Preparing Our Employees
While many things have changed due to COVID-19, one thing has remained the same: our commitment to everyone's safety. Northeast Iowa Community College employees will return to campuses and centers through a stepped approach that is methodical and intentional. See the Steps for Re-opening. Each step ensures that staff, services and processes are in place to safely proceed to the next step; if the situation warrants, we may move back a step to ensure safety. Your return and the opening of NICC to the public is a partnership. Northeast Iowa Community College will commit to making the workplace as safe as possible; all employees and students need to follow rules to protect employee and student health and safety.
When you return, the work environment will be different. Please pay attention to changes, guidance and protocols. Connect with your supervisor if you have any questions.
Until the threat of COVID-19 subsides, NICC has adopted the following conditions of work for employees when they are present at all College locations.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Protocols
Plant services staff will follow through with cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting procedures (see Preparing our Facilities for details).
- Disinfectant cleaning spray along with disinfectant misters has been purchased and Plant Services staff have implemented a routine cleaning process for classrooms. Disinfectant sprays and misters will be available through a work order request if there is a need for a more frequent cleaning or an exposure to COVID-19.
- A point person in each department has been designated to monitor the daily disinfecting supplies needed. An Etrieve form (Disinfectant - Cleaning Supply Request) has been developed to request refills and needed supplies.
Education and Awareness
- The Senior Leadership Team has met daily since campus closure to monitor local, state and national reports on COVID-19 and review recommendations from local, state and national public health agencies.
- The Pandemic Response Team and Senior Leadership Team have created the NICC Pandemic Playbook: NICC Strong.
- Safe Colleges Video training is required for all employees to complete prior to return on campus. Additional training and resources can be found on the COVID-19 MyCampus page.
- Signage on campus has been created about health and safety protocols (e.g., social/physical distancing guidelines, proper hygiene and foot traffic/routing).
Access and Control
NICC locations will have fewer limitations although business operations and staffing may still be reduced. Building access will be based on class schedules. For specific access to Center locations, contact the Center Director.
While at NICC facilities:
- Use only the designated entrance – all other entrances will be locked
- Face coverings must be worn at all times unless you are alone in your office
- You are required to sanitize your area and any touch points contacted while you are on campus – door knobs, light switches, etc. Restrooms are sanitized by custodians
Deans and directors have worked in partnership with the Operations office to reconfigure buildings to maximize social distancing. You may notice some changes to work spaces including the implementation of sneeze guards and removal of common area furniture. Please follow all signage and do not use areas that have been noted as closed.
Use of common areas such as lobby seating and group study areas are discouraged. Supervisors will work to reconfigure common areas; however, it is faculty and staff members’ responsibility to ensure that all social distancing protocols are in place and common areas are only used when necessary. If used, here are items to consider in your planning:
- Chairs must be placed six feet apart.
- Floor markers or furniture should be arranged for social distancing
- Plexiglass shields have been installed in areas where other social distancing measures are not feasible. (i.e. reception desks)
- Commonly shared items should be removed (i.e. reading materials, staplers, pen/pencils, etc.)
- Develop a plan to sanitize the common area after each unique use as custodial staff may not be able to provide clean and sanitizing between uses throughout the day.
- Refer to Preparing our Facilities for further restrictions and guidance.
- When possible, do not conduct face-to-face in-person group meetings; instead, utilize conference calls/virtual-only meetings.
- If you need to connect in-person, all room reservations must be made in AdAstra. Follow social distancing guidelines to allow for six feet of separation between you and others and wear face coverings.
An off-site meeting may include meetings with businesses, schools or other external partners. Before scheduling a visit consider the following:
- Is a physical site visit mandatory to be able to execute the task or can the meeting take place virtually?
- Has the business/site had any confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- Do you need permission from the business/site to proceed with the site visit?
- Have you discussed your travel decision with your immediate supervisor?
If an in-person visit is required, please follow the practices listed below:
- If approved for using a college fleet vehicle, disinfect the inside of the vehicle with the provided wipes found in the car
- Avoid public transportation; if in a personal vehicle drive separately to maintain social distancing
- Ensure you have an approved face covering and wear it at all times while in off-site facilities
- Maintain social distancing at all times
- Use non-contact greetings: No handshakes or other personal contact
- Understand and follow the business/site protocols.
Employee Responsibilities for Health and Safety
Until the threat of COVID-19 coronavirus subsides, NICC has adopted the following Conditions of Work for Employees. These rules are in place to protect employees’ and students’ health and safety. Employees will be fully and completely informed of the following guidelines and must conduct accordingly. Employees in violation may face discipline up to and including termination.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with symptoms below may have COVID-19. This list does not include all possible symptoms.
The CDC continues to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fever or chills
Employees will refrain from reporting to work when ill and have an ethical responsibility to notify their supervisor if there is a suspicion of possible exposure to or symptoms of COVID-19.
Employees should monitor symptoms each day before entering any College facility using the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker
Prior to the return to campus all employees must complete the mandatory Safe Colleges Training (Managing Stress and Anxiety: Coronavirus, Coronavirus Awareness, Cleaning and Disinfecting your Workplace: Coronavirus, Social Stigma, and Coronavirus: CDC Guidelines for Making & Using Cloth Face Coverings)
Supervisors are responsible for planning for a safe return and may reach out to you to consider non-traditional work schedules. Staggering shifts, rotating days or continued remote work may be considered and implemented.
Face coverings are required (cloth covering, disposable or cloth mask) in all campus buildings, including classrooms and meetings, unless alone in a private space. One cloth face covering will be issued to each employee by NICC. It is the employee's responsibility to clean the face covering and wear the face covering as described in training. Face shields are not recommended, but will be considered on a case-by-case basis in classroom labs where it is more appropriate. More information on the use of face coverings versus face shields can be found on the CDC website.
Employees will adhere to social distance guidelines. Employees must keep a minimum of six feet between each other in the work environment and in common spaces.
Employees will adhere to additional CDC hygiene practices:
- Practice frequent and thorough handwashing
- Use hand sanitizer when handwashing is not feasible
- Avoid touching face
- Cough and sneeze into elbow
A college community member who encounters issues with non-compliance to COVID-19 procedures should submit an Incident of Concern report. Individuals failing to follow the College’s COVID-19 procedures may be subject to the policies and procedures within the NICC Student Code of Conduct or the criteria described for employees in the Employee Responsibility section above.
Positive or Presumed Positive Case Protocol
Your health and safety are our first priority. If a presumed or a confirmed positive case may have impacted you, you will be notified in a timely manner and provided directions on next steps, which may include the need to quarantine. The Pandemic Team will work through the Exposure Control Protocol.
If you believe you have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 or you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns or schedule a test. Individuals who wish to get tested through Test Iowa must first complete the online assessment at testiowa.com. They will then be directed to schedule an appointment. Locations and hours of operation for all test sites can be found at testiowa.com or coronavirus.iowa.gov.
Staff and faculty must complete the COVID-19 Notification and Leave Request form in Etrieve when:
- You have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- You are caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- You are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- You have had close contact with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19. Close contact is defined as being within six feet for at least 15 minutes.
There are steps the College will take when a person becomes sick while on College property, learns of a positive test after having been on College property or comes to campus while sick or positive for COVID-19.
- Individuals who are sick should go home and contact their healthcare provider.
- Call 911 if the situation is emergent. Encourage the person to call the healthcare facility prior to arrival.
- Assist with coordinating transportation if the symptomatic person is unable to drive. College employees should refrain from transporting students or other college personnel. The use of College fleet vehicles is prohibited if an employee is symptomatic and needs transportation. If emergent, call 911 to transport via ambulance. If non-emergent, arrange for a ride by family member(s).
- Facilities personnel will close off areas that may have been contaminated and wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting according to CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
- During the waiting period, open doors and windows to increase circulation, if possible.
- Protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal health information.
- Assist local health officials with identifying people that may have been in close contact with the ill person.
- Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to follow public health guidance to quarantine and self-monitor symptoms.
Employees who have been quarantined or isolated at home must work with NICC Human Resources to determine their appropriate date for returning to campus and the approved leave to be taken.
Summary of Employee Benefits
NICC abides by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, offering faculty and staff paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Those who believe they are eligible should complete the COVID-19 Notification and Leave Request form in Etrieve.
Summary of Benefits and Coverage (Medical Plan):
- You may find a summary of the key features of your insurance policies such as a description of the coverage, deductible amounts, cost-sharing obligations and coverage limitations and exceptions by logging in with your NICC email address at the Employee Navigator. You may also create an account and review your health insurance details at Wellmark.com.
- Doctor on Demand (Virtual Visits). Available to those enrolled in the NICC Wellmark health plan, Doctor on Demand is a virtual health care visit, or telemedicine. A link, you will find in the brochure with instructions to access this benefit. During COVID-19, cost sharing is waived for virtual visits for a time period identified by Wellmark.
- If you are anxious, worried or experiencing conflict in your life, you are not alone. These are challenging times, and we are all struggling with different circumstances. The Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) is available to employees and family members of all classifications, including temporary and adjunct. These resources can provide guidance and support for any challenges you may be experiencing.
- If you are absent due to illness, NICC may request information from you or your healthcare provider. In general, medical information will be required to confirm your need to be absent, to verify whether and how the absence relates to COVID-19, and to know when it is appropriate for you to return to work. It is College policy to treat any medical information as a confidential medical record. Any disclosure of medical information is limited to a need-to-know basis (supervisor, College leadership, government or public health officials) for the purpose of community safety and containment.
- Please honor the privacy of individuals you may suspect or know have tested positive for COVID-19. Treat them with the respect and professionalism you would expect if you were in their position.