Return to Campus Policy for staff and faculty
Skidmore College’s staff and faculty are vital to the College’s operations and educational
mission. Since the pandemic began and caused a transition to alternative learning,
work has looked different for many staff and faculty members, including those who
have transitioned to telework and those who have continued to work on campus. As New
York State continues to ease restrictions and vaccination rates increase, Skidmore
College is planning a phased and gradual approach to expanding in-person activities
on campus throughout this summer, with a full return to in-person classes and campus
operations this fall. As part of this plan, the College will begin a phased return
to campus of employees who have been working remotely.
This Return to Campus Policy for staff and faculty is based on the principle that the College’s mission is best achieved when students, faculty, and staff can learn, teach, and work together as a community. Over the next several months, the College will work towards a phased return of students, faculty, and staff to campus. Key elements of the plan include:
- Academics: A return to in-person classes in the fall, with remote courses only offered in very limited circumstances, when approved as a reasonable accommodation.
- Offices: A phased return of staff to provide normal on-campus services in offices beginning no later than August 2 and gradually increasing to full capacity by September 2, 2021. The start date and sequence for the phased return of staff to offices will be dependent on needs of divisions and units.
The College’s return to campus plan is aligned with, and is subject to change by, the state of New York’s plan, New York Forward, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health officials. Importantly, this plan is based on current guidance as well as on what the College reasonably assumes will be possible by the fall. Key assumptions guiding this plan include:
- New York Forward increases office space capacity to 100%.
- Vaccinations are widely available to the general population.
- Day care providers and K-12 schools are open for in-person attendance 5 days per week.
- New York guidelines eliminate the requirement for 6-foot social distancing in higher education classroom settings.
- Residence halls are able to open to near full capacity with sufficient isolation and quarantine space maintained.
Detailed information regarding access and capacity limits for all on-campus operations
(e.g., building access, dining services, visitors, admissions tours, events, etc.)
can be found on the College’s Campus Planning webpage and will be regularly updated as health and safety guidelines evolve throughout the
summer and into the fall. When available from NYS, the College will also publish updated
workplace safety standards aimed at preventing occupational exposure to airborne infectious
disease that will include updated information to employees on health screenings, testing,
face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), social distancing, hand hygiene,
cleaning and disinfection protocol and engineering controls (e.g., air flow, exhaust
Return to Campus Plans
To facilitate staff employees’ phased return to offices to provide normal on-campus services beginning no later than August 2, 2021, heads of divisions and units are asked to complete individual Return to Campus Plans for their areas by July 9, 2021. The goal of these plans is to gradually reintroduce remote staff to campus so that all offices can provide on-campus services during normal operating hours beginning no later than August 2, 2021. The actual start date and process for the gradual return of remote staff to campus is dependent upon the needs of the specific unit. The following phases for the gradual reintroduction of remote staff to work will apply:
May 24-August 2
- Division and unit heads complete Return to Campus Plans and submit to division VP and HR for approval
- Gradual return of remote staff to campus begins on date established by division or unit, depending on need
- Some divisions and units begin providing on-campus services
August 2, 2021
- All divisions and units begin providing on-campus services during normal operating hours
- Medium density with hybrid telework and on-campus shifts and gradual increase of days on campus pursuant to Return to Campus Plan and state and local guidance
September 2, 2021
- Full return to work on campus, subject to physical distancing requirements in effect, if any.
Heads of divisions and units will work with supervisors to create the Return to Campus
Plans. The College encourages unit directors, supervisors, and managers to undertake
a transparent and collaborative process, with an opportunity for staff to share their
thoughts and preferences, in developing Return to Campus Plans. To facilitate the
phased return of remote staff to campus, supervisors may consider rotating on-campus
shifts and gradually increasing days on campus for employees. As part of the Return
to Campus Plan, supervisors will consider the physical workspace and what, if any,
modifications to office space may be required to maintain appropriate physical distancing
between workspaces and between employees and visitors. Supervisors are also responsible
for equitable and appropriate staff and space distributions, for ensuring sufficient
coverage for on-campus interactions, and for communicating the plan to staff once
approved, including any changes to the plan.
Return to Campus Plans must be approved by the appropriate Vice President and then submitted to Human Resources for final approval no later than July 9, 2021. Human Resources is available to assist throughout this process and answer any questions.
Continuation of Enhanced Safety Protocol
Throughout each phase listed above, the College’s priority will remain the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students. The College will continue to follow federal, state, and College health and safety guidelines, including at present the following guidelines:
- Physical Distancing. Unvaccinated individuals must maintain six feet of physical distance at all times on campus.
- Masking. Masking is required in all common and public indoor spaces where the vaccination status of other individuals is unknown. More detailed guidance on masking for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated employees is available here.
- Daily Health Monitoring. Employees will continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home when sick. Until further guidance is available from NYS, employees must continue to complete the daily health certification each day of work on campus.
- Testing. Testing over the summer will be required on a weekly basis for all non-vaccinated employees who are working on campus with regular proximate contact (working in the same workspace) with co-workers or students. Depending on vaccination rates by fall 2021, regular surveillance testing may continue or be reduced to as needed for symptomatic employees.
- Quarantine/Isolation. Isolation will be required for anyone who is demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms or who tests positive for COVID-19. Quarantine will be required for non-vaccinated employees who are exposed to a positive case.
- Gatherings and Group Meetings. Gatherings and group meetings will be permitted indoors and outdoors following state capacity limits and physical distancing requirements and in accordance with current College guidance.
- Sponsored Travel. Domestic travel will be permitted following CDC and state travel guidance. Essential international travel will be permitted following approval by appropriate Cabinet member and following CDC and state travel guidance.
Accommodation of Employees with Medical Considerations
Employees who have a medical condition or disability that impacts their ability to return to on-campus work or who reside with an individual with a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 and who cannot be vaccinated because of a medical condition or eligibility should contact Human Resources to request a reasonable accommodation. Supervisors should not inquire into an employee’s specific medical condition or background. See Skidmore College’s Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants policy for more information on requesting accommodations.
Vaccination Status Inquiries
Skidmore College strongly encourages all faculty and staff to get vaccinated prior to returning to campus. All employees are required to report their vaccination status to Human Resources using the COVID-19 Vaccination Status form. Employees who have not already submitted a copy of their vaccination card may do so by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and including “[OME]” in the subject line to encrypt the message. The information submitted through the COVID-19 Vaccination Status form and vaccination records will be maintained confidentially by Human Resources.
As federal and state health and safety guidelines evolve to consider individuals’ vaccination status, the College will continue to align its testing program, social distancing and masking policies, and other health and safety protocol with these guidelines. As many of these guidelines are currently dependent upon vaccination status and will likely continue to be in the coming months, it is reasonably anticipated that individuals may volunteer their own or inquire as to another’s vaccination status. While employees may voluntarily disclose their vaccination status, the College expects all employees to exercise sensitivity to employees’ choices and unique circumstances. Under no circumstances shall a supervisor or co-worker ask an employee why they have not been vaccinated.
As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, the College’s priority is the health and safety of its faculty, staff, and students. While the College’s plan to return to in-person classes and on campus work this fall signals a return to normal, this policy and all return to campus plans are subject to evolving CDC and Department of Health guidelines, vaccination rates within and outside our community, and the pandemic’s trajectory over the summer. The College will continue to closely monitor these factors and keep the community well-informed as we advance through these next steps together.
Any questions about this policy should be directed to Brianna Herman, Assistant Director for Employee Relations, Training & Development.