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Employees required to monitor symptoms

Additional details to be made public Thursday

West Virginia University announced Tuesday it will require all faculty and staff who will be returning to campus for the fall semester to check themselves for COVID-19 symptoms each day before reporting to work.

In a letter to the campus, Cris DeBord, the university’s vice president of Talent and Culture, said virus symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever and chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestions, as well as muscle pain, headache, sore throat and fatigue, new gastrointestinal symptoms and a new loss of taste or smell.

“Symptomatic employees should immediately contact their health care provider for guidance and notify their supervisor,” DeBord said in the letter. 

It is not known if the university has a mechanism in place to ensure screenings are done daily. 

A WVU spokesman said additional details would be made public Thursday during a campus-wide video conference scheduled for 10 a.m. WVU declined to disclose additional details or answer any questions from The Dominion Post until that time.

In the letter, university officials said all visits to campus must be coordinated with the appropriate WVU host with as much advance notice as possible. The letter said the host is then responsible for sending the Visitors and Contractors Self-Screening Checklist, which needs to be completed before coming to campus. And all non-essential visits are discouraged.

Employees working on campus have until Aug. 15 to take a COVID-19 test, but employees who work off campus don’t have to get tested. Any WVU employee who is required to be tested and fails to do so will be subject to disciplinary action that could include   administrative leave without pay.

DeBord’s letter said once employees return to on-campus work, there will be several options departments and units should consider to mitigate the COVID-19 risk. 

Suggestions include:

  • Remote work. This needs supervisor approval and can be done on a full or partial day or week schedule when appropriate.
  • Alternating days. To limit the number of people on campus, departments and units may consider partial staffing on alternating days.
  • Staggered reporting and departure. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes can reduce traffic in common areas.
  • Wearing masks or face coverings on WVU’s three campuses will be mandatory. If more than one person is in a room, employees must wear a face covering. 

“Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least six feet of distance between individuals,” the letter said.

“… Avoid overcrowding elevators and exercise extreme caution. Riders should only board elevators if they feel comfortable with occupancy. Additional signage will be placed to direct flow to stairwells.”

Employees are encouraged to eat in their offices, or outside when possible. Also, while areas will be cleaned, before starting or leaving work, employees are being asked to wipe down all work areas with a 60%, EPA-approved alcohol solution.

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