COVID-19 frequently asked questions for WSDOT employees

Updated: 10:30 a.m., May 22, 2020

Topics

For the most up to date information on what’s happening within our state please visit https://coronavirus.wa.gov/.  


New additions/ update for this week

 

What resources are available for higher-risk employees and those with childcare or caregiver concerns as field staff returns to worksites?
As we’ve recently heard from Secretary Millar, some of our construction, maintenance, and other field staff will soon return to their worksites while following strict safety protocols and procedures. We know that for some employees, this decision may cause concerns about personal health and well-being and/or parenting and childcare logistics. We want to share information and resources about both.

Higher-risk employees

Returning to fieldwork could be particularly concerning for employees at greater risk for COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control has identified certain demographics and conditions that could make some individuals more susceptible:

  • People ages 65 and older.
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
  • People who have serious heart conditions.
  • People who are immunocompromised.
  • People of any age with severe obesity and/or certain underlying medical conditions such diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease.
  • While data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk to date, those who are pregnant should be regularly monitored since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness.

We are committed to exploring all options for employees at higher risk to exposure. If you meet one or more of these factors and have health concerns related to transitioning back to the field, you should talk to your supervisor. You may find it helpful to complete the attached form and engage with your HR consultant as a first step. If you would prefer to have an HR representative present while you talk to your supervisor, we would be more than happy to arrange that.

Childcare and caregiver logistics

If you have concerns about returning to your worksite due to childcare constraints, caring for a household member who may be experiencing symptoms, and/or risking exposure to a household member who may be at greater risk for COVID-19 as outlined above, please work with your supervisor to discuss your options.

If you are unable to work, there are additional benefits you may qualify for under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (pdf 152 kb) that went into effect April 1:

  • The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides paid leave to employees based on their own COVID-19 health-related issues; and individuals who are caring for someone with COVID-19 issues or who need to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19-related school or childcare closure.
  • The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act provides paid and unpaid leave to employees who need to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19-related school or childcare closure

If you believe you meet one of the qualifying conditions outlined above, your HR consultant (pdf 406 kb) can answer questions, verify your eligibility, and provide the appropriate notice. You can also call the Leave Hotline at 1-855-707-8100, option 2.

We understand the challenges parents and caregivers face during this unprecedented time. Many parents and caregivers are carrying the burden of school closures and limited childcare availability while balancing a work schedule from home. In response, the state Department of Children, Youth & Families developed a resource guide (pdf 340 kb) with more information. If you have questions about the guide, please feel free to email DCYF at strengtheningfamilies@dcyf.wa.gov.

Additionally, you can always reach out for help through the state’s Employee Assistance Program, WSDOT’s Peer Support Group at SWPeerSupport@WSDOT.WA.GOV, or through your healthcare provider if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.

Throughout this transition, safety remains our strongest core value, and we’re working hard to ensure we comply with L&I guidelines. Health screening, education, training, social distancing, good hygiene practices, proper use of prescribed PPE, teleworking and, most importantly, staying home when you are sick are critical safety protocols that we all must follow. Your actions to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you and are most appreciated.

How long should COVID-19 screening records be retained?
According to the State Records Manager advice sheet on COVID-19 health screening records:
"In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many agencies have begun screening employees and visitors for signs of infection. The most common screening methods agencies have implemented are temperature tests and surveys asking about symptoms and potential exposures.
Although these records contain medical information about individuals, these are NOT considered health records. The purpose of conducting screenings is to ensure the safety of the workplace by preventing infected individuals from exposing others to the virus. Because retention requirements are based on the purpose or function of the activity being documented, screening records should be retained under:

  • Security Monitoring – Employee and Public Access (DAN GS50-06B-20) on page 88 of the Local Government Common Records Retention Schedule (CORE) v.4.0 (May 2017); or
  • Entry/Exit Logs – Facilities (DAN GS 25007) on page 63 of the State Government General Records Retention Schedule (SGGRRS) v.6.0 (June 2016).

What are the retention requirements for records relating to the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The State Records Manager has recently developed a COVID-19 record retention advice sheet (pdf 250 KB) detailing what types of records should be retained for 6 years as part of our emergency/disaster response/recovery response. 

Health concerns
 

What should I do if I feel sick?
Stay home for at least 72 hours after a fever or symptoms pass. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough and difficulty breathing – contact your health provider for advice on next steps. The CDC also has a Risk Assessment and Public Health Management Decision Making graphic (pdf 134 kb) that shows what health officials will be looking for.

Is it safe for me to keep coming to work?
We are following state and local health officials’ guidance and will abide by recommendations they may make about any of our sites. Facilities is working ensure all work sites are properly cleaned. Increasing social distance at work sites also is explored. Please discuss any work site concerns with your supervisor.

What should I do if I’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or I have tested positive or am being tested?
Follow directions from your health care provider and doctor local health department, including self-quarantining if you meet the standards. Notify your supervisor of your illness and any positive test results. We are taking additional cleaning steps at work stations of anyone who suspects or has confirmed they have COVID-19. 

How is the agency responding to COVID-19 risks?
We have been working closely with the state Department of Health, the Governor’s Office and the state Emergency Management Division since January and continue to do so. 
All WSDOT employees telework eligible have been told to do so.
Large employee events are being cancelled or rescheduled and non-essential travel is cancelled through April 30 and will be reassessed after that.
We are advising all employees who are sick to stay home and reminding healthy employees at work to practice good hygiene to help slow the spread of any respiratory illness.

How will I know if a co-worker has been exposed? Will that shut down my office?
We are taking additional cleaning steps for any suspected or known cases. We also will follow local county health guidelines if any additional steps are recommended for buildings or offices. Please continue to practice good hygiene as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

Other businesses are implementing company-wide teleworking protocols or closing buildings, why haven’t we?
This is an ever-evolving situation so responses may alter as conditions change. As a state transportation agency we also must work to ensure the state’s vital transportation system continues functioning during this time. All WSDOT employees telework eligible have been told to do so.

How often is leadership meeting to discuss the situation?
Agency leaders have been coordinating with the state since January. Executives are speaking several times a day in groups and one-on-one to respond while preserving our critical transportation mission. Our Headquarters Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is operating virtually. Our priority remains the safety of our workers and the traveling public.

I’m worried about being exposed to COVID-19, can I telework?
Please discuss telework options and schedules with your supervisor. 
All WSDOT employees telework eligible have been told to do so.
Our IT staff has expanded capacity in recent days but please be patient about speeds and connections as we make this major adjustment.

How can I get more health information about COVID-19?
There is a lot of fear and uncertainty about COVID-19 and that’s why it’s important to be sure you’re getting facts and not rumors. Please consult trusted sources of information such as the state Department of Health coronavirus page, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s coronavirus website or your local county health department.
If you want regular updates on COVID-19, you can sign up to receive the Washington State Department of Health Public Health Connection blogs that are related to COVID-19. To subscribe, visit https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOH/subscriber/new and follow the prompts to choose how, what, and when you want to receive information. When you get to the Subscription Topics page, click on the Emergency Preparedness and Response dropdown box and select 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Can the virus be filtered out through our building's filtration system?
While health experts are still learning the details, currently, the virus is thought to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and a person within six feet makes physical contact with the droplets. These droplets are too heavy to stay airborne and there is little chance of them being picked up by the air circulation systems. None of WSDOT’s building have filtration systems that remove viruses, however, where possible we are providing as much outside air as possible helping reduce the risk of recirculating contaminants. Some newer buildings are designed to use only outside air when heating or cooling.

Working during the COVID-19 pandemic

What resources are available for higher-risk employees and those with childcare or caregiver concerns as field staff returns to worksites?
As we’ve recently heard from Secretary Millar, some of our construction, maintenance, and other field staff will soon return to their worksites while following strict safety protocols and procedures. We know that for some employees, this decision may cause concerns about personal health and well-being and/or parenting and childcare logistics. We want to share information and resources about both.

Higher-risk employees

Returning to fieldwork could be particularly concerning for employees at greater risk for COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control has identified certain demographics and conditions that could make some individuals more susceptible:

  • People ages 65 and older.
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
  • People who have serious heart conditions.
  • People who are immunocompromised.
  • People of any age with severe obesity and/or certain underlying medical conditions such diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease.
  • While data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk to date, those who are pregnant should be regularly monitored since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness.

We are committed to exploring all options for employees at higher risk to exposure. If you meet one or more of these factors and have health concerns related to transitioning back to the field, you should talk to your supervisor. You may find it helpful to complete the attached form and engage with your HR consultant as a first step. If you would prefer to have an HR representative present while you talk to your supervisor, we would be more than happy to arrange that.

Childcare and caregiver logistics

If you have concerns about returning to your worksite due to childcare constraints, caring for a household member who may be experiencing symptoms, and/or risking exposure to a household member who may be at greater risk for COVID-19 as outlined above, please work with your supervisor to discuss your options.

If you are unable to work, there are additional benefits you may qualify for under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (pdf 152 kb) that went into effect April 1:

  • The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides paid leave to employees based on their own COVID-19 health-related issues; and individuals who are caring for someone with COVID-19 issues or who need to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19-related school or childcare closure.
  • The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act provides paid and unpaid leave to employees who need to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19-related school or childcare closure

If you believe you meet one of the qualifying conditions outlined above, your HR consultant (pdf 406 kb) can answer questions, verify your eligibility, and provide the appropriate notice. You can also call the Leave Hotline at 1-855-707-8100, option 2.

We understand the challenges parents and caregivers face during this unprecedented time. Many parents and caregivers are carrying the burden of school closures and limited childcare availability while balancing a work schedule from home. In response, the state Department of Children, Youth & Families developed a resource guide (pdf 340 kb) with more information. If you have questions about the guide, please feel free to email DCYF at strengtheningfamilies@dcyf.wa.gov.

Additionally, you can always reach out for help through the state’s Employee Assistance Program, WSDOT’s Peer Support Group at SWPeerSupport@WSDOT.WA.GOV, or through your healthcare provider if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.

Throughout this transition, safety remains our strongest core value, and we’re working hard to ensure we comply with L&I guidelines. Health screening, education, training, social distancing, good hygiene practices, proper use of prescribed PPE, teleworking and, most importantly, staying home when you are sick are critical safety protocols that we all must follow. Your actions to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you and are most appreciated.

How long should COVID-19 screening records be retained?
According to the State Records Manager advice sheet on COVID-19 health screening records:
"In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many agencies have begun screening employees and visitors for signs of infection. The most common screening methods agencies have implemented are temperature tests and surveys asking about symptoms and potential exposures.
Although these records contain medical information about individuals, these are NOT considered health records. The purpose of conducting screenings is to ensure the safety of the workplace by preventing infected individuals from exposing others to the virus. Because retention requirements are based on the purpose or function of the activity being documented, screening records should be retained under:

  • Security Monitoring – Employee and Public Access (DAN GS50-06B-20) on page 88 of the Local Government Common Records Retention Schedule (CORE) v.4.0 (May 2017); or
  • Entry/Exit Logs – Facilities (DAN GS 25007) on page 63 of the State Government General Records Retention Schedule (SGGRRS) v.6.0 (June 2016).

What are the retention requirements for records relating to the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The State Records Manager has recently developed a COVID-19 record retention advice sheet (pdf 250 KB) detailing what types of records should be retained for 6 years as part of our emergency/disaster response/recovery response. 

Which WSDOT employees need to complete the new LMS course on COVID-19?
The course, loaded into the LMS, directions for remotely accessing this system (pdf 167 kb), on April 22, is mandatory for all employees. Completing this course gives employees a greater understanding of COVID-19, its spread, prevention and what to do if you feel sick. The course takes about 45 minutes to complete. It is expected all employees finish the course within the next 30 days, however frontline employees are strongly encouraged to complete it within the next week by Friday, May 1.

Use of Electronic Signatures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We suspended our existing policy on the use of electronic and digital signatures, EO 1066, in order to remove barriers to the use of alternative means of signing documents. The following is specific guidance regarding signatures for Financial documents, Design documents, Consulting and Administrative Contracts, and Construction documents.

  • Financial Documents:
    Except as provided below for employee initiated changes to deductions and EFT’s, please follow section 1-7.2 of the Accounting Policy Manual:
    • 1-7.2 Email Approvals
      WSDOT policy allows email documents to serve as a signature as long as the email contains enough detail to logically associate the approval with the specific document.
    • For example, to approve an invoice the approver should send an email stating “I approve the payment of $100.50 for Invoice #1234 to PSE.” This provides enough detail to support what is being approved. If a PDF copy of what is being approved can also be attached to the approval email, even better. Rubber stamped signatures and images of signatures are not acceptable as it is difficult to verify their authenticity.
  • Handling of Employee Initiated Changes to Deductions and EFT's:
    If an employee does not have the ability to print, sign and scan a document, this is how Payroll will handle employee requests.
    • Requiring a “wet” signature (signed then scanned and emailed is acceptable)
      • W-4 changes
      • New EFT requests
      • EFT Changes
        • In an emergency situation (an account is closing, for example) we can end a direct deposit with an email request, which will then make the next paycheck a warrant sent to the employee’s address on file
    • Other employee initiated requests can be done via email authorization from a WSDOT email address, using the appropriate forms (the email would be indexed in iLINX with the form/request). Examples:
      • Union dues deduction
      • Credit Union deductions
      • HSA account changes
      • W-2 requests
  • Development Division documents; Consulting and Administrative contracts:
    The Development Division is authorizing the use of electronic signatures for all documents with special instructions for design documentation approvals. For design documentation, electronic signatures applied by Adobe, Bluebeam, or CoSign should be used. If electronic signatures are applied on top of a professional license, it must appear like a handwritten signature. If for some reason a wet signature is still required, you may apply an electronic signature now, apply a wet signature once you return to the office, and backdate the document to the day it was signed electronically.

    Consultants developing design documentation products for the WSDOT must also move to electronic signatures as described above with the exception that they may use other electronic signature products such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign that have been purchased by their company.
  • Construction Division documents:
    Electronic Signatures are considered acceptable forms of signatures on all documents. Electronic signature is defined as an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

    For all documents, except those requiring additional identity verification listed below, an electronic signature on a pdf document will be acceptable, as long as the following requirements are met.

    Prior to accepting a document that requires a signature, the Project Engineer shall verify that it bears the required signature(s), is legible and in pdf file format, and has been sent or transmitted from an agent of the Contractor (or subcontractor, as appropriate). Any document that does not meet the above requirements shall be returned to the sender immediately.
  • Documents Requiring Additional Identity Verification
  • The following documents will require further identity verification:
    • Change Orders that are not Minor Change Orders
    • 134-146 Final Contract Voucher Certificate
    • 421-009 Release – Retained Percentage (Except Landscaping)

      For the documents listed above, identity verification is required. A signature solution is currently being developed and more information will be provided when it is available. More information is expected to be available by April 10.

      Until then, an email sent from the signature authority affirming their intent to endorse the change order is acceptable means of authorizing change order endorsement. Signatures shall be applied and back-dated when available.

      In process Final Contract Voucher Certificates will need to be processed once signatures can be applied using conventional means.

Vehicle Cleaning and Disinfecting

Guidance to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and other seasonal diseases through the exposure from the daily operation of our fleet vehicles and equipment.

The safety and wellbeing of our employees is a core value of WSDOT and we all should take steps to slow and stop the spread of viruses and other diseases. This applies to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as several other seasonal diseases such as the flu.

By employing regular cleaning and disinfecting practices after each use, we can effectively minimize the transmission of these diseases while utilizing vehicles and equipment.

Cleaning and disinfecting these surfaces with approved cleaners and disinfectants removes the vast majority of bacteria and viruses that cause COVID-19, flu, colds, and other seasonal illnesses reducing the probability of transmission.

Vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected between each use and marked in the vehicle log so the next employee knows that is has been completed.

Read the synopsis and the full procedures and guidelines (pdf 90 kb), including a list of frequently touched areas, types of cleaners and a cleaning checklist, also are available online.

Definitions

  • Cleaning: refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Cleaning is typically performed using soap, detergents, cleaners and water before using a disinfecting method.
  • Disinfecting: refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting is typically performed using approved commercial or household disinfecting solutions.

Guidance for Maintenance Vehicles and Equipment

  1. Employees should use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable gloves and eye protection, such as a face shield or goggles when mixing concentrated materials into secondary containers for daily use.
    Note: Wearing gloves will not stop transmission if you touch a potentially contaminated surface and then touch your face or other surface with the gloves on.

  2. The secondary containers must be properly labeled to prevent adverse reactions between chemicals (i.e. bleach, alcohol hydrogen-peroxide and other chemicals which are clear liquids and can cause hazardous vapors if mixed).

  3. Many of the surfaces in the cab and associated compartments can be cleaned with soap and water using paper towels or disposable rags, according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Avoid using cleaning methods that cause splashing or generate aerosols. To avoid splashing, spray the cleaning agent into the rag/cloth instead of spraying directly onto the surface.

  4. Avoid using excessive amounts of water -- only dampen the cloth or rag. Using excessive amounts of water inside the vehicle could damage the equipment.

  5. It is always best practice to wear nitrile or rubber gloves while cleaning and when operating the same piece of equipment that other drivers operate. This is especially during cold and flu season or when a general health alert is issued.

  6. Dispose of gloves and soiled material in a sturdy, leak-proof bag that is tied shut and not reopened.

  7. When cleaning has been completed and gloves have been disposed, immediately clean hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based (no less than 70% alcohol per CDC recommendations) hand gel and wash hands with soap and water as soon as feasible. Avoid touching the face with gloved or unwashed hands.

  8. Do not use compressed air, water under pressure, or any other methods of cleaning that can cause splashing or which might re-aerosolize infectious material. If there is debris that needs vacuumed out of the cab, the vacuum cleaners should only be used after proper disinfection has taken place on frequently touched surfaces. For the full list, please see the full procedures and guidelines (pdf 90 kb)

Will essential employees be issued letters, as other companies have issued to their essential employees?
Your WSDOT identification badge will serve that purpose.

What type of things can I work on now that I’m working from home?
Please see resources listed in the new online learning center of our Workforce Development Toolkit. We anticipate the number of learning pathways will grow as we get feedback from leaders and learners along the way. New content will be added regularly, so be sure to check back often.

If non-essential employees are not able to work from home, are they paid, or do they try to get unemployment?
Currently, the 14-day administrative leave is only available for those in quarantine with COVID-19. Please work with your HR professional to figure out the best options specific to your situation and leave available.

How do we decide who needs to stay on the job as an essential employee and who should go home?
WSDOT is pausing some maintenance work as part of its COVID-19 response and the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

  • Essential duties will continue to be carried out on a limited basis, such as:
    • Clearing snow off passes that are open year round (such as Snoqualmie, Stevens, White, etc.)
    • Incident Response
    • Tunnel operations
    • Cleaning of safety rest areas
    • Operating movable bridges (Hood Canal, First Avenue South, etc.)
    • Emergency repairs to roadways, bridges, signals and any critical regulatory signs that have been knocked down.
  • Examples of work that will be temporarily paused include:
    • Work to reopen seasonally closed passes such as North Cascades Highway, Chinook and Cayuse.
    • Roadway striping
    • Guardrail repairs
    • Litter pick up
    • Weed and vegetation control
    • Catch basin and stormwater facility cleanings
    • Sweeping (including work maintaining state-owned trails – most state-owned trail will remain open but not cleared.)
  • Road shoulder repairs

If an employee begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, they will be sent home with full pay. They must then get checked out by a health care provider. 

Telework/ IT

I'm not eligible for telework, can I use leave?
Please see the Washington State Office of Financial Management's COVID-19 Scenarios & Benefits Available chart (pdf 417 kb) updated April 15, 2020. Employees who do not have 6 weeks leave and have to work, but don’t have childcare may be able to use shared leave revisions and updated FMLA. This depends on each person’s unique needs on an individual basis so please contact your local human resources (pdf 10 kb).
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was enacted on March 18, 2020.
These acts are effective as of April 1, 2020 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

  • It includes two different employee leave acts:
    • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which provides up to 80 hours of paid leave to qualifying employees who need leave for their own COVID-19 health related issues, to care for an individual with COVID-19 issues, or to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19 related school or child care closure
    • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), which provides qualifying employees up to twelve weeks of paid and unpaid leave to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19 related school or child care closure.

The Employee Rights poster (pdf 126 kb) explains more about the EPSLA and EFMLEA.
The DOL website contains a helpful FAQ page.
Please contact your local human resources (pdf 10 kb) with any questions, or send your questions to leave@wsdot.wa.gov

What type of things can I work on now that I’m working from home?
Please see resources listed in the new online learning center of our Workforce Development Toolkit. We anticipate the number of learning pathways will grow as we get feedback from leaders and learners along the way. New content will be added regularly, so be sure to check back often.

What if people can telework, but don’t want to?
We are following state and local health officials’ guidance and will abide by recommendations they may make about any of our sites. Social distancing efforts, like teleworking, greatly reduces the potential exposure for your coworkers in positions that are unable to telework. If you are eligible and able to telework, please plan to do so going forward.

I can’t telework, there are high risk people at home and I’m concerned about coming in and bringing disease home. What should I do?
Some of our jobs can’t be done remotely. For those, please discuss options with your supervisor including identifying some work that may be done off-site, altering schedules or increasing social distance at the worksite. We will continue to clean common touch areas on our ferries, Amtrak Cascades trains, safety rest areas, customer service centers, toll booths and public facilities. 

What do I need to do if I want to telework?

Talk with your supervisor and learn more from the Telework Handbook (PDF 98 KB). Then, be sure you’ve filled out the following forms:

What if I need to bring home additional WSDOT equipment (i.e. monitors, external drives, etc.)?
Check in with your supervisor on whether the equipment is necessary for your comfort or job completion. Supervisors need to track this equipment movement and status as part of accountability.
Using thumb drives or other memory items is helpful for our current limited bandwidth with over 2,000 people teleworking at this time.

How do I manage agency records when I am using my personal computer/cell to conduct WSDOT business?
If you are using a personal device with Citrix to conduct your work, all agency records should be created and stored within the agency’s programs. There should not be any agency records on personal devices. Please review EO 1105 Use of Mobile Communication Devices.

Is my personal computer/cell subject to public disclosure if I conduct WSDOT business on them?
Every record that is made or received by an agency employee in connection with official agency business is a public record and subject to public disclosure, unless there is a specific exemption that prevents its disclosure. If an agency employee creates a work-related document or email on their own personal computer or sends a work-related text message from their own personal cell phone, it is a public record and must be retained as a public record in accordance with the appropriate records retention schedule. Such records should be promptly saved to and retained on WSDOT’s system rather than a personal device.
However, if you retain work related records on personal devices, they are subject to PDRs. If an employee receives a PDR for information that exists on their personal devices they must provide the record to the PDR office to comply with the request. Per direction from the State Supreme Court, we require employees who are producing records from their personal device to sign a declaration we give them to attest that they have done a thorough search and have produced all responsive records.

Are Skype/Microsoft Teams text messages/shared documents retained and are they subject to public disclosure?
Skype messages are not retained. MS Teams messages, files, chats will be saved in the Cloud and thus subject to Public Disclosure. 

If our desk phones are forwarded via EX500, is there a way to change or turn this off?
Please contact your Help Desk or follow the directions below.

From your work landline phone:
The Avaya gray phone at your desk will have 2 new buttons added an EC500 button and an Extend Call button. Do not place your phone on Send Calls or it will bypass the cell and go to straight to your work voicemail.

  • Activate EC500 - From your desk phone press the EC500 button to have calls ring simultaneously to your cell phone. A triangle or light indicator will illuminate on the button label to show the feature is turned on.
  • Deactivate EC500 - From your desk phone press EC500 to have calls only go to your desk phone. A triangle or light indicator will no longer illuminate on the button label to show the feature is turned off.
  • Extend call - While on a desk phone call, press Extend Call on your desk phone to extend the call to your cell. Your cell phone will ring and you can take the call.
  • Taking a call back – If you have received a call on your cell phone through EC500 and you want to take the call back on your desk phone - pickup up the handset, press the active line on your phone, once you have established the connection with the caller hang up your cell phone.

From your cell phone:
We suggest adding these numbers to your cell phone. Keep in mind that when calling people at HQ, ELG, Aviation, Mottman, MatsLab, and Chandler Court from your cell phone, the display seen will be your work number rather than your cell number.

  • Remotely Turn EC500 ON – Dial 360-709-8071 It will beep and disconnect.
  • Remotely Turn EC500 OFF – Dial 360-709-8072 It will beep and disconnect.

If you are calling another Region or you want to call long distance and have your work number to show up, Call 360-709-8023 from your cell phone and this will take an idle line on your work phone to call out on. People will see your work number and not you cell number. You can use 4 digit, 9, or 88 depending on the call you would like to make.

My job doesn’t work for telework—what are my options?
Some of our jobs can’t be done remotely. For those, please discuss options with your supervisor including identifying some work that may done off-site, altering schedules or increasing social distance at the work site.

I’m worried about being exposed to COVID-19, can I telework?
Please discuss telework options and schedules with your supervisor.
All WSDOT employees telework eligible have been told to do so.
Our IT staff has expanded capacity in recent days but please be patient about speeds and connections as we make this major adjustment.

Are remote workers able to get reimbursed for teleworking related supplies, such as printer ink and paper? Are remote workers able to get reimbursed for any teleworking related expenses?
As of today employees are not able to be reimbursed for telework-related expenses. WSDOT’s Telework Handbook (PDF 98 KB) states the following:
“Equipment, Tools, and Technology
WSDOT provides and supports one computer and monitor per employee. WSDOT will not provide additional computers or monitors for telework. The employee assumes all of the costs for teleworking including maintenance of personal equipment, virus protection software (for using a personal computer, high-speed Internet, and incidental residential utility costs. If Information Technology (IT) needs cannot be met, telework may not be approved.”
Under Secretary’s Executive Order 1105 Use of Mobile Communication Devices, WSDOT may provide a stipend for use of an employee-owned mobile communication device for work. Please see the Mobile Communication Device Request form (154 kb).


Is WSDOT addressing participant limits on Skype and conference lines?
Conference lines have 25, 50, or 150 ports available. Contact VoiceServices@WSDOT.WA.GOV to make sure you have enough for your purposes. If callers are getting a busy signal when calling the x8060 conference bridge, they can use one of the location based numbers below to call-in.
Alternate connections for Conference Bridge:

  • Wenatchee: 509-667-2997
  • Yakima: 509-577-1776
  • Spokane: 509-324-6077
  • Vancouver: 360-905-2111
  • Seattle/NWR: 206-440-4004
  • Seattle/NWR: 206-440-4005

Human Resources

Which WSDOT employees need to complete the new LMS course on COVID-19?
The course, loaded into the LMS, directions for remotely accessing this system (pdf 167 kb), on April 22, is mandatory for all employees. Completing this course gives employees a greater understanding of COVID-19, its spread, prevention and what to do if you feel sick. The course takes about 45 minutes to complete. It is expected all employees finish the course within the next 30 days, however frontline employees are strongly encouraged to complete it within the next week by Friday, May 1.

What if I need to stay home to care for a child whose school is closed and I don’t have any sick or vacation leave left? Or if I need to work reduced hours?
Explore your leave options with your local HR representative (PDF 406 KB). There may be additional leave benefits you qualify for. You may also be able to telework for at least part of the day and use leave time for the rest. Leave without pay may also be an option, but reach out to HR or your supervisor to discuss options that may be available to you. 

I'm not eligible for telework, can I use leave?
Please see the Washington State Office of Financial Management's COVID-19 Scenarios & Benefits Available chart (pdf 417 kb) updated April 15, 2020. Employees who do not have 6 weeks leave and have to work, but don’t have childcare may be able to use shared leave revisions and updated FMLA. This depends on each person’s unique needs on an individual basis so please contact your local human resources (pdf 10 kb).
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was enacted on March 18, 2020.
These acts are effective as of April 1, 2020 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

  • It includes two different employee leave acts:
    • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which provides up to 80 hours of paid leave to qualifying employees who need leave for their own COVID-19 health related issues, to care for an individual with COVID-19 issues, or to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19 related school or child care closure
    • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), which provides qualifying employees up to twelve weeks of paid and unpaid leave to care for a minor child due to a COVID-19 related school or child care closure.

The Employee Rights poster (pdf 126 kb) explains more about the EPSLA and EFMLEA.
The DOL website contains a helpful FAQ page.
Please contact your local human resources (pdf 10 kb) with any questions, or send your questions to leave@wsdot.wa.gov

What does the governor’s proclamation regarding vulnerable employees mean for WSDOT employees?
Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-46 (pdf 65 kb), amending Proclamation 20-05, which prevents all employers, public or private, from failing to provide accommodation to high-risk employees.

Who is considered high-risk?
WSDOT follows the definition provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that protects them from risk of exposure to the COVID-19 on the job.
Specifically, the employer

  • Must offer high-risk employees alternative work assignments, including telework, alternative, or remote work locations, if feasible, and social distancing measures;
  • Must consult options for employee to use any accrued leave or seek unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible, or if the employee declines;
  • Must maintain the employee’s health insurance benefits;
  • Cannot permanently replace high-risk employees.

This proclamation is effective immediately and expires on June 12, 2020, unless extended by the Governor.

Who can apply
High-risk employees who would like to request an accommodation under the Proclamation should contact their local human resources (pdf 10 kb)



I’m worried about being exposed to COVID-19, can I telework?
Please discuss telework options and schedules with your supervisor. 
All WSDOT employees telework eligible have been told to do so.
Our IT staff has expanded capacity in recent days but please be patient about speeds and connections as we make this major adjustment.

Buildings/Office safety

What's the threshold for scaling things down, closing buildings or teleworking? And if the buildings are closed, will I be notified?
We are following the guidance of state and local health departments about our response, including in our buildings.
For those who have Internet access, information for employees is available on the WSDOT website: https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/employees
The following numbers can be called to check on building status:

  • Headquarters area (Olympia): 360-709-8050
  • Eastern region: 509-324-6001
  • Northwest region: 206-440-5000
  • Olympic region: 360-357-2600
  • Southwest region: 360-759-1388
  • Washington State Ferries: 206-515-3908
  • Alternate: Ops Center Watch Supervisor, 800-928-2440

Other employees should contact their supervisor with questions about how to receive notifications.
Please also take the time now to verify you and your supervisor have good contact numbers for each other and, if you use Crew Manager, update information there. 

Are our buildings being sanitized?
We are working to ensure all WSDOT facilities – including those we rent – are cleaned with appropriate cleaning supplies as another way to help safeguard employees, passengers, customers and the general public.
We worked with HQ Purchasing to obtain restocking supplies of wipes and hand sanitizer and those are being pushed out to regions and other offices. 

Is it safe for me to keep coming to work?
We are following state and local health officials’ guidance and will abide by recommendations they may make about any of our sites. Facilities is working ensure all work sites are properly cleaned. The increasing social distance at work sites also is explored. Please discuss any work site concerns with your supervisor.

What is the agency doing for passengers and customers at public-facing sites such as ferries and terminals, tolling customer service centers and toll booths and safety rest areas?
Common touch areas on our ferries, Amtrak Cascades trains, safety rest areas, customer service centers, toll booths and public facilities are being routinely cleaned and workers are reminded to practice good hygiene. These are high touch public spaces and it’s important for the public to also do their part to protect themselves and others by practicing good hygiene. 

Can an employee waive HIPPA regulations if they are okay with sharing their name? Example, if someone has symptoms and they give us their permission can we say John Doe has symptoms?
No, as the employer we cannot waive an employee’s right to privacy or disclosure of confidential medical information or diagnosis.
 

FMLA Issues/Questions:

Updating paperwork while working from home may be difficult/impossible. What do we do? What are our options?
Please work directly with your HR staff in the region. They will be able to answer these questions and get things processed in the most efficient way possible given our situation.

What provisions are in place to be able to do an emergency extension to FMLA given the current situations?
To our knowledge there is no emergency extension, however, there are new laws that will be in place by the beginning of next month. Please work directly with their assigned HR staff to work through the best option for the individual employee and their circumstances.

Will essential employees be issued letters, as other companies have issued to their essential employees?
Your WSDOT identification badge will serve that purpose. 

Impact on Revenue

What are the impacts?
Current traffic and ridership numbers suggest that the state could expect a loss of revenue of as much as $100 million per month. This includes impacts to WSDOT and our partner agencies that rely on the same revenue streams. However, with the uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic and a lag in revenue reporting, we should all expect updates to these estimates.

What is the typical monthly revenue coming in to WSDOT and does that number include local agencies?
On average, the state collects around $260 million per month in state transportation revenues. This total includes the amounts that are statutorily distributed to our transportation partners, including local agencies. 

Will there be layoffs or furloughs?
First, you should all know the governor and our exec team consider WSDOT employees to be our greatest resource. It is still too early to know if broader layoffs will be necessary. It will depend on whether the federal government backfills all or part of our revenue shortfall, and how legislators and the governor’s office will prioritize our work. Right now, we are all doing everything we can to lessen the impacts to our workforce. Knowing you are the backbone to our vital transportation system, and much of our important work cannot continue without you.

Will there be any reductions in programs and services?
There will be impacts across the agency. It is still too early to know what types and levels of changes will be necessary. Much will depend on whether the federal government backfills all or part of our revenue shortfall. We are developing a process to evaluate all programs and projects for potential savings. These potential savings mechanisms will be shared with the Governor and the Legislature as they consider how best to move the State forward.

Deferred Hiring Process:

How long will the hiring deferral last?
Given the uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic, it is too early to know how long a hiring deferral will last.

Why did we continue onboarding new employees this past month if we knew there might be cuts?
This has been a very fluid situation and our focus has been on protecting our employees and evaluating the environment.  We did not want to act too early hoping we could avoid a deferral on hiring.  It is clear based on our revenue projections that is no longer feasible.

What is the process and or criteria to submit a request to fill a position? 
This process is to be determined, exceptions to the general rules will be considered by a board made up of our Assistant Secretaries.  Approvals will be very limited.

How should I proceed with my already in process recruitment?
At this point unless a formal offer has been made, please work with your recruiter to notify applicants to give them the appropriate notice.  If a formal offer has been made, please discuss with your Appointing Authority on how to proceed.

Washington State Ferries

What does WSF use to clean the surfaces on its fleet? Is it effective? Is there enough?
The current Portion-Pac Red cleaner used to clean surfaces has been approved by the CDC as a product that will kill the virus on contact if used as directed. Additional cleaning products have been ordered.

What is WSF doing to protect employees who come into regular contact with the public?
We are advising passengers to practice social distancing and follow CDC guidelines for hand-washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and to avoid travelling if they are feeling ill or are experiencing symptoms of COVID 19. Additionally, we are encouraging people who are driving aboard stay in their vehicles.

Will WSF continue to serve food and drinks on board its boats now that the governor has ordered that restaurants and bars close?
As of March 17, all galleys and food service on Washington State Ferries’ vessels and terminals are closed. Centerplate, the vendor that manages WSF galley operations, will continue to stock all vending machines and will ramp up restocking efforts as needed.
We recognize that this is an inconvenience, especially because many of our crew members rely on the galleys for food and beverage—but your health and safety, and the health and safety of our customers is paramount. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time, and thank you for everything you do to take care of our customers.


What is WSF doing to communicate with staff out at the terminals and in the fleet?
WSF is making every effort to get the word out but it seems that QNs and Safety Bulletins are not making it to all levels. We are working with the MM&P to ensure that each time a Fleet Safety Bulletin is issued by WSF, each master makes copies for their crew and then holds (and records, including attendance) a safety meeting that ensures that this information is disseminated to everyone. This includes making sure that the engine room has passed the word below decks.


How can we encourage people to maintain social distancing with small crowded terminals like Colman?
In order to minimize risks to our staff and the traveling public, we are encouraging everyone to follow the state and local orders to protect residents’ health. Information about these guidelines is being provided to all of our terminals and on board our vessels.


A member of my work group has been medically directed to self-quarantine. Since I worked with them closely up to now, should I self-quarantine as well? My position is not telework-eligible. And I have no symptoms of illness.
No. In this situation, the proper course of action if you are unable to telework is to report for work and continue to follow the workplace best-practices of cleaning and sanitizing your workplace, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from your co-workers or customers, washing your hands frequently, etc. 

Why can’t WSF/WSDOT provide everyone with the cleaning and personal protective supplies they need?
Currently we have very limited supplies for many of the health and hygiene items that have been requested as part of our COVID-19 mitigation and prevention efforts. Purchasing is working hard to procure these items, however the availability of masks, hand sanitizer, germicidal cleaners, nitrile gloves, etc. is severely limited due to high demand and the national prioritization of these commodities to the medical community and first responders.
The warehouse is currently rationing the limited supplies of cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer we have on hand, and are in the process of distributing these in limited qualities to the vessels, terminals, and Eagle Harbor to ensure everyone gets a share.
When you receive hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes please ensure you are distributing them to our shipmates and team members with the highest priority, i.e. those that do not have ready access to wash their hands, those in close contact with the public, and those responsible for the cleaning of public surfaces. Use these commodities prudently as we do not know when our next resupply will arrive.

Why isn’t WSDOT protecting its maintenance employees by pausing our maintenance efforts and sending crews home?
WSF/WSDOT provides a vital service that is part of the state and national response to this pandemic. We expect this crises to continue for several months, so we must do what we can to ensure our vessels and terminals remain operational. This will enable those who are ill to get to their medical treatment facilities, and enable healthcare workers, first responders and others to get to their place of work. We are taking the appropriate steps to protect the safety of our essential workforce.

I work at a contractor’s facility (shipyard). How do I know that that employer is taking steps to protect my safety?
a. WSF leadership has discussed the COVID threat with its servicing shipyards on this matter to ensure that they are following CDC guidelines for employee safety. We have also agreed on notification protocols in the event an employee from eithers infected.

Is the WSF HQ building (2901) closed?
WSDOT is taking proactive steps to limit social interactions and help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by closing public access to many of its facilities. This public access restriction is effective Monday, March 23, and continues until further notice.
This means we are closing some WSDOT owned and leased buildings, including WSF offices at 2901, to walk-in visitors, but they will remain open for employees who need to work on-site.
Ferry terminals and passenger facilities will remain open to the public and we will continue the ongoing cleaning and disinfecting practices that have been put in place to limit exposure. Your work to keep these facilities operational and safe is deeply appreciated; they provide important transportation services and connections for communities, freight haulers and travelers, enabling our state’s economy to continue moving in these stressful times.

Has any member of our WSF Family tested positive for COVID-19?
To the best of our knowledge, as of March 23, 2020 we have not had any member of our WSF family test positive for COVID-19. We have several who have self-quarantined – our thoughts are with them, as are our thanks for taking the steps necessary to protect the health of others.
Your health and well-being are of the upmost importance. We are coordinating with Public Health — Seattle & King County. They recommend that each of us take the following steps regardless of where you report to work:

  • Stay home when you’re sick – this is very important for all illnesses, but especially for the duration of a respiratory illness.
  • Wash your hands and use alcohol-based sanitizer frequently.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes by coughing into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch and common surfaces.
  • Enhance social distancing (more than 6 feet).
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • If you have coronavirus symptoms – fever, cough and shortness of breath – contact your health care provider about what your next steps may be. Please also notify your supervisor so the agency can take any necessary steps.

Does WSF have plans to require cashless transactions for fares?
We’re implementing two immediate changes to help keep our passengers and employees safe:

  1. To better protect the public and our tollbooth operators, we’re strongly encouraging the public to purchase their tickets online or through ticket kiosks.  By limiting cash and credit card payments at the tollbooth, we are both reducing items handed back and forth between the agents and the public, and drastically dropping the amount of time each customer spends at the tollbooth interacting with our employees. 
  2. To help facilitate this, we’re allowing senior, youth, and disabled riders to purchase their tickets online, removing the requirement they do so in person so the ticket agent can verify their age and/or disability.   

Will WSF be reducing or changing service?
Yes. Throughout this unprecedented time to combat COVID-19 we have had to make difficult decisions regarding our employees and our ferry users. Until now we have not cancelled any sailing due to COVID-19, however, with a significant ridership decrease, WSF has made the decision to extend the Winter Schedule through April 25, 2020. Now is not the time to be increasing service.
Operations completed all permanent job bidding for spring. These bid results stand and will be held in abeyance until the official start of Spring Schedule. Extended Temporary bid 20-05 will be held in abeyance until further notice. We will open a window for changes to this extended temp bid at some point in the future. If at that time you like the bid you submitted, you will not be required to re-submit your bid.
Terminals will remain on Winter Schedule.
IBU 2019-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement Rule 18.03 allows employees to exchange their vacations to a future date, with respect to required deadlines in the language
In order to prevent any potential service disruptions due to spring 2020 season schedule changes, we are requesting all employees call Dispatch 24 hours or more in advance of time off to ensure your shift is appropriately approved and adequately covered.
There have been instances where vessels are short a crew member due to a misinterpretation of submitted requests for compensatory time, vacation conversion or a differing watch assignment during the season changeover. 
Crewing our boats accurately can be a complicated endeavor involving many different bargaining groups and different rules and rights under each of the CBAs. The Dispatchers and Operations Center Watch Supervisors are working diligently to address all crewing needs.
Note: Spring sailing and deck schedules start on Sunday, April 26, 2020.

What is WSF doing to help passengers stay safe aboard the ferries?
To keep our customers and WSF crew members as safe as possible all common-touch areas on our ferries and in terminals are being routinely cleaned, and workers are reminded to practice good hygiene. These are high touch public spaces, and it’s important for the public to also do their part to protect themselves and others by practicing good hygiene and reconsidering travel if they are sick.
We are also making announcements about the importance of frequent hand-washing, maintaining a distance of 6 feet away from others, etc. These announcements encourage drivers and their passengers to stay in their vehicles while aboard our vessels.
To further reduce the interactions between our ticket sellers and our passengers we are looking into putting signage at our ticket booths and in the holding areas to encourage drivers and passengers to stay in their vehicles.

What is the current projected amount of time we are expected to telework?
Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a Stay at Home, Stay Healthy order in Washington state which will be effective for a minimum of two weeks. The order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home, except for people:

  • Pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment.
  • Getting takeout food. (Food deliveries also are permitted).
  • Going to work at an essential business.
  • Going outside for walks and exercise, as long as social distancing of 6 feet is maintained.

We understand this is stressful and will affect each individual differently. If you are feeling sad and want to talk with someone about feelings of anxiety or depression, the Washington State Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential program available for you and have free webinars on their website.

Is introducing "fresh air" into the cabin a good way to reduce the risk of the virus remaining airborne?
Per CDC guidance for the corona virus, “Keeping Workplaces Safe” employers are encouraged to practice good hygiene and to be careful with meetings and travel by doing the following:

  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
  • Hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.

Based on this guidance, opening the four corner cabin doors seems to be in keeping with CDC guidance for increasing ventilation as a strategy to reduce exposure to corona virus.

The CorrectPac disinfecting detergent in a spray bottle seems to be causing respiratory irritation for people.
Thanks to the feedback we received from several crew members, management issued a safety bulletin on March 23 rescinding the direction to use the handheld sprayers for the CP202 product.
A copy of the Safety Bulletin was emailed to Watch Supervisors and all vessels; it can also be found here: http://sharedot/wsf/dco/sms/SafetyBulletins/Forms/AllItems.aspx
Operations is working to get additional tools to help with sanitization out to the fleet as soon as possible. Thank you for all you and your fellow workers are doing to keep people moving.

Are WSF employees considered essential? Are they subject to the Governor’s Stay Home-Stay Healthy order?
The services WSDOT and WSF provide are considered essential services, part of the state and national response to this pandemic.
Washington State Ferries is a vital link to people on islands and in remote locations who may not have any other viable transportation options other than WSF to access goods, services and medical care. Our employees in the field fill a critical role keeping people and goods moving on our roads as well, especially important for freight haulers carrying supplies, food and fuel. For many Washingtonians, the services we provide are the lifeline to healthcare, medical equipment and basic life necessities.
Thank you all for your continued dedication in response during these uncertain times.