Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Information for Faculty and Staff

Spring 2021 Information for Faculty and Staff


Important update: GMercyU will continue with hybrid learning for Summer 2021, but plans to welcome all students back to campus for Fall 2021. See details from GMercyU President Deanne D'Emilio, JD, here.

Spring 2021 Semester Delayed On-Campus Start FAQs

How long will be campus be closed after the Christmas break?

Campuses will be closed from December 24 through January 18. Only designated employees will be allowed on campus during this time, as determined by their supervisor with approval from their vice president.

Faculty and staff who need to come to campus during this time must sign up using the forms in the Building Sign-Up Lists section.

All other employees should work from home when the University resumes operations on January 4, as scheduled. 

Will the University continue to pay employees during this extended campus closure period?

Yes. The University will continue to pay employees during this extended campus closure period, consistent with existing pay practices. University operations will resume on January 4, as scheduled, and employees will work from home wherever possible.  

Do all employees have to return to campus once campus re-opens for the Spring semester on January 19th?

No. Any employee who is able to work from home should continue to do so until further notice, in coordination with their supervisor.  Designated employees who need to come to campus to complete their job responsibilities will be expected to report to campus as required by their supervisors.  

In addition to providing proof of a negative test, they will be expected to abide by existing health and safety protocols since these protocols have been very effective in keeping our campus community safe.   

Why are we delaying the start of spring semester on-campus courses?

The decision to delay the start of on-campus courses was based on the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and state health officials. We believe that it is in the best interest of all concerned to delay the start of in-person classes for two weeks after the Christmas holiday season has ended, and allow us time to implement new testing protocols.

When will you be offering COVID-19 testing?

For the health and safety of our campus community, all students, faculty and staff must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus in January. Here is the University COVID-19 Screening and Testing Protocol for spring 2021. Please note that the policy stipulates that testing is mandatory for all community members who plan to return to any campus between January 19 and January 31. Community members who plan to return to any campus in February and beyond will be subject to random COVID-19 testing. All masking and physical distancing guidelines will remain in place for the spring 2021 semester.
 
Testing dates are scheduled for:
 
January 4, 2021
Essential personnel only (as designated by your supervisor)
January 7 and January 8, 2021
Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions students and essential personnel only. In addition to testing, PPE distribution and N95 mask fitting will take place at this time.
January 11 and January 12, 2021
Faculty/staff who will be teaching/working on campus, resident students, and commuter students with on campus classes only
 
All testing will be free of charge and will occur on the East Campus. Specific testing times will be announced, so be sure to check your email and the website regularly.
 
COVID19 Testing Registration Process
You will receive a testing registration email from our vendor, GENETWORx, so please do not delete any emails from this company and regularly check your spam folder. You will need to follow the instructions in this email to properly register for and schedule your test.
 
No one will be allowed on campus in January without proof of a negative test. If you cannot attend a testing date, you will need to secure your own PCR test at a time and place that’s more convenient for you. Please send your negative test results to COVIDtestresults@gmercyu.edu

Why do I need to show proof of a negative COVID test to return to campus in the spring? I didn’t have to do that for the fall semester.

The decision to require proof of a negative test is based on the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and state health officials.  Our top priority is the safety of our campus community and requiring testing will help further mitigate the potential risk of exposure to the virus among our campus community. 

What if I cannot come to campus on any of the available testing dates?

If you cannot come to campus on any of the available testing dates, you will need to schedule a PCR test (not a rapid test) at a time and place that is more convenient for you. Please send your negative test results to COVIDtestresults@gmercyu.edu. Once your results are reviewed and approved, you will receive a confirmation email clearing your return to campus. 

Please be sure you can schedule a test and receive the results prior to the time you are expected to return to campus.

How should students manage their on-campus courses during the first two weeks of the semester?

The spring semester will start as scheduled on January 7.  Between January 7 and January 20, any courses that were scheduled to be held on campus will be held online instead. Students should log into those courses using the instructions provided by their faculty member.  Beginning January 21, on-campus courses will be held on campus, as scheduled. 

When will students be able to move back into the Residence Halls?

Residential students will be able to return to the residence halls beginning January 19. The Office of Residence Life will be in contact with all residential students about scheduling a time to return to their residence hall room. Students should check their email regularly and follow the instructions provided for a safe return to campus.

What should students who are scheduled to attend clinicals (or student teaching, internships or other field experiences) that start in early January do?

Students have been advised to follow the guidelines and instructions provided by their site location, and instructed to contact their clinical or experiential learning coordinator for more information.  

 

More Updates

Approach to Spring 2021

Academic Council, Executive Council and the Emergency Task Force have been reviewing the Spring calendar to determine the safest way to proceed in the light of the continued risks associated with the spread and potential resurgence of COVID-19. 

We have decided that it is in the best interest of all concerned to continue to operate in a hybrid format for the Spring Semester. Information on which courses will be offered in which learning modality will be available beginning October 16. Students are being instructed to check their Self Service portal for more details.

In addition, for the health and safety of all concerned, we have decided that the best way to keep our campus safe is to limit the travel and other risks associated with having two Spring semester breaks in a very short window of time.  

Although many Universities have chosen to eliminate Spring break and shorten their academic calendar, we realize the importance of the break for faculty, staff and students. Therefore, we have decided to eliminate Spring break (March 8-12, 2021) and extend Easter break from March 26 through April 5, 2021. The University will be closed for the Easter holiday from April 1-5, 2021, as planned.

We will also move the last day for students to withdraw from classes from March 31 to April 7, 2021. 

The Emergency Task Force will send out reminders to all faculty/staff/students regarding travel to hot spots and the notification and self-quarantine process for any of these prolonged breaks, including Thanksgiving.

We strongly believe this decision will balance the need to give everyone a much-needed break and offer further protection to our campus community from students and others who may travel to hot spots. This also will limit the number of disruptions to hybrid classwork/clinicals/fieldwork placements.

Please see the message to students here.

Campus Sanitization Process

In alignment with public health recommendations, the Office of Environmental Safety, in conjunction with Plant Services and Housekeeping has developed enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures to follow during the COVID-19 public health situation.

  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection for prevention
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection after notification of a confirmed case of COVID-19

While we understand these details may not answer every unique question, they are meant to provide a fundamental understanding of Gwynedd Mercy University’s approach to incrementally welcoming Faculty and Staff back to the workplace.

Community Online Trainings

To assist employees, we will be implementing several online trainings covering Coronavirus Awareness, Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom), CDC Guidelines for making and using cloth face masks, and Cleaning and Disinfecting Workplace.

Covid-19 Exposure

Any employee who has received a positive reporting of COVID-19 or possible exposure to COVID-19 is not to report to campus and should contact their supervisor and the Human Resources Department immediately at 215-646-7300 x21562.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Resources

For employees facing COVID-related stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness, money, family, and work issues, the Human Resources Office is here to help. Go to the HR portal page for the resources available to you, including an EAP webinar that directly addresses the emotional impact of the virus and how to cope. 

Event Planning During the Pandemic

Please submit this form at least three weeks prior to the event. Your requests cannot be processed unless both pages of the form are completed in full. All requests are subject to availability, adherence to guidelines and approval by the Emergency Management Committee. 

Once your request has been processed you will receive a confirmation via email. Please do not assume that your request has been granted unless you receive a confirmation notice. Thank you!

Isolation / Quarantine Guidelines and Notification Processes

Definitions of Important COVID-19 Terms

Quarantine: An individual is required to remain in a confined space for a determined amount of time as part of the University’s procedures. Quarantine is used as a preventative measure and may be implemented while the University is gathering needed information on possible exposure risks. The individual will be directed to quarantine on campus if a resident or at home if a commuter student, staff, or faculty member. NOTE: As this procedure is used as a preventative measure, no one other than the affected individual will be notified by the University.

Self-Quarantine: An individual has been informed that they did not meet quarantine parameters set by the county or the University but CHOOSES to self-quarantine because they feel it is the right choice for them.  NOTE: This action is chosen by the individual and is NOT University-mandated. Faculty, staff, and students may be notified by the individual but will not be notified by the University.

Isolation: An individual is required to remain in a confined space for a determined amount of time due to receiving an active COVID-19 diagnosis or showing two or more COVID-19 symptoms. Any hybrid faculty, university staff or students who were in close contact with this individual WILL be notified according to the contact tracing process. 

Close/Direct Contact/Exposure: Being within 6 feet of an infected person (with or without a mask/PPE) for at least fifteen minutes starting from two days before illness/symptom onset (or for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive test) until the time the infected person is isolated. 

Active Case: An individual who is placed into an isolation space and awaiting test results or has experienced two or more symptoms of COVID-19. Any hybrid faculty, university staff or students who were in direct contact with this individual WILL BE contacted according to the contact tracing process. 

Positive Case: An individual who tests positive for COVID-19. Any hybrid faculty, university staff or students who were in close/direct contact with this individual WILL BE contacted according to the contact tracing process. 

Negative Case: An individual who tests negative for COVID-19. Any hybrid faculty, university staff or students will NOT be notified. 

Delayed Reporting: When the University is not immediately notified of a possible exposure, an active case, a positive case, or a negative test. The University will act on information as soon as it is received. Example: Active exposure occurs on January 1st but is not reported to the University until January 8th. 

When information concerning a possible exposure or active COVID-19 case is received, the following processes are followed: 

  • If notification of possible exposure or an active case is forwarded to the Human Resources Department, Health and Wellness Center, Residence Life, or Public Safety, the COVID-19 contact tracing and notification process will be implemented. 
     
  • If notification is given to a department other than those listed above, the Director of the department should immediately forward the information to either Human Resources (for faculty/staff) via email: mcdonald.m@gmercyu.edu, or the Health and Wellness Center (for students) via email: ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu.
     
  • If notification is given to a faculty member by a student, the faculty member should immediately contact the Health and Wellness Center via email: ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu.
     
  • Depending on if the individual is a student, staff or faculty member either Human Resources or the Health and Wellness Center will gather preliminary information and begin the contact tracing process.
     
  • Human Resources or the Health and Wellness Center will determine if reported exposure or active cases are to quarantine or isolate based on information obtained.

In the event of an isolation order, an active or positive case, the following actions will occur:

  • The Health and Wellness Center WILL notify the Montgomery County Office of Public Health which will proceed with contact tracing and provide instructions to GMercyU. This is for any reported cases involving students, staff or faculty. 
     
  • If the individual is a resident student, Residence Life WILL be notified. Per state and county guidelines, the student will be encouraged to isolate in designated residence hall isolation rooms.
     
  • The Health and Wellness Center WILL notify the student’s faculty that the student will be out of class for a designated period of time due to a private medical issue. University staff and students who were in direct contact with the individual will be informed in accordance with the contact tracing process. 
     
  • The Health and Wellness Center WILL notify the appropriate faculty members via email when a student is cleared to return to hybrid classes. 
     
  • Human Resources WILL notify the appropriate supervisor via email when a staff or faculty member is cleared to return to return to campus.  
     
  • If an accommodation for a student, staff or faculty member is necessary, Brandi Crawford, Director of Accessibility Services, should be contacted for assistance via email: crawford.b@gmercyu.edu
     
  • If a positive case is identified in a building, classroom or other area on campus, Public Safety will contact the appropriate Dean and Karen Law to find another classroom or location to be used while the area is closed. The existing area will need to have three full days of non-use prior to Plant Services conducting a deep cleaning. If space is needed prior to the three full days of non-use, an outside cleaning agency maybe contracted by Plant Services to deep clean the area. NOTE: Cleaning may not occur immediately in the case of delayed reporting.
     
  • If Health and Wellness staff instructs a student to quarantine or isolate, the Health and Wellness staff will provide the student a letter clearing their return to field experience sites.  
     
  • Students must follow field experience sites’ requirements for clearance and return.
     
  • Students must immediately report all incidents of possible exposure or confirmed COVID-19 cases to the Health and Wellness Center via email: ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu, or phone: 267-448-1306.
     
  • Staff and faculty must immediately report all incidents of possible exposure or confirmed COVID-19 cases to the Human Resources Department via email: mcdonald.m@gmercyu.edu, or phone: 215-646-7300, ext. 21562.
     
  • After business hours, students, staff and faculty must report any violation, possible exposure or positive COVID-19 cases to Public Safety via email: gallagher.j@gmercyu.edu, or phone: 215-641-5522.
     
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in close/direct contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19 are NOT permitted on campus until appropriate clearance has been provided. 
Stay-At-Home Policy

Please do NOT come to work if you are not feeling well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that sick employees stay home if they are sick with flu-like illness until at least 48 hours after they are free of fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, have a flushed appearance, or sweating). This assessment should be made without the use of fever-reducing medicines (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).

Summer/Fall 2020 Return-to-Work Plan

We look forward to welcoming facuty and staff back to campus in a phased approach over the summer and into the fall.  As members of our caring community, all faculty and staff will be expected to abide by the University's on-campus health and safety requirements.

The following details will provide some clarity and address some general questions; more information will be shared on the University portal in the coming weeks.

  • Week of June 1 - Plant Services Department Returned to campus
  • Week of June 15 - Custodial Services Returned to campus
  • Week of June 15 - Staff and Faculty – Limited Building access for individual visits
  • Week of June 29 - Summer II Session begins
  • Week of July 6 - Summer II Hybrid On-Ground Instruction begins (select classes), Faculty / Staff Return-to-Campus 25 % on campus and 75% work remote plan implemented

Gwynedd Mercy University’s Return-to-Campus Plan is structured to allow faculty and staff to return to campus with a predetermined 25% department hybrid schedule. This means that initially only 25% of each department will return to campus at any given time. Working from home is encouraged if possible, across all departments. Individuals returning to campus for work should be based on the need for business continuity. The plan must remain flexible to adapt to any changes required by new federal or state regulations, and to continue observing best-practice CDC recommendations. Any additional or changing information will be provided in a future update. All Staff and Faculty should speak to their department supervisors to discuss their return to campus schedule.

Supervisors and directors will be provided with information outlining best-practices for managing and maintaining health and safety in their areas. They will be responsible for training their staff in on-campus health and safety requirements.

Employees who may have a concern about returning to on-campus work are encouraged to contact Human Resources directly. Human Resources has a protocol/process in place for employees who are experiencing an impact from COVID-19 and will review each concern individually, using the University’s Return-to-Work policy, which you can access on the portal.

Travel

Faculty or staff members who have traveled outside the state within 14 days of a planned return to campus have two options.  1) They must quarantine for 14 days at home after consulting with their departmental supervisor and Human Resources. Testing will not be required in this instance, but since it may delay their planned return to campus,  this plan must be approved by their supervisor.  2) They may opt to provide negative results from a PCR test administered five (5) days after their return from another state.  Employees should contact their supervisor to discuss their plans.

With very few exceptions for university recruiting and possibly athletic competition, all University-sponsored travel will be restricted until further notice.