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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Building Access

Do I need a negative COVID-19 test or to take the EHS training to come to the Broad to pick up personal items that I left behind in my office or to get office supplies?
No, but you’ll still need to fill out the health screening form at broad.io/healthquest and follow all other guidance, such as wearing a surgical mask, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing while you’re in the building -- and please make your visit as brief as possible. If you need to be onsite for more than an hour, you should be tested and complete the EHS training. Lastly, if you’re driving to the Broad for your quick errand, you must park in the Green Garage. Learn more about occasional parking here.

 

Will Broad permit high-school and undergrad students to work onsite during the 2021 summer?

Assuming no changes in state guidance, undergraduate students may be allowed to work onsite with approval from their home institution and the Broad’s Office of Academic Affairs. We currently are not expecting to allow high school students to work onsite, given needs for close oversight and supervision, which are challenging to do safely in the current climate. We will continue to evaluate this position closer to the summer timeframe.

 

Caregiving concerns

If my child has minor symptoms of illness and must test negative for COVID-19 before they can return to daycare or school, must I stay offsite until they have received their test results?  
Yes, if you're having daily close contact with someone with COVID-like symptoms, you should stay home at least until they have negative test results. Even if they test negative, the next few weeks are a time to be extra careful. Work remotely if you can, and if you do need to come onsite, remember to faithfully follow the onsite safety protocols and to be  extra alert for any symptoms. Even if your child has a viral illness other than COVID-19, you don't want to pass that along to anyone at Broad either. (And don't forget to get a flu shot!)

 

What Broad-provided childcare options and resources are available to caregivers? 
Please see BroadLife’s Intranet page for up-to-date information on Broad’s childcare plans, as well as all our resources to support Broadie parents.

 

Because my childcare provider was closed for an extended period, I won’t use all of the funds I contributed to my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account for 2020. Can I roll it over into next year? 
You cannot roll over the money you contribute to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) because the government doesn’t allow it. However, there’s a grace period: you can receive reimbursement for claims dated through March 15, 2021 from your 2020 FSA funds. See the Intranet for more information. 

 

Can I have a flexible or part-time work schedule because of caregiving or other needs? 
Yes. Broad is implementing a voluntary program for Broadies to officially and temporarily reduce their capacity in order to balance caregiving and other challenges outside of work. Please see the Alternative Work Schedules and Hours of Work Policy to learn more.

 

One of my family members is sick from COVID-19. What do I do if I need to care for them and am not able to work?
You may use your sick time to care for a sick family member, such as a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or other member of the household, and for their medical examination and care. You can enter sick time by selecting the Time Off icon from your Workday homepage.

If you need to care for a family member, or member of your household, and will not be able to work for an extended period of time, you may apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave. More information about this leave, and how to apply, can be found in the Time Off section of the Benefits Manual on the Intranet.

Please reach out to benefits@broadinstitute.org if you have any questions.

 

Exposure, illness, and preventing transmission

I live with another Broadie. Do I need to physically distance from them while I'm at the Broad?
Even though you live together, we ask that you practice the same safety protocols as all other Broadies. That means you should (1) wear your mask when you're speaking with them, and, (2) stay six feet apart as much as is possible.

 

If a member of a group tests positive, what will happen to the rest of the group?
If a Broadie who has been working onsite falls ill, EHS will evaluate the circumstances and make case-specific recommendations. Please see If a Broadie tests positive for more information.

 

If I know of someone on my team who seems to be sick but is working, what should I do?
People who are sick shouldn’t be at work. Feel free to point them to this website as a reminder. You can also reach out to HR and/or to their manager and ask that someone speak with the employee right away. 

 

If I’m coming back from another state, do I need to self-isolate for 14 days before returning onsite? 
It depends. To learn more, please read Broad’s travel guidelines. These restrictions apply to anyone entering a Broad facility. 

 

Can I plan an in-person, outdoor social and/or work event for my group or team?
Yes, but we ask that you register your event with Broad’s Events Team and follow Broad's guidelines for hosting a Broad-sponsored work or social event. Click here to review the guidelines.

 

Do any restrictions apply to Broadies who commute to Massachusetts from a  home state that has travel restrictions due to COVID-19 caseloads?
Generally, states offer exemptions for people who work in one state but live in another and must travel between them for their commute. Please speak with your HR Partner if you believe this may be an obstacle for you

 

What would happen if Broad learned someone onsite had the new strain of COVID-19?
EHS and HR would follow the same protocols that are in place for any onsite Broadie who tests positive. Following all onsite safety protocols (distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask, eating alone, etc.) is critical to ensuring everyone working onsite is safe. So many months into the pandemic, it can feel exhausting, but vigilance is the key to our safety and success.

 

 

Health concerns

Several COVID-19 symptoms overlap with symptoms of minor illnesses such as colds. If I get a cold, will I have to isolate?
Anyone who has any symptoms of illness should isolate for 10 days since the onset of symptoms, and for 24 hours after fever resolves and other symptoms improve, whichever is longer. In some circumstances we are allowing those who have had minor symptoms to return to work sooner with a negative COVID test. See details here.

 

How are we supporting Broadies coping with anxiety and isolation?
While we can’t directly change their situation, BroadLife is providing additional resources and support for people to manage stress, anxiety, isolation, and other mental health challenges. Please see BroadLife’s Intranet page for up-to-date information about Broad’s mental health and wellness resources.

With respect to isolation, we will continue to encourage managers and teams to create space for social conversations and connections, in addition to work meetings. 

 

What if I am uncomfortable returning to onsite work because I, my child, or someone I live with is immunocompromised or at high risk for severe infection?
If your work can be done remotely, continue to do so. If your work requires you to be onsite, work with your manager and HR Partner to think through options to support balancing your work while also maintaining the health and safety of your family.

 

I don’t have underlying health concerns or caregiver responsibilities, but I am uncomfortable working onsite and I’m not sure that I can do my work remotely. What are my options? 
We recognize that these are unusual times and understand Broadie’s concerns about health and safety. We encourage you to discuss your concerns with your manager and develop a shared set of expectations. You can also reach out to your HR Partner to discuss.  

 

I am sick from COVID-19 (or other illness) and unable to work. How should I report this time?
All benefits-eligible employees are granted paid sick time to be used in cases of accident or illness of the employee. You can enter sick time by selecting the Time Off icon from your Workday homepage.

If you will be out sick for an extended period of time, you may also apply for Short Term Disability and/or Family Medical Leave by filing a claim with Cigna. If you file a claim, your doctor will need to provide medical documentation to Cigna supporting your need for leave.

Additional information regarding Short Term Disability and Family Medical Leave can be found in the Time Off section of the Benefits Manual on the Intranet.

Please reach out to benefits@broadinstitute.org if you have any questions.

 

If a Broadie has tested positive for COVID-19 but has been fully remote since March, should they still report this to Broad?
No, you don't need to report this to the Broad if you've been fully remote.

 

 

Hygiene and cleaning

How frequently are common areas like bathrooms and conference rooms cleaned?
Broad’s janitorial staff clean and sanitize bathrooms three to four times per day and other common areas, like kitchens and conference rooms, two times per day. Separate staff also clean door handles and other high touch places continuously throughout the day.

 

Should we prop open lab doors?
No. Lab doors should remain closed, as they are designed to maintain very specific air flows and system pressures. Propping doors between labs and offices, or between labs with different BL ratings, can adversely affect floor pressures, which may result in lab air being directed into office areas.

 

Are Broad buildings ventilated adequately to prevent transmission of the virus?
Yes. At 415 Main, 75 Ames, and 320 Charles, we have increased the airflows in the office areas by 11% on average. Broad’s office air exchange rate, at 4-8 exchanges per hour, is already considerably higher than the standard office environment. Lab areas at 415 Main, 75 Ames, and 320 Charles also have significant air exchange rates (general labs have air exchange rates of 6-12 per hour, with higher rates in chemistry labs, tissue culture suites, and the BL-3 lab suite) and have varied room pressures, so there won't be any increase to the current lab air flows. Additionally, all of Broad’s lab air is 100% outside-air and is directly exhausted from the building after usage. Office air is 80% outside-air and 20% return-air. The 20% return-air is fully filtered with MERV-13 filtration before returning to the office space.

Please note that Biogen manages the building, and the airflow, for 105 Broadway. Biogen reports operating with MERV -15 filtration and has four air changes per hour in the office areas. 

 

Masks and PPE

Can I wear a cloth mask instead of, or in addition to, a surgical mask while I’m at the Broad? What about a personal N95 or K95 mask? 
We ask that you wear a Broad-provided surgical mask instead of a cloth mask because cloth masks vary in their effectiveness and we can't ensure their safety. Surgical masks have two layers of protection, which is what both the CDC and Dr. Fauci recommend. Broad will continue to provide surgical masks to all onsite Broadies. If you need surgical masks you can pick them up near any of the security desks. 

If you’d prefer to wear two masks, one of your masks must be a surgical mask or a personal N95/K95. If you already have a personal N95 or K95 mask that you’d like to wear, you are permitted to do so. However, you should not buy an N95 mask if you don’t already have one, and please don't take one from a Broad lab — they are in very short supply for healthcare and research professionals who need them to safely work.

 

Remote work

Is Broad considering how remote work might fit into our long-term, post-pandemic plans?
We know that part of what makes Broad work is our in-person collaborations, our cross-functional work, and our ability to interact with one another. That’s easier to do in person. It is also true that while we’ve been able to make it work pretty well remotely, this isn’t optimal forever. 

We’re therefore viewing November 2020–June 2021 as a “window of transition” during which time we will consider our “return to work” options thoughtfully and fully. While our goal is to be flexible with regard to remote work, it will depend upon factors like the Broadie's role, the business need, and the needs and culture of individual teams. It’s important to note, too, that “returning to the office” will look different than it did pre-pandemic, but we do anticipate most people will be back onsite with scheduled regularity--even if it’s not five days a week--to engage with teammates, push our science forward, and support the Broad. We will update the community periodically during our “window of transition” at town halls and in other Broad-wide communications.

 

Are guidelines in place to wind down or reduce scientific operations again if signs of community transmission of COVID-19 recur? What criteria will guide such a decision?
We would follow a procedure similar to that of our initial wind down, informed by the guidance of state and federal authorities, and the responses of our partner institutions. This is still a fluid situation, and if another wind-down is necessary in the future, groups should be prepared to plan and act quickly. At that time, groups would be asked to update and utilize their original wind-down plans to reflect their current needs.

 

If I’m working remotely, what equipment can I bring home?
You can bring home any computer equipment you had in the office (monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.). If you had a standing desk converter on top of your desk, you can also take that home--but this may be a two person job given the size and weight (contact facilities@broadinstitute.org if you need assistance). We are asking Broadies not to take any office furniture home, including their Broad office chairs. 

 

What support is available to help remote workers cover costs associated with having a home workspace?
Broad offers a $250 stipend to reimburse purchases of home office furnishings, such as a desk, chair, or other essential home office need. If you need something for your office, talk to your manager about whether it can be covered by the remote work stipend. All remote Broadies are eligible, but all purchases are up to managerial discretion.  

The $250 stipend is not for technology needs. BITS can supply Broadies with any Broad IT equipment that they normally would provide (mouse, monitor, keyboard); when remote Broadies are asked to return to onsite work, they will be asked to return that equipment to the Broad. If you have other specific needs that are critical for your home work environment, ask your manager whether the stipend could cover that purchase. 

The stipend is not meant to cover utilities (A/C, heat, internet). However, if you are experiencing financial hardship, please reach out to HR and we will do everything we can to assist you.

 

For those who are considering a temporary or permanent move out of state, are there provisions in place to handle tax withholding, payroll tax, etc.? Will there be advice on tax issues for Broadies who have been working out of the state for the majority of the tax year? 
If you are considering working remotely temporarily or permanently, please review Broad’s Guidelines for Working Remotely Outside of Massachusetts During COVID-19.

 

 

Can we have socially distant social events for fully remote teams?
Yes! If you’d like to organize an event for your team, please use these guidelines for Broad-sponsored outdoor social or work gatherings. If you have a question, please email events@broadinstitute.org. Additionally, watch the Intranet, the BroadCast, the activities@broad mailing list, and the #announcements channel on Slack for Broad-organized social events.

 

If our Broad-issued computers need hardware servicing, is there any way we can get support without coming onsite?
Yes! If you’re able, visit http://broad.io/help. If your computer is down, you can also call BITS at 617-714-8800 and they will help!

 

Testing

Do Broad’s COVID-19 tests work with the new strain? If I were to test positive, could Broad’s test tell me which strain I had?
Broad’s PCR tests can detect the new COVID variant that has begun to circulate worldwide. Our test will return a positive result if someone is infected with the new variant, but it will not indicate which strain an infected person is carrying.

 

Is it possible for a  Broadie who is fully remote to get a COVID-19 test at Broad?
Not right now. The purpose of our onsite testing operation is to protect people who are regularly working onsite by preventing community spread within that population. However, all Broadies, including those not working onsite, and their household members can receive testing at a discounted rate through our partnership with CIC or at any of Massachusetts’ testing sites.

 

Does the Broad offer antibody testing?
The Broad has an antibody testing platform, but it is for research purposes only. The antibody testing platform currently helps with various studies and does not return results to individual people. We are continuing to expand our research and may offer more opportunities in the future. 

 

Are we requiring testing for contractors (such as security guards and custodial staff)?
Yes! The same onsite safety protocols that apply to Broad employees and affiliates apply to all our custodial and security staff. We have also worked with our contractors to ensure these employees will continue to be paid if they are asked to self-quarantine or isolate for any reason. To learn about the safety precautions we’re taking for our construction contractors, please see this Intranet announcement

 

What's the cost per COVID-19 test and where is the funding coming from for employee testing and community testing?
Costs for employee testing come from institutional funds. For community testing (such as the Massachusetts Stop the Spread initiative), the state reimburses the cost for test processing and there is no charge for patients.

 

If I'm getting tested twice per week at another institution (e.g. Harvard or MIT), will Broad accept those tests, or do I also need to be tested at Broad?
If you’ve been tested elsewhere and want those results to satisfy Broad’s testing protocol, please indicate this when you complete the Healthquest health attestation form. Testing done elsewhere must be via PCR (not antigen or antibody testing) and you must agree to inform Broad if you receive a positive test and have been onsite in the prior 14 days.

 

Transportation

I’d like to drive to the Broad when I work onsite. Where/how do I park?
Right now, we have plenty of parking available for people who need to come in. Currently, all monthly parking plans are suspended; there is no fee to park. To learn more about onsite parking options, see the Intranet.

 

Can we get back the pre-tax money from WageWorks that we were supposed to be refunded for our T-passes? 
The pre-tax dollars are credited to your account until either you use them or you leave Broad, but because it was withheld from your paycheck pre-tax, it can't be refunded directly. If you have not done so already, you can cancel your pass on the WageWorks website by the 10th of the month for the following month. 

 

If I must take public transportation, can I change my start and end times at work to avoid larger crowds on public transportation?
We are encouraging flexibility while also meeting the distancing needs within a lab. Please work with your manager to discuss alternative start and finish times.

 

Vaccination

If I've been vaccinated, should I continue to follow Broad’s onsite safety protocols, including getting tested?
Yes, you should continue to follow all safety protocols (distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, eating alone, etc.) while you’re onsite. You must also stay in compliance with the necessary testing frequency. We will let you know if this policy changes as the science about virus transmission post-vaccination becomes more clear.

 

Will I be able to get vaccinated by Broad?
The Broad has no current plans to administer vaccinations onsite, nor to arrange for Broadies to be vaccinated in the majority of cases. 

However, to align with Massachusetts’ Phase I COVID-19 vaccine guidelines, Broad has arranged for some Broadies who work at the CRSP testing facility at 320 Charles, whose work is critical to Massachusetts’ COVID-19 response, to get vaccinated by MIT Medical. We were also able to get clearance to offer vaccines to some Broadies working in our BL3 lab as a safety precaution. We continue to investigate whether it is possible for other groups, such as those in BL2+ labs working with COVID-19 samples, to be vaccinated in one of the earlier phases, and will notify individuals who meet the criteria if and when this is possible.

 

Once the vaccine is widely available, will Broad require anyone working onsite to be vaccinated, or track who has received the vaccine?
No. Although we highly encourage anyone who is able to get vaccinated, at this time, we are following our partner institutions’ leads (including the hospitals) in not requiring Broadies to receive the vaccine or disclose their vaccination status.

 

I was vaccinated yesterday and now I’m experiencing some symptoms. Can I come to work?
Because some vaccine side effects can also be symptoms of COVID-19 infection, the answer to this question depends on what symptoms you’re experiencing. Pain or swelling in the arm where you received the injection is unlikely to be caused by COVID-19 infection and is not a reason to stay home. If you are experiencing other common vaccine side effects such as tiredness and headache, you may come to Broad as long as you don’t also have a cough or sore throat (which are not common vaccine side effects). Anyone experiencing a fever over 100.4F in the first few days after vaccination should stay home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without medication.