Updated September 20, 2022

UWSA Human Resources has updated the COVID-19 guidance for employees based on the latest revised U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. See below for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on revised testing and isolation time frames, notification procedures, and other changes.

1) Is COVID-19 still a concern?

COVID-19 continues to be a public health concern for both Wisconsin and the United States.  Newer variants have shown an ability to reinfect people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.  This fact notwithstanding, vaccination does mitigate symptoms and is still proving highly effective at preventing hospitalization or death as a result of COVID-19 infection.

2) Is testing still required for unvaccinated employees?

The CDC has determined testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures is no longer recommended in most community settings.  As a result, and in accordance with guidance from Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local public health, UWSA is no longer requiring routine testing for employees.  However, if needed, UWSA will make rapid testing kits available at each worksite.

3) Are masks required in the workplace?

Masks are not required on a day-to-day basis but are welcome in the workplace.  Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 will be required to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days after the date of their possible exposure, per CDC guidance.

4) Is vaccination required for UWSA employees?

No.  UWSA does not require its employees to be vaccinated at this time.

5) What should I do if I believe I have COVID-19?

Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19. You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results.  If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 you should get tested for COVID-19 immediately.

If your test is negative, you may end your isolation.  If your test is positive, you should follow the instructions provided in Question #6.

6) What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

If your results are positive, follow the CDC’s isolation guidance below. You must notify your supervisor of your positive test and inform your supervisor of any close contacts in the workplace. Your supervisor will inform HR so that each close contact can be confidentially informed and advised of next steps.

When you have COVID-19, the isolation period is counted in days, as follows:

If you had no symptoms, you must isolate for at least 5 days:

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result).
  • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested.
  • If you do not develop symptoms, you may end your isolation after Day 5.  You must continue to wear a high-quality mask until Day 10.
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of when you were tested, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day of symptom onset.  This will restart your isolation requirement.

If you had symptoms:

    • Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive.
    • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started.
    • If your symptoms abate (no active symptoms, no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication) you may end your isolation after Day 5.  You must continue to wear a high-quality mask until Day 10.
    • If your symptoms continue, remain in isolation until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.  You must wear a high-quality mask for 5 days after you end your isolation.
    • If you experience moderate or severe illness (difficulty breathing or hospitalization) or if you have a weakened immune system, you must isolate for a minimum of 10 days regardless of symptom status.
    • If you require hospitalization, you must continue to isolate until you get a negative COVID viral test.

7) Is UWSA still doing contact tracing for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19?

Yes.  If you test positive for COVID-19, you should alert your supervisor.  Your supervisor will contact HR, who will notify individuals with whom you may have had contact.  You will not be personally identified as having been infected with COVID-19 during this notification process.

8) What is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, created when someone talks, coughs or sneezes. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you could get sick. Learn more about what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 {above}.

9) Do I need to quarantine if I have been exposed to COVID-19? What should I do if I receive notice that I may have been exposed to COVID-19?

The current CDC guidance does not require quarantine for asymptomatic individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.  Instead, you should start wearing a well-fitting high-quality mask as soon as you find out you were exposed.  You should wear the mask for 10 full days following the date of your exposure.

Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.  If you start to experience symptoms, you must isolate immediately and get tested.  If you do not develop symptoms, you should get tested at least 5 days after your initial exposure.  If you test positive, follow the guidance in Question #6.  If you test negative, continue wearing a high-quality mask through day 10.  Remain watchful for symptoms and if any develop, promptly get tested again.

10) Will UWSA be providing free COVID-19 testing?

In most cases, testing will be free, or covered by your health insurance provider.  UWSA will have rapid testing kits available at each worksite.  Employees can also be tested at a community testing center, by their health care provider, and at many pharmacies.  You may also purchase at-home tests in many pharmacies and grocery stores.

11) Will UWSA provide masks?

UWSA will have a supply of various masks available for employees. If an employee uses an N-95 respirator as a face covering/mask, the employee needs to take certain precautions to be sure that the respirator itself does not present a hazard. See additional information about respirator hazards.

12) Should I attend work if I am sick?

No, do not go to work if you are feeling ill. If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, stay home except to get tested so you don’t spread the virus to others if you are positive for COVID-19. Stay home as you wait for your test results.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should follow the CDC’s guidance for isolation (see Question #6 above).

13) Can an employee be sent home or required to get a COVID test if they display symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes.  If an employee displays COVID-19 symptoms, a supervisor may direct the employee to isolate and not return to the workplace until they have obtained a COVID-19 test.  An employee who tests positive for COVID-19 may be ordered to isolate in accordance with CDC guidelines.  If a supervisor sends an employee home under these circumstances, supervisors are encouraged to provide employees with tests that are available at each work location.

14) If an employee stays home to prevent the spread of illness but feels well enough to work, can they work remotely?

Employees are strongly encouraged to use their sick leave rather than work remotely, to ensure the employee can rest and recover from illness.  However, if you have a need to work (e.g., urgent deadline) and you feel well enough to do so, you may work remotely if you receive approval from your supervisor.

15) What can I do if I have to care for a family member with COVID?

UW System Administrative Policy 1212 allows the use of Sick Leave to care for an immediate family member infected or exposed to COVID-19 for up to 10 consecutive workdays, with additional sick time available upon approval by the employee’s supervisor.  Employees may also substitute other types of paid leave for sick leave.

16) What can I do if my child’s school or daycare is closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak?

UW System Administrative Policy 1212 allows the use of Sick Leave to care for a child whose school or day care has been closed as a result of a public health emergency.  Up to 10 sick days may be used for this purpose upon certification of the school or daycare closure.

17) Is special leave available if I contract COVID-19?

No.  The special paid COVID-19 Leave that was part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on 12/31/2020.

18) I have a disability or underlying medical condition as identified by the CDC that puts me at greater risk of serious illness and I am concerned about being in the office. What can I do?

If you have specific concerns related to a medical condition/disability, please talk to Derek Allen (derek.allen@uwss.wisconsin.edu), human resources compliance officer, in the Office of Human Resources, about an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

19) I am a supervisor and one of my direct reports has notified me that they tested positive for COVID-19. Who in HR should I notify?

If one of your direct reports has notified you that they tested positive for COVID-19, notify Michael (Mike) Kent, policy and compliance analyst, at mkent@uwsa.edu so that each close contact can be confidentially informed and advised of next steps.