All staff are expected to strictly comply with the NAU protocols and guidelines set forth in NAU’s Guidelines and Protocols for Returning to Work on Campus. Failure to do so may result in corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.
All faculty, staff, and students must complete an online training about their role in helping reduce the risk of COVID-19 on campus.
To access the training, sign in to Blackboard Learn with your CAS login and click the “Safe Return to Campus” training on the courses tab.
Symptom Monitoring Requirement:
Staff who have been instructed to return to on-campus work must conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to work. An employee must be free of ALL symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 prior to reporting to work. At this time, these symptoms include one or more of the following:
According to the CDC, everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill. We learn more about COVID-19 every day, and as more information becomes available, CDC will continue to update and share information about risk for severe illness.
More information can be found on the CDC website.
Employees who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so should discuss their concerns and options with their supervisor. Employees who have concerns about returning to on-site work due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA reasonable accommodations related to returning to the workplace should visit the Disability Resources website or call (928) 523-8773.
NAU will phase in a return of employees in a coordinated, spread-out process to ensure appropriate physical distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment), and implementation of other COVID-19-related protocols.
NAU will assess expanded staffing based on the institution’s mission-critical operation and ability to control and manage specific work environments, as well as the need to access on-site resources. These decisions, once approved, will be communicated through the employee’s respective vice president, dean, or designated senior administrator.
The need to reduce the number of people on campus to meet physical distancing requirements will probably continue for some time. Support units that can continue to effectively work remotely will likely continue to do so until restrictions are eased and/or additional protocols and mitigation strategies are recommended and implemented.
Expanded staffing will be tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and help promote the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve. Increases to staffing levels beyond current needs to support critical on-site operations will be coordinated through an employee’s respective vice president, dean, or designated senior administrator. Once decisions to expand on-site staffing in certain areas have been made, employees must follow the policies and protocols detailed in this guide for returning to work on campus.
As staffing on-site increases and operations expand, NAU will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus, as well as existing protocols and procedures to mitigate it.
Once employees have been instructed to return to work on-site, there are several options departments should consider in order to maintain physical distancing and reduce population density within buildings and workspaces.
Remote Work: These arrangements, which must be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be done on a full or partial day/week schedule as appropriate. See links below.
Alternating Days: In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments should schedule partial staffing on alternating days. Such schedules will help enable physical distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces. Alternating schedules of employees within work teams can also help reduce the risk of multiple team members impacted by single exposure to COVID-19 and the resulting impacts of having multiple members of the same team needing to be away from work at the same time.
Staggered Reporting/Departing: The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to help meet physical distancing requirements. (See Building Access Points for further details).
What is a workplace modification?
A workplace “modification” refers to changes made to the manner, timing, or location of work during the fall 2020 semester or as necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A workplace modification is distinct from workplace changes made due to a University business need, University-wide directives, or modifications approved by Disability Resources (DR) as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If an employee makes a request which appears to be based up on the employee’s own personal underlying medical condition, including pregnancy, please refer the employee to Disability Resources at DR@nau.edu or 928-523-8773.
Supervisors should not make a decision to exclude an employee from the workplace if that employee has not requested ADA reasonable accommodation. This applies even if the supervisor has actual knowledge of or assumptions about the employee’s potential medical or health risk factors.
What requests might constitute a request for workplace modification?
NAU recognizes that employees may wish to request flexibility at work to address other circumstances not covered by the ADA accommodation process. Requests from employees seeking modifications to their work environment due to their concerns with such other personal factors are to be made to the employee’s supervisor.
As an initial step, supervisors must meet with the employee to review the employee’s request, and will review the steps that NAU is taking to mitigate risk and focus on safety in the workplace.
If the discussion with the employee does not resolve the employee’s concerns, as a second step supervisors must share the employee’s concerns and request with the divisional leadership (including everyone above the supervisor, up to and including the Executive Team member with responsibility for overseeing the employee’s unit). The supervisor will then work with this structure to determine whether appropriate modifications exist which both: 1) address the employee’s concerns and 2) also ensure that the employee is able to continue to perform all of their job duties.
Modifications can only be approved by members of the University’s Executive Team, who will consider things such as the work required to be performed, the availability and appropriateness of alternatives, the need to prioritize ADA-related accommodations, and the impact such a modification might have on the provision of University services. Modifications will be approved on a trial basis and later re-assessed, to ensure effectiveness and ongoing need.
If an employee is requesting a modification for reasons which do not pertain to the employee’s own personal potential health concerns, including concerns about others in the employee’s household who might be higher risk to COVID-19, or if the employee’s request for a modification due to their own personal potential health concerns is denied, the employee should be referred to consult with Human Resources (HR) regarding potential available leave and other options.
What factors should be considered in evaluating workplace modification requests?
The employee’s divisional leadership must consider various factors, including, but not limited to:
• What feasible options exist which reasonably address the employee’s concerns, including options to mitigate risk which are within the employee’s control (and taking into consideration that the requested adjustment may not be the only available option to address the employee’s concerns);
• Any potential negative impact to the provision of University services (e.g., changing course modality, student learning outcomes, accreditation);
• Any potential positive impact to the provision of University services (e.g., employee and student density/distancing);
• The nature of the work to be performed;
• Number/impact of required ADA accommodations affecting the unit overall, and the need to prioritize such accommodations; and
• Number/impact of other workplace modification requests that have or may have been made, including the need to determine how many employees in a particular unit might be approved for modifications, while still ensuring that the unit consistently serves the University’s mission.
What factors are not appropriate to consider in making workplace adjustments?
What are some potential modifications?
These might include, but are not limited to:
Employees and Supervisors are encouraged to review the Return to Work Guidelines for various options that may address employee concerns in alignment with the University’s needs and mission.
What are the guidelines for managing employees whose requests for workplace modifications are granted?
Supervisors must ensure that all work assigned to the employee is consistently and completely performed. It is therefore required that supervisors, at a minimum, ensure employee accountability by:
Once a workplace modification is granted, is it final?
Any approved workplace modifications do not become a part of an employee’s contract. Even once a workplace modification is approved, the divisional leadership will regularly review and revisit it, and any workplace modification may be changed as unit needs and the COVID-19 situation evolve.
And, while the divisional leadership may need to respond to changing conditions, they must always balance that with ensuring that all job requirements are consistently performed.
What if an employee is unhappy with my decision?
There is some degree of risk to all individuals and all professions during this pandemic, and some employees may be displeased with the outcome of their workplace modification request. NAU is addressing COVID-19 related risks through a variety of strategies, including requirements that NAU community members follow university protocols related to COVID-19 and consideration of a range of options to address concerns while meeting the needs and providing for the well-being of our community and the performance of our educational mission.
If an employee suggests that a decision is discriminatory under the Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy, they should promptly be referred to the Equity and Access Office. The employee may also be referred to Human Resources to discuss any available leave options and to Employee Assistance and Wellness for support.
Physical Distancing: Keeping space between an employee and others is one of the best tools we have to reduce the likelihood of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if a person has no symptoms. Physical distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting sick. Employees at work on-site must follow these physical distancing practices:
Face Coverings: Face coverings (masks or face shields) must be worn by all staff in all campus buildings, as well as outdoors when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Appropriate use of face coverings (masks or face shields) is critical in minimizing risks to other members of our campus community. An employee could spread COVID-19 to others even in the absence of any symptoms. The mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing.
NAU will provide each employee with two reusable cloth face coverings. Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time and must be properly laundered before use again. Employees may also wear other workplace-appropriate cloth face coverings or disposable masks as needed. Having a week’s supply of cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering.
Disposable masks will be provided by NAU, if needed. Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash.
If an individual’s job requires a specific mask type, it will be provided by the department.
See details regarding mask use and care below.
Use and care of face coverings
Putting on the face covering/disposable mask:
Taking off the face covering/disposable mask:
Care, storage, and laundering:
Handwashing: Employees must wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after returning to the workplace from a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching their face. If soap and water are not readily available, employees must use a hand sanitizer that contains 60-80% alcohol: employees must cover all surfaces of their hands and rub them together until the hands dry. Employees must also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Gloves: Health care workers and others in high-risk areas should use gloves as part of PPE (personal protective equipment), but according to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Washing your hands often is considered the best practice for everyday tasks.
Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene: If an employee is in a private setting and does not have on their cloth face covering, they should always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow, when coughing or sneezing. Then, throw any used tissues in the trash and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains 60-80% alcohol.
Goggles/Face Shields: Employees do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face are generally sufficient for non-health care environments.
Cleaning/Disinfection: Building occupants should wipe down commonly used surfaces before and after use with products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface. This includes any shared-space location or equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, computers, A/V and other electrical equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, door knobs, etc.). Appropriate cleaning supplies will be made available to departments through Facilities Services and Campus Supply.
Custodial teams will maintain cleaning routine and high traffic areas based on CDC guidelines for disinfection and standard protocols. Facilities Services will maintain hand sanitizer dispensers at major building entrances, elevators, and other high-traffic areas.
Public Transportation/NAU Transit: If an employee must take public transportation or use NAU Transit, the employee must wear a face covering (mask or face shield) before entering the bus and must avoid touching surfaces with their hands. Upon disembarking, the employee must wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with 60-80% alcohol as the preferred form of hand hygiene in healthcare settings, as soon as possible and before removing the mask. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed at all campus bus stops.
Employees must wear a face covering when more than one individual is traveling in a university-owned vehicle.
Working in Office Environments: Employees who work in an open office environment must maintain at least 6 feet distance from coworkers. If possible, at least one workspace should separate each employee from another coworker. Employees must wear a face covering (mask or face shield) if 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible. Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees, students, visitors, and other members of our campus community, such as:
Masks/face coverings must be worn by any employees located in a reception/receiving area. Masks/face coverings must be used when inside any NAU facility where others are present and physical distancing cannot be maintained, including walking in narrow hallways where others travel and in break rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, and other meeting locations.
Using Restrooms: Employees must wear a face covering in university restrooms. Employees must wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the restroom to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
Using Elevators: Employees using the elevator, must wear a face covering. It is recommended that no more than one person may enter an elevator at a time, so employees are encouraged to use the stairs whenever possible and maintain at least 6 feet distance while doing so. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with 60-80% alcohol as the preferred form of hand hygiene upon exiting the elevator.
Meetings: Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or part using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, telephone, etc.).
In-person meetings are limited to the restrictions of local, state, and federal orders, and must maintain 6 feet of separation for physical distancing requirements. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables to promote 6 feet of physical distancing or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees. All attendees must wear a mask or face covering while sharing space in a common room.
When on campus, employees are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone, or other available technology rather than face-to-face.
Meals: Before and after eating, employees must wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
Employees are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside, if reasonable to do so in light of their job duties. Non-exempt employees who choose to eat at their desk must not be working during the meal break unless they are being compensated. If an employee is eating in their work environment (break room, office, etc.), they must maintain 6 feet distance from others. Individuals should not sit facing one another. Only remove a face covering in order to eat, then replace it. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables to assist 6 feet physical distancing or add visual cue marks in employee break rooms to support physical distancing practices between employees. Wipe all surfaces, including table, refrigerator handle, coffee machine, etc., after use.
Building Access Points
Entry to buildings will be regulated and monitored. Employees may not hold, or prop open exterior doors for any other person. Departments and building coordinators should identify usable building access points and coordinate arrival and departure times of employees to reduce congestion during typical rush hours of the business day. Employee arrivals and departures should be scheduled in 30-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, etc.
Once an employee has been instructed to return to the workplace, the employee should report to work or depart from work through the designated building access and at the designated time to limit the number of people entering and exiting buildings at any one time.
Personal visitors and guests, such as family members, not allowed on worksites during this time.
Signage and Posters
Building occupants are expected to follow all signage regarding traffic flow through building entrances, exits, elevator usage, and similar common use areas.
Violation of these guidelines and protocols may result in the immediate revocation of building access privileges, as well as corrective action, up to and including dismissal from employment.
Employee Assistance and Wellness (EAW) is available to offer emotional support during this stressful period. Telephonic or video counseling is available, and employees can access this service using most smartphones, tablets, and computers with a camera. Employees may contact EAW by calling (928) 523-1552 or visiting the EAW website.
Please contact EAW for more information and resources to offer support, manage stress, and enhance resilience.
Find answers below to Frequently Asked Questions about the five-phase strategic return to on-campus work. These FAQs will be updated as new information becomes available.
How are the phases for employee return to on-campus work determined?
The phases were established to enable a safe and thoughtful approach to the increased campus operations over the summer as we prepare for the return of students in the fall. Departments will have the flexibility to adjust based on specific departmental and position needs. All department phased staffing increase plan adjustments will need VP/Dean approval.
How will employees know when they need to return to on-campus work?
Division/College leadership will create return to workplace plans that account for the number of personnel in the department, evaluate physical work settings to allow for proper physical distancing, work activities needing to be prioritized, and level of service needed to provide to constituents as campus begins to fully open as part of the phased plan.
Employees should receive communication from their supervisor regarding the anticipated date of return to on-campus work, including a timeline to prepare for that transition. Additionally, in preparation of returning to campus, employees will also need to complete the online training for NAU’s Return to Campus Safety Training prior to an employee’s return to campus. The training will be available soon.
What if I want to return to campus earlier than my supervisor tells me I can?
Departmental leadership is asked to determine return to campus timelines for faculty and staff based on several different factors, but most importantly on maintaining a healthy and safe environment. Supervisors are asked to communicate to their employees an appropriate timeline for each individual position’s return to campus, which should be adhered to unless appropriate approvals are obtained.
What do I need to do before returning to campus for work?
Prior to returning to the workplace, employees will need to complete an online training for NAU’s Return to Campus Safety Training provided by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). This training will provide ways to return to the workplace and campus in the safest way while protecting the health of our coworkers, students, and visitors. Checklists for ALL employees and supervisors also will be available to aid you in preparations for returning to on-campus work. Employees are required to complete a daily self-screen for any new or worsening symptoms of possible COVID-19 BEFORE going to work each day.
Will face coverings be required while at work or on campus?
Per CDC guidelines, face coverings (over the nose and mouth mask or face shield) should be used when physical distancing is not feasible. NAU will provide each employee two cloth face coverings. Employees may also wear other workplace appropriate face coverings or disposable face coverings as needed. If a job requires a specific mask type, it will be provided by the department.
Will employees be allowed to travel for business purposes during the return to on-campus work phases?
Non-essential business domestic and international travel is not allowed through at least the summer. Employees should be mindful of COVID-related travel advisories for personal and essential business travel. Any mission-critical exceptions must be approved in advance by the appropriate senior administrator. We continue to monitor all federal or state mandates regarding both international and domestic travel and will provide updates as needed.
How will NAU respond should someone on campus become ill due to COVID-19?
NAU will always work to protect the privacy of all employees as well as the health and safety of the campus community. NAU requires all employees to self-monitor and report daily before coming to work, to stay home when not well, and to follow return to work protocol of being symptom- and fever-free for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to work.
NAU will follow CDC guidelines to clean and disinfect areas used by ill employees during their absence from campus.
Will employees still be required to self-quarantine if there has been a potential exposure to COVID-19?
Employees should notify and work with their supervisors if they believe they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Should any employee start to experience symptoms of fever and/or upper respiratory illness, the employee should notify their supervisor, seek medical treatment, and stay home. Faculty and staff who have potential exposure to COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms should follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days. During the period of self-quarantine, employees may continue to telework when possible or use approved leave time.
NAU’s goal is to return employees to work in the safest manner possible while acknowledging possible limitations that may impact their ability to temporarily perform the job duties, thus requiring modifications. Employees should follow CDC guidelines to determine the appropriate time to return to work, and NAU requires returning employees to be symptom- and fever-free for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to work.
What if I am not comfortable coming to work due to possible exposure and I’ve been requested to start reporting to on-campus work?
Employees should bring their concerns to their supervisor and discuss options available to support the work needing to be done, while at the same time supporting the health and safety of our employees and campus community. HR can also provide support in facilitating conversations between supervisors and employees to determine options available that meet university needs. These may include but are not limited to continuing telework arrangements, office restructuring, and possible schedule rotations. Any request for reasonable accommodation for a disability should be coordinated with Disability Resources.
What if I have childcare issues that prevent me from reporting to on-campus work when requested?
Employees should discuss with their supervisor their availability to report for on-campus work, including considering available childcare. It is encouraged that employees who are asked to return to support on-campus operations are encouraged to talk with their childcare provider to explore options that may be available.
It is important that employees do not bring their children or other family members to the workplace, to respect the health and safety of coworkers.
What should an employee do if they suspect a coworker of being ill and reporting to on-campus work?
Employees who suspect that another employee is showing or describing symptoms such as fever, cough, sneezing, or shortness of breath should share their concerns with a supervisor.
Supervisors should speak with the employee exhibiting symptoms, share what you or others have observed, and ask if the employee believes they may be sick or contagious. No specific medical information should be requested.
What should an employee do if they suspect a coworker of being high-risk and reporting to on-campus work?
Employees are entitled to protections against discrimination based upon age, disability, and a number of other protected categories. Others should not presume to determine whether someone is in a high-risk category. Everyone should assess themself with the CDC guidance and/or their health care provider to determine if it is safe to come to work. If a coworker learns of a high-risk factor, they must maintain the confidentiality of that information, only reporting it to HR or a supervisor.