Below you'll find answers to our most frequently asked questions. Didn't find an answer to your question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus and has been declared a global pandemic, infecting people in China, Iran, Italy, Europe, and other countries, including the United States. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation being closely monitored by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), WHO (World Health Organization) and other public health agencies, and it is important for everyone to take precautions against the transmission of COVID-19.
The CDC states that at this time, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The three main symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Additional CDC resources
Staying at least six feet away from other people and avoiding crowded spaces are recommended by the CDC. Review the CDC's excellent guidance on how to keep yourself and your family safe. Johns Hopkins also provides useful definitions and recommendations.
You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:
- Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
- Caring for a sick person with COVID-19,
- Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, OR
- Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).
The CDC advises that only those individuals who have personally had close-contact exposure to someone with positive or presumed-positive COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Close-contact exposure is defined as:
(a) being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case, or
(b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).
Person A spent several hours visiting with her mother, who appeared to have a cold. The next day, Person A goes to work and is in contact with Person B and Person C. Later, Person A learns that her mother is presumed positive for COVID-19. Person A must go home and self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to work. However, per CDC guidance, Person B and Person C are not considered exposed to the virus based on their contact to Person A, and do not require testing or self-quarantining.
For complete information, read the CDC's Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposures: Geographic Risk and Contacts of Laboratory-confirmed Cases.
If you've had close-contact with a positive or presumed-positive person
If you were in close contact (see definition above) with an individual with COVID-19, you should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days. You should monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. Additional information is available on the CDC website.
If you develop symptoms
If you develop symptoms at any point, stay home and contact your healthcare provider for instructions.
If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, a supervisor can require them to go home. However, they cannot be penalized for being sent home.
If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, a supervisor cannot require them to go to the doctor. Supervisors should encourage employees to seek medical advice, and they can require the employee to be asymptomatic before returning to work.
We recommend that you avoid all forms of international travel as well as domestic air travel, which expose you to lots of people in crowded spaces. If you have traveled recently, or have plans to travel in the future, we ask you to let us know using this travel report form.
Our recommendation is to reach out to your candidate pool and advise them of our efforts to conduct our recruitment activities with minimal exposure to both the college and the candidate by conducting virtual interviews or delaying the search. Delaying the interview process might result in lost candidates, however, the risks associated with personal contact may outweigh the loss. For search committees that are continuing the search, arrangements should be made for remote interviews via Zoom, WebEx, Skype, FaceTime, etc.
At this time, it's especially important to find ways to reduce anxiety and care for yourself. Try to find a balance between staying informed and limiting media consumption, and stick to reliable sources of information, such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok have seen a number of false and misleading posts about COVID-19. While they are taking steps to limit or label misinformation, it's nearly impossible to catch them all. The World Health Organization has put together a Myth Busters page to counter this and other misinformation.
Faculty and staff eligible for GIC benefits can receive free, confidential counseling and referrals using the employee assistance program at Mass4You.
You can also take advantage of the Disaster Distress Helpline, at 1.800.985.5990. This is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
A move to remote instruction is nuanced and considers synchronous tools like Zoom and WebEx for class in "real time" while also having materials and assignments readily available digitally for students to complete on their own and post to Moodle. For HCC, remote also means discussing contingency plans with students not fully-equipped for online learning.
Online teaching and learning has a specific pedagogy, with courses carefully designed for that environment, which is why it's important to be clear about the distinctions between the two and where HCC is moving in response to this unprecedented time. We are not redesigning. We are shifting and providing necessary flexibility. HCC's transition to remote teaching and learning allows faculty and students used to in-person environments to modify their course experience in order to be effective at a distance.