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Return to Work Guidelines – June 2020

Guiding Principles

Shepherd University’s policies and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be rooted in safety for our faculty, staff and students and for the public we interact with. The primary goal for Shepherd University is to continue the institution’s vital mission of education.

Shepherd University’s plans will be aligned and consistent with local orders and ordinances of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County, as well as the State of West Virginia’s Phased Reopening Model. Shepherd’s plans will also follow recommendations from the federal government (Opening Guidelines), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our local health department, and the Health Task Force.

Our knowledge and understanding of the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, and our policies and plans will be updated as appropriate as more information becomes available.

Expectations and Guidelines

The Temporary Policy provisions contained herein shall apply to every employee, contractor, and every volunteer or other person who is acting on behalf of Shepherd University, while on the premises of the Shepherdstown or Martinsburg campuses of the University, except as otherwise expressly specified herein. Unless otherwise specified herein, the use of the term “employee” hereafter shall include contractors and their personnel, volunteers, and any person acting as an agent of the University.

Students and Visitors are regulated under distinct policies. All policies herein are adopted to provide for adherence to State and Health regulations applicable to the University and to enhance the personal safety of Shepherd’s students, employees, and other members of the Shepherd community. The University emphasizes that while many of these policies provide at least some safety benefit to the employee whose compliance is required, the policies are in all cases also designed to enhance the safety of others on the campus.

ENFORCEMENT: These temporary COVID-19 policies are mandatory as to all employees, contractors and volunteers working on the campus. The University has maintained a variety of safety policies throughout its history. If an employee fails to comply with this policy, it will be addressed as a personnel matter in the ordinary course of personnel management practices. Negligent non-compliance may be a matter of counseling and progressive discipline, depending upon the circumstances, but because these are safety compliance issues, non-compliance could immediately result in stronger, immediate sanctions. Willful non-compliance would constitute a serious infraction, possibly insubordination, and is subject to institutional action consistent with our existing personnel practices as to gross misconduct.

Consistent with normal institutional policy and practice, reports of employees violating a personnel policy should be directed to both the supervisor and the HR Office.

REVISIONS AND EXPIRATION: These temporary COVID-19 policies will be subject to amendment, as authorized by the President, as circumstances may dictate. Amendments would be made to advance the University’s commitment to the health and safety of the campus community, but also decreasing the scope of these provisions if improved conditions in West Virginia and the region justify such action. These temporary COVID-19 policies will expire upon the direction of the University President or the Board of Governors, consistent with the foregoing factors.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes the coronavirus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

How does the coronavirus spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The virus spreads by droplets made when people with the coronavirus cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or be inhaled into their lungs. It may be possible that a person can get the coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

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 these symptoms may have COVID-19:

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as they learn more about COVID-19.

If you have any of these symptoms, you must report it immediately to your direct supervisor and the Human Resources Office at 304-876-5299.

According to the CDC, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

Personal Illness

An employee should not be on campus if feeling any symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, flu, or cold. If experiencing such symptoms, an employee must promptly notify their supervisor and also contact the HR Office as appropriate.

Testing/Health Monitoring

The University is evaluating several measures to allow ongoing monitoring of possible COVID-19 threat. These measures may be coordinated with State/Local health officials, or may be independently administered by Shepherd. Employees may be required to comply and cooperate with testing/health monitoring programs, which may include, but not limited to, COVID-19 tests, temperature monitoring, questionnaires as to COVID-19 risk factors, or other measures recommended by health authorities. Any personal health information of employees will be carefully held confidential. Employees with a physician-documented medical condition which would be complicated by a test or other medical procedure should immediately contact the HR Office utilizing ADA accommodations forms for evaluation of whether accommodations are achievable.

Phased Staffing/Work Shifts

Shepherd University will phase in a return of employees over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate social distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing capabilities for COVID-19.

Effective May 18, 2020, all employees other than primarily instructional faculty may be subject to assignment of adjusted work schedules by their supervisors. This status will include all 12-month faculty, as well as all staff. The University will reserve the right to implement specific procedures as necessary to achieve compliance with safety protocols. As one example, adjusted work schedules might divide the day into two 7.5 hour work periods, with one potentially beginning at 7 a.m. and the other beginning at 11 a.m. or at 3 p.m. Lunchbreak times may be directed, when necessary. All such assignments will be coordinated with the HR Office. The staggered shifts and break schedules will be designed to decrease the density of employees when work shifts begin or end and during breaks.

Supervisors and Vice Presidents will coordinate with HR in establishing strategies for continued work from home, staggered work shifts, or other measures to minimize employee density, commensurate with the ongoing status of the pandemic. All such scheduling is subject to ongoing changes, whether due to changes in COVID-19 conditions, student needs, or when necessitated by other needs of the University.

Personal Safety Practices

Face Covering Policy

All employees shall wear a Face Covering (either customized by the employee or provided by the University) while on campus except under the following excepted conditions:

Employees with a physician-documented medical condition which would be complicated by use of a Face Covering should immediately contact the HR Office utilizing ADA accommodations forms for evaluation of whether accommodations are achievable.

For purposes of this Policy, compliant wearing of a Face Covering includes the following standards: i) Either cloth or medical Face Coverings may be used; ii) the Face Covering must provide continuous coverage of both the nose and mouth; iii) the Face Covering must be maintained in a reasonably hygienic condition.

The University intends to issue a limited number of washable, cloth Face Coverings for all employees. Employees are thereafter responsible for maintaining and/or replacing if necessary. Employees may use commercially made or home-made Face Coverings, which must be appropriate to a professional environment.

How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings should:

CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance,

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

Cloth face coverings can be washed with soap by hand or in a washing machine.

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their cloth face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

How to make cloth face coverings

Simple cloth face coverings can be made at home and may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sewn and non-sewn instructions are below.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy. Adherence to CDC Guidelines as to personal hygiene to help reduce spread of virus is required. Supervisors should provide liberal time away from work tasks to allow hand washing throughout the day.

How Germs Spread

Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also clean hands:

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community-from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time:

  1. WET your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. LATHER your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. SCRUB your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. RINSE your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. DRY your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Key Times to Wash Hands:

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

How to use hand sanitizers

Caution­—Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene

If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Then throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the preferred form of hand hygiene in healthcare settings

Social Distancing

Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

Limit close contact with others outside your household in indoor and outdoor spaces. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you—or they—have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Every employee is obligated to make a good faith effort to comply with the physical/social distancing guidelines established by the CDC, which recommends a minimum of six feet interpersonal distance to the maximum degree achievable. Willful or reckless disregard of distancing from others is prohibited. Generally, all meetings of employees should continue to be conducted virtually, unless there are specific reasons why a fully socially-distanced physical meeting should occur. Employees are expected to make every effort to avoid unplanned visits to other administrative offices.


Working in Office Environments

You should wear a face mask or face covering at all times while in a shared work space/room. If you work in an office, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required 6 feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, masks/face coverings should be worn at all times. A mask or face covering is not required if you are working alone in a confined office space (does not include partitioned work areas in a large open environment).

Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees. Masks/face coverings should be worn by any employee in a reception/receiving area. Masks/face coverings should be used when inside any Shepherd facility where others are present, including walking in narrow hallways where others travel and in break rooms, conference rooms and other meeting locations.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. As the University begins to reopen in June 2020, meetings should be held using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, telephone, etc.). In-person meetings will be further evaluated and this guidance will be updated as conditions warrant.

During your time on-site, you should communicate with your colleagues and supervisor as needed by e-mail, telephone or other available technology rather than face-to-face. You can also use a range of collaboration tools as mentioned above.


Avoid overcrowding elevators. Do not touch your face after contact with elevator buttons. Wash hands with soap or use disinfectant alcohol.

Water Bottle Filling Stations

Water fountains on campus will be turned off. Employees are encouraged to bring their own bottles of water to campus. Water bottle filling stations will be available.


Restrooms have been limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.


Employee breakrooms must remain compliant with required distancing and safety standards. In a large room in which tables and chairs are allocated for eating, chairs may not be moved or added to the room to result in diminishment of distancing. Reasonable additional care to maintain required distancing should be used while one or more employees have removed a Face Covering due to eating. Employees using a breakroom must clean up surfaces after themselves, using disposable towels. Dirty dishes must not be left unattended.

Rigorous and frequent washing of hands should be practiced whenever touching common surfaces, always immediately prior to eating, and again after doing any cleaning of common surfaces which the employee may have soiled during food preparation.

Employees who have a private office should eat in their office, to accommodate those who do not have a private office. Any employee who does not have a private office and finds compliance with this rule difficult should consult the HR Office. Building Managers may adopt the use of sign-up schedules, scheduling specific windows of time, where necessary to avoid employees excessive wait times to access break rooms.

Enter/Exit of Buildings

The University is implementing special signage relating to pedestrian traffic at building entrances/exits, stairwells, elevators, and restrooms. Compliance with the signage is required. Employees may not ignore directional signage merely because it appears that no one else is in proximity.

Personal Travel

The University will not authorize any business travel until at least after January 1, 2021, unless for extraordinarily unique exigencies and approved by the President. The University has a unique obligation, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to monitor personal activity which can create an increased risk to the University community; for this reason, the University cautions that employees should use the utmost care and discretion in any personal travel. In the interest of campus safety, the University may require any employee who travels to especially high-risk areas to either work at home for a quarantine period or to use annual leave.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (n.d.). Coronavirus (COVID-19.)

Duke University (2020, May 19) Guide for Returning to the Workplace.

Shepherd University (2020) COVID-19

Return to Work Guidelines – Printable PDF