Reopening FAQ's

Answers to common questions about our reopening process

 welcome lampost sign by terrell hall

The current situation is still very fluid. Much can and will change as we move forward. As a result, please be aware that as new information emerges or if we receive additional guidance and directives, we may need to adjust and react accordingly. In those situations, we will make every effort to update this FAQ section whenever it is appropriate.

Teaching and Academic Affairs

Will wearing masks be mandatory for students?

Effective July 15, 2020, all USG institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities and buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible.  Use of face coverings will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing. Face coverings are not required in one’s own housing suite or residence hall, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area.  Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

Will the school provide masks to students?

Yes. The school intends to provide up to two masks per student for those who do not have them. Contact Shea Groebner (478-445-8690) to receive masks for your department to hand out for students. 

Can instructors reserve a separate seating area for those students who refuse to wear masks?

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area.  Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

If I’m in a classroom of 800 sq. ft., which can safely hold 17 students, and 18 students show up, whom do I ask to leave?

We are identifying classrooms that will allow for social distancing. Classes are assigned locations based on expected attendance levels. Where class sizes do not allow for social distancing, class rotations and hybrid teaching modes will be implemented to adhere to guidance.  If students are scheduled in a hybrid course, they will receive information on attendance days. If a student, by error, appears on the wrong rotation assignment, you should advise them to follow their schedule assigned by the registrar.

Is there a plan currently in place to move classes online in the event that an outbreak occurs? Under what conditions would those plans apply?

Upon determination by the USG and the Georgia Department of Public Health that the number of COVID-19 cases has made it so that the campus can no longer function safely, alternative plans will be enacted. Any alteration of current plans will be in coordination with the USG.

Will all classes be moving to an A/B hybrid model that alternates students between in-class and online instruction to reduce people density in the classroom?

No. The A/B hybrid model will be used in specific cases where it is determined that social distancing cannot be maintained for the class and other arrangements cannot be made.

How much freedom do we have to make decisions about our own classes and how they are to be handled?

As long as you are teaching face-to-face in classrooms that are socially distant, then faculty members are free to exercise discretion regarding their method of learning and relevant delivery modes. We discourage activities that do not respect social distancing, for example.

For classes using an A/B hybrid model for teaching both online and face-to-face, will microphones and cameras be supplied?

Yes. If your class has been determined that it would be delivered in a hybrid format, please contact your department chair for any technological requirements necessary to achieve successful course delivery.

Are all course materials required to be online?

No. Course instructors are encouraged to use their discretion to determine the best distribution methods for all course materials and do whatever can be done to ensure best practices in pedagogy to facilitate face to face courses using social distancing. 

If a student in the class becomes positive with COVID-19 do we all go into quarantine for two weeks?

In situations like this Student Health Services will advise us regarding risk and exposure, and a decision will be made accordingly.

Are students also compelled to attend class on-campus and face-to-face? Can they choose their method of instruction?

No, they are not allowed to choose their method of instruction which must be face-to-face with social distancing.

We anticipate that some students will feel uncomfortable being in a classroom with students who aren’t wearing a mask.  How should we respond to students who choose not to come to class because of this?  What can we do to make all our students safe and comfortable?

We are teaching face-to-face with social distancing for the fall. Your attendance policy should reflect this. We are doing everything we can to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students following the CDC guidance to reduce risk. We are changing the academic schedule, we are adding large classrooms to our list of course spaces, we are reducing people density in our classrooms, we are adding protective plexiglass/vinyl shielding to our rooms, and the University System of Georgia has required that all students to wear masks.  Students have been told what their fall environment will be like. Being transparent in this way should minimize the potential for mismatched expectations.

How will attendance policies be affected?

Attendance policies are left to the discretion of individual instructors with regard to the specific delivery method of the instruction. However, faculty members are asked to be mindful of individual circumstances when it comes to attendance, particularly if students fall ill during the semester.

If a class can be easily switched to fully online, is it still required that the class be face to face?

Yes. As directed by the USG, we are providing face-to-face instruction with social distancing to our students. We will hold classes in person while ensuring social distancing along with other mitigation strategies across campus. However, a hybrid teaching environment that also utilizes online technology may be used to augment the learning experience if the face-to-face course pedagogy would benefit from that.

How are student activities being affected?

Face-to-face student activities and related programming will be transitioned to an online or virtual environment wherever possible. Those student activities which cannot be held within a virtual or socially distanced environment have been postponed or cancelled.

Health Services

Will the university be providing testing for staff and faculty?

The CDC does not recommend testing everyone for COVID-19. However, if you are a GC employee who is sick or becomes sick with COVID-19 symptoms, you will be asked to leave campus and be expected to provide results of a COVID-19 test prior to return. You will be assisted by HR in finding the proper outlet for testing.

Will the university be conducting screening of staff and faculty before individuals come to work each day?

We are encouraging all faculty and staff to self-monitor for symptoms and report those to their immediate supervisor. Student Health Services will not conduct screenings daily for staff and/or faculty.

Will the university be providing masks or face coverings to staff who come to work?

Yes. Although it is encouraged that employees bring their own masks for use on campus. For those who do not have masks, cloth masks will be available from your building manager. For further information on mask distribution, contact Shea Groebner in Environmental Health and Occupational Safety (shea.groebner@gcsu.edu), ext. 8690.

What should I do if an employee or colleague comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath)?

If you or someone you work with suspects that a co-worker may be infected, notify your supervisor immediately. If you are the supervisor, notify Amber Collins of Human Resources, (amber.collins@gcsu.edu), ext.4236.

What should I do if I find out several days later, after a staff member or colleague worked, that they were diagnosed with COVID-19?

Notify your immediate supervisor who will then notify Amber Collins in Human Resources, (amber.collins@gcsu.edu), ext. 4236, for information. If you have questions regarding your need for a test based upon exposure to others who may have been COVID-19 positive or other potential exposures that arise, you may contact Rhonda Dixon in Student Health Services, (rhonda.dixon@gcsu.edu), ext. 1282.

How do staff who interact with other university staff/stakeholders/vendors stay safe?

Practice social-distancing where possible, wear a mask, practice handwashing hygiene, self-monitor for symptoms, and refrain from touching your face. These are best practices for staying safe while interacting with others.

How can I help protect staff/colleagues who may be at higher risk for severe illness?

Be alert for symptoms. Self-monitor for signs of illness, stay home when you are sick, wear facial coverings, clean surfaces that you touch, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and practice recommended techniques, handwashing to protect others, especially our vulnerable population.

Do staff need to wear cloth face coverings or personal protective equipment (PPE) (such as N95 respirators, gloves) to protect themselves while working?

Face coverings help minimize the spread of viruses and bacteria. Staff are encouraged to wear them outside of their office and personal spaces. Your supervisor will provide guidance on what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be required for your area of work.

How often should staff wash their hands while at work?

Handwashing is vital to help slow and stop the spread of illnesses. It should be conducted whenever you come in contact with someone new, before you eat, after using the restroom, if you cough or sneeze, and after touching objects outside of your personal space.

What can I tell staff or colleagues about reducing the spread of COVID-19 at work?

Stay home if you are sick, wear facial coverings when in public, encourage coworkers to stay home when sick, and wash your hands frequently.

Should the university be screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms (such as temperature checks)? What is the best way to do that?

Temperature screenings are not as effective due to the number of asymptomatic carriers. However, staff, faculty, and students will be encouraged to bring thermometers that may aid in self-monitoring, in addition to handwashing and facial coverings to help prevent the spread of illness.

What is social distancing and how can my workplace do that?

Social distancing is staying at least six feet apart from others. Your supervisor will determine how to do that best within your department.

What are my options for testing if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?

If you are uncertain about having been exposed and would like to be tested, contact Health Services, (britt.mcrae@gcsu.edu) ext. 5288, for aid in getting tested by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Will there be a campus COVID report that tracks the number of infected students and employees (similar to the reports from nursing homes and hospitals that we have seen in the county)?

We will receive regular reports from HR and from Student Health Service regarding COVID related numbers of students, faculty and staff. We will use this information along with data from other sources in any decision making.

What will happen when we have our first outbreak on campus?

Georgia College will be closely monitoring cases on our campus and the USG will be monitoring case levels collectively across all system institutions. If evolving conditions present unacceptable risks, a decision may be made to alter environments or plans in some way.

Facilities

Will the university prohibit outside vendors/visitors to come to workplaces?

During Stages 1 & 2 of reopening, the campus is only partially open in order to support our online educational efforts and vendors/visitors will be restricted. During Stage 3 of reopening vendors/visitors will be allowed but will be asked to follow the COVID-19 guidance established by the university. (social distancing, video conferences instead of face-to-face, limit the number of people in gatherings, etc.)

Will the university be cleaning copiers, doors, elevators, computers?

Building Services will clean high-touch areas such as doors, elevators, electrical switches, etc. Departments will clean their own high-touch equipment such as copiers, computers, phones, etc.

How do I clean machinery or equipment?

Building Services, ext. 5849, will provide the appropriate supplies and training on how to clean equipment.

How can I safely use cleaning chemicals?

Building Services and the Environmental Health & Safety department will provide training and documentation of how to safely use and dispose of cleaning supplies.

Will the university provide cleaning and sanitation supplies for self-cleaning in my department and my workspace?

Yes, Building Services will provide cleaning and sanitation supplies. Submit a work order/request to Maintenance Direct to order cleaning supplies for your department. 

In addition to cleaning, what else can be done to decrease the spread of disease in my workplace?

We should continue to stress proper hand hygiene, telework and alternate work schedules, social distancing (whenever possible), and the use of facial coverings. 

Should offices turn off central air systems?

No. We will be following the guidance established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):

ASHRAE’s statement on operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission:

Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.

HVAC filters, along with other strategies, help to reduce virus transmission while removing other air contaminants that may have health effects.

Will elevator use be restricted?

Yes. University Housing will restrict use of elevators for those who are mobility impaired only. For the rest of campus, signage and markings will be placed to reduce the number of riders to maintain the required six feet of distance. Also, doors will be left open when not in use to encourage ventilation and increase the number of air exchanges within the elevator.

How often will classrooms be cleaned? Will this be handled by facilities?

All classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized by our facilities cleaning staff once a day.  Cleaning and disinfectant supplies will be made available in every classroom for teachers and students to use as desired between classes during the day.

Will bathrooms be reduced to single use occupancy?

Bathrooms are required by building code to have a certain number of fixture accessibility so there will not be reduced occupancy. There will be signage in the restrooms reminding people to maintain distances and to limit the number of people inside at any given time.

What modifications will be made to the restroom facilities based on the evidence that blow-air hand dryers and flushing toilets spreading the virus? Will toilets be modified to mitigate germ spread in any way?

The Facilities team at Georgia College has taken an inventory of toilet seats without lids across campus and has started to replace them with toilets seats that do have lids in an effort to further mitigate the spread of germs that could possibly carry COVID-19. With respect to air dryers in bathrooms, the CDC is recommending to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. There are no scientific studies endorsed by the CDC to suggest that using air dryers is more effective as a mitigation strategy.

The virus can spread through the building ventilation system.  What is the 'Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV)' of the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters we use in A&S and other classroom buildings?  Are there any precautions we need to take regarding HEPA filters that purify circulated air in closed buildings?

Following recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Condition Engineers (ASHRAE), our Facilities team has already started swapping out air filters and replacing them with MERV 13 filters in an effort to improve the filtering of possible airborne COVID-19 particles. They are also making programming changes to our Building Automation Systems to bring in more outdoor air as recommended as well by ASHRAE. The combination of using more advanced filtering mechanisms in addition to programming changes to our air circulation strategy is expected to offer additional protections from the possible spread of the coronavirus.

How much time between classes will we be given to perform basic custodial tasks using the available cleaning resources that have been provided by the university?  Will biohazard or trash bins be provided for the cleaning residue?  Will we be provided with cleaning materials, and where will we obtain them?

Hand sanitizer and wipes will be provided in classrooms.  Students may decide to utilize these resources to clean their surface areas.  All classrooms will have trash bins by the start of the fall term.

Will buildings have directional hallways and exits/entrances?

While directional hallways are not practical in most of our facilities due to building layout and traffic, we may implement directional signage for entrances and exits in the classroom to encourage traffic flow and social distancing.   

Will the library be open?

Yes. Although certain services may be delayed to ensure social distancing and spread mitigation procedures are in place, the library will operate as needed. There may be additional online checkout protocols and reduced number of students in study rooms. Social distancing will be actively encouraged throughout the facility. 

Auxiliary Services

Are the restrictions currently in place for dine-in restaurant service applicable to the dining services on campus?

Although the restaurant restrictions shared in the governor’s executive orders are not directly applicable to university food service operations, we intend to follow these guidelines. 

Are dining services typically available to staff on campus going to be open?

We plan to open The MAX, Chick-fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Books and Brew with limited service hours and very limited seating. Faculty and staff may dine in any of these locations. The timeline for reopening will be updated soon. 

Travel

If someone has traveled outside of the country, are there any requirements for them to self-isolate and quarantine for a period of time (i.e. 2 weeks)? Or will this depend on which countries an individual has traveled to or passed through?

All students, faculty, and staff who have travelled outside of the country are advised to self-monitor for a period of 14 days in accordance with the CDC Guidelines. During this time, take your temperature twice a day and avoid contact with others, avoid public transportation, and maintain social distancing. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please contact our Health Services office at 478-445-5288.

Will there be any implementation of robust testing for all incoming students, staff, and faculty?

This strategy is not recommended by the CDC because one might test negative one day, and then positive two days later. The recommendation is to test when COVID-19 cases are suspected. Those who suspect they may be infected with COVID-19 can reach out to Amber Collins in HR (amber.collins@gcsu.edu), ext.4236, for help in finding a proper outlet for testing.

Human Resources

Since the state of Georgia remains under a State of Emergency through July 12th, do I have to come to work?

Georgia College was authorized to begin a gradual reopening of the university.  A return-to-work schedule in support of the reopening was released. If you are unsure of your return-to-work schedule or have concerns, please contact your immediate supervisor.

The state of Georgia has extended the shelter in place order for individuals who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. I have underlying health conditions that require that I remain at home. What options do I have to continue to work?

If you meet the CDC and GDPH standard for a member of the “vulnerable population,” you are expected to contact the Office of Human Resources, specifically Employee Relations (employeerelations@gcsu.edu). If alternate work arrangements cannot be made, applicable leave options will be discussed with you. You will be required to submit the appropriate request forms and submit supporting medical documentation. Contact the Office of Human Resources for further guidance at employeerelations@gcsu.edu, ext. 5596.

I do not feel comfortable returning to work and interacting in public. What options do I have for working in the future?

These are unprecedented times. It is natural to have feelings of uncertainty as we transition back to work. Please be assured that the safety and security of faculty, staff, and students remain a top priority. You have several options available to you:

  1. If you have concerns about your work environment, discuss them with your supervisor.
  2. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to provide supportive resources. Contact KEPRO at 1-844-243-4440 or go to www.eaphelplink.com (password: USGcares). The EAP is available 24/7/365.
  3. The Office of Human Resources is available to provide advice and share resources in an effort to address your concerns.
  4. Follow the CDC and GDPH Guidelines as well as institutional standards for maintaining a safe working environment.

While the state of Georgia has lifted the shelter in place order, I live in a city where residents have been encouraged to still remain at home. What are my options regarding returning to work?

Notify your supervisor and contact the Office of Human Resources, specifically Employee Relations (employeerelations@gcsu.edu), ext. 5596, if you are unable to report to work due to COVID-19-related factors. HR will advise you on the appropriate leave options available to you if alternate work arrangements cannot be made. You may be required to provide supporting documentation.

My planned childcare for the summer has been canceled or postponed. What are my options regarding returning to work?

Notify your supervisor to discuss possible alternate work arrangements. If alternate work arrangements are not an option, contact the Office of Human Resources, specifically Employee Relations (employeerelations@gcsu.edu), ext. 5596, if you are unable to report to work due to childcare issues. HR will advise you on the appropriate leave options available to you. You may be required to provide supporting documentation under either circumstance. 

The state of Georgia has previously ordered the implementation of teleworking for all possible employees; is that still in effect?

An Executive Order from Governor Kemp was issued in support of the gradual reopening of the State of Georgia. In addition, Georgia College was authorized to begin implementing the gradual reopening. Although the reopening may support some teleworking opportunities, the plan is to safely return all faculty and staff to campus by the fall semester.

Will the university be allowing staggered work shifts for staff?

Work schedules/shifts are set at the discretion of the supervisor. All supervisors are working toward the safe transition of employees back to campus. Please consult with your supervisor regarding your assigned work schedule. If there are underlying health issues (or circumstances) that impact your ability to work your designated schedule, you should contact the Office of Human Resources, specifically Employee Relations (employeerelations@gcsu.edu), ext. 5596, to determine if workplace accommodations are appropriate. In most cases, medical certification is required for Workplace Accommodations.

Will the university be mandating that all staff wear face coverings?

Effective July 15, 2020, all USG institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities and buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible.  Use of face coverings will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing. Face coverings are not required in one’s own housing suite or residence hall, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area.  Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

For further information on mask distribution, contact Shea Groebner in Environmental Health and Occupational Safety (shea.groebner@gcsu.edu), ext. 8690.

If staff have been exposed but are not showing symptoms, should the university allow them to work?

If an employee has been exposed to COVID-19, the employee is expected to notify their supervisor immediately. The circumstances will be reported to and assessed by the Office of Human Resources, in partnership with Student Health Services, to determine if the employee is cleared to work on-site or if the employee should remain home for a specified period of time in accordance with CDC and GDPH COVID-19 guidelines.

Will the university require employees to provide a doctor’s note or positive COVID-19 test result?

Any medically-related absences, including COVID-19, require medical certification. You are expected to submit these documents to the Office of Human Resources, specifically Employee Relations. Please contact Employee Relations at employeerelations@gcsu.edu, ext. 5596, for further guidance.

While I am not considered “at risk” for serious illness from COVID-19, I live with a family member who is at risk. Can I take leave or telework in order to minimize my chance of exposure?

In keeping with USG guidance, if you care for or live with someone considered to be high risk, you should plan to return to campus as scheduled and work with your direct supervisor to ensure a safe working environment that allows for social distancing and the practicing of behaviors known to reduce the risk of COVID-19. If you would like to explore leave options, contact Amber Collins in the Office of Human Resources, at amber.collins@gcsu.edu, ext. 4236.

What are we doing for parents who have children in schools that may not be on our schedule? Are we offering childcare? How are they supposed to balance F2F and homeschooling?

We intend to provide our usual childcare support programs: Montessori, Kids University and after school care for students. We are also in conversation with the public schools about their plans for the fall and hopefully we can provide more guidance once we understand the school calendar/schedule.

Additional Topics

What if there are hotspots in Milledgeville, but not in Athens or Atlanta? Would the system allow institutional decisions?

Yes, there will be some flexibility in how we can respond to local conditions.

Terms to Know

Self Monitoring

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) defines self monitoring as continuing to perform normal functions while taking everyday preventative steps, and to be alert to the development of symptoms.

Quarantine

In order to quarantine, a person must stay at home for 14 days, and monitor their health by checking their temperature 2x/day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC and DPH. Return-to-work date will be provided by Human Resources.

Isolation

According to the CDC and DPH, isolation is staying at home, and separating from others within the household by staying in a specific room or area and by using a separate bathroom (if available). You can be around others after 24 hours with no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fever, AND after symptoms improve, AND 10 days since symptoms first appeared. Consult with Human Resources on return-to-work date based on symptoms subsiding. 

Exposure

As defined by the CDC and DPH, exposure to COVID-19 may occur by living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19, caring for a sick person with COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 15 minutes, and being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

PPE

Personal Protection Equipment such as gloves, medical masks, respirators (N95 or FFP2 standard, or equivalent), eye protection, gowns and aprons. Certain situations call for different PPE. Right now, masks should be worn by all staff in public spaces, but speak with your supervisor to determine if additional PPE may be needed for your area of work.          

Decision Paths and COVID-19 Response for Students and Employees

In an effort to help guide next steps after testing for COVID-19, the following decision paths have been created for students and employees: