COVID-19 Interim Employee Policy, Testing Protocol, and Vaccinations

January 15, 2021

To:  University Community
From:  Donna Eddleman, University Dean of Student Affairs, and Michelle Rogers, Vice President for Administration
Subject:  COVID-19 Interim Employee Policy, Testing Protocol, and Vaccinations

As we communicated on December 23we are requiring that all students, staff, administrators, and faculty members who come onto a U of R campus (no matter how short the duration or frequency) be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and complete a daily health check to confirm they are free from COVID-19 symptoms. These requirements take effect this Sunday, January 17, 2021.

For the sake of everyone in the University of Redlands community, we are seeking your cooperation in taking responsibility for your own health and the health of those around you. We recognize that daily health checks (all campuses) and weekly testing (Redlands campus) are inconvenient, nevertheless your participation in both is necessary to support continued progress toward full reopening of our campuses.

Interim COVID-19 Policies for All Employees

A revised Interim COVID-19 Policies for All Employees is now available. Primary updates include:

  • A doctor’s note is no longer needed to return to work following isolation or quarantine. Case managers will notify supervisors with the return-to-work date. Managers and supervisors must ensure employees who have tested positive, are exhibiting symptoms, and/or have had a known exposure follow the guidance provided by our internal COVID-19 case managers/contact tracers in returning to campus.
  • The California provision that provided COVID-19 sick leave to any impacted employee ended on December 31, 2020, however the University has chosen to extend this provision until June 30, 2021. Using this option does not impact your personal sick day accruals awarded by the University. When using this option, employees (exempt and non-exempt) must record their time using the following code in UltiPro: SCKC19. 

COVID-19 Health Check and Surveillance Testing Protocol for Students and Employees

A revised COVID-19 Health Check and Testing Protocols document is now available. Primary updates include:

  • An exemption from weekly surveillance testing for Marin campus employees and students because of challenges with obtaining surveillance testing and with having the cost covered by insurance there. Diagnostic testing will still be required for those showing symptoms or for those who have had a known exposure; use of the UR Ready Daily Health Assessment available within the Redlands app is also still required. Regular testing is recommended, if feasible.
  • The clarification of additional testing exemptions, as described in the question about exemptions, below. 

Q&A 

Here are some additional questions and answers related to COVID-19.

Will University faculty, staff, and students have a special line at the San Bernardino County testing site located at University Hall? The lines are often long.

The County testing site on the Redlands campus has made it possible for us to implement a weekly surveillance testing program, which many in our community requested because such programs proved to reduce the virus’s spread on college campuses remaining open last fall. It is important to note the site is managed solely by the County and operated using County guidelines. While the University has built a collaborative relationship with the County’s Specialty Testing Branch Director, we have not reached an agreement on a separate line or process for University students and employees; we continue to discuss potential options.

Testing site wait times are influenced by several factors:

  • The number of appointments scheduled (the University Hall site averages 1,300 scheduled appointments per day)
  • The number of County staff on site (this fluctuates based on the County’s needs and staff available)
  • The number of walk-ins (the County’s policy is that no site turns away someone seeking a test)
  • Time of day/week (surges are typically Fridays and Mondays, as well as post-holidays) 

We highly recommend you make an appointment when using any testing facility to avoid a longer wait time. As a reminder, employees will be paid for the time spent getting tested, and we are not expecting employees to test outside of work hours unless they choose to do so. Employees and students are free to test at any site, and a list of options is available on our UR Ready/Get Tested web page. 

Is it safe to stand in line at a County testing site?

We have heard concerns about safety in line at the U of R testing site. Unfortunately, there are no COVID testing sites without COVID-infected people in line. COVID is everywhere. So, we cannot prevent being “exposed” by people in a line any more than we can in a grocery store or a pharmacy. Standing in line outside while distanced and wearing a face covering complies with multiple Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety recommendations.

Additionally, we have mitigated risk by collaborating with the County on a new approach for line management. Starting January 14, those seeking testing will park in the dirt lot next to Ted Runner Stadium (corner of N. University St. and Brockton Ave.). Test seekers will be directed by an attendant to park in a numbered row and wait in their car until called to proceed to the queue. University students and employees with a scheduled appointment do not need to begin at the stadium lot if coming from a campus location and can get directly in line, thus avoiding the additional wait. If you do not have an appointment, you must first visit the walk-in station located by the Ted Runner Stadium ticket booth. Please wear your University ID while interacting with line attendants managing the queue so they can easily identify you as a member of our community.

If I get tested on a Friday, does that mean I need to retest before I can come in on Monday? How does the app track the test dates?

You must test once per seven days. When you enter your test date in the UR Ready app, the clock will automatically reset. As long as you test within the seven-day window of time, you are free to come to campus.

What are the exemptions from weekly surveillance testing?

You are exempt from the weekly testing requirement, if you:

  • Never set foot on a U of R campus, never meet in groups of U of R students or employees outside of your household, and are asymptomatic.
  • Have already had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are asymptomatic.
  • Have evidence of antibodies against the virus and are asymptomatic.
  • Have received the full two-course dose of a COVID vaccine.
  • Work, live, and/or study on the Marin campus.

Exemptions for residential students who meet one of these criteria will go into effect after the initial quarantine and testing requirement to live on campus has been met. Exemption from weekly testing does not free you from following University health and safety protocols. Additionally, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must notify the University via our reporting form, so we can respond appropriately and request you receive a diagnostic test. 

Please note, antibody testing is not recommended in place of weekly surveillance testing.

If I am exempt from weekly surveillance testing as indicated above, how do I report my exemption and stop the weekly reminders via the Redlands app?

The staff at the Student Health Center will review all requests (students and employees) and evaluate documentation provided to substantiate the exemption. If you believe you qualify for an exemption, please email your documentation to health_center@redlands.edu. You can also reach a Health Center team member by calling 909-748-8021.

If you are granted an exception, the Health Center team will request your health assessment criteria be modified to reflect your exemption status, thus allowing you to successfully complete the daily health assessment.

Those on the Marin campus do not need to provide documentation. Your accounts have already been modified.

If I only visit a campus for one hour per week and do not see anyone while doing so, do I still need to test weekly?

Yes. The COVID Task Force considered and discussed at length various ways to approach the duration of on-site visits. Ultimately, it was determined it would be too hard to manage and monitor the numerous scenarios and control for all of the variations. A single guideline was the best approach.

Do I need to report my negative test results each week?

No. You only need to enter your test date within the Redlands app. If you receive a positive test result, please notify the University via our reporting form as soon as you receive your results.

How will the University enforce the weekly testing requirement aside from asking for the date of the last COVID test?

We are asking each of you to be part of the solution, and this means taking personal responsibility for your health and safety and that of your community. Students have signed a safety pledge acknowledging this commitment, and employees have signed a return-to-work agreement accepting weekly testing as an employment requirement. We know an honor system has its flaws (as do other systems), but even with imperfect compliance, the data shows that clusters and spreads are greatly reduced by surveillance testing programs. We are counting on you to do the right thing to protect yourself and others.

Will people really report positive results if their health information is HIPPA-protected?

To date, we have seen great compliance with community members reporting known exposures, symptoms, and/or positive test results via our reporting form, and we hope community members will continue to help us keep our campuses safe in this way.

Will Anthem Blue Cross cover my weekly tests or will I have out-of-pocket expenses?

The tests are covered in full when taken at an approved county site, although there are some exceptions as we have seen in Marin County. At San Bernardino County-approved sites, insurance is billed but San Bernardino County will pay the full amount for the test if insurance denies the claim. With Anthem, there is no limit on the number of COVID tests an individual may take. However, if you choose to purchase a take-home kit, you will be responsible for the cost. If you incur testing costs, you can submit for reimbursement through your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) if applicable.

Is the University making efforts on behalf of students and employees to secure vaccinations for COVID-19? Who is covered in Phase 1B, Tier 1 of the vaccination rollout?

Distribution of the vaccine is being handled by federal, State, and County authorities, and the University has no jurisdiction to seek vaccinations for our community. While the University will not be coordinating vaccination efforts for individuals, we will continue to try to provide helpful information as we learn more about the process. Per the San Bernardino County Hotline, any non-student employee of the University of Redlands (or any institution of higher education) falls into the Education category in Phase 1B, Tier 1, even if working virtually. At this time, it is unknown if the County testing site located on the Redlands campus will offer vaccinations. We recommend you visit the vaccination information website for the county in which you reside to learn more about the progress of the State’s vaccine distribution infrastructure. For more information, visit https://sbcovid19.com/vaccine/ or https://coronavirus.marinhhs.org/vaccine.

Additional Resources

We have included several links within this memo. For your convenience, here is a summarized list of those links, as well as others not included in this communication.