Dear Fellow MICA Staff Members,
This memo follows up from my campus memo yesterday. It specifically addresses matters of particular interest and significance to the staff community, and provides more details where appropriate. Memos tailored for other key constituencies (e.g., faculty, students in residence halls) are being generated and will be issued between today and early next week.
As such, this memo will not repeat the substance of the campus memo yesterday although I ask you to review the three guiding principles of MICA’s navigation with COVID-19 issues. They are: 1) MICA’s tenet of “A Community of Care”; 2) an “Educational Continuity and Completion” mandate; and 3) a “Plan for Escalation” readiness. They underpin everything in this memo.
I would also like to emphasize that the MICA COVID-19 website continues to be our comprehensive repository for you to review updated information.
I hope you will find this memo informative and mindful of the staff’s perspectives. Human Resources (HR) is arranging and will soon announce a special Staff Virtual Town Hall this coming Monday, March 16, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Your questions and comments will be welcomed then. Please watch for the announcement and plan to attend via Zoom (details to come from the HR announcement).
These challenging times call for partnership and resilience in all directions. Let me quote these wonderful words of SEC co-chair Samantha Brodowski from our email exchange earlier today: “This is a time of great stress…patience is a virtue and working together as One MICA is paramount.”
MICA’S CURRENT OPERATIONAL STATUS & FUTURE PREPARATION APPROACH
MICA as an organization remains open and is operating unless otherwise notified.
As we are transitioning to online and alternate educational delivery modes for students and faculty, we are preparing for a transition to remote and teleworking models of staff engagement and business operations.
This new model involves thoughtful planning across the following areas:
1. Policies and enhanced support for remote work and telecommuting;
2. New approaches to workplace engagement;
3. Policies regarding leave time; and
4. Contingency planning for continuity of employment and pay.
Below is a sharing of MICA’s best thinking and decisions in these critical areas, guided by our navigational principles mentioned above.
POLICIES AND ENHANCED SUPPORT FOR REMOTE AND TELEWORK
MICA may face physical closure due to national or the State of Maryland’s health mandate. Governor Hogan’s announcement today regarding public school closings is likely an indication of things to come. Therefore, our campus workforce must be prepared for scenarios of maximum remote and telework.
To that end, all staff who can work remotely should prepare to do so now with approval from their direct managers and Vice Presidents. Managers will work with their teams and individual team members to develop and enact remote work plans as soon as possible. In all situations, the responsible Vice Presidents must approve the plans and the managers should set remote work plans accordingly.
Once appropriate approval has been established, any employee who is able to work remotely may do so effective immediately.
The College provides many online collaboration and teleworking tools and platforms such as Zoom video conferencing and Slack. Any employee working remotely must have functional access to the suitable platforms for accomplishing their work. Zoom’s basic licenses are free of charge and enable 1:1 meetings. If your work responsibilities require hosting large meetings, please consult with your Vice President to request a Zoom Pro license. Slack is also free of charge and there are multiple MICA departments using it. Many departments already use a variety of tools and we encourage the continued and expanded use to meet departmental and College needs.
Managers will identify non-exempt staff who are approved for remote work and provide those names to their respective Vice Presidents. Vice Presidents will work with HR to authorize employees to enter their time off-campus through Workday.
Managers should identify and consult with staff members who do not have digital resources and for whom the concept of remote work does not align with their understanding of their current responsibilities. Those managers and their Vice Presidents will develop plans or accommodations with such staff members, and seek institutional advice and support if needed.
NEW APPROACHES TO WORKPLACE ENGAGEMENT
Employees who continue to work on campus – because their jobs require it and they are well – are requested to maintain physical distance from others of at least 6 feet. If two peers approach each other to greet, do not offer physical contact - elbow bumps are the new MICA embrace!
Effective immediately, face-to-face meetings should be transitioned to Zoom-enabled remote gatherings whenever possible.
Other responsible modes of social distancing in a time of contagion threat are also in operation. For example, the campus memo yesterday outlines a policy that minimizes large convenings.
POLICIES FOR LEAVE TIME AS A RESULT OF COVID-19 IMPACT
In our increasingly remote and teleworking workplace, many MICA staff members should be able to achieve effective work performance while away from campus.
Below is a list of likely circumstances that will trigger questions for staff members relating to the usage of sick, personal, or paid time off:
For Full-Time Regular Staff (staff working 30 or more hours a week):
If isolated* due to their own personal illness, staff members should focus on getting well and use regular MICA allowance for paid sick leave and personal days until the coverage of Short Term Disability comes into effect (normally in five days). Please see the FAQ’s below for more details.
If quarantined* as a precaution of potential infection (as required or recommended by public health authorities/guidelines or by health care providers), staff members who are feeling well and can work remotely can arrange with their managers to do so and there is no impact on sick leave and personal days. Those who prefer to use the quarantine period for paid time off, they can opt to use regular MICA allowance for paid sick leave, personal days, and annual leave. For those who are quarantined but whose usual MICA work cannot be accomplished remotely, MICA will either assign alternate work that can be done remotely or make special accommodation to alleviate the impact of lost pay.
If caring for immediate family and/or household members who are ill due to COVID-19 or in quarantine, staff members who can work during a part of that time away can do so with pre-approval from their managers; the time worked is covered by normal pay and the rest of the time off should be charged to their regular MICA allowance for paid sick leave and personal days. Staff members who need to dedicate all their time away to care for family members will use their regular MICA allowance for paid sick leave, personal days, and annual leave.
If caring for immediate family and household members who are not ill but need care (due to any COVID-19 related closures of schools or day care centers, or for other breakdowns in care arrangements), same as immediately above.
For Part-Time Regular Staff:
If isolated due to their own personal illness, will be paid up to 14 days of paid sick leave based on an average of hours worked per pay period over the previous 3 months.
For Full-Time and Part-Time Regular Staff Facing Financial Hardship due to COVID-19 Impact on MICA allowance for Paid Leave:
Consult with Human Resources to explore support.
*Isolation separates people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
*Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
CONTINGENCY PLANNING FOR CONTINUITY OF EMPLOYMENT AND PAY
If departments, offices, or across-the-board institutional operations are closed by MICA or public mandate due to COVID-19, the College will provide affected non-remote employees with alternate work assignments or an emergency-related paid excused absence. If this occurs, the College would provide pay continuity for a defined period of time (e.g., 14 days) with reassessment for possible extension.
If you can continue to work on campus, please arrange with your manager or Human Resources to ensure continuation of work. MICA is exploring to develop alternative opportunities for student employees.
If you are away from campus and the loss of student employment income is a cause of fiscal hardship, MICA is aware of such concern and is exploring ways to provide assistance. Please look for a direct communication to student employees.
All College-funded, non-essential international travel along with domestic travel to the states of Washington and California is prohibited. Additionally, all non-essential College-related domestic travel is highly discouraged. In this context, non-essential travel is defined as travel unrelated to core academic or operational functions.
For non-College-related travel, MICA urges all staff members to consult the CDC’s current travel guidelines and use sound judgement. We strongly advise against any domestic travel beyond a 50-mile radius. If someone elects to travel to Washington or California, or internationally, they are required to consult with Human Resources before returning to campus. Travel related to your commute is permitted.
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR SELF-CARE
While MICA is a community of care, no one knows your needs like you. In your privacy and with your own judgment, please take advantage of MICA’s Employee Assistance Program at 866-799-2728 in strict confidentiality. You can talk to a counselor or visit the Health Advocate online at www.HealthAdvocate.com/members (Username: Maryland Institute College of Art) to access the EAP and Work/Life services. If you haven’t tried this service yet, the word-of-mouth evaluation from other staff members is strong.
OUR NAVIGATION FORWARD TOGETHER
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented experience for most of us. It is also rapidly evolving, so we are in a literally day-by-day and sometimes minute-by-minute navigation through highly complex elements and needs.
As I stated in the campus memo yesterday, thank you for your dedication, flexibility, creativity, and partnership in seeing our ways through with the greatest degree of clarity and mutual support. The memo does not and cannot answer all the questions you may have. I do hope that it lays out a foundation for us to create opportunities through a crisis and to ensure your wellness and growth despite a time of uncertainty.
Having worked with you and other members of the MICA campus community, I have utter confidence that we will rise together above the COVID-19 circumstances and emerge as an even stronger and more brilliant team.
How do I know if I’m sick?
Staff who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-alternating medicines (i.e. cough suppressants). A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit taken by an oral thermometer. Those with concerns or questions about their illness or seeking advice about whether to come to work see guidelines below.
Will MICA pay employees who contract COVID-19?
Regular full-time employees who have been here for one year who contract COVID-19 should submit a claim for Short Term Disability. Employees will be paid for claims that are approved under the College’s Short Term Disability plan. Employees will need to follow the normal process of making a claim through AETNA/The Hartford and after approval, MICA will pay 100% of the employee’s salary for up to 12 weeks as per the Short Term Disability policy. There is a 5 day elimination period before payment begins. Paid sick leave must be used for the first five days. In the case of Short Term Disability, employees will need to provide a return to work notice before they can return to work.
Employees with less than one year of service that purchased the employee paid Short Term Disability supplemental plan are also eligible for the benefits outlined above.
Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave apply for employees or immediate family members who may contract COVID-19?
Yes, COVID-19 would qualify as a "serious health condition" under FMLA, allowing an employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts the disease. The employee would be entitled to job reinstatement as well. A full-time regular employee with one year of service is required to use paid time off for FMLA leave.
The employee will need to follow the normal process of making a claim through AETNA/The Hartford.
Will MICA need to pay workers' compensation for employees who contract coronavirus?
No. Only if the employees' work requires them to be exposed to persons who are infected, like healthcare workers. MICA is not a healthcare facility so Workers Compensation will not apply.
Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) restrict how MICA interacts with employees due to the coronavirus?
Not if it's a pandemic. The ADA protects employees with disabilities, but during a global health emergency, as recently declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), employees can be required to be medically examined to determine if they have contracted the disease when an employer has a reasonable belief that employees will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition. WHO raised its risk assessment of the coronavirus to its highest level on Feb 28.
Does MICA’s insurance cover the testing and treatment of COVID-19?
Yes. CareFirst will cover the testing and treatment of COVID-19 as they do with other viruses like flu.
How should MICA employees access care?
Anyone with symptoms should first call their PCP to discuss their symptoms and treatment options. Employees who have MICA’s health insurance also have two 24/7 options to receive care outside a provider’s office:
24-Hour Nurse Advice Line –Members can call 800-535-9700 anytime to speak with a registered nurse to discuss their symptoms and get recommendations for the most appropriate care.
CareFirst Video Visit – Members can also register for CareFirst Video Visit to securely connect with a doctor, day or night, through their smartphone, tablet or computer – and no appointment is necessary.
Employees who can’t get to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription should call the pharmacy where they filled the prescription and ask if they offer delivery – many do. Employees can also switch to CareFirst’s mail order service by:
Going online - Go to My Account, click on My Coverage, select Drug and Pharmacy Resources, click on Order and Refill Prescriptions and select Order Prescriptions to set up an account.
Calling the toll-free number on the back of your member ID card.
What do I need to return to work after a successful quarantine or treatment period?
In general, staff members on leave who are ready to return to work do not need a written medical clearance to do so.
What else can I do?
Update Your Personal and Emergency Contacts in Workday! Log into Workday and make sure that personal and emergency contact information is up-to-date in Workday.
Key Articles about COVID-19:
Baltimore Sun article on MD universities’ response to the pandemic: https://www.baltimoresun.com/
education/bs-md-universities- pandemic-curve-20200312- mnqjvdj3unbwdjoq7byc4idb6u- story.html
Flattening the Coronavirus Curve https://www.nytimes.com/2020/
03/11/science/coronavirus- curve-mitigation-infection. html?referringSource= articleShare
When a danger is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn’t https://www.washingtonpost.
com/opinions/2020/03/10/ coronavirus-what-matters-isnt- what-you-can-see-what-you- cant/
See the CDC Frequently Asked Questions for more detailed information on COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/