COVID-19: CHRO email to all faculty and graduate employees on May 4, 2020

Subject Line: Planning for on-campus activities—Remote work request form due May 8

Dear Faculty and Graduate Employees,

President Schill and Provost Phillips announced last week that discussions are underway to proactively develop plans for a number of possible scenarios that would allow the university to open for in-person, on-campus instruction this fall and to start opening the campus for research functions this summer. Paramount to this planning is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. Gathering information from our faculty and graduate employees is key to our planning efforts so that we can understand who will be on campus as we complete classroom scheduling for fall term and who may need to work remotely as researchers start returning to the labs and other facilities this summer. Please note that the university will have social distancing measures and other safety protocols in place before it re-opens. For more information about those efforts, please review the provost’s message to campus.

Faculty and GEs at Higher Risk:

Our first priority is giving faculty and graduate employees (GEs) who are at higher risk according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an opportunity to request to continue working from home through the fall term. If you meet the CDC risk criteria and would like to request to continue working 100% remotely through fall term, please submit your request using the online Faculty Remote Work Request Form by [extended to Thursday, May 14].

We will work to grant these requests when possible or to find other mitigation accommodations that allow the faculty member or GE to work on-campus. Submissions will be received and managed by the Office of Human Resources and will be treated privately, maintained securely, and only accessible to those with a need to know to perform their work. If we do not receive your request by [extended to Thursday, May 14], we will assume that you would like to work on-campus through fall term to the extent it is open. 

Faculty and GEs Outside of Higher Risk Categories:

Faculty and GEs who are not in higher risk categories, as defined by the CDC, may also request to continue working remotely. We will assess these requests on a case-by-case basis based on the needs of the faculty member or GE and their school or college. Since we are planning for research functions over the summer and fall term classes now, it is critical that faculty and GEs who want to continue to work 100% remotely through fall term submit their request for consideration and authorization using the online Faculty Remote Work Request Form by [extended to Thursday, May 14]. If we do not receive your request by this date, we will assume that you would like to work on-campus through fall term to the extent it is open. 

All Faculty and GEs:

The above linked survey is for faculty and GEs who are requesting to work remotely 100% of the time through fall term. You do not need to fill out this survey if you can work from campus but would like to discuss an alternative work schedule or other safety mitigation measures in addition to the ones listed in Provost Phillips message to campus. Please reach out to your department head, area coordinator, or program director in the coming weeks, and no later than May 31, to discuss those types of requests.

Please fill out the remote survey under the assumption that K-12 schools and other care facilities are open fall term. If that is not the case and if the university is open fall term, we will send out another message and survey that acknowledges and accounts for the needs associated with those closures.

We want to reiterate that we will treat requests to work from home privately and will only share these requests on a need to know basis. Faculty and GEs requesting remote work will be protected from retaliation based on their work from home request. 

In addition to reviewing faculty and GE requests to continue to work remotely, the university may ask campus community members to work remotely based on the needs of the institution and state and federal re-opening guidance.

Finally, it is important to understand that the degree of flexibility that the university is able to offer through fall term to work remotely is directly connected to its response to COVID-19.  While the university generally supports flexible work arrangements, it is very unlikely that it will be able to maintain this level of flexibility outside of its COVID-19 response efforts.

Other Accessibility Considerations:

Faculty members and GEs with disabilities who want to work on campus during the fall term should first approach their unit level administrator (department head, area coordinator or program director) if they want to request an alternative schedule or the implementation of other safety mitigation measures that may be medically necessary to effectively perform the essential functions of their position on-campus. While a faculty member or GE may choose to disclose the medical reason for their specific request, such disclosure is confidential and the department may not request medical documentation to confirm it is needed. If a request cannot be resolved at the department level, then the faculty member or GE is encouraged to work with the ADA Coordinator on the matter.

Thank you for reviewing this important information related to our planning efforts. If you have any questions about requesting to work remotely through the fall, please contact Employee and Labor Relations in Human Resources at


Mark Schmelz
Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice President