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Employee Return to Campus Plan - Summer 2020

Background

In anticipation of a resumption of in-person instruction in August 2020, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will begin to bring faculty and staff who have been in telework or flexible arrangements back to their respective campuses over the next few months in a phased approach. Throughout the COVID-19 response, UNG leadership has acted with guidance from the University System of Georgia (USG), the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UNG will continue to rely on these sources to establish the standards we should follow to help protect our faculty, staff and students and to help stem the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 situation is fluid, and guidance will very likely change over time, even after plans are prepared and adopted. This plan’s goals are to protect the health of employees, help ensure the well-being of the community and carefully and deliberately prepare for the fall semester.  Everyone at the university has an individual responsibility to contribute to proper behavior and to adhere to public health guidance to protect themselves and others as well as to help contain the spread of the virus. Institutional controls are only as effective as the willingness of individuals to carry them out.

Planning Summary

Core Concepts

The University of North Georgia has adopted the following core concepts to guide planning:

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

Strategies

Our strategies will guide tactics and actions in each phase. These strategies will address spaces, functions, and individuals.

Staffing: increase on-campus staffing incrementally to increase operations gradually.

Hygiene: scale hygiene practices into cultural norms.

Innovation: continue and expand innovative work practices.

Mitigation and Monitoring: monitor health to ensure the well-being of our campus community.

Areas of Focus

Working within the existing leadership structure of the institution, UNG formed workgroups to guide and develop plans for bringing employees back to campus. The plans developed were reviewed and compiled by UNG’s executive leadership and integrated to create this comprehensive plan. This plan specifically addresses the following workplace and health safety topics within each phase:

  • Preventative Practices
  • Mitigation and Monitoring Practices
  • Cleaning and Sanitation Practices
  • Employee Travel
  • Enforcement Practices

Phased Approach

UNG intends to return employees to campus-based operations incrementally in a three-phase process over the summer in preparation to be fully operational by August 1, 2020. We anticipate each phase will be approximately two weeks in duration.  

The target timeline and implementation steps remain fluid and will adhere to updated guidance and data from the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, the University System of Georgia (USG), the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Execution of on-campus events and activities will be aligned with Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor and USG guidance. 

Employees should not return to work and should continue to telework until they are notified by their supervisor to come to work. Detailed guidance will be communicated and implemented at the institutional, divisional, unit and department level, in alignment with safety and security measures herein.

Phase 1

Return personnel 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. Plan for social distancing for on-campus employees.

Phase 1 Details

Phase 2

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

 
 

Phase 2 Details

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.

 
 

Phase 3 Details

High-Risk Populations

Upon request, individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will be given an opportunity to continue to work remotely. The GDPH and CDC have stated that people of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Older ages: The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a healthcare provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

The UNG Office of Human Resources has an Accommodation Request Form for employees to use in making such a request. Documentation for underlying medical conditions will be required as a part of the request. All requests should be submitted to the UNG Office of Human Resources, who will review the request and, upon approval, work with the employee and immediate supervisor to document and provide for the alternate work arrangement.

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