COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Effective April 4, 2022

Our campuses will shift from pandemic emergency response to routine disease prevention.  Campus leaders and their teams will continue to monitor state and federal guidance and the community virus conditions. They will be prepared to reinstate mitigation strategies as needed to respond to upticks in cases if and when they occur this spring and in future semesters.

  • End of mask mandate
  • Removal of physical distancing restrictions
  • Ending of weekly testing for employees and students

Read the full details under the March 10, 2022 COVID update found here: CSCU – COVID-19 Updates (ct.edu)

Which areas of student congregation will be open, and how will they be managed?

  • Fitness Center— Yes, for specifics on hours of operation and how the center will be managed contact the Wellness Center directly
  • Tutoring Center—Yes, for specifics on hours of operation and how the center will be managed contact the Tutoring Center directly
  • Learning Commons— Yes, for specifics on hours of operation and how the spaces will be managed contact the Tutoring Center
  • Cafeteria—Yes, currently on a “trial basis”
  • East Side Café: Monday through Thursday 8:00 am till 3:30 pm Friday 8:00 am till 2:00 pm
  • West Side Café: Monday through Thursday 8:00 am till 7:30 pm
  • Student Lounge— The Student Lounge will be open for a very limited number of students to occupy (due to spacing and COVID restrictions). The Director of Student Activities will monitor the space; for specifics on hours of operation contact the Director of Student Activities
  • Library—The Library will continue offering some services remotely. On campus hours will be increased to cover opening Monday-Friday. For specifics on hours of operation and how the spaces will be managed contact the Library directly.

If things change during the semester please, the relevant area will update their website with specific information, including, hours of operation.

What are NCC's Health and Safety Protocols?

In addition to a stringent daily system of disinfecting and cleaning based on CDC and CT Department of Public Health guidelines, the following measures are being implemented:

  • Partitions, Plexiglas shields, podium shields, and other enhanced safety measures are installed.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are on campus and available at all building entrances, all classroom entrances, and in other high traffic areas in buildings.
  • Wipes or disinfectant spray and paper towels will be available for use in high contact and frequently used areas, including classrooms prior to each class meeting.
  • Signage and floor tape will be used to remind the campus community of social distancing requirements, the mandatory wearing of masks, and other health and safety protocols.
  • Maintenance & Custodial and other employees in high contact areas will use protective equipment as needed to ensure their safety and that of the campus community.

Custodial staff will follow CDC guidelines and use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 that are appropriate for the surface.  All public, corridor, office spaces, and bathrooms will be cleaned daily in accordance with the State’s general guidelines for businesses.  Custodial staff will wipe down high touch areas daily. Cleaning frequency will be higher in the following areas:

  • Childcare centers
  • Restrooms
  • High-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, and light switches
  • Areas deemed priorities by campus leadership

Level 1: 24-Hour Room or Facility Quarantine

This level is implemented for any NCC campus room or indoor area that the symptomatic person with a positive COVID-19 test had visited within the 7 days prior to the test. As per CDC guidelines, the following steps will be taken:

  • All areas used by the person who is sick are to be closed off (only affected areas of the building need to be quarantined).
  • If possible, outside doors and windows should be opened to increase air circulation in the affected area.
  • The room should be quarantined for 24 hours if possible.
  • If the room has been vacated from all student, faculty, staff and personal for a period of 24 hours or longer, this will be considered equivalent to a 24-hour quarantine period (for example: weekend vacancies).

Level 2: Detailed Cleaning and Disinfecting of Contaminated Area

This level will be implemented when:  The 24-hour mandatory quarantine period has elapsed; or the COVID-19 positive student, faculty, or staff member were not symptomatic when on campus within 7 days before the COVID test.  As per the CDC guidelines, the following steps will be taken:

  • All areas used by the infected individual will be cleaned and disinfected as per CDC guidelines.
  • Items that should be disinfected include tables, tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, doorknobs, light switches, desks, etc.
  • Areas that should be cleaned and disinfected include offices, classrooms, bathrooms and common areas where the infected person spent a prolonged period.
  • If space needs to be vacuumed, a high-efficiency HEPA filter should be used when available.
  • After the cleaning is complete, the classroom can be open for normal use.

Level 3: Daily Cleaning and Disinfecting

These are the daily cleaning protocols followed by the facility and operational staff. This level is implemented:

  • As the daily/routine cleaning protocol,
  • If a COVID-19 positive individual had not been on campus within the past 7 days, or
  • After Level 1 and Level 2 protocols have been completed.
  • If the infected person has not been on campus within 7 days before a positive COVID-19 test, this is the only level of cleaning that is necessary.

Do I have to wear my mask when I go to campus?

Wearing face coverings over the nose and mouth is required inside all campus buildings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and employees.   This includes offices, conference/meeting rooms, event spaces, classrooms, libraries and laboratories, etc.

Exceptions may be made in the following circumstances:

  • Individuals working alone in an enclosed space (an office, research lab, or area with a door or cubicle with walls that extend at least 30 inches above the desktop).
  • Some students and employees, who have received accommodations, may wear face shields instead of masks.

Masking will not be required outside of buildings. However, those who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue to wear masks outside.

Campus leadership may deem masks necessary at certain outdoor larger events with mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in attendance.

Mask policy violations

For any student violating the mask policy in a classroom building or any college building, any faculty/staff member of the community can give that student a warning.  The Office of Student Affairs/Conduct will keep track of all violators.  Please send an email to the Student Affairs/Conduct upon giving a warning so they can keep track of any violations centrally.  Symplicity can also be used for this purpose.

For any student violating this in the classroom, the professor should give the student a warning, and also send an email as mentioned above. If a student repeatedly violates this, the professor should have a conversation with the student after their class like they would for any disruptive behavior.  After meeting with the student, the professor should contact Student Affairs for further action.

Is there a certain type or style of Face Covering that I must wear on campus?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many different types and styles of face coverings have either become commercially available for purchase or crafted by individuals at home. In terms of real-world practical applications, it is likely that the vast majority of the various types, styles, and materials
offered for face covering masks will be effective for the purposes of source control (i.e., capturing and/or slowing down respiratory droplet emissions from the wearer). The most important features of any face covering to be used while on campus will be that it completely covers the nose and mouth of the wearer and that it is comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time during the school day.

Does the mask mandate apply to visitors?

All visitors—including contractors, delivery personnel, community partners, high school students engaged in dual enrollment or continuing education courses, employees in business-sponsored training programs, parents with children in early childhood centers, attendees at campus events, and similar groups of intermittent attendees at the campuses must also be masked indoors.

Security guards will monitor the environment and encourage compliance with masking when necessary. All faculty and staff share responsibility in enforcing these rules both in and out of the classroom. Should a student fail to comply and not wear a mask or face covering, or keep it on, after receiving a warning/directive to put it on (and they are not exempt due to receiving an accommodation from the institution), they will be referred to the Dean of Student Affairs for a disciplinary violation.

Will there be social distancing on campus?

In accordance with BOR System guidance, students, staff and faculty must maintain a minimum of three (3) feet physical distancing at all time in campus buildings. Office and classroom spaces will have a minimum of three (3) feet of physical distancing wherever possible.

What considerations have been given to the fact that the 3 feet physical distancing guidelines in classrooms creates a greater likelihood that infection will be transmitted to others in that classroom?

Consideration was given to guidance from the CT Department of Public Health indicating that the community colleges are relatively safe environments based on prior year experience and the current mask mandate. The BOR policy mandating vaccination with testing required weekly for those granted exemptions was also considered a strong mitigating factor. It is strongly recommended that assigned seating be maintained in classrooms to assist with Contact Tracing efforts.

While the mask mandate does help, we hear about the number of breakthrough infections affecting the fully vaccinated population, so when you have a room filled to capacity, how can the college ensure everyone's safety, when there is minimal distance between everyone?

The three (3) feet physical distance maintained in classrooms represents a reduction in pre-COVID capacity. While the college strives to maintain a safe work environment, it cannot guarantee an absence of infections.

Early advising will be occurring in six and a half weeks, how will those faculty who are currently on campus and those who will be returning to campus to teach be provided the assurances they are seeking to feel comfortable being back in the classroom?

While the college strives to maintain a safe work environment, it cannot guarantee an absence of infections. Weekly CEO updates are being sent out providing the most current information available with respect to COVID-19 developments.

What additional safety precautions is NCC implementing?

Additional precautions include:

  • Installation of signage to encourage best practices regarding personal hygiene and the movement of people through campus spaces.
  • Increased frequency of cleaning at all of our facilities. For details see Cleaning Protocols.
  • Various Hand sanitizing stations at each campus location.
  • Enhanced use of outdoor space for activities (tent usage).
  • Increasing Security personnel to ensure adequate contact tracing capability.
  • Maintaining cleaning supplies in offices and classrooms.

What steps are or can be taken to ensure that cleaning materials are available in every classroom, as promised?

Every employee, staff and faculty, is empowered to contact Maintenance directly for cleaning materials when needed.

What is considered an exposure and what will be the protocol?

We continue to seek guidance from the Norwalk Health Department and continue adhere to the following protocols:
• In general, a contact/exposure is established when one is within 6’ of an infected person (masked or unmasked) for more than 15 minutes. In such instances, NCC imposes a 14-day quarantine period on unvaccinated individuals.
• Those who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days following the last exposure. If positive or symptomatic, they should isolate for at least ten days. They are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated although they will need to mask while indoors and monitor for symptoms of COVID for 14 days following exposure.

What do I do if I find out I was exposed to COVID-19 and I am fully vaccinated?

People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated people should be tested 5-7 days after their exposure. Should the vaccinated close contact get a positive test result or experience symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days or until fever is gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms are improving.

What do I do if I find out I was exposed to COVID-19 and I am NOT vaccinated or only have one dose?

Those considered a close contact who are not fully vaccinated should get tested immediately when they find out they are a close contact. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after their last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop. Individuals are not to return to work or class for 14 days from date of exposure and until they have been cleared by the college’s COVID Coordinator (students) or the HR department (employees).

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, please follow the steps below:
• Immediately report your positive test result by filling out the online COVID-19 Report form
• Notify your instructor(s) or Supervisor
• Arrangements will be made wherever possible to help you continue in your classes, or potentially receive an incomplete (up to the instructor), or withdraw depending on your status
• Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for detailed information

The COVID Coordinator will work with the local public health department and support contact tracing so that any individuals considered close contacts can be notified.

What is the guidance regarding matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including on-site work, workplace safety, telework, and absences due to COVID-related illness?

For guidance regarding matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Human Resources Shared Services https://www.ct.edu/hr/strategy

How can the College increase its effort with respect to Contact Tracing?

The COVID Coordinator is currently working closely with the Norwalk Department of Public Health (DPH) to determine whether it may be helpful to develop a team of volunteer contact tracers on campus. Our DPH liaison believes this can be helpful so we’re working on how to initiate that process. Anybody interested in participating in this group should contact the COVID Coordinator for more information.

COVID Alert CT App

This past February in a CSCU COVID-19 email update, employees were informed of an app that would provide an alert if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. In my office we have downloaded the COVID Alert CT app using both iPhone and Android. You might consider participating in COVID Alert CT by downloading the app. COVID Alert CT is a voluntary, anonymous, exposure-notification smartphone app. You will get an alert if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The free mobile app is available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in Connecticut. The more people who participate in COVID Alert CT, the more effective it will be.

*If a student taking in-person classes is exposed to COVID and needs to quarantine, how will this affect his or her standing in the class?

If a student must be absent because of quarantine, the student should contact the professor (in addition to the COVID Coordinator and not as a substitute for the COVID Coordinator) immediately. Should the student be quarantining because of exposure or be positive but asymptomatic and able to do school work, the professor will help the student remain current in the class to the fullest reasonable extent. Regular collaboration with the instructor while under quarantine, meeting the instructor’s expectations, should substitute for attendance in the on-campus course.

As with last year, the Academic Dean’s Office will work with all students who cannot continue their studies due to documented COVID infection to help them secure a withdrawal from the course. In most cases, the course will appear as a “W” on the transcript, unless special circumstances warrant a different action. The student should contact the Academic Dean’s office as soon as possible to inquire about a withdrawal due to COVID.

 

Please note: Questions with an * were submitted by NCC Student Government representatives. These responses were provided to them directly.

*If a student worker must quarantine, will they be paid for that time off?

Previously, student workers were eligible for paid leave under FFCRA (Family First Coronavirus Response Act, but that paid leave has expired. Unfortunately, student employees are not eligible for paid leave under CGS 5-248(a), as they do not meet the definition of “permanent employee” under the statute. However, students who have sick accruals available can use that time.

Please note: Questions with an * were submitted by NCC Student Government representatives. These responses were provided to them directly.

*If a professor who teaches an in-person class is exposed to COVID and needs to quarantine, how will the class be handled?

If an instructor must quarantine but is able to continue working, the instructor will determine the best method of continuing to deliver the course until cleared to return (e.g. posting lectures and other course content in the Blackboard shell; connecting remotely with the classroom to meet the class and deliver course material). If an instructor is incapacitated, the Academic Dean and Department Chair will collaborate in finding a substitute instructor.

Please note: Questions with an * were submitted by NCC Student Government representatives. These responses were provided to them directly.

*If a student in a class becomes infected with COVID how will the potential exposure for others in the classroom be handled?

This will be handled on a case-by-case basis. If someone taking on campus courses tests positive for COVID, the individuals in that classroom that were within 6’ of them for more than 15 min will be contacted. Refer to Q10 for info on the protocols in place for an exposure.

Please note: Questions with an * were submitted by NCC Student Government representatives. These responses were provided to them directly.

Is the vaccine mandatory for students?

The Board of Regents for Higher Education is requiring that all students who attend in-person classes or events on campus are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Further information about this new mandate can be found on the CT.edu website. For the purposes of weekly testing for students, the BOR has contracted with Sema4. Students will be required to schedule testing appointments with Sema4. The record of students having been tested during the week will be provided by Sema4 to the Dean of Student Affairs.

Is the vaccine mandatory for faculty & staff?

Unclassified Employees

In an effort to encourage employees to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, the BOR has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the unclassified collective bargaining units and negotiated mandatory vaccines with the allowance of exemptions for medical and non-medical reasons. This is also being required of all management/confidential employees.


Classified Employees

On September 10, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 13G relative to vaccine requirements for Connecticut state employees and state hospital employees. A similar order (Executive Order No. 13F) was issued earlier this month and applies to certain state employees working at long-term care facilities.

As required by these executive orders (EOs), by September 27, 2021, all state employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or submit to weekly testing. Hospital and long-term care facility employees may use the testing alternative only under certain circumstances. COVID-19 test results must be submitted in lieu of vaccination (as specified below) regardless of whether or not you have applied for a religious or medical exemption.

Weekly testing is required in lieu of vaccination for certain state employees under EO No. 13G.

In order to be compliant with the EO on September 27, 2021, employees who are required to submit weekly test results should plan to get tested at least one time (and submit results within 72 hours of administration of the test) during the week of September 20-26, 2021. Employees should be aware that some test methods may take longer than others to provide a result and that laboratory processing or reporting delays are not acceptable reasons for being out of compliance with reporting an initial test result by September 26, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will still need to report those results in accordance with their existing agency policies and also through the COVID Navigator App or manual submission process.

To administer this effort, the state is partnering with WellSpark, a leading health and well-being company and Connecticut’s Health Enhancement Program (HEP) vendor. WellSpark has developed a browser-based app, the COVID Navigator App, that can be used on smartphone or desktop to provide our employees with an easy, online process to document their vaccination status, or, if applicable, show their weekly testing results.

This app has been certified to the highest level required to protect vaccination and testing status data. Employees without the ability to download the app will be able to utilize fax or email services through WellSpark for manual processing. Please also note that you should verify the source of any email or web links regarding the vaccine mandate program to avoid malicious phishing emails.

Please register and submit your vaccination status on the app using the instructions linked here. Here’s what you should know:

  • The App Group Code is ctstate
  • You will need your vaccination card or related documentation to proceed
  • We ask that you provide this information through the app now, even if you already provided it to your agency in the past
  • If you plan to apply for a religious or medical exemption, please visit the web page below where you will find the appropriate forms to submit. You may not do this through the app.

The State has created a  web page of resources to answer questions and provide additional information, including instructions and forms.

Will there be exemptions to immunizations against COVID-19?

The policy includes the allowance of exemptions for medical and non-medical reasons.

If you received a non-medical exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and are attending on-campus courses or activities, you are required to engage in weekly testing offered at the college.

Testing appointments will be offered in W227 every: Monday 10am-3pm & Tuesday 3pm-7pm. Sign up here: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=20132254&calendarID=5955576

You must register and book an appointment before arriving on campus.

Requesting an Accommodation/Exemption
Faculty or staff who wish to seek a medical exemption or disability-related accommodation should contact Human Resources.

Students who wish to seek medical/disability accommodations should contact the Disability/AccessAbility Services offices.

Students who wish to seek non-medical exemptions should contact the Student Affairs office for assistance.

Are staff, and/or faculty being asked to produce proof of vaccination?

Some State Employees are being asked to produce proof of vaccination.

In an agreement made by and between the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR); the Congress of Connecticut Community College, SEIU 1973; the Federation of Technical College Teachers; SUOAF-AFSCME Local 2836 Council 4, AFL-CIO; AFSCME Local 2480 Council  4, AFL-CIO; and the CSU-American Association of University Professors, State of CT Employees are required to get vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination or apply for exemption from this policy.

Employees who elect not to disclose vaccination status as well as those employees who have applied for a non-medical exemption will be subject to weekly testing and are required to mask when indoors on CSCU property. Exemptions to this policy will be reviewed every three months and may be terminated based upon FDA approval status of vaccine as well as health and safety standards and recommendations from appropriate State and Federal authorities.

Are students being asked to produce proof of vaccination?

Currently, students are not being asked to provide proof of vaccination.

What options will there be for any student who wants to attend in person without being vaccinated?

Students who wish to enroll in on-campus courses for Fall 2021 must either be vaccinated or be granted an exemption from vaccination. Those who do not obtain an exemption, and fail to meet the vaccination requirement by the determined deadline, will not be permitted on campus.

Will there be COVID testing conducted on campus for those students who are taking on campus courses and have been granted a non-medical or medical exemption from vaccination?

Weekly testing will take place on campus for students who are not vaccinated, students that have been granted a non-medical exemption from vaccination, and students who failed to respond to the required attestations form.

If you received a non-medical exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and are attending on-campus courses or activities, you are required to engage in weekly testing offered at the college.

Click here for full details, including testing days and times.

Given the current set of circumstances and concerns regarding safety for those who are fully vaccinated, what actions besides the self-attestation form and weekly testing for those who admit to not being vaccinated, are being taken?

We are arranging for frequent visits by the DPH Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics to provide accessible on-campus vaccinations. We engage Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) as a partner to provide educational resources on campus in support of individuals getting vaccinated. Additionally, the BOR has required that the Community Colleges provide contact tracing in conjunction with the Health Department.

What happens to students who fail to respond to the required attestation form indicating their current vaccination status?

Failure to report for a COVID-19 test/respond to COVID-19 Attestation:

  • Students are expected to check their college emails. If a student doesn’t show up to their appointment, after they have clearly received notification, the COVID 19 Coordinator will send this information to the Office of Student Affairs/Conduct and they will issue a written warning to the student.
  • If a student violates this policy for a 2nd time, access to the campus will be restricted and Student ID’s may be de-activated, a Dean’s hold instituted etc.
  • If a student violates the policy for a 3rd time, it will once again be referred to the Office of Student Affairs/Conduct, and the student will have a administrative conference/formal hearing for consideration of more severe sanctions, up to and including suspension from the College, as stated in the CSCU Student Code of Conduct.

Has consideration been given to an educational campaign at the system; Regional level and Institutional level against misinformation and disinformation, directly responding to erroneous non-vaccination arguments?

Currently, neither the System nor the Regional level have organized any effort in that regard. Institutionally, NCC has partnered with Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) to provide educational information to students, faculty and staff regarding vaccines to influence an increased rate of vaccination particularly amongst students. FCA has presented at an All College meeting, set-up a table at each Enroll in a Day event to distribute information to students and visitors, and presented information during an on-campus student event. Moreover, they are willing to engage with the college in any way that we think will be helpful in improving the vaccination rate in the community.