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Return to Work Guidance for Phase 1

Dear Deans, Directors, and Department Heads:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, and you have responded with creativity, flexibility, and care. The challenges will continue in the coming weeks, and your leadership is needed now more than ever.

As Chancellor Plowman noted, the university’s return to work plan includes incremental steps in three phases. Phase 1 is planned to begin May 11. Under this phase, most employees will continue to work remotely.

In Phase 1, the following units already have approval for some employees to return to campus or continue to work on campus: Bursar’s Office, College of Veterinary Medicine, Emergency Operations Center, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Services, Fleet Management, Mail Services, Office of Information Technology, Printing Services, research labs, University Housing, and the UT Police Department.

Leaders in each area are working closely with the Emergency Operations Center to ensure that appropriate social distancing and protective measures, including arrangements for appropriate PPE, are in place before staff members begin returning to campus. The health of our employees and the community remains our priority.

Exception requests

Administrative and academic units not listed above are asked to continue remote work in Phase 1, but supervisors may request exceptions. Exceptions should prioritize employees whose jobs cannot be effectively completed from home and who are critical to ongoing operations. Each exception will be reviewed at the cabinet level. Appropriate plans for social distancing and other protective measures will be required as part of the exception request.

To submit an exception request, complete the Phase 1 Exception Form.

You may request an exception at any time. Reviews of requests will take approximately five business days. Employees should not return to work until supervisors have received approval for them to do so. The information from approved exception requests will be used to ensure safety and to plan advanced cleaning in occupied areas.

Core concepts

We ask that all supervisors consider these core concepts as we gradually return to work on campus.

  • Proceed thoughtfully, carefully, and deliberately.
  • Accommodate employees who are members of a vulnerable population or who live with someone who is a member of a vulnerable population.
  • Continue telework as much as possible.
  • Be ready to adjust based on guidance from the CDC and from state and local health officials.
  • Emphasize social distancing, handwashing, staying home when sick, and use of cloth face coverings as needed.
  • Continue and build on the innovations developed in the past few months.
  • Be compassionate and flexible. Supervisors are asked to work with employees who have child care or other family responsibilities and be mindful of the anxiety felt by employees.

Human Resources has compiled additional guidance to help you in planning and management.

Thank you for your continued commitment to finding creative solutions, remaining flexible, and helping to ensure the health and well-being of the campus community.

David Manderscheid
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Chris Cimino
Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration