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Return to work plan

The university will follow a data-driven three-phase plan to gradually return to working on campus. The plan’s goals are to protect the health of employees, help ensure the well-being of the community, and carefully and deliberately prepare for fall semester. The plan will be updated as it progresses.

Updated: July 23, 2020

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and deliberately.
  • Accommodate employees who are members of a vulnerable population or who live with someone who is a member of a vulnerable population.
  • Continue telework as much as possible.
  • Be ready to adjust based on guidance from the CDC and from state and local health officials.
  • Emphasize social distancing, handwashing, staying home when sick, and use of cloth face coverings as needed.
  • Continue and build on the innovations developed in the last few months.
  • Be compassionate and flexible. Supervisors are asked to work with employees who have child care or other family responsibilities and be mindful of the anxiety felt by employees.

Phases

Changes in phases will be determined by guidance and data from the CDC and from state, local, and university health professionals.

Phase 1

Incrementally return in a limited capacity. Priorities include positions that are needed for campus safety or reopening, or some jobs that cannot be effectively completed from home and are critical to ongoing operations. Plan for social distancing for on-campus employees. Consistent with Governor Lee’s Executive Order 30, the majority of employees will continue remote work and Phase 1.

Phase 2

Carefully bring back additional personnel to increase unit capacity and functionality as needed. Refine work space habits on social distancing and hygiene. Start date is June 8.

Phase 3

Return to new normal with full staff while continuing to make use of telework, scheduling, and other measures to maintain social distancing and flexibility. Target date is August 11. Additional information to come prior to start.

Strategies

Four strategies will guide tactics and actions in each phase.

Staffing. Increase staffing incrementally to gradually increase operations.

Hygiene. Scale hygiene practices into cultural norms.

Innovation. Continue and expand innovative work practices.

Monitoring. Monitor health to ensure the well-being of our campus community.


Phase 1

Incrementally return in a limited capacity. Priorities include positions that are needed for campus safety or reopening, and some jobs that cannot be effectively completed from home and are critical to ongoing operations. Plan for social distancing for on-campus employees. Consistent with Governor Lee’s Executive Order 30, the majority of employees will continue remote work and Phase 1.

The following units have approval for limited staffing on campus in Phase 1. Leaders in each area are working closely with the Emergency
Operations Center on their unit’s plan with the health of employees and the community top of mind.

  • Bursar’s Office
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Emergency Operations Center
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Facilities Services
  • Fleet Management
  • Mail Services
  • Office of Information Technology
  • Printing Services
  • Research labs (Detailed guidance is available on the ORE website.)
  • University Housing
  • UT Police Department

All other administrative and academic units should continue remote work, but supervisors may request an exception for some employees to return to campus if they meet the priority criteria noted above.

Reviews of exception requests will take approximately five business days. Supervisors are asked to consider the Phase 1 strategies and tactics before requesting an exception.

Staffing

The Phase 1 priority is to return staff whose roles are essential to safety and preparing campus for fall as well as those who cannot effectively perform their roles from home and are critical to ongoing operations.

Those in vulnerable populations should remain off campus. Supervisors need to be flexible to accommodate.

Hygiene

  • Social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart and be mindful of enclosed spaces.
  • Handwashing. Wash hands often.
  • Face coverings.Wear a cloth face covering (your own or provided by the university) according to the latest guidance on use of face coverings.
  • Cleaning. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Common areas. Keep common areas closed.

Innovation

  • Telework. Telework should continue for most employees.
  • Scheduling. Consider staggered days and hours to limit the number of people in work spaces.
  • Work spaces. Consider changes in layout and design to create natural separation.
  • Processes. Identify and digitize paper processes.

Monitoring

  • Temperature checks. Employees will be asked to check before coming to work and stay home if they have a fever. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Screenings. Employees will confirm to their supervisor each day that they have not been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 and that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Self-isolation. Those who are self-isolating will complete the reporting form.

Campus resources for Phase 1

To support the strategies and tactics in Phase 1, the university will

  • Provide face coverings to all employees
  • Provide additional PPE to employees whose jobs require it
  • Enhance cleaning
  • Implement parking flexibility to negate the need for carpooling
  • Provide paper towels in restrooms
  • Provide additional cleaning supplies
  • Initiate contact tracing support to local health departments
  • Provide guidance through the EOC on how to improve work space design and signage to support social distancing and additional hygiene measures.
  • Adjust schedules, shifts, and reporting requirements to help ensure flexibility and social distancing
  • Maintain transformational work practices as needed

Human Resources has compiled additional guidance for supervisors.


Phase 2

Bring back additional personnel to increase unit capacity and functionality as needed. Refine work space habits on social distancing and hygiene. Start date is June 8.

Staffing

The Phase 2 priority is to bring back as necessary additional staff to increase capacity of the unit.

Supervisors need to be flexible to accommodate those in vulnerable populations.

Hygiene

  • Social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart and be mindful of enclosed spaces. Follow any campus signage related to social distancing.
  • Handwashing. Wash hands often.
  • Face coverings. Wear a cloth face covering (your own or provided by the university) according to the latest guidance on use of face coverings.
  • Cleaning. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Be aware of any rooms and areas that are temporarily closed for enhanced cleaning and disinfection in accordance with health and safety protocols for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
  • Common areas. Identify and restrict common areas where people are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce social distancing protocols.

Innovation

  • Telework. Telework should continue for the majority of employees.
  • Scheduling. Consider staggered days and hours to limit the number of people in work spaces.
  • Work spaces. Continue changes in layout and design to create natural separation.
  • Processes. Identify and digitize paper processes.
  • Gatherings. Use technology to limit gatherings.

Monitoring

  • Temperature checks. Employees will be asked to check before coming to work and stay home if they have a fever. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Screenings. Employees will confirm to their supervisor each day that they have not been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 and that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Self-isolation. Those who are self-isolating will complete the reporting form.

Campus resources for Phase 2

All efforts launched in Phase 1 will continue, supplemented by additional support and resources as needed.


Phase 3

Return to “new normal” with full staff while continuing to utilize telework, scheduling, and other measures to maintain social distancing and flexibility. Target date is August 11. Additional information to come.

Staffing

The Phase 3 priority is to return remaining staff to operate under the new normal, continuing to be flexible to encourage social distancing

Those in vulnerable populations may return to campus. Supervisors need to be flexible to accommodate.

Hygiene

  • Social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart and be mindful of enclosed spaces. Follow any campus signage related to social distancing.
  • Hand-washing. Wash hands often.
  • Face coverings. Wear a cloth face covering (your own or provided by the university) according to the latest guidance on use of face coverings.
  • Cleaning. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Be aware of any rooms and areas that are temporarily closed for enhanced cleaning and disinfection in accordance with health and safety protocols for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
  • Common areas. Identify and restrict common areas where people are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce social distancing protocols.

Innovation

  • Telework. Telework should continue for some employees as needed.
  • Scheduling. Consider staggered days and hours as needed.
  • Work spaces. Evaluate whether changes in layout and design to create natural separation should continue.
  • Processes. Identify and digitize paper processes.
  • Gatherings. Use technology to limit gatherings.

Monitoring

  • Temperature checks. Employees will be asked to check before coming to work and stay home if they have a fever. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Screenings. Employees will confirm to their supervisor each day that they have not been in close contact with anyone with COVID-19 and that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Self-isolation. Those who are self-isolating will complete the reporting form.

Campus resources for Phase 3

All efforts launched in Phase 1 and Phase 2 will continue, supplemented by additional support and resources as needed.

Employees with concerns about their unit’s plans to return to campus can email Human Resources at HR@utk.edu and an HR representative will contact them directly.

Additional Resources

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
865-974-1000


The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.