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COVID-19 – Human Resources

UP COVID-19 Readiness and Resources

Human Resources

As part of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), the University of Providence has developed workforce protection and safety measures to carefully start bringing employees back to campus and ensure essential services for our students.  Each department has developed a plan for bringing employees back to campus that may include a phased-in or staggered staffing approach, as well as what has become standard COVID-19 operating procedures, such as regular, in-depth cleaning, wearing of face masks, handwashing/sanitizing, and ensuring social distancing, among other means.  The goal is to be fully staffed and operational prior to students returning to campus for the Spring 2021 semester while continuing to follow the directives provided by the State of Montana, Cascade County Public Health and the Federal government.

Mask Policy
1. Policy Overview

The University of Providence has implemented and will enforce a policy mandating that fabric or disposable surgical-style face masks be worn by employees, students, and visitors (1) when they are inside University facilities and vehicles and (2) when they are outdoors on campus and social distancing of at least six feet is not possible. The Mandatory Masking Policy has been reviewed and approved by the UP Coronavirus Task Force (UP CTF) and is effective until further notice.

For the purposes of this policy, a face covering is defined as any cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth, and ties around the ears or the back of the head. It must be secured under the chin and fit snugly against the sides of the face. Bandanas and scarves are not acceptable.

The CDC recommends wearing face masks when people go out in public. The University of Providence supports this recommendation for the health, safety, and welfare of all persons on campus.

Individuals may remove masks only if (1) they are in their own enclosed private workspace with no one else present, (2) in their dorm room, or (3) while participating in activities in which a face mask cannot practically be worn, such as eating and drinking.

Face masks may not depict inappropriate wording or content, including (but not limited to): profanity, offensive language or symbols, nudity, drug references, etc. Those wearing such masks will be asked to leave campus.

2. Disability Accommodations Request

Face coverings are not required when:

  • A medical professional has advised that wearing a face covering may pose a health risk to the person wearing the covering or impair their breathing.
  • Wearing a face covering would create a safety risk to the person as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • The person is physically unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance.
  • The person has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.
  • The person is deaf or hard of hearing and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication.
  • Babies and toddlers under age two (2) should never wear cloth face coverings due the risk of suffocation.
  • All children ages 5 years & up should wear a face covering unless medically directed to do otherwise.

Any student wishing to request a disability-related accommodation in connection with UP’s masking policy should contact the Dean of Students. Any employee wishing to request a disability-related accommodation in connection with UP’s masking policy should contact Melanie Houge in Human Resources: Melanie.Houge@uprovidence.edu.

3. Compliance

All members of the campus community are expected to comply with this policy.  Failure to comply may result in referral of a student to the Dean of Students for potential judicial action or subject an employee to disciplinary action through their supervisor through existing disciplinary processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation.  This and other UP COVID-19 policies are subject to change at any time in UP’s sole discretion and/or consistent with updates and changes in recommendations and requirements from the CDC and other governmental authorities.

4. Employees (Faculty and Staff)

Provided Masks

The University will make masks available to employees appropriate to their on-campus responsibilities. All employees will receive one branded fabric mask placed on their desk or delivered to their areas.

Mask Re-Use and Cleaning

Fabric masks should be washed and fully dried after each day’s wear. Appropriate cleaning of the mask is the responsibility of the individual.

Removing Your Mask

Employees may remove masks when inside University facilities only (1) when alone in an enclosed room and (2) while participating in activities in which a face mask cannot practically be worn, such as eating and drinking.

5. Students

Provided Masks

The University will make masks available to students. Students may also provide their own masks that comply with this policy. Detailed instructions regarding student mask distribution are forthcoming, in coordination with the Student Engagement Department and the UP Coronavirus Task Force.

Mask Re-Use and Cleaning

Fabric masks should be washed and fully dried after each day’s wear. Appropriate cleaning of the mask is the responsibility of the individual.

University Facilities (Other than Housing)

Students may remove masks when inside University facilities only (1) when alone in an enclosed room and (2) while participating in activities in which a face mask cannot practically be worn, such as eating and drinking.

On-Campus Housing Facilities

Students are not required to wear masks in their dorm rooms, but they are strongly encouraged to do so, particularly when others are present, unless they are participating in activities in which a face mask cannot practically be worn, such as eating and drinking, bathing, or sleeping.

Note, however, that students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must notify the Dean of Students immediately and wear a mask in their dorm rooms while they wait for the test results.

Masks for Guests

Students must inform their guests that each guest must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while in University facilities, as required by this policy.  Each guest should be advised to bring their own mask. Remember that guests are not allowed in residence halls.

Accommodations for Medical Conditions

If a student indicates compliance with this Masks for Students policy is not possible due to medical reasons, the student should be referred to the Dean of Students to request an accommodation.

6. Visitors, Vendors, and Contractors

Masks for Visitors, Vendors, and Contractors

Visitors, vendors, and contractors must wear masks on campus and should be asked to bring their own. Refer to Facilities for more information

7. Special Events and Athletic Sporting Events

At this time, all in-person campus events, regardless of size, are cancelled or postponed. Masking requirements for special events and athletic sporting events will be determined by the UP Coronavirus Task Force once events resume on campus.

Keeping Work Areas Clean

Employees are required to regularly clean and sanitize high-touch work spaces and equipment through all phases of the Governor’s Reopening Plan.  All exposed hard surfaces such as work counters, tables, desks, chairs, etc. must be sanitized after each visitor.  Equipment and tool handles must be sanitized after each use.  Cleaning supplies will be provided by the Facilities department. Refer to Health & Wellness and Facilities for more information.


All non-essential work travel for University of Providence employees remains prohibited.  New employees traveling from another state or country to work at the University of Providence and employees traveling out-of-state on personal matters may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days at home and work remotely if possible and feasible prior to returning to work on campus, through Phase 2. If the Governor of Montana were to move back to Phase 1 of the reopening plan, the 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling out-of-state, or coming in from out-of-state will be mandatory. Refer to Travel for more information.


Employees are encouraged to continue to conduct meetings virtually as long as it is feasible and practical to do so through Phase 2.  When meeting in-person, group size must be limited as follows, if social distancing cannot be achieved:

Shelter in Place Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3
Meetings and gatherings are not permitted Meetings and gatherings may not exceed 10 persons Meetings and gatherings may not exceed 50 persons No limit will be enforced, however the University will continue to demonstrate caution with large groups and practice health and safety protocols with enhanced cleaning, handwashing and social distancing


COVID-19 Accommodations and Leave

Department Chairs and Supervisors are encouraged to continue to provide flexible schedules and opportunities for remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic for employees who fall under any of the following categories whenever possible and feasible while continuing business operations:

  • They are subject to a Federal, State or Local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  • They have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
  • They are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • They are caring for an individual subject to an order as described above.
  • They are caring for their child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Employees who feel they might have COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who may have COVID-19, should immediately notify their Supervisor, follow CDC recommended precautions (link is external), and stay at home (staff members may use Expanded Sick Leave through December 31, 2020) and/or make alternative work arrangements with their respective Supervisor. Children or other household members needing care cannot accompany employees into the workplace during the pandemic.

Employees who have been traced or otherwise identified as potentially being exposed or known to have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus will be required to quarantine/self-isolate for 14 days after the exposure.

Following CDC Guidelines(link is external), employees who have been diagnosed or believe that they had COVID-19 may return to work when they’ve met the following three conditions:

  1. Three (3) days with no fever, without the use of fever reducing medication,
  2. Improvement in respiratory symptoms (i.e.: coughing has stopped or breathing easier), and
  3. it has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

For employees who tested positive for COVID-19, but did not experience any symptoms, they may return to work after 10 days have passed since the test results.

Anyone who has close contact with someone with COVID-19, but has not tested positive themselves, will be required stay home for 14 days after exposure based on the time it takes to develop illness.

Return to work will include monitoring symptoms and health screenings and following CDC Guidelines for mitigating the spread of the virus(link is external).  Additionally, the University of Providence may request that employees submit a doctor’s note certifying fitness-for-duty to resume work.

High Risk Employees

The CDC has identified individuals with higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions(link is external). Employees in the identified group should consult the CDC’s extra precautions site(link is external) and consult with their healthcare provider. Employees in the high-risk groups who cannot maintain a 6’ distance from others during work and wear a face covering regularly, need to work with their Supervisor and healthcare provider to determine arrangements.

Any employee who has identified themselves as high risk for severe illness, and feels they are unable to work in the conditions provided to them, may request special work accommodations in order to successfully perform the essential duties of their position. Employees must submit an ADA accommodation request to Human Resources, who will initiate the ADA interactive process with the employee and their management to review the requested modifications. The University of Providence HR department may request that employees submit a doctor’s note certifying the medical condition requiring the need for an accommodation.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy will apply to any employee who meets the criteria for Family Medical Leave and who are unable to work remotely or need work accommodations.  As such, a healthcare provider’s certification will be required and will be submitted to Human Resources.

Prepare and Respond Should There Be a Resurgence

If the University of Providence faces closure due to a State or Federal order, the following may occur:

  • Immediate remote learning may resume.
  • Immediate remote work whenever possible and feasible while continuing business operations.  Priority consideration may be given for employees with:
    • Children impacted by school or daycare closings.
    • Who are of a vulnerable or high-risk demographic.
    • With underlying health conditions.
    • With household member who are vulnerable or with underlying health conditions.
    • Whose work is deemed conducive to remote work and who have adequate technology, as long as working remotely does not affect productivity of other employees or the business operations of the University of Providence.