Q&A - Returning to campus
The following questions were submitted to the Chancellor’s Office or were asked during the last return-to-campus information session in March. We omitted questions for which we do not yet have answers, with one exception: Unanswered questions that are more appropriately addressed by the colleges appear at the end. To the best of our abilities, the information is current through May 26, 2021, unless otherwise noted.
Q. Why is vaccination not a requirement for returning to campus?
Q. Are we able to make vaccination a requirement? If so, why wouldn't we outside of medically necessary exemptions?
Q. What about student vaccinations - will that be a requirement for them to return to on-campus? How can we help get students vaccinated too?
Q. If not already covered by the phasing, will vaccines be able to be made available to students should there be any in-person instruction in the fall?
Q. What if we are uncomfortable working around people who have not been vaccinated?
Q. Will FH/DA prepare short educational video tutorials about the importance of getting vaccinated and proper masking?
A. No decision has been made yet about requiring COVID-19 vaccination. However, the chancellor intends to ask the Board of Trustees to support mandatory vaccination for all individuals who access campus/district facilities or programs because vaccination is the most effective method for preventing COVID-19 transmission, illness and death. It is anticipated that this request will go to the board at its June 14 meeting.
If the board agrees, a draft policy and associated administrative procedures would be developed for review by the Chancellor’s Advisory Council (CAC), which includes representatives of the Academic, Classified, and Student Senates and all bargaining and meet-and-confer groups.
Any resulting mandatory vaccination policy would take effect at either 1) the start of the Fall 2021 term or (2) when a COVID-19 vaccine receives full U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval and is readily available, whichever is later. A process for documenting medical and religious exemptions would be created.
At a meeting of the districtwide Consultation Task Force, reconvened by the chancellor in early May, both the Faculty Association (FA) and the Association of Classified Employees (ACE) said that preliminary (but still incomplete) results of their own member surveys showed strong support for requiring mandatory vaccination for students and employees.
The colleges are actively encouraging students to get vaccinated through emails, newsletters and social media and are hosting vaccination clinics on campus. The district has been encouraging employees to be vaccinated since vaccines became widely available in February.
Videos about the importance of vaccination and proper masking are widely available on the internet, which is not to say we may not want to make our own.
Since students began slowly returning to campus in limited numbers last summer, requirements about masking and social distancing have been clearly communicated and enforced.
Q. If vaccinations won’t be required for on-campus access, will COVID-19 testing will be required for unvaccinated employees or students? Will district the district be responsible for providing the testing?Q. Will campus be providing COVID tests? If so, how much would it cost, how long until results are released?
A. Any COVID-19 testing required by the district would be provided to students and employees at no charge.
Q. What kinds of testing is being done on HVAC systems for campus and district facilities,
including Sunnyvale? When will the testing be completed?
Q. What has been done for the air ducts and air quality in the offices?
A. The district has a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) team that regularly inspects and maintains buildings’ mechanical HVAC units at all district locations. They are tasked with making sure that a) the units are running at optimum levels, b) the mechanical unit dampers are open as wide as possible to bring in outside air, and c) filters are changed on a regular basis, at least three times a year.
At all locations throughout the district, lower-grade air filters have now been replaced with hospital grade Merv 13 filters, which are among those rated most effective in trapping airborne particles.
On the Foothill campus, an ultraviolet (UV) system is part of the HVAC system and works to reduce viruses. The HVAC team monitors this system to ensure that it is operating correctly. Though the De Anza campus does not have a UV system currently installed due to the decentralized nature of the campus HVAC system, both this type of system and a needlepoint bipolar ionization system (NBPI) are being evaluated for use at De Anza. NBPI system are designed to attract particulates, which become larger and are more easily filtered out.
In addition, district and campus personnel are reviewing the use of individual free-standing air purifiers to provide additional ventilation for buildings and spaces that do not have windows that open. The size of the air purifier would depend on the square footage of the room space. These units would be equipped with HEPA filters, or the equivalent, which would need to be changed periodically.
Most buildings in the district meet or exceed standards set by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) for air changes per hour. For example, some of the society’s recommendations for air changes per hour (ACH) are: offices = 4 ACH, kitchens 15-60 ACH, computer Rooms 15-20 ACH, etc. The district meets the rating for offices and is slightly higher than the rating for classrooms with 6 air changes per hour (6 ACH).
PREVENTIVE STEPS & PRECAUTIONS
Q In the Consultation Task Force Summary that was sent from the May 4 meeting, it
mentions that "much work is under way to prepare for a safe return." What specific
work has been done? Have plexiglass barriers been installed in front line offices
such as A&R, Counseling, Student & Faculty Support Center etc.?
Q. Where will PPE modifications such as plexiglass be installed and how will this be decided? Has any plexiglass been installed yet, and where? What is the timeline for future installations?
A. Determining what modifications are necessary is part of an ongoing process. Decisions are being managed at the colleges about installing plexiglass and other protective material and equipment in campus work and instructional areas. For Central Services offices, these decisions are being addressed at the district level. If you are seeking information about safety precautions and PPE for your particular area, please talk with your manager. Safety needs are being assessed first for those departments and work groups scheduled for the early phases of returning to working on-site. All needs will be addressed over time, but needs may change over time as new information becomes available and as state and county requirements change.
Q. What other protective materials are being purchased? What do we have in hand so far, and what still needs to be purchased?
A. The district received a significant allocation of masks and hand sanitizer from the state Office of Emergency Services and will acquire more of these items as needed. In addition, we have federal emergency relief funds to purchase additional COVID-19 safety supplies and equipment. What is needed is being assessed on a department-by-department basis in advance of departments or work groups returning to work sites. Please speak with your manager about any questions or concerns.
Q. Are we going to be outsourcing the sanitizing services?
A. The district and De Anza custodial staff are handling the cleaning and sanitizing needs at this time. An outside service may be brought in for an initial cleaning in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or during periods when the campus may be shut down due to spikes in positivity rates. Depending on state and local requirements, we may need to temporarily augment internal staffing with an outside service as more staff, faculty and students return for on-site instruction and services. Any outsourcing decisions have been and will continue to be made in consultation with CSEA.
Q. As commuter schools, how will you ensure that students are still following COVID guidelines when they are off campus?
A. There is no way for the district to regulate behavior off campus. Both campuses are working to educate students and employees about how to keep themselves and others safe and are encouraging vaccination. Both campuses are hosting vaccination clinics for students and employees.
Q. Are we (HR) continuing to collaborate with Kaiser Occupational Health in terms of employee clearance to return to campus if known exposure was identified - similar to cases when employees are injured on campus?
A. Anyone who was exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive for it may work directly with their own health care provider for release to return to work. Although it may be helpful, a medical certification of clearance to return to work is not required if the employee can verify that they met the quarantine and/or other criteria to be deemed able to return. If you have additional questions, please contact Human Resources.
Q. Back in January of this year, HR issued a "Mandatory COVID-19 Training for All Employees," I was wondering if anything has changed since I completed the training in Jan. 2021, especially with the development of variances of the virus occurred after the training? Also is there a way to review the training material since there were many important topics covered?
A. The training has not changed. Employees may revisit the training at any time and are encouraged to do so whenever they would like a refresher. The training can be accessed by logging into My Portal, finding the Staff Section and scrolling to the Employee Training icon. The training consists of three brief but informative components:
- Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment for All Employees
- OptimumHQ Protects You
- OptimumHQ Employee Dashboard
Q. If infection rates increase, will groups be removed from campus?
A. We need to be ready to pivot to comply with any changes in state or county mandates. A big part of our planning for returning to campus is to make sure we take preventive steps to control COVID-19 transmission so that we do not have to remove people from campus.
Q. There are plenty of deserving programs and courses on both campuses that could return safely using outdoor spaces. How should they proceed with their planning? Should these requests go directly to Chancellor’s Cabinet like athletics??
A. Any proposals about a specific program or course returning to campus and meeting outdoors should be discussed with the division dean. The Chancellor’s Cabinet has given authority to the colleges to continue their prioritization and phasing processes, and districtwide considerations are a standing item on the Cabinet’s weekly agenda.
Q. How will the campuses address the amount of students in public spaces such as the campus center and "hang out" /study areas?
A. We currently anticipate the removal of capacity limitations and social distancing requirements by Santa Clara County on June 15.
Q. How – and what criteria is being used – will the district/colleges determine mask wearing mandates for on campus presence, for students as well as employees. Include documentation about what measures will be taken to ensure that such mandates will be followed if instituted.
A. At a minimum, the district will continue to follow state and local health department requirements for face coverings. Currently both colleges currently require that masks be worn on campus at all times (except when alone in offices or classrooms at Foothill).
State and county guidelines currently state that masks are not required outdoors for people who are fully vaccinated except in crowded conditions and that unvaccinated people should continue to wear a face covering outdoors if social distancing is not possible. Current state and county requirements on indoor face covering rules are more nuanced, but they generally require that face covering be worn indoors outside of one’s home regardless of vaccination status. These can be found in the California Department of Public Health Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings issued May 3. These face covering rules are likely to change again when California “fully reopens” on June 15.
Q. Will the District be providing masks?
A. The district has an ample supply of masks for distribution. It received 1.8 million
surgical masks from the Office of Emergency Services (OES), which also donated face
shields, thermometers and hand sanitizer.
HEALTH REPORTING & CONTACT TRACING
Q. Will the district continue to use the OptimumHQ app to monitor COVID-19 symptoms for employees and students who come to campus? Will any other monitoring be required?Q. What is the status of the Optimum HQ Contact Tracing App?
A. The district will continue to use the Optimum app to support health monitoring and contact tracing for employees. We are currently also using the Optimum app with a limited number of students who are coming to campus, particularly those in allied health programs. Should we need to continue to conduct health status monitoring as a greater number of students return to campus, we will likely transition students to health monitoring with the existing student mobile app from Modo.
Currently, the district has about 350 employees, students, and vendors/contractors using the Optimum app weekly and we have continued to expand the number of locations where QR code check-in signs are posted. We also have added new functions for self-registration and backup supervisor notification.
Self-registration allows any user – employee, vendor/contractor, student – who has an approved on-campus assignment to submit a health status report and check into spaces without needing to have an account set up prior to their arrival. Although this doesn’t happen very often because as most people have accounts set up for them prior to arrival, it ensures that no one is prevented from using the app. The backup supervisor function will allow a designated supervisor or manager to be automatically notified of a health alert if a user’s immediate supervisor is not available due to vacation or other leave.
WORK LIFE – GENERAL
Q. Will the District continue to have a flexible approach to working on-campus vs.
off-campus for non-student facing roles?
A. In the short term, the district supports a gradual return to campus to allow the colleges to identify and implement the necessary supports and safety measures needed to comply with the COVID-19 prevention advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health agencies. During this phased return period, the district will continue to support considerable flexibility for employees who, for a variety of reasons, may need or want to continue a remote work assignment.
Longer term, discussions are still in progress regarding the ongoing expectations for on-campus presence and will likely vary based on the work performed and the needs of the program and/or campus, the students, and the colleagues being served. We anticipate that general criteria and a procedure will be developed and shared as decisions are made regarding ongoing remote work requests. We encourage employees to discuss their requests with their supervisor. Requests will likely be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Q. How is the District going to address if someone is required to quarantine multiple times.
A. It is difficult to respond without knowing the particulars of a situation. Multiple quarantines may be due to factors outside the employee’s control or could warrant further evaluation of safety procedures if the person was working on campus at the time. District HR staff are in close contact with employees who have been exposed and will continue to discuss any concerns regarding multiple quarantine needs and assist with reducing risk to employees.
Q. As an employer, how is FHDA applying IRS code 139 to employees?
UPDATED 6/11/21 A. Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for the gross income exclusion of certain payments to individuals to reimburse or pay for expenses related to a qualified disaster. For example, the direct aid emergency payments to students were qualified disaster relief payments and therefore excluded from 1098T reporting. However, Section 139 explicitly notes that qualified wages are not excludable because an individual would have earned those wages otherwise as part of their compensation instead of a payment to offset any particular expense incurred due to COVID-19. Even wages paid by an employer when the employee is not providing services cannot be considered qualified disaster relief payments.
TIMELINE FOR RETURN
Q. Are we going back in Fall?
Q. Understand that there are multiple considerations. Can you clarify your current timeline for these decisions regarding the Fall?
Q. Do we *have* any sense of a timeline for Return to Campus?
Q. For classified professionals, how do you determine which classified professionals will come back first, second, third, etc…? Is there a timeline for that?
A. The colleges are determine their own priorities for returning to campus with review by the Chancellor’s Cabinet. In Central Services, classified employees will work with their supervisors and their vice chancellors to determine when they will return. The colleges have posted plans for returning in phases. There isn’t a firm timeline for the phases, but both colleges are planning to be offering more in-person classes this fall. The timing of the phases will depend in part on our ability to meet county and state COVID-19 prevention guidelines and lower risk for students, faculty and staff.
De Anza return to campus planning
Q. Can we have a RTC webpage with answers to all the questions from chat. I don’t
think we will have time to hear all answers. These are important inquiries.
Q. Is there new COVID-19 information? The HR site hasn't been updated in quite some time. I'm curious how we're adopting new CDC and County guidance.
Q. All the compliance stuff. Are there links to the documents from osha, etc
Q. it would be really helpful for planning for return to campus if we understood the criteria/rules/regulations that the district are operating by. I understand that there are lots of different rules and regulations and that the district is combing through to figure out the district rules and regulations. Is there a plan to communicate the district criteria that must be met for classes and programs to return to campus? What is the timeline on that?
A. The district will have a webpage soon with updated return-to-campus information for employees. However, the situation is constantly evolving and requirements are expected to change again after California “reopens” on June 15 under the governor’s order. We cannot predict what requirements may or may not be in place by the fall.
The main criteria guiding the district’s decisions about return to campus have to do with complying with state and county requirements for COVID-19 prevention to minimize risk for students, faculty and staff. Beyond that, the colleges are taking the lead in determining the criteria for when and which classes and programs can return.
Q. Has anyone asked, or plans to ask international students how this will/is affecting them?
A. The staff in International Student Programs stays in close touch with continuing students, newly enrolled students and prospective students about their needs and concerns. It will be particularly helpful for international students to know as soon as possible whether vaccination will be required for on-campus participation and which vaccines will be accepted.
Q. How many people have gotten COVID that are still working at De Anza /Foothill?
A. As of May 24, 2021, we have had 39 positive COVID cases reported and all employees are currently employed with the district.
Q. Unrelated to the actual return to campus plans, how is the extra work you all just described being funded? (the additional committees, content expert consulting, etc)
A. The district has received state and federal funds to address COVID-related needs and losses. While approximately half of the federal funds are reserved to directly assist students affected by the pandemic, the balance is available to provide COVID-related equipment, supplies and services as well as budgetary relief from COVID-related revenue losses.
QUESTIONS FOR THE COLLEGES
The questions that follow involve issues that are being addressed primarily at the campus level.
Q. Have students been surveyed about what their preferences are in terms of accessingservices and instructional modalities?
Q. A lot of students are not comfortable with returning to campus in the fall. as a result, how will we ensure that we continue/improve our remote/virtual services?
Q. If online courses are going to continue to support the enrollment to offset the lack of on campus courses will we be provided with more support for online teaching? I know instructors are exhausted as well as the current online staff.
Q. Is there any way to direct some funding to hire additional help for the schedulers in order to allow the campuses a bit more time than usual to finalize schedules? (my understanding is that schedules need to be submitted so far in advance due to data entry needs?). Since so much is up in the air, would be very helpful to wait till the last minute.
Q. Have you considered the night classes?
Q. How does the district envision post-pandemic teaching given online teaching has its pros and cons?
Q. What potential for outdoor classrooms/spaces for services has been explored?
Q. What is the prospect for outdoor instruction?
Q. How are rooms being identified for in-person classroom instruction and day-to-day operations of the campuses? What criteria are being used?
Q. In developing our own plans we have several questions re # students per each specific space etc. Can you clarify to whom we can direct our questions?
CAMPUS SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Q. (Foothill) Is the fifth council looking at what K-12 schools are doing now that
they are ready to return?
Q. (Foothill) The Student Service Building at Foothill has very poor air quality and the windows don’t open. The counseling office do not provide an opportunity to social distance. How will this be addressed for the safety of all concerned?
Q. (De Anza) Campus Center at De Anza has had air flow problems since I began working in that building in 1994. Plans to improve system?
Q. (De Anza) Most (offices) have NO/Zero windows. Any windows are fixed and inaccessible. You cannot open them to escape nor to allow fresh air circulation. The doors only lock from the outside, and in an active shooter scenario, faculty would be required to go outside with keys and fumble around to lock doors. This is beyond inexcusable at this point in history. When will the district replace all the door handles so they can be quickly and safely locked down in an emergency? This would encourage more of us to leave doors open for ventilation, but because of safety concerns, many of us just keep doors closed/locked at all times to remove our worries for our and our students' safety.
Q. (De Anza) I also would like to ask about the sitting/benches / hang out/study areas in the lower level of campus center will there be limits with the amount of students in these areas.
Q. (De Anza) Looking at the slide about the “6 feet” guidelines, any ideas on how to deal with that in the RSS lobby?
Q. (De Anza) Any thought having classes in the VPC? Utilizing the Forum bldg more often?
Q. (Foothill) I would love to hear about food services. We have retooled our business model to be COVID compliant, successfully serving local hospitals and would love to contribute to the planning process if allowed. We certainly are eager to return in any capacity that might serve. We miss you all!
Posted May 26, 2021