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Returning to Campus: Faculty and Staff FAQs

Updated September 22, 2021, 3:15 p.m.

See below for answers to employees' frequently asked questions about the College's return-to-campus plans. If you have a question or concern that is not addressed here, email HRSTM@montgomerycollege.edu

Facilities, Classrooms, and Workspaces 

What physical safety protocols has the College put in place?

  • Plexiglass installation in designated locations 
  • COVID-19 specific established cleaning protocols 
  • Sanitizing stations

How frequently will Facilities be cleaning offices, workspaces, and classrooms? 
Facilities enhanced cleaning standards includes frequent daily cleaning of all common campus spaces multiple times per day. Keeping our work and learning spaces clean and sanitized is a responsibility shared by all members of the College community. Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizing stations will be provided for self-service in between classes or throughout the workday.   

Are we going to receive personal protective equipment (PPE) for all classes/students/employees from Facilities or should each department order them? 
Yes. Upon request, Facilities will have gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer for employees of the College community. Masks are available for all who need them and available at the Public Safety office on each campus and the CT building. 

How will we be provided with PPE by Facilities? Are employees supposed to contact Facilities? 
Requests for PPE should first be sent to your department supervisor for evaluation. Upon approval, department supervisor or designee can submit the PPE request to the Facilities Service Desknew window. For off-site locations, such as the Community Engagement Centers and Gaithersburg Training Center, PPE can be picked up from the closest/preferred campus.   

Do College buildings meet airflow and air filtration guidelines required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as it relates to airborne transmission of the virus?
Yes, Facilities follows the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are the authority bodies and are often referenced in building codes. The CDC recommends a layered approach to reduce exposure. In addition to ventilation improvements, the layered approach includes physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and vaccination. OSHA recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and align with the CDC.

Are there any buildings that will not be used due to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)?   
On August 2, all buildings on each campus will be open and available for occupancy. If your office location is not in use, you will be informed by your supervisor and provided instruction on where to report to work.  

Are there changes being made to the ventilation systems in the older buildings? 
Yes, Facilities has made several modifications to its HVAC systems as per the guidance of the CDC. In addition to ventilation improvements, the CDC recommends a layered approach that includes physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and vaccination. 

What changes were made to the buildings HVAC to improve the ventilation? 
Facilities has modified its systems to: 1) increase the introduction of outdoor air;  2) rebalance and adjust systems to increase the total airflow to occupied spaces; 3) increase the filtration replacement cycle; and 4) increase run time for all HVAC equipment. 

Did Facilities do a study on the buildings’ HVAC systems? 
Yes. Facilities hired third party companies to conduct studies of the HVAC systems in several buildings on each campus. The data gathered is being used to help prioritize plans for future upgrades.

Will there be Plexiglass dividers between the cubicles?
In an effort to provide employees with a safe environment when returning to onsite operations, installation of plexiglass dividers is underway in certain locations where employees face or interact with the general public (i.e., cashier window, library desk, security check-in desk). In most instances, plexiglass dividers between cubicles may not be necessary given employee seating assignments and/or scheduling rotations. Department supervisors that require additional risk assessment of an area can contact the appropriate Facilities Director for further guidance on plexiglass dividers:
Ali Fadl – Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus (TP/SS)
Maurice McCambley  – Germantown Campus (GT)
James Gillis  – Rockville Campus (RV) and Central Administration (CT) 

If I am in the medically vulnerable category, can I be placed in an office that has not been assigned to anyone?
All departments and buildings have different floor plans and workspaces, including contained offices. Requests to utilize empty office space will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and supervisors will work with employees to find the best possible solution. Employees may be required to provide medical documentation supporting the request.  Please see Return-to-Campus Exemption Information and contact Rowena D’Souza in HRSTM for guidance. She will work with the employee and the supervisor to determine appropriate solutions. 

Can managers and supervisors let staff use their office for those who sit in cubicles?
It is not advisable to have people sharing workspaces at this time. Staggered and rotating schedules have been put in place to provide adequate social distancing. Putting staff in other employees' offices creates issues of people moving personal items and access to records, etc.

Will I have to wear a mask at work all day? 

Effective Monday, August 2, face coverings (masks) are required for all individuals (employees, students, contractors, and guests) who are indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. The College has reinstituted the mask requirement following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in consultation with MC’s Return-to-Campus Advisory Committee. See Health and Safety Procedures for more information.

If an employee has a certifiable medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they should reach out to Rowena D’Souza in HRSTM for guidance.

If I cannot eat and drink at my desk, where can I eat and drink? 
There will be designated spaces to eat indoors, and spaces will be available for employees to eat outdoors. 

Will the water fountains be operating?  How about coffee machines, refrigerators, and microwave ovens?
At this time, the water fountains will not be operational. However, there are filtered water dispensers that can be used to fill personal water bottles brought from home. Contact your respective Campus Facilities Help Desk should you need guidance on the location of these filtered water dispensers.

All open area/shared break room coffee machines, refrigerators, and microwave ovens will be available for employee use. Facilities enhanced cleaning protocols focusing on high touch surfaces. Additionally, hand sanitizing stations and wipes will be available in these locations for self-help cleaning before and after use.

Will the cafeterias and food services be available on the campuses? What about vending machines?
The College is diligently working to have vending machines stocked and available for the gradual return of our employees. We anticipate a late summer reopening of the cafes and the onboarding of our food and beverage provider, Metz.

Can indoor facilities rentals resume? 
Indoor facilities rentals and community use can resume beginning August 2, 2021. Capacity limits will be dictated by evolving Montgomery County DHHS restrictions and RTCAT guidance. 

Will the Montgomery College Shuttle be running?   
Yes, the shuttle will resume service on the first day of classes, August 30. The schedule will be determined based on need and may increase frequency as in-person classes are added. 

When will the offices be open to serve students face-to-face? 
The campuses and buildings will be open beginning August 2. Most offices will continue to offer virtual services in combination with face-to-face services with limited hours or by appointments. Please check Student Services for information on each department or office's service options and hours. 

Health Safety and Compliance

How does the College determine its health and safety protocols?  
The College's decisions are informed by subject matter experts through the Return-to-Campus Advisory Team, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Will all employees have to complete the self-assessment every day?
Prior to coming to campus, all employees are required to complete the Daily COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment (accessible via the link in the blue bar at the top of this website) and should keep the information with them while onsite. Employees do not have to complete the self-assessment if they are not on campus/work location.

Will temperature checks be done when employees report to work?
While COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County remain low, there will not be temperature checks for employees or students on campus. However, it is possible this could change should local infection rates increase.

What if an employee reports to work and, while they are at work, develop symptoms such as a sore throat and cough?
Employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should notify their supervisor and leave work immediately and contact their healthcare provider for guidance.

What should I do if I am concerned about the health of a co-worker?
If an employee is concerned about the health of co-worker, they should report the concern to their supervisor.

Even though I am fully vaccinated, I could still get COVID from a co-worker who has not been vaccinated. I could then transmit it to my children who are too young to get the vaccine. What can you do to address my concerns?
To address this concern the College has put in place a number of safety protocols to include daily health checks, sanitary stations, and plexiglass installation in designated locations.

Even if you have been fully vaccinated, it is important that you follow these protocols to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
  • Watch out for symptoms of COVID-19new window, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get testednew window and stay homenew window and away from others.
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautionsnew window to prevent COVID-19.

My colleague has shared with me that they are not vaccinated.  Even though I have received the vaccine, I do not want to work near them for fear of contracting COVID-19.  Can I continue to work remotely? 
Under the current CDC guidancenew window, vaccinated individuals are at low risk for transmitting or contracting COVID-19, even gathering indoors with unvaccinated individuals. The CDC states that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing—except where required by law/rule/workplace guidance. Simply put, if you are vaccinated, you have the best individual protection available.  

There is no indication that vaccinated individuals should avoid unvaccinated individuals; on the contrary, the CDC indicates that vaccinated individuals can largely resume normal activities. 

I would feel safer if I knew that the people I work closely with are vaccinated. For scheduling purposes (or any reason) can I ask my team to create a list of people who are vaccinated?
The vaccination choice of an employee should not be a topic of discussion in the workplace. Furthermore, scheduling around an unvaccinated teammate is not appropriate at this time. Scheduling decisions should be made based on the protocols in place at the College for all employees and the operational needs of the unit, not vaccination status. 

What should I do if I notice someone violating the onsite work requirements and/or health and safety protocols?
Initial attempts in addressing violations of College safety protocols should be made by the supervisor. If the employee repeatedly refuses to follow safety protocols, the supervisor should send an email to HRSTM@montgomerycollege.edu

If there is a large group gathering that is not practicing social distancing for an extended period of time, and it is not clear which supervisor to call, please report to the Public Safety Dispatch Center at X7-3333.

How will repeated violations of safety protocols be addressed by the College? 
Employees should communicate with their supervisors regarding concerns for the same repeated safety violations. If the concern or violation is not immediately addressed, the supervisor should report repeated violations to the Office of Human Resources and Strategic Talent Management (HRSTM) by sending an email to HRSTM@montgomerycollege.edu.

Are contractors and delivery people required to follow the same protocols as employees and who makes sure the protocols are enforced?  Whom do we notify if we observe violations? 
Yes, contractors and campus visitors are required to follow the same safety protocols as Montgomery College employees. It is the responsibility of employees to report any safety protocol violations to their supervisor and/or Public Safety. If an employee is required to interact with a contractor and they feel uncomfortable, the employee should move away and notify their supervisor.  

Work Conditions: Remote Work and Telecommute/Telework

I am confused. What is the difference between “remote work” and “telework?” I thought they were the same thing.
Remote work is when an employee performs their job at a remote work site as their primary work location on a routine basis. In most cases, the remote work site is the employee’s home, and they will not have a dedicated office or workspace on campus (onsite).

Telework (also known as telecommute) allows an employee to work away from their main, onsite work location for part of their authorized work schedule. Often, a telework (telecommute) employee will work onsite some days and will work from home other days.

  • On August 2, 2021, mandated emergency remote status ended.  The College suspended voluntary remote work and is not approving any remote requests at this time. All staff employees are required to work on site at least two days a week. 
  • Beginning on June 1, 2021, the College transitioned to an expanded use of situational telework (telecommute) schedules. This meant that employees were required to work part of their work schedule onsite and part of their schedule from home/alternate site.
  • Beginning March 14, 2020, a majority of the College’s employees were under mandated remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means they were required to work offsite as the result of an emergency situation involving health or safety mandates.

According to the memo (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) , employees must return to work two days per week starting August 2. Is it two full days or 16 hours per week which could be spread over up to full five days of the week?
On-campus scheduling will be determined by departmental supervisors and managers based on the needs of the unit. The schedule should be developed to ensure service delivery standards are met while also meeting requirements for staggered or rotating shifts that allow for health and safety protocols compliance.

What are the key differences between July 6 "rotating shifts" and the August 2 requirement of two days per week? Can you give an example of the senior leadership's vision of this differentiation?   
Beginning July 6, all offices, units, and service areas will begin to bring staff onsite with staggered and/or rotating shifts. Employees may return for up to two days a week on a voluntary basis. Beginning August 2, employees will be required to work onsite for at least two days per week.  All offices, units, and service areas will have in place a schedule and staffing levels to ensure 100% access to support, services, and operations.  It is important to note that some onsite services will require appointments or will continue to be offered virtually.   

The return-to-campus plan states that all offices, units, and service areas will have a staffing plan in place to assure 100% access to support services and operations. Will student services such as Financial Aid and Disability Support Services remain by appointment only for the fall, or are these offices going to be fully staffed? 
Student Affairs will begin a gradual structured return to campus (worksite) starting July 6 for employees who want to work onsite.  They will continue to offer virtual services during this time.  Student Affairs will begin to offer limited, in-person services by appointment only in August.  Staffing plans and schedules will provide 100% access to support services and operations in a hybrid (virtual and limited in-person services) model for the fall.  Additional details will be made available on the Return to Campus: Plans and Guidelines webpage in early July.  

Do part-time staff employees need to return two full days per week, or can they return one full day per week?  
The two-day requirement is based on full-time schedules. For part-time employees, a different approach may make more sense based on the needs of unit. For example: one nine-hour day a week or two four-hour days a week. Part-time employees should consult with their supervisors regarding their schedule. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring the unit’s schedule meets the mandate for staggered or rotating shifts that allow for health and safety protocol compliance.   

Can supervisors ask employees to report on campus more than 2 days a week if needed to accomplish work that cannot be done remotely?
Yes, as the requirement is for at least two days per week. If work cannot be performed virtually, employees may be required to be on campus as needed. Many units have been on campus regularly over the last year such as Public Safety, Facilities, and IT.  

Why must I return to on-site work if I am able to perform all the duties of my position remotely?  What is the rationale for the decision? 
Over the last 16 months, many employees were able to successfully manage remote work because the majority of employees were also working remotely and were working under similar circumstances. However, the College has an obligation to our students and our community to begin providing onsite, face-to-face services for students who learn and interact more effectively this way. Over the next several months, the College will be working in a hybrid model with some employees rotating their schedules by teleworking and working onsite each week. 

Hybrid operations will bring their own complexities and challenges to the workplace. Therefore, it is essential that the College complete a full service delivery evaluation and analysis, before any major policy changes around work locations are made.  This work will be done as part of the College’s Strategic Workforce Planning Project that is currently underway .  

I have an underlying medical condition that prohibits me from being vaccinated and makes me vulnerable. Will I be allowed to continue to work from home a little longer?
The College recognizes that there may be circumstances that prohibit an employee from returning to onsite work at this time. Employees seeking an exemption to in-person work due to medical and religious practices should follow the steps outlined in the return-to-campus exemption information

If an employee filled out the form for vulnerable population status earlier in the pandemic, do they need to reapply? Or will that still be considered in effect? 
Yes, employees who submitted a vulnerable person disclosure in the past will need to recertify.  With the significant increase in vaccinations and the substantial decrease in transmissions, the CDC has changed the guidelines for certain vulnerabilities.  See the most current information on county vaccination and transmission ratesnew window, the latest CDC guidance for fully vaccinated peoplenew window, and further CDC guidancenew window.

Under the latest guidance, not all those who identified as vulnerable last year will be considered vulnerable now, which is an encouraging development in the fight against the coronavirus.  If you have a concern about your vulnerability after reading the latest CDC guidance, you can submit your inquiries to Rowena D’Souza.  

Get Vaccinated

Montgomery College requires COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees and students. Employees must submit proof of vaccination by November 8 and students must submit proof of vaccination by January 7. Please check email often for updates, and information about vaccines, testing, and exemptions.

Campus Vaccination and Testing Sites

  • Rockville: Counseling and Advising Building (CB). Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to students, staff, and the general public. Walk-ins welcome; appointments availablenew window.
  • Takoma Park/Silver Spring: ST Building, 1st floor. Open Thursdays to students, staff, and the general public. Next clinic: September 30, time TBD. Walk-ins only.
  • Germantown: Details coming soon.

Text your ZIP code to 438829 to receive a list of vaccine locations nearest to you. En Español: Envíe su código postal por mensaje de texto al número 822862 para recibir una lista de los centros de vacunación más cercanos a usted.

I thought I would not have to work onsite until the fall. I have not made childcare arrangements for the summer and there are limited options available. What recourse do I have? 
As with medical conditions, the College recognizes that there may be personal circumstances that prohibit an employee from returning to onsite work at this time. Employees seeking an exemption to in-person work due to childcare needs should send an inquiry to HRSTM@montgomerycollege.edu.

Will we return to remote work if the COVID-19 numbers change for the worse?
The College continuously monitors the county, state, and national health metrics. If the metrics deteriorate to a point that there is a concern for the health and safety of employees and students, the College will make appropriate changes to schedules and/or operations.

Some employees have jobs that require them to attend in-person meetings or events offsite of the campus or their work location. Do those days/hours count as “onsite” work?
Yes. If part of an employee’s job responsibilities includes attending in-person events, visits, and outreach in other college or county locations, that does count as time worked "onsite."

How are scheduling decisions being made?
Supervisors will work with staff to develop schedules that best support students and the needs of the business unit. Supervisors are required to submit their plans and obtain the approval of their administrator/SVP to ensure that schedules are fair and align with the guidelines set forth in the return to campuses (onsite work) memo (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) .  

What should an employee do if they moved away from the DC/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area based on the assumption that they would be able to continue remote work indefinitely?  
The College required most employees to work remotely as a health and safety precaution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not the College’s intention to continue employees as regular, full-time remote workers. All employees are expected to report to work in person as required by their supervisor based on department needs and in alignment with the guidelines set forth in the return to campuses (onsite work) memo (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) .

 While the College’s Flexible Work Arrangements Policies and Procedures (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) allow for remote work opportunities (32500CP, II, H), those locations within the US are limited to the state of Maryland and those states where the College has reciprocal payroll tax agreements.

 If you have relocated outside of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, please contact Lisa Evans in the Office of Human Resources and Strategic Talent Management for guidance.

I have a lot of accumulated leave. If I do not want to return to work on campus, can I use my leave to stay home? 
The use of leave to avoid working on-site—without an actual illness or symptom outlined in the daily health assessment—is not an appropriate use of leave.  Use of leave in lieu of reporting to work on-site will cause workload and service delivery issues and creates inequities among employees within a department or unit. 

We have been told that we can bring student employment back on campus.  As prior to COVID, is there going to be HRSTM representation on campus to support I-9 and other employment paperwork completion?
Yes, the HRICs will have on-campus hours and a schedule for additional support will be published in July. Please note that new hire paperwork can be completed fully online except for I-9 verification. HRSTM highly recommends using this option as it is convenient and efficient for the student.  

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