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COVID-19 FAQ: Employees

Masking Policy Questions

With the masking requirement ending, what prevention strategies are still available in the workplace?

As the masking requirement comes to an end, it will be important for community members to continue to practice the following prevention strategies:

  • You can choose to mask at any time. If you are at an increased risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should wear a mask and take other precautions.
  • If you are not feeling well, stay home and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have received a booster and you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should wear your mask indoors around other people for 10 days.
  • If you have not received a booster shot and you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, quarantine for 5 days post-exposure and if asymptomatic on day 6, you can exit quarantine and must mask days 6-10.
  • If you have tested positive and are asymptomatic on day 6, you can exit isolation and must mask days 6-10.

What are the current COVID-19 guidelines?

Here is the current COVID-19 guidance.

If you have signs/symptoms:

  • If COVID-related symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, you should get tested for COVID-19.
  • Employees can use an over-the-counter/at-home test or seek testing at an urgent care, pharmacy, Spokane Falls Community College or their primary care provider.
  • Employees should quarantine while symptomatic and awaiting test results.

If you have a positive test result:

  • 5-day isolation from symptom onset or positive test (if asymptomatic).
  • If symptoms have fully resolved on day 5/6, you can exit isolation on day 6 with strict masking days 6-10.
  • If symptoms are resolving but still present (you’re not asymptomatic), you can test negative on day 5/6 and exit isolation on day 6. Over-the-counter/at-home tests are allowed for exit testing. Strict masking is required on days 6-10.
  • If symptoms are resolving but you have not taken a test or have tested positive again, isolate for two additional days and exit on day 8. Strict masking is required on days 8-10.

If you have an exposure/close contact:

  • No required quarantine for employees with a booster shot.* Please limit interactions and do not attend in-person meetings and department functions. If symptoms develop, start to quarantine and get tested immediately.
  • If employee is vaccine-exempt or received a primary series of vaccine with no booster, quarantine for 5 days. If symptoms develop, isolate and test immediately.
  • If asymptomatic on day 5/6, you can exit quarantine with a negative test (if available). Save over-the-counter/at-home tests for testing at this point!

*If there has been household transmission where there are multiple positive cases within the household or another family member who has received a booster shot tests positive, employees should follow a 5-day quarantine.

What options are there for employees who have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk with the mask requirement ending?

Employees who are at an increased risk due to a medical condition can reach out to the office of human resource services and start the reasonable accommodation process by sending an email to hr@whitworth.edu.

I currently have a reasonable accommodation due to a medical condition. Is any further action needed?

No. If you currently have a reasonable accommodation, no further action is needed.

What options are there for employees who have household members who have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk? What about employees who have concerns about the removal of masks indoors?

The office of human resource services has purchased KN95 and N95 masks available to employees at no cost. Employees can also download and print signage to post outside their office/cubicle space to communicate that they would prefer community members entering their space to don a mask prior to entering. Employees can find signage HERE and can request a mask HERE.

Will there be places on campus where masks are still required?

Yes, employees who will be entering the Whitworth Health and Counseling Centers, Athletic Training Room, and Graves Gym (COVID-19) testing area will need to be prepared to wear a mask in these spaces. Please also be a good neighbor if a fellow employee has posted signage about their preference to wear a mask in their office/cubicle space.

Return-to-Work Questions

Why are employees returning to work on campus?

Whitworth University is set to return to face-to-face instruction and residential campus life in fall 2021. We believe that our mission of educating students is best fulfilled when we are in community together. As such, we are resetting to pre-pandemic operations.

I had "flex time" for the past year. Will that be nonexistent after Aug. 2, 2021?

A task force of faculty and staff representatives will review the future nature of our work in light of lessons learned from the past 16 months. We will undertake an organized and comprehensive look at position descriptions, assessing which positions have the potential of flexibility, and the ongoing priority of employee interaction, collaboration and productivity, and with the understanding that full-time on-campus presence will remain the norm and expectation for most university positions.

What if I have a health condition that prevents me from returning to work on campus?

Though employees will be expected to return to work on campus by Aug. 2, 2021, exceptions will be made for employees with health conditions on a case-by-case basis as part of the reasonable accommodation process through human resource services. The process will include documentation from the employee's healthcare provider. Contact Ariane Mondragón Oglesbee at aoglesbee@whitworth.edu if you have questions about this process.

Will I have the opportunity to work from home occasionally?

We understand that occasional (i.e., not regularly scheduled) work from home may be beneficial where uninterrupted time is needed to focus on a project or when the employee has off-campus appointments scheduled and it is more time effective to complete the work day from home. As such, supervisors have discretion in approving occasional work from home.

When will I return to campus if I am on academic leave or otherwise do not work in the summer?

Whitworth Academic Affairs sets the return-to-campus date for the academic year. Faculty and academic staff who do not work during the summer should follow the dates previously communicated by the provost.

I work part time. Will I be expected to work on campus?

Yes. All employee types and FTEs will be expected to work on campus following pre-COVID schedules and workplaces.

Can I continue my flexible work arrangement if I don't have my vaccination by the governor’s mandate of Oct. 18, 2021?

Our goal is to have all employees return to pre-COVID work arrangements by Oct. 18, 2021. Please see the Employee Policy on vaccinations for more information on exemptions from the policy and workplace requirements.

What if my pre-pandemic work arrangement included working from home on a regular basis?

Certain departments and/or positions had approval for remote work arrangements before the COVID-19 shutdown for a number of business reasons. Those arrangements may continue at this time.

Vaccination Policy Questions

Is there an employee COVID-19 vaccination policy?

Yes; please go to the Vaccination Policy for Employees.

Why is Whitworth requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?

Whitworth’s goal and intention is to return to normal campus life as soon as possible. Being able to create community is foundational to who we are. In order to have minimal disruption within our community we understand we have to decrease the risk of spreading the virus. Vaccines are one of the best ways to decrease that risk. We would like to reallocate all the resources we’ve used in the last year for things like isolation and quarantine, testing and contact tracing back to the things that make Whitworth so special – in-person classes, employee events, and mentoring relationships between employees and students.

Why was the vaccine policy revised?

On Aug. 20, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Proclamation 21-14.1, which prohibits any worker in a public or private higher education institution from engaging in work after Oct. 18, 2021, if they have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provided proof.

When would I need to get the vaccine to meet the Oct. 18, 2021, deadline?

Refer to the chart below. You must receive two doses of Moderna/Pfizer or one dose of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson by Oct. 4, 2021, to meet the proclamation deadline.

COVID-19 VaccineSeries Dose RequirementFirst Dose No Later ThanSecond Dose No Later ThanFully Vaccinated = Two Weeks Past Final Dose (Must be by Oct. 18, 2021)
Pfizer  2 doses, 21 days apart  Sept. 13, 2021  Oct. 4, 2021  Oct. 18, 2021 
Moderna  2 doses, 28 days apart  Sept. 6, 2021  Oct. 4, 2021  Oct. 18, 2021 
Janssen/Johnson & Johnson  Single-dose  Oct. 4, 2021  N/A  Oct. 18, 2021 

Who is considered a worker under the proclamation?

Any person engaged to work as an employee, volunteer or contractor for Whitworth University.

Does the proclamation include student employees?

Yes; when a student is engaged in work, they are acting as workers, not as students, and are thus included in the proclamation. Those who have placements off campus are also included.

Does the proclamation permit exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement?

Yes; medical and religious exemptions are permitted.

  • Medical: The proclamation permits a medical exemption only when the worker has a disability that prevents them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. As such, Whitworth’s medical exemption Option 2 is no longer an approved exemption.
  • Religious: The proclamation permits a religious exemption when the COVID-19 vaccine requirement conflicts with one’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practice or observance.

What should I do if I have submitted the Medical Exemption Form and selected Option 2?

Employees who have submitted a medical exemption, option 2, will be notified by human resource services of their options, which are:

  1. Receive the COVID-19 vaccination (per the mandate, a person must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18), or
  2. Submit a different reason for a valid exemption (either Medical: Option 1 or Religious). Employees may access the exemption forms using the links in the question above.

What should I do if I have lost my immunization card?

Please contact the department of health from the state you were vaccinated in to find out how you can verify your vaccination status.

What happens if I have symptoms, am awaiting test results or have tested positive for COVID-19?

Please contact the COVID Care Team by completing a LiveSafe report or emailing covidcareteam@whitworth.edu. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be subject to isolation guidelines from the Spokane Regional Health District.

What happens if I am a close contact or have been exposed to COVID-19?

Please contact the COVID Care Team by completing a LiveSafe report or emailing covidcareteam@whitworth.edu. Fully vaccinated employees are exempt from the 10-day quarantine and in most situations can continue normal on-campus activities. If you have been in close contact with a positive case and develop symptoms, please stay home and pursue testing. Due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, you may be asked to get tested on day 3-5 post-exposure even if you do not have symptoms. Contact the COVID Care Team for the most current guidelines.

What health authorities inform Whitworth’s decisions?

We continue to follow the guidelines from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries and the Spokane Regional Health District as we move forward with our planning.