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COVID-19 Updates: Stay Informed

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated May 26, 2020

After June 1, can search committees conduct on-campus interviews?

Yes. Interviews can be conducted on campus by following CDC and South Dakota Department of Health recommended guidelines as implemented by SDSU.

Do I have to come back to campus if I am able and willing to work remotely and have been successfully working remotely for several weeks?

Supervisors may determine that it is appropriate to continue with remote work arrangements when the employee is being productive and effective in their role.

What if I come back to work on campus and there is not enough work to do?

The goal of the JacksRBack initiative does not include bringing everyone back just to have them back on campus. The goal is to return employees to productivity and resume services as appropriate that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Supervisors will be asking employees to return to campus if there is work that needs to be done on location. If an employee finds that there is not enough work to do, they should let their supervisor know so that adjustments can be made.

If there is no work for me to perform, whether on campus or remotely, is my job subject to layoff?

If there is no work available, we will look for work through the SDSU Works program. If no work is identified, then you have the ability to utilize any paid leave that is available to you. Per SDBOR policy, all positions are eligible for reduction in force, layoff or furlough depending on the situation and following all applicable rules.  

My colleagues are still working remotely, why am I being asked to return to my worksite?

Supervisors carefully evaluate employee positions, SDSU and departmental needs prior to determining employee work locations. Consideration is given to assigned duties, physical distancing concerns, the need for customer service, identified employee health concerns, proximity and access to exits, available workspace and several additional factors. Supervisors were also asked to consider the quality and quantity of work that has been completed remotely and compare to work previously conducted at the worksite.

Many employees without child care have used administrative leave. If I am unable to secure child care, can I continue to use COVID-19 related administrative leave after May 31, 2020?

Although administrative leave will not be generally available after May 31, 2020, SDSU will continue to be flexible with employee scheduling and work hours, to the extent possible. Emergency sick leave and Family First Corona Recovery Act (FFCRA) leave may be available to help offset the hours required for child care. This can be supplemented with vacation or sick leave to reduce the number of their own hours the employee must use. Qualifying employees may also take leave in accordance with FMLA. When FFCRA leave is depleted, employees may be eligible to use qualifying sick or vacation leave, until exhausted. Employees may also inquire with their supervisors regarding the possibility of adopting an alternative work schedule per SDBOR Policy 4:39.

Health care and emergency response employees, who are exempt from access to emergency sick leave and FFCRA leave, may be provided administrative leave through May 31, 2020, in some cases. SDSU will continue to be flexible to cover required shifts and allow employees to care for family members as needed.

I am an employee who is in the high-risk category for COVID-19 or I have a family member who is at a high risk. Can I continue to work remotely or take administrative leave?

High-risk employees should take the appropriate steps to protect themselves. SDSU will take every step possible to provide such employees the opportunity to continue to work from home. Administrative leave coverage will end when Gov. Noem’s Executive Order expires, May 31, 2020. After COVID-19 related administrative leave is no longer available, vacation, sick leave and available comp time may be used to supplement hours worked. The ability to work remotely is dependent on a number of factors including the employee’s position and the type of work needed to be completed.

In the case of health care and emergency response employees who are in the high-risk population, work with HR to determine appropriate steps including adjusting work assignments to provide more protection or isolation. Where this is not possible, the supervisor and HR will follow FMLA and ADA determination protocols, as well as, access to vacation and sick leave.

Supervisors will not inquire about the employee’s level of risk nor will they assume a risk exists. Employees will be granted opportunities to share their health concerns, if desired, and all medical information will be maintained in a confidential manner. Supervisors will direct employees who require assistance or accommodations to HR.

Will employees’ temperatures be taken at their arrival to the worksite?

In general, SDSU will not be monitoring employee temperatures. However, employees should alert their supervisors to any illness they experience and remain at home through the duration of their illness. The determination of whether employees will be allowed to work remotely will be made on a case-by-case basis and dependent on business necessity. Proper leave request procedures must be followed by employees. In some locations that involve direct health care to patients, employee temperatures may be monitored.

Am I required to wear a cloth face covering?

It is strongly recommended that individuals wear a cloth face covering when they are unable to physically distance from other individuals. 

What are the consequences if I choose not to wear a cloth face covering, given that it is not required?

Self-supplied cloth face coverings are strongly recommended. There will be no work consequences if an employee chooses not to wear one. On a related note, some positions are required to wear a PPE mask based on their specialized job duties.

Can Human Resources (HR) help facilitate getting sneeze guards for offices open to the public?

Facilities and Services (F&S) will assist in all efforts related to on-campus physical spaces including physical distancing space guidance, sneeze guards and cleaning. It is important to remember F&S has limited resources and will prioritize work based on the priorities established by the Emergency Management Team. In leased spaces, SDSU is much more constrained in our ability to make changes, and administrators may need to also seek assistance from the landlord.

Can I request my workspace be sanitized by F&S?

Department leaders may request F&S to conduct a deep cleaning of areas, and the request will be granted based on need. Requests may be made via the customer service desk through a work order. As the number of individuals on campus has been limited for many weeks, sanitization of most areas is not necessary as a preventative measure. Following the work from home directive in March, all campus facilities were sanitized. All public areas will be deep cleaned on a regular basis. To the degree possible, F&S will sanitize the workspace of any employee who tests positive for COVID-19.

What is the process to request supplies to prepare our workplaces to open for staff and the public? Examples: hand sanitizer stations or bottles of hand sanitizer for staff working directly with visitors.

SDSU has taken into consideration the limited availability of supplies when establishing the Return to Work Plan. Each department/unit must implement the general guidelines, identify risk levels in its department/unit settings and determine any appropriate control measures to implement. F&S will assist with locating supplies for a sanitary and safe work environment. Employees should regularly clean frequently touched work surfaces such as telephones, computers and other equipment, and vehicle steering wheels. Please contact F&S and refer to F&S guidance for information on supplies and coordination of any enhanced custodial needs.

Employees are required to utilize cleaning products approved by F&S or that are commercially produced, EPA approved and determined to adequately kill viruses and bacteria. Employees must refrain from utilizing homemade cleaning products as they may be ineffective in properly disinfecting commercial areas. In addition, it is important that employees refrain from relying on homemade hand sanitizers. Distilled spirits will not be allowed on campus for cleaning or other purposes, outside of use in accordance with SDSU policy. Employees should also be cognizant of how fumes from cleaning products affect others and avoid using cleaners that become irritants.

Is there a protocol we should all be using if a member of the public presents symptoms in one of our buildings? Can services be refused? Can we require them to wear a cloth face covering? Can we ask them to leave and communicate with us remotely to provide the service they are requesting?

F&S can assist with posting signs that request those with symptoms to return later or through alternative means. F&S can also assist with signage or floor markings that direct individuals to maintain physical distancing. Employees can continue to request that meetings be conducted via Zoom or telephone when limited space makes physical distancing difficult. Consistent with CDC guidance, SDSU recommends individuals wear a cloth face mask and participate in individual screening and stay home when sick. Where employees may be exposed in areas where physical distancing is difficult or impossible, sneeze guards or other means of protection may be utilized. Remember, it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual based on protected statuses, thus if you believe someone is sick, you can ask them to return once their symptoms are gone, but an individual cannot be refused service based on a protected status.

Why have my work hours and/or location been altered? When will they return to normal? Will I be paid additional money for working night or weekend hours?

Supervisors are taking measures to manage physical distancing and prevent situations where employees are required to come within close proximity of others, or to utilize spaces where others have been before sanitation can occur. Such measures include staggering work schedules and physical adjustments to workspaces. Traditional cubicles and other barriers in an office setting provide distancing; however, other modifications to workspaces may be needed to reduce or eliminate contact and maintain physical distancing, such as from cubicle openings. In addition, employee schedules have been staggered to reduce the number of people who are present in buildings or on worksites at any given time.

CSA employees who are required to work nights and weekends may qualify for night differential. Employees should direct any related questions to their supervisor or HR.

Do supervisors have the authority to send someone home who appears sick or with symptoms? If so, is the employee required to use leave or take leave without pay?

It is critical that employees self-monitor, self-screen and stay home if they are feeling ill. Supervisors may direct employees not to report for work if they are ill, to leave at the first sign of becoming ill, or at any time the supervisor has a reasonable belief that the employee is or was exposed to COVID-19. Employees who are asked not to report to their worksite due to illness and are unable to work remotely, will need to utilize paid leave, comp time or leave without pay; paid COVID-19 related administrative leave will not be provided. Qualified employees may also work with HR to access emergency sick, FFCRA or FMLA leave or protections under ADA. If an employee refuses the supervisor’s request, the supervisor may require a medical certification per ARSD 55:09:04:18.

Why have my job duties changed?

As some employees will continue to be absent, it is important to remain flexible and assist colleagues in maintaining the operation of the department. As such, you may be asked to perform duties that are not normally part of your job description. Supervisors are working closely with HR to ensure that employees are being compensated in accordance with their duties. This does not mean all employees who perform different duties will see a change in compensation, but that those being asked to perform higher market value duties will be paid accordingly.

Is a workplace illness like COVID-19 covered by worker’s compensation?

Generally, no.

How frequently will public spaces be cleaned by Facilities and Services?

On-campus spaces will be sanitized in accordance with CDC guidelines. Supervisors of facilities not located on campus will work through their normal channels to ensure workspaces remain clean.

How often will high-traffic areas (class or meeting rooms/dining tables/restrooms) be sanitized?

Dining tables will be cleaned between individual patron use to the extent feasible in the University Student Union, at Larson Commons and at the various retail dining establishments operated on campus. High-traffic areas will be cleaned daily.

Are their special considerations for employees who work outside of the Brookings main campus?

Employees are encouraged to contact their on-site supervisors/directors for any special considerations.

Can I refuse to attend in-person meetings or work gatherings if I am concerned for my health?

When possible, meetings should continue to be conducted via Zoom, for the foreseeable future. If in-person meetings are necessary, employees should remain at least 6 feet away from others in the room and are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering. Employees may request that they be allowed to participate in such meetings remotely, which may be approved or denied on a case-by-case basis by the employee’s supervisor. In addition, employees in high-risk categories may decline to attend in-person meetings when they believe their health is at risk. (Request for Remote Work Location Due to COVID-19).

What do I do if I am being mistreated because people suspect I am ill?

Individuals who believe they are being mistreated for any reason are encouraged to file a report with the Title IX/EO Office or contact the Title IX office.

How do I file a complaint or report concerns regarding COVID-19?

The Lighthouse reporting system allows for the reporting of COVID-19 related complaints.

What if my supervisor/department head needs to be out of the office? Who is in charge?

Department heads are responsible for creating department continuity of operations plans that account for various scenarios, including a loss of access to workplace and employees. In such plans, supervisors designate a chain of command authorized to make decisions for the department should the department head become unable to perform in their position.

Can I bring my child to work with me?

As physical distancing remains important, employees are being directed to avoid inviting personal visitors into the workplace. The goal is to decrease the amount of foot traffic and the chance of exposure. Note that in addition, SDBOR Policy 4:41 (Disruption of Workplace Setting) offers specific direction and guidelines regarding children in the workplace.

Am I required to tell my supervisor if I test positive for COVID-19?

Employees are highly encouraged to inform their supervisors or HR if they test positive for COVID-19, and notification of colleagues or people with whom they came into contact may be required. In addition, F&S employees will sanitize the worksite for any on-campus employee who tests positive for COVID-19.

Can I limit the number of people allowed in my department or office area at any given time? If so, can I ask members of the public to leave if they exceed such number?

F&S can provide assistance regarding physical location restrictions. In consultation with F&S, your department can establish how social distancing is respected in your department or office area. This may entail posting signs or marking the floor in places where social distancing can be maintained. Encourage use of electronic means for contact and communication, or the use of reservations for in-person meetings. Indicate what types of business must be addressed through in-person meetings and encourage all other business be conducted electronically. Business that can be addressed electronically should be encouraged by displaying this information on your department’s door and on the department’s public website, communicating it to existing customers electronically, and where a room may be getting too crowded, delivered verbally in a people-centric fashion.