COVID-19

 

COVID-19
Policies and Protocols

Lees-McRae continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. The college is working with local health officials and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), in addition to seeking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

0
Active
  
On Campus: 0
At Home: 0
The active count includes current test-positive or presumptive positive diagnoses.
15
Recovered
  
  
  
Recovered cases includes those who have resumed regular activities after isolation per CDC guidelines.
1
Quarantine
  
On Campus: 0
At Home: 1
Quarantine numbers include those who have separated from others because they might have been exposed.
Moderate Transmission
The college is restricting operations based on current transmission levels. 
Moderate Transmission
The college is restricting operations based on current transmission levels. 

The above dashboard reflects known cases of or potential exposures to COVID-19 among all students, faculty, and staff during the Fall 2021 semester. The college does not disclose the identity of affected individuals. (Updated Sept. 23, 2021)

COVID-19 Vaccination Required

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. In keeping with previous announcements about institutional policy upon full FDA approval, Lees-McRae will require all main campus students—residential and commuter—to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before returning to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. Students may not move back into residence halls or attend classes or other activities on campus prior to full vaccination (two weeks after single-shot vaccine or two weeks after second dose of a two-shot vaccine).

Please use the below form to submit proof of vaccination:
COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation

*Students attending a college or university in the state of North Carolina are required to receive immunizations, such as measles, mumps, and rubella. The COVID-19 vaccine requirement is subject to the same exemptions as the other immunizations required by the state.

With questions about vaccinations or exemptions pursuant to North Carolina immunization requirements, email studentaffairs@lmc.edu.

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Daily Health Check

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, employees and students should conduct a daily self-assessment prior to the start of the workday, classes, or other educational activities on campus.

  

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Self-Reporting

Students and employees who contracted COVID-19 as confirmed by positive test results or with a presumed diagnosis by a healthcare provider should notify the college to aid in contract tracing. 

   

transmission levels

Transmission Levels

The college examines five indicators, including main campus infections, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine spaces, faculty/staff cases, and community levels to assess the transmission risk on campus.

  

  


Health and Wellness

Members of the college community should familiarize themselves with and employ best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 before attending in-person classes or engaging in on-campus work. 

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    Vaccination

    The below frequently asked questions include information and details about the vaccination requirements.

    What types of vaccines are available?
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. Other vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen are approved for emergency use and are expected to receive full licensure in late 2021 or early 2022. All vaccines are safe and effective—the CDC does not recommend one over the others.

    How are the vaccines administered?
    You can receive your COVID-19 vaccine as a shot or series of shots by a licensed healthcare provider. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are administered as two shots scheduled weeks apart, and the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen is administered as one shot.

    Does the vaccine have side effects?
    You may experience some side effects—evidence that your body is building immunity—after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. The most commonly reported side effects are soreness and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, and mild flu-like symptoms including headache, chills, and tiredness. The symptoms might affect your daily routine, but they are short-lived usually lasting a matter of hours or up to a few days.

    Why are students required to receive the vaccination?
    Vaccination, especially in congregate settings like a college campus, is one of the most important steps we can take to stop the spread of COVID-19. By requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, the college can more quickly achieve community or herd immunity. This condition exists when a large enough percentage of a given population has received vaccination to make the spread of the disease unlikely.

    Upon achieving community immunity, the college will be able to resume many activities that were canceled or virtualized due to the pandemic.

    Where can I get the vaccination?
    You can find COVID-19 vaccine provides online. Visit the North Carolina Vaccine Finder for vaccination locations in North Carolina, and visit vaccinefinder.org for vaccination locations in other states. You should choose the location that is most convenient for you. 

    How much does a vaccination cost?
    The COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge to everyone living in the United States, regardless of health insurance or immigration status.

    How do I document my vaccination?
    After obtaining your COVID-19 vaccine or if you have already done so, you may submit proof of completion online. COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation

    Am I vaccinated immediately after my shot?
    You are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after receiving the single-shot vaccine or two weeks after the second dose of a two-shot vaccine.

    I was previously diagnosed for COVID-19, do I need to receive the vaccination?
    Yes. Although rare, it is possible for you to contract COVID-19 more than once. According to health experts, the natural immunity that comes after recovering from the virus can decrease over time.

    What activities can I engage in after vaccination?
    After being fully vaccinated, you can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals and with unvaccinated people from one other household. Fully vaccinated individuals who have been around someone who has COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or be tested unless you display symptoms.

    Are there exemptions to the vaccination requirements?
    Exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement are allowed consistent with the North Carolina immunization requirements for medical, religious, or personal reasons. If you have questions or need to provide evidence of eligibility for exemption, please contact the Office of Health Services at healthservices@lmc.edu or 828.898.8862.

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    Daily Self-Assessment

    Students and employees should conduct a health self-assessment daily. Health assessments should occur prior to the start of the workday, classes, or other educational activities on campus.

    Daily Health Assessment guidelines >>

    Students who feel sick should notify the Office of Health Services at healthservices@lmc.edu or 828.898.8862. Employees who feel sick should stay home; contact their healthcare provider; and notify their supervisors and the Office of Human Resources at furstm@lmc.edu or 828.898.8743. 

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    Testing

    Students and employees who feel sick should be tested if advised to do so by a healthcare professional. Members of the community can find testing sites from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Some local test locations include:

    Ballad Health Urgent Care
    Banner Elk (2-minute drive/8-minute walk)
    828.783.9183

    Avery County Health Department
    Newland (20-minute drive)
    828.733.6031

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    Isolation vs. Quarantine

    Isolation
    Members of the community who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are expected to isolate and follow the directives of the Avery County Health Department and the Office of Health Services to help reduce disease transmission. Individuals with a positive diagnosis should work under the care and direction of their medical provider to determine when they are able to return to campus or to the classroom.

    In general, individuals are expected to stay home until they have been fever free for 24 hours (without use of medicine that reduces fever) AND at least ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared and other symptoms have improved.

    Quarantine
    Members of the community should comply with recommendations to stay home and quarantine if they have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Ten days of quarantine are required for any student or employee who has had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Quarantine can be shortened to day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).

    Those who have not had close contact with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19, but who have been in the same area or classroom are not required to quarantine. However, they should follow the same precautionary measures as all members of the community: practicing good hygiene, physical distancing, wearing a mask when sharing common spaces with others, monitoring their health and staying home when displaying symptoms or feeling sick.  

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    Contact Tracing

    In the event an individual has a positive case, the contact tracing team will request the identities of students, faculty, and staff with whom they have had close contact. Individuals identified as a close contact of a person testing positive for COVID-19 will be notified by phone or email. Identifying details and the name of the individual diagnosed with COVID-19 will not be used in this notice.

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    Physical Distancing

    The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another. As such, students and employees should limit personal contact and maintain distance from others to the greatest extent possible (even while wearing a face covering).

    Physical markers and transparent barriers have been installed in high-traffic and/or confined spaces on campus. Students and employees should abide by any directional indicators or distancing guidelines in those areas.

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    Face Coverings

    Face coverings are required by all members of the community in all indoor locations, common spaces, classrooms, laboratories, and offices.

    Face coverings may be removed during active eating or drinking. Students may remove face coverings in their own residence hall rooms and employees may remove face coverings when they are alone in individual offices.

    Students and employees may use face coverings provided by the college or supply your own reusable or disposable coverings. Per CDC recommendations, face coverings with one-way valves or vents are not permitted for use on campus.

    Students should document any face covering exemptions with the Office of Health Services at healthservices@lmc.edu or 828.898.8862. Employees should document possible medical condition exemptions with the Office of Human Resources at furstm@lmc.edu of 828.898.8743.

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    Hygiene Practices

    The college community should follow the same steps that reduce the spread of influenza (the flu) and the common cold, including:

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds each time).
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it away.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
    • Refrain from shaking hands.
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    Cleaning

    The college has implemented a detailed cleaning and disinfecting process that meets or exceeds the current guidelines from the Avery County Health Department and the CDC, including:

    • Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects in common areas with disinfectants that are registered with the EPA for use against SARS-coV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes cleaning objects and surfaces such as tables, desks, countertops, common area furniture, handrails, doorknobs, light switches, computers, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • Cleaning stations have been added around campus in areas of classrooms, labs, and common gathering spaces. Instructions on using these supplies have been clearly posted.
    • Facilities staff use various combinations of engineering controls, administrative controls, safe work practices, and additional personal protective equipment when working or cleaning in an area that has been assessed as a higher risk exposure area.

    Resident students are responsible for cleaning their personal spaces. The facilities team provides supplemental cleaning supplies, and students are encouraged to spray down surfaces after use.

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    Alerts/Notices

    COVID-19 is deemed a reportable disease by the Avery County Health Department. The health care provider who conducted the test will report confirmed diagnoses to local and/or state health authorities. The college may also share information provided by students and employees directly with health officials. Both college and local health officials may contact individuals who test positive for COVID-19, or who have been in contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis, as part of contact tracing efforts. 

    In accordance with the Clery Act, the college will inform the community if a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 on campus could pose an immediate threat to the health or safety of the campus community. The determination of whether cases are linked and could constitute an outbreak will be made in accordance with Clery Act and public health guidance from the Avery County Health Department. 


    Privacy and Confidentiality
    Medical information is confidential and will only be shared as needed to ensure compliance with public health guidelines and directives. The college will not disclose the identity of any affected individuals. Those who determine the identity of a test-positive individual based on circumstances are expected to exercise discretion. For example, individuals may share their own quarantine status due to direct contact with an individual with COVID-19, but should not share the test-positive individual’s name. The college expects all members of the community to be respectful and supportive.


Academics

To best embody the institutional mission, the college will continue to offer in-person instruction on the main campus. Distance programs will follow guidelines of the host location and online programs will continue as scheduled.

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    Classrooms

    Room-specific plans have been implemented in every classroom and other learning spaces, such as labs, studios, and rehearsal rooms. Physical markers and transparent barriers have been installed in high-traffic and/or confined spaces on campus. Students should abide by any directional indicators or distancing guidelines in those areas.
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    Course Materials

    Students will continue to use the all-inclusive textbook rental program through Barnes & Noble. Students can order required textbooks and course materials through the bookstore website. Main campus students will pick up their textbooks from the Exchange Bookstore on their move-in day during their designated check-in time. Orders should be placed at least 24 hours prior to the move-in day for textbook orders to be ready. Distance learning students will receive their books directly by mail.

    Students may direct questions by email to sm092@bncollege.com or phone at 828.898.8728.

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    Support Services

    The Burton Center for Student Success offers tutoring, academic advising, and learning assistance through limited in-person meetings or through virtual appointments. Students can access career postings through Handshake or receive career and life planning assistance by appointment with Grace Champion at championg@lmc.edu.
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    Shelton Learning Commons

    Classes and other operations are ongoing in the Shelton Learning Commons, but use of the facility is limited to students, faculty, and staff. The POD Express is open for sales of prepackaged food and drinks.


Student and Residence Life

The college is committed to an engaging and dynamic campus experience. Student activities and gatherings will be held in small groups, or virtually and through other newly imagined means during the academic year.

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    Student Handbook

    Students must sign and acknowledge the COVID-19 addendum to the Student Handbook before returning to campus. Students are expected to complete training and abide by health and wellness protocols, including daily health assessments, physical distancing, face coverings, and good hygiene practices, throughout the semester. 

    Students should familiarize themselves with the conduct process and possible sanctions for violations of COVID-19 health and wellness protocols. 

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    Housing

    Students are to abide by the Student Handbook, Housing Agreement, and the COVID-19 Residence Life Commitment in our residence halls. 

    Students, faculty, staff, and visiting parents are expected to wear face coverings indoors. Face coverings may be removed by students in their own residence hall rooms. When guests are present, students are expected to wear face coverings. This includes visiting in and between student rooms. Students are to follow the Visitation policy as published in the Student Handbook. The college reserves the right to make changes in the provisions of this handbook to ensure the welfare of the college community.

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    Dining Services

    Face coverings are required in dining facilities unless actively eating or drinking. Practicing social distancing is recommended. Service stations, service carts, beverage stations, counters, and handrails, are sanitized every 20 minutes. 

    Dining Services

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    Isolation/Quarantine Rooms

    If a student has a permanent address within a 350-mile radius of campus and tests positive for or is exposed to COVID-19, the student will be asked to travel to that permanent address for quarantine and isolation housing. Students whose permanent address is beyond the 350-mile radius are encouraged to seek quarantine and isolation housing at an off-campus location.

    Students who need reasonable accommodations or do not have access to quarantine and isolation housing may stay in college-designated isolation/quarantine housing. The Offices of Health Services and Student Affairs conducts daily virtual health checks and coordinate all care protocols, including dining and other accommodations. 

    • Designated rooms are physically separated from other residential student rooms.
    • Designated rooms and bathrooms may be private or shared.
    • Students in isolation or quarantine have access to alternative modes of course instruction.
    • Students in isolation or quarantine have meals delivered three times per day.
    • Students in isolation or quarantine have access to dedicated laundry services.
    • Students in isolation or quarantine may not have visitors.
    • Students who exhibit worsening symptoms will be transferred to a hospital for further evaluation and care.
    • Students in isolation or quarantine are required to re-house any Emotional Support Animals (ESA) with an emergency contact.
    • Staff who need to interact with students in isolation or quarantine wear appropriate personal protective equipment.


Athletics 

The athletics department promotes safe practice, training, and competitions among student-athletes using best practices from Conference Carolinas, the NCAA Sport Science Institute, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). 

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    Daily Screenings

    Student-athletes and coaches are screened daily with temperature checks and assessments prior to practices or events. During daily screenings, student-athletes and coaches must wear a mask, wash hands prior to reporting to screening area, and maintain physical distance while waiting to be screened.

    Teams are assigned times for screenings by athletic trainers. Team logs are completed, including student-athlete or coach name, temperature reading, yes/no for symptoms, and daily cleared status.

    Any student-athlete or coach not screened or who has not been cleared to practice or participate in the event/competition must return to their residence and self-isolate.

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    Testing

    Student-athletes and coaches participate in regular testing as defined by the college, Conference Carolinas, and the NCAA. Frequency of testing may vary depending on the risk-level of the sport, and the activities schedules within a defined period. During testing, student-athletes and coaches must wear a mask, wash hands prior to reporting to testing area, and maintain physical distance while waiting to be tested.

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    Face Coverings

    Student-athletes and athletic staff are expected to abide by institutional policies for face coverings. This includes wearing a face covering in the common areas of Williams Gym, the Athletic Training Clinic, and practice areas.
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    Locker Rooms

    Student-athletes and athletic staff are expected to abide by any physical markers, directional indicators, or distancing guidelines posted in these areas. Additional restrictions may be enforced as defined by coaches, athletic trainers, or other athletic staff.
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    Athletic Practices

    Team practices use specific protocols including but not limited to:

    • All student-athletes and coaches are to wash their hands prior to practicing.
    • A restricted maximum number of participants (small groups vs. full team)
    • Student-athletes have their own water bottle and are responsible for filling and cleaning it daily.
    • Water breaks serve as a time to use hand sanitizer and sanitize equipment as necessary.
    • Coaches plan practice sessions to provide as much physical distancing as possible.
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    Athletic Training Clinic

    The following guidelines govern the use of the Athletic Training Clinic:

    • Face coverings are to be worn in the Athletic Training Clinic at all times unless physical activity is involved.
    • Hands are to be washed upon entering the facility.
    • Occupancy of the Athletic Training Clinic is limited.
    • Student-athlete use is by appointment only.
    • Athletic training staff determine if treatment is necessary for appropriate healing.
    • Ice is provided for to-go treatments.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting is conducted between each appointment by the athletic training staff.
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    Weight Room

    Strength and conditioning coaches schedule and supervise all training sessions and operate under the following conditions:

    • Weight room occupancy and availability is limited.
    • All student-athletes are to wash their hands prior to training.
    • Face coverings are to be worn except when physically active.
    • Hand sanitizing is to be conducted between exercises.
    • Strength and conditioning coaches clean and disinfect between each session.
    • After all daily sessions, the room is cleaned and disinfected.
    • The weight room is closed until the next morning when supervised sessions begin.
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    Travel to Events

    The travel protocol for competitions is still being determined, but will follow any state or conference guidelines.
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    Visiting Teams, Officials, and Game Personnel

    Per Conference Carolinas Policy, there is no athletic training facility access for pre-game preparation, taping and/or treatment table use provided. Student-athlete and staff screening prior to contest includes standardized symptom screen and infrared and non-contact temperature check. Ideally, this is performed prior to departure so students do not travel while displaying symptoms. This is performed once on overnight trips, with a second check necessary on 3-day trips. The college may be available to screen symptomatic individuals on a case-by-case basis.

    Visiting teams, officials, and game personnel will follow Conference Carolinas testing protocols prior to competitions.

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    Spectators

    According to the NCAA and Conference Carolinas, attendance policies for home athletic events are at the discretion of the institution. The decision to host spectators will follow state guidelines and the college's ability to maintain a safe environment for student-athletes and game personnel.

    Students, faculty, staff, and immediate family members of student-athletes are invited to attend athletic competitions. Spectators are expected to follow ongoing wellness protocols, including the wearing of face coverings in indoor facilities. 

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    Facility Access

    Members of the community may use outdoor facilities, including the Arthur-Lauritsen-Sanders Track and Outdoor Tennis Courts. Visitors to indoor facilities (including family and friends) must sign in at the Office of Campus Safety and Security located in the Robb Center upon arrival to campus.


Events and Community

All college-sponsored events will abide by state and local gathering guidelines. Virtual offerings will be made available to students, employees, and the community, when events are postponed or canceled. 

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    Events

    Due to increased transmission of COVID-19 in Avery County, the state of North Carolina, and many other areas in the Southeast, the college will restrict gatherings of outside groups on campus. Capacity limits and other wellness protocols are in effect. All event participants are expected to follow ongoing wellness protocols, including the wearing of face coverings in indoor facilities. 

    For questions related to event protocols, contact events@lmc.edu.
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    May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

    The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is closed to the public. Saturday presentations have been suspended indefinitely. Injured animals are accepted on a case-by-case basis—please contact center staff at 828.898.2568 prior to arrival.
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    Facility Access

    Members of the community may use outdoor facilities, including the Arthur-Lauritsen-Sanders Track and Outdoor Tennis Courts. Visitors to indoor facilities (including family and friends) must sign in at the Office of Campus Safety and Security located in the Robb Center upon arrival to campus.

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    Visitors/Vendors

    All visitors and vendors must sign in upon campus arrival at the Office of Campus Safety and Security located in the Robb Center. Prospective student applicants and their families may check in at the Office of Admissions in the Chaffee Center.

    Visitors will receive an ID tag that must be worn during the visit and returned once the visit is over. Visitors must wear face coverings and maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from others.


Employees

Faculty and staff are conducting work on campus but will operate with enhanced health and safety measures to protect themselves, their colleagues, and the community at large. 

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    Close Contact

    Employees who have close contact exposure to positively tested individuals should notify their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources at 828.898.8743 or furstm@lmc.edu. The employee will be directed to seek medical guidance and be tested for COVID-19 if so ordered by a healthcare professional.

    Following current CDC guidelines, even if the employee receives a negative test result, individuals with close contact must quarantine at home for a period of fourteen days from the date the employee had close contact. The supervisor will notify human resources if the employee is able to work from home during that time. The human resources office will submit any needed technology requests on the employee’s behalf.

    If an employee receives a positive test result, they should follow the guidance of their healthcare provider and the local health department. In addition, those with a positive test result will complete the COVID-19 Diagnosis Reporting form.

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    Operations

    Faculty and staff should conduct work within individual offices with doors closed to the greatest extent possible. Employees should always wear face coverings indoors when not in their own individual offices. Employees are encouraged to make use of technology to limit the size and frequency of in-person meetings. Everyone should limit travel to and from campus to the start and end of each workday and other essential needs.

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    Modified Work Arrangements

    Employees in need of a work accommodation should contact their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources for further guidance. Faculty and staff may request a modified work arrangement for the following reasons:

    1. Employees with documented medical conditions may request reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    2. Employees with documented qualifying conditions may request paid/unpaid extended medical leave under the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

    For questions or assistance, contact Executive Director of Human Resources and Benefits Administration Mary Furst at 828.898.8743 or furstm@lmc.edu.

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    Vaccine Documentation

    To aid in health and safety planning, all college employees are asked to disclose their current COVID-19 vaccination status.

    The collection of vaccination information is carried out in full accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. All personal health information is confidential and will not be shared with others. The requirement to report vaccination status is a component of the college’s health and safety practices in response to the global pandemic. In collecting this information, the college will protect it, keep it confidential, and only use it for the purpose for which it was collected or authorized by law.

    COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation

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    Travel

    All non-essential work travel by faculty and staff is canceled. Employees should contact their supervisors before planning any work-related trips. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to avoid any personal travel, especially to those areas with high rates of community spread.
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    Visitors/Vendors

    All visitors and vendors must sign in upon campus arrival at the Office of Campus Safety and Security located in the Robb Center. Prospective student applicants and their families may check in at the Office of Admissions in the Chaffee Center. 

    Visitors will receive an ID tag that must be worn during the visit and returned once the visit is over. Employees must tend to all visitors while they are on the premises.

I commit to being #BobcatStrong
for myself

    • By washing my hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer
    • By reducing my personal contact and not shaking hands
    • By not touching my eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • By monitoring my health and contacting my healthcare provider when I feel sick
    • By getting plenty of rest, healthy food, and exercise
for my peers

    • By maintaining physical distance of at least six feet from others
    • By wearing a face covering in common spaces including classes and labs
    • By isolating myself from others when I feel sick
    • By covering my cough or sneeze with a tissue or a sleeve
    • By encouraging others and offering support for those in need
for my community

    • By following institutional, local, and state health guidelines and protocols
    • By limiting use of common areas and disposing of trash properly
    • By avoiding large crowds or gatherings on or off campus
    • By restricting travel to and from campus to essential needs
    • By educating myself on COVID-19 mitigation strategies and best practices

  

CARES Act/HEERF Emergency Grants

Congress established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A portion of this funding was received by the college in the form of institutional grants and a portion was received to assist students who face financial hardships due to the disruption of campus operations associated with COVID-19.

Learn how the CARES Act/HEERF Emergency Grants have been administered
Learn how the CRRSAA/HEERF II Emergency Grants have been administered
Learn how the CARES Act/HEERF Institutional Grants have been allocated
Learn how the CRRSAA/HEERF II Institutional Grants have been allocated