Frequently Asked Questions: Staffing

At the present time, all university faculty and staff are asked to cease small-group and individual meetings effective immediately. Please transition to remote access for these activities and follow the guidance for social distancing whenever on campus. 

Returning to the Workplace

Who decides when and which employees return to work on-site?

Any expanded staffing will be approved and communicated by the respective dean or vice president in coordination with the COVID Task Force and Duke’s senior officers. At this point, the focus for expanded staffing is on health clinics and specific research laboratories.

Will employees who prefer to work on-site due to family circumstances, internet access or other productivity issues able to do so?

Once approved to expand staffing, only employees who are needed on-site to support expanded operations should return. Those who can work remotely should continue to do so. Personal preferences, internet access, family circumstances, etc. are not among the criteria for determining who should return to work on-site.

Our departmental offices will be reopening soon and employees will return to working on-site rather than working remotely. What is the process for an employee who is unable to return to the office due to a health condition?

The employee should visit the Duke University and Health System Disability Management System website (https://access.duke.edu/employees). If the employee’s health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories, then the employee may seek a Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Adjustment using the DMS Reasonable Accommodation process.

Can an employee seek a Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Adjustment if he or she is the caregiver to a family member who has a serious health condition and is worried about potential exposure of the family member?  

Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Adjustments must be directly tied to the employee’s health condition, not the health of a person that they provide care for on a daily basis.  If the employee needs time away to care for a family member, child or spouse with a serious health condition, the employee can use FMLA or accrued time off (vacation, sick leave or Paid Time Off).

Can an employee seek Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Adjustment if he or she is afraid of catching COVID-19 from co-workers or customers?

Fear of catching COVID is not a reason to implement a Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Adjustment. Duke is taking careful precautions consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make its workplaces as safe as possible (masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, no large meetings, etc.).

Will employees returning to work on-site be tested for COVID-19 as part of the screening process?

All employees coming on-site will need to conduct symptom monitoring prior to leaving for work. Testing is currently only conducted if employees report any of the list of symptoms provided by Employee Health. Any employee with symptoms should contact the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees). Employee Health will follow up with the employee and coordinate testing and care as appropriate, which may include coordination with county health departments in cases outside of the Triangle region.


Safety and Personal Protection

Are employees returning to the workplace required to wear a mask? What are the implications if an employee refuses to wear a mask?

Yes, employees working on-site, regardless whether the worksite is Duke-owned or leased, must wear a face mask or face covering while on property, unless the individual is working alone in an office or eating, drinking or using the bathroom. 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.

Failing to comply with this or any other safety requirement will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

When can a mask be reused? Is one a day sufficient or must it be replaced every time it is removed?

Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash. If soiled or torn, the mask should be immediately discarded and replaced.

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.

Is it OK to wear a mask below your nose or must it cover nose and mouth?

A face mask or cloth covering must cover your nose and mouth to be effective. Otherwise, droplets can be spread through coughing, sneezing, talking and other similar behaviors.

If I have a cloth face covering, do I also need a filter? Is a coffee filter sufficient?

A cloth face covering should be sufficient to limit the potential spread of respiratory droplets from people coughing, sneezing or talking. See details regarding the making, wearing and cleaning for face coverings on the CDC website.


Buildings & Facilities

How will my building be cleaned?

Housekeeping will maintain cleaning and disinfecting practices in accordance with CDC & OESO guidelines. Housekeeping will perform routine clean and disinfecting of spaces that are occupied and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched indoor surfaces. The extent of cleaning will depend on the timing of the notice to re-open. Facilities needs time to call back staff, schedule and perform the cleaning.

What areas will be cleaned by Duke Facilities Management?

In addition to our pre-COVID-19 routine cleaning, Housekeeping will provide cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces two to three times daily, based on shifts and building usage. These areas include light switches (if manual), doorknobs/push handles, chairs/tables/counter tops, appliance handles/buttons, elevator buttons, handrails, and water fountains, as examples.

What’s the difference between cleaning, routine cleaning and disinfecting and enhanced cleaning?

Cleaning is defined as using soap and water to remove dirt and impurities. Disinfecting is defined as killing germs on a surface. Routine cleaning is defined as our standard cleaning and disinfecting process. Enhanced cleaning is defined as disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

How will sanitizer and cleaning supplies be distributed for areas expanding operations and on-site staffing?

Facilities Management is procuring sanitizer and cleaning supplies, which will be prioritized and distributed based on areas approved for expanded staffing/operations. The goal is to place sanitizer dispensers at primary building entries/exits and outside elevators. Disinfectant spray bottles will be placed in break rooms for departmental use.

Where are the hand-sanitizer dispensers that were installed in the restrooms?

Existing hand-sanitizer dispensers are being redeployed to areas recommended by OESO, because they are not needed in areas where soap and water are available for proper hand- washing.

What supplies will Facilities Management provide for customers to clean and sanitize their buildings?

Facilities Management will provide customers with building hand sanitizer dispensers, as well as spray cleaner to clean surfaces in breakrooms/lounges after use. The spray bottles will be given to the Duke Return to Workplace (RTW) coordinators for placement around buildings. For spray bottles and sanitizer refills, please contact uevs@duke.edu or (919) 613-0720. Please note, disinfectant wipes are in short supply and cannot be provided.

If I work in a reception/customer service area, do I need to have a plexiglass shield installed to reduce the change of infection? 

The feasibility of installing plexiglass shields in high-traffic areas has been explored in consultation with Duke’s infectious disease experts and OESO. As a result of extended discussions and evaluations of pilot locations, installing plexiglass shields  offers minimal additional protection beyond what is provided through Duke’s universal masking, social distancing and symptom screening requirements. When combined with the fact that these shields would also require regular cleaning to maintain effectiveness against the potential transmission of illness, Duke is not recommending installation of plexiglass shields at this time.

I have heard that there is some concern about getting the virus from the bathroom when the toilet is flushed.  Is that possible?  

While current scientific literature suggests that genetic material associated with the virus can be found in close proximity to toilets, there is little evidence that this material is both viable and infectious. The most important aspects for preventing infection continue to be washing hands, avoiding touching your face and maintaining social distancing while in the bathroom. As part of Duke’s safety protocols for COVID-19, the cleaning schedule of bathrooms in reopened buildings will be increased and the number of people in a bathroom will be decreased to ensure appropriate social distancing.

Will leased spaces be subject to the same criteria for cleaning, building control/access and safety precautions as Duke-owned spaces?

The Duke Real Estate Office and Facilities Management are working with landlords for buildings where Duke will expand staffing and operations to ensure appropriate safety measures are resources are available.

Does anything need to be done to building HVAC systems?

Droplets are the primary method of COVID-19 transmission. Building HVAC systems are a low- risk method of transmission. Increasing outside air ventilation can only be done based on system type and outside conditions. The university has several different types of buildings, from modern buildings to older and smaller ones, like the houses on Campus Drive. Consequently, there are many different types of HVAC systems in the buildings. These systems include central air, fan-coil units and small split systems. In buildings with central air systems, Facilities uses the MERV 13 filter, which is recommended by ASHRAE. Where feasible, building ventilation rates will be increased when outside air conditions allow. Our building HVAC systems are maintained on preventative maintenance schedules. Prior to re-opening, building HVAC system controls will be reset to the normal operating settings for temperature and humidity, based on occupancy schedules. Best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 remain to practice social distancing, hand hygiene, universal masking and surface cleaning.

Does anything need to be done to clean or disinfect building plumbing systems?

Facilities Management has been flushing the water distribution lines, and flushing building water systems will be performed prior to occupancy.

Who will provide and post building signage?

Duke Emergency Management has developed building signage for customers, available here. Per department, building customers/occupants will be responsible to post occupancy, social distancing and related signage in their respective buildings, based on social the guidelines outlined in Duke’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace. Facilities Management will post occupancy limit signs on elevators and restrooms.

Will Facilities Management replace bathroom fixtures to automatic models?

At the guidance of OESO, Facilities Management will not replace faucets or paper towel dispensers. Please refer to the Duke’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace for proper hand- washing techniques.

Will Facilities Management remove or disable electric hand dryers in restrooms?

The topic of hand dryers was reviewed by OESO, and there is no scientific evidence or direction not to use or to disable them at this time. In restrooms with hand dryers, Facilities Management will also provide paper towels.

Should break rooms, kitchens, and/or common areas remain closed? Is that a department responsibility/decision?

Departments are responsible to determine the use of their space in compliance with Duke’s social distancing guidelines outlined in Duke’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace.

What if a department needs assistance reconfiguring spaces for social distancing?

If assistance is needed to reconfigure building spaces to comply with the social distancing guidelines outlined in t Duke’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace, please contact Adem Gusa in Facilities’ Office of Project Management at adem.gusa@duke.edu or (919) 660-1483.

Has Facilities Management communicated COVID-19 work protocols with vendors and contractors?

Yes. Since the Duke’s COVID-19 response in March, Facilities Management has provided clear instructions to vendors and contractors regarding the required protocols for on-campus workers. These protocols are congruent with Duke’s Guide for Returning to the Workplace for symptom self-checks, hand-washing, masking and social distancing.


Symptoms/Sickness

What should I do if I feel sick?

All staff/faculty working on-site in support of critical operations should follow these steps:

  • If you have ANY symptoms, including one or more of the following: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestion, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, fatigue, new GI symptoms, or new loss of taste or smell, you may not work. Call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment and COVID-19 testing, and wear a mask. By contacting the hotline, you will register with Employee Health and must complete the Duke employee survey that will be sent to your email. Employee Health will contact you within 24 hours.
  • Self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

Any staff/faculty member not working on-site should follow these steps:

  • If you have ANY symptoms, including one or more of the following: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestion, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, fatigue, new GI symptoms, or new loss of taste or smell, call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment, and wear a mask. By contacting the hotline, you will register with Employee Health and must complete the Duke employee survey that will be sent to your email.  Employee Health will contact you within 24 hours.
  • Do not report to work; self-isolate as directed by your healthcare provider and practice good hygiene to limit the potential spread of the virus.
  •  Self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

*Note: The Duke COVID hotline operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If someone calls out sick with respiratory symptoms and a fever, should I tell others who came into contact with that individual?

No. It is important to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare. Employee Health, Student Health, or Durham Public Health will be responsible for any contact investigation to assess potential risk of exposure for anyone who has been diagnosed with a suspected case of COVID-19 and will contact those who may have been exposed.

What if I’ve been exposed to someone who’s being tested for potential risk of COVID-19?

Employee Occupational Health and Wellness changed its policy on March 30 to allow healthcare workers who have been exposed to known COVID-19 positive individuals at work to continue to work while wearing a face mask, as long as they remain symptom-free. Any staff working on-site who have ANY symptoms, including one or more of the following: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestion, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, fatigue, new GI symptoms, or new loss of taste or smell, call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment and COVID-19 testing before returning to work.

Others not working on-site who believe they have had an exposure to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider for risk assessment and guidance and call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for risk assessment and guidance before returning to work.

If you believe you have had a work-related illness or injury, please complete the accident, injury, illness report on the Duke Human Resources website.

If a staff member is exposed to a patient with coronavirus and contracts the virus as a result, is this something that is covered under Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation will apply to specific occupational exposures to the coronavirus. An employee who believes they have had an occupational exposure should first contact Employee Health and then complete an online work-related injury report at hr.duke.edu/injury. If the disease reaches the point of widespread community transmission, it would no longer be an “occupational disease” and thereafter workers’ compensation would not apply.

What if I don’t want to come to work because I don’t want to get sick?

Duke must maintain certain critical services and operations such as patient care, laboratory research and student services regardless of circumstances. There are certain positions that are required to be on-site to support those critical services and operations.

As part of the Standards of Conduct policy, Duke expects staff to attend work as scheduled and be fully prepared to begin work and remain at work through the entire work period. Any time away from work should be discussed and approved in advance with your supervisor.

If a staff member is scheduled to work on-site and does not report to work, the unscheduled absence will count as an occurrence for disciplinary action. Each unscheduled absence is counted as an occurrence, and Duke will follow the corrective action guidelines based on the attendance policy.


Working Offsite

Should I continue to work from home?

Working remotely should be discussed and approved in advance by your direct supervisor. Managers are asked to use discretion regarding who absolutely needs to be on-site and what work could be done remotely. Only those who have been approved to return to the workplace should report to or remain at work on-site. Please discuss with your manager.

For more information about support resources for working remotely visit the Technology FAQ.

Are non-exempt staff members (hourly paid) eligible to work remotely?

Yes. Non-exempt staff members are eligible to work remotely. However, supervisors need to be mindful of wage and hour laws when evaluating non-exempt staff members’ requests to be aware of potential overtime pay implications.

If a new hire is set to begin during this time of social distancing, can they work from home?

Yes, assuming the new hire can work remotely and has worked with his or her supervisor on assignments, schedule, communication, and other related issues.


Recording Time

If a staff member is required to self-isolate, how should he or she record the time?

Any staff/faculty required to self-isolate by their personal healthcare provider or Employee Health should remain in an active paid status. Staff members are not required to use sick leave/vacation or PTO during this time. Staff should notify their direct supervisor if required to self-isolate by their personal healthcare provider or Employee Health.

If most staff will not return to the workplace until June or later, will those who are currently at home and cannot work remotely continue to be paid based on their normal hours?

The current policy regarding all Duke University faculty and staff continuing to stay in a paid work status regardless of their work location or work schedule remains in effect until communicated otherwise. University staff should continue to submit their regular work hours as usual.

Effective June 1, Duke University Health System (DUHS) and the Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) will restore the usual management practice of applying PTO in all instances where work is not being performed. Human Resources will work closely with leadership to ensure alignment with those who have capacity to meet operational needs. Team members that are evaluated and instructed by EOHW to stay home due to personal COVID-19 exposure or illness and are unable to work will continue to be paid their base rate of pay without using PTO.  

Currently, staff required to be on-site who need time away to care for a child or children due to school/day care closures during this COVID-19 period, may continue in a paid status without using accrued paid leave time (sick leave/vacation or PTO) if approved in advance by the supervisor. Will this provision continue as staff return to the workplace?

The current policy regarding the recording of time by Duke University staff remains in effect until communicated otherwise. University staff should continue to submit their regular work hours as usual.

Effective June 1, Duke University Health System (DUHS) and the Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) will restore the usual management practice of applying PTO in all instances where work is not being performed. Human Resources will work closely with leadership to ensure alignment with those who have capacity to meet operational needs. Team members that are evaluated and instructed by EOHW to stay home due to personal COVID-19 exposure or illness and are unable to work will continue to be paid their base rate of pay without using PTO.  

How should salary and benefits be handled for those supported by external funding sources?

Consistent with the communication from President Price on Monday, March 16, regarding Duke University operations during the continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the following statements provide further information for students, staff, and faculty charges of salary and fringe benefits during reduced on-site operations.

Interim Policy – Continuation of Salary & Benefits Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic
In the event that all or part of Duke University business and academic operations are affected by a declared state of emergency, the President may implement policies to support a continuation of salary & benefits for covered individuals who are unable to perform their regular duties due to the effects of the declared state of emergency.
During the continued response to COVID-19, all Duke faculty, staff, and students will continue to stay in a paid work status regardless of the work location or work schedule and should record their normal work hours.

Individual salary and related fringe benefits for faculty, staff and students who are working remotely should be charged in a consistent manner. For individuals not charging salary or fringe benefits to external funding sources, this will not require action on the part of the individual or department representatives. For individuals charging salary and related fringe benefits to external funding sources, the costs should be allocated to the funding structure in place at the time the individual began working remotely regardless of whether the individual is able to perform their prescribed responsbilities, unless the individual has adjusted effort allocations in order to perform remote responsibilities. This also applies to students, graduate students and postdocs, whether they are funded on the compensatory or non-compensatory payroll. If related to sponsored activity, federal or sponsor guidelines apply.

If a staff member does not support critical operations on-site (defined by manager), how should he or she record the time away?

Staff who work on-site to support critical operations and those who can work remotely should continue to record their work time as usual. If your manager has confirmed that you are not needed to support critical operations on-site and you cannot work remotely, you will continue in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

Is there a specific process to identify or designate staffing to support critical operations?

The decisions regarding what staffing is needed to maintain critical operations will be determined by the leadership of each respective department, unit or entity.

If Duke only requires staff supporting critical operations to report to work on-site, are temporary employees and PRNs eligible for continued pay?

Temporary employees and PRNs are not considered regular staff and thus are not eligible for continued pay if they are not working. However, temporary employees and PRNs can work from home with approval by their manager, and temporary employees and PRNs can be offered on-site assignments to fulfill critical operational needs during this time.

Can staff request time from the Kiel Memorial Vacation/PTO Program to donate vacation hours to those who do not have sufficient benefit time to use in this situation?

No. The Kiel Memorial Vacation/PTO Donation Program can only be used in the event of a catastrophic injury or illness after a four week waiting-period for eligible employees that have exhausted their accrued benefit time. Quarantine based on potential exposure to COVID-19 would not qualify as a catastrophic injury or illness. Additional information is available on the Kiel Program website.

Can a manager require a staff member to go home if they feel the individual is showing signs of the flu or a cold, even if the staff member does not want to go because they may not have enough accrued time off to cover his or her absences?

The manager can make a referral to Employee Occupational Health & Wellness for a fitness for duty assessment. Managers should call EOHW BEFORE sending the staff member to the clinic so that appropriate plans can be arranged. If the staff member has a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and a history of travel to an area with community spread of COVID-19, he or she may be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days or longer before being medically cleared by EOHW to return to work.

How should new staff who have not accrued time off or are not beyond the first 90 days to use accrued time record time away?

If a staff member is not supporting critical operations and cannot work remotely, Duke will keep the new employees in a paid status based on regular work hours. Duke will keep the individual in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

Will Duke’s payroll system allow for use of PTO/Vacation/Sick time for new hires prior to the conclusion of the 90 day introductory period?

New hires do not need to use accrued time for time away related to COVID-19. New hires should continue to record their time as regular work time if they are required to be out for self-isolation or illness related to COVID-19.

Will there be any difference in the handling of recording time away from work for exempt (monthly paid) vs. non-exempt (biweekly paid) staff if they need to be out of work?

No, the same procedures will be in place for recording of time away from work. See responses above for details.

How will employees receive their check if the buildings are locked down? Or there is no staff available to distribute them?

Payroll Services will mail all live checks generated in the regular biweekly and monthly payrolls to employee home addresses.  As a result, it is critical for the employees who have elected not to participate in direct deposit to make sure their home addresses are updated in the Duke@Work self-service website.

How will a longer-term absences for self-isolation be counted toward an occurrence of an unscheduled absence? 

If directed by Employee Health to self-isolate due to illness or potential exposure to an individual with COVID-19, the absence is not considered an unscheduled absence. Please notify your manager of the required self-isolation period and once you have been cleared to return to work.

How should a staff or faculty member record time away if called up for the military reserves as part of the COVID-19 response?

Military leaves of absence should be processed consistent with Duke’s Military Leave policy, which is provided to regular and benefits-eligible staff in accordance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and applicable North Carolina laws.


Travel Restrictions

Are people who have traveled restricted from working?

At this time, Duke is only requiring faculty and staff to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have returned from any area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a risk assessment Level 3 or 2. But the situation is rapidly changing, and travel to other areas may be subject to quarantine later. Continue to monitor the CDC travel advisories, and if you develop fever, cough, or other concerning symptoms during travel or within 14 days of your return, contact Employee Occupational Health & Wellness at 919-684-3136, option 2 and ask for a nurse; after business hours call the Blood and Body Fluid exposure emergency hotline at 919-684-8115.

What should I do if I have recently returned from an area where there is community spread of COVID-19 and I have flu-like symptoms?

If you traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19 in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact your medical provider right away.

  • Faculty and staff should contact Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW) at 919-684-3136, option 2 and ask for a nurse; after business hours call the Blood and Body Fluid exposure emergency hotline at 919-684-8115.
  • If you are seeking care, call ahead and advise your provider of your recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you are not experiencing any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), continue to self-monitor for any symptoms. You only need to self-isolate if you are returning from a region identified by the CDC with a risk assessment of Level 3 or Level 2 or have had contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19.


Campus Services

How will mail and packages be handled? Will the departments need to have someone on site to handle the distribution of mail?

Campus Mail Services is continuing to provide mail service and distribution of mail and packages throughout the University and Health System. The schedule may change to less frequent deliveries per week based on volume and need. Departments should contact Campus Mail Services at dukepostoffice@duke.edu if they are planning to be closed. Departments who would like to place a hold on delivery of mail should provide their department name and box number to Campus Mail Services.


Family

If schools or day cares close, how will employees whose jobs require them to be on-site record their time away?

If a University staff member who is required to be on-site needs time away to care for a child or children due to school/day care closures during this COVID-19 period, they may continue in a paid status without using accrued paid leave time (sick leave/vacation or PTO) if approved in advance by the supervisor. Time should be reported as regular work hours. The staff member should stay in daily contact contact with the supervisor regarding ability to return to work as soon as possible to support critical operations on-site. While all University staff will remain in a paid status during this time, Duke’s Availability For Work Policy guidelines still apply to reporting absences.

Effective June 1, Duke University Health System (DUHS) and the Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) will restore the usual management practice of applying PTO in all instances where work is not being performed. Human Resources will work closely with leadership to ensure alignment with those who have capacity to meet operational needs.

Given the recent announcements regarding school closing, may I bring my child to work so I don’t have run the risk of exhausting my accrued paid time?

Due to liability reasons, children cannot accompany staff members in the workplace.

How will the Duke Children’s Campus or The Little School be affected by the changes in operations at Duke?

The Little School at Duke has temporarily closed due to low attendance of children at the center. Childcare is still being provided at the Duke Children’s Campus. Any changes will be communicated.