First Issued: May 5, 2009
Revised: March 2020

1. PURPOSE

To establish guidelines, assign responsibilities, and promote awareness when responding to human resources issues arising from pandemic flu. This plan was created to complement the College’s Emergency Response Plan. Changes to the plan may be made in order to accommodate situational needs as well as government agency requirements.

2. SCOPE

This policy applies to all Champlain College employees.

3. DEFINITIONS

Pandemic Flu: A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness, and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide.

Onsite Emergency Operations Personnel: For the purpose of this procedure, onsite emergency operations personnel refers to employees whose service has been designated as vital to the operation of the campus or a portion of the campus during a campus closure, whose presence is required regardless of the existence of an emergency condition, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population and/or the integrity or condition of the physical plant. Examples of onsite emergency operations personnel are: Campus Public Safety staff, Physical Plant staff, Sodexo staff, Information Systems staff, Residential Life staff, the Director of Health Services, etc. Employees may be designated as “onsite emergency operations personnel” on a situational basis, e.g., in the event students are on campus. 

Remote Emergency Operations Personnel: For the purpose of this procedure, remote emergency operations personnel refers to employees whose service has been designated as vital to the operation of College business during a campus closure and whose service can be provided from home or another off-site location (hotel, etc.). Examples of remote emergency operations personnel are faculty teaching online courses, E-learning staff, Finance staff, Public Relations staff, Counseling staff, etc. Employees may be designated as “remote emergency operations personnel” on a situational basis, e.g., in the event of a snow emergency or in the event of a public health crisis.

Designations of “Onsite Emergency Operations Personnel” or “Remote Emergency Operations Personnel” are made by the People Center, Area Vice President, the President or, in the event of an emergency, the Incident Commander of the Emergency Response Team. 

4. POLICY

The People Center will work to ensure the continuation of critical functions, including payroll, People Center systems maintenance, benefits continuation, employee/management consultations, policy interpretation, and communication to employees regarding available internal and external resources. 

5. PROCEDURE

5.1 Communication: Communication with faculty and staff will be via e-mail, the external Champlain College web site, the internal faculty and staff portal, and, for employee-only communications, the People Center website on the internal portal.  

The campus emergency notification system will be used in the case of an immediate emergency or threat. Notification of a campus closure will also be communicated by means of the emergency notification system.

Should the College’s network or external infrastructure prevent the use of e-mail or the internet, communication with employees will be carried out by phone. Supervisors should maintain an updated list of employees’ contact information for their respective area. Faculty and staff should ensure that personal and emergency contact information maintained by the People Center and one’s supervisor is updated as necessary.

If notice of closure is not posted on one of the sites referenced above or communicated by a faculty or staff member’s supervisor, it should be assumed that the College is not closed.

If an employee becomes ill or injured at work, to the extent that the employee requires ambulance transportation, the employee’s supervisor or the People Center or a designee will contact the employee’s emergency contact person via the most recent information on file.

5.1.1 Non-emergency personnel: If the College closes campus, department managers should communicate via email regularly with employees regarding their work assignments. Employees should check the College external web site for College status updates as well as the faculty and staff web portal for status updates pertaining specifically to faculty and staff.

5.1.2 Emergency Operations Personnel: If the College declares a Type 1 emergency due to a flu pandemic, a regularly scheduled telephone conference call will be arranged. Designated emergency operations personnel are expected to participate in the conference calls in order to stay abreast of and coordinate action plans determined by College Administration and emergency operations personnel.

5.2 Travel: The College will consult and, to the extent applicable and appropriate, act upon, State Department, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and Vermont Department of Health travel alerts and policies. The College will advise staff and faculty of travel restrictions based on communications from the above agencies/departments.

5.3 Containment: Champlain College will take proactive steps to protect the workplace in the event of an infectious disease outbreak. Employees are encouraged to engage in good hygiene practices while at work. Proactive measures include:

  • Hand washing is effective in preventing the flu, cold and other infectious diseases. According to the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rubbing your hands together with soap and water is one of the most important ways to prevent infection. Disease-causing germs can enter your body when your unwashed hands touch your nose, eyes, mouth, and open wounds.
  • When soap and water are not available, use an antibacterial hand cleaner. Choose alcohol hand rubs with 60–95% alcohol (usually listed as isopropyl, ethanol, or propanol). Glycerol or other skin conditioning agents are helpful additives. Read the directions and use the hand rub appropriately. Never wipe the hand rub off; allow your hands to air dry. When used properly, these sanitizers reduce the transmission of disease-causing germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; 
  • Cover your mouth with tissue when sneezing; 
  • Stay away from others if you are sick; don’t go to class, or work; 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

5.3.1 Social Distancing: The College will determine if social distancing measures (limiting close contact to reduce the spread of infection) need to be implemented. Examples of social distancing measures include online meetings, and phone conferences instead of in-person meetings, cancellation of faculty and staff activities, etc. 

The College may require faculty and staff with flu symptoms or exposure to the flu virus to self-isolate at home based on CDC and health department guidance. 

5.3.2 Telecommuting: The College will work with managers to determine which, if any, employees may work from home and encourage all employees who are able to telecommute to do so. 

5.3.3 College Events: The College will determine if and when to cancel or postpone College events and third party conferences being held on our campus.  

5.4 Employee Illness: If you develop symptoms of the flu, leave work and contact your health care provider. The flu can be debilitating, causing the person who is ill to be bedridden for extended periods. Be alert to the wellbeing of your friends, relatives, and co-workers.  

If an employee appears ill with pandemic flu-like symptoms (see: CDC guidelines on pandemic flu symptoms), the manager should express concern that the employee appears to be ill with pandemic flu-like symptoms and encourage the employee to take leave and seek medical care. If the employee does not leave work, the manager should contact their respective Vice President to discuss what further actions may be taken. Please see: Guidelines for Managers During a Pandemic Influenza Outbreak for more information.

5.5 Tracking Absenteeism Due to Influenza-like Illnesses: The College is committed to balancing our goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill from influenza with the goal of minimizing educational and social disruption. This means, in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak, the College will gather information about the incidence of flu on our campus so that our decisions are based on the best possible data. 

5.6 Support for Remote Emergency Operations Personnel: Remote emergency operations personnel should work with their managers and Information Systems to determine how access to College databases, files and the internet will be maintained while working remotely. 

5.7 Support for Onsite Emergency Operations Personnel: The College will provide food and lodging/accommodations for onsite emergency operations personnel.

5.8 Payroll: In the event of a campus closure, payroll will for some period of time be processed for regular employees based on base pay rates and regular work hours (40 hours per week for Physical Plant and Public Safety staff, 37.5 hours per week for full-time staff, normal work hours for part-time staff). Full payroll will be maintained for as long as reasonably feasible as determined at the discretion of the College. In making such determination, the College will consider factors such as the College’s financial circumstances. If a prolonged College closure or other circumstances will impact the College’s ability to reasonably sustain full pay rates, the College may determine that pay rates will be reduced. This policy will be administered in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Onsite and remote emergency operations personnel, who are paid on an hourly basis, will be paid for overtime. Non-emergency operations personnel who are salaried non-exempt or hourly and who work over 40 hours per week from home, must receive pre-approval from their supervisor for hours exceeding 40 hours per week, as these hours will be paid as overtime as well.

The distribution of printed paychecks may be suspended during a campus closing due to pandemic flu. Paycheck distribution via direct deposit will continue and may be the only mechanism available for the distribution of employee pay for certain periods of time. The College would attempt to generate and mail printed paychecks if practicable, but there may be unavoidable delays if circumstances related to the closure make it impracticable for the College to do so.  

5.9 Medical Benefits: The People Center will work with our benefits providers to ensure benefits coverage continues. 

Issues with benefits coverage should be addressed directly with the provider. If an employee is having difficulty resolving issues directly with the provider, the employee should contact the Champlain College Benefits Manager.

It is recommended that staff and faculty enrolled in the College’s medical and dental plans, register as users online and check regularly for updated benefit information. 

5.10 Leave Benefits: Leave benefits will follow the policies and procedures in place at the time of the pandemic flu outbreak. Exceptions to leave benefits may be considered for individuals and possibly all eligible faculty and staff if circumstances warrant exceptions.  

5.11 Emotional Support: The Employee Assistance Program will provide support to employees and their household members by telephone. Additional resources may be provided to faculty and staff as needed.

Stressful situations, such as a pandemic flu outbreak, can cause elevated anxiety levels for people and can trigger extreme stress reactions in those with a history of anxiety disorders, PTSD, etc.

6. POLICY ADHERENCE

The Vice President of Human Resources is the responsible official for this policy.  

7. CONTACT

Questions related to the interpretation of this policy should be directed to the Vice President of Human Resources.