Urgent Message COVID-19 Updates »

Coronavirus Updates

For the most up-to-date news, please see the University’s official COVID‑19 information webpage.

Working Remotely

For those working remotely, please adhere to supervisor expectations and University policies for monitoring email and other forms of communication, for performing job duties, and for protecting UT Dallas equipment, data, and documents while working remotely. To assist those of you who will be working remotely, please refer to this list of remote work resources and to these tips for working remotely. For those continuing to report to campus, please follow CDC guidelines on social distancing and continue to exercise good hygiene and judgment. Employees who feel ill should stay home.

To enable remote work as quickly as possible for as many employees as possible, UT Dallas equipment, data and documents may be taken offsite to the home of an employee to support remote work. This includes desktop computers, laptops computers, monitors, desktop printers and various peripherals.

This should remove the need, in most cases, to purchase more computers. It can also be beneficial for the employee to remain on the computer on which they already have installed software or local files.

Please note, however, that each school or department is responsible for tracking IT assets. Assets that leave campus are expected to return to campus when this emergency event concludes. The assets remain the legal property of UT Dallas and must be returned at any time requested.

These computers should have an encrypted hard drive, which is especially important now that they are leaving our campus property. Please ensure that machines are encrypted if they will be taken home.

Operationally, there will be challenges with internet access (desktops may need an Ethernet cable if there is no wireless card) and users may need a camera, microphone or speakers to fully utilize collaboration tools. Employees should work with their supervisor to acquire these items as needed.

Please contact your supervisor with any questions or concerns you may have about changes in your work assignment. As previously announced, the University will make accommodations for faculty and staff who have concerns about exposure to COVID-19 because of their health, age, or other factors or who are unable to return to campus due to self-isolation.

Headset Options

Please visit OIT’s Headsets page to learn more and request a headset.

Professional Development Resources

The UT Dallas Office of Human Resources has compiled a list of free professional development resources that may be helpful for those who are working remotely.

LinkedIn Learning’s Lynda.com Content

LinkedIn Learning , powered by content from Lynda.com, is available to the UT Dallas community through the Eugene McDermott Library. LinkedIn Learning offers more than 12,000 courses, including topics such as business, software, technology and creative skills. To view available courses, log in using your UT Dallas NetID and password. A LinkedIn account is not required.

Skillsoft

Skillsoft Opens in a new tab., hosted on the UT System Learning Zone, provides training in technology, supervision and leadership, communications, soft-skills, and certification/recertification training — more than 500,000 multimodal courses, videos, books and micro-learning modules. Sign on Opens in a new tab. using your NetID and password to search the Skillsoft library by topic or courses.

Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program

In addition to offering confidential counseling services, the Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program Opens in a new tab. offers articles and trainings in a variety of subjects, from effective management to professional development. To access these trainings, visit the member log in page Opens in a new tab. and enter “utdallas” for both the username and password. Most topics include links to journal articles as well as on-demand online seminars and elearning modules. Online seminars are one hour. Elearning seminars are 15 to 30 minutes and include a certificate upon completion.

Coursera

Coursera Opens in a new tab. courses include everything from free courses to full master’s programs, offered by some of the top universities in the country. Coursera courses last approximately four to 10 weeks with one to two hours of video lectures a week. Courses are provided on-demand, allowing learners to move at their own pace. Create a free account Opens in a new tab. to get started.

edX

Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX Opens in a new tab. is a global nonprofit that offers hundreds of classes and courses from over 120 universities and colleges. The class topics range from data and computer science to leadership and communications. Learners have the opportunity to take courses individually or design a program or seek a degree. Most of the individual courses can be audited for free. Create a free account Opens in a new tab. to get started.

Alison

Alison Opens in a new tab. is a free online training and education platform that focuses on workplace skills. It offers over 1,000 free courses; there is a charge to obtain certification. Create a free account Opens in a new tab. to get started.

Tips for Working from Home

Here are some helpful tips to protect your health and ensure productivity while working from home.

  1. Get dressed for the day. You don’t have to wear your normal work clothes, but get out of your pajamas and into “work” clothes.
  2. Keep the same schedule as you would at the office.
  3. Pick a spot in your home where you’ll work. Make it somewhere free of distractions.
  4. Start by getting clear about what needs to get done during the day ahead, and create a manageable list.
  5. Set boundaries. If other people are at home during the day, discuss with them the times you’ll be working and ways to minimize distractions.
  6. Move throughout the day. In addition to exercising (e.g., walking, doing an online exercise video), take short stretch breaks. You can use this short video Opens in a new tab. as a guide.
  7. Meditate. Use the time you would have been commuting to start a mindfulness practice. Download the BCBSTX Centered App Opens in a new tab. (app available for iPhone) to access a free trial of “Headspace” or “Calm.”
  8. Remain socially connected. Take time to connect with your coworkers through email, instant messaging or phone.
  9. Enjoy healthy snacks. Find ideas on the American Heart Association Opens in a new tab. website.
  10. At the end of the day, put your work away. While you won’t have a commute to transition your day from work to home life, putting away your work may help signal your body it’s time to rest and recover from the day.

For more healthy tips on working from home or managing stress, please visit the employee wellness website or email Taylor Tran, employee health program manager, at taylor.tran@utdallas.edu. For questions regarding your UT Dallas health benefits, please email benefits@utdallas.edu or your designated benefits administrator. Additionally, our Research, Campus, and Environmental Safety team wanted to share the following resources regarding proactively addressing ergonomic safety at remote workstations.

These resources are also available on the Campus Occupational Safety & Health webpage. If you have further questions about this topic, please contact Renee Witherspoon at x6111 or by email at Renee.Witherspoon@UTDallas.edu.

New Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave & Emergency Family and Medical Leave

UT Dallas will offer COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFML) to all eligible UT Dallas employees pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).* The leave provided under the FFCRA does not modify an employee’s right to use sick or vacation time, as set forth in our current policies. Rather, these new provisions expand the University’s employee benefits by requiring that UTD grant additional leave to certain employees due to COVID-19 through Dec. 31, 2020.

*This memorandum is subject to change based on forthcoming regulations from the Department of Labor (DOL), issued guidance or other legal authority.

There are two types of leave provided under the FFCRA:

  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)
  2. Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFML)

Employees may take leave under the FFCRA only if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to the COVID-19-related qualifying reasons set forth below.

  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL):
    1. Employees are eligible from their first day of employment. There is no waiting period.
    2. Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible. Amount of leave granted is based on full-time equivalent (FTE) level.
    3. EPSL will be at full pay, and accrued leave will not be charged. Employees may take up to two weeks/80 hours of EPSL. Leave must be taken in full-day increments, but an employee does not have to use all 80 hours continuously.
    4. Employees are not entitled to be paid for unused EPSL upon separation of employment.
    5. Qualified reasons for EPSL:
      1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
      2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
      3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and also seeking a medical diagnosis;
      4. The employee is caring for an individual (not required to be a family member) who is subject to local or state order;
      5. The employee is caring for a child of their own because the school or place of care for the child has been closed or the child care provider of their child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
      6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
  2. Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFML):
    1. Employees are eligible after completing 30 calendar days of employment.
    2. Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible. Amount of leave granted is based on FTE level.
    3. EFML provides an additional reason to take FMLA but does not expand the maximum allowable time of FMLA, which remains at 12 weeks over a 12-month period.
    4. Qualified reason for EFML: An eligible employee who is unable to work (or telework) may take EFML when an emergency has been declared by a federal, state or local authority related to COVID-19 and the employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee must care for their own child under age 18 whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19.
    5. The first two weeks/80 hours an employee is out will be considered EPSL and paid at the employee’s regular rate. For EFML, an employee does not have to use full day increments. Normal use of “intermittent” leave is permitted.
    6. The 10 weeks of EFML may be taken intermittently for school/day care closing
    7. After the first two weeks/80 hours have been used, employees are entitled to up to 10 additional workweeks (based on FTE and prior FMLA usage) of EFML paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work per week. Employees may not supplement EFML leave with accrued vacation, sick or comp time to receive 100% of pay.
    8. If an eligible employee works a varying schedule such that the number of hours the employee would have otherwise worked is not known with certainty, the employee is entitled to the average number of hours the employee was scheduled per day over the prior six months or, if the employee did not work over that period, the reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would work per day.
    9. Employees may take up to the 10 additional weeks of EFML only if caring for their own child due to school closure/unavailability of child care.
    10. Parents employed at the same organization cannot take expanded EFML at the same time for school closure/lack of child care.
    11. The Department of Labor instructs employees that, to establish their need for leave, they must provide their employers with documentation identified in IRS forms, instructions and information. For employees to substantiate the need for EFML based on a school closure or child care provider unavailability, they must represent that “no other person will be providing care for the child during the period for which the employee is receiving family medical leave.” Thus, the IRS takes the position that the employee alone must be providing care to the child, making clear that leave then would be unavailable if both parents or another individual is present to care for the child.
    12. Also, per IRS FAQ 44, in the case of a 15- to 17-year old child, the employee must identify “special circumstances” requiring the employee to provide care. If the employee cannot do so, they cannot take ESPL or FMLA.
  3. Option to maximize continued income and benefit coverage
    1. An employee who cannot work (or telework) for a reason that qualifies under the EFML, may choose to use their state accrued leave prior to or after using EFML.
    2. If electing to use accrued leave prior to EFML, the employee may choose, but is not required, to exhaust available vacation or comp balances before going on 10 weeks of EFML at two-thirds pay. The use of sick leave while on EFML is not permitted.
  4. Employees on EPSL or EFML will retain current benefits at their regular rate in accordance with their FTE, even if being paid at two-thirds rate during the 10 weeks of EFML.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) FAQs

For additional information on the FFCRA, please visit the Department of Labor Opens in a new tab. website.

Employee Rights (required poster) PDF opens in a new tab


Does the EFML change an employee’s entitlement to use traditional FMLA if the employee or the employee’s family member becomes sick due to COVID-19?

EFML does not impact an employee’s rights under the existing FMLA law. If an employee needs to request leave for a traditional FMLA-qualifying reason, they should contact loa@utdallas.edu and follow the processes set forth on the HR Website.


Will an employee be restored to their position if the employee’s position is eliminated while the employee is out on EFML?

Generally, yes. Employees returning from EFML will be restored to their original or an equivalent position.


Are employees required to provide advanced notice of the need for leave?

EPSL: After the first workday (or portion thereof) an employee receives EPSL, the employee must provide advanced notice prior to taking additional leave whenever possible.

EFML: The employee must provide as much notice of leave as is practicable when the need for leave is foreseeable.


What documentation must employees submit to the institution to support the need for leave?

Employees must submit the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Request Form PDF opens in a new tab and provide the documentation required. Send the completed form and support documentation to loa@utdallas.edu. Please see specific questions from the DOL and IRS FAQs below for additional information. For questions, email loa@utdallas.edu.


Can the institution require employees to exhaust their state accrued paid leave before using EPSL or EFML?

No, not for EPSL. However, since EFML is only paid at two-thirds rate of pay, the employee may choose to use accrued state leave prior to accessing EFML.


May an employee use EPSL or EFML intermittently?

Yes. EPSL may be used intermittently as long as it is in full-day increments. EFML may be used intermittently in less than full-day increments. This answer is subject to change based on DOL guidance.


Can employees carry over unused EPSL beyond Dec. 31, 2020?

No.


DOL FAQ (question No. 16): What documents do I need to provide to get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

You must provide to your employer documentation in support of your paid sick leave as specified in applicable IRS forms, instructions and information.

Your employer may also require you to provide additional documentation in support of your expanded family and medical leave taken to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19-related reasons. For example, this may include a notice of closure or unavailability from your child’s school, place of care or child care provider, including a notice that may have been posted on a government, school or day care website, published in a newspaper, or emailed to you from an employee or official of the school, place of care or child care provider. Your employer must retain this notice or documentation in support of expanded family and medical leave, including while you may be taking unpaid leave that runs concurrently with paid sick leave if taken for the same reason.

Please also note that all existing certification requirements under the FMLA remain in effect if you are taking leave for one of the existing qualifying reasons under the FMLA. For example, if you are taking leave beyond the two weeks of emergency paid sick leave because your medical condition for COVID-19-related reasons rises to the level of a serious health condition, you must continue to provide medical certifications under the FMLA if required by your employer.


IRS FAQ (question No. 44): What information should an Eligible Employer receive from an employee and maintain to substantiate eligibility for the sick leave or family leave credits? Opens in a new tab.

An Eligible Employer will substantiate eligibility for the sick leave or family leave credits if the employer receives a written request for such leave from the employee in which the employee provides:

  1. The employee’s name;
  2. The date or dates for which leave is requested;
  3. A statement of the COVID-19-related reason the employee is requesting leave and written support for such reason; and
  4. A statement that the employee is unable to work, including by means of telework, for such reason.

In the case of a leave request based on a quarantine order or self-quarantine advice, the statement from the employee should include the name of the governmental entity ordering quarantine or the name of the health care professional advising self-quarantine, and, if the person subject to quarantine or advised to self-quarantine is not the employee, that person’s name and relation to the employee.

In the case of a leave request based on a school closing or child care provider unavailability, the statement from the employee should include the name and age of the child (or children) to be cared for, the name of the school that has closed or place of care that is unavailable, and a representation that no other person will be providing care for the child during the period for which the employee is receiving family medical leave and, with respect to the employee’s inability to work or telework because of a need to provide care for a child older than 14 during daylight hours, a statement that special circumstances exist requiring the employee to provide care.

Additional Resources

Resources for the LGBT+ community

The Galerstein Gender Center is available to advise and connect with University community members through email at gendercenter@utdallas.edu and on social media: Facebook Opens in a new tab., Twitter Opens in a new tab. and Instagram Opens in a new tab..

The center also shared the following resources:

Child care options for Texas frontline workers

The state has created a portal to assist frontline essential workers in finding child care options. The Frontline Child Care website Opens in a new tab. is an initiative of Gov. Greg Abbott in coordination with Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Health and Human Services, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.