University Increases Health Screening Requirements for Certain Employees

BU this week began enforcing “appropriate corrective action” with employees who don’t comply with the University’s COVID-19 testing and health screening requirements. The announcement, made in a Tuesday email to faculty and staff, also includes a change in screening requirements for employees in Categories 1, 2, and 3, per the safety protocols. 

Those employees now must complete a daily health screening every weekday, whether they come to campus or not.

“We are moving from simply tracking compliance with testing frequency and daily health screening requirements to more rigorous enforcement,” Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, and Gary Nicksa, senior vice president for operations, note in the email. “As we begin taking corrective action, please note that our primary goal is reaching full compliance with our public health protocols; taking corrective action is itself not the goal. However, corrective action is necessary in some cases to ensure we can maintain a healthy and safe campus.”

The definitions of which employees fit into each category can be found here. The exact date the new enforcement begins this week varies depending on which unit employees are in, says Kenneth Freeman, interim vice president for human resources.

For Categories 1 through 3, “Screening is not mandatory on weekends, holidays, and regularly scheduled days off, unless you will be on campus for any reason on those days,” Morrison and Nicksa write. “Any faculty or staff member exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, should indicate symptoms using the daily health screening.” 

Besides the daily health screening, Category 3 employees must be tested the first time they return to campus and once a week every subsequent time they come to campus “for all or part of a 7-day period,” the memo says. “During those 7-day periods, you are strongly encouraged to get tested on the first day you are on campus. You are not required to take a test during 7-day periods when you are not on campus at all.”

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The University has established a three-step enforcement process for violations of both the mandatory COVID testing frequency and screening protocols. A staff or faculty member who misses a required test the first time, or fails to perform the daily health screening five times, may not remain at work until they comply and will receive a written warning. A second missed test, or a sixth missed screening, triggers a leave-work-until-in-compliance order, a second written warning, and a conversation with their superior. A third missed test, or a seventh missed screening, brings additional consequences, including possible suspension or termination.

While compliance to date has been high, it hasn’t reached the University’s target. 

Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research, says that on Tuesday, October 27, the test-compliance rate for all employees exceeded 90 percent, while screening compliance was at least 85 percent, and for most employee categories, better than 90 percent. “Our ultimate goal is to have at least 95 percent compliance every day,” Waters says.

Wednesday saw faculty and staff test-compliance hit 95 percent or greater, while screening compliance was 93 percent-plus, she says.

“We really appreciate the tremendous effort that faculty and staff are making to comply with the requirements for daily attestation and ensuring that they test with the cadence dictated by their testing category,” she says. 

More appointments at University testing sites will be made available to redress a shortage of availability at some, the memo from Morrison and Nicksa says. 

Category 4 employees are to remain off campus at all times and are not eligible for on-campus testing. 

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The email also reminds faculty and staff of the importance of treating those working at test sites with appropriate consideration. 

“It is critical that we treat the testing site employees with respect,” the memo says. “We know it is a stressful time for everyone; however, several unfortunate interactions have taken place that have prompted the need for this important reminder.”

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