Summer Guidance '21

Binghamton University continues to follow all public health and state guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York State Department of Health and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations have updated their guidance as follows:

New York State Department of Health

REVISED GUIDANCE FOR STATE AGENCIES AND AUTHORITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

As of June 18, 2021 

Purpose

This Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency was created to provide S tate agencies and authorities and their leaders, managers, employees contractors, vendors, and the public with the appropriate health precautions as restrictions on public and private sector activities are lifted given New York’s significant progress in COVID 19 vaccinations and decline in new COVID 19 cases Specifically, this revised guidance provides provisions that each agency and authority employee must follow as they return to normal operations and activities.

This revised guidance represents the minimum requirements necessary to operate in a manner that is consistent with the current public health situation but should not be considered exhaustive. State agenc ies and authorit ies may have different operational ne eds that require other protocols or policies to address their specific workplace ( and nature of work particularly agencies that are involved in public transit, direct care/social services, corrections and detention, and health care delivery consistent w ith current federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (guidelines State agencies involved in those activities must consult their respective Deputy Secretary for additional guidance.

Provisions

  • Capacity – State agency or authority workplace capacity is only limited by the space available for individuals to maintain social distancing based on vaccination status. For fully vaccinated individuals, no social distancing is required.At this time, agencies shall not require proof of vaccination status from employees. However, all employees must affirm below that they have read this guidance, understand its provisions, and will adhere to its requirements. Pursuant to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) memorandum, “State Agency In-Person Presence & Telecommuting Program,” issued June 18, 2021, a copy of all employee affirmations must be kept on file with each agency’s human resources (HR) office by July 9, 2021, or no later than three (3) business days after an employee returns to in-person work.
  • Distancing – Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be socially distanced and unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals need to maintain six feet of social distance, in accordance with federal CDC guidelines. In lieu of six feet of social distance, appropriate physical barriers may be used so long as they do not present a health or safety hazard.
  • Masks – Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks and unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals need to wear masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidelines. Unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals may remove their mask indoors while socially distanced, seated, and eating/drinking or while working at their workstation. Unvaccinated/unknown may remove their mask outdoors unless they are in a gathering or crowded event where they are unable to maintain six feet of social distancing.
  • Hand Hygiene – State agencies and authorities must provide hand hygiene stations or supplies within workplaces for individuals to use; specifically, hand washing, such as soap, running water or disposable towels or hand sanitizing, such as alcohol-based sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol where hand washing may not be available or practical.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection – State agencies and authorities must clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least once a day, such as common areas and shared workstations, and regularly clean and disinfect other surfaces as necessary given the level of traffic and type of individuals who use the space and general risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
  • Communication – State agencies and authorities must clearly communicate to individuals through signage, markers, or other applicable methods the health precautions that are in effect within the specific workplace setting based upon these provisions and any other restrictions that the agency or authority may choose to implement, such as capacity limits, social distancing, or masks.
  • Ventilation and Air Filtration – State agencies and authorities should increase outdoor airflow and ventilation rates in indoor settings to the extent compatible with individual comfort and safety and in accordance with building codes and standards, as well as applicable lease, contract, or other use agreement requirements; in indoor areas where air is recirculated, should consider higher rated filtration within HVAC systems as supported by the filter rack and air handling system so long as the system can perform to the level of heating and cooling that it was able to provide prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency; and consider other appropriate indoor air quality measures, such as portable fans, filters, and air cleaners.
  • Health Screening – State agencies and authorities may continue to health screen individuals for (1) COVID-19 symptoms, (2) recent close contacts, and (3) recent positive COVID-19 test result, prior to, or immediately upon, arrival to the workplace, regardless of individual vaccination status. Screening may be performed via signage, by e-mail/website, by telephone, or by electronic survey before individuals arrive to work. Temperature checks are no longer required as a part of health screening.
  • Contact Information – While not required by this guidance, State agencies may consider implementing ways to collect contact information for contractors, vendors, and visitors before or upon entering the agency workplace, providing their name, address, and phone number or e-mail address for use in potential contact tracing efforts. Information may be collected through any means, including but not limited to a digital application or paper form. Information should be maintained for a minimum period of 28 days and made available to state or local health departments upon request.

From the Governor's Office of Employee Relations

MEMORANDUM

To: Directors of Human Resources (HR)
From: Michael Volforte
Subject: State Agency of Authority and In-Person Presence & Telecommuting Program

Consistent with Governor Cuomo’s June 15, 2021 announcement that the State’s
COVID-19 restrictions for most commercial and social settings were lifted as 70 percentof adult New Yorkers have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, GOERis issuing this memorandum to provide updated guidance to all State agencies and authorities on in-person work and telecommuting.

Since June 2020 when State agencies and authorities developed and implemented theirspecific reopening plans in accordance with the State’s COVID-19 health guidance, agencies and authorities have engaged and returned employees to in-person work. In fact, over 90 percent of the State’s workforce is currently reporting in-person to work on a full- or part-time basis.

Now, with New York’s progress in vaccinations and nation-leading decline in new
COVID-19 cases, it is time for agencies and authorities to re-engage their employees
and plan for a return to normal operations by no later than September 7, 2021.
Specifically, State agencies and authorities are directed to follow these provisions as
they increase in-person presence within their workplaces:

Now through July 2, 2021

  • Agencies and authorities will inform employees immediately that the statewide telecommuting program will expire on July 2.
  • After July 2, agencies and authorities may resume their own specific telecommuting programs that existed prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency. For agencies and authorities that did not have their own specific telecommuting programs prior to the public health emergency or had telecommuting programs that no longer meet their operational needs, agencies and authorities may adopt and use the statewide telecommuting program provisions while they work to develop their own specific program that meets their needs.
    • Agencies and authorities should develop their own specific telecommuting programs that meet their operational needs, to the extent that they do not already have them in place or are not relying upon the provisions of the expiring statewide telecommuting program. All agencies and authorities must have their own specific telecommuting program reviewed by GOER and in effect by no later than July 31, 2021.
    • Agency and authority telecommuting programs should be developed in consultation with the unions that represent their employees. Agency and authority telecommuting programs are subject to GOER review before implementation and such plans must be consistent with the State’s revised guidance on in-person work. At a minimum, agency and authority telecommuting programs must take into account the following parameters:
      • Obligations for reasonable accommodations as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Human Rights Laws (HRLs). The Department of Civil Service’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion should be consulted on questions regarding reasonable accommodations.
      • Temporary COVID-19 specific accommodations for employee issues (e.g., child or elder care) that are outside the scope of ADA/HRLs, where reasonable and do not adversely impact agency or authority operations. Agencies and authorities must have a written policy in place for such temporary COVID-19 specific accommodations, including a requirement that (1) documentation is maintained by agency HR for each employee who is granted a COVID-19 specific accommodation and (2) the specific non-ADA/HRLs issue that the employee is seeking to have accommodated.
      • Requirement of employee work plans and work performance monitoring.
      • Provisions on the appropriate notice and period of time when individuals can be told to return to in-person work (e.g., the office) from their telecommuting arrangement.
      • Set expiration dates for telecommuting arrangements and periodic review of extensions of arrangements.
  • Agencies and authorities will distribute the attached Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to all 3 employees reporting in-person to work for their review, affirmation, and file with the agency’s human resources (HR) office.
    • A copy of all employee affirmations must be kept on file with each agency’s and authority’s HR office by July 9, 2021, or no later than three (3) business days after an employee returns to in-person work (e.g., from telecommuting, vacation, leave).

July 2, 2021 through September 7, 2021

  • Agencies and authorities must work toward returning employees to in-person work at an increased frequency (i.e., ideally, full time, but at a minimum several days per pay period). Increased in-person presence in the workplace will be governed by the attached Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
  • Agencies and authorities will continually implement increased in-person workplace presence, in accordance with the State’s guidance and consistent with their GOER-reviewed agency-specific telecommuting programs.

September 7, 2021 through Remainder of 2021 

  • Agencies and authorities will return to pre-pandemic, in-person workplace presence with limited exceptions that are consistent with their GOER-reviewed specific telecommuting program.
    • COVID-19 specific accommodations for employees (e.g., child or elder care) are expected to be removed from specific telecommuting programs following appropriate notice and engagement with affected employees. Reasonable accommodations will still be in effect, pursuant to ADA/HRLs.

Agencies and authorities shall maintain regular co ntact with their respective union representatives to keep them apprised of plans to increase frequency of in person work, as well as to evaluate and address concerns that are raised. This contact includes briefing union representatives on any ongoing or up dated health protocols that your agency or authority adopts consistent with the Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency

As employees return to the workplace on a more frequent basis, agencies and authorities must remain mindful of keeping employees safe, in accordance with the revised guidance, and update any safety plans as needed, as well as any contractual requirements regarding schedule changes, split schedules, or alternative work schedules, in cluding any applicable hardship provisions, of the various collective bargaining agreements.

As agencies and authorities increasingly return employees to the workplace, they should also be aware of the following resource information for employees as it pertains to childcare. Information on childcare opportunities, which is not exhaustive, is available through the Office of Children and Families website at https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/looking/. For those employees who work close to one, there are multiple NewYork State Network Child Care Centers, supported by the State and our publice mployee unions. A list of those centers is available at https://goer.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/01/network-child-care-center-flyer-12.21-accessible.pdf.

For additional information regarding increasing in-person workplace presence for your employees, contact your GOER representative. Thank you.