as printers and doorknobs, before and after use.

Will meetings and visitors be allowed?

To avoid large numbers of employees congregating in meeting spaces, the use of meeting platforms such as TEAMS, Skype, and Zoom is highly recommended.  

Each conference room has a significantly reduced capacity and occupancy is clearly marked with signage.  While in the meeting space, attendees should maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet.  If that is not possible, attendees should wear masks.

Coordinate meeting schedules through the online system and notify Facilities Management whenever a meeting room is used. This will enable the custodial crew to clean and disinfect the room between uses. Thirty minutes will be reserved between meetings to provide time for crews to thoroughly clean and disinfect the rooms. 

Inviting visitors and other guests to the UT System Building is strongly discouraged and should be limited to essential business only.

Does the UT System have authority to restrict access to our business locations?

Yes. To limit the possibility of employees being exposed to COVID-19, System Administration may opt to restrict access to its locations by anyone other than employees, including visitors and vendors.  At this time, access to the building is allowed only through badge access.  The Army Futures Command and UTIMCO have agreed to follow UT System’s lead in limiting access to the building. UFCU customers will only be able to access the lobby and garage once this branch has re-opened for business.

What are the guidelines for use of building amenities and common areas?

Lobbies: Individuals should limit the amount of time spent in the lobbies to the extent practical. Masks or face coverings must always be worn while in the lobbies. 

Elevators: No more than 4 people at a time are allowed in an elevator to avoid proximity with others in a confined space. Masks or face coverings must always be worn while in the elevators. 

Restrooms: Limit the number of people in a restroom at one time and avoid queuing or congregating to maintain at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Wash hands thoroughly to reduce potential transmission of the virus. Masks or face coverings must always be worn while in the restrooms. 

Breakrooms:  No more than 3 people may be in a break room at one time. Dining areas in the breakrooms are open with appropriate distancing requirements.  Masks or face coverings must always be worn while in the breakrooms. Single serve coffee and water/ice machines will continue to operate but shared coffeepots may not be used. Disposable plates, cups, and flatware will be provided. 

Wellness Center: The Wellness Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Disinfection and additional cleaning will occur Monday through Friday in the evenings and during the hours of 9:30-10:30 a.m. and 2:00-3:00 p.m.

No more than 10 occupants may be in the equipment and free weight areas of the Wellness Center at one time.  

Individuals must maintain at least 6 feet of distance from one another unless required for a safety reason such as spotting, in which case a mask or face covering must be worn.  

Equipment must be wiped down before and after use by the person using the equipment.  

Maximum occupancy in the Wellness Center classrooms will be posted.  

Individuals must also maintain at least 6 feet of distance from one another in locker rooms and shower areas.

Grab-N-Go:  The Grab-N-Go on the 19th floor will be open but anyone entering the area must wear a mask or face covering and observe physical distancing guidelines. Food, drink, and snack options will be limited through the early phases of returning to the building.    The 19th floor dining area is open with appropriate distancing requirements.

 

As more information comes out that COVID-19 is not only transmitted by droplets but also is potentially airborne, could you confirm that the building meets recommended air filtration standards?

The air filtration system used in the UT System Building is actually rated higher than the systems typically required for comparable buildings. It uses a MERV 13 air filter, which blocks bacteria, smoke, and other microscopic particles. We also have increased the frequency of filter inspections and associated change-out of filters.

The building’s air handlers are equipped with UV bulbs, which also help kill a variety of bacteria, mold and viruses within the bulbs’ “line of sight.”

Additional related safety measures include increasing the outside fresh air flow to 50% to dilute and remove contaminants and air particles, and increasing our preventive maintenance inspections and cleanings of the HVAC systems.

Return to Table of Contents

 

General Overview

What is System Administration doing to protect employees in response to COVID-19?

A task force made up of representatives from multiple UT System Administration departments is carefully monitoring information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local, county and state public health authorities. The System Administration’s Pandemic Response Plan has been activated and changes to daily operations have been made to help protect employees and the community.  The UT System is complying with all federal, state and local government orders. 

What is the UT System doing to support the institutions and the state?

The chancellor, executive vice chancellors, chief medical officer and chief compliance and risk officer regularly meet virtually with the institution presidents once per week to discuss challenges facing the institutions, determine the support needed and share best practices. Representatives from UT System’s HR, legal and risk management offices are also meeting regularly with their counterparts at the institutions to offer assistance and guidance. A cross-functional team representing multiple System Administration departments is also meeting weekly to communicate and coordinate responses to and from the institutions and federal, state and local government and health officials.

Governor Abbott recently appointed Dr. John Zerwas, execute vice chancellor for health affairs, to serve on a statewide strike task force with responsibility for hospital relations and preparedness and as a medical advisor on his Strike Force to Open Texas. Dr. David Lakey, vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer, is also coordinating with state officials on the COVID-19 response and protections. Both are working closely with the UT health institutions to ensure they are able to help them most effectively serve patients and protect employees. 

What steps are department heads and employees taking to respond to the current situation with COVID-19?

Department heads:

  • Implementing department’s business continuity and contingency plans.
  • Maintaining all critical business operations, with responsible individuals and backup personnel designated.
  • Providing telecommuting options and adjusted job duties for employees working remotely.
  • Supporting employees who are telecommuting by sharing resources and keeping them informed of training and other opportunities.
  • Allowing flexible schedules for employees working remotely who are also taking care of young children or other family members at home.
  • Updating and maintaining department emergency contact lists. 
  • Ensuring that department supervisors stay up-to-date on System Administration communications related to COVID-19 and encouraging them to ask questions and reach out to the Office of Talent and Innovation (Human Resources) and ORM for assistance as needed.

All: 

  • Telecommuting when possible and maintaining job responsibilities using remote access. OTIS has information posted on UT4U and is available to help with various remote access options.
  • Using available technology, such as Zoom, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams to maintain contact with coworkers.
  • Maintaining personal health and safety practices.  Refer to CDC guidance for best practices on how to protect yourself. 

Return to Table of Contents

 

Employee Travel

Are employees permitted to travel for business?

Federal guidance from the CDC and Department of State still advises against travel internationally. 

Essential travel may be permitted but must be approved by your department head as well as the appropriate Executive Officer, Phil Dendy, or Julie Goonewardene. 

Those traveling should allot additional time for airport screening measures, which generally include temperature checks and questionnaires, and should follow directives from authorities. No one should travel while sick, as this poses a variety of risks including additional screening measures, potential entry denial, and quarantine. Additionally, anyone who is sick risks spreading germs and infection to others. The CDC answers other common travel-related questions, including the risk of infection on airplanes, here

 

Are employees required to report personal travel to their department?

Employees should notify their department head if there is any concern that personal travel plans could affect your ability to return to work.

The CDC Travelers Health Notices site and the CDC COVID-19 Travel site are the best sources for the latest information and guidance regarding possible travel concerns.  

Refer to the Health & Safety section below.

Refer to the Human Resources section below for information on employee telecommuting or leave during self-isolation. 

Are employees required to report travel (business or personal) by employees’ household members?

Employees must notify their manager if they have a household member who travels internationally.  An employee may be required to work from home and self-isolate for 14 days after the family member’s return from a trip. 

If someone develops symptoms of respiratory illness and has traveled from an affected geographic area within 14 days of symptom onset or has other reason to believe that the symptoms are related to possible COVID-19 exposure, what steps should they take?

According to the CDC and other public health authorities, anyone exposed to COVID-19, even if asymptomatic, should self-isolate for 14 days. Those who contract COVID-19 will also be isolated and should follow the advice of medical personnel. Call your medical provider to seek guidance. Many providers are providing guidance through telehealth services or other means that could prevent a trip to the doctor’s office. If needed, the medical provider may direct you to come into the clinic or go to the emergency room if your symptoms are severe. Again, it is important to call ahead so that they are ready for your visit.

Your healthcare provider will work with the local health department to decide if COVID-19 testing is needed. There are a variety of options for testing available in the Austin area, and you may be advised to visit one if your healthcare provider believes testing is needed.

The individual should be isolated from others while arrangements are made for transport to appropriate medical care.

Employees who suspect they have COVID-19 or have received a positive diagnosis should notify their immediate supervisor verbally or in writing (email). System Administration may require the employee to follow any quarantine or isolation orders. In those cases, department heads should determine how best to allow employees to work remotely if not already doing so.

The CDC has extensive guidance related to COVID-19, including specific guidance on “What To Do If You Are Sick” and “Caring For Yourself At Home.”

Return to Table of Contents

 

Health & Safety

During the March Town Hall meeting, Dr. Lakey mentioned a helpful article about the coronavirus and how it spreads. Can I get a copy of it?

The article Dr. Lakey mentioned appeared in the March 20, 2020, issue of The Atlantic. Why the Coronavirus Has Been So Successful” explains scientists’ theories about where it came from and why it’s behaving in such an extreme way.

Do employees have to report to anyone at System Administration if they suspect they have COVID-19 or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19?

Yes, employees should report this information to their immediate supervisor verbally or in writing. 

Employees should limit the information they provide to their immediate supervisors to the basis for their report - whether they suspect they have COVID-19 or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.  Employees should not send any medical documentation unless requested by HR. If HR requires further information, they will contact the employee and will keep the information confidential in accordance with state and federal laws related to employee health records. 

What should immediate supervisors do if one of their employees reports they suspect they have COVID-19 or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19?

Supervisors should treat the information confidentially and send it to HR.  Supervisors and department heads must exercise the same level of confidentiality and treat the information and records they receive from an employee as they would with any ADA or FMLA documentation.

Will System Administration share employees’ reports of suspected or positive COVID-19 cases with anyone outside of System Administration?

System Administration may provide information to local, state, or federal health authorities as requested to facilitate ongoing measures to address and prevent spread of the illness. System Administration will follow the CDC recommendations related to reporting.

If someone develops symptoms of respiratory illness and has traveled from an affected geographic area within 14 days of symptom onset or has other reason to believe that the symptoms are related to possible COVID-19 exposure, what steps should they take?

According to the CDC and other public health authorities, anyone exposed to COVID-19, even if asymptomatic, should self-isolate for 14 days. Those who contract COVID-19 will also be isolated and should follow the advice of medical personnel. Call your medical provider to seek guidance. Many providers are providing guidance through telehealth services or other means that could prevent a trip to the doctor’s office. If needed, the medical provider may direct you to come into the clinic or go to the emergency room if your symptoms are severe. Again, it is important to call ahead so that they are ready for your visit.

Your healthcare provider will work with the local health department to decide if COVID-19 testing is needed. Drive-through options for testing are currently being developed in the Austin area, and you may be advised to visit one if your healthcare provider believes testing is needed.

The individual should be isolated from others while arrangements are made for transport to appropriate medical care.

Employees who suspect they have COVID-19 or have received a positive diagnosis should notify their immediate supervisor verbally or in writing (email). System Administration may require the employee to follow any quarantine or isolation orders. In those cases, department heads should determine how best to allow employees to work remotely if not already doing so.

The CDC has extensive guidance related to COVID-19, including specific guidance on “What To Do If You Are Sick” and “Caring For Yourself At Home.”

What should an employee do before returning to work after a period of self-isolation?

After the 14 days of self-isolation, individuals should contact their supervisor for updated guidance and requirements before returning to work in the building. Employees who are working remotely may be able to continue working during the self-isolation period.

Are any additional efforts being taken to clean the building?

The cleaning staff continue to more frequently wipe down high-touch surfaces, including door handles, printers and countertops. Disposable flatware, cups and plates have been provided in the breakrooms.

Does the UT System have authority to restrict access to our business locations?

Yes.  To limit the possibility of employees being exposed to COVID-19, System Administration may opt to restrict access to its locations by anyone other than employees, including visitors and vendors.  At this time, access to the building is allowed only through badge access.  The Army Futures Command and UTIMCO have agreed to follow UT System’s lead in limiting access to the building. UFCU customers are no longer able to access the lobby and garage.

Will System Administration notify its employees if it receives notice that a System Administration employee, occupant of or visitor to the UT System building or other System Administration location has tested positive for COVID-19?

A positive COVID-19 diagnosis is confidential health information.  System Administration will notify employees in a timely manner if it is notified of a positive COVID-19 case among its workforce, tenants, or visitors (including vendors) if it determines that health and safety concerns warrant notification and if disclosure is consistent with guidance from federal, state, and/or local health authorities.  

Because most System Administration employees and building tenants are currently telecommuting, the risk of exposure has decreased.  If the positive case is an individual who has not physically worked or been in a System Administration location in 14 days or more, notification may not be warranted.  Also, not all System Administration employees work in the same city, and a confirmed positive case of a Houston-, Dallas-, or Midland-based employee may not warrant a notification to all Austin-based System Administration employees, for example. 

If a notification is made, it will be (1) to employees believed to have been in contact with the positive individual (e.g., who were in the same area of the building within a relevant timeframe); and (2) limited to information necessary to protect the health of those possibly exposed to the positive individual.

Return to Table of Contents

 

Human Resources

For Human Resources-related questions not addressed below, supervisors should contact their HR Business Partners.  For leave-related questions, employees may email leave@utsystem.edu.

UT System Office of Human Resources Coronavirus Resources

For the purposes of on-site work during the pandemic, who is defined as “essential personnel” at System Administration?

Department heads should determine essential personnel for on-site work according to departmental functions and business needs. At this time, the goal is to limit essential personnel to employees whose job functions require them to be in the building.

What are the expectations for employees who telecommute during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Telecommuting employees are expected to complete their job responsibilities as established by their supervisors and to work their regular total number of weekly hours. Supervisors may allow employees to perform work outside of regular business hours and must approve flexible work arrangements in writing (email) with the employee.

Employees who continue to work in the building based on business needs, and in consultation with their supervisors, should take whatever technology and/or materials are needed to work remotely home with them daily. Employees who need to take a sick day or wish to take a day off should request the use of personal leave as they typically do.

During the period that the System Administration workforce is primarily working remotely, can employees take their desk chairs from their UT System offices to use in their temporary home offices?

Generally, employees will not be permitted to take their office chairs from the System Administration building to use at home.  If an employee has a physical condition that may qualify them to use their office chair at home as a reasonable accommodation, they should contact Human Resources at hrbp@utsystem.edu.

During the period that System Administration is encouraging the workforce to telecommute, may a supervisor allow telecommuting by independent contractors, contracted temporary employees, or UTemps who provide services physically located in their department?

Yes.  Independent contractors, contracted temporary employees, and UTemps may be allowed to telecommute if department heads determine that their work may be performed remotely and is necessary for business continuity purposes. 

If System Administration requires all but essential personnel to telecommute and an employee’s job duties cannot be performed remotely during that period, how will the employee’s time be treated?

Employees should refer to UT System’s Coronavirus Leave Guide for more information and contact leave@utsystem.edu for assistance.

Generally, for leave-eligible employees (those who work at least 20 hours and whose positions do not require student status):

  • The employee’s job duties may be temporarily adjusted to require work that can be performed remotely;
  • The employee may use their accrued paid leave (e.g., vacation leave or compensatory time) until it is exhausted; or
  • The employee may be eligible for leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), depending on the circumstances. 

 

After employees have exhausted accrued paid leave, System Administration may require the employee to take unpaid leave. 

For employees who are not leave-eligible:

  • The employee may be temporarily assigned work that can be performed remotely;
  • The employee may be eligible for leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), depending on the circumstances; or
  • If remote work is unavailable, the employees may be required to take unpaid leave.  
What type of paid leave is available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) enacted on March 18, 2020, and effective on April 1, 2020?

Employees should refer to UT System’s Coronavirus Leave Guide for detailed guidance on the FFCRA.

Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitle an employee to take leave to avoid contracting COVID-19?

No.  Generally, the FMLA provides protected leave for an employee’s own, actual serious health condition or for the employee to care for a family member (defined by law) who has an actual, serious health condition. A “serious health condition” does not include concern that COVID-19 or any other disease could be contracted.

Should a department head require an employee who is out sick (not due to COVID-19) to provide a health care provider’s note before returning to work?

UTS policy (HOP 3.3.1) requires an employee to provide their manager a doctor’s note indicating the cause or nature of the condition when an employee returns to work after an absence of three or more consecutive workdays. This requirement may be modified as the current situation requires.  A manager should contact Human Resources at hrbp@utsystem.edu with any questions related to an employee’s return to work.

If an employee becomes sick or must care for a family member who is sick (due to COVID-19 or another illness), can the employee’s time be designated as sick leave?

If an employee or family member becomes ill from COVID-19, the employee’s leave may be designated as paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) or, if the employee elects, as state sick leave.  Employees should refer to UT System’s Coronavirus Leave Guide for detailed guidance.  Depending on the circumstances, including employee eligibility, the leave may also be designated as Family and Medical Leave. 

UT System sick leave policies and practices will apply if an employee or family member becomes ill unrelated to COVID-19.  

If an employee is sick or caring for a family member and not working, they should notify their supervisor. 

Employees may want to discuss with their supervisor the possibility of using leave intermittently.  Supervisors should reach out to HR for guidance regarding employee leave.

When primary/secondary schools and/or childcare centers are closed , can employees who are parents or caregivers take time off from work to care for family members impacted by the school closure?

If possible, the employee could telecommute according to System Administration guidelines.  

If the employee cannot work or telecommute due to school closures or the unavailability of childcare, the employee may be eligible to use paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or may use accrued vacation or compensatory time.  Employees should refer to UT System’s Coronavirus Leave Guide for detailed guidance.

If personnel are required to work despite a worksite closure, will they be eligible for hazard pay?

By Texas law, only certain law enforcement personnel are eligible for hazardous duty pay.

If an employee is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the course and scope of employment, is the employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?

Any UT employee who believes he or she has suffered an on-the-job injury or illness should contact their WCI Representative to report the injury or illness.

If an employee is on unpaid leave due to a temporary worksite closure, may the employee accept outside employment?

Yes, but only if the UT System approves that request after the employee follows HOP 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 procedures on accepting outside employment.

Can we get hazard pay for essential workers who are required to return to work in the building?

State law defines the job responsibilities that qualify for hazardous duty pay, such as law enforcement. The definitions do not apply to most UT System employee job duties.

Return to Table of Contents

 

Employee Benefits

Latest Updates from the Office of Employee Benefits.

Will UT SELECT provide coverage for COVID-19? What out-of-pocket costs should a member expect to pay?
  • Effective immediately, the UT SELECT, and UT CONNECT plan will not require prior authorization and will waive member copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles associated with testing for COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.
  • With regard to treatment for COVID-19, UT SELECT and UT CONNECT will cover medically necessary services at 100%including network physician services, hospitalization, and emergency services.
  • No primary care physician copayment will apply for medically necessary COVID-19 treatment delivered to a patient who may be quarantined under CDC guidelines in a setting other than inpatient.
  • For specific questions about your UT SELECT coverage, members should call your Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Advocate at 866-882-2034.  For UT CONNECT please contact the CONNECT customer service team at 888-399-8889.
  • Telemedicine and telehealth visits for medical and behavioral health care will now be covered for patients seeking non-COVID-19 related care through their providers office.  A copayment will apply.  This will assist our members to maintain social distancing and stay-in-place requirements.
  • Virtual doctor visits through MDLIVE continue to be available with no out-of-pocket costs and can be used when appropriate.
  • Members seeking step down post-acute medical care will not be required to obtain a prior authorization prior to moving to post-acute care.  This allows hospitals to move and clear non-COVID-19 patients appropriately and timely.  Prior Authorization continues to be required for behavioral health post-acute care.
  • Any person experiencing illness should contact their doctor or MDLIVE. 
  • Should members need to access an early refill of prescription medication, they may do so through their UT SELECT and UT CONNECT prescription benefits. Express Scripts, our pharmacy benefit manager, has lifted the “refill too soon” limitations to accommodate early refills for prescription medications up to a 90-day supply.
  • All other UT Benefits programs will continue to operate according to the plan specifications outlined here. This includes dental, vision, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability and Life Insurance. For disability and life insurance purposes, COVID-19 will be considered just as any other illness.
When a vaccine is approved for COVID-19, does UT System plan to provide those or will we need to receive one from an approved provider?

There is not currently a plan to provide COVID-19 vaccines.  If you are a member of the UT SELECT health plan, the plan will pay for any COVID-19 treatment, including vaccines, when available.  It is anticipated that treatment and/or vaccines will be available from both Blue Cross and Blue Shield network providers and providers who are not in the network.  If is most cost effective for the patient and the plan to receive care at a network provider.  Providers may be located through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield provider link.  

I appreciate the opportunity to work from home but I miss my usual routine and my coworkers. How can I make the most of this new working arrangement?

Adjusting to fulltime telecommuting can be more difficult than one might expect. It may feel isolating if you’re home alone, or challenging to balance work/life issues when working with spouses and/or children nearby. UT System’s Employee Benefits offers tips for working productively—and staying emotionally healthy—while working remotely.

Return to Table of Contents