Binghamton University’s Guiding Principles
The health and well-being of students, faculty and staff are central to Binghamton University’s workplace policies and procedures for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University’s primary focus in these policies is to maximize the health and safety of faculty, staff and students while pursuing the educational mission of the University.
To minimize the risk to public health while working on campus, all staff are expected to fully comply with the state, county and University policies, protocols and guidelines outlined in this document. Failure to do so may result in the matter being referred to the appropriate University office for action.
Note that these guidelines are subject to change based upon future guidance/mandates from SUNY or New York state.
Employees who cannot work remotely:
Binghamton University will initially assess on-campus staffing based on mission-critical operations, the ability to control and manage specific work environments and the necessity to access on-campus resources. We will then phase in a physical return of staff over time in a coordinated process consistent with New York state guidance to ensure appropriate social distancing and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees will be given a week’s notice prior to being asked to physically return to work on campus.
Departments should institute staggered reporting/departing so that there are fewer people who meet at common entry/exit points, time clocks, breakrooms, etc. Staggering arrival and departure times by 15-30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements. Supervisors will contact employees regarding any changes in reporting/departure times.
When directed to return to campus by their supervisor, employees are expected to be available and report to work. Employees who are not available, or not willing, to work as required, may use their leave accrual balances with supervisory approval.
Faculty and staff who are asked to return to work on campus who fall into a high-risk category (see below) for COVID-19 complications should contact Sara DeClemente-Hammoud in Human Resources at 607-777-4939 or, if you’re a Research Foundation employee, call Tom Popielarksi at 607-777-4266, to discuss options.
Employees who can work remotely will continue for a period of time:
The need to reduce the density of people on campus in order to meet social distancing requirements will continue for a period of time. Administrative units that can continue to effectively work remotely will likely continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings of people. All remote work arrangements, which should be approved by an immediate supervisor, can be done on a full- or partial-week schedule as agreed upon.
Some departments may find that a combination of working remotely and reporting physically may work best for their operation. In these instances, supervisors are encouraged to consider alternating dates among employees physically reporting to work. This will again help reduce density on campus, especially in areas with large, common workspaces or co-shared workspaces.
Employees who physically report to campus will be subject to the following requirements:
Completion of a 12-minute Return to Campus training video
This video was made available to all employees via individual links provided in an email message from 'BComply "NY Return to Work" Training Module Assigned' that all employees should have received Wednesday, June 10. If you have not received your individual link or need assistance viewing the video, contact Aaron Phelps, director of the University Center for Training and Development, at email@example.com.
Staff who have been instructed to return to the workplace must conduct symptom monitoring daily before reporting to work and complete the very brief questionnaire found in the University's portal each day before arriving on campus or within the first hour of physically reporting to the workplace. It will take less than a minute to complete and can be done from a computer or smartphone. Employees must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 or have had an evaluation and been cleared by their primary care provider to be eligible to report to work on campus.
At this time, these symptoms include one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Other less-common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Check the CDC website regularly for a list of updated symptoms at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
Employees with any symptoms should not report to work until cleared by their primary healthcare provider. Individuals should notify their supervisor of the situation, as well as Human Resources at 607-777-4939 and RF employees can call 607-777-4266. Individuals should wear a face mask to avoid possible virus transmission to others and should self-isolate until told this is not necessary by their healthcare provider. Additional information and resources can be found at http://www.gobroomecounty.com/hd/coronavirus.
According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions include:
- Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
- People with HIV
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Chronic lung disease
- Liver disease
- Serious heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
- Severe obesity
- Being immunocompromised
Faculty and staff who are asked to return to work on campus who fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19 complications can contact Sara DeClemente Hammoud at 607-777-4939 or, if you are a Research Foundation employee,Tom Popielarksi at 607-777-4266, to discuss options.
Face Coverings/Cloth Face Coverings
Anyone in a Binghamton University (or University affiliated) space (including buildings, grounds, shared laboratory areas, conference rooms, hallways, restrooms, elevators, parking structures, etc.) must wear a face covering or mask that covers both nose and mouth at all times even when six-feet social distancing exists. There are very few times when it could be acceptable to not wear a face covering: eating meals on campus, when alone in a private room, private office, private vehicle, cubicle space when appropriate social distancing can be maintained, walking in a more isolated area with no other people in proximity, or when exercising outside when appropriate social distancing can be maintained.
Any request for a medical, religious, or other accommodation to this policy should be reviewed on an individual basis in accordance with relevant laws and human resources.
- If you are alone in an office, you are not required to wear a face mask (unless you so desire). However, once you step out of your office into a common area, you must wear your face mask.
- If you sit in a cubicle environment and there are others within 6 feet of you, you must wear your face mask. However, if there are no co-workers in cubicles within 6 feet of you, you can treat it like being in an office and not wear a face mask. Again, once you step out of your cubicle and into a hallway or aisleway, you must wear a face mask.
- Employees may wear their own cloth face covering, which will help Binghamton University reduce the need to purchase additional masks, which are in short supply. The University will be issuing each employee two cloth face coverings. Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time and must be properly laundered before use again. Having a week’s supply of cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering.
Tips on the use and care of face coverings
How to wear and safely take off a cloth face covering
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask.
- Ensure the face covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
- Situate the face covering/disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
- Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
- Throughout the process, avoid touching the front of the face covering/disposable mask.
Taking off the face covering/disposable mask
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the face covering/disposable mask.
- When taking off the face covering/disposable mask, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear or untie the straps.
- Wash hands immediately after removing.
- Place soiled mask into plastic bag to be laundered.
Care, storage and laundering of face coverings
- Keep face coverings/disposable masks stored in a paper bag when not in use.
- Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day at a time and must be washed after use. Cloth face coverings should be properly laundered with regular clothing detergent before first use, and after each shift. Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (e.g. ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated.
- Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after your shift or if they are soiled, damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.
Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they feel sick, it is important to stay away from others whenever possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Staff at work on campus must follow these social distancing practices:
- Stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times.
- Do not gather in groups of 10 or more.
- Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
- Handwashing: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Handwashing should occur before and after eating or touching or face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.
- Gloves: Healthcare workers and others in high-risk areas should use gloves as part of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), but according to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Washing your hands often is considered the best practice for common, everyday tasks.
- Goggles/Face Shields: Staff do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are generally sufficient for non-healthcare environments.
- Cleaning/Disinfection: Custodial teams will clean office and workspaces based on CDC guidelines for disinfection and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) protocols. Physical Facilities will also maintain hand sanitizer stations at major building entrances and high-traffic areas whenever possible. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and monitoring systems will be assessed and readied prior to reopening of buildings. Building occupants should also wipe down commonly used surfaces before and after use with products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.).
- Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene: If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Immediately throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Most buildings on campus will be open during normal business hours. Visitors and guests are not allowed on worksites during this time. Vendors should make alternate appointments with the appropriate department contact.
- Departments could consider staggering arrival, departure and lunch times, which will also reduce personal interactions at locations such as hallways, stairs, elevators, time clocks, etc.
Public Transportation/OCC Transport:
If you must take public transportation or use OCCT, wear a face mask before entering the bus and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% alcohol as the preferred form of hand hygiene as soon as possible and before removing your mask.
Before and after eating, wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. If dining on campus, wear your face mask or face covering until you are ready to eat and then replace it afterward.
- Eating establishments must meet requirements to allow at least 6 feet of distance between each customer, including lines and seating arrangements. Individuals should not sit directly opposite and facing one another. Staff are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside, if this is reasonable for your situation.
- If you are eating in your work environment (break room, office, etc.), maintain 6 feet distance between you and others. Individuals should not sit directly opposite and facing one another. Only remove your mask or face covering in order to eat, then put it back on.
- Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in employee break rooms to support social distancing practices between employees. Wipe all surfaces, including table, refrigerator handle, coffee machine, etc. after using in common areas.
How do building administrators or departments manage density in public spaces in their areas of responsibility?In keeping with the guidance provided in the Restarting Binghamton: Workplace Entry Guidelines, all meeting and common-area rooms within campus facilities must meet requirements to allow at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. This includes seating arrangements and places individuals would naturally gather in common areas (i.e., waiting for an elevator). Individuals should not stand or sit directly opposite and facing one another at any time. Signage will be provided to assist individuals to recognize and assess limitations on available space.
Departments and building administrators will be asked to proactively develop guidelines for occupancy of common areas and meeting spaces within their respective buildings based on guidance provided by the University. Departments and building administrators should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in common areas and meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between individuals. Individuals are encouraged to wipe all surfaces, including tables, chairs, handrails, door knobs, etc. after use in common areas and meeting rooms.
Which public spaces should departments and building administrators manage?Generally speaking, common areas that are controlled or scheduled by a department, or are immediately adjacent to departmental space, such as lobbies, lounges, waiting areas, break rooms, exhibition spaces and conference rooms should be evaluated. Outdoor spaces such as co-recreational fields and recreation spaces should also be examined.
Classrooms, dining areas, corridors, elevators and restrooms have been addressed by University standards; building administrators will not be asked to manage density for these spaces.
What strategies should departments use to minimize density in public spaces?
Common strategies are:
Posting signage indicating the capacity of the space. Note, this will differ from posted Fire Code occupancy. Signage should also reinforce the requirement to wear face coverings and recommended hygiene practices such as hand washing.
Moving, rearranging, covering or removing furniture to comply with a 6-foot separation.
Adding visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape or signs in common areas, queuing areas and meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between individuals.
Ensuring staff are familiar with the University’s Workplace Entry Guidelines under this Restarting Binghamton website.
How can I determine the capacity of a space or room?
- For smaller rooms, a layout for 6-foot separation is easily done. For larger, more complex spaces, the Reduced Density in Public Spaces working group can assist by providing suggestions for maximum occupancy, design layouts and signage. You can contact the Public Spaces Density Group at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
If furniture needs to be removed, where will it be stored?Storage space is at a premium on campus, so the best initial step is to relocate the furniture to an available space within the building, such as an empty office or a conference room that won’t be utilized. “Roping off” or marking unavailable seating is also an option. As a reminder, remote storage may incur expenses. For furniture that must be moved, either within the building or to a remote storage location, a service request to Physical Facilities is required. Available resources to move furniture are also limited, so it is important to determine your needs as soon as possible.
Where can departments acquire signage?The Communications and Signage working group has created a webpage for departments to order commonly used signage. Hyperlink: https://www.binghamton.edu/restarting-binghamton/signage.html For needs beyond those available on the webpage, contact Communications and Marketing for consultation.
Presenting Symptoms: Any employees who are presenting COVID-19 symptoms should not report to their workplace. Employees should report their condition to their supervisor and Human Resources and immediately seek medical guidance.
Current CDC recommendations for returning to work are:
- At least 10 days since first symptoms first appeared.
- No fever, and no use of fever-reducing medication, for the 72 hours prior to return to work.
- All symptoms improving for at least 72 hours.
Testing (presenting symptoms): Employees who are presenting COVID-19 symptoms and have been tested for COVID-19, should not report to work.
- Negative Test Result: If results are negative, employees should return to work as soon as they are well enough to do so.
- Positive Test Result: Employees who have tested positive must self-isolate until the Department of Health or their physician clears them to return to work. They must also notify Human Resources immediately and inform their supervisor they will not be reporting to work. Supervisors should not disseminate this information to others.
- If an employee who is symptomatic is being tested, Human Resources will reach out to the employee's department supervisor to determine individuals who may have been in contact with the tested individual to determine the next steps. Any employees who are required to quarantine based upon recommendations by the Broome County Health Department should not report to work but can continue to work remotely if their job allows it. If the period of quarantine continues beyond 14 calendar days, the employee should consult Human Resources.
Employee Assistance Program:
(EAP) is available to offer emotional support during this stressful period. Telephonic or video consultation via Zoom is available, and employees can access this service using most smartphones, tablets and computers with a camera. Employees may contact EAP by calling 607-777-6655 or visiting the EAP website.
B-Healthy, Healthy Campus Initiative:
The Healthy Campus Initiative strives to instill wellness into everything we do on campus — encouraging the growth of new ideas and initiatives. Health and wellness are more than abstract concepts; they are an attainable way of life for our entire campus community. Our goal is to create a supportive campus culture that makes healthy choices the easy choices. One of the seven core areas of this initiative is Employee Health and Wellness. Visit the B-Healthy website for more information and resources to manage stress, enhance your resilience and support your overall health.