Impact on Staff and Faculty
March 17, 2020: Message from President Brown, COVID-19 Update
- All classes and examinations for the remainder of the spring semester will be held remotely.
- We ask all our undergraduate students to leave Boston University residences and return home by Sunday, March 22, or sooner if possible. We understand that going home is not possible for everyone.
There may be some students who have exceptional reasons that require them to stay in Boston. Those seeking exceptions should request to stay in an on-campus residence in order to be considered. Appeals to remain on campus can be requested, but will be granted on a limited basis and, generally, only for students who have a permanent address in a country to which travel is currently restricted (as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020) and have no alternative place to reside in the United States, or for students with extraordinary, extenuating circumstances that make leaving housing an impossibility.
Students who seek to remain should be aware that they will likely be asked to move to a different residence hall. Also, campus services, activities, and interactions will be severely limited.
Read President Brown's update from March 17 in its entirety, for more information.
For health-related questions, Boston University has set up a COVID-19 hotline for students, faculty, staff, and visiting scholars; please call 617-358-4990, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
How does Governor Baker's order to temporarily close nonessential businesses impact BU and its employees?
Universities and colleges have been categorized as “essential services,” which means that the order will not directly impact our current plans to provide remote teaching to all students and essential support functions to those students who remain on our campuses.
While all faculty are encouraged to work from home where possible, those who choose to come to campus to conduct their remote teaching are still allowed to do so under the governor’s new order. We continue to ask supervisors to work with their staff to enable faculty to either work from home or conduct their classes from their academic buildings.
Boston University research laboratories should stop normal operations and shift to basic maintenance only, ensuring safety and preserving future capabilities, other than COVID-19 research and essential biomedical research that cannot be stopped at this time. Only critical maintenance procedures that require regular attention in order to maintain laboratory viability should continue.
The University’s administrative offices remain open to support remote education, critical research, and student services. As most staff have transitioned to working remotely, only academic and administrative personnel whose jobs require them to be on campus are being asked to commute.
Visit the Office of the Provost website for more information about the order and how it impacts BU.
I’m a BU faculty member. What do I need to know to teach remotely?
Through Boston University’s Remote Teaching Readiness Plan, schools and colleges have already begun preparing for remote teaching and learning. We encourage faculty to contact their school or college’s Remote Teaching Coordinator with questions about migrating course content online. We also encourage instructors to email students in their courses before Monday, March 16, to alert them to the class plan for the next week.
Finally, we are developing and will shortly distribute a set of “Guidelines for Semester Completion” to help faculty and staff think through how to ensure students are able to complete all their scheduled coursework this semester
Are there resources available to help digitize library materials for remote teaching and learning?
To support the University’s directive for remote teaching of all courses beginning March 16, 2020, the University Libraries system is providing additional support to help faculty digitize print library materials (such as book chapters) for use in remote teaching. Faculty can make a scanning request online (BU ID required). Libraries' professionals will be working to prepare and provide scanned materials.
The class I teach has a lab component. What do I need to know?
Lab sections that are part of a for-credit course have been placed on hold while the University conducts courses online.
How should research labs prepare for the impact of COVID-19?
The Office of Research has created a website with information related to the novel coronavirus outbreak for the BU research community.
In response to Governor Baker’s March 23 order, Boston University research laboratories are being asked to stop normal operations and shift to basic maintenance only, ensuring safety and preserving future capabilities, other than COVID-19 research and essential biomedical research that cannot be stopped at this time. Only critical maintenance procedures that require regular attention in order to maintain laboratory viability should continue. For example, cell, plant, or animal colony maintenance, shared computational equipment maintenance, and maintenance of equipment that requires gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators can be performed.
Any research operations that are deemed critical to continue, such as those listed above, must obtain proper approvals using this form and as previously outlined by Gloria Waters, Vice President and Associate Provost for Research. Access to labs will be limited to personnel approved to perform these essential procedures and processes. The Animal Science Center will continue to provide daily animal maintenance (feed, water, ensure clean/dry caging, etc.) and Environmental Health & Safety staff will continue to be on-site.
How should labs focused on human subjects research prepare for the impact of COVID-19?
Given Boston University and State of Massachusetts public health directives, Charles River Campus researchers must make alternative plans for projects that involve in-person interactions with research participants. In-person interactions with participants should only occur at this time if it would adversely impact the safety and welfare of the participant if that interaction did not take place. Learn more in this statement from the Charles River Campus Institutional Review Board. Medical Campus researchers can find the latest guidance in these FAQs.
How have BU's clinical operations responded to the pandemic?
Most clinics have ceased in-person operations and have transitioned to telehealth for those services that can be provided remotely. This is important to supporting continuity of care.
Clinical programs offering remote services include:
- Physical Therapy at the Ryan Center
- Neurorehabilitation Center
- Sargent Choice Nutrition
- Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders
- Jessie and Albert Danielsen Institute
- Aphasia Resource Center
The GSDM Dental Treatment Centers at 635 Albany Street and 930 Comm Avenue are closed, except for emergencies.
Do BU employees need to come to work?
Our intent is to have as small a staff presence on our campus as is feasible for us to meet our obligations to support online education, research that must continue, and students who are not able to go home and have permission to remain on campus. We ask all supervisors to work with their staff to make it possible for them to work from home while fulfilling their responsibilities.
Are there options to work remotely?
We encourage each manager to review their department’s Continuity of Operations Plan with their staff and to assess what work and services must be done on campus and what can be done remotely.
For assistance with Continuity of Operations Plans, please contact Rene Fielding, Director of Emergency Management, at 617-353-7556, or by email at email@example.com.
For remote work information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, visit bu.edu/tech/support/working-teaching-remotely, or go to bu.edu/tech for information on upcoming IS&T drop-in sessions on remote work readiness.
Will the disruption associated with COVID-19 affect hiring at Boston University?
The disruption will have no impact on faculty hiring. Faculty searches and hiring will continue uninterrupted. Hiring to fill research staff positions funded from external grants and contracts will also continue. However, on March 5, the University implemented a hiring freeze on other staff vacancies. The University decided to implement this pause because of the uncertainty created by COVID-19. The virus, with its attendant travel restrictions and economic impact, may affect next academic year's admissions and revenue, and BU's overall budget. While the University hopes to have a clearer understanding of the nature of the impact over the next few months, it seemed the wise and conservative fiscal course of action, in the meantime, to leave staff vacancies unfilled. No employee will lose their job as a result of this decision. The University is simply putting a hold on filling staff positions that are vacant as of March 5.
What do I do if I have been told by my medical provider or governmental agency that I have to comply with a mandatory quarantine as a result of a possible exposure to the coronavirus (not as a result of being ill)?
Mandatory quarantine related to COVID-19 can result from various circumstances (possible exposure for yourself or a family member). If you are in this situation, you may be able to work from home (if your position allows remote work and your supervisor approves), use your sick time or apply for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). Please follow the process for Mandatory Quarantine Absence. Please contact the HR Service Center at email@example.com or 617-353-2380 with any questions.
I'm a BU employee and a parent. With some local daycares closing due to COVID-19, will the BU Children’s Center accept drop-ins?
Unfortunately, our center does not have the capacity for drop-in daycare. Additionally, in order to take drop-in children, the center would be required to have that service as part of its Department of Early Education and Care license, which it currently does not.
I’m a BU employee and am exhibiting flu-like symptoms but don’t know what to do about coming in to work?
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, do not come in to work. Call the Occupational Health Center at 617-353-6630 (you do not need to go to the center in person; calling is preferable). The Occupational Health Center may direct you to your primary healthcare provider. Please then inform your manager to keep them up-to-date on your status.
For more information on how to stay healthy in the workplace, please see the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
Do the BU health plans allow for telehealth?
In response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, we are pleased to announce that both Boston University health plans will begin to cover telehealth effective Monday, March 16.
Telehealth will allow covered members to receive care for many routine and nonemergency conditions from a licensed doctor or provider from the convenience of your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You will have the option to see licensed doctors and providers in the BCBS Well Connection network, as well as local doctors and providers in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts network who offer covered services using live video visits through a service other than Well Connection.
You can learn more about the telehealth benefit on the Human Resources website.
I'm an employee on the Medical Campus. What do I need to know?
Boston University Medical Campus employees should follow the same recommendations as employees on the Charles River and Fenway Campuses. The information outlined here applies to all Boston University employees. But there is more specific BU Medical Campus operational information available as well.
Will the Occupational Health Center track ill employees?
The Occupational Health Center will be responsible for maintaining records of BU employee reports of COVID-19, should any occur.
If my symptoms are minor, can I work from home instead of using sick time?
If your primary healthcare provider determines you to be ill, please follow the doctor’s orders and focus on your recovery. In the case of illness, please use your sick time. If your absence extends for more than three consecutive business days, please reach out to the Human Resources Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-353-2380.
However, if your symptoms are minor and your primary healthcare provider suggests you stay out of work for precautionary reasons and your job is one where remote work is possible and you feel you could be productive, please consult with your manager to determine if working from home is feasible. In this situation and with your manager’s approval, you can work from home instead of using sick time.
My doctor told me to stay home. What do I do?
Stay home and follow your doctor’s order to take care of yourself. Call your manager to keep them up-to-date, and contact the Occupational Health Center by phone at 617-353-6630.
What happens if someone in the office is sick? Am I quarantined as a result of possible exposure?
Unless they are a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should continue to work as usual. Your manager will instruct you of alternate plans if the situation changes.
Is my absence covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? What if I am not eligible for FMLA or have no more FMLA time?
If you are out of the office for more than three consecutive business days, for your own personal health condition or due to being a primary caregiver, please contact the HR Service Center at 617-353-2380 or at email@example.com and review your rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. Staff may use this form to request leave. Faculty should contact their department, which will communicate expectations.
If you are not eligible for FMLA or have used your FMLA allotment, the HR team will work with you and your manager on next steps.
I have a sick family member. Should I come to work? And, can I use sick time if I am home with a family member?
If you are their primary caregiver, you may request to use sick time. If your absence extends for more than three consecutive business days, you should apply for FMLA time.
Someone in my department is home sick. Can they come back to work?
If they’ve been out for more than three consecutive business days, or if they’re a confirmed COVID-19 case, the employee must call the Occupational Health Center to discuss a return to work. If the Occupational Health Center needs additional documentation in order for a return to work, the employee will be asked to submit information from their doctor before being cleared to return to work.
I’ve been determined to be a patient-under-investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 or have been exposed to a PUI. What should I do?
Do not come to work. You must inform the Occupational Health Center and your manager. Contact the Occupational Health Center by phone at 617-353-6630. The team at Occupational Health will work with you and your manager on next steps.
How do I get cleared to return to work after I have been out sick?
If you have been out sick for more than three consecutive business days, or if you are a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must call the Occupational Health Center to discuss your return to work. If they need additional documentation in order to clear your return to work, you will be asked to submit information from your doctor.
I have an employee who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms. What should I do?
Send them home and have them contact the Occupational Health Center by phone at 617-353-6630.
What if I’m scheduled to work and my work site is closed?
Managers will communicate expectations to all employees if there is an impact to the work-site.
If you are an employee who is paid hourly and your work site is closed, please enter “departmental closure - 2033” on your timesheet.
What if my department has chosen to remain open but remote only?
Your manager will communicate expectations. Managers will determine which roles have an option for remote work and work directly with employees. Managers needing assistance in developing a plan should contact their HR business partner. IS&T has provided some useful advice for teaching or working remotely.
My employee is unable to enter their time. How can I ensure they get paid?
We have provided instructions for entering and releasing time on behalf of an employee.
Who approves time if the manager is out?
We will ensure that payroll is not disrupted. That department’s timekeeper (or a higher-level manager) will approve (or enter) the time. Human Resources will be available to assist with this process.
I’m feeling really stressed about all this COVID-19 information. What should I do?
To offer support and assistance while maintaining safe physical distances, the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office (FSAO) is now offering free and confidential counseling and consultation sessions to BU faculty, staff, and their immediate family members via a HIPAA-compliant Zoom platform. Schedule an appointment via the FSAO website or by phone: 617-353-5381.
I’d like to work from home. What should I do?
Reach out to your manager. Your manager, with support from Human Resources, will work with you to determine if working from home is appropriate. IS&T has provided some useful advice for teaching or working remotely.
How will BU determine who can work remotely and for how long?
We will continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 very closely. Your manager and Human Resources will work together on a plan and communicate expectations.
Can I work from home voluntarily if I do not want to be in public? What if my supervisor says no?
Reach out to your supervisor, and they will work with you on your individual situation. If your supervisor has denied your request, you may request to use vacation or personal time (where applicable).
Following University guidelines, I am cancelling business travel and/or an event I planned to host. What do I need to know about travel refunds, cancelling bookings with a third-party vendor and more?
Travel Services continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on BU’s business travel community. Working with Sourcing & Procurement, we have compiled a list of resources and commonly asked questions in our COVID-19 Business Travel Advisory. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please submit a ticket to Sourcing & Procurement.
What if I don't have enough sick or vacation time accrued? Will I be paid?
Yes. Going into the negative on your sick/vacation time is being permitted until further notice. Please talk to your manager about your plans and for more information.
What if campus closes? Will I be paid?
Campuses remain open. If they were to close, we will treat it as an Emergency University Closing, which allows for authorized paid absences due to emergency conditions. You can find more information on our Emergency University Closing policy in the Employee Handbook.
Will MBTA service be impacted?
Based on guidance from public health professionals and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, MBTA trains and buses will run with reduced service and there will be no ferry service. In addition, the MBTA has increased cleaning and sanitation at stations and on vehicles. On Wednesday, March 18, the MBTA modified their reduced service schedule to better meet demand. For the most current information on service reductions, please visit the MBTA Coronavirus website.
Can I cancel my MBTA pass?
The regular deadline for cancelling April MBTA passes has passed but we have arranged to accommodate these cancellations. Employees who wish to cancel their April MBTA pass have until 5 pm ET, March 25 to:
1) cancel their May MBTA pass through BUworks (Employee Self-Service – Campus Services – “Apply/Manage MBTA Pass and MBTA Parking Benefits”)
2) email firstname.lastname@example.org with their BU ID number and a request to cancel their April MBTA pass.
More information is available on BUworks.
Read more about BU parking and transportation changes in response to COVID-19 on the Parking & Transportation Services website.
Are there reduced parking fees during this time for employees?
BU students and employees who wish to park on the Charles River Campus, but do not have a parking permit, may present their BU ID to the lot attendant to receive a flat rate of $8/day at attended lots and garages. Red and Black Permit holders are also eligible for the flat rate of $8/day. More information on lots where the temporary daily parking rate will be honored, along with other BU parking and transportation changes in response to COVID-19, can be found on the Parking & Transportation Services website.
Is there a temporary daily parking option for BUMC students and employees?
Yes. Effective March 16, BUMC students and employees may pull a ticket to park at either the 710 Albany Street Garage or the DOB Lot (720 Harrison Ave.) for $8/day, space permitting. To pay this temporary rate, students and employees must present their BU ID along with their ticket to the cashier in order to pay before returning to their vehicles.
Additionally, BUMC students and employees may present their BU ID to receive a flat rate of $8/day at attended lots and garages on the Charles River Campus. They may then take the BU Shuttle to the Medical Campus. More information on Charles River Campus attended lots where the temporary daily parking rate will be honored, along with other BU parking and transportation changes in response to COVID-19, can be found on the Parking & Transportation Services website.
Will the BU Shuttle bus continue to run?
Beginning Monday, March 23 the following service changes will take effect until further notice:
- CRC-MED weekday service between the CRC and Medical Campus will operate from 6 am to midnight. Shuttles will operate every 20 minutes from 7 am to 11 am and from 4 pm to 8 pm. Outside of these peak service periods, the shuttle will operate every 30 minutes
- Fenway Campus weekday shuttle service will operate every 20 minutes from 7 am to 10 pm
- Saturday CRC-MED service will operate on a normal schedule
The following routes are suspended until further notice:
- Comm Ave Loop
- Late Night Route
The BU Shuttle operator has implemented the following precautionary steps for the health and well-being of passengers and drivers: all buses are being thoroughly cleaned/disinfected daily, and all buses are equipped with alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers or wipes available for passenger and driver use.
Read more about BU parking and transportation changes in response to COVID-19 on the Parking & Transportation Services website.