Staff Questions and Answers
Updated: May 24, 2022
Q. Do Staff still need to provide Proof of Vaccination and Testing?
No, it is no longer a requirement. MMB Policy 1446, COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination and Testing, has been rescinded effective Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Changes in the pandemic will continue to be monitored, including appearance of new variants, and MMB will respond with updated policies and procedures in the months ahead.
However, DOC Policy 105.177, Employee Mandatory Testing for COVID-19, remains in effect. In addition, staff are still encouraged to provide proof of vaccination in order for the DOC to implement decisions regarding appropriate safety protocols, use of PPE and implementation of CDC/MDH requirements.
Q: What are the screening questions that all staff and non-staff should be reviewing on a daily basis, prior to entry?
1) Within the last 14 calendar days, have you been in close and prolonged physical contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
2) Do you have any of the following symptoms that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
• Shortness of breath or difficult breathing
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell
• Nausea or vomiting
• Congestion or runny nose
3) Do you have a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or symptoms of a fever such as chills, repeatedly shaking with chills, muscle aches/pain and/or weakness?
Employee answering “Yes” to any questions, immediately report to a designated facility supervisor. If no, individual is clear for purpose of this screening and may enter the facility.
Q: Is the DOC taking the temperatures of staff?
A: Temperature checks are being performed on all staff and non-staff upon entrance into the all MN Correctional Facilities.
Updates to staff
Q: Do we have access to the Daily Pandemic Meeting Notes?
A: Daily Pandemic Meeting Notes are available via a secure site accessible to command staff at Central Office and within the facility leadership.
Information that is available to all staff is accessible on the COVID-19 iShare page https://ishare.doc.state.mn.us/Pages/COVID-19-Updates.aspx
If you are not at work, you can access the information here: https://mn.gov/doc/about/covid-19-updates/updates-for-staff/
Incarcerated Person Screening
Q: What is being done to avoid incarcerated people coming to Saint Cloud for intake from other counties who are infected due to community spread?
A: All incarcerated people are being screened prior to any transfer and upon arrival at any MCF destination. If there are any symptoms evident that raise concerns, the individual will be isolated.
Pre-Approved Vacation or Long Term Leave
Q: If staff have pre-approved vacation (or out on a long-term leave) are they expected to call in to the call-in line for their work location?
A: All pre-scheduled vacation or leaves do not need to use the call-in procedures. It has been advised that the call-in documentation is for a full/majority of a shift, not for a dr. appointment, child appointment, etc.
Online Healthcare Resources
Q: Many medical facilities have long waits to see someone prior to being cleared to return to work. Is there a way to have designated clinics?
A: Right now, medical facilities are very busy. There are a number of online healthcare options for staff as part of their benefits package. To learn more, click: Online Resources to Healthcare
Q: If we are told to quarantine, do we use sick or vacation time, or is it a paid leave status?
A: If a healthcare provider has directed an employee to self-quarantine because of likely exposure to COVID-19, the employee should review leave options per contract and work with local Human Resources to review options.
Social distancing in the workplace
Q: I would like to limit my face-to-face conversations as much as possible when at work. Since we have the ability to communicate through email, telephone, radio, and Skype, are these options?
A: Many face-to-face meetings have been moved online or to larger rooms to create more space between individuals. Staff are encouraged to look for ways to create social distancing.
Q: If I have to stay home with a sick child, do I need a doctor’s note to return to work?
A: Critical infrastructure workers who have had an exposure may return to work, provided they self-monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, social distance themselves, disinfect and clean work spaces, and don’t share objects. If a staff member has a confirmed positive case in their household, they should follow the screening criteria at their facility/workplace and follow the notification procedure for further instructions.
Underlying medical conditions of staff and COVID-19
Q: I have an underlying medical condition that would put me at higher risk for COVID-19 related illness. What documentation would be required to substantiate my medical condition and should I be getting that information now in the event it will be requested at a later date?
A: Per the BeReady website, if you are an employee that is at risk, you should notify HR that you are at risk for severe disease and work with them to determine accommodation options. This may include workspace in a separate office, telework (subject to availability of IT resources), etc.
Staff VPN Access
Q: What do staff need to do when trying to use VPN access?
A: Contact MN.IT Help Desk at 651-297-1111 or submit an IT ticket to have either a soft token (app installed on your phone that will give you an access code for your VPN) or be given a hard token (a fob or device that is physical that will be sent to you that has a code that on it). MN.IT will decide based on needs.
Q: When will I get my VPN?
A: Each department head and facility executive team provided a list of people to be set up with VPN and have continued to do so for new additions on a daily basis. If you have submitted a VPN request but haven’t received a confirmation email, please contact the MN.IT Help Desk at 651-297-1111.
Masks and Equipment
Q: What are the personal protective equipment guidelines that are required for staff?
A: The DOC is in daily consultation with the MN Department of Health, which has dedicated an epidemiologist specifically to advise DOC on our decisions. We are following public health guidelines for use of personal protection equipment. Please refer to the PPE Matrix, which outlines the additional PPE requirements based on the area of work
Facilities may enact additional requirements based upon the level of COVID cases for their respective facility.
Barrier masks are not a substitute for social distancing and proper hand washing, which remain the most important steps to take.
DOC facilities have implemented Stay with Unit procedures that include modified program schedules to allow for social distancing, while providing for phone and video access, recreation, and alternative delivery of education and therapeutic programming. These are not decisions that are made lightly or without exhausting all possible options.
The goals of the modified program schedules are simple:
• To control spread by increasing the ability to practice social distancing;
• To provide a sense of stability and opportunities for engagement; and
• Containment through the discontinuation of cross living unit programs and activities.
Q: How are the prisons handling inmate mail? The issue is the length of time that COVID-19 can stay active/alive on incoming mail and the possibility that it could spread.
A: Handle all mail with medical gloves only and use standard handwashing procedures.
Q: Do employees still need to also make comments on time sheets as to hours worked related to C19…in addition to completing the Employee Time Tracking form?
A: Employees do not need to add comments in Self-Service anymore. Please use the applicable code, as noted in the Earn Code Memo and Examples. They should continue to use the Employee Time Tracking form, however.
Q: Where should Community Services/Field Services staff send their time tracking forms?
A: Community and Field Services should send their completed Employee Time Tracking forms to Central Office.
Q: Is the Employee Time Tracking form only for people who are working extra to clean or beyond the 40 hours a week due to COVID-19?
A: It is for anyone who is spending time on anything related to COVID-19, even if it’s part of their regular work schedule.
Q: If we are doing our normal daily work duties, either at home or at work…..do we need to complete the Employee Time Tracking form?
Q: Example: MCF-FRB staff need to pull keys at Master Control, walk to another building for screening, be screened, and then walk to their assigned post. Is the additional time it takes supposed to be noted on the Employee Time Tracking form and on the employee’s timesheet in Self-Service?
A: At this time, no. If information is needed in the future for these circumstances, we will work to develop an estimate for individual facilities. Thank you for asking!