WSU offers COVID-19 resources to faculty

COVID-19 testing on- and off-campus will be covered by WSU medical insurance



Faculty are encouraged to get tested on-campus if they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

WSU officials said spring classes will likely be online for spring during a COVID-19 virtual town hall Wednesday morning. Spring will likely have some in-person labs, but the full schedule will come out in mid-October.

“There will be an exemption process that’s run through my office for the kinds of the instruction that really just cannot be done well remotely,” said Elizabeth Chilton, WSU provost and executive vice president.

Officials from WSU Human Resource Services and the university provost office also described mental health and medical resources for faculty and staff. 

More than 1,800 faculty members responded to a survey about the concerns of WSU employees, said Theresa Elliot-Cheslek, HRS chief human resource officer. Most responses showed concerns with mental health resources, questions about asymptomatic on-campus testing and whether insurance would cover those who participate in paid leave programs. 

Asymptomatic testing will be free for faculty and staff. Insurance will cover counseling for those experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health obstacles, said Ann Monroe, HRS director of the benefits unit.

“One of the resources that we’re really encouraging people to tap into is the employee assistance program that has counselors available,” Monroe said. 

The WSU Employee Assistance Program also has resources for questions about whether an employee who needs to take care of small children or older citizens can continue to benefit from the university’s medical insurance, Monroe said. 

Most employees who partake in the March 2020 federal Family First Coronavirus Act, which allows employees who need to take care of family to take paid leave, will retain their health insurance under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Monroe said. 

However, beyond that act’s protections, she said most legislation requires at least eight hours of work per month to continue to get the institution’s insurance. 

Faculty are highly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 on-site, said Kendra Wilkins-Fontenot, WSU director of Disability Services, Labor Relations, and Learning & Organizational Development teams. 

“We are encouraging employees who are not experiencing COVID-19 to participate in the program,” Wilkins-Fontenot said.

Those who do experience symptoms first need to fill out their daily attestation and stay off-campus, Monroe said. The university also suggests they contact a local healthcare provider to participate in testing, which will also be covered by WSU insurance. 

“For anyone who is experiencing symptoms … that is the sort of testing that will be covered by the insurance,” Monroe said.

Decisions about which employees will be furloughed as part of the university’s strained financial situation have not been made, Chilton said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to include information about spring classes and future furloughs. The details about asymptomatic testing have also been updated.