Managing Smart: COVID-19 Protocols for Supervisors

Thursday, January 20, 2022 

Since the New Year, we’ve seen an increase in COVID-19 cases on our Valencia College campuses due to the Omicron variant. To keep you up to date, here are our latest protocols.

If your team members meet any of the following criteria, ask them to stay home and contact Valencia College’s COVID-19 case management team:

  • If they feel ill;
  • If they test positive for COVID-19; and/or
  • If they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus

If your employees have worked on campus, they should also notify you and email Valencia College’s COVID-19 case management team at The team will assess their unique circumstances and provide directions for quarantine or isolation and return to work/class. For more information, view the Illness Reporting and Contact Tracing Quick Reference Guide.

Please continue to be gracious as employees call in regarding their absences.

Mask Protocol

We are continuing our “masks expected” protocols, as reflected in signage and messaging across campuses and in our classrooms and encourage you to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever you are with others. We continue to monitor the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID county tracker transmission status to determine our mask protocol status.

We have more than 100,000 masks available for faculty, staff and students and will ensure that they are widely available throughout the campuses. Additionally, we have a supply of KN-95 masks available in security offices on each campus, in academic department offices and available for delivery via interoffice mail. To request masks by interoffice mail, send your request including the number of masks requested, contact person and location to be delivered to Courier Manager Larry Fox at

COVID Leave with Pay

All active employees are eligible for leave with pay for reasons related to COVID-19 if they are unable to work either in person or remotely their total hours for the workweek. In order to be eligible for this leave, employees must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • They are subject to quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19;
  • They have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19;
  • They are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • They are caring for an individual who is subject to quarantine or isolation or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; or
  • They are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed for reasons related to COVID-19.

Based on the circumstances, employees may need to provide applicable documentation to support the need for paid leave.

For questions regarding eligibility, types of supporting documentation or other available options regarding your specific circumstances, please contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).

Paid Leave for COVID Vaccination

Through Tuesday, May 31, 2022, Valencia College will provide a maximum of 12 hours of paid time off for employees (on an as-needed basis) to receive the COVID-19 vaccination or booster and/or recover from the side effects. Though we encourage scheduling vaccinations during non-work hours, we know that this is not always possible and want to ensure that a potential loss in pay is not a barrier to being vaccinated.

As a part of the leave approval, employees should show their vaccination card (this will not be kept on record) to their supervisor upon returning to work, either in person, if working on site, or via a Zoom or Teams meeting, if working remotely. After receiving supervisor approval, employees should submit a Certificate of Absence in the Request and Manage My Leave system for “Leave with Pay” and indicate “Vaccine Leave” in the notes section of the request.

Full-time, non-exempt employees should enter “Leave with Pay” on their Web Time Entry timesheet. Part-time employees should not enter any leave hours on their Web Time Entry timesheet for vaccine leave, as they will be paid from their Certificate of Absence submitted in the Request and Manage My Leave system.

For questions on paid leave for COVID vaccination, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).

January 2022 Hellos and Goodbyes


Joseph Coll, professor, mathematics, Downtown Campus
Robert Tuskey, professor, mathematics, Downtown Campus
Grisel Vazquez, assessment specialist West Campus
Jessica Meyer, career advisor, Osceola Campus
Megan Kohr, coordinator, international students, West Campus
Sol Cordero, staff assistant II, Lake Nona Campus
Katriana Rivera, coordinator, career program advisor, Osceola Campus
Katherine Duke, coordinator, program advisor, West Campus
Sandy Alvarez, coordinator, program advisor, West Campus
Rachel Parries, coordinator, program advisor, West Campus
Helen Fetscher, instructional lab supervisor, Poinciana Campus
Mavrikis Bolden, coordinator, program advisor, West Campus
Roblene Vallesteros, coordinator, program advisor, West Campus
Lauren Romano, coordinator, college transition, West Campus
Jeffery Jones Jr. coordinator, college transition, West Campus
Eucledes Lopez, director, campus security, East Campus
Stanley Knutowicz Jr, director, campus security, West Campus
Christina Holloway, Instr, AST, School of Public Safety
Stephanie Campos, coordinator, college transition, West Campus

Congratulations to our Retirees:

Deborah Larew, director, office for students with disabilities (Retirement date 01/05/2022)













December 2021 Hellos and Goodbyes


Maisen Santiago, security field supervisor, East Campus
Victor Vargas, security field supervisor,  Osceola Campus
Caitlin Dunn, employer relations, coordinator, District Office
Eddie Stewart, security field supervisor, Poinciana Campus
Alberto Vega, security officer, Osceola Campus

Congratulations to our Retirees:

Jean Marie Fuhrman, professor, reading, Winter Park Campus (Retirement Date: 12/25/2021)


January Is National Stalking Awareness Month; Conversation on Justice Addresses Issue During Events

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Message from Trisha Whitmire, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity 

Nearly one in six women and one in 17 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lifetime. Stalking is a prevalent crime that often co-occurs with — and increases the risks of — domestic and dating violence. According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC), millions of people are stalked every year in the United States, and more than half of stalkers are current or former intimate partners.

Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear or emotional distress. Many abusers stalk their partners both during the relationship and after the relationship has ended as an extension of coercive control. Stalking is a terrifying and psychologically harmful crime in its own right as well as a predictor of lethality. On average, intimate partner stalkers are the most threatening and dangerous type of stalker, and stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times according to SPARC.

In the College’s efforts to provide support and resources for those who may have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual assault and/or stalking, this year’s Conversation on Justice — hosted by the Peace and Justice Institute during National Stalking Awareness Month — includes a keynote speaker and numerous sessions on these topics.

Rachel Louise Snyder, author of “No Visible Bruises: What we Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us” and this year’s keynote speaker, will host a session on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, in the morning. Additionally, the keynote presentation will be replayed prior to the Evening Community Panel and Discussion on Domestic Violence, also taking place on Wednesday, January 26.

Rachel Louise Snyder Morning Keynote and Q&A
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 10 – 11:15 a.m.
Location: Online
Registration: Click here to register.

Evening Community Panel and Discussion on Domestic Violence
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Online
Registration: Click here to register. 

Read more about these events here. 

Other Conversation on Justice sessions related to these topics include:

Film Screening and Discussion: The Mask You Live In
Date: Monday, January 24, 2022
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Location: Online

Ending Gender-Based Violence: Men as Part of the Solution
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Online

All Inclusive Relationships
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Time: 4 – 5:15 p.m.
Location: Online

Boundaries and Communication
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.
Location: Online

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
Location: Online

Stalking and Digital Privacy
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 4 – 5:15 p.m.
Location: Online

Checking In: Friends and Family (Domestic Violence Support Workshop)
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2022
Time: 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
Location: Online

Register for these and other Conversation on Justice events here.

We all have a role to play in identifying stalking and supporting victims and survivors. Learn more at or via this infographic and fact sheet.

If you have experienced interpersonal violence, sexual assault or stalking and would like support from the College, reach out to a member of the Equal Opportunity team.

Free At-home COVID Tests Covered by Health Insurance and

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

As of Saturday, January 15, 2022, most people with a health plan can now go online or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance. This applies whether you are enrolled in one of Valencia College’s UnitedHealthcare (UHC) plans or have other health insurance coverage outside of Valencia.

The test will either be free directly at the point of sale, if your health plan provides for direct coverage, or by reimbursement if you are charged for your test. Be sure to keep your receipt if you need to submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. If your plan has set up a network of preferred providers at which you can obtain a test with no out-of-pocket expense, you can still obtain tests from other retailers outside that network. Insurance companies are required to reimburse you at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12).

For employees with Valencia’s UHC plans, coverage will begin for claims submitted with dates of purchase on or after Saturday, January 15, 2022:

  • Members do not need an order from a health care provider or clinical assessment to purchase a home test, but tests must still be primarily for individualized diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.
  • Tests are limited to eight tests per 30 days for each member in the plan. In applying the quantity limit of eight tests, each test may be counted separately, even if multiple tests are in one package.
  • UHC’s initial preferred over-the-counter retailer is Walmart Pharmacy (pending in-stock availability), where members will have no up-front cost and will not have to submit a form for reimbursement. UHC is working to add additional preferred retailers.
  • If you purchase a test at any in-store or online retailer other than the in-store Walmart Pharmacy counter, you may submit your purchase receipt(s) for reimbursement by logging in to your account for a maximum reimbursement of $12 per test. Reimbursement for tests purchased at and the Walmart checkout counters found at the front of the store also must be submitted through your account.

More information for Valencia’s UHC plans will be provided on this post as additional details become available. For questions, call the member services number on the back of your UHC insurance card.

Order free tests from

Beginning today, every American household will be able to order free at-home COVID-19 test kits from the government. To order, visit Each household will be able to order four tests, which will be shipped free through the U.S. Post Office.

Celebrate This Year’s Black History Month With VAHA: Black Health and Wellness

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Message Carmen Laguer Diaz and Lauren Thomas, Co-chairs of the Valencia African Heritage Association 

Join the Valencia African Heritage Association (VAHA) in celebrating Black History Month 2022 with this year’s national theme of “Black Health and Wellness.”

The national celebration of Black History Month was established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH, Inc.) in 1926. At a local and national level, we continue to honor the significant impacts, struggles and triumphs of the larger African American community and African diaspora that have impacted the development of the social, political and economic structures in American history. Throughout February, we will observe Black History Month with various events that are open to all, and available on campus, on Zoom, as well as through live streams.

Thanks to the Harry J. and E. Mary Hobbs Teaching Chair in Nursing endowment, we were able to create the VAHA Presents: The Black Health & Wellness Initiative project. During the spring semester, starting with Black History Month, we conduct special learning experiences for Valencia students, employees and community partners that highlight issues that are faced by the Black community and are influential to mental and physical health: VAHAxTalks, VAHA Book Discussions, VAHAxHidden Figures and a special-themed Black Music Month (#musicsaves).

Our team, composed of Diane Reed, professor, nursing; Fontella Jones, counselor; Nardia Cumberbatch, librarian; Adrienne Mathews, professor, political science; Tarteashia Harris, professor, economics; Danielle Strong-Robinson Smith, professor, English; Coleen Cox, professor, nursing; Melvin Middleton, director, dual enrollment; Angela Hall, librarian; Larry Herndon, professor, student life skills; and Marcia Roman, counselor; hope to provide safe spaces for students, employees and community partners who have an interest in African diaspora culture and education on health/wellness-related issues impacting the Black community. In addition, as part of the initiative, we plan to offer more than $14,000 in scholarship money to Valencia students.

Stay tuned for more information on event dates and student scholarship opportunities.

VAHA’s mission is to celebrate and foster inclusion of cultural and educational awareness of the African diaspora at Valencia College, as well as build inclusivity of the social and political interests and concerns of faculty, staff and students of African diaspora collegewide and in the community. VAHA has campus- and regional-based committees to promote its mission and observances of African-diaspora heritage, culture and diversity.

Employees interested in learning more about their work and how they can get involved are invited to email

Have You Received a Check to Deposit?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Valencia’s Business Operations and Finance team is centralizing the locations that process checks received by the College. Please send any checks you receive directly to the West Campus Business Office, mail code 4-6. This will reduce the amount of time between receipt and deposit of checks. Include the following information so that checks are recorded appropriately:

  • VID for organization that wrote the check, if one is assigned
  • Index and account to be credited
  • Description to include on receipt
  • Email address you want a copy of the receipt sent to

If you are providing an address to vendors for mailing checks to the College, please use P.O. Box 4913, Orlando, FL 32802.

For questions, contact the Operations and Finance team at

Check Out the New Organizational Development and Human Resources Website

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Message From Carla McKnight, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR) website:

The website features employee resources, such as total rewards, pay and leave, learning and development, employee services, workplace policies and procedures, and coronavirus information. It also provides resources for supervisors on how to support, develop and manage employees.

We will continue to update our content with helpful information in the upcoming months, so make sure to check in often.

We hope you find the new website with a fresh look, easy-to-access information and valuable resources.

Attend the PJI Spring Retreat on Radical Compassion: Healing the Body, Mind and Heart

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Date: Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19, 2022
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Location: Online.  Register here

In these times of ongoing stress and discomfort, you’re invited to slow down, engage in reflective practices, explore the Principles for How We Treat Each Other, and practice the art of asking honest and open questions as a means of knowing self and others, during the two-day Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) Spring Retreat, titled “Radical Compassion: Healing the Body, Mind and Heart.”

The virtual retreat will be facilitated by Lianna McGowan, faculty, New Student Experience; Jason Mills, PJI instructor; and Celine Kavalec, professor of English and academic coordinator, Peace and Justice Institute.

All participants will receive the Zoom login and reading materials before the retreat begins.

The cost for full-time employees is $200 and can be paid for by Employee Development Funds. The cost for full-time employees not using Employee Development Funds is $100. There is no cost for part-time employees.

For questions contact Celine Kavalec, academic coordinator, Peace and Justice Institute, at

Featured Colleague: Charles Ensminger Turns Fear of Failing Into Opportunity For Students

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

His own college experience might not have been what he originally had planned, but Charles “Charlie” Ensminger is using his own story to help build a different path for today’s Valencia students, including that of his own son who graduated this past fall.

Charles joined the College full time as the assistant director of Student Development for the East and Winter Park campuses in 2018 and now serves as the director.

But college wasn’t where Charles saw himself for a long time, either as a student or as an employee. In fact, Charles dropped out of college himself in 1999 and opted for a different path for a while.

“[I was] convinced that I was not college material,” he explains. “I entered the United States Army in 2004 as an active-duty enlisted service member serving as a Combat Medic.”

After serving 10 years, Charles reinlisted and enrolled in community college.

“Filled with trepidation and angst, I began my journey toward earning a degree,” he says.

But Charles didn’t stop at just one diploma.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ashford University, he went on to get a master’s in psychology with a specialization in research from Walden University.

As if that’s not enough, Charles is currently a doctoral candidate studying industrial and organizational psychology at Walden University.

All this time as a student also got Charles interested in teaching.

He’s taught New Student Experience and psychology classes part time at the College since 2014.

Charles says he is most proud of is his ability to support both students and staff at the College.

He does this by creating experiences, including a virtual visit by his “hero” Dr. Cornel West and spearheading efforts to redesign the East Campus Pooky’s Pantry, which provides non-perishable food items, hygiene items, and other resources to students, in a way that increased utilization by 400%.

“We work with some of the most innovative people I have ever met, he explains. “I get to support a team focused on positively impacting the student experience through engagement, which gives me a sense of pride.”

Charles says our students are what inspire him. He elaborates, “You work long hours, give extra effort, and go the extra mile because these students deserve it.”

East Campus Dean of Students Joe Sarrubo is a big fan of Charles’ dedication to the College.

“Charles is an exemplary employee,” Joe explains. “He is steadfast in solving challenges and coming up with creative solutions.”

Joe adds, “I admire him for his pioneering spirit and for his deep allegiance to our students and the College. I appreciate Charles and value the many contributions he brings to the team.”

Over the years, Charles has seen firsthand the impact Valencia College has had on the Central Florida community.

“It’s the center. Since moving to Orlando, everyone I meet has had some connection to Valencia,” he says. “From alumni to parents of students, we are an essential part of people’s lives.”

Work and school don’t leave a lot of time for Charles to pursue other interests.

“Free time, what’s that?” he jokes. “Any time I am not here, I am with my family.”

On a more serious note, Charles says also enjoys building furniture, a hobby he picked up during his time in the military.

“I appreciate the separation from distraction it provides, as well as it is a great way to relax and refocus my energy, Charles explains. “I also ride a Harley, love dogs and enjoy camping.”

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.