Updated/reviewed: 7/15/2020






ECU Student Health Services: 580-559-5713
Pontotoc County Health Department: 580-332-2011
Oklahoma COVID-19 Hotline: 877-215-8336
Emotional Distress Hotline: 800-985-5990

Please note: The following Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) below are based on direct communications from East Central University President Katricia Pierson and represent the latest, most-accurate official position of the University in regard to the COVID-19 situation. Her entire correspondence is collected here.

May 12, 2020 - Update from the President's Office on Return to Campus Plan
April 30, 2020 - Update from Employment Service on Fraudulent Unemployment Claims
April 3, 2020 - Update from Employment Service on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)


We are currently building a Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have a question, please email employeeinfo@ecok.edu.


Q: What are the precautionary steps suggested?
A: The University encourages the following steps to help prevent the spread of the virus within the campus community. If possible, telework from a remote location. Instead of in-person meetings, consider using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. For more information on how to set up a Zoom or Microsoft Team meeting, contact the Help Desk at 580-559-5884 or helpdesk@ecok.edu. Avoid non-essential trips to other on-campus departments. Call or email instead. Post preferred contact information on office doors.

Q: Will campus still be available to the public?
A: The campus is closed to the public until further notice. Only approved, essential personnel should be on campus.

Q: Can I work remotely?
A: Effective with Governor Stitt’s recent executive order, employees are expected to telework whenever possible. For specific questions, please speak to your supervisor. Some positions may not be appropriate for remote work; therefore, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors will communicate with staff about the methods in which the essential functions of the University need to be completed.

Q: How is the hiring process impacted during this time?
A: Candidates have been notified to expect delays in the interview process over the next few weeks. On-campus interviews that require out-of-state travel will be postponed until further notice. Departments are encouraged to schedule remote interviews through online applications such as Zoom.

Q: How long are we going to have to work remotely?
A: We continue to be vigilant in protecting our campus community against the spread of COVID-19. Even though Governor Stitt’s “safer at home” order expires on April 30 with an extension for vulnerable populations through May 6, we will be cautious about resuming normal activities. To protect our employees, only essential personnel should be on campus. Employees able to telework and/or on a flexible schedule should continue with this practice until May 18. Should non-essential businesses not be allowed to return to normal operation by May 18, we will extend the campus closure until it is reasonably safe to return.

Q: Are we going to be able to work on campus this summer?
A: On June 1, we begin our summer schedule of Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a 30-minute paid lunch break. We will also continue providing an additional 30 minutes for employees who use the wellness incentive. Check with the Wellness Center staff for details on activity times and program benefits.

Q: How are we supposed to track COVID-19 expenses?
A: Please remember that we are required to track COVID-19 related expenses which includes personnel leave for reimbursement purposes. When the second-half of the CARES Act funding is made available, we will be able to use it for COVID-19 related expenses.

Q: Because of the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, some ECU families are struggling. What can we do to help?
A: We are all extremely fortunate to have ECU and our continued revenue. However, we are aware that many businesses in the area have furloughed or laid off employees, some of whom are spouses of our employees. ECU employees have once again rallied together to establish a grant through the ECU Foundation that may help another ECU employee during these uncertain times. If you are in interested in learning more or are able to contribute, please visit the ECU Helping Hand Grant page.


Q: What should I do if an employee comes to work sick?
A: Employees experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home. While only a medical professional can diagnose an illness and provide care instructions, supervisors may advise an employee to stay home if they appear to have flu-like symptoms. Additionally, supervisors should not pressure anyone who is ill to come to work. Employees who are well should not be persuaded to stay home for reasons such as national origin, ethnicity, home location, or having cared for a sick family member (without any indication of COVID-19).

Q: How should I proceed if I, or an employee, recently traveled to a highly infected area?
A: Individuals who travel to areas where COVID-19 is spreading may be more likely to get infected during travel. If you have questions about exposure, check your destination’s local health department website for more information. If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you are considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness. Employees required to quarantine before 04/01/20 will be required to use their own leave or take unpaid leave for days if they could not telework during this time. Employees may be eligible for FFCRA leave if they were in quarantine after 04/01/20.

Q: Are there any additional leave options available due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
A: Yes. The FFCRA provides additional leave benefits to eligible employees who are unable to work remotely. Employees that believe they are eligible for this benefit should complete the ES Request for COVID-19 Leave (username: ECU email address, password: same as for MyECU). For more information on the FFCRA, please refer to the FFCRA Employee Rights Poster.

Q: What should I do if one of my employees tests positive for COVID-19?
A: Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should contact their supervisor and/or Employment Services as soon as possible. Supervisors should communicate with Employment Services directly in the event of a positive COVID-19 test. Departments should maintain the confidentiality of the student or employee. Administration will coordinate with local health officials to determine a course of action.


Q: How should I process leave without signatures?
A: Leave sheets are now emailed to employees with accrued balances. Employees will type leave taken and their name at the bottom of the form that will act as the signature. Employees will then email this form to their supervisors for approval before their supervisor ultimately emails the final form to Dawn Thurber for tracking. If you have been approved for FFCRA leave, you will record that time off to the side for each day as COVID Leave.

Q: What about the Non-Exempt Excel Timesheet?
A: Employees should continue tracking time on these spreadsheets as normal. In regard to time keeping, teleworking is no different from working on campus. Employees on FFCRA leave will record FFCRA Leave in the OTHER column.

Q: What leave should I use if I am anxious or uncomfortable reporting to work?
A: Employees are encouraged to work remotely if possible. Those who are unable to work remotely, but do not feel comfortable working on campus, may use any available accrued leave. Leave will be used in the following order: comp time, sick leave and then annual leave. If you run out of leave and still desire to be off due to safety concerns, you will be placed on unpaid leave.   


Q: What healthcare benefits are available to me?
A: Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) offers a 24/7 Nurseline (1-800-581-0407) available to employees and their dependents. Please note that this is not an emergency line. BCBS will help cover telehealth options offered by your provider until April 30, 2020. There will be no co-pay associated with a telehealth visit. For more information, visit  https://www.bcbsok.com/covid-19/whats-covered#telehealth and choose the MDLive option. If you need further assistance, contact Dawn Thurber at dthurber@ecok.edu. Employees should also review other benefits they elected during open enrollment, such as Short-Term Disability and MetLife Plans (accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity). Employees can review their benefit enrollment at https://my.tbx360.com/OKHEEI (username is employee ID or SSN, password is last 4 digits of SSN and last 2 digits of birth year (do not use dashes or spaces).

Q: My daycare has closed and/or my spouse lost their insurance coverage. Can I make changes to my benefits?
A: Possibly. Changes in current benefits can be changed based on an applicable qualifying event. The request for a change of benefits must be made within 31 days of the applicable qualifying event. Qualifying events include the following: birth or adoption; marriage, divorce, or legal separation; death; child’s loss of coverage due to age; employee’s spouse gains or loses coverage through employment; a significant change in the financial terms of health benefits provided through a spouse’s employer or another carrier. Contact Dawn Thurber at dthurber@ecok.edu with any questions or requests for a qualifying event.

Q: Can I still make changes to my 403(b) or 457 account?
A: Please contact Rebecca McGee, ECU’s Voya Representative, at rebecca.mcgee@voyafa.com.

Q: Does my coverage include mental health options for anxiety and depression related to COVID-19?
A: ECU offers an Employee Assistance Program for employees and their dependents. Contact Dawn Thurber at dthurber@ecok.edu for more information.


Q: Can student workers return to their positions even though campus is closed to the public?
A: Only remotely and only if approved by a vice president.

Q: Can my student volunteer without pay during this time?
A: No. Federal regulations prohibit student workers from volunteering to perform their normal work duties without pay.

Q: Will my student worker continue to receive pay?
A: Student-workers will receive pay through April 30, 2020. Pay will be based on the February 2020 payroll unless the student is currently working. Students currently working will be paid based on the hours accrued in the month. Contact Tina Essary at tessary@ecok.edu for questions regarding student payroll.