UConn Human Resources’ Update – July 20, 2020

Christopher Delello, Chief Human Resources Officer…

In a follow-up to President Katsouleas’ recent communication on the fall reopening and testing, I write to provide further guidance on faculty and staff testing, training, and on-campus requirements. This guidance is lengthy but reflects, with specificity, where we are along in our reentry and testing plans:

 Faculty and Staff Reentry Testing Summary

Faculty and staff who are required and approved to work on campus to accomplish their primary job functions will have COVID 19 PCR testing made available at reentry at no cost to them through our partnership with UConn Health. Availability as early as August 4th through August 21st will be made on site at Storrs, Stamford (Tentative – August 7th) and Avery Point (Tentative – August 13th) for eligible employees at these locations. Eligible employees at UConn’s Waterbury and Hartford campuses will be provided access to UConn Health’s Farmington drive-through location.  We encourage and expect those who have these tests made available to them, to take the test.

Who Will Be Allowed and Approved to be on Campus?

The University continues its plans to de-densify the Storrs and regional campuses. If you are working from home now, you should continue to do so unless approved by the University to return to campus. If asked to return, you will receive at least two weeks’ notice prior to return to campus where possible.

Therefore, most employees are expected to telecommute through December 31, 2020 unless the primary duties of the job require them to be on campus full-time or on a significantly limited basis with manager approval and University authorization. The only faculty and staff (including post-doctoral scholars) that will be allowed on the campus will be the following categories of employees before, during and after reentry:

  • Direct Contact with/Support for Students – defined as close professional contact with students within 6-ft for more than 15 minutes as a primary job function. For example, a classroom instructor in-front of students; residential life staff, certain academic functional assignments, staff providing continued window service; or a food/retail service professional. Even with these roles, where telecommuting or rotational programs can be supported, they should be.
  • Critical Infrastructure Support – defined as a role with or without direct student contact on a full time basis where all primary job functions cannot be done remotely, such as facility operations, police/fire, animal care and support. It does not include work that is “preferred” to be accomplished onsite or non-critical infrastructure work by an employee or manager or any such work that can continue to be done remotely in areas outside these critical infrastructure responsibilities.
  • Part-Time or Rotational Critical Support Functions often with No Direct Contact with/Support for Students – defined as roles that include some and limited critical administrative functions that cannot be done remotely, such as some financial, payroll, administrative and HR functions for a small number of hours per day for 1-2 days per week. It does not include work that is “preferred” to be onsite or non-critical infrastructure work by an employee or manager or any such work that can continue to be done remotely. Employees and those in this category should be less than 15% of a manager’s staff.
  • Research Colleagues – research faculty and staff working in a lab approved for research reentry under the research ramp up process.  Work that may be done remotely should continue to be done so.  All sponsored program supported personnel must be working on the aims of the grant as pay for no work expired at the end of June.  Any situations where an employee is unable to work in the lab and who cannot telecommute should be noted. In this event, additional information will be forthcoming.

Note: We recognize that some individuals who fall within these categories are already on our campuses; if so, if they have not already been provided a University provided COVID test, one will be made available to them by the University. Undergraduate students and Graduate assistants will be tested using the student strategies that will be communicated by Student Health and Wellness.

It will be important and required that all managers and employees adhere to these registry categories of employees approved to be on campus – adherence will be essential to limit transmission, ensure the capability of social distancing, for contract tracing efforts and for contact notification and other important impacts. Any cases of failure to approve by a manager or onsite visits by an employee to campuses for work outside of these requirements will be swiftly addressed by Divisional leaders and the University.

Employee Exchange Program

The University requires that all manager and employees working remotely are able to continue to conduct meaningful and productive work from home as a full FTE.  An employee must be able to work at home and deliver on position requirements or either voluntarily or at the requirement of their manager – be willing to take a temporary assignment to continue to be paid. For these situations, earlier this summer the Office of Human Resources developed and communicated our Employee Exchange Program and there are many roles that are needed as the University reopens. We ask managers and staff to refer here for more details https://hr.uconn.edu/employee-exchange-program/.

 Campus Registry and Testing Detail

Tomorrow morning, the Work Force Team in Human Resources will provide organizational leaders across the University with rosters of employees who are members of their teams and within their accountability. The University will ask organizational leaders to identify those employees who will be telecommuting and those who meet the registry definitions above and are approved to be returning to our campuses along with their reentry date (unless they are already on campus). We anticipate that a majority of our professional staff and faculty will continue to telecommute during the fall semester. Additional guidance will be anticipated in mid-December, 2020 regarding registration for January and the Spring 2021 semester. More information about the testing, testing sites and dates are found on the attachment to this communication.

 Mandatory Training

Environmental Health & Safety (EH &S) has developed a return-to-work training for all employees who will be on campus. This training is mandatory for all on-campus employees including regional campuses before returning to campus. More information will be forthcoming from EH &S.

On-Campus Requirements

While on campus, it is required that employees adhere to the following: wear a face mask; maintain a distance of 6ft with others; and wash hands thoroughly and frequently. EH & S will be providing more guidance about these requirements.

Domestic Travel Now or Before Reentry

On June 24th, Governor Lamont announced quarantine guidance for all travelers arriving in or returning to Connecticut from several states. As the situation remains dynamic, it’s important for employees traveling out of state domestically to review the state’s most up to date guidance before departing and returning from travel, especially if you are approved for reentry to any of UConn’s campuses by July 27th. UConn Employees should consider the impact of this guidance when considering whether to travel now and before reentry. As communicated by Human Resources on July 2nd, all domestic travel to the states noted by the State of Connecticut require a registry by faculty and staff – please refer to the following communication on the HR website (https://hr.uconn.edu/employee-domestic-travel-storrs-regionals/).

As we move towards the fall semester, I want to extend my appreciation to all of UConn’s employees for your continued dedication and support of the University’s missions during this unprecedented time.

In closing I want to thank our colleagues and the senior leadership team at UConn Health who have been partners with us during the development and roll out of this testing strategy. Please join me in thanking them for their important guidance and contributions to these efforts.

Please contact hr-communications@uconn.edu with questions.

Thank you,

Christopher Delello, Chief Human Resources Officer