Posted: June 19, 2020

Guidance for Employees Working on Campus during Covid-19 Pandemic

OVERVIEW: The following represents general guidance for employees working on Penn State campuses and will be updated as additional information becomes available. The health and safety of our employees is extremely important to the University and these are current strategies to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. Utilizing OSHA guidelines, most Penn State employees are classified at a “Lower Exposure Risk" level. This category includes jobs that do not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being, infected with COVID-19, nor those that require frequent close contact with (i.e., within six feet of) the general public.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES: COVID-19 is a severe respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. It is characterized by cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and/or at least two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. This is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads but it is believed to be through close contact with an infected person (through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes). It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Knowing the facts and how to protect yourself is critical to help avoid infection.

Maintain Social Distancing:
• Avoid close contact (maintain distancing of at least six feet) with other individuals, handshaking, or gatherings of ten people or more.
• Establish a limit of one individual per vehicle. Special arrangements should be put into place if this cannot be accomplished.
• Avoid sharing tools, phones, desks, and other objects in the workplace.  If this is unavoidable, work with your Supervisor to develop a hard surface cleaning procedure prior to use.
• Departments that would like to clean their work areas should develop a procedure using the
University's hard surface cleaning guidance.
• Supervisors should evaluate alternative work arrangements for individuals that need to share workspaces where possible (i.e., rotate individuals coming on campus, stagger start/stop times).

Maintain Good Personal Hygiene:
• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
• Avoid touching your face and eyes with your hands.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
• Stay home when you are sick and notify your supervisor.

 Universal Masking: In accordance with the Secretary of Health order, all employees reporting to campus are required to wear masks, ideally cloth, while on site. Masks are required to be worn at all times while on campus independent of whether social distancing can be maintained (e.g., must
be worn outdoors, in hallways, in shared work areas, etc.). Masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, when isolated in a private office or vehicle, or when use adversely effects an employee's safety or health (refer to Exceptions for Wearing Cloth Masks below). The University
will make cloth masks available through Penn State General Stores (Item # 7129197) as available in the eBuy catalog. As additional supplies are being obtained, in the interim limited amounts of surgical masks (Item # 1816641 or 2036421) can be used until cloth masks are available.
 Shared Work Areas: Maintain social distancing, wash your hands often, wear cloth mask, and establish cleaning procedures for common touch points with your supervisor.
 Common Areas: In accordance with the Secretary of Health order, additional efforts are required to reduce the number of employees in common areas at any given time and to maintain a social distance of six feet. Supervisors should consider staggering break times and limiting employees in common areas (e.g., locker rooms, kitchen areas, break rooms) at the same time. Additional steps may be required to enhance the ability to maintain social distancing (e.g., removing tables/chairs, designating one-way traffic, etc.).
 Tasks Where Social Distancing Cannot be Maintained: Certain tasks which have been determined to be critical may not allow for adequate social distancing. When there are no alternative means of completing such work employees must wear cloth masks, cover any coughs or sneezes, and avoid
touching their faces. Hands are to be immediately washed and any shared tools must be cleaned when the task is complete.
 Working Alone: Due to the scarce number of individuals on campus during this unique situation, establish a periodic check-in protocol (recommended minimum every 2 hours) with your supervisor or
 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): For employees in the “Lower Exposure Risk" level, additional PPE is not recommended except for what would ordinarily be used as protection against routine hazards.
 Temperature Screening: At this time employee temperature screening requirements will only apply in work units with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case in accordance with the requirements specified in the COVID 19 Supervisors Instructions.
• Notify the College Safety Officer, Christopher Cox, if you have any questions or concerns.

DEPARTMENTAL CLEANING: If your department would like to clean a work area during the workday, (which is encouraged), you should first establish a schedule and determine who will conduct the cleaning.  Doing so will help conserve your cleaning supplies. It is recommended to clean frequently touched surfaces at least daily. Only EPA registered disinfectants such as Betco Quat Stat 5 are effective against the coronavirus. Contact your facility representative or work unit Safety Officer for necessary supplies and for specific departmental cleaning procedures.
• Always clean surfaces prior to the use of disinfectants in order to reduce general dirt and debris, which can reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants. Use regular cleaning products or detergent like dish soap and water. Follow the instructions on the specific product label and be aware of the requirements of the area being cleaned (i.e., electronic cleaning without the use of liquids).
• Employees are reminded to ensure procedures for safe and effective use of all products are followed (e.g., disinfectants may require a certain amount of contact time). Safety instructions are listed on product labels and include the proper PPE when handling the material.

Emergency Contacts

  • Emergency (Police-Fire-Ambulance): 911
  • University Police: 814-863-1111
  • University Health Services: 814-865-6556
  • Environmental Health and Safety: 814-865-6391
  • Physical Plant Work Reception Center: 814-865-4731