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Questions & Answers
Q1: 1. Why do I have to wear a mask if I’ve already been vaccinated?
A1: The intent of requiring masks is to protect our community and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This requirement is directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and requires the wear of masks indoors on Federal installations in areas of substantial or high community transmission.
Q2: Why is JBSA going back to Health Protection Condition (HPCON) BRAVO?
A2: Current JBSA trends meet the Department of Defense’s criteria for implementing the HPCON change based on JSBA’s reported decrease in the daily case rate and in the 14-day positivity rate at our military medical treatment facilities as well as a review of the Bexar County hospital stress score. Although the HPCON has decreased, masks are still required in all JBSA buildings as a preventative measure to continue slowing the virus and reducing the spread of COVID-19 within our community. Ideally, by continuing to wear masks we can limit further spread of the virus and decrease our chances of having to move to higher HPCON levels.
Q3: Does this mean everyone who works or visits JBSA is required to wear a mask?
A3: Yes; masks are still required in indoor settings on installations and other facilities owned, leased or otherwise controlled by DOD for all service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
Q4: Will facility operations or hours be modified and where can I go to get updated service information?
A4: Installation support and services will expand in a deliberate manner while continuing to implement public health measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Gate guards have resumed mandatory physical handling of all ID cards; JBSA Fitness Centers are open to all eligible users during normal operating hours; and JBSA clubs are expanding operations while maintaining proper COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
For the latest information, check the following resources:
- Installation gate availability and hours: https://www.jbsa.mil/Gate-Hours
- Morale, Welfare and Recreation opportunities: www.JBSAToday.com
- COVID-19 updates: www.jbsa.mil/coronavirus
- Other services information: https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/
Q5: Can I still get vaccinated and where can I go?
A5: Department of Defense beneficiaries ages 12 and older can receive vaccinations at JBSA Medical Treatment Facilities:
- BAMC - Beneficiaries can make a same-day appointments on TRICARE Online or by calling the appointment line at 210-916-9900. The clinic is also offering walk-in hours Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Wilford Hall – Beneficiaries can make an appointment on TRICARE Online or by calling the appointment line at 210-916-9900, option 8. Walk-in hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
DoD civilians who are not TRICARE beneficiaries may receive the vaccine from either location during walk-in hours. They will need to bring a CAC to prove eligibility.
Q6: What happens if I don’t have a mask?
A6: Service members, Federal employees, onsite contract employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in indoor settings on any JBSA installation and at other facilities owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by DOD. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated will also maintain physical distancing consistent with CDC and DOD Force Health Protection guidelines. JBSA personnel will be provided a mask, if available. Visiting personnel are expected to provide their own masks to ensure entrance to facilities.
Q7: Will personnel continue telework status?
A7: Commanders and supervisors are encouraged to continue to authorize telework, flexible scheduling, and alternate work locations to meet occupancy standards, where possible. JBSA workplaces should maintain less than 50% of normal building occupancy. Commanders and supervisors at all levels must continue to accommodate high-risk members and those with family considerations.
Q8: Where can I look to see the Commander’s Guidance Memorandum and COVID-19 updates?
A8: For the latest COVID-19 updates and Commander’s guidance memoranda, visit www.jbsa.mil/coronavirus
Q9: Will families still be able to attend BMT graduation?
A9: Visitors, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to wear masks indoors when on the installation. The current BMT COVID-19 protocols remain in place. Each trainee will be able to invite two vaccinated guests to their graduation. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination still required to enter the graduation ceremony. Local condition guidance is always subject to change.
Q10: Will children attending a school on the installation be required to wear a mask?
A10: Yes; the Department of Defense requires all service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, dependents, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in indoor settings on JBSA installations and other facilities, owned, leased or otherwise controlled by Department of Defense.
Q11: What happens if someone refuses to wear a mask?
A11: Service members, Federal employees, onsite contract employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, will wear a mask in indoor settings on any JBSA installation and at other facilities owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by DoD. Personnel not in compliance with the JBSA COVID-19 Guidance Memorandum 57 face the possibility of administrative action from their unit leadership or higher.
Symptomatic government employees who are not beneficiaries are now authorized, per a SECDEF memo dated 7 April, to be screened if their supervisor certifies them to be essential to mission. They will need to provide certification by their supervisor or commander. (See Template for Civilian Screening: https://www.jbsa.mil/Portals/102/Template%20for%20Civilian%20Screening%20v5.pdf)
To ensure availability of testing for our highest-risk populations, please keep in mind that while employees may be screened they will not be tested unless they meet specific criteria, such as in cases in which the test result will help in making significant clinical decisions. Most people do not need to be tested; treatment for mild to moderate cases of COVID, or any other viral respiratory illness, is to stay home until better.
We cannot guarantee the RAPID test; however, we are working diligently to ensure that lab tests are turned around quickly. To help decrease delays, patients who have received a COVID-19 test can now view their results through TRICARE Online as soon as the result is certified. Visit https://www.tricareonline.com, click on the Health Record button, and then Laboratory Results. A nurse or provider will also call patients within 1-2 days to discuss the results.
(Click here for Civilian Screening Template PDF) Symptomatic government employees who are not beneficiaries are now authorized (per SECDEF memo dated 7 April 2020) to be screened if their supervisor certifies them to be essential to mission. They will need to provide certification by their supervisor or commander.
If an employee meets criteria for testing, under current guidelines, they will be sent home for at least seven days regardless of test result. As a reminder, if you are feeling sick or having flu-like symptoms, please stay home and call your supervisor before coming in to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. For more information on BAMC COVID-19 information, go to https://bamc.tricare.mil/Patient-Resources/COVID-19-Guidance
My employee just returned from an affected area and I do not want them to come into the office until I know they do not present a safety risk. As a supervisor, what can I do?
Supervisors should identify whether the employee is telework-ready and offer the employee the option to telework. If the employee is not telework-ready because, for example, they cannot perform their duties at an alternate location, then the supervisor should consider utilizing Weather and Safety Leave (please review the section below on the appropriate use of WSL), administrative leave, or other leave flexibilities (paid or unpaid) available. DoD Components may also combine telework and various leave flexibilities when the employee may perform some of his or her duties at an alternate worksite.
I have an employee on Weather and Safety Leave who is immunocompromised and cannot telework due to the nature of their position. I need them to come back to work. Can I mandate them to return?
Supervisors should avoid mandating the return of employees who are in the higher risk categories prior to Phase 3, except in the most urgent mission-needs situation. Although these guidelines do not impact the authority to recall civilian employees to traditional worksites to meet urgent, mission-essential requirements, per DAF guidance, effective safeguards and mitigation measures must be put into place to ensure civilian employees are able to travel safely to and from work and perform their jobs in a safe manner. Before requiring a higher risk employee to return to the traditional worksite, a supervisor should work collaboratively with the employee in developing a plan, and seek creative, flexible, and tailored solutions. A supervisor should consider and try to find a balance between the risk to the employee and the mission need.
Are there any yearly limitations to Weather and Safety leave?
No, there is no cap on the number of hours that may be granted for WSL.
If a supervisor determines to recall a civilian employee back to the traditional worksite, can an employee refuse?
Supervisors are encouraged to take a collaborative approach to develop a plan for each civilian employee’s transition to optimized operations and seek creative, flexible, and tailored solutions. Where duties can be performed by telework, supervisors should maximize telework whenever possible. Where mission needs cannot be met by telework, other new work arrangements should be considered. Ultimately, a supervisor can mandate an employee’s return to the traditional worksite. An employee may also request leave under a variety of leave entitlements. Also, even at a stage/phase when most civilian employees have transitioned to optimized operations and/or returned to the traditional worksites (Phase 3/HPCON A), a civilian employee who is at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, may be legally entitled (under the Rehabilitation Act) to reasonable accommodation, including full-time telework.
Can supervisors question the reason for which their employees are requesting annual leave?
Since supervisors must balance the work of the agency against the interest of the employee in using annual leave, supervisors may find it necessary from time to time to ask employees how they will use the requested annual leave so that the supervisors may make informed decisions about scheduling the leave. In such cases, employees are not required to provide the supervisor with this information, but their request for annual leave may be denied based on mission requirements. DoD Components should also be mindful of requirements under their collective bargaining agreements.
Can a supervisor deny leave to a civilian who is traveling outside the local commuting area?
Depending on the type of leave, a supervisor can deny or cancel leave to a civilian who is traveling outside the local commuting area based on mission requirements. A supervisor may not deny personal leave solely because an employee is traveling outside of the local commuting area or to a COVID-19 “hot spot.”
Q: Will I still be able to see my Airman graduate Basic Military Training?
A: Only by tuning into livestream of the graduation ceremony on the 37th Training Wing Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/37thTrainingWing/]. For now, Basic Military Training [BMT] graduations will be closed to any visitors. We took our time at making the decision and we do realize that this is a hardship for a lot of people and we're trying to make this period it as smooth as possible. As a part of Military City USA, we bring people from all over the world, and we send them to many other places in the world. Closing BMT graduations and cancelling large gatherings is an action to protect the on- and off-base community.
Q. Can local military attend any of the BMT graduation events?
A. It's going to be closed to everyone except the trainees at this time, although Basic military training graduation events will be livestreamed via the 37th Training Wing’s Facebook page every Friday beginning March 13 at 9 a.m. at https://www.facebook.com/37thTrainingWing/.
Q. How long will BMT graduations be closed to the public?
A. Right now, we just can't make that call of when it's going to end. We'll be watching just as everyone else is and getting the best advice that we can. We will make decisions based on recommendations of our senior leaders. Right now, this is the right thing to do for this environment here at Joint Base San Antonio, to protect all the people on the installation that live and work here, and those that are going to go on to graduate this weekend.
Q. Typically, after graduation, trainees who've graduated have the opportunity to spend time with their families and go off base. Will new Airmen have liberty after they graduate?
A: After graduation, the trainees will go back to the dormitory squadrons as a measure to try to lessen the blow in regards to them not being able to interact with their loved ones, we will allow them to have their phones so they can call and talk with their loved ones. Which is one of the measures that we normally do not do. However, considering the circumstances in the situation that we are making those amends, so that they can at least have phone contact with their loved ones.
Q: Why didn't we just limit the number of BMT graduation guests?
A. It comes down to threat a transmission. One of the things about this virus is that a large percentage somewhat, maybe a little more than 50 percent may have few or very minimal symptoms. Some may have no symptoms at all. So, even with appropriate screening, people may actually inadvertently have the disease or not knowingly have the disease, and potentially expose others. So, again, out of an abundance of caution we thought, because there's active transmission in many areas of the United States where families come from, the prudent thing was to reduce mass gatherings. Because of the mission here and the close proximity of the trainees, we thought it was important to add that aspect of a preventive measure for the mission, and the community we all live in.
Q: Do trainees go near the quarantined area?
A. Our trainees are never even close to being near the individuals that are in quarantined. The quarantine area is completely separate from the BMT training environment and no one ever is allowed to go around in those restricted areas. There is a fence that surrounds the quarantine area as well.
Q: Will technical training graduations be cancelled or will families be allowed to come to those installations to see Airmen?
A: Right now it’s still in those decision spaces that are still being worked within their education and training command. This is definitely a fluid environment in terms of where we are and this is the decision that we've made. For now, this is the near term decision--to cancel mass gatherings, and we'll continue to look and see when we can move forward and allow our graduation ceremonies to reconvene. At this moment, this is the most prudent action that we were able to take based on the evidence that we have.
Q: Why are quarantined individuals on Lackland allowed to be outside of their quarters?
A: Our recommended social distancing is six feet out, and they are far away from anybody because we have fixed zones, so that CDC personnel, base populace and repatriated personnel know their limits, so they can roam outside. According to the CDC, the virus--in sunlight and outside--does not survive very long, so being outside is okay. In fact, I've seen some of the people walking around in their masks so they're being extra cautious as well.
Q: How is this going to impact JBSA when it comes to things like retirement ceremonies, 5K runs, events that the base typically organizes?
A: We're actually working through those questions right now. In the interest of time, we focused in on the military training graduation ceremonies, but we're going to look at each event coming up in the near future. The city of San Antonio is doing the same thing when it comes to things like Fiesta, which is occurring next month. For each case, we are going to take into account the health risk to the Force and the risk to the mission consider. There will be more information to follow, but it'll most likely be on a case-by-case basis.
Q: If a child at the CDC tests positive. Are there plans in place and how will that be handled?
A. We have been talking about this through the health working group we've been talking about what happens if we have a positive test in the Child Development Center, because every parent and family member is mission essential. CDCs will have a direct mission impact on our team. If there is a positive case, that's the job of our health protection working group to follow the protocols in terms of notifications. They'll do some tracing, which is determining who that child came in contact with. If it came to us having to shut down a CDC, we would do that in the abundance of caution to take care of the greater community. But again, this would have a large impact on the mission. We do have quite a few CDCs at JBSA and many children on the waiting list as well, so we recognize that this is an important course of action [COA], or branch that we need to walk through so that we're prepared in case that does happen on our installation.
Q: Is there a way for security at the gate to be able to view ID cards without actually having that person-to-person interaction?
A: There's no driving force for us not to physically check ID cards. Some of our Defenders at the gates are wearing gloves. That's their choice, something that they were comfortable with, but it's not because there's an increased threat through the ID card handling. If there comes a time when we need to step to that next level, then we would consider you just showing your ID card and doing it through the glass window, versus handing it to the security forces member, but we're not at that point yet.