This process encompasses both ADA reasonable accommodation requests and flex-work adjustment requests.
As part of the institutional response to COVID-19, Lewis-Clark State College is committed to supporting employees impacted by COVID-19. The College is working on a robust COVID-19 safety plan, as we will safely allow for in-person instruction in the fall, which will include sanitizing, use of personal protective equipment and social distancing.
We recognize that there may be some employees with medical disabilities that require temporary reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a result of COVID-19. Some employees who self-identify as having an increased risk of severe outcome from COVID-19 infection as determined by current CDC guidance may have a medical condition that rises to the level of a disability under the ADA.
The College is implementing an expedited process to consider reasonable accommodation requests for ADA-qualified employees who are impacted by COVID-19. For situations where employees have increased risk conditions that are determined not to be ADA disabilities, or have family members at home with serious health risks, college flexible working arrangements and other workplace adjustments may be available. The ADA reasonable accommodation process is not intended to address employees who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms as such situations are covered by college leave policies.
An ADA reasonable accommodation is a modification of job duties or the work environment that enables a qualified individual with a disability to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment available to a similarly-situated employee without a disability. Examples might be the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. face masks or gloves), flexible work schedule or changes to work stations to limit exposure to others, or teleworking. Reasonable accommodations are granted on a case-by-case basis after proper analysis of the disability in question, the necessity of the accommodation and to ensure the modification does not cause an undue hardship (e.g. significant difficulty or expense) on the College.
If you would like to request a temporary Reasonable Accommodation, the process is as follows:
While the College will give work accommodation/adjustment priority to requests related to an employee’s medical condition, we recognize there are also requests not related to an employee’s health that should be reviewed. These might include concerns about childcare/school closures, the health of others in the home, a personal concern about working on-campus or the need for specific protective equipment to perform a job.
If you are seeking a flex-work adjustment not related to your personal health, please complete the Temporary Telework Agreement Form and submit it to your supervisor.
To make determinations before fall opening, the College is asking those requiring ADA temporary accommodations based upon possible COVID-19 conditions in the fall to submit requests as soon as possible. Early submission will allow us to give priority to accommodation needs of those with more serious medical conditions.
In order to allow for appropriate planning for instructional workloads and classroom schedules, accommodation requests from those who provide or support teaching will be reviewed first. Our first priority is employees with medical disabilities, but we may adjust work for those who have health conditions that do not rise to a disability. All requests should be submitted using the COVID-19 Temporary Reasonable Accommodation Process. Accommodation and adjustment determinations will be communicated after reviewing paperwork received. Other requests, including serious health risks for family members at home, will be considered after employee health circumstances.
Why has LCSC started a new COVID Temporary Reasonable Accommodation Process?
In compliance with state and federal law, LCSC has a long-standing process to consider requests for reasonable accommodations which allow those with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job. The new COVID-19 accommodation process allows for expedited consideration of accommodation requests, including those to work remotely, during the fall semester because of COVID-19, and may reduce the need for medical documentation in many cases where temporary accommodations are appropriate. For situations where employees have increased risk conditions that are determined not to be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and/or where social distancing, PPE, or something that comparably reduces exposure risk would constitute the accommodation or adjustment but the employee is requesting to work remotely, the new COVID-19 Accommodation Process will allow Human Resources, supervisors, deans and departments to work quickly with the employee to determine if flex-work and other workplace adjustments are available for the fall term. All requests for reasonable accommodations and flex-work adjustments are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Is there a deadline for submitting COVID-19 accommodation requests?
The college accepts ADA accommodation requests and flex work adjustment requests at any time, but asks that employees submit requests based upon possible COVID-19 conditions as soon as possible to best prepare for the start of the academic year. The College appreciates those early submissions which allow us to accommodate the needs of those with serious medical conditions first. The College will continue to receive and evaluate requests for accommodation and flex work adjustments at any time.
If I successfully taught classes remotely for the second half of the spring 2020 term and prefer to continue to work remotely, why can’t I just teach on-line for the fall 2020 term?
The College's plan includes both in-person and remote instruction during the fall 2020 term. LC State is a residential college and our commitment is to provide our students with in-person, face-to-face learning to the greatest extent that we safely can. While there is certainly a place in our curriculum for remote instruction, our essential work as educators, and supporting the educational mission, happens on the LC State campus and in the classroom.
Some of our colleagues have serious medical conditions which are qualified disabilities that may not allow them to safely work on campus in the fall term even with the extensive safety and cleaning protocols that we are implementing to reduce the risk of possible exposure. If these colleagues are able to conduct their work remotely, we will ensure their assignments include online work during the fall term. Some colleagues who might prefer to work remotely may need to deliver face-to-face instruction as those who are medically able to work on campus will need to be here to do the important work of running a residential college. The College will protect the health of our entire community with extensive safety protocols such as increased sanitation and enforcement of PPE and social distancing.
Can my supervisor or department chair assign remote work outside of the COVID-19 Accommodation Process?
It is critically important that supervisors and department chairs do not assign remote work to employees before we consider requests submitted through the COVID-19 accommodation process. Remote work assignments may be needed as reasonable accommodations for colleagues who have ADA disabilities that will not allow them to work on campus. If those assignments have been promised by supervisors or departments to employees who do not need accommodation, we may not be able to fulfill those promises because we must first meet our obligations to provide accommodations to colleagues with qualified disabilities.
Is an employee entitled to an accommodation under the ADA when they live with or care for a family member who is at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19?
No. The ADA is only applicable to employees of the institution and accommodations cannot be put in place based on the medical condition of a non-employee. However, employees who may have concerns about those whom they live with or care for may speak with their supervisor about flexible arrangements.
How can I request remote teaching or work based on my concern to protect a family member with a disability or medical condition, or who may be at an increased risk from potential COVID-19 exposure?
Although the ADA does not qualify this circumstance as a disability for an employee, those who are concerned about immunocompromised or at-risk family members should still follow the COVID-19 Accommodation Process. We will provide faculty and staff with flex-work adjustments when possible to ensure the safest possible work conditions for our community. Please submit your request for flex-work adjustment through the Temporary Telecommuting Agreement form.
What is the difference between the temporary disability accommodations and flex-work adjustments?
Temporary disability accommodations are for employees with a medical condition which, based on medical documentation, rises to a “disability” as defined by the ADA who are requesting a reasonable accommodation because of their disability.
Temporary flex work adjustments are for situations where employees have increased risk conditions based on current CDC Guidance but that are determined not to be disabilities under the ADA and/or where social distancing, PPE, or something that comparably reduces exposure risk would constitute the accommodation or adjustment.
Current CDC Guidance lists medical conditions and other factors which are considered as a having some degree of increased risk. Does that mean I have a disability?
Not necessarily. Under the ADA, those that have qualified disabilities must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. While the increased risk conditions could rise to this level, some, such as age or pregnancy, would not qualify as a disability without some other associated conditions. This analysis is conducted on a case by case basis. Those who fall in increased risk categories but do not have a qualifying disability are still eligible to be considered for flex-work arrangements.
My healthcare provider's documentation states that my underlying medical condition can be accommodated by social distancing or the proper use of personal protection equipment, does this disqualify me from an accommodation?
Such documentation does not disqualify you from an accommodation, but clarifies that your medical provider believes that you are able to work in a place where social distancing is maintained and PPE is properly used. In such circumstances, social distancing, PPE or something that comparably reduces exposure risk would constitute the accommodation or adjustment. LCSC may include enhanced PPE or additional environmental controls as further accommodations. We understand many faculty and staff may still feel uncomfortable interacting face-to-face. Accommodations and adjustments can take a number of forms, and working 100% remotely is not the only option.
When your health care provider is indicating that the appropriate accommodation is either a workplace that allows for social distancing or other accommodation that would allow for steps to minimize exposure, this medical opinion needs to guide the accommodation.
LC State is expecting returning faculty, staff and students to wear personal protective equipment, engage in sanitation practices and practice social distancing. What if I have a disability or religious practices where I have a need for modified protective equipment?
If faculty, staff or students with a disability need an accommodation to these safety requirements (e.g., non-latex gloves, modified face masks for interpreters or others who communicate with an employee who uses lip reading), or require an accommodation for religious reasons (such as modified equipment due to religious garb), LCSC will provide reasonable accommodations. Requests may be submitted through the COVID-19 Accommodation Process and anytime throughout the fall semester.
Who determines whether my request for a reasonable accommodation will be granted? Flex-work adjustment?
Human Resource Services conducts an initial evaluation of requests and gathers necessary information. After an initial determination as to whether a request requires an accommodation or is eligible for flex-work, the appropriate dean’s office or department head will determine an appropriate solution.
How long are the temporary accommodations or flex-work adjustments being granted?
Accommodation requests and flex-work adjustments related to COVID-19 are being granted only for the Fall 2020 semester.
Is having a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19 an ADA disability that would warrant accommodation or flex-work adjustments?
No. Those who have either been diagnosed with, or are showing symptoms of, COVID-19 should follow current guidance with regard to self-quarantining and college policy which covers these situations. These situations are not covered by the Temporary COVID-19 Accommodation Process.
If I don’t have a medical condition or medical reason can I still request an accommodation or flex-work adjustment? How would I go about making such request?
Yes. While the college will give priority to those with disabilities under the ADA and to employees who have other non-qualifying medical conditions, requests for flex-work for other personal reasons (not based on a compromised heath condition) can still be made. Those requests can be made by submitting a request through the same accommodation process.
What if anytime during my teaching/working on, symptoms of my medical condition become triggered and I can’t effectively teach/work in a classroom, lab, do research or engage in a face-to-face environment?
Requests for ADA accommodations can be made at any point. If you experience changes to your medical condition during the semester, requests can be considered at that time.