Supervisor Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19

MANAGING EMPLOYEES
Is the university continuing normal operations?

The University is sustaining operations and at this time, supervisors should implement plans to socially distance their workforce utilizing telecommuting, alternate work shift, days, hours and have limited staff on campus no later than March 23, 2020.

In Governor Laura Kelly’s address on March 17, 2020, she indicated that some State employees are ordered to stay home on administrative leave for two (2) weeks beginning March 23, 2020. Does this apply to University employees?

The Governor’s reference to “some State employees” refers to executive branch employees and does not include employees of Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) institutions

What should I do if I have an employee(s) that states they are not feeling well or are ill?

If an employee is not feeling well or is ill, please encourage the employee to consider staying home from work. This will help keep our workforce healthy. Employees should use available leave for time away from work.

What else can I do in preparation for a change to normal operations ?

Please ensure that your departments Business Continuity Plan (BCP) has been updated and that you have a way of communicating with employees if normal business operations change.

What should I consider in order to establish a telecommuting working arrangement with an employee(s)?

During this time, WSU encourages supervisors to be flexible and creative in considering temporary telework situations so that the work of your department can continue. As the supervisor, and if business operations allow, you may consider allowing an arrangement in which an employee(s) telecommutes from home or an alternate location. Faculty members should seek approval from the appropriate department chair, academic leader or dean.

If an employee has the ability to work from home/alternative location, the employee should discuss this with their supervisor to identify the location that the employee wishes to work from and for how long. The supervisor should either approve or deny based on the business needs. The supervisor should clearly identify the expectations for the work and the time period approved. The employee should be in regular contact with their supervisor during this time about their work, productivity, etc. Supervisors may, at any time, adjust the arrangement for employees to work from home/alternate work site.

See more information on telecommuting

Who determines if an employee can work from home or an alternate work location?

During the COVID-19 period, departments have been authorized to make this decision. Factors to consider are type of job duties and whether they can be performed remotely and/or if the employee is considered at high risk of serious illness if infected with the virus.

When can employees start working from home or an alternate work location during the COVID-19 period?

The decision has been delegated to departments and may be started immediately. For at-risk employees, the sooner the better.

Are there other things I can consider to manage staffing?

Depending on your department needs, as well as the employee, you may also want to consider flexible/adjusted work hours. In order to create more distancing, you may consider staggering work shifts. Be creative. You know best how to get the work done in your department.

Can an employee on an H1-B visa request to perform their work via a telecommuting arrangement?

Yes, and we encourage supervisors to be as flexible as possible.

Is an employee required to have a dedicated home office for telecommuting?

Employees can work from any alternative work site that allows them to perform the duties of their position.

What do I need to consider for a Student Worker(s)

Supervisors should work with these students on a case-by-case basis given individual circumstances. If they are required to work, please consider whether they can perform their essential work functions via telecommuting. Whenever possible, we encourage supervisors to allow them to telecommute or adjust their work method in another manner to avoid financial hardship.

What do I need to consider for Graduate Assistant(s)?

In the case of a Graduate Assistant(s), supervisors should work with these students on a case-by-case basis to determine if their return to campus is necessary to sustain our continuity of operations. If they are required to work, please consider whether they can perform their essential work functions via telecommuting. Whenever possible, we encourage supervisors to allow graduate Assistants to telecommute or adjust their work method in another manner to avoid financial hardship.

What should I do if I have an employee(s) that indicates they or a family member has/have a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19?

If an employee(s) shares with you they or a family member are part of a medically vulnerable population and are concerned about contracting COVID-19 by reporting to work, please have them contact Human Resources at (316) 978-3065 or e-mail TotalRewards@wichita.edu to discuss leave benefits that they may qualify for under the Family and Medical Leave Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What should I do if I have an employee(s) that has indicated they do not have a medical condition, but they are still concerned about workplace exposure to COVID-19?

The health and safety of our student, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance. We are closely monitoring the status of COVID-19 and updates specific to Wichita State University will be provided on Wichita.edu/covid19news.

You may also encourage the employee(s) with concerns or anxiety related to these events, to contact the State of Kansas Employee Assistance Plan, or EAP, which is available to help. Kansas EAP is available 24/7 at 888-275-1205, press option 1.

Finally, you may also encourage the employee(s) to reach out to their primary care physician.

Has the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) made any special provisions for plan participants related to COVID-19?

Yes, Governor Laura Kelly announced four (4) provisions on March 13, 2020 that are effective immediately and for the next 60 days. Yes, Governor Laura Kelly announced four (4) provisions on March 13, 2020 that are effective immediately and for the next 60 days.

  1. SEHP will cover medically necessary diagnostic tests that are consistent with CDC guidance related to the COVID-19 at no cost share to member, where it is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response.
  2. SEHP will allow early refills on 30 or 90-day prescription medications and/or allow members to use their mail order benefit.
  3. Given the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, seeking in person medical care has the potential to further spread the virus. SEHP partners with Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to provide Telehealth services with a virtual doctor’s office. There is 24/7/365 access to this service. The member cost share will be waived for any Telehealth service.
  4. For plan participants that reside in the Topeka area, the HealthQuest Health Center available to members enrolled in the health plan, is located at 901 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka
    • Phone screening is recommended before going to the center: 785-783-4080.
    • If a patient walks into the clinic, they will have them put on a mask and clean their hands with hand sanitizer. The health center staff will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and recommend they isolate if the initial findings and/or symptoms present are a positive indicator for the virus.
    • Testing is not available at the health center for COVID-19 and the clinic will refer all patients that meet the risk criteria to the local health department for testing and further evaluation.
What are telehealth services?

Telehealth services are virtual doctor’s office visits and are available in the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) medical plans. Aetna provides telehealth services through Teledoc and Blue Cross Blue Shield provides telehealth services through Amwell. If you are covered by another health plan, please check with your health plan provider to see if telehealth services are available.

What if an employee has an illness not related to COVID-19?

Employees should follow current applicable call-in procedures for their department and should use available leave to cover time away from work.

What should I do if I have an employee(s) returning from a location that the CDC advises self-isolation and not returning to work?

Employees and supervisors should follow CDC travel health guidance when self-isolation or not returning to work for a period of time is advised. If an employee is required to self-isolate and/or stay at home based on these guidelines, they should use approved leave and monitor their health during travel and for the recommended 14 days after returning to the United States. In addition, please contact the Human Resources office at 978-3065 or e-mail TotalRewards@wichita.edu. They will send you a Leave Request form specifically related to COVID-19. You can also access the form at Wichita.edu/covid19news.

During the COVID-19 period, will I still need to approve time and leave reports?
Yes, in order to accurately pay employees, validation and approval of time and leave reports is required to meet audit standards. If a supervisor does not have access to approve in self-service, a delegation should be made to someone who can validate and approve.
What if I have an employee that has a circumstance not addressed in these FAQ’s?

We ognize there may be times when employees require additional support that our current policies do not foresee or accommodate. If you confront a particularly difficult circumstance, please reach out to the HR business partner assigned to your area.

RECRUITING / HIRING
If we have scheduled on-campus interviews for job openings, what do we do?

In response to COVID-19, in-person interviews will not be conducted at this time. Hiring departments/units and search committees are to move to an alternative format, such as conference calls or through supported video conferencing (Zoom, Skype, etc.). As a result, the search committee should notify candidates as soon as possible, to reschedule the interview in the selected alternative format. For assistance please contact Human Resources Talent Acquisition at employment@wichita.edu.

Our unit has already made travel arrangements for interview candidates. Must the interview be rescheduled to an online format?

Contact Human Resources Talent Acquisition for guidance at employment@wichita.edu. HR will work with search committees faced with this issue on a case-by-case basis.

What if our candidate does not have resources or online technology for video conferencing?

Although it is generally advised to make the interview process as consistent as possible for all candidates, in response to COVID-19, it is important to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, it is recommended for searches that need to switch mid-process to an alternative format, that search committees keep as many elements of the process as consistent as possible.

Our search committee has already conducted a portion of our interviews in-person. Is it ok to move to an online format since it is not consistent with previous arrangements?

Search committee members may still choose to meet in a conference room that has video or conference call capability for the remote interview or may decide that members will also participate remotely. If the search committee chooses to meet in person, they should secure a room large enough to allow social distancing among the team members. Individuals who have been exposed to the virus, who potentially may have been exposed, who have a chronic health condition or who are ill should only participate remotely. It is encouraged to have as many members participate in the interviews as possible, whether that is in-person or via remote participation, in order to effectively make a recommendation for hire. The most recent COVID-19 guidelines must be followed at all times.

Should the search committee still meet in person, or should they meet independently, through video conferencing technology for meetings and interviews?

Yes, you can put the interview process on hold. We recommend that you contact the candidate(s) and inform them that, due to COVID-19, you are delaying interviews at this time. A specific timeline as to when in-person interviews can resume has not yet been made and will be forthcoming. Please note a delay may result in losing a top candidate(s). As a result, conference call or video conferencing options should be considered before postponing a search.

Our candidate has already accepted an offer of employment with a designated start date but has informed us that they are ill, under self-quarantine, or is caring for others and will not be able to begin work as originally specified. What options do we have?

Units can allow the individual to delay their start date or look at telework options if appropriate. Contact HR Talent Acquisition at employment@wichita.edu for assistance or if an adjustment to an offer letter may be needed.

Will my new hire need to complete onboarding in person?

New hires will continue to utilize electronic onboarding process to complete most of their new hire paperwork. Your candidate must provide supporting documents for the Form I-9 in-person, by the third day of employment, because the document requires visual verification. Human Resources Talent Acquisition will be in touch with you and your candidate about that process to ensure it is completed timely.

MANAGING GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANTS
Can graduate students continue their research projects?

Yes. Research is considered an essential activity at Wichita State University. While graduate students should not be required to be on campus, they are allowed to continue to carry out their research projects in their labs.

Care should be taken, however, to disinfect work areas and to maximize social distancing. Faculty mentors should therefore organize a staggered work schedule if necessary to maximize social distancing. You may also encourage students to work remotely on aspects of research that do not require physically being in the lab facility, such as performing data analyses, writing manuscripts and thesis chapters, contributing to research proposals, preparing presentations and abstracts, and completing literature reviews. Faculty mentors should not require or cause graduate students to feel compelled to come to campus; those who do not wish to come to campus are expected to work remotely as described above.

Will Graduate Assistants continue to be paid.
Yes. All current GTAs will continue to serve their assigned roles and will be paid for the duration of their Electronic Personnel Action Forms (EPAF). They should work with their supervisors to facilitate the transition to remote course distribution. Students funded by their college or a grant should continue to be funded by that source for the duration of their (EPAF); any change to the EPAF must be approved by the Dean of their college and agreed to by the AVP for research and Provost. Please think creatively as to how research students can be productive and advance their research if they work remotely, including by the normal research-related activities listed above. For additional questions, please contact the Graduate School