This page contains a selection of questions and answers that NMU has received from faculty and staff. Visit NMU's Safe on Campus website for more information on NMU's Safe on Campus plans.

Updated 1/4/2021


Employees and workforce

Keeping NMU employees and students safe is the top priority for Northern Michigan University. Visit NMU's Safe on Campus website for more information on NMU's Safe on Campus plans.

NMU has implemented many safety precautions throughout campus. It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, students and visitors to keep our campus safe from community-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The NMU Preparedness and Response Plan provides detailed information on these precautions and employee responsibilities.

Call your supervisor and report that you will not be able to report to campus for work. If symptoms present while at work, call your supervisor, or wear a mask and inform your supervisor. If it is safe to drive, leave campus to go home. If a ride or emergency transportation is needed, call 911, and if possible, segregate from others who may be in the area while waiting. Except for emergencies, further treatment or testing should be arranged by the employee from home.

Regular and temporary faculty and staff should fill out the Potential Exposure Notification Form for the following circumstances:

  1. You have been contacted and told to self-quarantine by a healthcare provider or a health department as a result of a potential exposure.
  2. You have had close proximity exposure to someone with a positive test result (for example, someone in your household). See CDC guidelines for definition of exposure.
  3. Someone in your household has had COVID-19 symptoms for three consecutive days.

Once the form is submitted, do not go on-campus to work until one of the following occurs:

  • Your primary healthcare provider indicates that you can go to work (submitting documentation to Human Resources may be required before you can return to work).
  • You are contacted by a member of the Safety Department, the Health Center or Human Resources and informed that you can return to work.

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Close contacts are at risk of getting sick and must be identified and put in quarantine. Contacts of close contacts do not need to be identified, contacted or quarantined.

Call Human Resources directly if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. The following individuals will be able to assist you:

  • (primary contact) Kimberly Hongisto, Human Resources Benefits Assistant, at 227-2470
  • (back-up contact) Kristen Bjorne, Director of Benefits, 227-1030
  • (back-up contact) Renee Sheen, Assistant Director of Human Resources, at 227-2331
  • (back-up contact) Rhea Dever, AVP of Human Resources, at 227-2333

All employees exhibiting symptoms or under a physician order to self-quarantine or self-isolate must be in contact with a supervisor or with Human Resources. A thorough process will be followed by trained NMU staff. The Safety Department, Human Resources, the Health Center and Facilities each have a role to ensure employee safety and well-being. Trust the process. Remember, employees are not to engage in discussions about another’s medical or personal information.


If you are sick you should remain at home and get well, and using your sick leave enables you to be paid while you are unable to work. The University provides employees sick leave for the very purpose to use when you are sick. Employees subject to quarantine or isolation orders or who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking COVID-19 testing or treatment may qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

If you are in need of leave time for COVID-19 related reasons, please contact Kimberly Hongisto at or via phone (906) 227-2470.

Northern has a medical accommodations process for employees with medical conditions that affect their working situation. If you have a medical condition, even if you are already working remotely, work with Human Resources to complete the medical accommodation process.  Contact Renee Sheen, Assistant Director of Human Resources, at 227-2331 or Rhea Dever, AVP of Human Resources, at 227-2333. Human Resources will work with the employee and will provide guidance to the supervisor.

Yes.  For physician authorized COVID-19 testing, the cost sharing amounts for tests and associated services are waived until the end of the public health emergency.  This is part of a federal mandate and Blue Cross will continue to cover as long as the mandate is in place.

Yes.  For physician authorized COVID-19 treatment the cost share waiver has been extended through December 31, 2020.  Blue Cross will be reimbursing members that have cost share applied for dates of service between July 1st and December 31st, 2020.  Blue Cross will send you a letter along with a check if cost share was applied.

NMU Health Center is conducting blood-antibody testing for staff, faculty, and their immediate family members who carry NMU health insurance fully covered. Testing for non-NMU insurance holders remains prohibitively expensive due to the tests being processed at an outside lab. Contact the Health Center at 227-2355 or x2355 to schedule a 15-minute lab appointment if you wish to participate.

Yes. This type of appointment with your in-network doctor is known as telehealth medical services and Blue Cross has temporarily waived the employee co-pay amount through at least June 30, 2020.  This also includes the most common behavioral health therapy services for telehealth as well as adding the most common medical services.

The CARES Act is the largest stimulus package ever enacted in the United States and is aimed at providing financial relief to individuals, businesses, healthcare, and education sectors. 

Within the CARES Act are provisions that may help faculty and staff who are enrolled in a health care flexible spending account (FSA) with takecare Wageworks.  The following provisions are included in the Act:

  • The use of health care FSA funds to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines without a prescription from a physician.
  • Adds feminine hygiene products, including tampons, pads, liners, and similar products, to the list of OTC items eligible for reimbursement from a health care FSA.

The OTC changes are effective for expenses incurred after December 31, 2019.  

Using your takecare VISA card (debit card) for OTC drugs without a prescription and menstrual products is dependent on the updated eligible product list managed by the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards (SIGIS), then merchants updating their systems. In the interim, members will need to submit manual claims with the proper documentation.

The CARES Act allows retirement plan participants to take a Coronavirus-related distribution or retirement plan loan.  Participants will need to certify their eligibility with TIAA.  To learn more about your options, see the Provisions Affecting Retirement Plans or, visit TIAA and click the Learn More Button under "Guiding You Through Turbulent Times."  Feel free to contact Kristen Bjorne at 227-1030 or e-mail with any questions.

Travel Matters

NMU is revising the current university-funded travel restrictions. Our pandemic procedure is there should be no university-funded travel that is not essential. Any essential travel beyond Marquette County (a change from before when we said beyond Region 8 – the Upper Peninsula) must get approval from the division leader.  A safety plan for testing and quarantining may be required.


Northern does not recommend personal travel by students or employees outside of Marquette County (formerly outside of Region 8) at this time and any individual who travels outside of Marquette County must be prepared to be tested and/or quarantined/isolated, if the University deems it necessary as a way to protect the campus community.