Why is Amherst requiring testing for its faculty and staff?
Asymptomatic, routine testing, together with other important safety measures such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and monitoring of symptoms, can help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on campus and in the broader Amherst community.
How and where will the testing be done?
Detailed information about the testing procedure and how to schedule an appointment will be sent to individuals after they have received permission to come to campus from either their division head or the Provost/Dean of the Faculty. See the COVID Tests page to learn more.
What if I test positive?
See the COVID Tests page to learn what to do if you receive a positive test result.
What if I work infrequently, or if I work an irregular and/or an unpredictable schedule and cannot be available for a test during the times offered on the sign-up website?
We will work to provide additional off-hours testing opportunities on an as-needed basis. Please contact your division head for assistance.
What if I am away for a week or longer and cannot be present for a test during a given week?
We will require, and help facilitate, a test to occur the day of your return. You might be asked to refrain from on-campus work until a negative test result is reported from that test.
What if I do not wish to consent to testing, or if I fail to show up for testing as required?
Participation in the College’s asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program is required as part of the College’s response to the ongoing pandemic. Individuals who fail to comply will not be permitted to come to campus.
Will I be paid for the time I spend getting tested?
If you are paid on an hourly basis, you should report the time you spend participating in the testing process as time worked.
Who can I contact if I have any questions?
Faculty and staff who have questions about the testing program should contact Kevin Weinman, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, or Matt Hart, Director of Emergency Management. You may also contact the Office of Human Resources, email@example.com. Your question will be referred to the appropriate individual on campus who will provide an answer as soon as possible.
Do I have to wear a face mask?
Yes. We require face masks or other face coverings to be worn on campus in all spaces, inside and outside, with the exception of when you are alone in a private personal office or residence hall room.
Even if you are not showing symptoms of COVID-19, you could still be spreading the virus. Amherst College requires face masks or other face coverings to be worn on campus in all spaces, inside and outside, with the exception of when you are alone in a private personal office or residence hall room. Make sure the mask covers your mouth and nose.
The College will provide students, faculty and staff with disposable pleated filter face masks. The College has assembled a large inventory of these face masks, and they will be distributed periodically so that masks can be replenished if they wear out or are lost. Please note, a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing. You should continue to keep at least a six-foot distance between yourself and others even when wearing masks. The College is developing a process by which the masks will be distributed.
Cloth face coverings are also allowed, but it should be noted that they are not as effective as the College-provided masks. Individuals who opt to use cloth face coverings should purchase their own or make them from household items or common materials at low cost. A cloth face covering should:
The CDC offers information on how to make, wear and clean your own face covering/mask, as well as how to clean a simple disposable mask.
Specialized transparent masks will be available for classroom use by faculty and students for special pedagogical circumstances (language instruction, performance, etc.) when it is critical to see mouth movement.
In addition to wearing a mask, what other safety precautions will I be required to follow?
In addition to wearing a mask, all members of the community will be required to follow additional safety precautions established by the College in accordance with guidance from public health experts. These safety precautions will be included in applicable College reopening plans as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These safety precautions may change as information about the coronavirus evolves. At a minimum, we expect that the following safety precautions will be applicable until a vaccine has been developed and is widely available: practice physical distancing, participate in the College’s frequent testing program and daily health status check, practice good and regular hygiene, and self-monitor for symptoms.
All members of the community will also be required to complete an online COVID-19 safety training. More information about this will be provided soon.
If I am living on campus, will I need to have a COVID-19 test?
Yes. All students will be tested when they arrive on campus, will quarantine for a period of three to five days, and will then be tested again. Online programming will be designed to keep students engaged throughout this period, and meals will be delivered to students. Students will need to be tested regularly throughout the semester. We intend to test twice a week. We expect all community members on campus to participate in regular testing as scheduled.
What happens if someone doesn’t follow the College’s safety precautions?
Community safety during a pandemic is a collective responsibility. Therefore, all members of our community will be required to abide by a Statement of Shared Responsibility, and there will be appropriate consequences for any member of the community who fails to adhere to the College’s safety precautions. For students, depending on the severity or frequency of the infractions, those consequences could ultimately include dismissal from campus housing, although they would be allowed to continue their studies remotely.
The College will undertake an educational campaign to promote awareness of the College’s safety precautions among all members of the community.
Has the College purchased sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
The College has embarked on an aggressive program of purchasing appropriate PPE to be issued to the campus. This includes masks, disinfecting and cleaning materials, gloves, temperature checking stations, thermometers and plexiglass partitions. In addition, the College has acquired sufficient job-specific equipment for our front line staff and our health professionals.
Has the College enhanced cleaning and disinfecting regimens?
Amherst College custodial staff will follow a plan of enhanced cleaning in residence halls, offices, common spaces and restrooms. We will provide disinfecting supplies to employees and students; please contact the Service Center at 413-542-2254 if you need them. Keeping surfaces clean is a shared responsibility.
In addition, we ask that you avoid using one another’s phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment whenever possible. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water frequently and clean and disinfect work spaces at least once per day. Do not use cleaning products that will damage the surfaces being cleaned. Please contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 413-542-8189 with questions.
Has the College improved building air exchange?
Wherever possible, Amherst College Facilities Operations is increasing fresh air exchange in campus buildings that have mechanical ventilation. High efficiency filtration is being installed in recirculated air systems, where feasible. For buildings without mechanical ventilation, you are encouraged to open exterior windows to promote natural air circulation. Even during colder weather when it is only possible to crack windows open slightly, this will enhance air quality.
Has the College made changes to the facilities and classrooms to facilitate physical distancing?
The furniture and layout of classrooms and public spaces will be de-densified to allow for physical distancing. In high-density areas or where transactions prevent appropriate distancing, plexiglass shields are present.
What health protocols will be in place for students once they return to campus?
Protocols will include staggered arrivals of students, multiple rounds of testing when students return, quarantine after they arrive on campus until test results are known, cloth mask use in all public and shared spaces, restrictions on travel and visitors, limited-size gatherings, physical distancing protocols, and other preventive measures to reduce the risk of infection. A list of personal safety practices can be found here. Effective implementation of this new reality will require a pre-arrival education program for students and a community living agreement that details these expectations. These safety precautions are guided by public health experts and guidance may change as information about the coronavirus evolves.
Will students be asked to sign a liability waiver to return to campus?
No. Students will, however, be asked to acknowledge that they have read the Statement of Shared Responsibility, have completed the Health Guidelines Training as part of the College's return-to-campus procedures, and agree to follow all safety measures.
Will Amherst provide me with masks or face coverings?
Yes. The College will provide students, faculty and staff with disposable pleated filter face masks. The College has assembled a large inventory of these face masks, and they will be distributed periodically so that masks can be replenished if they wear out or are lost. You are also welcome to wear a cloth face covering that you may already own.
What if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue?
Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact the Student Accessibility Office for guidance.
Will there be training and education about the expectations and how to be a healthy community?
Yes. All members of the community will also be required to complete an online COVID-19 safety training that is being developed. In addition, there will be educational components as part of new student orientation and information for returning students.
What are the College’s plans for keeping facilities clean and safe?
The College has embarked on an aggressive program of purchasing appropriate PPE to be issued to the campus. This includes masks, disinfecting and cleaning materials, gloves, temperature checking stations, thermometers and plexiglass partitions. In addition, the College has acquired sufficient job-specific equipment for our frontline staff and our health professionals.
Our custodial staff will follow a plan of enhanced cleaning in residence halls, offices, common spaces and restrooms. We will provide disinfecting supplies to employees and students. Keeping surfaces clean is a shared responsibility.
Wherever possible, Amherst College Facilities Operations is increasing fresh air exchange in campus buildings that have mechanical ventilation, and high-efficiency filtration is being installed in recirculated air systems, where feasible. For buildings without mechanical ventilation, you are encouraged to open exterior windows to promote natural air circulation. That request includes during colder weather when it is only possible to crack windows open slightly; doing so will enhance air quality.
The furniture and layout of classrooms and public spaces will be de-densified to allow for physical distancing. In high-density areas or where transactions prevent appropriate distancing, plexiglass shields are present.
What will testing look like during the fall semester?
At this point, we expect all students to be tested upon arrival to campus and then 3-5 days afterwards, during which time students will be quarantined. Depending on the length of the quarantine, this may overlap with the first week of classes. For the rest of the semester, students will be tested twice a week.
How will testing be conducted?
You will be scheduled to report to the testing center at a designated time 2 days per week. You will have access to your test results and will be notified if the results are positive. More details about the process will be provided in the coming weeks.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear as soon as two days of exposure and vary in severity from person to person. Students will be expected to complete a daily health status check before leaving their room each day. Students will be expected to stay at home if they feel ill and to call Student Health Services.
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?
If a student living on campus tests positive for COVID-19, they will be moved to an isolation room and the College will follow our contact tracing procedures. The College has set aside space for students who need to be isolated and quarantined and will provide support for students to continue learning remotely from their new room until they can return to their assigned room.
What care and support will I receive if I am in isolation or quarantine?
The college will provide students with regular health check-ins. These check-ins may be via symptom questionnaire, phone call, telehealth or in person. Meals, transportation to and from medical care, and extended cleaning protocols will be provided for students in isolation.
If I test positive and become sick, will someone be able to come to campus and help me?
No, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be moved to isolation. If the student would like to leave campus for the remainder of the semester and finish remotely, someone can travel to pick the student up and take them home.
What will happen if there is a significant health event/COVID-19 outbreak on campus or in the Pioneer Valley?
Students should be prepared for the possibility that they will need to leave campus in the event of an outbreak that leads to a decision to close, similar to the decision reached in March 2020. Students will be asked to pack light and bring to campus only those items that they can take with them if required to leave on short notice.
Will there be new teaching technology options available for fall 2020?
Yes.The College is equipping additional teaching spaces with lecture capture solutions and has multiple approaches to lecture capture for those teaching in other locations. Information about newly equipped lecture capture classrooms will be available in mid-July. If you need help with lecture capture for your HyFlex or other teaching needs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For faculty teaching remotely, the College is procuring enhanced studio equipment. Email email@example.com if you would like help with improving your home teaching environment.
How is IT supporting departments and faculty with specific teaching technology needs?
IT is working with individual faculty and academic departments on new or changing technology needs. If you have a specific need, please reach out to IT as soon as possible for assistance. Due to high volume and supply chain constraints, the earlier a request is submitted, the more likely it will be possible to fulfill the request.
Can staff and faculty also dine on campus?
Initially we will limit the College’s dining options to students. Once the program is running, we can assess the feasibility of serving faculty and staff.
Will the cafes be available to employees?
We hope that the cafes will be open and available for use by faculty, staff and students, but that decision has not been made.
What about catering?
At this time, we do not plan to offer campus catering. However, we will reassess the feasibility of catering once the semester is underway. As our plans evolve, we will update the community as services become available.
I have been working remotely since the College moved to remote work in March. Will I be able to continue this arrangement?
In general, jobs that can be performed 100% remotely should continue in that mode. Our goal is to provide the best educational experience for our students while minimizing the number of staff working on campus to try to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus. You should reach out to your supervisor/department chair to confirm your current work arrangement and make sure you have what you need to complete your work remotely. IT has created a webpage with tips and resources for remote work. You are also encouraged to review the COVID-19 Remote Work Policy and to follow the Guidelines For Remote Work Arrangements for Staff.
I need to retrieve some things from my work location. Do I need to make special arrangements?
Yes. You must obtain permission from your division head or the Office of the Provost/Dean of the faculty, and meet several requirements, including getting a COVID test and receiving a negative test result. You can also make a request to retrieve technological equipment and some furniture from campus locations via this form.
When are staff expected to return to on-campus work?
Although we are implementing actions based on the state’s reopening plans, the status and protocol of the College has not changed, and only those who have been authorized by their supervisor/department chairs may return to campus. Minimizing the number of staff on campus will help to minimize the spread of the virus.
What can I expect when I return to campus?
Faculty and staff who have been authorized to come to campus are expected to follow the College’s safety precautions, including completing the health status survey, wearing a mask at all times, physical distancing, hand-washing, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of their space.
How will I know if and when I need to return to work on campus?
Your supervisor/department chair will be in touch with you to coordinate your return to work on campus. You are also encouraged to follow all College communications, Planning Updates, and the Daily Mammoth, and to visit the COVID-19 Updates page for more information.
I do not have enough work to meet my scheduled hours, but I am available to help out in other areas. How do I find out if there are needs in other departments?
You should work with your supervisor/department chair to identify possible options. Our goal is to be as flexible and creative as possible in finding work opportunities for staff. You can also visit the Remote Work Resource Exchange to learn about opportunities available in other departments.
What if I want to work on campus before I am told to come back?
Only those with permission may return to campus. You are welcome to speak with your supervisor/department chair if you have additional questions or concerns.
It may take time for the College to return to “normal” campus operations. Will my position, shift or schedule change?
It depends. To meet campus operational needs, you may be asked to make temporary adjustments to current duties, changes in shifts or schedules, or temporary reassignment to a different job. Supervisors/department chairs will be continually reevaluating departmental needs.
I have been reassigned to work in a position I don’t want to perform or that I don’t feel prepared for. What are my options?
In an effort to keep staff employed and paid, it may be necessary to make temporary changes that may result in the need to perform tasks different than those staff usually performs. This will require flexibility and adaptability. We encourage staff and supervisors/department chairs to work together in identifying duties based on the staff’s knowledge, experience and skills.
If you are not in agreement with the duties assigned, you are encouraged to discuss the assignment further with your supervisor/department chair or the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to find a solution.
If a staff member decides not to accept the position or duties assigned, they could request approval to use their accrued leave balances, accrue a negative balance or request an unpaid leave of absence. Certain positions will require staff to report to work on campus, particularly as the need for support for students on campus is expected to increase. In the absence of sufficient backup staff to support the operation, a leave request under these circumstances may not be approved.
Are there any restrictions on my ability to travel?
In order to minimize the increased risk of exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus resulting from travel, no college-sponsored travel is allowed and travel outside of Massachusetts is discouraged. Anyone who travels outside of Massachusetts must register their travel in advance at the College’s COVID-19 webpage. This requirement does not apply to employees traveling between the College and their primary residence if their primary residence is outside of Massachusetts.
As currently required by the Governor of Massachusetts, anyone who travels outside of Massachusetts must self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Massachusetts. This requirement does not apply to travel to Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Vermont. If employees are unable to work during the self-quarantine period, they may use available paid or unpaid leave, as applicable.
Any employee who travels internationally must stay at home for 14 days, as recommended by the CDC international travel recommendations. If employees are unable to work during the 14-day stay-at-home period, they may use available paid or unpaid leave, as applicable.
Employees who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to comply with all applicable restrictions and guidance. At a minimum, this includes wearing a mask or face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing. Employees who develop COVID-19 symptoms during or after travel must not come to campus and should notify their primary care provider.
I am an essential employee receiving premium pay. Will premium pay be extended through the fall?
The temporary Premium Pay Policy for essential staff has been extended through July 4, 2020. The College will assess the need to extend this temporary policy before that date and will inform the staff accordingly.
What workplace planning has been done to prepare for the fall?
Your division participated in a campus-wide workplace planning process to objectively evaluate each job using standardized decision criteria to determine whether the job duties must be performed on campus, or whether all or some of the job duties can be performed remotely.
As the next step, your supervisor/department chair will be communicating with you about the results of the planning process. If your personal circumstances do not allow you to return to the work schedule and/or location identified in the plan, your supervisor will work with you to evaluate options such as remote work, a modified work schedule and/or temporary reassignment. There may be situations in which these options are unavailable or unsatisfactory, for example:
1. You feel that you are unable to return to on-campus work because of your own underlying health condition.
Your supervisor will not ask, and you are not expected to volunteer, personal health information. Contact the Office of Human Resources, which will work directly with you to explore your eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), for short-term disability or to request an accommodation. If/when these options are exhausted, you will be able to:
2. You have an immediate family member with an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19.
Contact the Office of Human Resources, which will work directly with you to explore your eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or extended family leave. If/when these options are exhausted you will be able to:
3. You are concerned about returning to on-campus work because of your age.
Contact the Office of Human Resources to explore your options. If/when these options are exhausted you will be able to:
4. You have childcare issues that prevent you from returning to work.
Contact the Office of Human Resources, which will work directly with you to options such as:
5. You are worried about being infected and do not want to return to work.
You should contact your supervisor/department chair to request approval to use your accrued leaves or to request an unpaid leave of absence, if eligible and approved. Certain positions require staff to report to work on campus, particularly as the need for support to students on campus is expected to increase. In the absence of sufficient backup staff to support the operation, a leave request under these circumstances may not be approved.
What is Short Term Disability Insurance?
After one consecutive year of employment working a minimum of 20 hours per week, employees are eligible for paid time off due to the employee’s own disability. Short term disability pay begins after a two-week waiting period and continues for up to six months. Learn more.
What is Long Term Disability Insurance?
After a six-month absence, and with approval by the insurance company, the employees may receive 60% of the annual salary in effect at the commencement of a disability. Learn more.
What is the FMLA?
The Family Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons. Learn more.
What is Extended Family Leave?
After one consecutive year of employment, employees can receive four weeks of leave at 100% pay after a two-week waiting period. One Extended Family Leave may be taken within a rolling calendar year. Extended Family Leave may be used when the employee is needed to provide care as the primary caregiver for more than 10 consecutive workdays. It may be used for the care of a newborn child, adoption, or serious illness of a family member. Learn more.
Summary of Options for Employees Unable to Work
See a chart summarizing the leaves and options available to staff unable to work.
Employee Travel Restrictions
Travel increases the risk of exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus. Consistent with
the CDC, U.S. Department of State, and State of MA guidelines, travel restrictions are in place at Amherst College until further notice. Learn more.
Can I hire an academic intern for the fall?
Academic intern applications are being accepted for the fall semester. All applications are due by August 7. Please see the July 22, 2020 message from Provost Epstein for details.
Will the athletics facilities be open to faculty and staff?
No. In order to maintain safe physical distancing, Amherst athletics facilities are open only to students who are living on campus.
Read answers to questions asked at the July 24 all-staff meeting, in the Staff Life FAQ.
Learn about re-registration, three-course load, remote vs. HyFlex classes, January term, and more.