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In mid-March, many employees moved their work locations from various Stony Brook office settings to work remotely, in accordance with an Executive Order by the New York State Governor to foster social distancing. As we begin a phased-in approach to returning employees to their on-site workplace locations — gradually and incrementally, and with continued telework and staggered workweeks — we’ve set up this Coming Back Safe and Strong website to help guide you through the various changes as they occur. Whether you’re returning to the worksite or have been here with us all along, you’ll find critical current information, an evolving FAQ, the latest guidance on all return-to-workplace protocols, contact resources and more. Together, we will come back safe and strong.


 

Recent Updates

Human Resources Services Issues Travel Advisory
July 3, 2020

Human Resource Services has released an update concerning Travel Advisory information. The message reads as follows:

As you may be aware, in an effort to help contain the Coronavirus, Governor Cuomo is currently requiring a 14-day self-quarantine upon entering New York State from certain states. The list of impacted states can be found on the New York State Department of Health website . Please note that this list is subject to change.

In summary, all travelers entering New York who have recently traveled within a state with either a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average; or a testing positivity rate of higher than a 10% over a seven-day rolling average, must self-quarantine for 14 days.

However,  essential employees who are returning to New York State “long term” (for 36 hours or more) are permitted to work provided they:

  • obtain  COVID testing within 24 hours upon return to the state
  • self-monitor temperature and signs of symptoms
  • wear a face covering when in public
  • maintain social distancing and
  • clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days
 

In addition, the Governor has issued an Executive Order clarifying that employees who travel voluntarily to any of these states shall not be eligible for benefits under the New York State emergency paid sick leave provision. Employees should be aware that voluntary travel to any of these states could result in loss of pay during the required quarantine.

Please share the following requirements with employees especially those who may be traveling:

  • Non-essential employees who are working remotely will continue to do so during the 14-day quarantine period and therefore quarantine pay will not apply.  
  • In the rare instance where a non-essential employee cannot work remotely, the 14-day quarantine period would apply and the employee would be required to use non-sick accruals.  In these instances, supervisors should consider the total time the employee will be out of work (vacation request plus quarantine period) when reviewing the time off request
 

For questions related to COVID testing or health monitoring, please contact the Health Information Line at (631) 632-5000 option 1. For HRS Time and Attendance and Leaves contact (631) 632-5000 option 2.

Additional guidance regarding travel for sponsored research activities and pre-approval for University-related travel will be forthcoming from the Provost's office.


  Human Resources Services Issues Update on Return to Campus Information and Exemptions

June 30, 2020

Human Resource Services has released an update concerning return-to-campus information and exemptions. The message reads as follows:

Upon approval by SUNY and New York State, Stony Brook University plans to begin the fall semester with a blend of in-person and remote classes, an adjusted academic calendar and an emphasis on the use of face coverings, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and other public health measures. We will have a science-based COVID-19 containment program that includes comprehensive testing and contact tracing and is consistent with federal, state and local health department guidelines. All of this will be in service to our mission to provide opportunities for our students to progress academically in their undergraduate, graduate and professional education. We will incorporate appropriate health and safety measures and will actively cultivate a campus culture that has all campus community members following requisite public health guidelines.

Information
The COVID-19 Telephone Information Line

We have implemented a confidential telephone information line as a resource for employees who have general and work-related questions about COVID-19.   This number includes the Health Information Line (HIL), Health Resources Information Line (HRIL) and FSA Employee Information Line (FSAIL) .  This line is available to all employees of the West Campus, Health Sciences Center, and the School of Medicine, and can be accessed by calling (631) 632-5000 (on campus 2-5000).   Stony Brook University Hospital employees  and clinical faculty in the Renaissance School of Medicine SOM  should contact HR at (631) 444-4700 or at  sbuhhr@stonybrookmedicine.edu .  LISVH employees should contact HR at  (631) 444-8617.

Request for an exemption for telecommuting or alternative work assignment

  • All requests for an exemption will be treated in a confidential manner.Age and health information will not be shared with the employee’s unit, department or division. Management will simply be advised of the recommended exemption, schedule modification or alternative work arrangement.
  • Concerns related to the exemption process may be brought to the Office of Equity & Access for review.

Exemptions

  • Faculty, staff and graduate student employees who have an  underlying medical condition  determined by the CDC to place them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, or  who live with someone with an underlying medical condition , or who are  pregnant , and who wish to request a telecommuting or alternative work assignment, will be asked to provide documentation, as appropriate, to support such a recommendation. 
  • Faculty and staff who are  65 years of age and over   may  also request a telecommuting or alternative arrangement.  Recommendations for such arrangements will be referred by HIL to HRS, which will notify the appropriate supervisor(s). 
  • Employees seeking  accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act  may also contact the Office of Equity and Access (OEA) directly.
  • Employees who  do not have an underlying condition or who do not wish to provide supporting medical documentation  and wish to request a telecommuting or alternative work assignment may speak to their immediate supervisor directly or to Surita Bhatia, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, for West Campus faculty; to Stella Tsirka,  Dean for Faculty Affairs, for East Campus faculty; and to the appropriate Human Resources Services for staff .  Graduate student employees may contact Eric Wertheimer, Dean and Vice Provost of the Graduate School. Individuals may also contact the Human Resources Information Line (option 2, below) to discuss possible alternative work arrangements

COVID-19 Telephone Information Line Descriptions  (631-632-5000)

Option One: The Health Information Line (HIL)
This line is staffed by licensed health care providers who are available to:

  • Help answer questions about an existing health condition;
  • Help answer questions if you are pregnant;
  • Provide information if you believe you have symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • Provide quarantine information, whether precautionary or mandated;
  • Discuss concerns about being in the workplace and provide recommendations for telecommuting or alternative work assignments.

Information provided to the HIL staff is confidential. It will not be used for medical treatment purposes, nor is the information provided to you meant to constitute medical advice.  For medical treatment/advice, please call your personal physician.

The HIL is open to receive messages every day, including weekends (not holidays) and is checked by staff throughout the day.  Messages left from 8:30 am -5:00 pm will generally be returned that same day.  Messages left after hours will be returned within 24 hours.

Option two (2): The Human Resources Information Line (HRIL )
This line can provide general information to State and Research Foundation employees regarding alternate work arrangements/locations and can answer questions about the use of accruals and leaves. This line is open M-F 8:30-5:00.

Option three (3): FSA Employee Information Line
This line is for FSA employees who wish to speak to FSA Human Resources, which can provide similar information to that provided by the HRIL.

These phone lines receive a number of calls. If they are busy, or if you are calling outside the workday, please leave a detailed message (name, employee ID number, and a return phone number) on the appropriate line, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember, if at any time you have a medical emergency you should call 911.


 

President-Elect issues Update on Fall Semester Planning
June 25, 2020

President-Elect Maurie McInnis has released an update  regarding continued planning for the fall semester. Her message reads as follows:

I am hopeful that you and your families are healthy and well and that you are finding ways to relish these beginning days of summer.  This message is intended to update you on our continued planning for the fall semester, following up on the June 4  message.

There is still much about the fall that remains unknown. Ultimately, all of our decision-making will be guided by the state of the public health situation. If it is safe to do so, it remains our intention to resume some on-campus learning and activities in the fall.  For that to be possible, we will all have to adhere to important  public health strategies. That includes doing a daily symptom check, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, social distancing in classrooms and other campus areas, and quarantining when needed. We will also make adjustments to the schedule, shifting some classes to different times, in order to reduce the density on campus at popular times. We will also ensure that we have robust capabilities in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Our efforts to ensure a safe environment for our students, staff and faculty have been predicated on the guidelines established by the CDC, New York State, and SUNY. New York State recently released  Higher Education Guidelines  providing a thorough checklist of requirements and additional suggestions for campuses to implement during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Following these guidelines, we have submitted a plan for the fall semester to SUNY and await their approval.

Once we receive SUNY approval to operate in an on-campus fashion, we will send you a far more detailed communication that highlights the many questions you likely have about what campus life might look like. I hope that we will receive our approval by early July and, if so, we will be ready to communicate in greater detail to the campus community then. In the meantime, I share with you the following changes for the fall semester that we anticipate will be approved as part of the plan for fall 2020:

  • The academic calendar will be adjusted with the elimination of the fall break and on-campus classes ending just before Thanksgiving. Courses and exams that take place after Thanksgiving will take place remotely. The Health Sciences schools may have calendars that differ from this schedule based on factors that include professional training and clinical activities.
  • Students will be able to choose from courses in different formats. Some courses will be entirely on-line, others will be in person, and still others will be hybrid, meaning that some students may attend in person while others attend remotely. Our schools and colleges are working to ensure that we can provide a robust range of courses to meet the needs of our students.
  • In general, small classes will continue to meet in person in larger venues, but larger lecture classes will be delivered remotely. Class formats will be determined by individual schools, colleges and academic units. Each classroom has been evaluated to ensure that we can maintain appropriate social distancing. This has resulted in moving smaller classes to larger rooms and making changes to class layouts for student seating. 
  • Residence halls will be open, and we will reserve some units to serve as quarantine housing as needed. Density in dining halls will be reduced and more grab and go meals will be offered.
  • We will provide two cloth masks to all members of the campus community, and we will require the wearing of masks. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout campus. 
  • We will emphasize the critical importance of all students, faculty and staff getting a seasonal flu shot, staying home when sick and closely monitoring any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.
  • We will have testing options and requirements and are building capacity for additional contact tracing for those who are infected.
  • Faculty and staff will be able to perform their own health screenings via a newly developed app that can be accessed through their phones. This new tool is in a testing phase and mirrors the screening being used currently by our researchers.

We are aware that many faculty, staff and students have concerns about returning to on-campus learning, teaching and work.  We are continuing to develop processes around protecting vulnerable members of our community.  More details will be forthcoming about these plans in the next few days.

This is a complicated time filled with challenges, but I am confident that, together, we can continue to reach new heights in research and scholarship and that we will be able to offer a fall semester filled with many of the things that make Stony Brook such a special place. I am grateful for your patience and your thoughtful guidance as we navigate these challenging times and work together to plan a thoughtful, safe return to campus.


 

Richard Reeder Issues Guidance on  Increasing Research Activities
June 24, 2020

Richard J. Reeder, Vice President for Research, has issued further guidance to researchers regarding plans surrounding return to campus.  The message reads as follows:

It has been two weeks since we opened the door for restarting research activities beyond those who had been performing Covid-related research.  I am pleased to report that this process has progressed smoothly, thanks to the careful attention being given to the guidelines outlined in the  Plan for Restarting Research .  The thorough reviews provided by the Deans and their Department Chairs of PIs’ individual plans have permitted a gradual return of research personnel with appropriate safeguards for the health of our researchers.  Building Managers and the Campus Facilities group have done an outstanding job of preparing buildings for our return.  Based on the positive experience gained over these two weeks, it is clear that many research groups are well prepared to advance to Phase 3 as described in our  Plan for Restarting Research , hereafter referred to as  Research Phase 3.  This terminology is important to remember, as many of you are aware that NY State has also adopted the use of “Phases” to indicate when different types of businesses are approved to reopen.  There is no correspondence between Research Phases and NY State’s Phases.

Research Phase 3 allows for 30-60% of the research workforce to return, while still complying with the requirements of social distancing, use of masks/face coverings, daily health screening, etc., as described in the Plan.  Principal investigators that have operated effectively under Research Phase 2 (preferably for at least one week) and are ready to advance to Research Phase 3 should revise their individual plans and submit them to their Chair or unit Director for review and approval.  For those who already have approved plans for Research Phase 2, the necessary revisions may only involve updating the personnel list and the related work schedules, and sharing the plan with the additional personnel for their signature of acknowledgement.  It is important that revised plans account for any additional engineering or administrative controls needed for the increase in personnel.  After reviewing plans, the Chair or Dean will inform PIs when they may advance to Research Phase 3.  New research personnel starting with Research Phase 3 are required to view the training video in SOLAR and provide affirmation.  For those graduate fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and any other researchers unable to view and record the training in SOLAR, they should visit this  site  to view the return to work training video and provide affirmation.  If your lab is already operating with all personnel, then it is not necessary to revise your plan.  Also, make sure that a copy of the approved plan is accessible to every lab member in each lab.

For those principal investigators who have not yet submitted a plan for restarting their research activities, you may choose to create a plan for advancing directly to Research Phase 3 (30-60% of the research workforce).  However, the PI should first check with their Chair, and the PI’s plan should clearly outline a gradual ramp up in personnel level in order to allow enough time to evaluate the effectiveness of the safeguards and controls.  These plans should be submitted to the Department Chair or unit Director for review and approval.

It is important that each PI’s plan provides an up to date list of research personnel for the proposed Research Phase.  Unless requested by the Dean in your area, it is no longer a requirement to create a separate excel file to be provided for access control purposes.  If access to a building is required for an approved researcher, the department should submit a request to Access Control following the normal procedure.

Finally, I again remind PIs that any individual who is reluctant to return to research on campus or at an off-site location out of concern for their health should not be pressured to do so.

For any questions, please contact your Department Chair or unit Director first.  Thank you for your cooperation as we continue to resume our research activities at Stony Brook. 


 

Update on Scheduling for Fall 2020 Term
June 19, 2020

An update on the Fall 2020 Term has been issued by Charles L. Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Success/Dean of the Undergraduate Colleges, and Diane Bello, University Registrar. The message reads as follows:

As part of the planning process to arrange for a safe return to campus for students, faculty, and staff, the University must make updates to the Fall schedule of classes. The Registrar's Office will begin the updates on  Monday, June 22nd. It is anticipated that this will be completed no later than July 10th.

As part of this process the  Fall 2020 term will not appear in SOLAR as an option for you to view or update. This will include enrollment, class search, and any section of the self-service pages that are impacted by term selection. 

The schedule updates that are being completed have been done so with the following guidelines in mind:

  • Courses will exist in online, hybrid, or in-person formats.
  • Large courses will be taught online, some with face to face components.
  • Course times will be adjusted to allow for additional pass time between classes to promote social distancing.  
  • In-person courses will be scheduled in rooms that are large enough to accommodate appropriate social distancing. This may result in schedule changes that include new day and time vectors.

Students will be able to access and adjust their schedules as normal on SOLAR after this process has been completed. We will communicate additional information regarding mode of instruction formats and final exam scheduling to assist you in understanding the impact of the changes that have been made.

We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this important transition.

 


    

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