Staff Information on COVID-19

Coronavirus information for Staff

Below you’ll find answers to a few common questions on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Subject to change; last updated March 31, 2020.

We are committed to providing updates on the latest developments and how they impact our people and our workplace. We will share answers to more of your questions in the coming days.



Human Resources

Q: If we have to close the campus, would the time be with or without pay?
A: If the university chooses to close, the time would be paid time off.

Q: Would the question above apply if someone is instructed to go into voluntary quarantine?
A: If an employee or a family member becomes ill and they are advised by a healthcare professional or supervisor to stay home, that employee will be paid using their sick leave benefit. If you have made the personal decision to self-isolate, you will be required to use sick leave, vacation or personal leave.

Q: Will patients tested by CDC-approved labs incur costs for the testing?
A: At this time, the CDC is not billing for testing for COVID-19, so you should not incur costs for the actual testing. Commercial labs permitted to do high complexity testing by the CDC may charge testing fees. In addition, hospitals and facilities may charge their own fees for collecting the specimens, which may then be billed to your health insurance issuer.mpus safety. 

Q: What will SHP cover with regard to COVID-19 testing at this time?
A: Sanford Health Plan will cover 100% of the cost of specimen collection and testing for COVID-19. Testing is covered when indicated as medically necessary by a qualified practitioner.


Q: What is "modified Instruction"?
A: This means courses taught via methods other than face-to-face. This includes, but is not limited to: Moodle, Screencast, Google Classroom/Hangouts, Zoom and email communication.

Q: Are instructions available to help me as a faculty or staff member connect remotely and/or prepare for teaching online?
A: Information Technology has created a remote access guide and a course continuity guide for faculty and staff to prepare for the transition to online courses and communication. Please refer to these guides for additional information and details.

Q: Will there still be individual campus visits for prospective students?
A: Beginning March 19 through March 31 there will be no individual campus visits with the admissions office.

Q: How should we engage with students who are on campus and/or in Sioux Falls?
A: Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty, we recommend that faculty and students not meet in person either in small groups or one-to-one until March 31.

Even though students may be available because they are living on campus or in the Sioux Falls community, we strongly encourage you to schedule virtual meetings via phone, FaceTime, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or whatever technological means best suit your needs.

This type of blanket policy is intended to ensure fairness and consistency for the entire AU community while also supporting the broader efforts of those charged with leading the response to the virus. Further, these guidelines provide faculty the protected time and space required to modify their courses and thus meet the needs of all of our students in the coming weeks.

Thank you, and please know that between now and March 31 we will continue to monitor the situation and revisit and, when necessary, update this and other such guidelines as new information becomes available.

Q: To what extent is the academic calendar changing?
A: To date, the following adjustments have been made to the academic calendar:

  • Spring Break — Now officially March 7-22. Classes resume on Monday, March 23.

  • Advising and Assessment day, March 26, will now be considered an instructional day.

  • Midterm grades are now due on Monday, April 6 (instead of Wednesday, April 1).

  • Friday, April 10 — Good Friday is at the discretion for faculty to use for instruction. Staff will be unavailable as this is a paid holiday.
  • Monday, April 13 — Easter Monday will be considered a non-instructional day assuming students will be traveling back to campus this day.


Q: Can I still travel?
A: The business office will coordinate and initiate travel cancellations in any way possible. Airlines have asked that if you are not scheduled to travel within the next 72 hours, that you wait to contact them regarding travel that happens further in the future in order to help them manage the volume of people needing changes. The business office has reports of departure dates for all travel that has been scheduled using university purchased cards. If you have questions regarding travel, you may email for guidance.


Q: Will spring sports still be played?
A:  The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Board of Directors voted unanimously to suspend all activities related to intercollegiate athletics and cancel the remaining 2020 conference competition and championships. Please read the full press release.

Q: Is the Athletics Auction going on as planned?
A: On Friday, March 13, the athletics department announced the annual auction will be postponed to a later date. We will continue to keep you updated as we look for a date to reschedule. If you have purchased a ticket/table for the event, your tickets will automatically be transferred to the rescheduled date.

Events & Tours

Q: How do I know if my event on campus has been canceled?
A: At this time, no new events are being scheduled for the university. This includes no scheduling of spaces or hosting of events for external groups or constituents and has canceled or postponed all non-athletic events between Friday, March 13, and Tuesday, April 14, that involve more than 10 participants. Visit for specific updates.

Information Technology

Q: How do I connect to campus resources from home?
A: Please refer to this instructional document (remote access guide) regarding working remotely. It has information about resources including accessing the J/K drives, CX/JX, campus phones, Zoom, and more. 

Q: Are resources available to faculty who are teaching courses online?
A: Information Technology in coordination with Academic Affairs has created a course continuity guide for faculty to prepare for the transition to online courses and communication. Please refer to this guide for additional information and details.

Q: Are there any tips on using Zoom meetings you can share?
A: Communicating through Zoom has become an inviting target for uninvited or unwanted guests to join meetings. Please educate yourself on how to use meeting controls, such as how to quickly block a person and remove them from a meeting.

Do not post your Zoom meeting ID on a public place and use a Generated Meeting ID instead of a Personal Meeting ID. When setting up a meeting, make sure only the host can share the screen, which allows the host to grant permission for others to be able to do so.

Zoom Waiting Room is another feature you may want to consider using for some meetings. When someone joins the meeting, they are put in a "waiting room" and will not be able to enter the meeting until the host grants them permission.

As a reminder to faculty and staff, members of IT are available in a Zoom meeting from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday-Friday. Please join them when you have questions. You can find a link to our Zoom meeting in the Course Continuity Guide (available to faculty and staff only).


Q: What should I do if I believe I have been exposed to someone with the Coronavirus or if I have the virus?
A: If you exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should follow CDC guidelines for self-quarantine and promptly contact your personal health care provider and explain that you are self-monitoring. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 at any time, you should notify the university at

Q: What is COVID-19?
A: COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. This outbreak started in China, but has now spread to many countries, including the United States.

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: Fever, Cough and Shortness of breath.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?
A: The virus is spread from person to person through close contact and respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible to get COVID-19 through contact with a contaminated surface or object; however, this is not the main way the virus spreads.

Q: How can we prevent COVID-19 from spreading?
A: Practice good respiratory and hand hygiene:

  • Cover your cough and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often (for at least 20 seconds) and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household clearing spray or wipe.

Q: How is COVID-19 treated?
A: Treatment for COVID-19 is supportive care (treating the symptoms). There are no antiviral or vaccine options at this time.

Q: What do I do if I start experiencing symptoms? (students, faculty and staff)
A: Call the campus clinic nurse at 605.274.5552 and press 1 during the hours of 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. If after hours, call 605.328.5800 and follow the prompt to be directed to the Sanford Hospital After Hours Call Center. The healthcare provider will speak to you regarding your symptoms and provide you with next steps. At this time, refrain from going into the clinic unless directed by the healthcare provider.

Q: What is telehealth?
A: Telehealth is the ability to talk with a healthcare provider via telecommunication technologies such as a mobile app or website. This can alleviate the need to go to a clinic where illnesses can be spread. Your insurance carrier may provide telehealth services.

Q: Who needs to be tested and when?
A: CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or special management for people exposed to others who are not showing symptoms but have had potential exposures to the virus that causes COVID-19 (such as in a household), i.e. “contacts of contacts"; these people are not considered exposed to COVID-19.

Those in close contact with individuals who have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 are at higher risk of contracting the virus.

Close contact is defined as:
a) being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case
b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g. being coughed on)

If you have had close contact (as defined above) with a confirmed COVID-19 case, self-monitoring is recommended.

Self-monitoring means people should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.

At this time, healthcare providers are working with the South Dakota Department of Health (SD-DOH) to determine when testing is applicable. Only those at-risk will be tested.

Q: How is COVID-19 different from influenza?
A: Exact transmission and inflammatory response of COVID-19 are unknown. With influenza, people who are infected but not yet sick are major drivers of transmission, which does not appear to be the case for COVID-19.

While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.

It is important to note that healthy young adults are at low risk for severe illness if diagnosed with COVID-19. Symptoms for most individuals resemble mild cold symptoms.

No vaccine or therapeutic treatment is available for COVID-19. Health care after a positive diagnosis consists of symptom treatment only.

To summarize, COVID-19 transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu and there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics.

Q: Supervisors:  How do I maintain employee confidentiality with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and still protect my other staff?
A: If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality. Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

Q: Is a leave of greater than 3 days for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis covered by FMLA?
A: Any employee who is unable to work for greater than 3 days due to a serious medical condition (such as confirmed testing of COVID-19) or to care for a family member with a serious medical condition is eligible for protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Please inform, if you meet these criteria.

Sanford Health Plan (SHP) FAQs

Q: Will patients tested by CDC-approved labs incur costs for the testing?
A: At this time, the CDC is not billing for testing for COVID-19, so you should not incur costs for the actual testing. Commercial labs permitted to do high complexity testing by the CDC may charge testing fees. In addition, hospitals and facilities may charge their own fees for collecting the specimens, which may then be billed to your health insurance issuer.

Q: What will SHP cover with regard to COVID-19 testing at this time?
A: Sanford Health Plan will cover 100% of the cost of specimen collection and testing for COVID-19. Testing is covered when indicated as medically necessary by a qualified practitioner.

Q: Will SHP cover treatments related to COVID-19?
A: At this time, there is no specific antiviral treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you test positive for COVID-19, we will cover the care you receive from your doctor to help relieve symptoms as we would with any other viral respiratory infection.

Counseling Services

Q: Can I still utilize counseling services?
A: Augustana Counseling Services is associated with Sioux Falls Psychological Services. These services will remain available. Students can call 605.334.2696 to schedule an appointment or work directly with a therapist to schedule telemental health sessions. Augustana understands the stress and anxiety that students may be facing and encourages students to continue to utilize these resources.

Counseling Services are located in the lower level of the Sioux Falls Seminary across the street from the Mikkelsen Library.

Telemental health sessions are available for students not on campus.

Q: What resources are available for employees (and their families) who are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or depressed about the current situation?
A: During this time of uncertainty, you or your family members may be feeling heightened anxiety and/or depression. If you are feeling overwhelmed or are struggling with the rapid changes to our everyday life, consider reaching out to someone who can provide support. Augustana University employees and their families can utilize free, confidential online and face-to-face counseling sessions (3 per year) through AETNA. Call 1-855-283-1915 or visit (Log in user name and password is RESOURCES).

Q: What are some off-campus resources available?
A: Helpline Center — Call 211
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
SAMHSA — Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health
SAMHSA — Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
CDC — Taking Care of Your Emotional Health

Campus Learning Center (Augustana’s Daycare)

Q: Does the Augustana University Campus Learning Center (CLC) follow the Sioux Falls School District’s closing policy?
A: No, the CLC will follow Augustana’s procedures when it comes to closing the center.

Mail Delivery

Courier/Incoming Mail will continue to be picked up daily from USPS. Mail and packages will continue to be dropped off and picked up at each building at the current drop-off location with exceptions being Froiland (see Nursing), Admin Building (see Business office), the Library and CWS. It will be the responsibility of the department chairs or supervisors to arrange delivery or pick up of mail/packages to employees in their departments or offices.

Outgoing mail route is limited to morning drop-offs and pick-ups, with no afternoon courier stops. Individuals can also drop mail in the designated Commons mail slots (both on-campus and off-campus mail).

For Packages:

  • Packages with a prepaid label on them for returns can be dropped off at any UPS store.
  • If employees can start having packages delivered to their homes instead of campus that would ensure quicker delivery.
  • We will only be processing UPS packages that are being charged to an AU account number. No personal packages.
  • Employees can email or call 4328 if they have questions or need assistance with mail/packages.