General guidance for CALS departments, centers, and units for Smart Restart

This information was e-mailed to chairs, directors and administrators on 7/29/2020.

Under Smart Restart, schools and colleges are to develop plans and protocols that allow us to adequately support the return of students to in-class instruction and to provide other critical campus services. CALS is asking all departments, centers and administrative units to prepare a plan for facilities use this fall, according to the following outline. Deadlines and submission instructions are at the end of the message.

Guiding Principles

As with on-site research approvals, the college will review and approve department, center, and building staffing plans based on the following guiding principles:

  • Employees who can work successfully remotely should continue to do so.
  • Instruction and the progress toward degrees of our undergraduate and graduate students are a mission-critical priority.
  • The goal is to keep building densities low, limit overall activities in buildings, and otherwise follow best practices to minimize the health risks to on-site students, instructors, and those continuing research activities.
  • In general, current levels of research activity should be maintained. Once we re-integrate in-person instruction to campus and better understand how that fits, we can look to further expand research activities.
  • Student advising should continue to occur remotely; office hours are expected to be held remotely as well.
  • CALS’ expectation is for all group meetings (e.g., faculty meetings, committee meetings, staff meetings, lab meetings, etc.,) to continue remotely. Remote meetings guarantee physical distancing and there is limited space for even small groups to gather in-person at safe distances.
  • We know there may be one-time activities that deviate from the main plans, and we can develop a process for those requests, but at this time, plans should be focused on on-going work patterns that account for the majority of employee time.
  • Again, employees who can work successfully remotely should continue to do so.

Plan development

For units with employees on-site, this plan is an extension of your prior planning activities. Most units have created Research Reboot Phase 2+ plans that allow for limited on-site activities. The same protocols and limitations that informed those efforts will continue here. We recommend the following to inform your Smart Restart plan:

  • Assess the instructional use of your building(s) to understand the impacts of increased student numbers on building resources and space, and what additional on-site work, if any, is necessary to support the return of students. Review key information to include the following:
    • List of courses scheduled in your building(s), times of occurrence, and the maximum occupancy
    • Any office or classroom use by your faculty, staff, and students for on-line or blended instruction that might not be in the course list (e.g., someone using their office due to poor home internet service)
      • You will need to generate this information based on your plans
    • Include both data sets in your plan (cut and paste is fine).
  • Review your approved research phase plans and decide if any modifications or actions are needed to accommodate instructional activities. E.g., scheduled courses might be added to communication plans to ensure that people know when student traffic may be present.
    • Revise VCRGE research plan(s) as needed.
    • Document those changes, if any, in the Smart Restart plan.
  • Identify any new administrative or other high-priority activities that require an on-campus presence, cognizant of the directive that anything that is working remotely should continue to be remote and that any approved activity must be mission-centric.
    • List and justify the proposed new activities.
      • Describe the critical nature of the work.
      • Describe what resources, facilities and buildings are needed to complete the work.
    • Identify employee(s) by new activity who might return, their date of return and their proposed work schedule, including start date.
      • Please include all of your on-site instructors, regardless of if they will be teaching in your building(s) or in other buildings.
    • Describe how the work can be completed in light of known levels of campuses services (e.g., trash removal, custodial, IT, etc.). If needed, describe how you will communicate protocols to visitors (see Smart Restart Tool Kit).
  • Create or revise the unit’s Continuity of Operations Plan to address these changes.
    • Use the CALS Smart Restart plan template if it is useful. Otherwise please review and make sure the key items in the template are included.
    • If on-site activities operate independently of each other (e.g., instructional computer lab and a retail store), separate plans can be written for each activity
  • Update the status of all unit employees across all mission activities per OHR requirements. This is to include those involved in approved research activities.
    • CALS HR will utilize information in unit research plans and in the Smart Restart plans being submitted at this time, to inform letters to be issued. CALS HR will work with administrators to verify the information.

Plan submission and approval process

Please submit your completed plans at least two weeks in advance of the earliest (non-course) start date for a proposed activity. The earliest we will begin reviewing plans is August 3, 2020.

Plans should be submitted to Julie Scharm by email.

Please be aware that college review and approval will need to occur, prior to CALS HR working on return to work notifications. Employee notifications must be issued to employees a minimum of seven (7) days prior to their return to work report date. Please keep this in mind as you prepare your plans. For example, the academic year starts August 17, which would mean that CALS will need to receive your plan by August 3 (the earliest date). Instruction begins on September 2, which means a plan submission by August 19 (though sooner is welcome!).

As before, reach out to Assistant Dean Doug Sabatke and Safety Coordinator Nick Genovese if you have questions about safety protocols, facilities, etc. in crafting your plan. CALS HR is available to assist with any personnel questions and Associate Dean Karen Wassarman can consult on instructional questions.

Campus Resources

FP&M Returning to Campus Safely
Smart Restart Website
Facilities Startup Guide
Smart Restart Signage
CALS Smart Restart plan template