Employee Mask FAQ

Updated May 26, 2021

MASKS

What is the new mask & distancing policy?
Effective June 1, fully vaccinated individuals who have registered their vaccination status with HR will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or physically distance. If you are not vaccinated, we respectfully request that you continue wearing a mask and physical distance consistent with CDC guidelines. You can continue to take off your mask in your office or outdoors with physical distance.

Why is JBU following CDC guidance on this issue?
JBU has consistently said that we would follow CDC/ADH guidelines in setting our policy throughout the pandemic. Occupational and Health Safety Administration (OSHA) has said that employers should follow CDC guidelines on this question as they consider changes to their guidelines. Following CDC guidelines also provides JBU protection from liability under Arkansas’s Coronavirus Tort Liability statute. JBU’s policy is also consistent with many major employers in the area (Walmart, Arvest, etc.). This policy is primarily an employee policy which distinguishes it from the policies implemented in stores and churches.

Do I need to provide a copy of my vaccination card?
No, just email askhr@jbu.edu and tell us that you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second Moderna/Pfizer shot or two weeks after the J&J vaccine). If you received a vaccine at one of the JBU clinics or have already told HR you are vaccinated, no further action is needed. (If you have summer student employees, they will need to notify askhr@jbu.edu of their vaccination even if it was at a JBU vaccine clinic.)

How will JBU enforce the new policy?
When necessary, each vice president will respectfully request that an unvaccinated person wear a mask and physically distance.

Do I have to disclose my vaccinated status?  
No, you do not have to disclose your vaccination status to JBU. However, we respectfully request that you follow the guidelines for non-vaccinated individuals until you inform JBU of a change in your vaccination status.

What if I am vaccinated and still want to wear a mask?
We know there are many reasons why a vaccinated individual may choose to continue wearing a mask, and we support that choice. We hope everyone will remember that high-risk individuals and others may still choose to wear a mask, and we should not make any assumptions about individuals based on whether they continue to wear a mask.

Can I file for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination that will allow me to take my mask off?
No. We are following CDC guidance and the recommendation to remove masks is for those that are fully vaccinated.

Can I sign a liability waiver or release to enable me to take my mask off?
No. JBU’s employee attorney has advised us that an employee cannot yet sign a waiver or release on this issue since the CDC guidance is still the standard relied on in Arkansas Coronavirus Tort Immunity law and OSHA guidance. However, we have some expectations that may change as we come out of the pandemic.

Can I remove my mask if I have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days?
No. The CDC guidance applies only to fully vaccinated individuals. (The CDC reports that unless you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, it is safe for you to get a vaccine any time, and there is no need to wait a specified period after having the virus to be vaccinated.)  

Can vaccinated employees meet together in groups without masks?
Yes. Since the new guidelines apply to both masks and physical distancing, several vaccinated employees can meet together in an office, conference room, etc. However, we ask employees not to make a point of asking about the vaccination status of individuals attending, although anyone is free to disclose their vaccination status if they wish. There may also be vaccinated employees who still are not comfortable meeting in large groups. Please take these things into consideration as you make accommodations such as hosting meetings outside or on Zoom, etc.

When will this policy begin?
Tuesday, June 1.

When will this policy end? 
We are not entirely sure, but we anticipate that CDC/ADH guidance will continue to loosen over the summer. We will adjust our policy as soon as feasible when new guidance comes out. We expect this new policy to be temporary in this intermediate time as we are coming out of the pandemic.

Are there exceptions to the new policy?
We have a few public-facing events on campus this summer for which we may ask the faculty and staff directly involved to wear masks because we are asking the attendees to wear masks. Exceptions include Eagle Base Camp and JBU-sponsored Summer Academies. More information will be given to those involved closer to the date.

Will this apply to students in the fall?
We have not made all of the decisions about COVID-19 protocols for the fall. When our guidelines are finalized, we will communicate them. We don’t know for sure, but we anticipate that there could be a continued “inconvenience” for students or employees who are not vaccinated. For example, if an unvaccinated student or employee is exposed (i.e., close contact) to someone who tests positive, we expect that they will still have to go into quarantine for 10 days. CDC says that a vaccinated person does not have to quarantine when exposed unless they show symptoms. Or, if we needed to do surveillance testing to respond to an outbreak, CDC has said that you only would test non-vaccinated people. These protocols are consistent with long-standing policies on other infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, or rubella. (For example, if we had a student test positive for measles, everyone not vaccinated for measles would have to go home for 26 days.) 

What will JBU do to accommodate people who, for good reasons, have decided not to get the vaccine?
While JBU still encourages vaccination, we also recognize that there are a host of appropriate reasons why people have chosen not to get vaccinated at this point. In order to continue making JBU an excellent place to work, we ask everyone to do whatever is feasible to accommodate non-vaccinated people during this intermediate time as we come out of the pandemic. That could include hosting meetings outside or on Zoom, allowing people to work from home, and respecting people’s choices regarding their health. Again, we anticipate that this policy will be temporary, and we ask that people work diligently to accommodate and respect one another.

Will campus visitors (i.e., vendors, prospective parents and students, etc.) follow this same policy?
Yes. Campus signage will be updated to reflect that masks are required unless vaccinated. We will not require proof from short-term visitors. This will also apply to health complex members. Summer camps, academies and Eagle Base Camp may be different.

DISTANCING 

Can fully vaccinated people meet as a group inside without masks?
Yes. However, please remember that 35% of our employees are not vaccinated, and even those who are may not feel comfortable attending group events. Therefore, please continue to make accommodations for those individuals, such as Zoom links for meetings, etc. 

VACCINE REQUIREMENTS

Will JBU require vaccines for students or employees?
We do not expect to require COVID-19 vaccines for students or employees. However, we expect to require information from students on their COVID-19 vaccinated status as we do for any infectious disease covered by a vaccine (i.e., measles, mumps, and rubella).

TESTING & QUARANTINE

If I am vaccinated, will I have to participate in campus surveillance testing (like we did before the spring semester)?
We have not made any decisions about surveillance testing in the fall. However, if we do need to do surveillance testing, JBU would only test non-vaccinated people per CDC guidelines.

Do fully vaccinated individuals need to be tested following known exposure to COVID-19?
Not unless they begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms. 

Do fully vaccinated individuals need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19?
No.

If I am vaccinated but experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, should I get tested?
Yes, the CDC still recommends testing. If your test is positive, please notify askhr@jbu.edu. 

TRAVEL

Do fully vaccinated individuals need to quarantine after domestic or international travel?
No, as long as your vaccination status is registered with HR. However, you will need to follow any testing/quarantine protocols for your destination.

MISC

Is campus still closed to outside events and visitors?
Other than summer camps and prospective families, we are continuing to limit outside visitors to campus for now.

When should I return to working in the office?
We are working toward having all employees back in the office by August 1. If you have specific accommodations that need to be made for remote work, please speak with your vice president.