Coronavirus - COVID-19 - FAQs

​Frequently Asked Questions & Answers for Wisconsin State Employees

Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Please see the FAQs below for information for state employees regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.  This information was prepared by the Department of Administration in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  Responses below are in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements or state administrative code.  If you have additional questions, please ask your supervisor or human resources representative. 

Questions are categorized into the following sections:

Section A: General Information

Section B: Reporting to Work

Section C: Use of Sick Leave and Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave

Section D: Face Mask Expectations and Usage

Section E: COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations

    

Section A: General Information about COVID-19 for Employees

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​ ​Questions

Answers

Updated 11/12/2020

1. What can I do to limit my risk of and help prevent influenza and viruses like COVID-19?

The CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday actions everyone can take to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid close contact
    • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don't live in your household.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.

    Click here to learn more about avoiding illness.

Updated 11/12/2020

2. What should I do if I'm experiencing flu-like or respiratory illness symptoms?

Employees who are sick are required to stay home.  Refer to Section B for more information and follow the steps outlined depending on the particular situation. Employees should follow their work unit's sick leave notification procedures, including notifying their supervisor and staying home if they are sick. Click here to learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.

Updated 11/12/2020

3. Are the procedures different if I am a health care provider (or if I work in a health care setting)? Employees who regularly work in health care settings may be required to follow different procedures depending on the nature of their positions. Refer to Section B for more information and follow the steps outlined depending on the particular situation.
Updated 02/16/2021 4. What should I do if I recently traveled out of the state or out of the country?

Regarding personal travel, all employees should continue to refer to the travel advice available from DHS and the CDC.

Effective January 26, 2021, employees who travel out of the county must be prepared to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air back into the United States and show negative test result to the airline before boarding the flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

There is currently no state-level requirement for travelers (domestic or international) to quarantine when arriving in (or returning to) Wisconsin. Some cities and counties in Wisconsin may require you stay home or self-quarantine after travel. If you are identified as being a close contact to a person with COVID-19 during your travels, you are required to follow the public health guidance for COVID-19 quarantine.

The CDC and DHS recommends (does not require) the post travel practices listed below. The information is being communicated to travelers upon arrival and going through customs at their point of entry into the U.S.

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
    • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don't get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

After you return from any travel, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) asks you to self monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. You should check for symptoms even if you followed all travel recommendations provided by DHS.

Stay home as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.

Updated 11/12/2020 5. What if I have COVID-19 or have a family member with it?

Employees who are sick with COVID-19 or suspect they are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 should refer to Section B for more information and follow the steps outlined depending on the particular situation.

The CDC recommends employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

Updated 07/13/2020

6.   Where can I learn more information?

Additional up-to-date resources and information about COVID-19 can be found here:

Section B: Reporting to Work

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​ ​ ​Questions ​ ​Answers

Updated 03/26/2020

1. I am worried about being exposed to the coronavirus at work.  Should I still report to work, and will I be protected?

If directed to report to work, you should continue to report to work. As state employees, we have obligations to maintain services to the extent possible during an emergency.  Agencies are making every effort to reduce exposure in our workplaces.

2.

Will I know if someone at work has COVID-19?

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, agencies will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but will maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 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. ​
  3. Am I subject to disciplinary action if I refuse to come to work?

Employees who fail to come to work in a pandemic will be treated just as if they failed to come to work at any other time and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Updated 04/20/2021

4.

May I use vacation leave, sick leave, or any other type of leave in order to avoid working during a pandemic?

Employees may request leave time and it will be reviewed, and approved or denied, in accordance with the leave provisions of their contract or state administrative code.  In general, our objective is to ensure the health and safety of our state employees while continuing the State's critical services.  At this time, our goal is to encourage employees to report to work.  However, based on the virulence of the virus and depending on recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, discretionary leaves (i.e., non-mandatory leaves) may be considered.

While an employee may use any available leave balance when ill, sick leave is generally only available for an employee's illness or that of their immediate family.  As of April 8,2021, employees are no longer eligible to use sick leave for the purposes of childcare due to school or daycare closures.

  5. If my job requires me to work with the public, should I continue to come to work?

Yes, unless directed not to come to work.  The State will make efforts to provide the appropriate protective measures to employees assigned to work in a situation that would put them at greater risk of exposure than the typical interactions encountered in conducting usual life activities.  These measures include increased hygiene measures, personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, or physical barriers.

  6. If I am exposed to the COVID-19 virus on the job and become ill, am I eligible for Workers Compensation benefits?

The COVID-19 virus, like Influenza, would most likely not be compensable under Wisconsin Workers Compensation, as it would be very difficult to determine where and when an employee was exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

  7. Can I refuse an assignment that would put me at greater risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus? No, employees must work as assigned unless granted leave.  As the effects of a pandemic are realized in Wisconsin, state employees should anticipate that they may be required to assist in performing work for absent or ill co-workers to ensure that the State is able to provide essential services.  The State will make an effort to provide the appropriate protective measures to employees assigned to work in a situation that would put them at greater risk of exposure than the typical interactions encountered in conducting usual life activities.  These measures include increased hygiene measures, personal protective equipment, social distancing measures, or physical barriers. ​
Updated 03/09/2021 8. What should I do if I believe I may have the COVID-19 virus, am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have been directly exposed to the COVID-19 virus, etc.? ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

The following scenarios provide guidance to employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19, are awaiting a test result, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, etc.  A PDF of the scenarios is also available here.

For the purposes of the scenarios below, close contact includes any of the following situations while you spent time with a person with COVID-19, even if they did not have symptoms:

  • Had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
  • Were within 6 feet of the person for a prolonged period (15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) starting from 2 days before illness onset.  The 15 minutes does not need to be continuous (e.g., 3, 5-minute periods would count).
  •  Had Contact with the person's respiratory secretions (for example, coughed or sneezed on, contact with a dirty tissue, shared drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal items)
  • Live with the person or stayed overnight for at least one night in a house with the person.

Note: If you and/or the person with COVID-19 were wearing a face mask or covering during any of the above situations, you are still considered a close contact. 

COVID-19 Tests: There are different types of tests available and the guidance below may differ based on the type of test received.  Employees are encouraged to ask what type of test they are receiving in order to determine the appropriate scenario.  More information on the types of COVID-19 tests can be found here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02848.pdf              

The guidance for employees who work in health care settings, or other employment settings where excluding a person from work could result in an imminent threat to patient care, public health, or public safety, may be different for each scenario and is noted where applicable.  Please see the DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #16: Quarantine of Wisconsin Residents Exposed to COVID-19 Is an Essential Prevention Strategy for more information.

Employee Scenario Policy
A. Employee has no symptoms (asymptomatic) and has tested PCR or antigen positive for COVID-19

Employee shall stay home and monitor for symptoms. For employees who tested antigen positive, recommend they have a PCR test within 48 hours to confirm the positive result. If the employee has no symptoms, they can return 10 days after they were tested.

If during the 10 days the employee becomes symptomatic, then they must continue to stay home for at least 10 more days from the date of the symptom onset and meet all the following before returning to work:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

Information on COVID-19 Test Types

B. Employee is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, but has not yet been tested

Recommend employee be tested. Employee shall stay home until all the following apply:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

If employee is tested, stay home until test results return. Follow Scenario D, E, or F, depending on test type and results.

Information on COVID-19 Test Types
C. Employee is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, has been tested but not yet received the test results

Stay home until test results return. Follow Scenario D, E, or F, depending on test type and results.

Information on COVID-19 Test Types
D. Employee is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, has been tested and PCR test results came back negative

Employee does not have COVID-19. Follow standard employee illness protocols for returning to work.

Example: 24 hours fever-free, or 2 days after last episode of vomiting or diarrhea, or when on antibiotics for at least 24 hours, or as approved to work by a doctor.

E. Employee is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, has been tested with an antigen test and test results came back positive

Employee is a suspect case. A follow-up PCR test is recommended within 48 hours. Continue isolating while awaiting the PCR test. If the PCR test is negative, follow instructions for D and if the PCR test is positive, follow the instructions for F.

Information on COVID-19 Test Types
F. Employee is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, has been tested and test results came back positive

Employee shall stay home until all the following apply:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

Note: For some people who develop serious illness from COVID-19, a longer period of isolation may be required before it is safe to be around others or go back to work. Your health care provider will make this determination in consultation with your local public health department.

G. Employee had a positive PCR test for COVID-19 in the past and now has another positive test, but has no symptoms

Employees who have again tested positive within 3 months (~12 weeks) of their original positive test and remain asymptomatic may continue to work and do not need to isolate. People who have COVID-19 can test positive for many weeks after they recover and are no longer contagious.

Individuals who test positive beyond 3 months of their original positive test will be treated as a new infection and should follow Scenario A or F depending on the presence of symptoms.

Information on COVID-19 Test Types
H. Employee had a positive PCR test for COVID-19 in the past and now is sick and has another positive test

Employees who develop symptoms and have again tested positive within 3 months (~12 weeks) of their original positive should stay home and be evaluated by their health care provider. If no other cause of symptoms can be determined, the employee should follow Scenario F.

Individuals who test positive beyond 3 months of their original positive test will be treated as a new infection and should follow Scenario A or F depending on the presence of symptoms.

Information on COVID-19 Test Types
I. Employee has been in close contact with someone who shows symptoms but has not been tested Employee can continue to work and self-monitors symptoms daily.
J. Employee has been in close contact with someone who shows symptoms and is waiting on test results Employee can continue to work and self-monitors symptoms daily.

K-1. Employee (unvaccinated) has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (symptomatic or asymptomatic)

   Updated   03/09/2021


 


 

Vaccinated employees should refer to K-2 below.

While a 14-day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended option for employees*, two additional quarantine options are now allowed for some people.  Follow local guidance for quarantine release times as some options may bit be acceptable in certain settings and situations.

Consideration for these shortened quarantine periods is only for people who do not have symptoms at any time during their quarantine period.

For close contacts who do not develop symptoms, quarantine can end:

  1. 10 days after their last close contact without testing, or
  2. 7 days after their last close contact, with a negative test result (PCR or antigen) collected on day 6 or 7.

Employee must continue to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days, and continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. If you are unable to monitor for symptoms and follow public heath guidelines, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.

DHS has created a visual to show quarantine options for close contacts. Versions in additional languages are available here.

If symptoms develop following the end of quarantine, employee is advised to immediately isolate, contact their health care provider, and get tested.     

If symptoms appear, stay home until all of the following apply:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

Information on COVID-19 Test Types

*To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that quarantine requirements may be modified in circumstances when excluding a person from work could result in an imminent threat to patient care, public health or public safety per DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #16: Quarantine of Wisconsin Residents Exposed to COVID-19 Is an Essential Prevention Strategy.

If an employee receives notice from a public health official or contact tracer that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, they should be in contact with their management to verify requirements based on their position.

K-2. Vaccinated employee has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (symptomatic or asymptomatic

     Updated      03/18/2021

​Employees who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (received two-doses for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; one dose for Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Exposure to someone with COVID-19 happened at least two weeks after receiving the last dose of your vaccine series.
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Persons who do not meet all of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 as provided in K-1 above.

Fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

Additional information may be found in DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #27.

L. Employee is living with someone who tested positive for COVID-19

     Updated      03/09/2021

Vaccinated employees should refer to K-2 above.

If employee* is unable to have complete separation from the person who had a positive COVID test: Self-quarantine for 14 days after the person who tested positive ends their isolation.

If employee* is able to completely separate from the person who tested positive:

While a 14-day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended option for employees*, two additional quarantine options are now allowed for some people.  Follow local guidance for quarantine release times as some options may bit be acceptable in certain settings and situations.

Consideration for these shortened quarantine periods is only for people who do not have symptoms at any time during their quarantine period.

For close contacts who do not develop symptoms, quarantine can end:

  1. 10 days after their last close contact without testing, or
  2. 7 days after their last close contact, with a negative test result (PCR or antigen) collected on day 6 or 7.

Employee must continue to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days, and continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. If you are unable to monitor for symptoms and follow public heath guidelines, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.

DHS has created a visual to show quarantine options for close contacts. Versions in additional languages are available here.

If symptoms appear, stay home until all of the following apply:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

Information on COVID-19 Test Types

*To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that quarantine requirements may be modified in circumstances when excluding a person from work could result in an imminent threat to patient care, public health or public safety per DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #16: Quarantine of Wisconsin Residents Exposed to COVID-19 Is an Essential Prevention Strategy.

If an employee receives notice from a public health official or contact tracer that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, they should be in contact with their management to verify requirements based on their position.

M. Employee is a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 at work

     Updated      03/09/2021

Vaccinated employees should refer to K-2 below.

While a 14-day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended option for employees*, two additional quarantine options are now allowed for some people.  Follow local guidance for quarantine release times as some options may bit be acceptable in certain settings and situations.

Consideration for these shortened quarantine periods is only for people who do not have symptoms at any time during their quarantine period.

For close contacts who do not develop symptoms, quarantine can end:

  1. 10 days after their last close contact without testing, or
  2. 7 days after their last close contact, with a negative test result (PCR or antigen) collected on day 6 or 7.

Employee must continue to monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days, and continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. If you are unable to monitor for symptoms and follow public heath guidelines, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.

DHS has created a visual to show quarantine options for close contacts. Versions in additional languages are available here.

If symptoms develop following the end of quarantine, employee is advised to immediately isolate, contact their health care provider, and get tested.     

If symptoms appear, stay home until all of the following apply:

  1. They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  2. Their other symptoms have improved
  3. It has been at least 10 days since their first symptom onset

Information on COVID-19 Test Types

*To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that quarantine requirements may be modified in circumstances when excluding a person from work could result in an imminent threat to patient care, public health or public safety per DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #16: Quarantine of Wisconsin Residents Exposed to COVID-19 Is an Essential Prevention Strategy.

If an employee receives notice from a public health official or contact tracer that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, they should be in contact with their management to verify requirements based on their position.

N. Employee is a close contact to someone who has been exposed to another positive person Employee can continue to work and self-monitors symptoms daily.
O. Employee lives with or cares for someone who is has been exposed to another positive person Employee can continue to work and self-monitors symptoms daily.
 

9.

What if I believe a co-worker has the COVID-19 virus or has been exposed to it?

Employee concerns should be discussed with their supervisor or someone in Human Resources.  Despite these concerns, employees will be expected to report to work as directed.

Updated 04/20/2021

10. What is the current status of employee travel for state business?

Travel is limited to essential travel for which no virtual option exists and may occur anywhere in the United States. Employees traveling for business should ride alone in vehicles where operationally feasible. Employees who normally have multiple employees in the vehicle due to safety or work standards should follow their agency-specific protocols when traveling. If more than one unvaccinated person is in the vehicle, all occupants must wear masks. Upon arrival at the worksite and prior to departing, employees should wash their hands as recommended. Employees who travel for work do not need to quarantine because of their travel.

Updated 04/20/2021

11. What is the current direction related to physical distancing or meetings?

Physical distancing, of six feet apart, is required. In person meetings, trainings, and conferences (except those activities related to public health/public safety/national security) are limited to a maximum of 350 people provided social distancing can be maintained.  Coworkers in the same building should not share food.

Government bodies should continue to follow the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Office of Open Government guidance regarding holding government meetings, and should consult directly with that office regarding specific open meetings questions

Updated 04/20/202112. What are the current guidelines regarding building access and services?​

​On April 5, 2021, DOA-managed state facilities reopened to no more than 10% of pre-pandemic levels. Beginning May 5, 2021, general office space occupancy shall be limited, if operationally feasible, to no more than 25% of pre-pandemic levels. Agency heads may grant exceptions to the capacity limit for non-general office space and those locations where the agency determines that the delivery of services necessitates a higher occupancy rate.

The updated capacity guidelines will allow employees who are fully vaccinated and others who desire to work in person to do so from their regular work site. The capacity guideline is the maximum number of workers that may be present at any given time. Telecommuting remains strongly encouraged until there is sufficient vaccine for all employees. DOA is working closely with DHS and will adjust the capacity guideline as the COVID-19 disease incidence decreases and Wisconsin’s vaccination rates continue to accelerate. For planning purposes, agencies can anticipate an increase in maximum capacity to 50% of pre-pandemic levels on June 1, with the goal of resuming normal office operations on July 5, 2021.

Agencies are required to post in main building entrances and on their websites updated lists of services that will be offered in person and virtually at each location. Additionally, DOA will work with agencies to manage building entrances, exits, elevators, starwells, and the overall building flow to accomodate an e

Section C: Use of Sick Leave and Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave

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General Policy:  Discretionary leave may be limited.  Use of sick leave or FMLA-qualifying leave will be administered in accordance with existing labor agreements and state administrative code, unless application of leave provisions are modified by Executive Order of the Governor or the federal government. ​ ​ ​ ​

​ ​ ​​ ​Questions Answers
  1. Is pandemic influenza or COVID-19 an FMLA qualifying condition and will I be able to use FMLA leave?

While influenza is generally not covered by FMLA, complications arising from influenza or COVID-19 may qualify for FMLA leave in relation to the employee's own illness or the illness of a qualifying family member.  The usual medical documentation may be required. 

Updated 04/20/2021

2. What if my children's school or day care provider is closed and I have no one else to take care of the kids?

Employees may request to use vacation, personal holiday, comp time, or leave without pay.  As of April 8, 2021, employees are no longer eligible to use sick leave for the purposes of childcare due to school or daycare closures. 

Documentation may be required.  Employees should contact their agency payroll office regarding the possible consequences of using leave without pay. 

Updated 04/20/2021 3. What if members of my family are sick?

Use of sick leave, FMLA leave, or other discretionary leave will be administered in accordance with applicable labor agreements and state administrative code. 

  4.   What if members of my family who do not live in the same household as me are sick?  May I stay home to care for them?

Use of sick leave, FMLA leave, or other discretionary leave will be administered in accordance with applicable labor agreements and state administrative code.  Use of discretionary leave may be limited. 

Section D: Face Mask Expectations and Usage

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General Policy:  As a safety condition, all individuals, including state employees and members of the public, should properly wear face coverings while in state facilities. This requirement applies to:

  • All indoors spaces including common spaces, stairwells, kitchettes, hallways, corridors, restrooms, break rooms, elevators, cubicles, offices, and conference rooms regardless of the number of additional people present or physical space between individuals
  • Times in which employees may be waiting in line to enter the building
  • Occasions in which employees are visiting enclosed buildings, while on business for the State

Additionally, face coverings are strongly recommended for all individuals when outdoors on state-managed property in situations when it is not possible to maintain six feet physical distancing. Employees will also continue to adhere to agency direction if additional or different personal protective equipment has been provided by the agency. Employees who are unable to wear a mask should be directed to human resources for further assistance. These reasons may include a medical or mental health condition, disability, or job duties in which wearing a face covering would cause a health or safety risk.

​ ​ ​Questions Answers

                 

1. Do I need to wear a mask indoors even if I can physical distance at all times? Yes, masks are required at all times to help control the spread of COVID-19 within the worksite and the communities in which we live.

                 

2. If I already had COVID-19 or tested negative do I have to wear a mask? Yes.  Everyone must wear a face mask.
3. Is a space that has some open walls considered an outdoor space? No, a space must be completely open on all sides to be outdoors. Opening windows does not create an outdoor space. 
4. How do I wear a mask while I'm eating or drinking?

Employees are permitted to remove masks while eating and drinking but should wear them when retrieving food from the refrigerator, vending machine, reheating or otherwise preparing food.

                 

5. I am not able to wear a mask due to a medical condition, mental health reason, or disability.  What should I do? Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical or mental health condition, or disability, should contact their human resources representative (e.g., medical, or reasonable accommodation coordinator) to complete a reasonable accommodation request. Medical documentation is not necessarily required. Employees who need to provide medical documentation will be advised during the process.

                 

6. I am not able to wear a mask based on a religious belief.  What should I do?  Employees who are unable to wear a mask based on a religious belief should contact their human resources representative to discuss accommodation.

                 

7.

Can I wear a face shield instead of a face mask?

 

No. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not known if face shields provide protection to others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. 

However, a face shield may be permitted for staff who have difficulty breathing through a mask.  In this instance, the employee should discuss their concerns with human resources.

8. Communication is an essential part of my job and I'm concerned that if I can't communicate clearly because of the face covering then I will not have effectively done my job.  What should I do?

While all employees communicate on a regular basis, there are some instances when the effectiveness of the communication could be affected by wearing a mask,  Employees may remove their mask in this instance when at least six feet from the other person and where other alternatives will not work, e.g. written communication, etc. Masks may also be removed to improve communication with others who rely on lip-reading, etc. for communication.  Employees may also wish to consider a clear mask to assist with communication issues.

There may be other instances when a face mask may impede in one's ability to effectively do one's job.  If you have such concerns, we encourage you to consult with your supervisor or human resources.

9. My goggles or glasses fog up when I wear a mask. What can I do? Here are some tips.
10. What do I do if I see someone not wearing a mask, even though they should be?

Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your mask and stay six feet away.  If you remain concerned, you can talk to your supervisor or human resources.

                 

11. Are there any other exceptions to the mask requirement?
  • Employees who work in a setting where cloth face coverings may increase the risk of heat-related illness or cause safety concerns due to introduction of a hazard (for instance, straps getting caught in equipment) may consult with an occupational safety and health professional to determine the appropriate face covering for their setting.
  • As permitted by your agency, while working alone in your own private office with the door closed you do not need to wear a mask, provided you can put on a face covering quickly if someone enters. If the door is open or you leave your office you are required to wear a mask. Employees are reminded to wipe down surfaces in their office with available disinfectant spray before leaving for the day. If you remove your mask in a conference room, you must sanitize hard surfaces and anything you touch in a conference room both upon entering and before vacating the space.
  • Employees who choose to disclose their vaccine status and are fully vaccinated may meet with other fully vaccinated employees indoors without wearing face coverings or physical distancing, so long as all such employees in the meeting are comfortable doing so. Note: Employees are considered “vaccinated" if they have completed their vaccine series (two doses for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine; one dose for Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and at least two weeks have passed since their final dose.
12. My job is indoors and outdoors, what should I do? Employees are required to wear masks when indoors but may remove the mask when outdoors and when social distancing is possible. 

                 

13. If I participate in the state's van pool (ride share), do I need to wear a mask while in the vehicle? Yes, you must wear a mask.
Updated 04/20/2021 14. If a member of the public is not wearing a mask, can I deny them service? No, although signage at state facilites will ask that members of the public properly wear a mask, the State will not deny service for this reason.  Members of the public should follow their local health department's guidance regarding the use of masks. Part of the reason to require employees to wear masks is to ensure the employee's personal protection.  Masks will be available to members of the public doing business with the State.
Updated 04/20/2021 15. ​If I cannot deny service to a member of the public without a mask, can I ask them to wear a mask or to explain why they are not wearing a mask?  ​Signage at state facilities will make clear to members of the public that they are being asked to wear a mask, so employees may not ask or require members of the public to wear a mask. Additionally, employees may not ask members of the public if they meet the exception criteria or require them to explain why they are not wearing a mask. State employees are not responsible for ensuring the public's compliance with health or emergency orders and will respect individuals’ privacy, which may include medical information or personal history. As a reminder, employees should similarly not be making these inquiries of their co-workers. 
Updated 04/20/2021 16.I work in a position where I interact directly with the public and although i am wearing a mask, I am concerned about interacting with a member of the public or a co-worker wo is not wearing a mask. What should I do? ​Masks help to protect both the person wearing the mask as well as anyone they interact with. If you encounter someone who is not wearing a mask, maintain social distancing and stay behind protective barriers (plastic shields/windows/etc.) where possible. You can also talk to your supervisor or human resources about additional options or additional personal protective equipment.
Updated 04/20/2020 17.Is it true that I could be subject to discipline for refusing to wear a mask if I do not have an approved reasonable accommodation? ​Yes, as is true for any required protective equipment, employees who refuse to wear a mask without authorization to do so may be subject to discipline up to and including termination. While we will make every effort to work with the personal circumstances of each employee, this has been a requirement for all employees since July 13, 2020.
Updated 11/12/2020 18.Are employees required to continue to wear masks even though the statewide order has ended? ​The mask requirement implemented on July 13th was a protective measure to help ensure the health and safety of our workforce and the members of the public to whom we provide service. Even though the statewide Emergency Order has ended, mask requirements will remain until it is determined to be a measure no longer needed to help protect the health and safety of our workforce. Employees will be notified of this change.
Section E: COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations

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While all employees are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible, the state is not requiring employees to be vaccinated.
 

The Department of Health Services (DHS) provides additional FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine.​

​ ​ ​Questions​ ​ ​Answers
Updated 04/20/2021 ​1. ​Can I get the vaccine now?

​You may be able to get the vaccine now if you are eligible under the criteria from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

As Wisconsin receives more doses of the vaccine, more individuals will be able to receive it.

For more information on eligible groups in priority order, see the DHS COVID-19: Who can get vaccinated page.

You may also sign up for DHS Weekly COVID-19 Response and Vaccination Newsletters here. Prior newsletters are also included on this page.

Updated  03/09/2021 ​2. ​How do I get the vaccine?

If you are eligible, you can receive the vaccine from your health care provider, pharmacy, or local or tribal public health agency. DHS has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Registryavailable to the public to allow Wisconsin residents to register for and schedule COVID-19 vaccinations locally – when they are eligible, and as vaccine becomes available. The vaccine registry will be used by those who opt in and will not be a comprehensive resource for all vaccination options.

If your local or tribal health department is participating in the vaccine registry, you will be able to fill out a questionnaire that determines if you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and then be able to make an appointment. If you are not yet eligible to get the vaccine, or no appointments are currently available, you can be placed on a wait-list. The vaccine registry can also assist you with scheduling and reminding you about your second vaccine dose, and help you monitor for any symptoms after getting the vaccine.

Residents and staff at long-term care facilities are receiving the vaccine at their facilities through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

DHS has also published a map of Vaccine Providers in Wisconsin to help Wisconsinites more easily find and connect with vaccine providers in their area.

  • All vaccinations are by appointment only and each vaccine provider manages its own schedules and appointments.
  • Some providers are only open to specific eligibility groups. Please visit the provider's website or contact them before going in to confirm vaccination location and hours, that vaccine doses and appointments are available, and that you are eligible for a vaccine.
  • The map is updated every two weeks. Therefore, vaccine providers listed may have already administered or allocated their supply.
  • Please be patient. There is a limited amount of vaccine, so it may be difficult to get an appointment. All vaccine providers are working hard to administer vaccines safely, efficiently, and equitably.
​3. ​If I get the COVID-19 vaccine during my normal work hours, do I need to use personal leave? ​In general, employees are not in pay status when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine offsite during normal work hours. With supervisor approval, employees may adjust their work schedule or make up work time in accordance with agency policies.

In cases where an agency is coordinating vaccination for eligible employees, the agency may provide a reasonable amount of time in pay status to employees receiving the vaccine. Each scenario is unique, and the determination will be made at the discretion of the appointing authority.
Updated  04/20/2021 ​4. ​Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have gotten the vaccine?

​Yes. Everyone needs to continue practicing good pandemic behavior, even once fully vaccinated. At this moment, it is unclear what level of community immunity or amount of the population vaccinated is needed for the CDC to stop recommending the use of masks and physical distancing. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide. Until then, all Wisconsinites should continue wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping six feet apart from others.

Employees who choose to disclose their vaccine status and are fully vaccinated may meet with other fully vaccinated employees indoors without wearing face coverings or physical distancing, so long as all such employees in the meeting are comfortable doing so. Note: Employees are considered "vaccinated" if they have completed their vaccine series (two doses for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine; one dose for Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and at least two weeks have passed since their final dose.

Updated  04/20/2021 5.​ ​Do I need to quarantine after close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 if I have gotten the vaccine?

Employees who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (received two doses for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; one dose for Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Exposure to someone with COVID-19 happened at least 2 weeks after receiving the last dose of the vaccine series.
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Persons who do not meet all of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 as provided in Section B: Reporting to Work.

Fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

Additional information may be found in DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #27

​6. ​Can my employer require me to provide proof of vaccine? ​Yes. Proof of vaccination can be required if job related and consistent with business necessity.  However, employees should not provide any additional medical information as part of the proof. Agencies should consult with their medical coordinator in advance of requesting proof of vaccination.

 

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 ​​Note: Guidance contained in this document is based on CDC and DHS guidance as of 04/20/2021