COVID-19 FAQ for Employees

See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions from employees on the Institute response to COVID-19. 

See additional FAQ items for employees from the May 5 Institute Town Hall.

Benefits

Can I reduce or cancel my dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) contribution if I have reduced child care expenses as a result of day care closures or cancelled summer camps?

The current dependent care FSA qualifying event rules in place will allow you to make a change to your contribution if there has been a significant change to "cost or coverage." The change requested must be consistent with the reason for the change. For example, if the provider is no longer providing the care (i.e., day care cancels or summer camp closes) the election can be prospectively reduced or eliminated. You have 31 days from the date of the qualifying event to update or change your contribution. More information.

To cancel (or reduce) your Dependent Care FSA, you will need to complete the FSA change form (scroll to "Related Documents and Forms" at end of page) and return it MIT Benefits via email (benefits@mit.edu), along with a letter/email/screenshot that provides evidence of the change to daycare, summer camps, etc.

How do I access telehealth benefits?

Benefits eligible employees enrolled in one of the MIT medical plans have access to licensed doctors and providers for minor medical and behavioral health care services with $0 copays, using live video visits on your favorite device.

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Well Connection telehealth video visits are secure. Board-certified physicians and licensed clinicians are required to provide patients with private, secure, HIPAA-compliant, and confidential online visits. Visit Well Connection to see if your physician is a telehealth provider.

You and your family members can visit doctors and providers anytime, anywhere in the United States, at home, work, or on vacation—weekends and holidays included. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam. Please visit our Well Connection page for more information.

Note for High Deductible Health Plans: The CARES Act, put into law on March 27, 2020, amends the rules applicable to HDHPs for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021 to allow HDHPs to cover telehealth and other remote care services before the applicable deductible is met. Out of network telehealth and other remote care services will be subject to the standard cost share per plan guidelines.

Are out of network telehealth visits covered?

I am enrolled in the MIT Traditional or MIT Choice Health Plan. I was previously seeing an out-of-network behavioral health provider via office visits. My provider has now switched to telehealth virtual visits temporarily due to the COVID-19 virus. Will the MIT Traditional and MIT Choice Health Plans still cover the visits if they are now out-of-network telehealth visits?

The MIT Traditional and Choice Plans will temporarily cover behavioral health out-of-network virtual visits, regardless of how the visit is conducted (telephonic or telehealth). The temporary coverage is outlined below:

  • The MIT Traditional Plan will reimburse up to $60 per visit (the remaining cost is the responsibility of the member). This aligns with how out of network office visits are paid on the Traditional Plan currently. If the out of network telehealth visits are for COVID related treatment, the cost-share will be waived.
  • The MIT Choice Plan will reimburse the cost per visit after the member’s deductible ($500 individual/$1000 family) has been met and the 25% coinsurance has been paid for the visit. If the out-of-network telehealth visits are for COVID related treatment, the cost-share will be waived.

The MIT Health Plans continue to cover behavioral health office visits (both in and out-of-network) as outlined in the current plan documents

My in-network provider has switched from office visits to telehealth visits (not part of the BCBS Well Connection telehealth benefit). Will these visits be covered by my MIT Health Plan?

Blue Cross made a decision to allow all members access to telehealth services. Effective March 16, 2020, all members are covered for visits with in-network providers via telehealth temporarily with a $0 copay. This includes office visits offered over the telephone. 

The easiest way to ensure that your telehealth visit is covered is by calling BCBS Member Services at 1-800-882-1093. The member services team can look up providers and determine if they are in the BCBS network based upon you’re the plan you are enrolled in.  

Does BCBS offer a 24/7 Nurse Care line?

Members can reach a registered nurse 24/7 by calling 1-888-247-Blue (2583). This service is free to all members and offers a safe and convenient clinical resource.

Will Delta Dental be providing virtual services in case of emergency?

Delta Dental is working to provide solutions for members that may need an emergency dental consult and emergency dental care despite COVID-19 and the need for social distancing. Some dental offices have the capability to perform virtual evaluations via tele-dentistry.

Effective March 20, 2020, and for a period of 30 days, Delta Dental is requesting that dentists performing virtual evaluations submit these claims using the Oral Evaluation – Problem-Focused code (D0140). The service will be paid providing the patient has coverage/benefits available. Delta Dental has reminded providers to be mindful of patient privacy considerations when utilizing this technology.

Please feel free to contact Delta Dental Customer Service at 800-872-0500 with questions.

How has the CARES Act impacted MIT’s Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)?

The CARES Act extended the list of Health Care FSA qualified expenses to include additional over-the-counter medications and products. The Act also allows employers to extend the reimbursement window for 2019 Health Care FSA claims from April 30, 2020 to May 31, 2020. This extension also applies to 2019 Dependent Care FSA claims.

At this time there have been no changes to the regulations that would allow employees to modify their FSA contributions amounts due to COVID-19. You must still experience a qualified life event, per plan guidelines, to make a change to your FSA contribution.More information on FSAs.

Will there be a change to the calendar year maximum reimbursement amount of $5,250 under the Tuition Assistance Plan?

The $5,250 calendar year maximum reimbursement amount under the Tuition Assistance Plan remains the same. Please continue to submit your tuition reimbursement requests as you normally do. Keep in mind that the reimbursement submission deadline is now 90 days from the end date of a course. More about the Tuition Assistance Plan.

Health and Wellness

Are MIT Community Wellness classes still available?

MIT Community Wellness has developed wellness videos and virtual classes, most at no cost, to support mind and body wellness and to help the community manage stress, develop routine, and create connection. View their offerings to support body, family, and mind during this stressful time.

A member of my staff has been exposed to COVID-19 and is currently in self-quarantine. Do I need to inform my staff?

Please have the staff member read the MIT Medical guidelines and contact MIT Medical directly at 617-253-4865. Once the staff member has been evaluated by MIT Medical, if there is a need to inform other staff members, MIT Medical will advise on process. Additional information is available via MIT Medical’s Social Distancing, Self-monitoring, and Self-quarantine: A How-to Guide.

A member of my staff has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19. What do I need to do? Do I need to inform my staff?

When managers on campus become aware of a COVID-19 positive person, MIT Medical asks that they contact Jackie Sherry, MIT Medical’s Occupational Medicine nurse practitioner, so they can determine if any contact tracing needs to be done, and so they can add them to the tracking log.

Remote Work

Who should be working from home? Are we required to work from home?

Unless you have been told that you are required to perform your duties on-site, you should work from home. If you aren’t sure if you need to be physically on-site, please check with your manager.

I’m working remotely and caring for my children, who are home due to emergency school/daycare closures. Am I expected to use vacation time for this?

No, you do not need to use vacation time. MIT has announced special policies related to leave and pay (MIT Touchstone login required) for both salaried and hourly employees. These policies take into account those of you working from home while caring for children or other family members. Your hours of remote work during this time may vary due to business needs (e.g., calls in the early morning or evening) and/or the employee’s own obligations (e.g., caring for children during normal working hours). For salaried staff, if they are able to do some work, they should simply be paid as usual.

Staff are reminded that there are currently both back-up childcare and adult care resources available.

Are there resources to help me manage my team remotely?

Yes. See our tips and resources for managing employees and teams when the members are working remotely.

What is the policy for an MIT-owned laptop or other equipment when it’s off campus? What happens if it’s stolen or damaged?

MIT’s Property Insurance Program provides coverage for MIT-owned equipment (e.g., desktops, laptops, printers) that is stolen or damaged when temporarily located at your home. Personal laptops and other personal equipment are not covered by MIT.  

For further information on insurance coverage of MIT-owned equipment, see:

Will I be reimbursed for internet, phone, or other expenses related to working from home?

MIT does not pay or reimburse for phone or internet expenses.

Will free on-campus parking be available for returning staff, and for how long?

MIT parking facilities on the Cambridge campus are open to all MIT ID cardholders free of charge through September 1, 2020. We will re-evaluate this emergency policy for the fall term. All MIT ID cards have been activated to allow access to all MIT lots and garages, regardless of whether the individual is a current parking account holder.

  • Please note that parking rules continue to apply and signage regarding reserved spaces must be observed.
  • For information regarding parking locations, view a printable map or interactive map. Email mitparking@mit.edu with specific questions.

Support Resources

How can I support MIT colleagues who may be struggling financially?

You can donate to the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund, which provides financial assistance to MIT staff and postdoctoral scholars (associates and fellows) who are experiencing an immediate, severe, and temporary financial hardship due to a sudden or non-recurring emergency (e.g., serious illness or injury, family crisis, natural disaster). 

I’m really anxious about COVID-19 – what resources are available to support me during this time?

You are certainly not alone here – many of us can relate to feelings of anxiety and fears about what the future might hold. We are increasingly concerned about our own health and the health our loved ones, while also adjusting to new ways of living and working. Luckily, we have a few great resources to help you combat stress and loneliness during this challenging and confusing time.

MyLife Services – MIT’s employee support program – has created a COVID-19 Response Page with specific information and resources for managing work, caregiving responsibilities, as well as one’s own mental health and well-being, during this unique time. This includes a video series on Managing Anxiety in the Age of Coronavirus as well as live meditation sessions which will take place each day of the work week through mid-April.

Employees are, of course, also always encouraged to contact MyLife Services for individualized support – counseling and stress management sessions can be conducted via phone, video conference or text message.

Employees can also visit MyStress Tools, which offers free access to an online suite of webinars, podcasts, audio, and articles, focused on stress-management.

HR encourages everyone to use this time at home as an opportunity to prioritize self-care!

How can I support my child’s learning while schools and child care are closed?

Preschool: Visit Bright Horizons Health and Safety Resource for Families for a list of vetted resources and indoor-friendly activities that promote in-home learning.

School-Age: Connect with an expert educational advisor (a “Navigator”) through EdNavigator. Navigators are former teachers, principals, and experienced guidance counselors, who can provide individualized guidance around how to manage your child’s education and learning from home. Be sure to also subscribe to EdNavigator’s One Great Thing newsletter, which provides tips for making the most of each day while schools are closed.

Teens: Encourage your teen to use the time away from school to get a leg-up on the college application process. Connect with an expert college advisor through College Coach. College Coach experts are former college admissions and finance professional, who can provide individualized guidance around planning and paying for college.

Other

What do I do if someone applied for unemployment benefits in my name?

Criminal enterprises using stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file fraudulent unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme. If you believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your personal information, you may report the incident by using the Commonwealth's secure fraud reporting form or by calling the DUA customer service department at (877) 626-6800. Additional information is available on the DUA website.

How do I get permission to be on campus?

What do we do about new hires while campus is closed to most employees?

New hires can, with few exceptions, be onboarded virtually in order to maintain their start date. Human Resources is able to continue the usual new employee onboarding steps as well, such as activation of benefits. See more detailed information about virtually onboarding new hires and our best practices for managers during this time of remote work.

How do I access a loan or hardship withdrawal from my 401(k) plan?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law March 27, 2020, introduces temporary relief provisions related to retirement plans. MIT 401(k) Plan participants have more freedom to access funds during the current economic crisis without tax penalties. See details.

Have a Question?

If you have a question that wasn't answered here, you can email covid-hr@mit.edu.