Answers to the following questions as of 8/18/21 and are subject to change as the pandemic evolves and/or new local or national guidance is offered.
COVID Testing, Vaccinations and Face Coverings
If USI employees need to be tested for COVID-19, will the University cover the cost?
Currently, the State of Indiana provides a rapid antigen test to the University at no charge. These tests can be scheduled on campus through the University Health Center. The University will continue to waive the members' cost share, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles, for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 during the federal public health emergency, for employees covered on the USI Anthem Health Insurance Plan. If you do not have University coverage, please check with your insurance provider.
Where can current COVID-19 information and guidance be found?
Should students and employees still be self-reporting and, if so, where can the self-report forms be found?
Any time you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should complete a self-report form and call the University Health Center. Contact tracers will offer guidance and help to notify others of exposure in an effort to keep our campus safe and the fewest number of individuals exposed.
Will the University require a COVID-19 test as a condition of study or employment?
The University strongly recommends if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around someone who has COVID-19 you immediately contact the University Health Center and complete a self-report form. You may need to isolate and get tested 3-5 days after exposure or onset of symptoms. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive and consult with Human Resources about your return-to-work date.
Will COVID-19 testing continue to be offered on campus?
COVID-19 testing continues to be offered through the University Health Center and will be covered at no member cost share for those employees covered on the USI Anthem Health Insurance Plan. Individuals should call ahead before going to the University Health Center.
With more and more institutions beginning to require vaccinations, is USI considering requiring vaccines for students or employees?
At this time, the University is not planning to require vaccinations for students or employees. However, getting vaccinated is strongly encouraged and remains one of the best ways to protect yourself and others, and to help keep the USI campus open.
Many public four-year universities in Indiana have made provisions for voluntary or mandated tracking of employee and student vaccination status. Is USI planning for a voluntary vaccination reporting system?
At this time, we are not asking employees or students to voluntarily report their vaccination status. However, a voluntary question about vaccination status is included when self-reporting COVID symptoms. Voluntary vaccination status information provided to contact tracers may help reduce time needed in quarantine.
Has the University considered requiring weekly tests for those who are unvaccinated?
Testing of unvaccinated students and employees is not required. However, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or feel you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact the University Health Center about receiving a free antigen test. You should also self-report.
The CDC currently recommends a face covering indoors in counties with “substantial” or “high” transmission rates. If Vanderburgh County and/or surrounding counties go to a “moderate” transmission rate, will the University return to not requiring face coverings for those students and employees who are vaccinated?
At this time, the University plans to keep the face covering mandate in place until it is deemed safe to discontinue the use of face coverings. This will involve a substantial trend over time away from “substantial” and “high” and toward “moderate” and “low” transmission rates. Getting vaccinated and wearing a face covering indoors and self-reporting symptoms or exposure continue to be the best ways to protect our campus community.
If the campus-wide mandate on face coverings is rescinded, do faculty or supervisors have the ability to continue to require masks for classes or office areas?
Any deviation from campus-wide policy should only be considered after consulting with a dean and the Provost, or the appropriate Vice President in non-academic settings.
What types of face coverings are acceptable?
CDC guidance indicates that a face covering/mask should be selected that have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric; completely cover your nose and mouth; fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps; and have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top of the mask. The guidance recommends against masks made of fabric that make it hard to breath, like vinyl, or have exhalation valves or vents. CDC guidance suggests gaiters be folded to make two layers, and at this time, face shields are not recommended as evaluation is ongoing and effectiveness is currently unknown. However, with Provost or VP approval, face shields may be approved by exception.
Given that we will have students and employees who have not worn a mask all summer coming back to an environment where masks will be required, what is the guidance for approaching someone not wearing a mask indoors?
It is possible the person is unaware of our campus policy as we begin the Fall Semester. Educating the individual(s) about the current face covering requirement in campus buildings is a good first step and offering a disposable mask, if available. Always remain civil and try to deescalate the situation. If you cannot reach a resolution, you may report student face covering refusals to the Dean of Students Office and/or Public Safety.
Work from Home
If a supervisor believes an employee has symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19, are they expected or able to send the employee home?
Any employee showing symptoms of COVID-19 or believed to be exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 should be encouraged to immediately self-report and contact the University Health Center. Rapid antigen tests are offered through the University Health Center free of charge.
Is working from home an option while waiting for COVID-19 test results or quarantining?
If you are waiting for COVID-19 test results or quarantining due to exposure to COVID-19, contact your supervisor to determine if your work may be able to be completed from home. More information on this can be found on the Human Resources website.
Is working from home an option when a dependent or family member is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19?
Employees are always encouraged to make plans for the emergency care of all family members. However, additional information about short-term remote or hybrid work can be found on the Human Resources website.
Is working from home an option if a child is sent home due to being a close contact to someone with COVID-19 or if their school is closed or shifted to a virtual format?
Employees are always encouraged to make plans for emergency care of all family members. However, additional information about short-term remote or hybrid work can be found on the Human Resources website.
Since the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases locally and with Vanderburgh county currently in the red, is USI considering hybrid work schedules to minimize the opportunity for an entire office to quarantine if there is an exposure?
The Task Force is currently monitoring local and national developments and will continue to consider all options available for the ongoing safety of the campus community. The campus face covering requirement while indoors, physical distancing and continued hand sanitizing are important steps to minimize COVID-19 exposure.
Will faculty continue to be permitted to move instruction to a virtual format when possible in cases where a faculty member is awaiting test results or quarantining?
If a faculty member is waiting for test results or needs to quarantine due to exposure, they should contact the department chair, dean or Provost to discuss options for continuity of classes. Additional information about short-term remote or hybrid work can be found on the Human Resources website.
Meetings, Events and Office Hours
USI decided to make the Fall University Meeting and Student Convocation virtual to best keep USI employees and student body safe. Is there a plan to provide guidance on meetings taking place on campus? Do all meetings need to be moved to virtual or, under certain conditions, could they still be held in person?
Currently, scheduling meetings in person or virtually is up to the judgement of the meeting organizer. Meeting rooms and classrooms across campus have been assessed for the maximum number of people given 3 feet of distancing in the space. If in question, contact a supervisor or Special Events and Scheduling Services to determine the best arrangements.
Should all in-person events be cancelled?
Events are currently being evaluated for safety on a case-by-case basis and are subject to change based upon significant changes in the pandemic and national, state and local health guidance. Any new campus-wide protocols related to events will be communicated by the Task Force and Special Events and Scheduling Services.
Given that some offices have already begun locking doors, should other areas on campus follow this lead and consider reduced traffic to office areas?
In offices with periodic high traffic and lack of adequate physical distancing space, this may be prudent on occasion. The Provost and/or a Vice President should be consulted before a decision is made to lock an entire office or when entry by appointment only is being recommended.
Will disinfectants and other cleaning items be provided to offices and classrooms again this year?
Disinfectants and cleaning items will be provided in offices and classrooms. Contact the Physical Plant or Custodial Services if those items need to be replenished in a particular area.
Will the University continue to provide regular communications regarding changes that may happen throughout the semester and the year?
The COVID-19 Task Force and University Communications will continue to provide regular updates, as necessary, to ensure that the campus community is up to date with any changes in protocol or other guidance related to COVID-19. Human Resources also continues to make updates to their COVID-19 information which can be found on the Human Resources website.
When will we receive an enrollment update for the Fall Semester?
Census day for USI is Friday, September 17. Once the data is finalized, we are generally able to provide an update to the campus and broader community early the following week.
Is the University planning to fill open positions across a number of University departments?
Open positions will continue to be evaluated before being approved to be filled as the University continues to closely monitor the budget. Human Resources is working hard and exploring new avenues to fill vacant positions that have been approved and posted. Employees can help by referring individuals to posted open positions.
Photo Credit: Mike Fetscher