BU Releases a Back-to-Work Guidebook to Reopening Campus
Research will lead the way, with campus staffing kept to a minimum
Editor’s note: Rather than submitting questions on this story to BU Today, we suggest consulting the departments and resources listed below, which are available to answer readers’ specific questions. A COVID-19 support line is also available to help support the BU community. Call 617-358-4990 with your COVID-19 related human resource questions, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
Phase 1 of Boston University’s gradual reopening of the Charles River, Fenway, and Medical campuses will include the restart of research and clinical activities and the return of a small number of University staff in the coming weeks, as outlined in a 12-page “Back to On-Campus Work” digital guidebook, available to all employees.
“Our top priority, at all times, is to provide a safe and healthy work environment for faculty, staff, and students,” the guidebook says. “These guidelines are intended to inform your actions as we begin, over the summer, the slow and deliberate process of returning to campus.”
Most faculty and staff will continue to work remotely for now, however, and a wide variety of measures are being enacted to ensure the health and safety of the entire BU community amid a hoped-for return to residential teaching and learning in the fall.
The campuses closed after spring break in March and all classes moved to remote teaching and learning, a plan that has since been extended through both summer sessions. The Phase 1 guidebook, an easily downloadable PDF, outlines the first steps in reopening. Departments have already filed plans for gradually restarting research and clinical work. Some University staffers will return to campus as needed, such as for student services, including Admissions, as well as Housing, and Dining. But as many employees as possible are encouraged to continue working at home.
The University recognizes the “profound challenges” for employees arising from the current situation, such as the loss of childcare, leaders say. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible in accommodating workers’ needs, and negative vacation time will continue to be available for those who need it. Schedules can be adjusted to reflect reduced public transportation service. Those who need to return to campus but aren’t comfortable taking public transportation will find continued discounted parking on campus for $8 a day.
Those returning to campus are encouraged to follow all guidelines for staying safe, both getting to and from campus and while they are on campus. These steps include wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing when traveling through public spaces.
Building coordinators are being named for all academic and administrative buildings, and they will partner with Campus Planning & Operations to identify spaces in need of partitioning, interior building signage, and visual cues to facilitate proper physical distancing. Extensive daily cleaning is being planned, and cleaning supplies will be made available in each department.
To further reduce the chances of exposure to the coronavirus, the University is developing protocols to limit public access to campus buildings, and departments are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with visitors remotely whenever possible.
Faculty and staff can check the University’s COVID-19 Information website regularly for updates. Their supervisors should be their first point of contact for questions about workplace procedures and accommodations. But there are numerous other places to get answers on specific topics (see sidebar).
The University’s COVID-19 response and recovery leadership team is still planning for Phases 2 to 4 of the reopening, which would include:
- Medical and dental students returning to their campus in late summer
- Residential undergraduate programs resuming in September
- Stabilization and a “new normal” for the long term
The University intends to reopen as a residential learning community in September, with social distancing and other protocols in place to safeguard the health of students, faculty, and staff. Ultimately, the plan will involve testing, contact tracing, quarantine strategies, and a teaching model that is flexible for all students and teachers, allowing for in-person and remote education.
Robert A. Brown, BU president, says there are many unknowns in the fast-changing situation, and the University will follow governmental, scientific, and medical guidance in setting its forward course.
“We will make a decision as we go forward about whether or not that plan is feasible within the scope of where the pandemic is at that point in time,” Brown says. “This is a call we will make in concert with our Board of Trustees.”