UW Oshkosh is committed to the safety of its staff and students. As we return to a more robust employee presence on our campuses this fall, we ask that employees follow the recommendations and expectations set forth on this page.
Are employees required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
No, UW System is not requiring employees to get vaccinated. Getting a vaccine is highly encouraged and an effective way to control the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses but is not mandated for employees.
Why are employees being asked to report if they’ve been fully vaccinated?
Employees are being asked to report this information to exempt them from required campus surveillance testing. This information is also useful in determining what percent of our campus community is vaccinated as decisions about relaxing safety protocols are reviewed. Employees can use the COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting Form to notify the University once they are fully vaccinated.
Can my supervisor require me to report to work on a UW Oshkosh campus if I am not vaccinated?
Yes, the decision to require employees to physically report to their worksite on campus should be based on operational needs. Employees that are not vaccinated but must return to campus may be required to take additional safety precautions based on CDC recommendations, local public health guidance and Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) standards of operation.
Can my supervisor ask me if I’ve been vaccinated?
Yes, supervisors and department chairs can ask employees to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status. This information can aid in planning the physical workspace as more employees return to our campuses and can help in assigning certain duties. Supervisors and department chairs should treat this information as private and share only with those that have an operations-related reason to know.
Supervisors and department chairs cannot ask further questions about why an employee is not vaccinated, as it could elicit disability-related information that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employees that are not vaccinated should not receive any adverse treatment by their supervisor.
COVID-19: Close Contact, Testing and Positive Cases
What happens if an employee is identified as a “close contact” of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
Employees should not report to work if they have been notified by public health that they are a close contact of someone that has tested positive. They must follow the guidance provided by their public health contact tracer. Their supervisor should be notified if they are not able to report to work. Refer to this close contact guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
While it remains safest to quarantine for 14 days following potential exposure to the virus, the CDC has determined that those who do not have symptoms may be released from quarantine after 10 days without a negative test; or those without symptoms may be released from quarantine after 7 days if they have received a negative test within the 48 hours prior to their release. It is important to continue to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days. View this Fond du Lac County Health Department document for more information.
Who should get tested for COVID-19?
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.
Where can employees go to get tested for COVID-19?
Employees have a number of options when it comes to getting a COVID-19 test:
- Contact your doctor to ask if your primary healthcare clinic is providing testing.
- Go to a free community testing site. Some locations may require a doctor’s note or appointment to receive a test. This website is continually updated as testing locations change.
- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services offers an online health screening assessment. Once completed, a trained medical professional will call you to review your results and answer questions. This confidential assessment is available 24/7.
- Free Prevea testing on Oshkosh campus – download the Prevea app to schedule an appointment.
- Free community testing at Sunnyview Expo Center
What should employees do while they are waiting for their test result?
Do not report to work onsite while you await test results. If you are feeling well enough and can telecommute, you can do so with supervisor approval. If you do not feel well or cannot telecommute, you should use paid leave. If you do not have paid leave available, you can request an unpaid leave of absence. The Next Steps: while you wait for your COVID-19 test results document from the Wisconsin DHS also has helpful information.
What should employees do if someone in their household goes in to get a COVID test?
When a household member is getting tested due to symptoms, all other household members are required to quarantine until the test results come back. If they are negative, all household members can return to normal operations. If the test comes back positive, all household members are required to quarantine for the full 14 days.
If the household member did not have symptoms, then the household does not need to quarantine.
What should employees do if their test comes back positive?
Employees must report a positive COVID-19 test result to the University by using the Positive Case Reporting Form. Employees must also remain off campus and follow directions from their county health department for home isolation.
Your positive test result will be treated as private and shared only with those that need to know. If you have been working onsite, the information provided will be used to coordinate disinfection processes.
When can employees come back to work after a positive test?
Employees should work with their public health case manager to determine when they can safely return to work. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also has posted guidance on when an individual can discontinue home isolation.
Do employees need to provide medical documentation that states they can return to work?
It is encouraged but not required that employees provide appropriate documentation that confirms they can safely return to work. Documentation should be turned in to the employee’s supervisor when the employee reports back to work. Supervisors should forward all medical documentation to Human Resources.
As we reflect on what the work environment looked like one year ago, we remember that many employees were expected to work from home to reduce density on campus and control the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community. We have seen that our pandemic response is working, the COVID-19 vaccine is now offered to any adults who want it, and we are planning for more activity on our campuses in the upcoming months. It is time to change course and restore a stronger presence of faculty and staff at our campuses.
What will work arrangements look like for the fall?
Colleges should work with department and program leaders to help identify the delivery method for each course. Department leaders will have the opportunity to consider the needs of faculty and staff, as well as students, in making instructional assignments. It is ultimately up to each Dean to approve the work arrangements for instructional staff.
Regarding plans for non-instructional staff, each vice chancellor has been tasked with ensuring work arrangements for the summer and next academic year are in place with the understanding that we must have a greater employee presence on our campuses than we have had in the 2020–21 academic year. Employees who are interested in telecommuting over the summer and/or next academic year should discuss their interest with their supervisor so each division can finalize their staffing plans.
What should I do if I am concerned about my work arrangements?
Employees should always address their concerns with the supervisor or department chair. Every effort should be made to find a solution that is workable for both the employee and supervisor, but in some cases the operational need will not allow for certain requests to be granted.
In other cases, there may be an easy solution to address an employee’s concern. Some examples include adjusting a work schedule, changing the physical location of the workstation or rotating days working on campus.
What should an employee do if they are concerned about working on campus due to their own medical condition?
Employees are never required to disclose their personal health information to a supervisor or department chair. An employee’s health information is considered private and confidential. They should contact the Equal Opportunity, Equity and Affirmative Action Office (EOEAA) as soon as possible to discuss their concerns. The EOEAA is responsible for working with employees and their health care providers to collect relevant medical information to determine if an accommodation and/or leave is necessary.
What happens if an employee reports to work while ill?
Employees should perform a self-assessment before coming to work each day. If they are showing any symptoms of illness, they should stay home. If an employee reports to work and it is believed they are ill, their supervisor has the authority to send them home. If an employee believes their co-worker has come to work while sick, they should notify their supervisor.
Supervisors that need help assessing if an employee should be sent home should contact Risk Management or HR. Employees may be required to have their temperature taken or answer other questions to aid in the assessment. Employees that are sent home may be able to telecommute the remainder of the day or use paid or unpaid leave as appropriate.
What happens if an employee does not follow the health and safety guidelines while on campus? (i.e. not wearing a face covering, etc.)
The guidelines that are established as part of the Titans Return plan are considered workplace expectations for all employees. If an employee chooses not to follow these expectations, they will be treated the same as if they were not following other workplace expectations or policies.
If an employee observes their co-worker not following expectations, they could gently remind the employee of the expectation or contact their supervisor. If the behavior isn’t corrected, they should notify their supervisor and/or their co-worker’s supervisor. Supervisors should follow-up on all reports of employees not following the guidelines established.
Supervisors should document all verbal warnings and informal attempts to correct the behavior. If the issue persists, they should contact the Office of Human Resources for assistance in addressing the issue.
Employee Leave and FMLA Options
In certain situations, employees may be eligible to use FMLA if they are unable to work during the pandemic. If an employee or a covered family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) has an underlying health condition or develops a serious health condition as a result of COVID-19, they may be able to use FMLA if they are unable to work. Learn more about FMLA here. If you have questions or need help applying for FMLA, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 920-424-2070.
Telecommuting was required for many of our employees during the initial pandemic response. Some staff that were previously telecommuting have transitioned back to work on one of our campuses or are observing a hybrid schedule. Employees that are interested in continuing to telecommute, even as pandemic-related restrictions start to lift, are encouraged to visit the updated telecommuting website to review the new request form and process.
Supervisors and Department Chairs
If one of my direct reports or department colleagues tell me that they have tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do?
The employee should be instructed to report their positive case using the form in the UWO Mobile app or on the Titans Return website. You should remind them that they need to remain off campus until they are cleared to discontinue isolation per the guidance from the public health contact.
If they are feeling well enough to work from home during their recovery, they can do so with your approval. If they do not feel well enough or do not have work that can be performed remotely, they should use their paid leave.
Can I share a positive test result with concerned co-workers?
All test results, negative or positive, are considered private and confidential. You can share that there has been a confirmed positive case in the area if you feel it is appropriate, but the actual name of the individual should never be disclosed, even if they tell you they are ok if you share their name.
How do I respond to co-workers that are concerned about being a close contact or exposed to someone that has tested positive?
Employees may become concerned, anxious or even panicked when they learn of a positive case in their work unit. You play an important role in helping them work through these difficult situations. Here are some points to keep in mind when navigating these situations:
- Individuals should not assume they are a close contact just because they had interaction with someone that tested positive. Remind them of the definition of close contact. 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 starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
- If they are identified as a close contact, they will be contacted by a contact tracer of the county the infected individual lives in. If the positive case was a student that lives on campus, they will be contacted by a UWO employee that has been trained in contact tracing. While there is no guaranteed timeframe in which someone will be notified if they are a close contact, generally the more time that passes without being notified is a good sign that the colleague was not a close contact.
Employees that are notified they have been a close contact or believe they have been exposed can get tested at the Albee Testing Center on the Oshkosh campus. An appointment can be scheduled through the MyPrevea app.
- If the individual has been following the new safety protocols on campus—including wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing and hand washing on a frequent basis—they have already greatly reduced their risk of contracting the virus.
- There are resources on campus available to answer general questions about COVID 19. Concerned employees can be referred to these resources to aid in collecting accurate, up-to-date information about the virus. This includes emailing COVIDinfo@uwosh.edu or calling the COVID hotline at 920-424-2019.
- Employees experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or any other concerns should also be encouraged to utilize the university’s free, confidential EAP program. More information can be found here.
If I have an employee or department colleague that reports to work while sick, can I require them to go home?
Yes, supervisors do have the ability to send a sick employee home. All supervisors should regularly remind their staff that no one should report to work if they are not feeling well. Prior to the pandemic, employees may have been used to coming to work if they had mild symptoms of illness. During the pandemic, more caution needs to be exercised and anyone with COVID-like symptoms should not report to work. Employees should also be encouraged to complete the self-assessment form every day they plan to be on a campus.
Is there anything different about the process or expectations when dealing with positive cases for student employees?
No, student employees will follow the same process for reporting positive cases as all employees. Student employee do not have the same leave options though. Supervisors of student employee should remind the student to fill out the positive case form and follow the guidance provided for returning to work, etc. Additional information for students is available online.
Supervisors are also encouraged to be proactive, thoughtful, and creative in considering flexible work arrangements, especially in light of challenges created by school closures, quarantines and increased absences for personal illness or to care for dependents.
ADA — Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations may be necessary to keep employees safe during the pandemic. This includes an employee who may be reluctant to return to work due to a disability and/or medical condition (COPD, asthma, congestive heart disease, cancer, etc.) It is important we do not assume all disabilities increase the risk of COVID-19 complications. It is also important we do not make assumptions about what any employee may want or need regarding an accommodation.
Information for Employees
As in any non-COVID-19 related scenario, it is the employee’s obligation to inform their employer of the need for an accommodation due to medical condition.
Employees can request accommodations through the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action (EOEAA) by using the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form. If an employee prefers, they may also call to schedule an appointment with EOEAA to discuss their request.
EOEAA may ask questions or seek medical documentation to assess whether the employee has a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), as well as if the disability can be reasonably accommodated.
There may be circumstances in which providing a reasonable accommodation or alternate work arrangements are not feasible. Employees without approved accommodations are expected to report to work as required by their manger/supervisor.
Information for Managers/Supervisors
If an employee in your unit is having difficulty performing his or her job due to a disability or chronic medical condition, the University will need to consider whether a reasonable accommodation can be made. Reasonable accommodation is any change or modification to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, and enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those without disabilities, without causing significant difficulty or disruption in the workplace or posing a health or safety threat.
As a supervisor it is important for you to know how to recognize and respond to a potential accommodation request and to know what to do with confidential medical information. You should consult the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action(EOEAA), who is responsible for managing reasonable accommodations and related medical leave for the University.
Recognizing a Request
It is important for managers/supervisors to know there are no “magic words” required for an employee to request an accommodation. Managers/supervisors should watch for an employee making a link between having difficulties in the workplace and a disability or medical issue.
When an individual decides to request an accommodation, the individual must let the employer know they need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a disability and/or medical condition. An individual may use “plain English” and need not mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation”.
- Example A: An employee tells their supervisor, “I’m having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I’m undergoing.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Example B: An employee tells their supervisor, “I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that their wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in their office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
- Example D: An employee tells their supervisor that they would like a new chair because their present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, the employee’s statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that they are requesting reasonable accommodation. The employee does not link their need for the new chair with a medical condition.
- Example E: An employee’s spouse phones the employee’s supervisor on Monday morning to inform them that the employee had a medical emergency due to multiple sclerosis, needed to be hospitalized, and thus requires time off. This discussion constitutes a request for reasonable accommodation.
All Medical Information is Confidential
- You cannot ask if an employee has a disability or medical condition.
- You cannot disclose that an employee has a disability or medical condition or disclose that an employee is receiving an accommodation.
- Any medical information (written or verbal) you receive must go to EOEAA and should not be shared with others.
Responding to a Request
As a supervisor/manager you must contact EOEAA:
- As soon as you become aware of an employee with a disability or medical condition.
- As soon as an employee requests an accommodation from you.
- Before imposing disciplinary action, up to and including termination, when there is a disability or a perceived disability.
- Whenever you recognize a significant change in an employee’s attendance, performance or behavior, or if you believe a disability or medical condition is contributing in any way to performance, conduct, or attendance issues.