COVID-19 Guide

This page was updated on January 11, 2021.  For the latest information check these websites:

We have attempted to curate the relevant policies and protocols for staff. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all safety measures being put into place. 

This experience has also shown us that information and guidance continue to evolve. We will make every effort to keep this as up to date as possible. Please continue to reference state resources and the CDC for the most up to date public health guidance. 

Creating a safe work environment

  • The college has a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment and part of the responsibility lies with the workers themselves.  Protection from COVID-19 is not something that the college, as an institution, can guarantee without the help of the entire college community.  

    Safety requires everyone to comply with the new rules such as testing, symptom monitoring, hygiene, wearing facial coverings, and social distancing. 

    If an employee does not comply with these rules and protocols they will not be permitted to work and could be subject to disciplinary action.

  • Updated policies on vaccinations and testing

    Staff who willfully violate these requirements are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Testing Information

  • Please remember that the Williams testing program is for asymptomatic testing only. If you feel unwell or think you might have been exposed to Covid, don’t come to campus but instead contact your medical provider directly. 

    You can also call the Berkshire Health Systems Covid-19 Hotline at 855-262-5465 or the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Covid-19 Hotline at 802-440-8844.

  • The college has implemented a robust testing program in an effort to create a safe work environment and comply with Massachusetts infectious disease preventative measures.

    Employees will sign a consent and authorization form for testing.

    Testing results will be kept confidential in HR as part of the employee health record in their benefits file. 

    Testing done through the college’s testing program and contact tracing are not subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws.

  • If you test positive outside of the testing program, please email us immediately at  [email protected].

    Faculty and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 through the campus testing protocol will be notified by Dr. Marc Pettus, from Berkshire Medical Center, and will be directed to contact their primary health care provider. 

    Individuals will need to seek treatment through their primary physician. College insurance plans cover the cost of medically necessary COVID-19 tests performed off-site  Employees may still be responsible for a physician office copay.

    Note: if you have not established a PCP and need care you can contact Beth Mantello, Practice Manager, at Community Health Programs 413-664-4088 ext. 1800 

    Danielle Gonzalez, CHRO:

    • will be notified and will inform the individual supervisor or department head that they are ill and will be out of work. (Note: you are not required or expected to share your specific diagnosis.)
    • will contact the individual regarding the applicable leave benefits.
    • will also work with facilities to ensure campus spaces are appropriately disinfected.
  • For safety reasons, and in accordance with applicable guidance from public health authorities, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 may not come to campus until permission is given by the college. 

    If you have recovered from your symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19, you may continue to test positive for three months or more without being contagious to others. For this reason, you should be tested only if you develop new symptoms of possible COVID-19.

    Getting tested again should be discussed with your healthcare provider, especially if you have been in close contact with another person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

    If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 5 days have passed since the date you had your positive test. 

    If you had COVID -19 and you had symptoms, you can be around others after:

    • 5 days since symptoms first appeared and
    • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
    • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

    *Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

    If you have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) due to a health condition or medication, you might need to stay home and isolate longer than 5 days. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information. Your doctor may work with an infectious disease expert at your local health department to determine when you can be around others.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or had COVID-19 symptoms and were directed to care for yourself at home, you can leave home after these 3 things have happened:

    • It has been at least 5 days since their symptoms first appeared and they are currently symptom-free; and
    • They have been free of  fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees fahrenheit) for at least 72 consecutive hours without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
    • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).

    Typically a doctor’s note is not needed to return to work.

  • Employees should not report to work if they are sick, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have had close contact with suspected or confirmed case.

    Supervisors may send an employee home if they come to work sick.  

    If the employee is waiting to be tested or is waiting for test results, or test positive and must be out of work, the employee will receive COVID-19 full pay.  

    Supervisors should contact Danielle Gonzalez in HR with any questions.  

Working at the College during the pandemic

  • Covid vaccinations are required for faculty and staff, click learn more on the policy, how to show proof of vaccination, and the exemption process.

  • Employees who are at high-risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, have an underlying health condition, or have a dependent child or an adult dependant with a disability who is immunocompromised and cannot perform their job remotely may seek an accommodation/exemption request through HR.

    If an employee can work remotely, they will be allowed to do so.

    When remote work is not possible, HR will work with supervisors to create a low contact work environment to reduce the risk of exposure. 

  • Williams BCBS members can get care by phone (telephonic) or video (telehealth): You are covered with no copayment, co-insurance, or deductibles for visits by phone and video visits (telehealth) with any doctor or health care provider for any medical or behavioral health care you need. These visits can be made as a phone call or via video technology, including FaceTime or Skype. Keep in mind that most providers are indicating that they prefer to be contacted before you visit in person to limit exposure, so these tools are important resources. 

    BCBS is removing co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles for all outpatient, medically necessary coronavirus testing, counseling, supportive care, and treatment. If you think you need coronavirus testing or care, call your doctor or other health care provider. Note: You will still be responsible for your usual out-of-pocket costs for in-person care that is not for coronavirus.

    Prior authorizations and referrals: You don’t need to get authorization or referrals for outpatient coronavirus care.

  • School and daycare closures, as well as remote learning, continue to be a challenge for parents and others with childcare responsibilities. Staff who were approved for a flex arrangement or schedule change should assume that you will continue with that arrangement. We will keep a close eye on how the school systems are managing and responding to the pandemic, and adjust policies if needed to support those affected.

    We recommend that employees have ongoing conversations with their supervisors as to what flexibility there is in meeting work requirements.

    We encourage everyone to be open-minded to flexible solutions, these may include:

    • Working remotely
    • Changing shifts
    • Reducing hours
    • Staggered days
    • Changing work locations

    If an individual has lost childcare due to COVID and cannot perform their job remotely they may seek an accommodation/exemption request through HR.

  • Guidelines for Remote Work 

    Staff who can do their work remotely should plan to do so through the end of the Spring 2021 semester. Remote work reduces the demands on our colleagues in Facilities, who have taken on additional duties because of COVID cleaning and safety protocols.

    Earlier this fall, we asked every department and office to develop a departmental work plan that clarified which functions could continue remotely and which needed access to offices or other campus spaces full- or part-time. Supervisors, those plans should continue to guide your decisions. We encourage departments to think creatively and flexibly to meet short and medium-term needs. Any long-term or formal telework arrangements should follow the college’s Remote Work Policy If you need to update or revise your plan, please contact Matt Sheehy at ms18​@williams​.edu or 412-680-5172.

  • Consistent with the Remote Work Policy, the college is not responsible for expenses associated with working at home, such as heat, electricity, internet service provider subscription, phone, etc.

    OIT has assisted many staff already in setting up their office computers at home. The college can not provide two computers for employees. 

    We know that leaves questions about associated needs, including Internet access, office supplies and technology, and printing. As a reminder, anyone who has such needs can come to campus to access these resources. The college cannot pay for toner cartridges, Internet, and other services and supplies used at home. Please note that, depending on the office environment, coming to campus might put you into the “high contact” job category, which in turn would require that you participate in the college’s testing program.

    Ergonomic tips for setting up your home office can be found under COVID-19 Information and Resources for Staff on the HR website.

  • Review technology needs and resources: Review the technology your team will need to effectively work remotely. Consult with OIT staff for any possible solutions, email [email protected] to start. Review OIT’s Working Through Disruption: advice to keep your department functioning through disruption.  

    Review work schedules: Be sure to provide guidance to your team about expectations for work schedules. Will work hours be the same? Due to the current COVID-19 situation, be aware that more flexibility may be necessary if employees are juggling school closures, child care, and/or elder care responsibilities.

    Communicate:  Develop a communication plan for keeping in touch with your team. Clearly communicate specifics about accountability with your team. For example, if you used to visit your employees at their desks every day, you can still do this with a call or instant message/chat.  It is also a good idea to keep a list of back-up telephone numbers for each of your team members in case of emergency.

    Maintain meetings: Maintain department meetings and one-to-one check-ins, altering the schedule, if needed, to accommodate any alternative schedules that have been approved.

    Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins with your employees to see how they are doing. It can be challenging to feel engaged or connected in a remote set up. 

    Maintain positivity and trust: Evaluate work performance based on results and reaching agreed upon objectives.

  • Visitors are restricted from coming into campus buildings. Visitors include our spouses, partners, and children.

    Should a visitor enter a building accidentally, you may ask them to leave.

    Most outdoor athletic spaces that are traditionally open to the public are limited to student use. For more info visit the Athletics website.

    Vendors and service providers coming to campus must demonstrate that they will comply with state regulations. Forms for submitting their plans can be found on the facilities' website

  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to below.

    A small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States. Most of these pets became sick after contact with people with COVID-19.

    Treat your pets as you would humans and keep them away from infected individuals.

Future updates

These resources are evolving and new information will be added as available. We will post daily messages to highlight any new updates or changes to this guide.

We welcome questions or comments via the COVID comment portal. Please submit general staff questions to [email protected].

Thank you for your contributions to Williams and for helping keep our community healthy and safe!