DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Responsive work approaches for phased reopening
By A. Gabriel Esteban, Salma Ghanem and Jeff Bethke /
July 1, 2020 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
On March 16, almost all university departments and divisions began teleworking in the interest of promoting safety for all. Our quick mobilization was difficult and required many long hours of work. For all of your efforts, we thank you.
The city of Chicago is continuing its phased reopening, and DePaul is in the process of welcoming our students back on campus in the Fall. They will return to a campus environment with services they can access in person aligned with visible health and safety precautions. They will also find a learning environment with more choices for how they take courses, and more flexibility towards how each student learns best. Guided by our institutional values and planning principles, maintaining the health and safety of our community has been—and will continue to be— at the forefront as we establish a new normal.
Previously, DePaul had asked employees to plan to work from home through July 17. Moving forward, the continuation of teleworking will be decided on a unit-by-unit basis while DePaul maintains a reduced density of people on campus, in accordance with city and state public health guidelines. As Illinois moves to Phase 4, the “revitalization" stage, DePaul will encourage teleworking wherever possible to allow for observing the distancing and lower density public health officials have advised. Therefore, a significant portion of DePaul employees will continue to work remotely throughout the Fall while some employees who have student and customer-facing duties or whose work demands an on-site presence will begin the careful process of returning to campus for work. A variety of flexible work modes will be adopted for employees, and will be determined at the unit level.
After July 17, managers may ask employees to return in the lead up to Fall quarter to prepare for students' return; additional faculty and staff will be asked to return at the start of the term to provide targeted on-campus presence for services to students. Personnel density levels will be adjusted as the situation warrants. Our goal is to ensure that the university continues operating with efficiency and excellence, while also providing a safe educational experience for our students.
In some respects, DePaul's Fall quarter will look very different from past years. To facilitate social distancing and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, DePaul is adopting an innovative hybrid model for teaching and learning that expands the number of options for online and on-campus courses. Likewise, vice presidents and deans are developing division-specific plans for each of their respective colleges and units with the same principles of increased flexibility and nimbleness. The objective of such flexibility is to deliver value in service and personal experience to our students and others in a healthy and safe environment for all. University leaders are considering a variety of options and adaptations for how our workforce can continue to work safely and productively -- serving our students well in our drive to ensure DePaul will be unequaled among U.S. urban universities.
The university is currently finalizing timelines and processes that must be in place before any additional faculty and staff can resume work on campus with attention being given to the city and state guidelines and phases.
In addition, DePaul is continually adding procedures to prioritize safety, sanitizing and social distancing measures on both campuses. Facility Operations has been instituting extensive cleaning and sanitizing measures, as well as promoting the widespread availability of hand sanitizer on both campuses. (Read more.) Guidelines for additional aspects of working on campus, e.g. using elevators and restrooms, will be shared as details are finalized.
Any DePaul faculty and staff who will be asked to return to campus in the near future will be given ample time to prepare to do so.
If employees are in need of support, DePaul's Employees and workforce FAQs details benefits and other resources that are available. Employees who are required to return to campus but who may need a non-medical accommodation should discuss their needs with their respective manager. If a medical accommodation is needed, employees should be referred to the Employee Relations & EEO unit in the Office of Human Resources at email@example.com.
Please keep in mind that anyone on DePaul's campus—whether indoors or outdoors—is required to wear a face covering and is expected to maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others at all times.
Face shields are not considered a replacement for a face covering/mask. (Read more.) In the coming weeks, indoor and outdoor signage will be installed throughout the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses with reminders about these requirements.
Employees working on campus are strongly encouraged to take proper precautions to safeguard their health. This includes staying home when sick or with a fever and observing robust mitigation approaches, such as hand washing, cleaning, and using hand sanitizer.
DePaul is approaching its return to campus with our community's health and safety foremost in mind. We are committed to following guidance from state and local public health leaders and medical professionals as we continue our Fall planning and will be responsive to any possible changes in Chicago's COVID-19 trajectory. We thank you for all you have done to respond to this pandemic with flexibility and compassion. Your many efforts have kept our community strong.