COVID-19 Safety Regulations: Supervisor Guide

To protect the health and safety of the UO community, the University of Oregon has implemented safety regulations with input from campus stakeholders, local, state and federal health officials and its medical experts. Unit-requested changes or exceptions to these rules will generally not be allowed unless associated with an industry specific requirement or need. Exception requests should be made to the IMT wellness group.

Supervisor Resources

Supervisors play a vital role in promoting, incentivizing, and managing compliance with safety regulations. It is important that you take the time to set expectations and review the regulation information with employees prior to their return to campus and on a regular basis thereafter. These regulations apply to all employees working on campus - whether their job assignment takes place on campus regularly or they travel to campus on a more periodic basis. When on campus and in a UO building, all employees are expected to comply with UO’s safety regulations. These expectations also apply to students and community members while they are on campus. Supervisor behavior sets the tone and reinforces expectations of others.

Guidance provided on this page:


Safety Regulations References

Several resources are available to assist you with educating and informing employees about COVID-19 safety regulations:

Weekly Testing Requirement

All employees subject to the vaccination requirement who are not fully vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing through the MAP.

View Testing Information

UO COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

All UO students and employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of the fall academic term.

View Vaccination Requirement

COVID-19 Safety Requirements

Refer to the safety requirements guidance for expectations and resources regarding face coverings and symptom self-checks.

View UO Regulations


Safety Regulations Overview

UO COVID-19 Regulations

The university enacted guidance that will be in effect until further notice as we continue to assess public health strategies, science, and best practices. Supervisors must know UO’s safety regulations, understand them, and regularly communicate about them with employees.

The regulations outline the suite of safety strategies we are relying on to help ensure we safely move forward together. This includes a vaccination requirement, mandatory testing, face coverings, symptom screening, contact tracing, and more. The regulations are detailed on the UO coronavirus website.

UO COVID-19 Weekly Testing Requirement

Effective Monday, September 27, 2021, unvaccinated UO employees, including those who choose an exemption for the vaccination requirement or are partially vaccinated, are required to take part in weekly COVID-19 testing among other additional safety measures. It does not matter which exemption the employee has elected.

This testing will occur on campus through the Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP) and employees must schedule their test on a weekly basis. The test is free and non-invasive. More information, including the process for testing employees in Portland and Charleston, can be found on the UO coronavirus website.

Unit leaders and supervisors, as directed, are responsible for ensuring that employees are completing the weekly testing and verifying an employee’s reason for missing a weekly test.

View Supervisor Role & Responsibilities

UO COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement Regulation

As announced in May, all UO students and employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of the fall academic term. To meet the UO COVID-19 vaccination requirement, UO employees are required to complete a secure online form attesting that they are fully vaccinated or requesting an exemption to the vaccination requirement for medical, religious, philosophical, or other non-medical reasons. All faculty, officers of administration, classified employees, and UO temporary employees should complete the online COVID-19 vaccination requirement form by the appropriate deadline to comply.

Please note, that supervisors play a key role in assisting new employees and agency temporary employees with meeting the requirement:

A complete listing of actions by employee group is available on the UO vaccination requirement webpage.

Please refer to the UO coronavirus website for more information including instructions, deadlines, and frequently asked questions.

A complete list of Do's and Don’ts is provided below to help you navigate conversations about the UO COVID-19 vaccination requirement with employees.

If you have concerns about an individual's vaccination status as it pertains to their compliance with the vaccination requirement, please contact Employee and Labor Relations at uoelr@uoregon.edu for consultation on next steps.


Promoting Employee Compliance

In their discussions and daily interactions, supervisors should promote and incentivize compliance with safety regulations through communication with employees, on-going education, and positive reinforcement. Promoting compliance and reinforcing positive behavior is the university’s primary and preferred mechanism for achieving compliance with UO’s safety regulations.

Educate and Inform

Using a variety of communications strategies helps explain the regulations and convey their importance. Utilize direct email, one-on-one meetings, team meetings, and unscheduled interactions during the work day to implement and normalize safety regulations.

During interactions with employees, supervisors are encouraged to:

  • Explain the regulation to achieve understanding, and
  • Share their importance as a necessary part of the university's COVID response in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of the UO community.

Because these regulations impact an employee’s everyday behavior, it is critical to repeatedly discuss the requirements, explain why they are important, and to ensure employees understand them.

Acknowledge Desired Behavior

Supervisors should also incentivize compliance by rewarding positive behavior. As we continue to increase the number of employees on campus additional approaches to reward behavior are being developed. Regardless of the approach the key is consistent, regular communication to promote compliance.


Managing Compliance

Employees are expected to comply with the university's safety regulations and supervisors are expected to address non-compliance.

Here are actions supervisors should and should not take:

Do:

  • Do share regulations broadly with employees to ensure they are adequately informed and refer employees to the UO coronavirus website for more information.
  • Do work with employees to overcome workplace barriers that may prevent them from scheduling a vaccination appointment, if they want one. Refer employees to the UO Coronavirus website for information about COVID-19 vaccine and access to vaccinations.
  • Do remind employees not to question each other and to support each other’s decision with regards to face coverings and vaccinations.
  • Do redirect philosophical debates about vaccinations and face coverings to the facts and resources at hand.
  • Do encourage represented employees to reach out to their unions with their questions as well.

Don'ts:

  • Do not engage in a discussion about individual vaccination decisions or philosophies or engage in a debate about whether someone should or should not be vaccinated. Redirect philosophical debates about face coverings and vaccinations to the facts and resources.
  • Do not assume that someone who is wearing a mask is not vaccinated, or that they are not vaccinated because they do not want to be. There are many reasons why someone would continue to wear a mask. UO supports that choice and expects the community to support each other in their personal choices.
  • Do not ask if an employee verified vaccination status or requested an exemption to comply with the requirement. Do focus on whether the employee has taken action by completing the online form or not.
  • Do not pressure employees to report vaccination status to comply or discourage exemption requests, this is their personal decision and you should respect that decision.
  • Do not make operational or assignment decisions or retaliate based on one’s vaccination status, whether known or perceived.
  • Do not collect employee vaccination status information.

If you have concerns about an individual's compliance with UO safety regulations, please contact Employee and Labor Relations at uoelr@uoregon.edu for consultation on next steps.

Employees should speak with you about concerns they may have regarding their own safety. If an employee continues to have questions after reaching out to you, they should contact Environmental Health and Safety at ehsinfo@uoregon.edu. Employees with disabilities who may need an accommodation should contact the ADA Coordinator at workplaceADA@uoregon.edu.


Helping Address Needs of Employees with Medical Conditions

Recognizing that not everyone is able to wear a traditional cloth or paper face mask, the university has several exceptions to the regulation, including one for individuals who have a physical or mental health condition that makes it difficult to comply. Supervisors and HR partners should work collaboratively with employees who raise such concerns.

These collaborative conversations should be focused on identifying and implementing an effective solution that meets the employee’s needs and furthers the interests associated with this requirement.

When put on notice of an employee’s concerns with wearing a face mask, the supervisor and HR partner should schedule a phone call or physically distanced meeting with the employee to discuss the situation and brainstorm possible solutions.

Important questions for the unit to ask the employee:

  • How does wearing a mask impact your medical condition when working? For example, does it trigger anxiety, does it distract you, does it make it difficult to breathe?
  • Is wearing a mask always difficult or only when performing certain tasks or when worn for an extended amount of time?
  • What type of face coverings have you tried? Do you think other types of face coverings, like paper masks, cloth masks or a face shield would work better for you? If not, why?
  • Are there other changes we could make to help address your concerns? For example, would it be helpful to have shorter, more frequent breaks (5 minutes every hour) where you could walk outside without a mask on?
  • Do you have any other ideas or is there anything else you want to share that you think could help us find an effective solution?

There are several important things the supervisor and HR partner should remember in connection with these conversations:

  1. These discussions should be private;
  2. You should not ask an employee to disclose their underlying medical condition or ask for medical documentation.
  3. You should take the employee’s representations about the impact wearing a mask has on them at face-value. The focus of this conversation should be on brainstorming solutions that meet their needs without undermining the larger health/safety objectives.
  4. Raising these concerns or asking for an accommodation (such as a modified break schedule) is protected activity. Retaliation is strictly prohibited.
  5. Units are permitted and encouraged to informally authorize requests for certain accommodations – such as trying a new type of face covering (such as a face shield) or temporarily implementing an adjusted break schedule. However, units are not authorized to excuse an employee from wearing a face covering in accordance with the regulation. Such requests must be reviewed, and can only be approved, by the ADA Coordinator, or designee.
  6. Units may not unilaterally make changes to the face-covering safety regulations or OHA guidance. If units are unable to find solution within that framework, they should reach out to the ADA Coordinator.

When to Contact Employee and Labor Relations

If the unit’s efforts are unsuccessful to find a solution within the safety regulation framework, then the supervisor should contact the ADA Coordinator in order to schedule a call to discuss the situation and determine next steps. The ADA Coordinator will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

If the employee is granted an accommodation to the face-covering safety regulation, then the unit may need to make other accommodations to protect the health and safety of other employees (for example, the employee may be asked to attend team meetings via phone rather than in-person). The unit will also need to re-emphasize the critical importance of abiding by all safety measures intended to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.