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Faculty and Staff Absences :: Student Absences

Faculty and Staff Absences

What preventative measures should employees take to avoid the H1N1 virus or other illness?

All employees should cover their cough or sneeze, use good hand hygiene, and frequently clean high-contact surfaces.

  • Ideally, an employee should cough or sneeze into a tissue or his/her elbow. 
  • Employees should wash hands frequently with soap and water.  Use of hand sanitizers is not as effective as hand washing, but can also be useful in eliminating germs.
  • Ensure all areas and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact (such as doorknobs and countertops) are regularly cleaned, or immediately cleaned when visibly soiled.  

Can I work if I am exhibiting flu-like symptoms?
Employees who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms (see list of symptoms) should not report to work, or if already at work should go home.  Avoiding the worksite when ill will speed recovery and limit the spread of the illness.

Will I be allowed to work from home if I’m unable to come to work due to illness?

If you stay home due to your own flu-like symptoms, you will not be allowed to telework from home.  

Will I be required to provide medical certification verifying my illness?

Normally, employees who are absent for 5 days or longer must provide medical documentation verifying the necessity for the absence.  However, if flu cases become widespread on campus, the College may suspend this requirement.  An announcement will be made to the campus if such a decision is made. 

Absences under 5 days always require only a supervisor’s authorization.

If I stay home from work due to illness, how will I be paid?
Howard Community College will not be granting Administrative Leave for employees who miss work due to illness.  Instead, the following options are available:

  • Use accrued leave; for example, Annual, Sick, or Personal.
  • If accrued leave is exhausted and the absence is for more than 5 days, the employee may apply for Short Term Disability Leave, which covers 60% of normal salary for days absent beyond 5 days.
  • If all leave options are exhausted, Leave Without Pay must be taken.

When can I return to work if I have had flu-like symptoms?
You can return to work as early as 24 hours after you are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

An employee under my supervision appears ill and has come into work. I’m concerned about the potential for exposure to other people. How should I handle this situation?
An employee who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms (see list of symptoms) should be encouraged to leave the workplace and go home.  The College will not require such an employee to go home, but the employee should be advised that it is in his/her best interests and in the best interests of co-workers if he/she leaves the workplace until sufficiently recovered.

An employee with milder symptoms—such as a minor cold or seasonal allergies—need not be urged to leave the workplace.  However, he/she should be advised to use proper hygiene habits such as covering a cough/sneeze and washing hands frequently.

May I request to go home if I don’t want to be exposed to a coworker who appears sick?
Yes, with supervisory approval you may leave work; however, you must use your own accrued leave or request Leave without Pay.

I’m not sick, but I don’t want to come to work for fear of becoming ill. Is my supervisor required to approve my request for time off?
You may request to take Annual Leave; however, your supervisor is not required to approve your time off request, especially if your department is short staffed or if there is a large volume of work to be completed.

What should I do if I’m healthy enough to work, but I’m either pregnant or have a compromised immune system for some reason?  Is it safe to come to the workplace?

Your first step should be to talk to your doctor and get his/her advice about working.  If he/she thinks it is unsafe for you to be in the workplace with your medical condition(s), you should then talk to your supervisor to see if any accommodations can be made at your worksite (for example, finding a more isolated area to work), if you can temporarily telework from off-site, or if you should stay home and use your accrued leave or leave without pay.  Your supervisor will make every attempt to be accommodating to your condition(s), but please be aware that special arrangements such as relocation or telework may not be feasible in all situations. 

In the event of an H1N1 outbreak, can my supervisor cancel my annual leave request that has already been approved?
Yes. Your supervisor has the authority to cancel any pre-approved leave request, especially in circumstances where there are serious staffing shortages as a result of illness. Your leave can also be cancelled if you have been designated as essential personnel due to the nature of your job responsibilities.

My child’s school/day care is closed due to an incident of H1N1, and my child is not sick. I have no other child care arrangements. Can I bring him to work with me?
No. Bringing a child to work is not allowed.  With supervisory approval, you may use annual leave to stay home with your child, rather than come into work.

A member of my household is sick with flu-like symptoms, but I’m healthy.  Should I stay home, too?  Can I work from home if I’m able?

If you are not experiencing symptoms yourself, it is fine for you to come to work.  If you are healthy but must stay home to care for a sick family member, you may be allowed to telework, if your job is appropriate for off-site work and your supervisor approves the arrangement.  Otherwise, you will need to take your own accrued leave or unpaid leave.

Does FMLA apply if I contract the H1N1 virus? Does FMLA apply if my spouse or child contracts H1N1, and I must stay home to care for him/her?
In most cases yes, provided the employee and family member meets the eligibility requirements. A qualifying condition is one that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider. The continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a healthcare provider or one visit and a regime of continuing treatment.  

Student Absences

How will I know if a student is really sick with H1N1?  

Any documentation regarding missing class because of illness must be provided by the student to the instructor in a timely manner.  Instructors will make the decision regarding whether an absence is excused based on the information provided.  Notification that a student has received treatment will not be construed as a “medical excuse.” Ultimately, the authority for deciding whether the documentation presented by the student justifies an excused absence rests with the instructor.

All students have phone contact numbers and/or email addresses for their instructors. All students are expected to abide by each instructor’s class attendance policy. Regardless of whether an absence is excused or unexcused, the student is responsible for making up all work that is missed.

Can I ask a student to leave class if they appear to be sick?

No.  A student cannot be removed from class after arriving ill, but you can encourage them to go home, take care of themselves, and return 24 hours after their fever drops below 100 degrees.

What changes can I make to my course structure to minimize the impact of the widespread absences that are predicted this fall?

Instructors should try to place as much course content as possible, including assignments and lecture outlines, on their class website. In addition, some instructors are attempting to schedule important in-class assessments and presentations outside the time frame in which the infection rate is expected to surge:  mid-September through the end of October.

Shouldn’t students just drop my class if they get the flu?

Most students will be able to make up the work missed because of a bout with the H1N1 virus, typically 3-4 days.

Students must consider a wide range of academic and financial issues as they decide whether to drop a course or withdraw from the entire semester. Instead of advising students to drop a course, faculty should advise students to see an advisor before making decisions regarding course drops and withdrawals.

What should I do if I get ill?

Some faculty members fall into an age group (those born before 1957) that seem to have some immunity to the H1N1 virus. Please see Faculty & Staff Resources: Faculty & Staff Absences for additional information.

For unanticipated absences such as illness or family emergency, instructors must notify the program or division chair or Vice President of Academic Affairs as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made regarding classes and other scheduled activities.

Having information regarding your course on a course website will help to keep the course running smoothly if you need to be replaced for a few days. Academic departments should devise and distribute a plan for how the unit will cope with a higher-than-normal number of instructor absences this fall.