FAQ for Staff and Faculty

Last updated on June 8, 2021 at 11:42 am EDT.

COVTEST

General Info and Return to Work Procedures 

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.

Mask Policy

Effective June 7, 2021, employees who have provided the College with proof of COVID vaccination (by uploading their documents to ADP) may choose to stop wearing a mask (both indoors and outdoors). Employees who have not provided proof of COVID vaccination must continue wearing a mask at all times, both indoors and outdoors.

How to update your vaccine status in ADP

All employees who are fully vaccinated— regardless of whether you are working on campus, hybrid or remotely—and who wish to voluntarily provide vaccine information to the College should do so by uploading proof of vaccination to ADP. If you need assistance with uploading the documentation, please contact hroffice@bennington.edu. Once documents are confirmed in ADP by Human Resources, employees may choose to stop wearing a mask. 

Access to Campus Offices

Effective Monday, June 7, 2021, all employees may access campus offices without restriction. The College has disbanded COVID work location designations (campus/hybrid/remote) that were implemented during the height of the pandemic. Employees must continue to follow all College health and safety protocols.

Guests/Visitors on Campus

The College is presently reviewing our protocol related to guests and visitors. We will provide an update in the near future.

What to do if you're sick

  • If you develop a fever or respiratory-illness symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, please stay home and contact your primary care provider and/or SVMC ExpressCare for screening and recommendations.  
  • Staff should be in touch with their supervisors if they need to stay home due to illness.
  • Faculty should be in touch with the Provost’s Office if they need to stay home due to illness and have questions regarding their absence.  
  • Employees shall not report to, or be allowed to remain at, work if sick or symptomatic (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea).
  • No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive employee is allowed on site and any employee who has contact with a worker or any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 is required to quarantine for 14 days.  
  • If an employee becomes ill while working, the employee should stop working and move to an empty space/room (isolate). The employee should contact a supervisor or Human Resources immediately and should refrain from engaging in person with others. The College will assist the employee with getting off campus/home with care in the safest possible manner. The employee should not return to campus until cleared to work, Information on persons with whom the employee had contact during the time the employee experienced symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet during this time would be considered exposed.

Modified Daily Health Screening

Effective June 7, 2021, employee daily health reporting through CoVerified will end; feel free to delete the CoVerified app as it will no longer be applicable. While the daily health reporting will end, employees must continue to monitor their health.

IMPORTANT: Employees who are symptomatic with COVID-19 related symptoms such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath or who have been exposed to someone who has exhibited COVID-like symptoms, must remain at home and are encouraged to contact a healthcare provider for guidance. Employees who are sick should not come to campus for any reason until cleared by their health provider and approved to return to work by Human Resources.

If calling in sick for any reason, an employee must contact their supervisor (and follow other department-specific protocol related to sick call-ins). The employee’s supervisor is responsible for informing Human Resources when an employee reports a sick day due to COVID-related symptoms or has indicated exposure to an individual who has exhibited COVID-like symptoms. Human Resources will follow up directly with the employee as appropriate.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

The State of Vermont has expanded the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility over the next month to include all individuals who are 16 or older. We encourage employees who live in Vermont and who wish to make an appointment to set up an account in advance of the registration opening date.

The vaccine protects individuals from illness, but it is not known for sure if individuals can give the virus to someone else. Some recent studies suggest that a person who is vaccinated is less likely to infect other people with the COVID-19 virus.

If your residence is in:

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Vermont

General Information and Eligibility 

New York

General Information and Eligibility 

Note: At this time college faculty teaching in-person are eligible for the vaccine

Massachusetts

General Information and Eligibility 

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.
 
Workplace Accommodation
If an employee has a serious health condition (underlying health condition), the employee may request a workplace accommodation. An employee may request to work from home or request another accommodation by contacting Human Resources. We have a confidential process for managing these requests. All personal health information will be considered confidential and will be released only in accordance with the requirements of the ADA and the VFEPA.
 

Sick Time Policy

To encourage employees to stay home when sick, the College has temporarily altered its sick time policies in order to allow employees (in most cases) to continue to be paid while out of work. 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. Employees who are absent due to symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 will be required to present a note from a doctor prior to returning. Any employee who is concerned about financial hardship should contact Human Resources.

Covid Paid Sick Time and Covid Leave

On April 1, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was introduced by the Department of Labor. The Act required certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick time and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The FFCRA provisions were effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Although the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provisions have expired under the law as of December 31, 2020, Bennington College has decided to continue to offer an equivalent benefit to employees through the end of the current academic year, June 30, 2021. This new benefit is entitled COVID Paid Sick Time and COVID Leave. Please find more information here.

Benefits Information

  • 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.
  • Trustmark indicates that if you are charged for COVID-19 testing, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, you will be reimbursed and/or your deductibles adjusted by your health benefit plan. If you have Teladoc (telemedicine) and were charged a consult fee for a telehealth visit that resulted in COVID-19 testing, you will be reimbursed via a check sent to your home for the amount of the consult fee. Reimbursement for such consult fees applies to COVID-19 telemedicine visits occurring between March 18, 2020, and December 31, 2020. Trustmark will provide updates if there are changes to this end date.

Travel Procedures and Guidance

Daily Commute to Work 

  • Per State regulations, people traveling for essential purposes, including work, do not need to quarantine. Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, or to perform work for businesses that are currently allowed to operate. Individuals engaged in a daily commute to and from their job are expressly exempt from the need to quarantine by Executive Order.

Personal Travel

  • On April 6, 2021, the Governor of Vermont announced the State’s Vermont Forward Plan — A Path to Reopening. This phased reopening plan is a roadmap — which is subject to change based on real time circumstances — that offers businesses the ability to plan with greater certainty for the months ahead.
  • The State of Vermont has removed mandatory quarantine for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont. Employees who reside in MA or NY should follow these same guidelines but should also refer to any additional home state travel regulations. Employees who are Vermont residents and who travel out of state must complete a COVID test within 72 hours of their return to Vermont. If the employee is asymptomatic they may have their post-travel COVID test conducted on campus at the Student Center. If the employee is exhibiting new COVID-likely symptoms, the employee must complete the required post-travel COVID test at an off-campus location. If testing off-campus, please fax test results to Human Resources. Vaccinated Vermont employees do not need to be tested but should refer to the travel guidelines noted below.
  • For additional information, please visit the State’s Cross State Travel FAQs or contact Human Resources for guidance.

Travel, gathering and quarantine guidelines for employees who are fully vaccinated

  • The State of Vermont has revised its travel guidelines and quarantine requirements for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. Please note that although individuals may be vaccinated, employees are still required to continue to follow all COVID health and safety precautions including rolling testing, wearing a mask and social distancing, among others. It takes time for the vaccine to train your body to fight COVID-19. You may not be protected from COVID-19 until you are fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after your final shot.
  • The vaccine protects individuals from illness, but it is not known for sure if individuals can give the virus to someone else. Some recent studies suggest that a person who is vaccinated is less likely to infect other people with the COVID-19 virus. 
  • If it has been 14 days since you received your final vaccine dose, you do not need to quarantine if:
  • The State of Vermont has mandated gathering restrictions, however, if you are fully vaccinated, the guidelines indicate that you may gather with one other household at a time. Learn more about Vermont’s gathering restrictions and exceptions.
  • It will take a while for everyone to be vaccinated. Together, the vaccine and those preventive actions are the best ways to keep from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Commitment of Shared Responsibility Compliance

Our goal is to keep all members of the community safe and healthy. In the same way we are asking all members of the community to share cleaning responsibilities because it would be impossible for Buildings and Grounds to clean every surface after every time it is touched, we are asking all members of the community to help in the upholding of the Commitment. 

Direct dialogue between members of the community at the time of the incident will almost always be the most effective way to address a concern. We also understand that there may be situations, due to power differentials or other dynamics, that could cause someone to feel unable to engage in direct dialogue. In situations where direct dialogue was not possible, community members can share concerns through this form.

We anticipate that most infractions will not be willful, but rather a lapse into older pre-pandemic patterns of behavior. In these cases, which we anticipate will be the vast majority, the issue will be addressed in a way that focuses on education and restorative practices. 

If there is a major violation of Commitment by the staff, students, or faculty, the College is required to act in accordance with the Mandatory Guidance for Residential Campus Learning, issued by the State of Vermont on July 3, 2020. The mechanism by which major infractions will be addressed will be as follows: faculty violations will be addressed by the Acting Provost; staff violations will be addressed by Human Resources; and student violations will be reviewed by the CSR Violations Panel, which is composed of students, faculty, and staff. 

Information about Testing 

Effective June 7, 2021, COVID-19 rolling testing for employees will end. Thank you to all of the staff members who organized and handled this work on behalf of the College. Our entire community thanks you for helping us to navigate the testing procedures.