COVID-19 Policies and FAQ for Employees

Last updated Sept. 10, 2021

This website summarizes the current college policies in response to COVID-19. Together, these public health measures have been shown to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and increase the health and safety of the community. Employees must also familiarize themselves with the Bates College Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan which contains more detailed information. All employees are required to follow all public health policies. Failure to comply with these policies will result in progressive discipline.

Vaccination Policy

Bates College requires that every employee disclose their vaccination status. Bates encourages every employee to be vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees may be subject to additional policy requirements depending on the level of transmission within the college or the community. 

Currently, unvaccinated individuals must:

  • Wear a mask everywhere on campus — indoors and outdoors; and
  • Participate in required COVID-19 testing.

As of September 10, 2021, approximately 98 percent of the Bates campus community has been fully vaccinated.

Vaccination Policy FAQs

How do I disclose my vaccination status?

To update your vaccine status, simply login to Garnet Gateway, select “COVID-19 Immunization Status” from the To-do list, and indicate your status. If you are vaccinated, you will be asked to upload a photo of your vaccine card. If you are having trouble logging into Garnet Gateway or uploading your card, please contact Mike Milliken (mmillike@bates.edu or 207-753-6936) in Human Resources for assistance. You may return to update the information if your status changes.

My vaccination status has changed since I first reported it. Can I update it?

Yes. To update your vaccine status, simply login to Garnet Gateway, select “COVID-19 Immunization Status” from the To-do list, and indicate your status. If you are vaccinated, you will be asked to upload a photo of your vaccine card. If you are having trouble logging into Garnet Gateway or uploading your card, please contact Mike Milliken (mmillike@bates.edu or 207-753-6936) Human Resources for assistance.

What if I do not want to disclose my vaccination status?

College policy requires all employees, regardless of employment status, to disclose whether they are: (1) unvaccinated; (2) in the process of being vaccinated; or (3) fully vaccinated. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in progressive discipline, beginning with a three-day unpaid suspension. If after that time, you still refuse to comply, you will be placed on unpaid suspension for one week. Continued non-compliance will result in termination.

What do I do if I do not want to get vaccinated?

While the college encourages every employee to be vaccinated, you are not required to do so.  Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask everywhere on campus—indoors and outdoors. They will also be required to participate in COVID-19 testing. Should there be an outbreak of cases on campus or in the local community, other policies or practices may be put in place for unvaccinated employees.

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

You are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after either your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. These vaccines have all received the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization.

If I am unvaccinated, may I simply work remotely?

Not necessarily. Decisions about remote work are not tied to an individual’s vaccination status. Given the breadth of services offered at the college and the multiple ways in which they are delivered, departmental managers have the discretion to determine whether their team members are eligible for remote work and, if so, the nature of that arrangement.  Individuals who desire to work remotely should discuss this with their supervisor.

Employees who are unvaccinated because of a serious underlying health condition may request an accommodation. Employees should contact Hope Burnell (hburnell@bates.edu or 207-786-8388) in Human Resources to begin the interactive process to discuss possible reasonable accommodations.   

All discussions about possible accommodations must include a representative from Human Resources, the employee, and the employee’s manager. Every accommodation situation requires an individualized assessment of the employee’s medical situation and the essential functions of their position. The college may request and obtain medical certification from the employee’s health care provider to assist in exploring an appropriate accommodation plan.

Additional information for individuals who are at high risk can be found here.

Masking Policy

All Bates community members, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must wear a mask while indoors on campus and at Bates-sponsored off-campus programs. The limited exceptions to this requirement are: when seated and eating in Commons or the Den, or while eating at a college-catered event (though masks will be required while entering these spaces or when procuring food) and when alone in private offices. In addition, students and live-in Residence Life staff will be allowed to remove face coverings in residence halls. 

Those individuals who are unvaccinated will be required to wear masks at all times on campus —both indoors and outdoors.

Masking Policy FAQs

I am not vaccinated. When do I need to wear a mask?

Those individuals who are unvaccinated will be required to wear masks at all times on campus—both indoors and outdoors.

I am in the process of getting fully vaccinated (I have received the first of two doses or am in the 14-day window following my second dose), when do I need to wear a mask?

For the safety of the entire community, individuals who are not fully vaccinated will need to wear a mask at all times on campus until they are fully vaccinated.

I share an office and all of us are vaccinated. Can we remove our masks when in the office?

Unfortunately, no. Individuals must wear masks in all shared spaces.

I am holding a meeting and everyone attending is vaccinated. If everyone agrees, can we remove our masks?

No. Not everyone may be comfortable being in a group of people without masks and it may be difficult to speak up about these concerns. The policy is designed to protect the well-being of all community members. Individuals cannot agree to disregard it.

I forgot my mask or need assistance getting one. Is there a place on campus to get a mask?

Bates will provide access to masks for all employees, as needed, and they may be issued as part of one’s uniform in certain departments.  If you need a face covering, contact your supervisor/manager or EHS. The college expects that you will clean and maintain your face covering properly, in accordance with CDC Recommendations and bring it to campus for daily use. 

COVID-19 Testing Policy

COVID-19 testing is required for unvaccinated faculty and staff. Vaccinated employees who work closely with others on campus may elect to participate in testing.

Current Testing Information:

Faculty and staff are invited to participate in testing on September 16, 23, and 30Faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated must test on each of these days.

This testing will use a pooled testing approach with the Broad Institute. Initial samples will be tested in groups of ten using PCR tests. Should a pool indicate the presence of COVID-19, all individuals in that pool will be required to test again using antigen testing to determine which individual(s) are positive for the virus. Additional information about pooled testing can be found here.

Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not come to campus.  Please contact your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms and possible testing.

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

Who is required to be tested for COVID-19?

All unvaccinated employees are required to test for COVID-19. The next dates for testing are: September 16, 23, and 30. The college may require additional testing based on rates of COVID-19 transmission at the college or in the local community.

What happens if I am unvaccinated and I refuse to be tested for COVID-19?

Individuals who are unvaccinated and refuse to be tested for COVID-19 will be subject to progressive disciplinary action, starting with a three-day suspension and escalating to termination.

How do I schedule a COVID-19 test?

Those individuals who are required to test and those interested in optional testing should register for a testing time. Please take a moment today to log into Garnet Gateway to schedule your time. 

  1. Once you log into Garnet Gateway, on the home screen you will find that on your “To-Do” column on the left hand side is “Bates Campus COVID-19 Testing Appointments.” Click on this link.  
  2. You will then be brought to a schedule where you can choose from a list of appointment times. 
    • To register for a testing time, select the time block you want. Your selection will be highlighted in blue and saved automatically. 
    • Your selections will appear next to the schedule in a box in the top right labeled Your Test Times. Your registration is complete. Please check to be sure you have scheduled yourself for an appropriate testing time.

Access to sign up for your testing time will be available on Friday, September 10, and will continue to be available until 4:00 a.m. on the day of testing. (i.e. if you are trying to schedule testing for Thursday, September 16, the window to select a testing time will close at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 16)

Where can I find more information about pooled testing?

If you have questions about pooled testing you can find additional information here.

Self-Monitoring and COVID-19 Related Absences

Bates requires all employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and remain at home if they are sick.  Employees who experience the onset of symptoms while at work are required to notify their manager and Human Resources, and leave the workplace.

  • Positive COVID-19 Tests
    • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are required to report the diagnosis to Human Resources (HRCovid@bates.edu or 207-795-5100) and their department head within 24 hours. Similarly, employees are required to report to Human Resources if they receive an order from a state or local public health agency directing them to self-quarantine. All records regarding the diagnosis and report to Human Resources will be maintained as a confidential medical record.
  • Infected Employee Quarantine and Timeline Assistance
    • Bates will work with the CDC to determine the timeline of when infected individuals have been in the workplace, determine close contacts of infected individuals when in the workplace, and if feasible, ask close contacts to self-quarantine as appropriate per current CDC recommendations. We expect these situations to be limited, as vaccinated individuals are not directed to quarantine when identified as close contacts; rather, vaccinated close contacts are directed to self-monitor for symptoms. Employees are expected to cooperate with the college in determining the timeline of presence in the office and assessing close contacts.
  • Pandemic Sick Bank
    • A Pandemic Paid Sick Leave Policy was implemented effective July 1, 2020 to ensure that all staff employees eligible for leave have paid time off specifically for COVID-19 absences. The details of this policy are available on the HR website and should be reviewed by all employees.
  • Returning to Work After a Positive COVID-19 Test
    • Employees are required to follow CDC guidance regarding discontinuing home isolation. Employees are also required to contact Human Resources to certify compliance with this requirement before returning to work.  Please reach out to Human Resources if you have questions.

Visitor and Event Policy

No guests or outside visitors, except for intercollegiate athletic team members, guest speakers, and performers hosted by a college office or an academic department, may enter Bates buildings.  Further information about visitor policies can be found here.

Events on campus are currently restricted to Bates faculty, staff and students.  Events should be held outdoors whenever possible.  More detail about event policies can be found here.

Employee Travel Policy

Employees may travel domestically, using the regular approval procedures.  International travel must be reviewed and approved by the relevant Vice President and will only be approved in exceptional circumstances.

Miscellaneous Public Health FAQs

What is the vaccination rate on campus?

As of Sept. 10, 2021, approximately 98 percent of the Bates campus community has been fully vaccinated. We expect that number to continue to rise.

How does the college determine its public health policies?

The college bases its public health policies on science and data. We regularly consult with public health and clinical experts, including the Maine CDC. The policies are developed to provide for the well-being of the entire community as we live, learn, and work together.

What do I do if I have a serious health concern that might affect my safety on campus?

Employees who are at high risk for developing complications associated with COVID-19 due to an underlying health condition may request an accommodation. Employees should contact Hope Burnell (hburnell@bates.edu or 207-786-8388) in Human Resources to begin the interactive process to discuss possible reasonable accommodations. 

All discussions about possible accommodations must include a representative from Human Resources, the employee, and the employee’s manager. Every accommodation situation requires an individualized assessment of the employee’s medical situation and the essential functions of their position. The college may request and obtain medical certification from the employee’s health care provider to assist in exploring an appropriate accommodation plan.

Additional information for individuals who are at high risk can be found here.