Returning to the Workplace

Florida Poly is committed to protecting public health and maintaining an educational and work environment that prioritizes the well-being of our community while providing students a world-class STEM education.

Returning to Work Spring 2021

To establish as healthy of an environment as possible when students return to campus for the spring semester on Jan. 11, all faculty and staff who work on the main campus are required to have a COVID-19 test between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8. The test result must be submitted to Human Resources before Jan. 11.

Because employees at Florida Poly South and FIPR do not interact with students on the main campus, those employees only need to provide a negative test result for COVID-19 if they will be working on the main campus at any time between Jan. 8 and Jan. 25.

A list of test centers where employees can be tested for free will be provided via email. To encourage the use of the free test centers, employees may take up to four hours of work time to be tested between Monday, Jan. 4, and Thursday, Jan. 7. This release time must be coordinated with the employee’s immediate supervisor.

 For those employees unable to make it to a testing site between Monday, Jan. 4, and Thursday Jan. 7, the BayCare mobile screening bus will be on campus for student COVID-19 testing on Jan. 8. Employees may be tested at the BayCare bus on Jan. 8. The University will cover this cost for employees (*this does not include student-employees*).

Should an employee receive a positive test result, they should follow the same process that has been in place for reporting a COVID-19 case by completing the Florida Poly COVID-19 notification form.

Detailed information was shared with employees via email on Dec. 15 and is available in the University's return-to-campus plan.


Institutional Responsibility

We recognize the University’s enormous responsibility for setting the pace and modeling the behaviors we should all be undertaking to protect ourselves and one another. As an institution, Florida Poly is committed to taking the actions needed to create a healthier environment where we can feel more comfortable returning to work. As part of this, we have detailed specific steps the institution has taken in preparation for the return of employees, students, and visitors to our facilities. Please be aware that these are only a starting point – we will continue revising our plans and acting in the best interest of our University community as we learn more about COVID-19.

Florida Poly is working to manage infrastructure at our facilities to ensure our physical worksites better support a healthy work and educational environment.

• Touchless Entry Alternatives: These have been identified at entry door locations and in the cafeteria. The University is installing of push-entry doors for these high-traffic areas.

• Partitions, Room Arrangement, and Signage: Partitions have been put in place for key locations where transactional interactions occur. Furniture has been rearranged to encourage appropriate distance between people. Signage is located across campus to remind everyone to stay physically separated by at least six feet.

• Optimized Airflow: Air quality has been enhanced through upgraded air filtration, increased outside air, and routine cleaning and disinfecting of all air handling units.

We also have created guidelines to help us maintain a clean and more secure environment during the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond. Facilities and Safety Services will continue directing the cleaning of offices and workspaces at our main campus and FIPR based on CDC guidelines and protocols for disinfection. Cleaning at Florida Poly South is managed by Polk State College and will be consistent with our enhanced cleaning protocols. This work includes:

• Enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch areas (e.g., door handles, light switches, handrails, interior doors, common spaces, tables, elevator buttons, etc.).

• Increased cleaning in restrooms and in common areas.

• Hand sanitizer stations at building entrances, in elevators, and in high-traffic areas. Areas that were occupied by a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be closed, cleaned based on CDC protocols, and reopened once sanitized. Building occupants at all locations should also wipe down commonly used surfaces before and after each use. This includes any private workspace or shared-space location or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, desks and tables, light switches, doorknobs, handles, etc.).

One of the best tools we have for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is monitoring our individual health and symptoms.

The campus has provided employees with an app-based daily health self assessment for COVID-19. The screening assessment was developed under the direction of the Florida Poly Medical Advisory Board and takes users through several CDC-identified symptoms of COVID-19 as well as other issues like travel. Employees and students are required to take the screening assessment daily and prior to arrival on campus. Although many people infected with COVID-19 are symptom free, the most prevalent symptom is a fever.

Contactless temperature kiosks have been installed at key entrances across our facilities so everyone can have the opportunity to monitor their temperature daily. Guidance on what to do if a person has a high temperature is available at all kiosks. This personal temperature reading is not recorded by the University, but it can be used as a key indicator for the individual.

Contract tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19. It’s an important part of minimizing the spread of this virus and something we will all be prioritizing as we move through the fall semester. The Florida Department of Health oversees contact tracing and we will follow their guidance and instruction to assist in their efforts as we move forward. Florida Poly's primary contact with the Department of Health is Danial Bartle, the University's emergency management officer. Florida Poly is also monitoring tracing app technology and will consider adopting any that protects our campus community.

While we have returned to our workplaces for the academic year, we recognize that many of our daily actions will be far from what we’d consider “normal.” While each of us may have grown somewhat accustomed to our new way of life, we recognize that we are all still living and working in a crisis environment. It is only natural to feel mentally strained, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or just out of sorts as we all continue living and working amid the pandemic. Employees should prioritize their mental and emotional well-being, and the University recognizes our responsibility to provide understanding and access to resources that can help.

• Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The EAP is available to offer emotional support during this stressful period. Phone or video counseling is available using smart phones, tablets, and computers with a camera. The BayCare EAP may be contacted by email or by calling 800-878-5470.

• Wellness Checks: If you are sick, especially with any of the COVID-19 symptoms, or believe you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.

Personal Responsibility

We’re all in this together. Every person at every Florida Poly location – main campus, Florida Poly South, and FIPR – has an immense personal responsibility to act in a way that protects themselves, their coworkers, and everyone they may encounter during their workday. The University expects every employee to follow the guidelines detailed in this section. Although some of the actions you will be asked to take may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, each of them is critically important to our efforts to keep COVID-19 out of our classrooms, offices, and facilities. It’s up to each of us to do everything we can to protect those around us.

All University employees are required to fully comply with the protocols and guidelines outlined in this document as part of the Florida Poly return-to-work plan. The individual responsibilities listed here cover a broad range of actions, including training, COVID-19 protocols, symptom monitoring, social distancing, use of face coverings, and other protective actions.

Before returning to work, all employees should complete an online training designed to create awareness for following appropriate protocols while at any Florida Poly property.

A campus COVID-19 Commitment has also been developed to support policies currently in place. This Commitment will function as an informative tool and as an agreement that the individual will adhere to both personal and shared responsibilities.

Employees are expected to conduct daily symptom monitoring using the daily health self-assessment tool available in the Florida Poly Mobile App. Below is a current list of some COVID-19 symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

• Fever or chills (repeated shaking with chills)

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• New GI symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea)

Campus employees are expected to also take their temperature at the thermal kiosks when entering any campus building. Employees with temperatures of 100.4°F or greater, or those exhibiting other symptoms of COVID-19, must stay home or go home and immediately contact their healthcare provider. They must also notify their supervisor and Human Resources at 863-874-8425 or by email. Employees who test negative for COVID-19 should not return to work until they are free of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should also not return to work until they have a physician’s statement that they are free of COVID-19.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should self-isolate and regularly assess your symptoms for 14 days to monitor your exposure and risk of infection. Human Resources will manage all notifications and clearances for employees to return to work.

Although a 14-day quarantine remains the recommendation of the CDC, there are additional options for asymptomatic close contacts to end quarantine earlier. Close contact means a person has been within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative 15 minutes or more over a 24 hours, regardless of mask use.

Asymptomatic close contacts:

  • If you get a PCR COVID-19 test on day 6 or later and receive a negative result, you may end quarantine after completing day 7.
  • If you do not get tested and are do not have symptoms, you may end quarantine after completing day 10 of quarantine.

In either of the above scenarios, you should strictly adhere to protocols for face masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, self-monitoring for symptoms, and avoiding additional close contacts through day 14.

If you test positive:

If you get tested and it is positive, you must stay home until you meet the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation and your health care provider clears you to return. Health authorities say symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure.

The novel coronavirus has been shown to affect some high-risk populations more severely than others. We recognize our diverse body of employees includes people who may be identified as higher risk by the CDC and we urge their ongoing vigilance as they work to protect themselves from the virus.

Some factors that may increase your risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 include:

• Being age 65 or older


• Asthma (moderate to severe)

• Chronic lung disease

• Diabetes

• Serious heart conditions

• Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis

• Severe obesity

• Being immunocompromised

Accommodations: Employees with any of these conditions who believe they are at high risk should contact Human Resources at 863-874-8425 or by email to begin an interactive process of granting reasonable accommodations.

Avoiding infected air and surfaces is one of the best ways each of us can keep from being exposed to COVID-19. Health experts have recognized that maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others at all times can limit your exposure and minimize transmission of the virus.

All students, employees, vendors, and visitors to any Florida Poly facility should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance to others at all times while on University premises. Floor markers and signs have been placed around campus to help.

Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others even if you or they have no symptoms. Physical/social distancing is important for everyone, but especially to help protect people who are at higher risk.

The Florida Poly Return to the Workplace Guidelines state that employees must wear face coverings in public settings while at work.

Face coverings are required during all indoor meetings, including small groups, classes, and any instances in which physical distancing cannot be maintained.

• When you are in ANY common area within any building, we expect you to wear a mask. This means hallways, classrooms, labs, bathrooms, waiting areas, etc.

• Face coverings are recommended at all other times, such as short (e.g., less than 15 minutes) one-on-one meetings, when outdoors, in restrooms, working in a partitioned workspace, and walking between meetings.

• If you are in an office by yourself, you do not have to wear a mask. If someone joins you in that office, out of respect for their health, please put on your face covering. 

• When you are outside our buildings and with other people, please wear a face covering. 

• When you are outside by yourself, and there are not other people around you, you do not have to wear a face covering. 

• The City of Lakeland implemented an ordinance regarding face coverings. Both Florida Poly and the city require the use of face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. However, the Florida Poly guideline goes beyond the city’s ordinance as the University also requires face coverings for all indoor meetings.

Handwashing has long been a major tool in maintaining good public health. We recognize the need for good hand washing practices among everyone at Florida Poly and are instructing all employees to adhere to the following guidelines:

• Employees must wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place.

• Hands should be washed often, including when arriving to the workplace, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after using the restroom, before making and after eating food, or after touching shared surfaces.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol alcohol. All surfaces of the hands should be rubbed together until they feel dry and after 20 seconds.

• Everyone should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, and should wash their hands after touching their face. According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene.

Washing hands often is considered best practice for controlling the spread of the virus and should become part of a person’s routine. Employees are not required to wear goggles or face shields as part of their general activities at work. The CDC states that good hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face are generally sufficient rather than using this protective equipment.

Coughing and sneezing while at work is bound to happen. Allergies, irritants, and other causes make these normal functions unavoidable. While we can’t prevent these potential infection-spreading actions from happening, we can control how we handle them.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Immediately dispose of used tissues in the trash.

• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• If soap and water are not readily available, hands must be cleaned with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol alcohol.

Each of us must remember to take infection prevention measures. We’ve created simple guidance for employees to follow when entering and exiting buildings, offices, and other facilities:

• After entering a building, sanitize your hands at the nearest sanitizer station.

• Everyone is required to comply with all signage, including physical/social distancing guidelines.

• Be prepared to change your daily routine to adhere to new circulation patterns.


Shared Responsibility

Some necessary actions for creating a healthy workplace rest with both the University and everyone within it. We all have a shared responsibility to help protect the health of ourselves and everyone we encounter. We have identified several actions we all must take to further secure our overall health and minimize the spread of COVID-19. There are situations in which you will find yourself near others on campus or at your worksite, and we want to be sure each of us is acting in a way that is in the best interest of those around us. These include considering staffing options, creating healthy workspaces, and being mindful while engaging in common activities like restroom use and holding meetings. By sharing in these responsibilities and affirming our commitment to one another’s safety, Florida Poly will be a healthier place to work.

Job functions and requirements are vastly different across University departments and work locations. For those locations where the population density in workspaces prohibits effective physical distancing, work schedules may be staggered by adjusting workday hours or having employees work alternating days.

Building occupants are expected to follow signage on traffic flow through building entrances and exits, stairs, elevators, and common use areas. Signs that need to be posted throughout our facilities will be made available by the University.

Things we do every day carry the potential of transmitting the virus, even if we feel healthy. We have created guidance for several scenarios you may encounter in your day-to-day work life.

Restroom Use

• Please do not go into a crowded restroom if you cannot maintain appropriate physical separation.

• Wash your hands thoroughly after using the facilities.

• Those concerned about the aerosolization of virus particles during flushing can find lidded toilets in the family/unisex restrooms across campus. Those who use these facilities should take care to close the toilet lid to allow the automatic flusher to operate properly.

Elevator Use

• Use the stairs whenever possible.

• Elevator capacity is suggested at two persons, while maintaining six feet of physical separation.

• When using the elevator, wear a face covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with exposed hand/fingers – try to use an object like a pen or tissue-covered finger instead.

• Upon departing the elevator, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


• Meetings should continue to be held using technology (e.g., Microsoft Teams or Webex) whenever possible.

• In-person meetings will be limited to the restrictions established by local, state, and federal agencies, assuming individuals can maintain the six-foot distancing requirement.

• Wear a face covering while attending a meeting or sharing space in a common room.

• Meeting rooms should have limited numbers of chairs and tables, as well as visual cue marks to support physical/social distancing practices between attendees.

Facilities and Safety Services is available to assist as needed.

• While at work, you are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors by email, telephone, or other available technology rather than face-to-face.


• Changes to gatherings, including size, locations, etc. will be communicated as they occur.

Lunch and Breaks

• Wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating.

• Eating alone or outside with friends or colleagues while socially distanced is encouraged.

• Use disposable kitchenware (e.g., forks, plates) whenever possible.

• Breakrooms will be available for limited purposes, and only one person is allowed at a time. Employees will be able to use the microwave and the sink, but not the refrigerator. We encourage employees to bring food items that do not require refrigeration. We also recommend bringing a water bottle since water fountains will not be functioning.