Healthy Brown: Workforce

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Continued Reduction of In-person Operations

Thank you for all that you have done over the summer to prepare for the year ahead, and for the contributions that Brown employees are making to promote a safe and healthy campus. Whether you are arriving on site every day and following public health protocols, or working remotely, you are making a difference in these efforts.

As President Paxson has communicated throughout the pandemic, we expect individuals who can work remotely to continue to do so; this is central to promoting a healthy University environment and to supporting work that cannot be performed remotely. To that end, we are extending telecommuting for all regular employees who are able to complete their work remotely through the end of the fall term, December 23, 2020. In addition, we can confirm that Winter Break will be December 23, 2020, through January 3, 2021.

Since moving to reduced in-person operations in mid-March, essential staff colleagues have remained on-site to keep our campus safe, advance critical projects and provide necessary services. In recent weeks, the University has slowly and carefully resumed some laboratory and non-laboratory research, with all employees following the Campus Safety Policy.  Department leaders should continue to manage schedules with their employees based on the nature of their job assignments, following these guidelines.

In addition, today we provide new details on the processes that departments must follow to continue or resume on-site operations. In summary, Brown now has three distinct return-to-campus plan processes:

  • Resuming Lab-Based Research: For faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students, and academic affiliates performing laboratory-based research requiring them to come to the University.
  • Academic Units and Non-Lab-Based Research: For faculty and staff in academic units who perform work that requires them to come to campus. This process is for academic units (academic departments, centers, institutes, etc.) to request access to academic spaces on campus and for non-lab-based research and preparation purposes, or regular/semi-regular/or sporadic office visits.
  • Administrative Department Plans: A new process for staff in administrative departments who perform work that requires coming to campus. This process is for requesting access to campus for regular/semi-regular/or sporadic office visits.

We have already received many plans through the Resuming Lab-Based Research and Non-Lab-Based Research processes that have been in place this summer. Academic and administrative units that have not submitted a plan and that propose to resume any essential work on-site or have staff on-site for any reason must now submit a plan for approval as outlined in the Return to Campus Plans and Guidelines web page.

These plans are vitally important as they will inform the University’s COVID-19 testing program, facilities support, dining and shuttle services and a range of other programs and services. If you have submitted a plan and it has been approved, unless circumstances have changed, there is no additional action that is required at this time, and your approved plan will remain in effect.

For colleagues that are now submitting plans, please keep in mind that it remains a high priority to maintain a relatively low-density population of employees on campus, both as we approach the academic year and also into the fall. Department chairs, directors and supervisors play a critical role in supporting this priority by ensuring that every employee who can work remotely continues to do so. It is the shared responsibility of every member of our community to support the measures being put in place to maintain health and safety.

We understand that with regard to administrative offices in particular, some student-facing functions must be done in person. However, we want every leader on campus to examine their functions and operations closely and carry out your mission through remote work to the fullest extent possible. This will likely involve some creative thinking about how to conduct business and student support differently, including through the use of technology, to ensure that the flow of work and information in every office remains effective. In some instances, it might mean limited days or hours of in-person staffing and operations (for example, hosting office hours for in-person advising one afternoon per week) with everything else throughout the week being done remotely. University Human Resources is available for guidance to support planning.

Plan Approval: What to Expect

The Return to Campus Plans and Guidelines web page outlines the plan approval process, including contact information for offices that have questions. Once a plan has been approved, employees permitted to return on-site will be required to complete the Social Distancing and Return to Campus Guidelines e-learning module and the COVID-19 Campus Safety Acknowledgement form, both of which will be done through Workday.

Additionally, all supervisors of employees approved to be on-site must complete the Supervisor Procedures When an Employee has Contracted, Exhibits Symptoms of, or has been Exposed to COVID-19 e-learning module and the Supervisor’s Checklist for Employees Returning to or On Campus, which are also available through Workday.

In the coming weeks, we will write with additional information about the fall semester, including details on the University's COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program. Please also continue to review [email protected] for updates, and review the Healthy Brown website ( for information and resources. In the coming weeks and months, we plan to consolidate communications increasingly in [email protected] to be responsive to issues of email volume (and messages are being archived on the Healthy Brown website). If changes in public health guidance surrounding the pandemic affect planning, we’ll be sure to communicate about any changes.

We greatly appreciate the work that you and your colleagues continue to do and the important role that you play in maintaining health and safety for our community. We hope that you and your loved ones are well and continue to remain safe and healthy.

Click here to read the full letter from Provost Richard Locke and Executive Vice President of Finance & Administration Barbara Chernow.