HR COVID Response: FAQs

» Message & Basic Facts  |  » FAQs  |  » Videos

COVID-19 Response: FAQs

The answers to these FAQs may change as situations evolve. 

If you have questions, contact HR Director Christy Luper by email or call 405.533.8429.

FAQs: Employee-Focused

Q0. What does “don’t come to work sick” mean? 

  • If you have symptoms of a contagious illness (fever, chills, body aches, stomach issues, cough, etc.), you cannot come to work. The City provides sick leave to ensure that you are able to stay home when ill. By staying home, you protect your co-workers and their families from possible exposure to illness while they are at work. Be the good co-worker.

  • Also, did you know with COVID-19 that you are contagious two days before you have symptoms? This is another reason that the six-foot rule for socially distancing is important. Help keep everyone well. Wear a face covering, wash hand and respect the six-foot rule.

Q1. When can I come back to work after being sick with a non-COVID illness?

  • Resolution of fever for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and

  • Improvement in symptoms

Q2. I’m not sick, why do I have to keep six feet apart from my co-workers?

  • With COVID-19 (and other illness) you may contagious at least two days before you show symptoms. This means you may spread COVID-19 (and other illnesses) before you know you are sick. By strictly following the six-feet guideline you will decrease the number of people you have close contact with—and could potentially make ill. Remember: wear a face covering, wash your hands, six-feet rule, call instead of visiting face-to-face. Reduce the spread.

Q3. What happens when I run out of sick leave?

  • If you have concerns about running out of leave, contact your supervisor. The Family Medical Leave Act may apply depending on individual circumstances.

Q4. What does Families First provide for? Can I use it?

  • City of Stillwater employees (full-time and part-time) are potentially eligible for Families First Act, if they have been employed for at least 30 days prior to leave request. Families First provides you with paid leave if you are being tested, isolated, quarantined, or caring for someone being isolated or quarantined all due to COVID-19, or if your child’s school/daycare is closed due to COVID-19. Contact Human Resources about your situation. See Families First for details.

Click image to enlarge.

Q5. Which kind of leave will be used for my situation: Emergency Declaration leave or sick leave?

  • Emergency declaration leave is for:

    • an employee whose doctor believes they may have symptoms indicative of COVID-19 and has advised them to isolate or quarantine;

    • an employee who is waiting on COVID-19 test results and has been advised to isolate or quarantine;

    • an employee who is a close contact of a confirmed positive or person who is waiting for test results due to the symptoms.

  • Sick leave is for:

    • general illness that is not COVID-related. If you test negative for COVID-19 and you still don’t feel well, you will use sick leave starting after the test.

    • Pre-surgery COVID-19 testing. If employees need a COVID-19 test due to a surgery, they will need to take sick leave.

If an employee meets the criteria, emergency declaration leave is paid for two weeks. If they need more than two weeks, they will need to take sick leave.

If an employee meets the criteria (and needs time beyond the initial two weeks) and was exposed through a contact at work,  they will be allowed emergency declaration leave.

If an employee meets the criteria (and needs time beyond the initial two weeks) and was exposed outside of work,  they will need to take sick leave.

Q6. Why can’t every position in the City work remotely?

  • Employee safety is our number one priority followed by citizen service. We can’t provide service if our employees are not safe. While we understand that some work can be performed remotely, there are also a number of hurdles to a remote workforce. Availability of resources, disruption in communications and availability, impact to team members and the distractions of working from home all have to be considered. Also, since local government is funded through taxes (unlike private businesses), residents expect to have access to city employees. If there is a request to work remotely due to a COVID 19 situation, you should visit with your supervisor and department head who will work with Human Resources to consider the request.

Q7. What does it mean to be a close contact and how do I know if that’s me?

  • Close contact is a co-worker that you’ve been within 6 feet of for at least 15 minutes, even while wearing a mask. When we have employees going off-work due to symptoms, testing or positive results, we will ask them for a list of everyone at work they have been in contact with since they were symptomatic as well as the two days prior to symptoms. Once we have that list and your name is included, your supervisor will let you know and advise you of the next actions. We are unable to tell you who added you to that list. This is confidential personal health information.

Q8. As an employee, I’ve already had COVID. What does that mean for me?

  • Regardless of whether or not you’ve had COVID-19 before, you will follow the same City guidelines and precautions if you have a second potential exposure or positive test.

Q9. I need training for my progression or to keep my certification up to date. Am I allowed to travel?

  • In-person training: The majority of in-person training is on hold due to COVID-19. We are looking at alternative options such as online training whenever possible. Our priority is controlling the possible spread of the virus.

  • Progression/certifications: HR and the department director will look at each employee’s situation on a case-by-case basis to see how to move forward.

Q10. I need to make a trip to another state. Is there a travel ban for employees?

  • We are following CDC guidelines. Currently, the City does not have a travel ban, but we are asking that if you do travel, you avoid large groups and be cautious of your habits while you are there. If CDC changes guidelines for air or cruise travel, we will follow their recommendations concerning quarantine measures and so forth.

Q11. My family and I need help dealing with all of this. Who can I talk to?

  • Through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the City provides confidential access to professional counseling services for help with such personal issues as alcohol abuse, substance abuse, marital and family difficulties, financial or legal troubles, and emotional distress. The EAP is available to all employees and their immediate family members and offers problem assessment, short-term counseling, and referral to appropriate community and private services. The EAP provides up to six sessions at no cost to the employee.

    The EAP is strictly confidential and is designed to safeguard privacy. Information given to an EAP counselor may be released only if authorized by the employee in writing. Counselors are guided by a Professional Code of Ethics. 

    There is no initial cost for employees to consult with an EAP counselor. If further counseling is necessary, the EAP counselor will outline community and private services available. The counselor will also notify employees whether any costs associated with private services may be covered by their health insurance plan. Costs that are not covered are the responsibility of the employee.

FAQs: The City’s Business

Q12. Is the City looking at making changes to how it operates due to COVID-19? If so, how and when will I be notified of those changes?

  • A team has been assembled and has been assigned the task of preparing for inevitable changes in the way the City of Stillwater conducts its business. The Mapping Stillwater’s Future Team is exploring a variety of possible changes, from small, subtle changes to large changes that require city council approval. Regardless, the team is dedicated to a thoughtful change process. When the changes are ready to be announced, they will be rolled out to employees.

Q13. How is the City’s budget? Do I need to worry?

  • City’s Overall Financial Health: Going into the pandemic in March, the City’s revenues were healthy, stable and on track to meet or exceed projections. Sales and use tax collections were above the prior year collections by $901,473 or 3.52%. This has helped us weather downturns in sales tax thus far during the pandemic.

  • Sales/Use Tax Collections: We’ve seen declines in sales and use tax collections, in total, since the pandemic began in March. However, much to the surprise of staff, the declines have not been as significant as they were originally projected to be. We were originally projecting a potential 20 to 40 percent decline in tax revenues, because of the shut-down of business in April and the OSU student population leaving in March.

  • Cautious Spending of City Funds: The pandemic is not behind us, so staff continues to exercise caution with regard to managing cash flow amidst the continued unknown effects that COVID-19 may have on the City’s revenues in FY21. The future health of sales tax revenue is dependent on our community’s ability to keep businesses open, to keep citizens employed, and to keep OSU students in town and engaged in public activity and events.

  • Reduce/Defer Spending: All City departments continue to operate under the Budget Response Plan. Under this plan, non-essential spending is eliminated and essential spending requests require approval by the Finance Department and City Manager’s Office, vacant positions are evaluated before being filled and may be placed on hold, and capital projects are deferred when possible. This plan has been in place since April 13, 2020.

  • Overall, there is no need to worry at this time. We will keep you informed.

Q14. What is the City doing to ensure we can continue to provide services to the public?

  • Financially: We are being intentional about all of the City’s actions so that we can continue to provide core services for our citizens.

  • Health-wise: We are requiring physical distancing and face coverings. We are making sure people stay home when they are sick. We are using contact tracing to reduce spread and more, so that we have a healthy workforce.

Q15. Will City services change because of the pandemic? If so, how?

  • While there are many unknowns at this time, we do know that there will be changes. Previous decisions were made based on the information we had at that time. New information may call for changes in direction or in decisions that have already been made, and actions we took early in the pandemic may not be the same as ones we take moving forward. We will keep you informed.

Q16. What capital projects/purchases will not happen? Why not?

  • Before any capital projects or purchases are made, we are evaluating each item on a case-by-case bases before we approve any expenditure. This allows the City to closely monitor the budget.

Q17. Why can’t the City be stable and consistent?

  • The City has been consistent in regards to its policies and directions since the beginning of the pandemic. However, we have had to react to changing guidelines from the CDC as they learn more about coronavirus. New information allows us to evolve and make better decisions. The situation calls for everyone to be flexible and responsive, and actions taken early in the pandemic may not be the ones needed as we move forward.

FAQs: Department/Division Focused

Q18. I know there are new expectations on how we do business. Can you list some of them?

  • When possible, documents should be scanned and sent by email. Avoid handling and sharing paper.

  • When possible, have a virtual meeting by Zoom or phone conferences. Avoid face-to-face meetings.

  • When possible, limit interactions between different workgroups to prevent possible cross-contamination.

Q19. Can my department have an in-person staff meeting?

  • Can you have a meeting that follows the six-feet, 15-minute guideline? Also think about how breaks are handled and how people leave and enter the room. If not, you may risk having your entire team being listed as a close contact and off work. Seek alternative forms of communications or look for larger rooms at the library or community center.

Q20. Is my current workload going to continue?

  • The answer varies depending on the department or division. Some functions and services are exactly the same or maybe even busier, while others’ day-to-day tasks may be refocused to better use their work time.

Q21. What is the City doing to ensure employee/customer safety?

  • A lot, actually. We have certain facilities that are not in full operations due to the kind of activities they provide. At city hall, the building is segmented to help keep customers and staff socially distant.  Here is a partial listing of safety measures that protect both customers and staff: Provided face coverings, encouraged online communications, increased cleaning, installed physical barriers, staggered workgroup start times, limited in-person interactions, and required sick employees to stay at home.

Q22. Why is there a public safety exception? What does it mean?

  • From the CDC: Law enforcement personnel, due to the nature of their job, may be able to continue working after being exposed to a positive person. They also have increased screening measures, at-work procedures and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Q23. What happens if there is an increased number of employees with close contact?

  • This can be prevented by due diligence. Follow the six feet apart and less than 15 minutes with your co-workers and customers rules. Use the phone, email or other alternative methods to perform your service. If you ride with one co-worker, avoid switching up vehicles and passengers. Be smart.

Content last reviewed 09.02.2020