Plans to return employees to campus are underway

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University Writing Center in Sterne Library.  Mary Slatsky (Office Associate I, University Writing Center) is working at a computer while wearing a face mask due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic, November 2020.   UAB will continue to observe CDC and UAB COVID guidelines to help promote the well-being of faculty, staff and students.Many of the UAB faculty and staff who began working remote or hybrid in March 2020 will return to full-time work on campus by the beginning of the summer semester, and the remainder are expected to return to campus by fall. This two-phase reentry plan is a flexible solution that will enable students to return to full-time classroom instruction during the summer and fall terms, as directed by the UA System Board of Trustees.

“The ability to offer remote and hybrid work during this pandemic provided our faculty and staff an opportunity to remain safe and better manage family responsibilities while continuing to contribute to our mission,” said Alesia Jones, UAB’s chief human resources officer. “With our campus reopening, the presence of many employees who were able to work remotely now is essential to providing support and services to students, employees or other on-campus business operations.”

In general, all administrators plus nine-month faculty who will teach in person in the summer, all 12-month faculty and most staff not operating under long-term remote work agreements will return to campus by May 10. All faculty and staff will return to campus for the fall semester by Aug. 16, except those working remotely prior to March 2020 or those approved for long-term remote work, Jones said.

Reentry plan at a glance

In Phase 1 people in these roles will return to campus by May 10: 
• All administrators
• 9-month faculty teaching in person for summer
• All 12-month faculty
• Most staff not on long-term remote/ hybrid schedules
• Graduate students with in-person responsibilities

In Phase 2, all faculty, staff and student workers will return by Aug. 16 except
• those working remotely prior to March 2020
• those approved for long-term remote work

Human Resources has begun working with senior leaders of the business and academic units to develop plans for reentry and designate the return-to-work status (remote, hybrid, on campus) for employees under their direction. Any requests for medical accommodations will be reviewed by the AWARE program, which provides disability-management services when an employee’s job is affected by a physical, mental or emotional impairment.

Employees who will return for the summer semester will be notified no later than April 16, Jones said, and those who will continue remote or hybrid work until the fall semester will receive a temporary telecommuting agreement with a new end date. The short-term telecommuting agreements now in effect expire June 30.

Graduate students with in-person classes or responsibilities (e.g., field work, in-person teaching assistants) may be expected to return sooner than the May 10 deadline, and principal investigators or program directors will communicate directly with them, Jones said. Plans to return other student workers are being developed and will be announced when finalized.

Sentinel testing, safety precautions and the availability of vaccines has led to an extremely low incidence of positive cases among UAB students, faculty, staff and clinical employees recently, and UAB will continue to observe CDC and UAB COVID guidelines to help promote the well-being of faculty, staff and students.

This reentry plan is our initial guidance, Jones said, but the pandemic is fluid and a change in projections could alter these plans; if that happens UAB will communicate it as quickly as possible through UAB emails, including The eReporter. “We will continue to work to adapt as we move into post-pandemic operations, and employees are encouraged to attend a virtual town hall in April and share their concerns and questions with university administrators and subject matter experts,” Jones said.

Participate in the April 7 virtual town hall and look to official UAB emails and The eReporter for updates as they become available.

The Remote Work Task Force, which was created to make recommendations for employees who are deemed able (from a technical, productivity and compliance standpoint) to work remotely on a long-term basis, will continue its work. This group may examine roles that were not eligible for remote work in March 2020 based on the perceived necessity for in-person support. Its recommendations will be submitted to UAB senior leadership in April. 

President Ray Watts, Provost Pam Benoit and other university leaders will provide updates and answer questions during a virtual employee town hall 10 a.m. April 7

More detailed information about UAB's policies and procedures related to COVID-19 are available on the UAB United website, Find answers to questions about UAB employment policies and procedures in the online HR Service Center Portal, and free, confidential telehealth support services are available from The UAB Employee Assistance & Counseling Center for any employee with anxiety about returning to campus. HR also offers referral resources for parents with childcare needs.