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COVID-19: Guidelines for Returning to the Workplace

The University of South Carolina has modified its operations to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and community. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will operate in accordance with guidance from state and local officials and follow the advice of experts to limit and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

As our campus is gradually reopened we are relying on each employee to exercise common sense, good judgement, and to comply with the guidance contained in this document.

These guidelines will be updated as appropriate. Employees should continue to coordinate with their departments and supervisors and monitor the UofSC COVID-19 website for the most current information. The university is committed to do everything possible to ensure a safe transition back to campus. While campus may look a little different, we can look forward to returning with confidence if we all work together and follow practices that protect the health of our entire community.

 

Returning to Campus

 

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Symptom Monitoring

Employees who are sick should stay home. Employees are to record their temperature daily and monitor themselves for the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sense of smell/taste
  • Chills/shaking
  • Fever greater than 100.4°F

Employees who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home and not come to work until they are well.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recommends that employees who have been ill not come to work until 7 days have passed since their symptoms began AND they are free of fever (100.4°F [37.8°C] or less using an oral thermometer) or signs of fever for 3 days without the use of fever-reducing medicines and their other symptoms have improved.

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Social Distancing

Social distancing and personal hygiene are important safeguards. Employees are to:

  • Maintain a distance of six feet
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Wear face coverings whenever it is not possible to maintain six feet of separation
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow
  • Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces
  • Routinely clean their own work space
  • Respect the personal space of others

 

Practicing Personal Safety

 

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Face Masks/Cloth Face Coverings

Face masks or face coverings are highly recommended for all employees working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.

Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly laundered before use again. Having a week supply of cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering. See details regarding mask use and care below.

Type and Intended Use of Face Coverings/Masks

 

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Cloth Face Covering

Home-made or commercially manufactured face coverings that are washable and help contain wearer’s respiratory emissions

 

Intended use: Recommended for use in areas where six feet social distancing cannot be consistently maintained and required in designated areas. Must be washed or replaced daily. Not required when working alone in an enclosed office.

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Disposable Mask

Commercially manufactured masks that help contain wearer’s respiratory emissions

 

Intended use: Recommended for use in areas where six feet social distancing cannot be consistently maintained and required in designated areas. Must be washed or replaced daily. Not required when working alone in an enclosed office.

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Medical-Grade Surgical Mask

FDA-approved masks to protect the wearer from large droplets and splashes; helps contains wearer’s respiratory emissions

 

Intended use: These masks are reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with taskspecific hazards determined by OESO.

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N95 Respirator

Provide effective respiratory protection from airborne particles and aerosols; helps contain wearer’s respiratory emissions

 

Intended use: These masks are reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with taskspecific hazards determined by OESO.

Adapted from Duke University’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace

  

Maintaining a Healthy Workplace

 

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Phased Return to Campus

Under the direction of university officials, departments will be returning employees to campus in a carefully planned phased approach. When planning for the return of employees, units will consider the following factors along with general business requirements:

  • Employee’s overall risk profile
  • Obligation of the employee to provide dependent care
  • Suitability of the position for remote work
  • Level of hardship created either by exclusion from or inclusion in the workplace.

Managers and supervisors will work closely with their employees to determine how to maximize productivity while minimizing health risks and remaining sensitive to the circumstances created by closures of elementary and middle schools, daycare facilities, and summer camps.

Managers and supervisors will monitor and manage the number of employees in the workplace. In areas where workspace is shared, this may require:

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Alternating days in the workplace with days of remote work
  • Continuation of telecommuting
  • Staggered start and end times to limit number of employees arriving or departing at the same time.
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Shared Spaces and Common Surfaces

Maintain cleanliness of shared spaces and common surfaces such as:

  • Light switches
  • Faucets
  • Cabinet doors, drawers, and counter tops
  • Copiers
  • Work tables
  • Break areas and conference rooms

Employee Responsibilities

Each employee is to clean areas of touch after use. Employees are to maintain social distancing within common areas, waiting until sufficient space is available to enter and respecting the personal space of others. This includes:

  • Breakrooms
  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Restrooms

Department Responsibilities

  • Post signage to indicate occupancy limits of shared spaces.
  • Remove shared appliances such as coffee makers and water dispensers except where no-touch or single use options are available.
  • Eliminate shared utensils and either replace with single use items or allow employees to supply their own which must be cleaned and removed from the shared space immediately after use.
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Workplace Education

Units will post workplace posters available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to ensure that employees know the symptoms of COVID-19 and what they can do to prevent its spread.

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Meetings

Convene meetings in ways that allow for social distancing and the inclusion of employees who are working remotely.

Continue to use online meeting platforms to allow employees to connect from their home office or campus office.

In-person meetings should occur in open areas or rooms with occupancy levels that significantly exceed the number of participants and are not greater than 50 percent of current occupancy limits.

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Visitors

Visitors and other intermittent traffic pose additional risks. Avoid non-essential visitors and take precautions to maintain safe distances between people.

Be Proactive

  • Use phone conferences and online meeting platforms to reduce the number of visitors
  • Limit points of entry and exit
  • Designate one-way paths when possible
  • Use tape, floor decals, or signs to identify where visitors should stand to preserve social distance
  • Limit or remove chairs
  • Add transparent barriers to protect both employees and visitors
  • Provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in high-traffic areas
  • Remove high touch items such as magazines or shared pens
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Vehicle Travel

If employees must travel in vehicles to perform their job duties, units should limit the number of employees in a vehicle to the maximum extent possible and whenever possible only have one employee in a vehicle at one time.

If the job duties of an employee require traveling with a crew in a vehicle, vehicle occupants are to:

  • Wear face coverings
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Allow for the circulation of outside air
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Mental and Emotional Well-being

This has been a challenging time for everyone. Individuals dealing with feelings of isolation, anxiety, or stress are encouraged to use our Employee Assistance Program

Employees should discuss concerns with their supervisors and offer suggestions about how to improve health and safety in the workplace.

 

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