COVID-19 FAQ for employees includes updates on remote work, health coverage

An FAQ released this week by university human resources (UHR) answers many common questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect Iowa State employees. It was updated March 12 with additional information about working remotely, managing student employees, hiring, university child care centers and health insurance coverage for COVID-19.

To the extent possible, Iowa State will remain open and continue normal operations during the online instruction period planned for March 23-April 3, the two weeks following spring break. An extension of the online instruction period will be considered the week of March 30.  

Employees with a fever more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a cough should not come to work and should take the following actions:

  • Notify your supervisor you are ill and will not be able to work
  • Isolate yourself to limit potential exposure to others
  • Seek medical advice from your primary care provider, but call ahead first

The FAQ, which will be updated as the situation evolves, addresses questions about job assignments and expectations, leave policies, child and family care, and numerous other issues. There are sections for employees and for supervisors.

New information added March 12 shares how Iowa State is adjusting coverage under its employee health insurance plan to ensure employees and their families have access to needed medical care. Wellmark will waive prior authorization requirements for covered services related to COVID-19, and appropriate diagnostic testing for the virus will carry no cost-share.

UHR also urged employees to consider ordering a 90-day supply of any maintenance prescription via Express Scripts' mail order service and to take advantage of Wellmark-covered virtual doctor visits through Doctor on Demand, a benefit added to ISU health insurance at the beginning of 2020.

Several of the answers added March 12 pertain to remote work arrangements. Employees are expected to report to work as usual when the university is open unless they have prior approval from their direct supervisor, but UHR encourages managers to be flexible with employees who request to work from home temporarily. Included in the updated FAQ are links to documents that outline guidance on remote work during the online instruction period and provide remote work tips for employees and supervisors.

Detailed guidance about hiring searches and managing students employees also was added. Hiring managers should consider delaying or extending until mid-April job posts for positions that aren't mission-critical. For new hires, they should consider aligning start dates with the resumption of on-campus classes.

The FAQ update also announced that The Comfort Zone, an on-campus child care center for children who are mildly ill, is closing for the rest of the semester, under the guidance of the Iowa Department of Public Health. It plans to reopen in the fall. The university's other on-campus child care centers are expected to remain open when campus is open.

Iowa State's COVID-19 webpage is updated continuously with information about how the university is responding to the pandemic.