FAQ for Staff and Faculty
Last updated on October 14, 2022 at 12:02 pm EST.
General Prevention Measures
We encourage all community members to take measures to protect themselves to prevent the spread of these viruses as outlined below:
Both the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus have similar recommendations for prevention and protection:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home and away from public places when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough down into your elbow, and never into your hand.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The College is a “mask friendly” campus. We encourage all community members to wear masks, but they are not required based on current COVID activity. However, those who are considered to have been in close contact are required to wear a KN95 or N95 mask for 10 days while on campus. This includes parents of COVID positive children. Masks could be required more broadly again in the future if COVID activity changes.
COVID-19 testing on campus
Employees may obtain test kits by calling Human Resources. At this time, we are not planning to conduct surveillance testing or contact tracing on campus, and for continuing students, faculty, and staff, please know that the Co-Verified app has been discontinued.
What happen if I test positive?
Faculty and staff who test positive or become sick with COVID-19 related symptoms while at work should self-isolate, leave campus, and report their positive test to the Dean’s Office (faculty) or Human Resources (staff), and their healthcare provider. Any faculty or staff member who tests positive will be contacted by Human Resources, and will be asked to isolate.
Will faculty and staff be able to access the Dining Hall and Roz's Cafe?
Yes! The Dining Hall and Roz's Cafe are now open to faculty and staff but in-person dining options may be limited at times for safety and health reasons.
Staff Purchase of Meal Plans
- Staff can purchase meal plans in the Bookstore’s online store.
- Options include: a ten-pack ($55) or a half-term pack ($140 for lunches every weekday through the end of term).
- You can also purchase meal plans at the Bookstore, but we encourage people to purchase via the online store, if possible, to reduce the staff demands in the bookstore.
- Please allow at least an hour between purchasing the plan and heading to the dining hall to allow the Bookstore staff time to process the purchase and load it on your card.
Free Coffee Is Back!
Staff will again be able to get a free mug of coffee every weekday with their ID.
Roz’s is a single-use-plastic free zone, so please make sure you bring your own beverage container. Roz's will soon have reusable glass mugs and plant-based plastic-free mugs available for purchase. Snack items purchased will come in a returnable mason jar; to receive a discount on the next purchased item, please return the jar and the lid.
Visitors to campus
You may soon see some visitors in the Dining Hall or Roz’s—prospective students, final candidates for faculty or staff positions, and guest speakers for events and classes. We want you to know that they will all be in compliance with the visitor policy (i.e., they are vaccinated if they are entering buildings).
If you have a visitor you would like to bring to the Dining Hall or Roz’s, please have them fill out the visitor form.
COVID-19 Vaccine Program and Resources
The College continues to require COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters for all faculty, staff, and students. For those under the age of 50, you are considered up to date on your vaccinations when you have received all doses in the primary series of an approved vaccine, as well as one booster dose. For those over the age of 50, you are considered up to date on your vaccinations when you have received all doses in the primary series of an approved vaccine, as well as two booster doses. We encourage anyone who had a booster more than 2 months ago to get an additional booster with one of the new bivalent vaccines, as well as a seasonal influenza vaccine. Employees should upload proof of their vaccinations or boosters to ADP.
Bennington College requires employees to get a COVID booster within 30 days of their eligibility date. Please upload proof of booster vaccination to ADP as soon as available.
For those who have not yet been fully vaccinated, we offer the following Vaccine Resources. The vaccine protects individuals from illness (particularly serious illness and death), but it is not known for sure if individuals can give the virus to someone else.
How to update your vaccine status in ADP
Employees were required to upload proof of vaccination to ADP by August 20, 2021, unless they have an approved exemption from the College. If you need assistance with uploading the documentation, please contact email@example.com.
To request a vaccine exemption
An employee may request an exemption due to medical or religious reasons. An exemption request form must be completed and submitted to Human Resources. Requests for medical exemptions will be handled under the College’s workplace accommodation process and reviewed by Human Resources. Exemption requests due to religious reasons will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/College Diversity Officer, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Director of Human Resources. Anyone who receives an exemption will also be required to wear masks at all times.
Potential Exposure to COVID/Close Contact
Per CDC guidelines, people who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. They do, however, need to wear a K95 or N95 masks for 10 days while on campus. Day 0 is the last day you had contact with that person. You will then want to test on day six with a PCR, or days six and seven with a rapid antigen. You will want to monitor for symptoms and take a test immediately and not come to work if the symptoms develop. Remember that we have discontinued doing contact tracing, so it is the responsibility of the person who has tested positive to let those exposed know. You may share these instructions with them.
What is the definition of a close contact?
Individuals who have been within 6 feet of an infected person (someone who has tested positive) for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period and within 48 hours of the development of symptoms and/or a confirmed positive COVID test are considered close contacts.
What should I do if I am a close contact?
Regardless of your vaccination status, according to the CDC you do not need to quarantine. You are required to wear a KN95 or N95 mask for 10 days. Day 0 is the last day you had contact with that person. You will then want to test on day six with a PCR, or days 6 and 8 and 10 with a rapid antigen. You will want to monitor for symptoms and take a test immediately and not come to work if the symptoms develop. Remember that we have discontinued doing contact tracing, so it is the responsibility of the person who has tested positive to let those exposed know. You may share these instructions with them.
Guests/Visitors on Campus
Campus events can now be held fully in person, and visitors are asked to be up to date on their vaccinations. We also ask that visitors who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms refrain from coming on campus. A hybrid option is only necessary if an event is a class requirement and includes remote students.
Is the college anticipating allowing off-campus guests to give lectures and readings?
We are following state guidelines for travel, which currently permit travel to Vermont and the hosting of events.
We ask that all visitors to campus be vaccinated, and those arranging the logistics of the visit will share this policy and ask visitors to complete this form to affirm their status. Visitors who have not been vaccinated must be masked, physically distanced, and may not enter campus buildings.
What to do if you're sick
You should take a rapid antigen test immediately, and if negative, repeat the test 48 hours later. While waiting for the second test, you should practice “soft” isolation as follows:
- Stay home from work if you are an employee.
- Wear a high quality mask in the presence of others.
- Practice diligent hand hygiene.
- Maintain six feet of distance from others.
Support and Resources
- Support resources are available for faculty and staff. If you have questions or are feeling overwhelmed and concerned, we encourage you to contact Human Resources for additional guidance and information.
- It is important to take care of your health and well being, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. The Employee Assistance Program is designed to assist all employees and their families who need support for a range of personal and professional concerns. Additionally, there are local and national resources available. If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs emotional support, help is available 24/7. Call your local mental health crisis line, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and/or text VT to 741741 to talk with someone at the Crisis Text Line. Get self-help tips and connect to mental health services at COVID Support VT and also review ways for coping with stress.
Sick Time Policy
To encourage employees to stay at home when sick, the College has temporarily altered its staff sick time policies and has introduced the following measures to ensure, where possible, that employees will continue to be paid while out of work for COVID-related illnesses.
Bennington College has implemented a new leave policy to assist staff members who need time away from work for qualified reasons related to COVID-19. The policy is effective for the period of January 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022. All benefits-eligible union and non-union staff are immediately eligible. Please contact your supervisor or Human Resources if you have questions about this new policy.
A staff employee is entitled to take COVID Sick Leave if the employee is unable to work, including unable to work remotely, because the employee:
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- has tested positive for COVID-19 and is required to self-isolate or quarantine;
- is considered a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual and is required by Vermont State protocol to isolate;
- is caring for an immediate family member who is experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms and/or who is subject to a quarantine or isolation;
- or is caring for a dependent child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons
Paid Leave Entitlements and how to request COVID sick leave
A full-time eligible employee is entitled to up to five days (maximum of 40 hours) of COVID Sick Leave for qualifying reasons. A part-time eligible employee is entitled to pro-rata COVID Sick Leave (based on the employee’s full-time equivalent status) for qualifying reasons. Where applicable, leave time taken shall be counted as part of the overall allotment of Family Medical Leave (FMLA) time available to each employee.
COVID Sick Leave time can be requested through ADP (in the same manner as requesting other paid time off).
As needed, employees will be allowed to maintain a negative sick time balance and/or the use of accrued vacation time to cover sick absences.
Staff should continue to report their absences through ADP; please ensure absences are submitted as soon as possible. Any employee who is concerned about financial hardship should contact Human Resources.
- Trustmark and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- Trustmark had indicated that individuals will have access to benefits for COVID-19 testing, if needed, at no cost. Additionally, prior authorization and medical management requirements will be waived for COVID-19 testing.
- All telemedicine copays and prior authorization requirements will be waived for visits relating to COVID-19 testing.
- Trustmark indicates that COVID-19 testing must be available to you at no cost whether the provider doing the testing is in-network or out-of-network.
Travel Procedures and Guidance
College-Related and Personal Travel
Faculty and staff who travel (both domestically or internationally) for College-sponsored business must observe all CDC health and safety guidance. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
Additionally, when traveling, to reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public and/or in larger private groups if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
We recommend that you adhere to the CDC guidance on travel recommendations domestically and internationally, but travel is not restricted.
Coverage for at-home/over-the-counter COVID antigen tests
Effective in January, 2022, all health plans were mandated to begin covering COVID-19 at-home FDA EUA-approved COVID-19 over the counter antigen test kits. The following information from Trustmark is intended to provide you with information about coverage and the reimbursement process for at-home COVID tests that you purchase.
While both our Trustmark medical and OptumRx prescription drug plans will offer coverage for at-home COVID test kits, we remind employees that the federal government is also offering employees 4 free at-home Covid tests (per address). Order here to request your free tests.
Note that at-home COVID tests purchased using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are not reimbursable through this process.
At-home testing kits will be covered up to 8 tests per member, per month, and will be reimbursed up to the $12 limit per test.
Reimbursement for a test purchased at a non-pharmacy location (i.e., Amazon)
Tests can be reimbursed through your medical plan by paying out of pocket for the test and submitting a manual claim on the Trustmark portal, here are the instructions.
Coverage for a test purchased at a pharmacy (including at a pharmacy within a store)
Tests can also be purchased through your pharmacy plan, OptumRx. If you purchase a test at the pharmacy you must purchase it at the pharmacy counter. The employee will be responsible for any costs that exceed the Federal reimbursement level.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
What do I need to know about COVID-19 testing and where can I get tested?
As needed, COVID-19 testing remains available in Vermont. Please refer to the resources offered by the state. If you need assistance, please contact Human Resources.