Caring For You During COVID-19

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Our GW benefit partners want to support you and your family during the pandemic.

To learn more about benefit enhancements during COVID-19, select a category to learn more:


Retirement Plan Enhancements and Changes

As a participant in The George Washington University Supplemental Retirement Plan (GW 403(b) Plan), there are temporary financial relief options available to you as a result of the CARES Act which was signed into law on March 27. These financial relief options are designed to provide participants access to retirement plan funds in the event they experience financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Please read the full email (PDF) sent to 403(b) participants for details on eligibility, additional loan and withdrawal details as well as financial resources to aid in your decision. 

Under the CARES Act, the following provisions are available under the GW 403(b) retirement plan:

 - CARES Act distributions: Waiver of penalties and tax withholding on qualified withdrawals during 2020.  Distributions are still subject to taxation.
 - CARES Act loans: Plan loan limits have been increased* and an option to defer loan payments owed during 2020 has been added.

* under the CARES Act, the increased loan amounts are available through September 22, 2020 only. Other CARES Act provisions are available through December 31, 2020.

Financial Resources and Assistance Available

We encourage you to review the following financial resources provided by TIAA and Fidelity to help navigate these important decisions.

It’s important to understand your options and the impact of any withdrawal before taking money out of your retirement account. You will have to save more in the future in order to replenish any distribution and/or loan. We recommend reaching out to a Fidelity or TIAA financial consultant to review your current situation, along with your short- and long-term financial goals, before making any decisions. Fidelity and TIAA financial consultants are available to assist you with additional questions. 

Take care when considering CARES Act distributions or loans (TIAA) 

Guiding you through turbulent times (TIAA)

Managing your finances during turbulent financial times (Fidelity)

Manage unexpected events and expenses webinar schedule (Fidelity)

Financial Emergency: Consider all your options (Fidelity)

Financial Consultants Can Assist You Today

TIAA | Tel: 855-400-4294

FIdelity: | Tel: 800-343-0860

On August 10, President LeBlance announced the university base and matching contributions to the 401(a) Retirement Plan are temporarily suspended.  FAQs are available to provide more details. Employees may enroll and continue to make payroll contributions to the 403(b) Retirement Plan.


Paid Time Off Enhancements:

Annual Time Carryover Enhancement FAQs (PDF)

To support our staff, our university will be temporarily enhancing our Annual Time Carryover policy for 2020 as follows:

Benefits-eligible staff will be able to carry over up to 10 days of accrued but unused annual time.

The deadline to use the carryover days is being extended by two months. All days must be used by October 31, 2020.

While this enhancement intends to offer you increased flexibility to use your well-earned time off, we also encourage you to take time in the coming weeks to practice self-care and recharge, even if it is just a “staycation”. Your wellbeing comes first as we face this challenging time. 

If you have questions about this temporary enhancement, please email us at [email protected]


Please note: There will be no change made to the number of annual time carryover days eligible for payout should you leave the university on or prior to the “use by” date. The maximum number of accrued but unused annual carryover days eligible for payout remains at 5 days.


Pandemic Time FAQs (PDF)

The university’s Time-Off and Leave Policy (PDF) is being augmented specifically for the COVID-19 situation. 

To support our staff and their loved ones, a new paid time off option, Pandemic Time (PND), is available effective March 16, 2020 and can be submitted in Kronos (PDF instructions).

This new PND time replaces the previously announced option of using sick time in advance of accrual. 

Please note that the University reserves the right to recoup this time off from the final paycheck of staff who terminate shortly after using Pandemic Time.

The following eligible situations qualify for the use of pandemic time:

  • Self-isolation or quarantine, even if they are not sick, when it is required or recommended by a public health authority or health care provider due to possible COVID exposure
  • Obtaining a personal diagnosis or caring for one’s own COVID-19 exposure or symptoms
  • Assisting a family member* who is self-quarantined because of a COVID-19 diagnosis or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and needs to obtain medical diagnosis or care
  • Caring for a child dependent who is not sick but needs care due to COVID-19 related closures of schools or daycare. This includes support for virtual learning while schools are remote.


* A family member is defined in accordance with the Time Off and Leave policy:

  • A person related by blood, legal custody or marriage;
  • A foster child or child who lives with the employee and for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility;
  • A person with whom the employee shares or has shared, within the last year, a mutual residence and with whom the employee maintains a committed relationship.

The enhancement provides additional paid time-off hours (PND) for staff as follows:

  • Full time benefits-eligible staff - 80 hours
  • Part time benefits-eligible staff - 40 hours
  • Hourly wage/temp workers - 20 hours
    • GW temp agency employees who are in an active status may request PND for days they are scheduled to work but unable to do so as a result of the COVID-19 situations noted above
  • PND time does not apply to student workers.

Medical Plan Enhancements 

Due to recent Internal Revenue Service guidance in response to COVID-19, GW is providing increased flexibility for the GW Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and the Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA).

The following changes are allowed to be made through December 12, 2020 for both FSA accounts:.

  • Newly enroll in a 2020 FSA
  • Increase your current 2020 FSA election
  • Decrease your current 2020 FSA election*

These FSA mid-year changes due to Covid-19 are allowed regardless of whether a qualifying life event (i.e. marriage, adoption) occurred, or the employee was affected financially by COVID-19.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are temporary changes (PDF) to the GW benefit plans to support you and your family through the pandemic.

COVID-19 Testing Costs

If you participate in a GW HSP or PPO medical plan, the applicable copayments, coinsurance and deductibles will be waived, for approved and authorized testing of COVID-19. Testing must be provided at approved locations in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Other costs beyond the test will be covered based on medical plan benefits and applicable federal mandates. Therefore, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance would apply to care, services or supplies beyond the test itself.

UnitedHealthcare COVID-19 Website

UHC is regularly updating their COVID-19 website with information about related to COVID-19 testing, resources for people with Medicare, and other healthcare resources.

UnitedHealthcare FAQ document

UHC has created a COVID-19 FAQ document (PDF) that includes information about COVID-19 test costs, Virtual Visits, and key resources to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 news.

Behavioral Health

Optum via UHC (PDF) is also offering a free emotional support help line for all people impacted. This help line will provide those affected access to specially trained mental health specialists. The company’s public toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

Castlight Resources

  • Use the Search function on Castlight's website to find local COVID-19 testing sites.
  • Users will be shown helpful coronavirus tips, including highlighting appropriate providers.
  • Users can navigate to a Coronavirus Test Location Finder via the top banner on the Castlight app or on Castlight's website. The search will help you find the closest Coronavirus testing site to your home. The list is compiled of 1000+ testing sites in the U.S.

Additional UHC Resources:

GW is temporarily waiving costs for medical Virtual Visits for employees covered on the GW PPO and GW HSP Medical Plans through September 30, 2020.

The Virtual Visits must be provided by the following UnitedHealthcare vendors in order to be covered at 100%: Teladoc, AmWell, and Doctor on Demand.  See below for information on how to access these vendors.

Costs will be covered for all appointment types (e.g., sore throats, allergies, seasonal flu) and suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. The summary of temporary summary of benefit changes from UHC is available to review.

Please note: Virtual appointments provided by your primary care physician that are non-COVID related are still subject to the applicable copay or deductible/coinsurance rates.

What are Virtual Visits?

Through UnitedHealthcare's virtual visit providers, you can talk to a doctor from your mobile device or computer for medical concerns, including concern of COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis of influenza, fevers, migraines, allergies, and more. Doctor's may refer you to see a doctor in-person if necessary and they can also write prescriptions when needed.

We recommend that you register before you need to see a doctor. This will save you time when you’re feeling under the weather and are focused on getting better.

How Do I Register For and Use Virtual Visits?

  • Login at or download the UnitedHealthcare app and login with your myuhc username and password
  • Navigate to Virtual Visits
  • Complete a medical history form

When You Need to See a Doctor Using Virtual Visits

  • Visit or open the app. Login with username and password
  • Select “Find Care and Costs” and choose Medical Directory
  • Select “People”
  • Select Virtual Visits
  • Choose one of the several virtual visit provider sites. You will then be connected directly to the provider’s group site or app.
  • Video chat face-to-face with a doctor in 20 minutes or less.
  • Get prescriptions2, if needed.

Have these three items ready to register for and complete your Virtual Visit:

  • Health plan ID card
  • Credit card
  • Pharmacy location


Certain prescriptions may not be available, and other restrictions may apply.

Wellbeing Resources

Resources for Living (RFL) is a GW-sponsored EAP program that provides you with daily life support.

During the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF), RFL has developed specific resources to help employees manage their emotional health and daily needs during this national crisis.

Single-sign on from GW-owned computer

  1. Visit myGW
  2. Click “Sign In” in the upper left-hand corner beneath the "myGW" logo 
  3. Under the Working tab, click “Wellbeing Hotline

From a Non-GW Computer

  1. Visit Resources for Living
  2. Enter username GW-Wellbeing
  3. Password: Yourlife 

You may also call Resources for Living at (866) 522-8509

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Helpline(800) 662-4357 

This organization provides information, education and access to substance abuse and mental illness programs nationwide. The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is a search tool to locate behavioral health and substance abuse/addiction services. After completing the search criteria you can view a list of treatment providers, their contact information and other pertinent details. You may also call the number above to receive free and confidential information about treatment services in your area.

Retirement Counseling Appointments

TIAA and Fidelity are moving retirement counseling appointments to phone. 

To arrange a future appointment, please call to schedule:

Fidelity Investments

Make an appointment on Fidelity's website or call 800-642-7131  


Make an appointment on TIAA's website or call 866-843-5640 

Fidelity Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis


Navigating Market Volatility 


Find a live or recorded webinar on Market Volatility on-demand in NetBenefits

The Fidelity Learning Center has more educational resources that are both timely and relevant. 

Hear Fidelity thought leaders discuss the recent market volatility, the influencing factors, and the potential risks and opportunities. Below are resources shared during the webcast.

Printable Resources: 

TIAA Resources


At-Home Learning Programs and Resources

Scholastic Learn At Home Program: An activity portal of free daily courses for kids

Mystery Science: Free Science lessons for students in kindergarten to 5th grade 7,000 free videos across 13 subject area

Emotional Education Resources

Mindfulness Resources for Teens: Techniques for developing the skills to be present and aware every day

15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety: Technological solutions that support addressing and overcoming stress and anxiety

Emotional ABCs: Social-emotional learning resources and programs

GoNoodle: Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts

30 Emotional Health Activities: A month-long calendar of daily activities that's free to download and use

Culture and World Exploration

TED Talks: Educational discussions organized by topic of interest

Free Art Lessons: Youtube-based art classes starting 3/16

Virtual Field Trips: Free videos and cams of animal habitats, famous locations, and unique areas

Online Museum Tours: Free virtual trips to famous artworks and artifacts from around the globe