Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Information for Faculty and Staff

Information for Faculty and Staff


Important Updates: 

All faculty and staff planning to be on any GMercyU campus this fall will need to provide proof of their completed vaccination (e.g. both doses of a two-vaccine regimen, or one dose of a single vaccine regimen) at least two weeks prior to their first day on campus. See message from GMercyU President Deanne D'Emilio, JD.

Complete GMercyU's COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Form and Request for Vaccination Exemption Form here. (You must be logged into the portal to view the form.)

Learn about our Summer 2021 plans, and welcoming all students back to campus for Fall 2021. 
 

FAQs Regarding Fall 2021 Vaccine Requirement

Why is GMercyU requiring faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our campus community. We believe requiring the vaccine is the best way to mitigate the potential spread of this virus.  

Requiring the vaccine is not only consistent with the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state health officials, but it also is consistent with our Mercy values, which call on us to make decisions that consider the Common Good and respect all human life.  COVID-19 has proven to be a highly contagious and often deadly virus, and we want to be sure we’re doing everything we can as a community to end this pandemic.

As an institution of higher education, we also are committed to making evidence-based decisions. The science around the COVID-19 vaccine indicates that it is a safe and effective way to help prevent the spread of the virus.

I plan to be on campus only a few times in the fall. Do I still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes.  All employees who plan to be on campus will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to coming to any campus in the fall. 

I would prefer not to get the vaccine. Can I just fill out an exemption form?

All GMercyU employees who will be on a GMercyU campus will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to coming to campus in the fall. You can request an exemption for religious or medical reasons only.  The exemption form will be available in the coming weeks.

It is also important to remember that faculty who need to go to clinical, student teaching, or other field experience sites will very likely be required to show proof of vaccination in order to report to those site locations in the fall. Most area hospitals, for example, have already announced vaccination requirements.  

Anyone who does not provide proof of the vaccination or complete the exemption process will not be able to come to campus.

Will requesting a medical or religious exemption impact my ability to work on campus?

If you are granted an exemption, you will be able to come to campus as long you follow all other safety protocols.  

If I have tested positive for COVID-19 do I still need to get the vaccine?

The CDC has indicated that contracting COVID-19 may provide immunity for a period of time, but vaccination provides the best protection against the spread of the virus.  Our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our campus community, and we believe requiring the vaccine for the fall is the best way to mitigate the potential spread of this virus.  If you contract the virus over the summer, prior to receiving the vaccine, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor on the appropriate timing for vaccination.  

If I don’t want to get the vaccine, will I be able to teach virtually instead?

Unless you are already teaching in a fully online program, it is very unlikely that you would be able to teach all of your courses in a virtual format this fall. The majority of campus undergraduate and graduate courses are already scheduled to be offered on campus in the fall.  

What if I can’t complete the vaccination process prior to returning to campus in August?

Appointments are much more widely available now than they were even a few weeks ago. Please be sure to check your County’s Office of Public Health website for details on where you can make an appointment.  Local pharmacies and grocery stores also have been offering vaccine appointments. Gwynedd Mercy University also plans to offer at least one more vaccine clinic over the summer. Be sure to continue to check your GMercyU email and the portal for potential dates and times.  

We strongly recommend that you schedule your appointment in June or early July, so you can be fully vaccinated no later than two weeks prior to your scheduled return to campus in August. Remember, you need both doses of a two-dose vaccine regimen or one dose of a one-dose regimen in order to be fully vaccinated.  

Is it possible that the University will eliminate this requirement before the fall semester begins based on new information?

The start of the fall semester is still several months away and we know things may continue to change.  Similar to the way we have handled decisions over the past year, we will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation carefully.  It is possible that we will make adjustments to our campus safety protocols based on new information.  But, for now, we believe this is the safest course of action based on the scientific information available to us today.  

Faculty and staff do not need to show proof of vaccination until August so you have a little time to schedule your appointments. However, you will need to have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to your return to campus in August.

Where can I get more information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In addition to the many resources available on the CDC website, you may find it helpful to take a look at the information in this panel discussion, which was provided by members of our science, public health, and nursing faculty.  

What if I was vaccinated outside the United States?

People who were vaccinated outside the United States with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses. People who received the first dose of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

Some people may have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized in the United States. No data is available on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized in the United States after receipt of a non-FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. However, in some circumstances, people who received a COVID-19 vaccine not currently authorized in the United States may be offered revaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine:

  • COVID-19 vaccines not authorized by FDA but listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO)2
    • People who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is listed for emergency use by WHO do not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine
    • People who have not received all the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series
  • COVID-19 vaccines neither authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO
    • People who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series

The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA authorized vaccine or a WHO-listed vaccine and an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is 28 days. Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance.

 

Additional 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

Starting May 15, the University will be following the PA Department of Health travel guidelines and will continue to follow the CDC Traveling Abroad Guidelines.  

When returning from travel, use the CDC COVID Data Tracker to obtain updates concerning COVID case status for areas you may be visiting.

(Areas in Dark Blue and Light Blue represent Daily Case Rate, by State/Territory (cases per 100K) 

In addition, we will continue to require you to complete the health survey prior to entering campus. If you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, please do not come to campus. 

If you are experiencing symptoms, have been informed of COVID exposure, or have questions about whether or not you should come to campus because of a COVID concern, please contact Human Resources Department at HR@gmercyu.edu or 215-646-7300, ext. 21250.