Plan to Return to Campus for Faculty and Staff
For the last 12 months, the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our daily lives, our families, our recreation, and our campus activities. Last March, UNF was able to transition to remote work very quickly for most of our employees, amid vast uncertainty with the virus. Today our environment is no longer as uncertain: we know more about COVID-19, we have established campus safety protocols considering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida Department of Health (DOH) guidance, and vaccines are becoming more widely available. Now it is time for us to repopulate our Nest by reoccupying and maximizing the resources and materials of our campus spaces.
Vaccination and Testing Availability
The increasing availability of vaccines proven to be effective against COVID-19 is allowing us to take this step. We strongly encourage all UNF employees to get vaccinated. All adults in Florida are eligible to be vaccinated as of April 5, 2021. Because of the wide availability of vaccines for university faculty, staff, and students this spring and into summer, we believe that everyone who is able and willing can become fully vaccinated. The following websites can help you locate local providers of the vaccine: Student Health Services Vaccination Clinic and Florida COVID-19 Response Vaccine Locator. The University will continue to offer vaccines on campus as available. The University will also continue to offer COVID-19 testing on campus at least through the Fall 2021 semester, so that individuals have a convenient and timely method for testing.
Target Repopulation Date
We expect that Summer B and Fall staffing on campus will more closely resemble our staffing before the pandemic. Shortly after Summer B begins and we celebrate the Independence Day holiday, all staff are expected to increase their physical presence on campus. It is expected that all departments transition back to being physically operational on campus by July 6, 2021. Recognizing there may need to be a transition period for both employees and departments, this transition should be finalized and in place no later than Aug. 1. This includes any necessary remote work agreements discussed later in this document. These deadlines do not prevent a department from transitioning earlier than July 6, however.
In the meantime, divisions, colleges, departments, and supervisors must begin planning now for the increase in physical presence within the current space configuration, keeping COVID safety protocols in mind. Supervisors who have not been on campus during this past year are advised to return and examine their spaces to determine if any adjustments need to be made. Supervisors should communicate these expectations to employees as soon as possible.
Faculty are expected to return to normal operating schedules upon the start of the fall faculty contract date, Aug. 2.
At this time, the current University mask wearing and social distancing guidelines will continue. As specific guidance changes, we will update and communicate those expectations ahead of time as well as the expectations for the Fall semester.
It is a continued expectation that all individuals reporting to campus for work or instructional activities download the Safe Ospreys mobile application, or make use of this weblink, to submit the Daily Self-Screening each day prior to arriving on campus. Individuals will continue to be instructed on whether they are permitted to report to campus each day as a result of the information disclosed on the self-screening. As with mask wearing and social distancing guidelines, we will communicate any changes to these expectations.
The following measures are in place to provide flexibility in balancing health-related concerns with the expectation of increasing physical presence on campus:
Some employees may have limitations due to a medical condition that qualify for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our usual request process for those with a medical condition requiring an accommodation can be found at: ADA Procedures and Processes
COVID-19 High-Risk Modifications
For employees and students who are at higher risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19 due to a medical condition, the ADA accommodation request process should be followed. For those who do not have a medical condition that would qualify for an ADA accommodation, the COVID-19 High-Risk Modification request process can be followed for temporary arrangements for in-person course attendance or temporary remote work arrangements.
Faculty with Distance Learning Assignments
Although it is planned to reset classrooms to their pre-pandemic capacities for scheduling the normal schedule of face-to-face courses, some faculty will have continued hybrid or asynchronous distance learning assignments. Faculty with specific health concerns are encouraged to follow the ADA accommodation request process. Faculty who feel unable to teach face-to-face because of personal circumstances are encouraged to reach out to their department chair and/or Human Resources to discuss their concerns.
Employee Assistance Program
We realize that there may be some anxiety or fear associated with this change and are committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, vendors, and visitors. The Employee Assistance Program through Health Advocate offers free, short-term counseling for a full range of personal or work-related issues. Total confidentiality and anonymity are provided to those who call the EAP for consultation. In a crisis, emergency help is available 24 hours a day.
The University's Telecommuting Policy is under revision, as is the associated Telecommuting Agreement, to modernize the application of the policy. The updated Policy and Agreement are expected to be finalized by June 2021. Department heads with vice president-approval are granted the authority to approve up to 12 hours of remote work per employee per week. Any remote work arrangements above 12 hours per week must be reviewed by Human Resources. The approved agreement form will be required for any remote work arrangements. Departments may need time to evaluate the effectiveness of allowing continued remote work for certain positions, thus the deadline for submitting agreements for continued remote work arrangements to Human Resources is no later than Aug. 1.
Should public health conditions require a change, UNF is now better prepared to transition back to a remote environment if necessary. Many of you may still have questions, and the University is working to compile more information to share with you. However, now is the time to start thinking about and planning for a return to more normal operations.