COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to the start of spring semester classes, in addition to the COVID-19 online training course, Texas A&M University will require all employees at the Bryan-College Station campus/sites (faculty, staff, part-time employees, student workers, grad assistants) to test for COVID-19. Read the full announcement to employees here.

Testing FAQs - Updated 1/13/2021

Why is testing required for Texas A&M employees?

  • After each holiday and break we have experienced a subsequent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally. We expect that surge to be even greater in January. The goal is to identify as many individuals who have COVID-19, or who are carrying the virus that causes it, as early as possible in the spring semester. Individuals who know their own infection status can take important steps to prevent passing COVID-19 to others. This ultimately reduces the disruption to campus and potential spread within the community; it will not capture everyone who will become infected throughout the spring.
  • COVID-19 is an infectious disease, and a negative test in the past does not imply that you will not get COVID-19 in the future.

Why are tests required if I don’t have any symptoms?

  • Proactive testing and isolation can help reduce the spread in our community and burden on area hospitals, helping to ensure that everyone can access essential resources and services.
  • People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms, and it can take 2-14 days for symptoms to even start showing – most have mild symptoms, while some experience severe illness. Often, symptoms of COVID-19 may be similar to other respiratory and non-respiratory conditions. Members of the Brazos County community have reported feeling the following during the initial stage of COVID-19:
    • seasonal allergies (for example: congestion, runny nose, headache scratchy or sore throat)
    • migraine headache
    • hangover
    • ‘overdoing it’
    • post-exertion fatigue
Keep in mind that the symptom list is diverse, and symptoms may be mild. If these symptoms have a sudden onset or manifest to a degree that is not normal for you at the time, you might have COVID-19 and should be tested.
  • Many individuals do not have any symptoms at all. This means that people can be infected with the virus and not even know it and could be spreading it to others without realizing. A COVID-19 test is the only way to find out if someone has been infected with the virus.
  • Timely testing allows for cases to be quickly identified and isolated (even those who are asymptomatic) and facilitates contact tracing to effectively reduce the virus circulating on campus. This enhances the health and wellbeing of all and helps us have a greater chance of being able to finish the spring semester with in-person activities.
  • Testing helps to better manage surges in the number of COVID-19 cases. There was a surge when students arrived at campus in the Fall and a notable increase in COVID-19 cases among faculty, staff and students post-Thanksgiving. Our public health experts advise that we can expect a greater number of cases in January. We can blunt the surge through early detection and management of cases.

Will testing be available on campus?

  • Yes. There are several testing options available on campus.
  • Campus testing includes:
    • The Texas A&M Test, a saliva test, will be offered for free at several testing locations across campus. No appointments are required, and you can walk up to a testing site anytime during testing hours. Be sure to complete the required COVID-19 Testing Program registration through the link provided in your email. The whole process takes <10 minutes. No health insurance is required.
    • The Maroon and Blue kiosks on campus are continuing to offer the Curative tests by oral swab. In order to offset the costs incurred to provide these tests on campus, Texas A&M has asked that you present your health insurance information for billing purposes, though you will not be billed directly. Advance registration is required: https://tamus.curativeinc.com/welcome.
    • COVID-19 tests may be obtained at any healthcare provider of your choice, as long as it is a PCR test and as long as it is administered during the designated testing window. Antigen tests and antibody tests will not be accepted. The laboratory report form must be uploaded to the COVID-19 Testing Program portal when you register.
    • Free on campus testing locations will be updated weekly and can be accessed and their schedules can be found at https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/testing-locations/index.html
  • If you are sick, have symptoms that resemble COVID-19, or think you might have been exposed, please visit a healthcare provider of your choice for clinical evaluation.

What is the Texas A&M Test?

  • The Texas A&M Test is a COVID-19 PCR test that analyzes your saliva for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. The Texas A&M Test is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19 and has not been authorized or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • If the Texas A&M Test suggests the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in your specimen, you must take an FDA approved or authorized diagnostic test to determine whether you have COVID-19, provided at no cost through the Texas A&M System. If this is necessary, the COVID-19 Ops Center will coordinate this with you.

What is a COVID-19 PCR test? Are there other types of COVID-19 tests that will not be accepted?

  • The COVID-19 PCR is a test that uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the most accurate and reliable test available. PCR tests for the nucleic acid of SARS-CoV-2, and presence of the nucleic acid indicates the virus. Either a swab or saliva sample can be used to collect the sample to be tested.
  • You may obtain a PCR test with several options on campus, including the Texas A&M Test, the kiosk tests offered by Curative, and at Beutel.
  • The other types of tests are not accepted. For more information about testing for COVID-19, visit https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/coronavirus-disease-2019-testing-basics.

Can I get an antibody test to prove I've already had COVID-19?

  • No. Proof of a prior COVID-19 diagnosis is required. An antibody test result will not be accepted.

Updated 1/13/21 - Does every employee need to register even if they meet one of the exemption criteria?

  • Yes. Every employee should complete the required COVID-19 Testing Program registration process which includes an opportunity to claim an exemption to the testing requirement.
  • Every employee should have received an email containing a personal (unique) link to the secure Texas A&M COVID-19 Testing Program portal and instructions about scheduling an on-campus test or uploading test results. Employees should not forward the email from the portal with their personal link, as each individual link is tied to the original employee who received the email.
  • Due to inclement weather that may have prevented some Texas A&M University employees from getting a COVID-19 test, the deadline has been extended four days to Saturday, Jan. 16. The new deadline to report and upload test results is 12 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. Even with the new deadlines, departments are asked to allow their employees to comply with testing requirements through Friday, Jan. 22.

Added 1/13/21 - What are the reasons that employees would be exempted from the testing requirement?

  • During the registration process in REDcap, an employee will have the opportunity to claim one of the following exemptions:
    • I received a POSITIVE COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 test result on or after October 20, 2020 (does not count a positive antibody test result)
    • I have an alternate work location (AWL) agreement that is 100% off campus and I will NOT visit campus during Spring 2021
    • I am NOT in the Bryan-College Station area and I will NOT visit campus during Spring 2021
    • I do NOT work for or at Texas A&M University
  • Employees who meet the exemption criteria do not have to complete the health survey (ignore the second email from the portal).

Added 1/13/21 - If I meet one of the exemption criteria, do I need to upload anything in the portal?

  • If an employee meets the exemption criteria for having previously tested positive for COVID-19 (on or after October 20, 2020), the employee will need to upload documentation (their medical record or laboratory test) during the registration process. See screenshot below – upload file is next to the red arrow in the screenshot.
 
Screenshot of registration form with red arrow pointing to the hyperlink to upload documents.
  • If an employee meets the exemption criteria for having an approved alternate work location agreement, the employee will not be required to upload the AWL documentation to the portal; however, they will be required to provide this documentation to their designated HR Liaison.

How do I know what email address was used to send me my individualized link to the registration portal?

  • Registration instructions, containing a unique registration link, have been sent to each employee's designated Primary Work Email in Workday.
Sender: Texas A&M COVID-19 Testing Program
Sender email: covidtest@tamu.edu
Subject:  Register Now - Spring 2021 Return to Campus COVID19 Testing
  • If you don't think you have received the registration email, you can confirm your Primary Work Email in Workday by following the instructions below..
    1. Log in to Workday.
    2. Click on employee photo in the right hand corner. 
      Screenshot of Workday profile location.
    3. Click on View Profile 
      Screenshot of Workday of where to find view profile.
    4. Once you are on your profile, click on Contact in the left navigation pane. 
      Screenshot of Workday of contact section.
    5. Scroll to the bottom of the page - see Work Contact Information (Email addresses section).

Does my test have to be done within a certain amount of time before I return to campus?

  • Testing must be completed between January 2-16. This means that the swab or saliva must be taken during those dates, not before or after, even though we understand it might take a couple of days to receive your results. Tests administered prior to January 2 will not be accepted.
  • Employees may return to work on campus without having met the testing requirement; however, they must e in compliance no later than January 22.

Are employees required to take the test on campus, or can they obtain a test elsewhere such as a pharmacy, urgent care, or primary care provider?

  • An employee may take a COVID-19 test at any healthcare provider or testing site of your choice, as long as it is a PCR test and as long as it is administered during the designated testing window.
  • Antigen tests and antibody tests will not be accepted. The laboratory report form must be uploaded to the COVID-19 Testing Portal when you register.
  • Regardless of where you take the test, all employees are required to register using the COVID-19 Testing Program portal and answer the questions.

Does the testing requirement apply to employees who are working remotely?

  • If an employee can document a department head approved alternate work location (AWL) that is outside of the Bryan/College Station campuses, then they would be exempted from the testing requirement. This applies to all employees whose approved AWL has them working outside of their on-campus location 100% of the workweek.
  • If an employee’s AWL has them coming to the on-campus location on specific days on a regular basis, then the employee is required to comply with testing requirements (ex. remote work on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and working on campus Tuesday and Thursday).
  • Regardless of having and exemption for testing, all employees are required to register using the COVID-19 Testing Program portal and answer the questions.

Will parking be available to access campus testing?

Updated 1/13/21 - Can an employee return to work on January 4 and test after their return?

  • Return to work should be coordinated with your supervisor and under the guidelines in place within your unit.
  • An employee who is and remains non-symptomatic may return to work and should take their COVID-19 PCR test during the testing window.

Once an employee has been tested, may they return to work before receiving the results?

  • Return to work should be coordinated with your supervisor and under the guidelines in place within your unit.
  • If the employee is and remains non-symptomatic, they may return to work while awaiting their test results.

Updated 1/13/21 - What documentation is required to show proof of a negative test result or that I already had COVID-19?

  • Upload your test result directly into the COVID-19 Testing Program portal, which is accessed through your private and secure link. You will receive your own portal link through your Texas A&M email; the link is unique to you and should not be shared with others. Acceptable proof is a copy of the laboratory report form; not a screenshot of an email or a forward of an email.
  • If you receive results via email (such as from Curative), be sure to click the download link provided to receive a copy of the laboratory report. You may always contact your healthcare provider, testing site, or laboratory for a copy of your results if you do not have it.
  • Even if you have tested negative recently, you need to test again during the testing window of January 2-16. COVID-19 is an infectious disease, and a negative test in the past does not imply that you will not get COVID-19 in the future.
  • Results must be uploaded by January 19, 2020.

Updated 1/13/21 - I have already tested positive for COVID-19. Do I still need to test?

  • The CDC has recommended that individuals who have tested positive and have already recovered have a low risk of becoming infected and posing a risk to others during the subsequent 90 days. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/duration-isolation.html.
  • Anyone who has tested positive since October 20, 2020, and who has recovered is required to upload the test results to the COVID-19 Testing Program portal, using the secure link sent to your TAMU email address in early January.
    • Once you upload your result, as long as you have recovered and remain completely without symptoms, you do not need to test during January 2-16.
    • Acceptable proof is a copy of the laboratory report form; not a screenshot or a forward of an email.
    • If you receive results via email (such as from Curative), be sure to click the download link provided to receive a copy of the laboratory report.
    • If you do not have a copy of your results, you are always entitled to a copy of your results or medical record. You may always contact your healthcare provider, testing site, or laboratory for a copy.
    • An antibody test result will not be accepted as proof of prior infection, consistent with current CDC guidelines.
  • If you tested positive prior to October 20, you will need to be tested for COVID-19 during the testing window of January 2-16.

Updated 1/14/21 - How will employees submit proof that they have met the testing requirement?

  • Employees are required to register through the COVID-19 Testing Program portal and upload proof of test results there. The deadline to register, test, and upload documentation is January 19, 2020.
  • Employees who test using the Texas A&M Test (saliva test) will automatically have their results linked and do not need to upload their test report.
  • Employees who take their COVID-19 test at an off campus testing site should upload a copy of their medical documentation showing their test results. It is okay if they do not do so; however, they may be contacted by the COVID-19 Operations Center for additional follow-up information. To avoid the need for follow-up, we highly recommend that employees go ahead and upload their results in their health survey. See screenshot below from bottom of the first page.
Screenshot from health survey that points to where to upload documentation.

Who will see and have access to the information I upload to the COVID reporting portal?

  • The link you receive to the COVID-19 Testing Program portal is unique to you, and you should not share it with others. The portal is managed by Texas A&M and is compliant with security policies.
  • Only authorized personnel with a legitimate business need will be allowed to access the documentation. Authorized personnel include Human Resources (HROE, HR Liaisons), and the COVID-19 Operations Center at Texas A&M.

Who do I contact if I have issues uploading information to the COVID reporting portal, or if I have other questions about testing or the portal?

  • If you cannot find your answer here, or if you have difficulty uploading your test result, you may send an email to covidtest@tamu.edu.

How will supervisors know that their employee has met the testing requirement?

  • HR liaisons will be able to check if someone has completed the testing requirement.

Updated 2/2/21 - If my department/unit has hired new employees recently, will they need to meet the testing requirement? If so, where do we direct new hires for additional information regarding the testing requirement?

  • New employees hired after the employee testing window closed (Jan. 2 – Jan. 16) are not required to get tested for COVID-19 as part of the employee testing program; however, we highly recommend that they get tested prior to their first day on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. AS a reminder, timely testing allows for cases to be quickly identified and isolated (even those who are asymptomatic) and facilitates contact tracing to effectively reduce the virus circulating on campus.

What are the consequences for employees not complying with the testing requirement?

  • COVID-19 return to work testing is a condition of employment, and we are asking all employees to do this to keep our community as safe as possible during this pandemic.
  • For faculty inquiries, please consult with the Dean of Faculties. For all other employee types, please consult with Employee Relations or your HR Liaison.
  • The return to work testing requirement has been reviewed and approved by Texas A&M Office of General Counsel.

If an employee whose primary work location, including those with an alternative work location, is outside of the Bryan/College Station area needs to come to the Bryan/College Station campus to conduct University business, will they be required to complete a test beforehand?

  • Throughout the semester, if you are coming to the Bryan/College Station campus we highly recommend that you test, in your local area, 72-hours prior to travel.

For travel outside of the Brazos Valley, does the requirement to avoid contact with others mean that I should be outside of the workplace or one of exerting additional caution while remaining in the workplace?

  • All students and employees returning from travel outside of the Brazos Valley should self-quarantine for 72 hours to the greatest extent possible upon return, always wear a mask, keep six feet from others and wash hands frequently.
  • More information can be found on the travel guidance website.
  • This requirement should be coordinated with your supervisor and asks people to further avoid contact with others and could be accomplished either inside or outside of the physical workplace.

If holiday travel took you outside of the Brazos Valley for personal (and not business) purposes, would any required isolation away from the workplace require the employee to use annual leave?

  • All students and employees returning from travel outside of the Brazos Valley should self-isolate for 72 hours to the greatest extent possible upon return, always wear a mask, keep six feet from others and wash hands frequently. The Brazos Valley includes the following counties: Brazos, Burleson, Robertson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, and Washington.
This requirement should be coordinated with your supervisor and asks people to further avoid contact with others and could be accomplished either inside or outside of the physical workplace.
What is the protocol when a University employee shows symptoms/signs consistent with the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Texas A&M University implemented a new COVID 19 Reporting Process for students, faculty, and staff as outlined in an email message from Provost Fierke on July 20, 2020. Visit the COVID 19 Reporting Process webpage for specific information about this process. Note: This process has replaced the Ill Employee Protocol Supervisor Checklist.

If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 reporting process, please contact COVID19Process@tamu.edu.

If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms consistent with COVID-19, can a manager require them to go home?
Yes. If an employee is ill, coughing or displaying other symptoms, the employee should be sent home to minimize exposure to others; however, the employee cannot be penalized for being sent home. The employee should utilize paid leave as applicable to their position and situation. For specific information about HR policies and leave associated with COVID-19, visit the Employment-Related Information Concerning the Coronavirus website.
When can an employee who thinks or knows that they have COVID-19 discontinue isolation or quarantine?

Sick campus members should follow the guidance of their medical providers and/or contact tracers on when to discontinue isolation or quarantine. Additional instructions can be found on the new COVID-19 Guide for Sick/Exposed Campus Members which includes a step-by-step guide that describes the following six steps:

Where can I access official information about COVID-19 confirmed cases in my area?
  • For official information about COVID-19 cases and testing reported on the TAMU Bryan-College Station campus, visit the COVID-19 Dashboard.
  • For official information about confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazos County, visit The Brazos County Health District.
  • For updates across all counties in Texas, consult Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • The university issued a one-time COVID-19 Timely Warning notification on March 20 as required by the Department of Education. As described in the notification, future updates on how Texas A&M is addressing COVID-19 will be posted on the university's central COVID-19 page.
  • The university relies on information confirmed by the Brazos County Health District and other county health officials for confirmed cases. Therefore, not all presumptive cases nor confirmed cases if not identified by the health department may be known. All faculty and staff should self-monitor and, if ill, self-isolate as described in the COVID-19 Guide for Sick/Exposed Campus Members.

Questions not addressed in these FAQs may be emailed to:

What approval is needed for employees to work from an Alternate Work Location (AWL)?

Department heads may approve requests for remote work otherwise known as Alternate Work Location (AWL) in accordance with System Regulation 33.06.01.

  • Each request must be documented in writing and approvals should be maintained at the department level for reporting at a later date.
  • At this time, we have suspended normal AWL procedures (AWL form not required) and are not requiring HR approval. An email will be considered acceptable documentation. Documentation should contain the following statement:

    To the extent possible, [employee name] agrees to perform all the essential duties in their job descriptions. Other duties may be assigned in an effort to remain flexible. This may involve work that is outside of the employee's primary responsibilities.

  • Department heads should also consider equipment needs and maintenance, employee safety, communication and supervision, and adherence to state and federal laws.
  • Resources for working from alternate locations
If a faculty or staff employee is returning from travel to high risk locations, should they return to work?
International and Cruise Travel:
  • International and cruise travelers must self-isolate for 14 days prior to return to campus.
  • All international travelers must fill out a form in the international travel reporting portal.
  • Guidance for self-isolating is listed in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this web page and on the CDC Care Guide. All international travelers must fill out the international travel reporting portal.
  • The CDC now recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.
Domestic Travel:
  • Domestic travelers are required only to self-monitor at this time.
  • Domestic travelers do not need to self-isolate unless feeling ill or in a household with someone ill.
  • Domestic travelers do not need to complete the international travel reporting portal.
  • Guidance for self-monitoring is listed in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this web page and on the CDC Care Guide.
General Travel:
  • Until further notice, university-sponsored domestic and foreign travel is suspended unless the travel is deemed mission critical.
    • All such proposed domestic and foreign travel requests must be submitted through Concur so the Office of Risk, Ethics and Compliance can conduct an assessment before making a recommendation to the Office of the Provost.
    • Final approval is required prior to departure, therefore, requests should be submitted at least five (5) business days before the proposed travel to enable completion of the review and approval process.
    • It is advised that no funds are paid on planned travel prior to final approval being granted. Contact Jason Boyle (jboyle@tamu.edu) with the Office of Risk, Ethics and Compliance with any questions.
    • Additionally, the university strongly discourages international travel and domestic air travel outside of Texas.
  • Please continue to check the CDC website for travel updates.
If a faculty or staff employee has traveled to high risk locations and is self-monitoring or self-isolating as required, what type of leave should they use?

Faculty and Staff in benefits-eligible positions:
Managers should first consider a temporary alternate work location for employees who are under self-monitoring or self-isolation. If a temporary alternate work location arrangement is not feasible for the employee, departments may request approval of Justified Emergency Leave for Other Circumstances in accordance with System Regulation 31.03.03, section 2.5.2. Departments should consider whether new leave options under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) might be applicable. FFCRA information can be found here.

  • Vice Presidents or designees are authorized to approve emergency leave for six to ten days due to COVID-19 related absences as appropriate.
  • Vice Presidents (not designees) are authorized to approve emergency leave beyond ten days due to COVID-19 related absences as appropriate.
  • Appropriate documentation of the need for emergency leave should be provided with the request.
  • Emergency leave requests in Workday should be entered as "Other Emergencies" and must include COVID-19 in the comments box. All emergency leave must be tracked and reported in accordance with Tex. Gov't Code sec. 661.902(d).
If an employee is diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) while under isolation, should the employee continue to use Justified Emergency Leave for Other Circumstances?
If an employee is confirmed as diagnosed with COVID-19, the employee may request Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The employee may also take sick leave in accordance with System Regulation 31.03.02 after they exhaust EPSL (maximum of 80 hours for full-time employees; prorated for part-time employees).
Where can I find student employment guidance as it relates to the Coronavirus pandemic?
In addition to reviewing the HROE website for general guidance applicable to all employee types at Texas A&M University, student employees should refer to the Jobs for Aggies website for guidance specific to student employees.
What changes were made to A&M Care and/or benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The following updates were announced by the System Benefits Administration for A&M Care health plan members and/or those on the student insurance and graduate student employee plans:

  • The deadline for completing the 2-Step Wellness Incentive Program in MyEvive has been extended from June 30, 2020 to August 31, 2020. For more information on the Wellness Incentive Plan, see the System Benefits Administration.
  • Effective March 16, A&M Care health plan members, as well as those on the student insurance and graduate student employee plan, can receive telemedicine services from their network physicians for medically necessary, covered medical and behavioral health services for a $0 copay through April 30. The claim must indicate services were provided via telemedicine/telehealth to qualify.
  • As of March 16, all co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for COVID-19 testing consistent with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been waived by all A&M System health plans, until further notice.
  • Due to the closing of day cares and employers directing employees to work from home, employees are eligible to reduce their dependent day care flexible spending account contributions through a Life Event Benefit Change. They will be able to change their deductions again when they return to work, as it will still be considered a Life Event.

If you have any questions please email benefits@tamu.edu.

If a student employee has traveled to high risk locations and is self-monitoring or self-isolating as required, what type of leave should they use?
Student employees including graduate assistants are not in leave-eligible positions; therefore, they do not qualify for any type of state paid leave in accordance with System regulations. However, beginning April 1, 2020 under the FFCRA, there may be paid leave that would be applicable. See details here.
If a student employee is not self-monitoring or self-isolating and is otherwise able to return to work, but chooses not to, what type of leave should they use?

Student employees (including graduate assistants) who are not self-monitoring or self-isolating and are otherwise able to return to work, may choose not to return for whatever reason but they will not be paid. Managers should be flexible with student employees and not penalize them if they prefer to avoid campus.

Student workers should contact their supervisor regarding their ability to work. Students feeling ill should not come to work and should self-monitor and seek medical care if needed. Students not ill and not wishing to work in person will not be required to do so and will continue to be paid only if remote work is a possibility per above and approved by their supervisor. If students are unable to work in person or remotely, the student will not be paid. Departments are encouraged to provide as much flexibility regarding duties as feasible.

Are there any exceptions for student employees on Federal and/or State Work Study financial aid?
University guidance regarding student employment is available here from the Student Employment Office in Scholarships and Financial Aid. Please direct questions to workstudy@tamu.edu or leave a voicemail at (979) 845-0686.
Can student employees work more than 20 hours?

There is no limitation for student employees to work 20 hours per week or less (with a couple of exceptions listed below). Students cannot work during their regularly scheduled class time. If they work more than 40 hours, they are paid overtime.

Exceptions:

  • International Student Employees:
    • F-1s: may work 20 hours a week while school is in session and full-time during the vacation periods (winter, spring, and summer break).
    • J-1s: employment totals no more than 20 hours per week, except during official school breaks and the student's annual vacation
  • Graduate Students: see Request to Work Additional Hours on the OGAPS website.
If a faculty or staff member needs to take leave for the death of a family member, can the employee use the leave beyond 30 days from the date of the death?
Emergency leave due to death of a family member usually must be taken within 30 days from the date of death, per section 2.1 of System Regulation 31.03.03. Given the impact on funeral and celebration of life events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 30-day requirement has been waived by the Texas A&M System through August 31, 2021.
What changes were made to A&M Care and/or benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The following updates were announced by the System Benefits Administration for A&M Care health plan members and/or those on the student insurance and graduate student employee plans:

  • The deadline for completing the 2-Step Wellness Incentive Program in MyEvive has been extended from June 30, 2020 to August 31, 2020. For more information on the Wellness Incentive Plan, see the System Benefits Administration.
  • Effective March 16, A&M Care health plan members, as well as those on the student insurance and graduate student employee plan, can receive telemedicine services from their network physicians for medically necessary, covered medical and behavioral health services for a $0 copay through April 30. The claim must indicate services were provided via telemedicine/telehealth to qualify.
  • As of March 16, all co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles for COVID-19 testing consistent with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been waived by all A&M System health plans, until further notice.
  • Due to the closing of day cares and employers directing employees to work from home, employees are eligible to reduce their dependent day care flexible spending account contributions through a Life Event Benefit Change. They will be able to change their deductions again when they return to work, as it will still be considered a Life Event.

If you have any questions, please email benefits@tamu.edu.

Under what circumstances can leave-eligible employees take sick leave?

In accordance with System Regulation 31.03.02, absences that qualify for sick leave are as follows:

  • Your Condition: when injury, illness, or pregnancy prevents you from performing your duty.
  • Care for Immediate Family
    • Who lives in your household (eligible: related by kinship, adoption, or marriage)
    • Who do not live in your household (eligible: employee's child, spouse, or parent; must have a documented medical condition)
An employee has a child whose school or day care is closed, and they have no other childcare arrangements. What options are available?
If the employee is able to work from home with an approved Alternate Work Location (AWL) while supervising their child, the employee will be paid for regular hours worked. If a temporary alternate work location arrangement is not feasible, the employee may request Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA) in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
What options are available if employees want to self-monitor or self-isolate due to risk factors?
Employees who belong to categories considered to be at higher-risk of getting sick from COVID-19 (adults 60+ OR people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease) should consult with their managers about telecommuting or working from home, where feasible. See more information at the CDC website. Otherwise, employees may take other paid leaves as applicable to their position and situation. See the leave information website for more details.
Can managers ask for a doctor's note from an employee returning from self-isolation?
No. Managers may accept a doctor's note if it is voluntarily provided by the employee, but they may not require or ask for any specific documentation. However, managers may require that the employee notify them prior to return to work and may also require that the employee be asymptomatic upon return from self-isolation.
If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, can a supervisor require them to go home?
If an employee is ill, coughing or displaying other symptoms, the employee should be sent home to minimize exposure to others; however, the employee cannot be penalized for being sent home. The employee should utilize paid leaves as applicable to their position and situation.
If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, can a supervisor require them to go the doctor?
No. Managers should encourage employees to seek medical advice but they cannot require an employee to go to the doctor. They can require the employee to be asymptomatic before returning to work.
Does Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave apply to absences due to confirmed cases of coronavirus?
Yes, coronavirus qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA, allowing an eligible employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts the disease.

On March 26, 2020, President Young announced a new hiring authorization process requiring his approval for all recruiting, selection, and hiring activities for the foreseeable future.

Details found at New Hiring Authorization Process for Staff (non-faculty) Positions

What if I am registered for an HROE course? Should I attend; or, will it be rescheduled?
  • Organization Development (previously known as Professional Development) has push the majority of our learning and development (training) sessions to Zoom online. We have been communicating directly with registered participants regarding changes to their sessions. If you have not heard from us about your specific session or have general questions, feel free to contact orgdev@tamu.edu.
  • We continue to be Zoom-only through August. In September, we will have Zoom as well as reconvene face-to-face instructor-led for some events. More information for each course/program is available via our course delivery schedule.
  • Questions regarding HR Liaison Trainings should be sent to hrnetwork@tamu.edu.
What if I am registered for a Flourish event? Should I attend; or, will it be rescheduled?

Flourish is going remote for the rest of the semester. We are working hard to pull together programming specifically aimed at supporting staff and faculty as we all navigate how to stay connected to our community, establish new routines, and manage change in the coming weeks.

Are there Telehealth Services available for employees who want to talk to a doctor remotely?

Yes, MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services is available at no cost to facilitate access to medical care for all A&M Care members. Get access to health care 24 hours a day, seven days a week by online video, mobile app or phone. MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services provides safe and convenient care for non-emergency medical and behavioral health conditions, including the common cold and flu, ear problems, headaches, nausea and more. Additional information available online here.

To use MDLive, have your BCBSTX member ID card ready, and:

  • go to MDLive and activate your account;
  • download the MDLive app on your phone; or
  • call customer service at (888) 680-8646
What resources are available to an employee experiencing emotional challenges (such as anxiety) due to the coronavirus outbreak?

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been stressful for many people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause a host of emotional responses. Counseling and Psychological Services has compiled a page with ways to care for your mental health during these experiences and provides resources for more help. It also describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing and/or self-isolation.

If I (or my spouse) are unable to get in or do not want to have an annual wellness checkup at this time, can I (or my spouse) still qualify for the A&M Care Plan Two-Step Wellness Incentive next plan year?
Yes. For the new A&M Care Two-Step Wellness Incentive, no one is required to complete an annual wellness exam in order to qualify for the wellness incentive next year (Sept 1, 2020 – Aug 31, 2021). One of the features of the Two-Step Wellness Incentive Plan is that you are allowed to pick any two of the 5–6 personalized options in your MyEvive checklist. Traditionally, the completion of an annual wellness exam was required, but not under the Two-Step program. All benefit eligible employees and their spouses may select any two items on their MyEvive checklist to receive credit so long as both items are completed prior to June 30, 2020. For more information on the incentive program and MyEvive, visit the Two-Step Wellness Incentive Website.
Where should I direct employment-related questions concerning the coronavirus?
Employees and/or managers may send an email to benefits@tamu.edu.