DECC COVID-19 Organizational Policy

Initial Approval Date: August 26, 2020
Subsequent Approval Date: February 24, 2021

Click a topic to jump to that section:

Policy Brief & Purpose
Health Screening Protocol
Weekly Testing and Vaccination Protocol
Face Masks
How to Communicate if Sick or Experiencing Symptoms at Home
How to Communicate if Sick or Experiencing Symptoms at Work
Protecting the Privacy of Employee Health Status and Information
Employees Exposed or Testing Positive to COVID-19
COVID-19 Exposure
COVID-19 Positive
COVID-19 Negative with Symptoms
Employee Recalls
Employee Leave
Employee Medical and Dental Benefits
FAQ

 

Policy Brief & Purpose

This organizational policy includes measures the DECC is actively taking to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. All DECC employees shall strictly adhere to these protocols and best practices in order to create and maintain a healthy and safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DECC will always treat employee private health information and personal data in compliance with applicable state and federal laws.

This COVID-19 organizational policy is susceptible to change as state and federal health guidelines evolve. If so, we will update you as soon as possible by email. Updates will also be posted on the employee website at http://www.deccwellness.org

 

Health Screening Protocol

Each employee MUST complete a self-conducted health assessment daily prior to coming to work.

Employees MUST assess both “less common” and “more common” symptoms:

  • More common: fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; new cough or a cough that gets worse; difficulty/hard time breathing; new loss of taste or smell
  • Less common: sore throat; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; chills; muscle pain; extreme fatigue/feeling very tired; new severe/very bad headache; new nasal congestion/stuffy or runny nose

An employee who has at least one “more common” symptom or at least two “less common” symptoms MUST contact their supervisor immediately and MUST remain at home.  The employee should monitor his or her symptoms and call a doctor if concerned about the symptoms. Employees shall get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours of onset of symptoms or as soon as feasible. Employees who have at least one “more common” symptom or at least two “less common” symptoms will not be permitted to work unless:

  • He or she has had no fever for at least 24 hours without taking medication to reduce fever during that time; AND
  • Any respiratory symptoms (cough and/or shortness of breath) have improved; AND
  • At least ten (10) days have passed since the symptoms began; OR
  • An employee may return to work earlier if a doctor (or negative COVID-19 test) confirms the cause of an employee’s fever or other symptoms are not related to COVID-19, if symptoms have improved. An employee does not need to provide written proof of the diagnosis or test.
  • Employees with only one “less common” symptom are asked to use their best judgement when determining their fitness for duty and their need to see a COVID-19 test.

Weekly Testing and Vaccination Protocol

  • Employees must acknowledge, via the COVID-19 Testing Acknowledgement Form, that they are required to test weekly for COVID-19 if they are entering the DECC complex and/or working within 6 feet (for a minimum of 15 minutes) of other employees, guests, and/or clients.  Employees are not required to provide their test results, but must comply with the written DECC policies.
  • Additionally, once COVID-19 vaccinations are available, employees that have received the vaccination must still comply with the current policies as they are written.

NOTE: Employees that have the ability to work from home may do so without requiring weekly testing, provided they can do their job sufficiently from home, they have received permission from their supervisor, and they are not entering the DECC complex for any reason other than testing at the COVID-19 testing site.

Face Masks

Employees are REQUIRED to wear face masks while within the DECC facility at all times, unless alone in their personal office with the door closed.  Employee’s mask may remain off while alone in their office or work area, but must mask again if someone enters that work space.  Employees MUST practice thorough hand-washing per CDC guidelines throughout the day.  Hand-sanitizer will be provided when hand-washing is not readily available.  Disposable gloves will also be provided as necessary when job functions require as determined by employer.

How to communicate with the DECC if you are sick or experiencing symptoms while at home

  • If you are experiencing at least one “more common” or at least two “less common” symptoms while at home, you MUST contact your supervisor to notify the DECC that you are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms and will not be reporting to work.
  • Employees MUST provide their name, department, and scheduled shift(s) they will be missing.
  • Employees shall make arrangements to get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours.

Employees must NOT come to work if experiencing these symptoms, and employees will NOT be penalized for missing shift(s) when appropriate notice is given.

How to communicate with the DECC if you are sick or experiencing symptoms while at work

  • If you begin experiencing at least one “more common” or at least two “less common” COVID-19 symptoms, immediately distance yourself from others and report your symptoms to your direct supervisor.
  • Any employee experiencing these symptoms while at work MUST remain masked, even if behind closed doors.  Employee shall make arrangements to get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours and return home as soon as possible.  If an employee is not able to be sent home immediately, they should quarantine in the EMT Room in the AMSOIL, unless management determines a more suitable location, while refraining from touching people or surfaces until they safely can be sent home.
  • After the employee has been dismissed, employee’s direct supervisor MUST ensure a thorough cleaning of the isolation area is performed in accordance with the DECC’s cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

NOTE: If an employee was not directly exposed to COVID-19, they may return to work earlier if a doctor (or negative COVID-19 test) confirms the cause of an employee’s fever or other symptoms are not related to COVID-19, if symptoms have improved. An employee does not need to provide written proof of the diagnosis or test. 

 

Protecting the Privacy of Employee Health Status and Information

Maintaining the privacy of all medical or health information, including symptoms, is critical.  If employees provide information to a supervisor related to COVID-19, it shall be reported to Human Resources via the COVID-19 Symptom Reporting Form for personnel file documentation and to ensure proper safety protocols are addressed with the designated Safety Officer.  All recorded medical and health information SHALL remain confidential as required by applicable law. The DECC is obligated to inform employees if there has been a potential exposure to someone testing positive for the novel coronavirus.  However, information disclosing the personal identity of the individual will NOT be provided.

 

Employees that have been exposed (or have tested positive) to COVID-19

COVID-19 EXPOSURE:

In this section, “exposure” means encountering an individual who, within two days, experiences the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or receives a positive COVID-19 test result. It does not initially include encountering a person who encountered a person who has COVID-19 (but would include that encounter if symptoms develop within two days).
According to MDH Guidelines, the following protocols are for employees exposed to COVID-19 through close contact.  An example of close contact means the employee was less than 6 feet away from the person who tested positive for more than 15 minutes (with or without a mask) or physical contact, beginning two days before the person who tested positive developed symptoms.  (See the Q&A section for the full CDC description.)  Employees who have had close contact with a person who has tested positive with COVID-19 MUST remain home and self-quarantine. These employees shall get a COVID-19 test after 5 days of isolation and may return to work after 7 total days of isolation if the test is negative. Supervisors may give permission for employees to work from home during their quarantine when appropriate. Employees who develop symptoms during quarantine must remain home until all of the following are true:

  • No symptoms remain; AND
  • 10 days have passed since first feeling sick; AND
  • No fever within the last 24 hours (without using medicine to lower fevers)

NOTE: Employees are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 for their own safety and the health of those around them, but they should remain self-quarantined after exposure even if the test returns negative, as symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. (Source: CDC.gov)

COVID-19 POSITIVE:

If an employee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the employee will be required to remain home and self-quarantine.

The employee MUST provide their supervisor with a list of other employees and individuals with whom they have had close contact at work within the last 2 days.  These employees will be notified of possible exposure, but identity of the employee testing positive will NOT be disclosed.  Alternatively, in limited circumstances, the employee may be allowed to work remotely from home during this time.  If allowed, remote work will be approved by the Department Supervisor.

An employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can return to work when all of the following are TRUE:

• He or she has had no fever for at least three (3) days without taking medication to reduce fever during that time; AND

• Any respiratory symptoms (including cough and shortness of breath) have improved; AND

• At least ten (10) days have passed since the symptoms began.

COVID-19 NEGATIVE with SYMPTOMS:

If an employee was not directly exposed to COVID-19, they may return to work earlier if a doctor (or negative COVID-19 test) confirms the cause of an employee’s fever or other symptoms is not related to COVID-19, if symptoms have improved. An employee does not need to provide written proof of the diagnosis or test.


The employee’s supervisor must document the circumstances of the employee’s illness using the COVID-19 Symptom Reporting Form and submit the COVID-19 Symptom Reporting Form to the Human Resources office immediately.

IMPORTANT: Based on guidance from the CDC, employees may continue to test positive for up to 3 months after a COVID-19 diagnosis and not be infectious to others.  This does not mean they are immune to reinfection.  Employees that have tested positive must continue to follow the DECC policy, as it is written, EXCEPT, weekly testing is not necessary for 3 months following initial infection unless they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.

NOTE:
If at any time your supervisor is unavailable, contact DECC Human Resources at 218-623-1353 to report your symptoms.  If Human Resources is unavailable, contact the appointed DECC Safety Officer. 

 

Employee Recalls

Maintaining the privacy of all medical or health information, including symptoms, is critical.  If employees provide information to a supervisor related to COVID-19, it shall be reported to Human Resources via the COVID-19 Symptom Reporting Form for personnel file documentation and to ensure proper safety protocols are addressed with the designated Safety Officer.  All recorded medical and health information SHALL remain confidential as required by applicable law. The DECC is obligated to inform employees if there has been a potential exposure to someone testing positive for the novel coronavirus.  However, information disclosing the personal identity of the individual will NOT be provided.

Employee Leave

  • All regular DECC employment policies regarding paid time off (PTO), sick time, and vacation time apply.  See Employee Handbook for more details.
  • If you have a serious health condition, recalled employees may be eligible for traditional FMLA leave.  Normal notice and certification procedures would need to be followed to determine eligibility.

Other leave, paid or unpaid, due to COVID-19, may be available through state and/or federal programs.  Contact Human Resources or visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ to see eligibility guidelines.

Employee Medical and Dental Benefits

All eligible employees returning to work after being recalled shall be eligible and have the option to
re-enroll in medical and dental benefits.  DECC Payroll will notify eligible employees of the re-enrollment period and process.

Life Insurance and Flex Benefits:

  • Employees that were previously enrolled in payroll deduction for Life Insurance must notify DECC Payroll if employee wishes this coverage to resume. 
  • DECC Payroll will need to notify Superior USA regarding employee elections and annual election amounts for employees that were previously contributing to a Flex Benefit Account.

FAQs

What does “close contact” mean?
The CDC defines close contact as:

“Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a
24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

* Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Data are limited, making it difficult to precisely define “close contact;” however, 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk), the duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding), if the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was coughing, singing, shouting), and other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors). Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE.  At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.”

Can a supervisor require an employee to go home (or stay home) if he or she is sick?
Yes.  Employees showing signs of respiratory illness can be asked to leave the workplace and stay home until the employee is symptom free (see Health Screening Protocol guidelines above).

If I am sent home or required to stay home because I am sick, am I eligible for paid leave?
Nonexempt employees (hourly) will not be paid for absences.  You will only be paid for the time you work.  You can, however, request to use paid time off (PTO) if you have any available.

Exempt employees (salaried) will be paid their regular salary rate for partial-day absences and, if available, can use their sick time for full day absences.  If no sick time is available, employees will not be paid.

Both exempt (salary) and non-exempt (hourly) employees may be eligible for a limited amount of paid leave coverage under state and/or federal programs.  Employees are encouraged to review the eligibility requirements at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/

If I was sick, will a doctor’s note be required before I am able to return to work?
Due to the potentially limited access to health care providers to provide clearance at this time, we are not requiring a doctor’s note for employees to return to work.  We are, however, requiring the proper protocols after showing symptoms.  See Health Screening Protocol policy.

If the DECC requires an employee to self-quarantine, is the employee eligible for emergency paid sick leave?
No.  Only an employee subject to a government order to quarantine or one advised to do so by a health care provider may be eligible to receive emergency paid sick leave.

Can I ask an employee if he or she has the coronavirus or will be receiving the vaccination once it
becomes available??
No.  You can ask how an employee is feeling in general, but you should not inquire about a specific illness or decision regarding vaccinations.

I know that my co-worker is having COVID-19 symptoms.  Can I disclose this to my supervisor?
Yes. 

Can we notify public health authorities if we learn an employee has COVID-19?
Yes.  Employers can notify public health authorities because COVID-19 is a direct threat to public health.

Can we tell employees if a co-worker has tested positive for the coronavirus?
No, we cannot share personal health information on an employee.  Employees can be informed that possible exposure has occurred, but identifying information about the individual will not be disclosed.

An employee is working from home because they are self-quarantining due to symptoms or possible exposure.  Can we tell the staff why?
No.  Employees should be notified that an employee is working from home and given instructions on how to contact them during work hours, but the reason the employee is working from home should not be disclosed.

Can the DECC require an employee to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work, especially if showing symptoms?
Yes, if the practice is applied consistently.  We do require you to follow the proper procedures and implement the policies in place for health screening and handling exposure or positive test results.

Are absences due to the coronavirus covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows an employee to apply for paid FMLA leave if he or she can’t work (or telework) because their minor child’s school or childcare service is closed due to COVID-19.  A diagnosis of COVID-19 would also likely qualify as a “serious health condition” under the FMLA, allowing an employee to take unpaid FMLA protected leave.

Can I refuse to report to work due to fear of contracting the coronavirus?
Under the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employees are only entitled to refuse to work if they believe they are in imminent danger.  However, the DECC wants employees to feel safe and has implemented measures to allow concerned employees more leniency.  See applicable Employee Recalls policies.

If I am in the union and am concerned about returning to work, what happens to my position?
Recall of union employees will be based upon the language in the current collective bargaining agreement and any applicable past practice precedent.

If I am concerned about coming to work due to COVID-19, am I eligible for the paid sick leave?
No.  An employee’s concern for contracting the virus is not included in the six (6) allowable reasons for this leave. However, you may be eligible to refuse your recall if you are concerned and reasonable accommodations are not able to be made.  See applicable Employee Recalls policies.

If your fear is related to a serious health condition, you may be eligible for traditional FMLA leave.  Usual notice and certification procedures would need to be followed for that determination.