Return to Campus: What You Need to Know

Last updated Jun 29, 2020 at 9:29 am

Contents

Introduction

As we continue to prepare for the contingencies for fall instruction and our region begins to move to Phase 3 and beyond of the governor’s five-phase plan to re-open Illinois, we are implementing a gradual, cautious and deliberate approach to returning to on-campus operations.

Each college, school, institute and administrative and support unit across the university has developed a thoughtful plan tailored to the specific needs of that unit. Those plans follow federal, state and local public health recommendations and best practices. Those plans and more information about unit decisions can be found on the College and Unit Information page.

Additionally, the COVID-19: Executive Steering Committee on Return to On-Campus Operations and seven teams for specific focus areas are addressing issues such as academics, research, operations, university life and comprehensive, scalable testing.

Our number one priority remains the health and well-being of our faculty, staff, students and greater community. Our goal in this guide is to provide information that will help you better understand the work that is being done to prepare for our eventual return to on-campus operations.

This document should not be interpreted as a directive that large-scale, on-campus operations will begin immediately. You should not plan to return on-campus until your supervisor instructs you to do so, and then only if you do not have unique individual circumstances that make it difficult to transition immediately from working at home.

The following is designed to help clarify our approach for the summer transition. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. As such, it will evolve as we get new information, circumstances change and we resolve pending issues.

Units that are creating guidance specific to their stakeholders should use the specific language below as the basis for information they address in any unit-specific guides on these topics.

Event/development that triggers a return to face-to-face instruction

  • We plan to return to on-campus instruction and other operations with a public, transparent and science-based COVID-19 containment program that includes comprehensive testing and tracing components, consistent with federal, state and local health department guidelines.
  • Campus, in collaboration with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) and local healthcare providers, will have capacity to test and monitor COVID-19 infections and immunity to maximize the ongoing safety and health of our students, faculty, staff and local community as we ramp-up and sustain on-campus operations.
  • Mitigation and containment of COVID-19 will require continued vigilance in daily self-checking for COVID-19 symptoms, the use of face coverings and social distancing, handwashing and regular, careful cleaning of high-touch areas.
  • Testing on campus and at our local and state-wide health care facilities, in combination with sufficient contact tracing carried out by CUPHD will ensure that individuals who might have been in proximity with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 can quickly be identified and advised to self-quarantine and seek testing, as well as any necessary medical treatment. 
  • The level at which on-campus instruction, as well as events and other operations can safely resume will be directed by CUPHD, and based on our capacity for campus and community testing and tracing. Continued daily self-checking for COVID-19 symptoms, use of face coverings and other social distancing practices will be essential in the containment of COVID-19.
  • Given the rapidly developing circumstances related to COVID-19 impacts at the local, state and national level, as well as a consistent flow of new data about the disease, the campus strategies for testing and tracing are expected to adapt to incorporate the most current information and recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many tests will need to be conducted on a daily basis?

In collaboration with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), the state and our local health providers, the campus will ramp-up to initially target 1,000 highly accurate tests per day with strategies to enhance capacity consistent with state and local goals. Corresponding contact tracing also will be enhanced in conjunction with increased outcomes that will be mapped to the state’s testing target of 100,000 tests per day.

The level of on-campus instruction and other operations will be limited to what can safely be supported by our daily testing and tracing capacity, as determined by a team that is comprised of CUPHD, local health experts, our testing facility and our own epidemiological modeling faculty.

Who will do the testing and the contact tracing?

Comprehensive testing and contact tracing will be conducted with a combination of university personnel and facilities, CUPHD and local health care providers. The university is currently completing the process required by the CDC for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification. Molecular-based RT-qPCR Instruments are ordered and personnel recruited to staff the testing center, while our in-house research personnel develop high quality rapid testing for COVID-19. This will allow us to conduct testing operations with our own personnel in our own facilities.  Per national and state policy, COVID-19 positive tests will be reported to CUPHD, which is charged with contact tracing. Additional digital methodologies to enhance and speed contact tracing are currently being developed here on campus.

Will testing be required for all students, staff and faculty?

While policies for on-campus testing are still be developed, they will be guided by the advice of CUPHD and will have the flexibility to adapt to any changes in local, state and national circumstances and information. Testing will be encouraged for each member of the campus community who returns to campus, which will provide critical statistical sampling data to more accurately monitor the overall campus and community health. Testing will be required for students, staff and faculty, whose essential campus activities cannot be performed in ways that meet recommended social distancing rules and/or use of face coverings.

Will the campus be doing the actual testing and tracing or will it be conducted by external providers?

The campus will be directly managing and providing a significant portion of the testing for our faculty, staff and students, as well as the contact tracing that might be needed. These activities will be combined and closely coordinated with all county-wide testing and tracing programs. All of these activities will be under the oversight of CUPHD.

Can anyone who wants a test get one?

This is directed by CUPHD according to state and national policy. The recommendations for testing will be subject to change based on the capacity of our local testing sites, as well as on current COVID-19 infection rates, any outbreaks and the supply chain for testing materials. The expected launch of our own campus testing center, and our ability to manufacture some of the critical chemical components, aims to add capacity to ensure that each member of our entire community will have access to testing if they desire.

Who is currently eligible to be tested at local sites?

All individuals with symptoms are encouraged to seek testing at either a Community-Based Testing Site (CBTS) or with their personal health provider. Symptoms include: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell.

In addition, the following individuals with or without COVID-like symptoms can be tested:

  • Healthcare workers
  • First responders
  • Employees of correctional facilities
  • Individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients
  • Employees that support critical infrastructure (grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation)
  • All local and state government employees–including university employees
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems or chronic medical conditions


Flexibility of return to on-site for people with underlying health conditions and childcare challenges

  • Throughout the summer of 2020, as much as possible, units are encouraged to facilitate remote telework for employees whose work can be completed remotely: 
    • Employees who self-identify as having childcare obligations due to the cancellation of school, most all-day camp options and closure or loss of daycare providers.
  • Please discuss with your supervisor or unit HR contact, as soon as possible, if you have a need to continue your current remote-work arrangements.
  • If you are unable to reach an agreement with your supervisor regarding your remote-work arrangement, please contact your unit HR representative or the Labor and Employee Relations area within Illinois Human Resources at IHR-LER@illinois.edu or 217-333-3105.
  • You are not required to share any medical information with your supervisor or HR representatives.
  • In some cases, referral to other university units or accommodation processes may be required in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • Some operations lend themselves to remote work more than others, so the transition back to on-site work will not be identical across units.
  • Employees whose work cannot be completed remotely will be among the first to transition back to their normal work locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What about people whose jobs can’t be done remotely but who are in one of the categories for flexibility?

Employees who cannot work remotely but who have childcare obligations or are in the higher risk population can access the benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which provides paid leave for situations related to COVID-19

What about people who feel unsafe but who don’t meet flexibility criteria such as childcare obligations or health concerns for themselves or a family member and are unable to continue to remote work?

Employees can utilize personal vacation leave benefits, if approved by their unit.

Should all student workers stay remote?

There is no reason for students to be required to work remotely once we have students return to campus. However, student positions whose work can be completed remotely can request to work remotely. 

Will the university require employees and students who return to campus to sign a waiver for any harm that could be inflicted by COVID-19?

No, we are not asking employees or students to sign assumptions of COVID-19 risks, releases of university liability or waivers of claims against the university.


Personal actions: face covering/hand washing/social distancing

  • Based on the governor’s Executive Order 2020-32 and advice from our local public health officials, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has implemented requirements related to use of face coverings and social distancing in campus facilities and on other university property in response to health and safety concerns.
  • To reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection, all University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students, employees and visitors must wear a face covering in any university building, facility and classroom unless they are physically isolated in a private space or room.
  • Face coverings also must be worn in all public places and settings on campus where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. This includes outdoor spaces on campus and situations such as traveling to and from classes or events.  
  • If you have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from safely wearing a cloth facecovering, you will not be required to wear one and alternative arrangements will be made. Employees should notify the appropriate unit/college human resources official to begin the accommodation/exemption process.
  • To reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection:
    • All University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students, employees and visitors must practice social distancing.
    • All University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students, employees and visitors are encouraged to practice frequent hand washing or to use hand sanitizer when a hand-washing station is not available.
    • All members of our community are strongly encouraged to practice self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis, including monitoring of temperature, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
    • All members of our community are also strongly encouraged to monitor the health of individuals in their households.

Safety guidance and campus resources

COVID-19 Campus Safety Information

F&S training module

F&S Health and Safety Response Teams are available by appointment to consult with departments and units on questions regarding social distancing space considerations. Requests for assistance should be directed to covid19fsconsulting@illinois.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have to wear face coverings and practice social distancing?

The “novel” in novel coronavirus means this is an entirely new disease at global scale. Without immunity and a scientifically validated understanding of the protection conferred by a previous COVID-19 infection, everyone risks being infected by any exposure to COVID-19 and transmitting the infection. Requiring face coverings and practicing social distancing are reasonable requirements for individuals working and/or being on campus.

While we wait for an effective COVID-19 vaccine to be developed, we must be vigilant in taking validated measures known to be effective in guarding against infection, such as wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. While none of these protective mechanisms is 100% effective in stopping the spread of the virus alone, combining them maximizes our protection.

What kind of face covering is required?

A cloth or disposable face covering meets the requirement. Most university employees will not need an N95 medical-grade mask. Employees required to be on campus will receive two (2) employer-provided face coverings.

Why do I have to wear a face covering at all?

Research continues to show that wearing a face covering reduces the spread of droplets, which may contain the virus, through sneezing or coughing. Those with COVID-19 may shed the virus for two-to-five days before they show symptoms. 

Wearing a face covering also offers more protection to those with whom you interact. This is especially important for those essential employees who might be working in situations where they encounter many people throughout the day and have a much higher risk of getting exposed and getting sick.

Why do I have to wear a face covering inside if I can stay six feet away from anyone else?

While we wait for an effective COVID-19 vaccine to be developed, we must be vigilant in taking measures known to be effective in guarding against infection, such as wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible. None of these tools is 100% effective in stopping the spread of the virus, so combining them is our best protection.

Am I required to wear a face covering when I am outside?

Gov. Pritzker’s Executive Order requires that face coverings be worn in all public settings where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. Traveling to and from classes or events would fit that situation. Other examples would include mass transit to workplaces, local businesses and travel throughout the state and community.

Do these requirements still apply when I’m working in off-campus university facilities or properties (even space leased by the university)?

Yes. University students and employees are required to follow face covering and social distancing rules in any university-owned or operated facility regardless of proximity to the campus.

Do these requirements apply when I am working off-campus in non-university facilities?

The governor’s Executive Order applies no matter where you are working in the state of Illinois, except in your home.

Enforcement and Monitoring Topics

What happens if I don’t wear a face covering inside a university facility?

If you refuse to wear a face covering and you are not medically exempted from wearing a face covering, you will be asked to leave the facility or be escorted out. We hope to address this through educational efforts. However, at some point in the future, employees and students who do not comply may face disciplinary action.

How do I report someone not wearing a face covering or who is not following the social distancing requirements?

If you have any safety concerns, you should reach out to your supervisor or unit HR professional.

What if I am physically unable to wear a face covering?

If you have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from safely wearing a face covering, you will not be required to wear one and alternative arrangements will be made.


Supplies and signage

  • The university is providing units two washable masks for each employee. To request masks, send requests to your unit’s COVID-19 liaison or ask your supervisor.
  • The university is supplying free hand sanitizer and wipes to units. To order these supplies, go to: https://fs.illinois.edu/services/more-services/stores-receiving
  • Facilities & Services also has a variety of other COVID-19 response supplies, including face shields, gloves and disinfectants. These also can be ordered at: https://fs.illinois.edu/services/more-services/stores-receiving
  • Printable COVID-19 signage is available for download on standard paper. Pre-designed messages include topics such as social distancing, room capacity and traffic patterns. Floor stickers are available for purchase from Document Services (printing@illinois.edu). Indicate quantity and type of flooring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to wear the university-supplied masks, or may I bring my own face covering?

You may bring your own face covering, as long as it comports with university expectations on professional dress and limits droplet spread from your nose and mouth when speaking. The CDC has published information about face coverings here.  

Is the university covering the cost of hand sanitizers and other supplies related to COVID-19?

Yes, the University is covering the cost of masks, hand sanitizers and wipes for unit use.

I need signage with wording that is not available in the digital suite the university is providing. What do I do?

You can either type your own message on the blank template in the digital suite, or you can email Illini Union Marketing Director Erik Riha (eriha@illinois.edu) and request that a new sign be added to the suite.


Cleaning

  • Facilities & Services has developed updated cleaning and disinfecting strategies and service levels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view this guide here.
  • During the gradual and phased transition back to on-site work at the university, these service delivery adjustments will return Building Services staffing to typical levels, emphasize proactive and precautionary methods and specify target areas and plans for daily custodial activities. 
  • Cleaning protocols will follow the framework established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the guidance of local public health professionals.
  • The current understanding is that the virus is spread over short distances by droplets suspended in the air from direct human contact and not recirculated through an HVAC system from one space to another, so the disabling of HVAC systems is not recommended due to the potential for causing thermal stress and lowering resistance to infection.
  • Employees should contact their unit facilities management staff or F&S (covid19fsconsulting@illinois.edu) to identify if opening windows, changing the occupancy schedule or making other changes to the building air handling systems may have an impact on how the buildings were designed to operate.
  • Please consult the F&S team before making your own modifications to airflow, filters and building schedules.  
  • F&S has also set up a protocol for cleaning and disinfecting areas where individuals with confirmed COVID-19 have been. You can see this protocol here.
  • Questions and feedback regarding cleaning and disinfecting activities should be directed to covid19cleaning@illinois.edu.

Unit Cleaning

  • Each unit should determine what measures they will take to sanitize spaces and equipment between cleanings by Facilities & Services. These protocols have been created by unit leadership and submitted and approved by the Executive Steering Committee.
  • F&S Building Services staff will continue to follow the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention guidance for “Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.” These activities include increased restroom cleaning and regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, faucets and sinks.
  • General custodial service levels during the COVID-19 pandemic will need to be complemented by individuals consistently performing behavioral practices that emphasize virus mitigation to help slow the spread of the disease (social distancing, face coverings, frequent/thorough hand washing, and stay home if you are sick), as well as supplementing cleaning and disinfection practices in departmental areas with Environmental Protection Agency approved products:
    • Wiping/disinfecting individual or shared workstations, equipment or appliances
    • Disinfecting conference rooms before and after meetings
    • Disinfecting University vehicles before and after use
    • Cleaning shared workspace areas and collaboration spaces
    • Placing office trash receptacles outside doors or in aisleways when needing to be emptied
    • Wiping down reception areas after visitor/student interaction

Additional updates

F&S Building Services will provide additional updates as the university begins the transition back to on-site work. Questions and feedback regarding specific cleaning and disinfecting activities should be directed to covid19cleaning@illinois.edu.


COVID-related illness and return to work after illness

The following section is drawn from the CDC website.

  • People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can leave home under the following conditions:
    • If you have not had a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
      • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

  • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
    • If you have had a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
      • You no longer have a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

  • You received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.
  • People who DID NOT have COVID-19 symptoms, but tested positive and have stayed home (home isolated) can leave home under the following conditions:
    • If you have not had a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these two things have happened:
      • At least 10 days have passed since the date of your first positive test

AND

  • You continue to have no symptoms (no cough or shortness of breath) since the test.
    • If you have had a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after:
      • You received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.

Resources

Return to Work after COVID-19-Related Illness of COVID-19-Like Symptoms

EFMLA resources

FAQ

Do I have to provide documentation that I have COVID-19 or a COVID-19-like illness?

Supervisors may ask employees who report feeling ill at work, or who call in sick, questions about their symptoms to determine if they have or may have COVID-19 and documentation may be required to substantiate the illness. Requirements for documentation will vary on a case-by-case basis.

How do I calculate the ten days I have to wait to return?

Per CDC guidelines, if you have not had a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home and return to work after these two things have happened:

  • At least 10 days have passed since the date of your first positive test
    AND
  • you continue to have no symptoms (no cough or shortness of breath) since the test.
What if I live in a residence hall?

Residence hall students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be isolated, per the CDC guidelines, and will first be asked to return to their permanent home. If this is not feasible, an isolation space will be available within the residence halls. The resident will be moved to the isolation space and provided assistance from residential life and dining staff. Once the resident has recovered, they may return to their original residence hall assignment.

What if I know that someone had COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms is not following this protocol?

If you believe that someone at your workplace has COVID-19, please notify your local public health department. A list of local health departments throughout the state can be found here: http://www.idph.state.il.us/IDPHPrograms/v_LHDDirectory/Show-V-LHDDirectory-Public.aspx.

What if I’m not comfortable coming back to campus until there’s a vaccine?

As described in the Campus Administrative Manual, employees can utilize personal vacation leave benefits, if approved by their unit.  Alternatively, an employee could ask for a personal leave of absence without pay, however, implications for benefits would need to be carefully considered.