Information updated Monday, Aug. 16.
Purpose and Guiding Principles
University of Puget Sound is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all members of our campus community. To foster a safe work environment for faculty and staff members and students on campus, Puget Sound is utilizing a COVID-19 Work on Campus Plan.
This plan will continue to be revised with updates communicated to all faculty and staff members in response to public health conditions in Washington state and guidance from Washington state and Pierce County public health officials, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The plan enables faculty and staff members to work on campus consistent with Gov. Inslee’s four-phase Safe Start plan, his Higher Education – Fall 2020 Proclamation, ongoing COVID-19 risk management, and evolving adjustments in campus operations.
The COVID-19 Work on Campus Plan provides institutional and operational guidance to facilitate careful and deliberate work on campus. Underpinning this plan are key principles that will continue to guide Puget Sound’s COVID-19 response, including:
- the health, safety, and welfare of faculty, staff, students, and visitors;
- mitigation of COVID-19 risks by following the governor’s orders and guidance from the CDC, L&I, state and local health departments, and consulting guidelines offered by higher education professional associations; and
- our commitment to maintain academic and research excellence, manage university operations, and support students who are learning and living on campus.
The success of efforts to safely operate campus requires the commitment of every member of the campus community.
We are managing the number of people and behavior on campus to support social distancing. The university expects that some faculty and staff members will continue to work from home according to current and evolving university protocols. Administrative and support units that can effectively maintain business operations with some staff members working remotely should continue to do so.
Because COVID-19 continues to present a risk, the university will provide reasonable accommodation for those individuals who are in a high-risk group as defined by the CDC or by any state proclamations. Individuals in the high-risk group, with disabilities, or with other reasons to request an accommodation, such as a change in work schedule or location, should complete the COVID-19 Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and send it to
All faculty and staff members are expected to comply with the guidelines outlined in the COVID-19 Work on Campus Plan, and with other university health and safety guidance. The university is continuing a structure of roles to conduct oversight and coordination with respect to COVID-19 protocols as was described in July 15, 2020, correspondence to faculty and staff. The purpose of this structure is to:
- enable Puget Sound to effectively manage and supervise COVID-19 prevention and response
- foster university wide and department-level continuous healthful operations and behaviors
- comply with state and health department requirements
The structure includes a range of roles, including COVID-19 leads for each department and program. Department heads/chairs and program directors serving as COVID-19 leads for their areas of responsibility are expected to have developed and communicated site-specific COVID-19 prevention plans that ensure compliance with plans, policies, and protocols that support their particular department operations and the health of their faculty or staff members.
Faculty and staff members will be approved to work on campus in alignment with Washington’s Safe Start plan and Governor Inslee’s Higher Education – Fall 2020 Proclamation. The level of on-campus staffing will be based on operational need, ability to control and manage specific work environments, and necessity to access on-site resources.
With spring semester in-person teaching and increased housing occupancy, we have more students, faculty, and staff regularly present on campus. Per vice president/provost guidance for their areas, more staff members are needed on campus to provide student-facing services, and those plans have been put in place. Administrative and support units that can effectively maintain business operations and student support with some staff members working remotely should continue to do so.
Social distancing requirements needed to manage the number of people on campus at any given time will continue. As decisions to expand on-campus staffing are made and communicated, faculty and staff members should follow the COVID-19 Work on Campus guidelines detailed within this document and other university communications.
Faculty and staff members who are approved to work on campus need to work in innovative ways. They are expected to wear a mask, maintain a required 6 feet of distance from others and reduce population density within buildings while continuing to meet the operational needs of the university. (When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific activity, other prevention measures are required, such as using barriers). Campus work options need to take into account the following considerations:
- Continue remote work. Those who can work remotely to fulfill some or all of their work responsibilities should continue to do so. This approach temporarily supersedes Puget Sound’s existing Work at Home/Telecommuting Policy for faculty and staff members; however, faculty and staff members must continue to meet their essential job functions, which may include working on campus as determined by your area vice president/provost.
- Flexible scheduling. In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments should consider partial on-campus staffing with rotating schedules to meet in-person operational needs. Such schedules will help enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.
- Alternate work schedules. The start and end of the workday typically increase the number of people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting times, departure times, breaks, and meal times will reduce traffic in common areas.
- Individual offices. Faculty and staff members in individual offices should consider working with office doors closed.
- Workplace modifications. Temporary changes in layout and design may be needed to create a separation of individuals. Approved modifications will be completed by, or in partnership with, Facilities Services health and safety representatives.
- Continued use of technology. Departments should support ongoing use of technology, including video conferencing and conference calls, to limit in-person gatherings.
The university has established expectations that help reduce COVID-19 risks on campus. These expectations were developed from guidance by Washington public health officials and the CDC, as well as the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and Division of Occupational Safety and Health. All faculty and staff members working on campus are expected to comply with the following practices and other university guidance:
- No nonessential university-related travel. In light of ongoing restrictions on international travel, quarantine requirements for international and certain domestic travel, and the increased presence of the coronavirus locally, regionally, and nationally, university travel currently is being restricted per the university’s February 2021 Statement Regarding Temporary Restrictions on International and Domestic Travel. All international travel on behalf of or otherwise supported by Puget Sound is prohibited until further notice. All domestic nonessential travel on behalf of Puget Sound also is prohibited until further notice. At this time, only essential university travel, as determined and approved in advance by the applicable Cabinet member, is authorized.
- Personal travel. All domestic non-essential personal travel outside of Washington State is strongly discouraged. The university strongly encourages campus members to self-quarantine for seven days upon return to Washington and test negative for COVID-19 twice before engaging in in-person activities on campus. Additional personal travel guidance is located in the Statement Regarding Temporary Restrictions on International and Domestic Travel.
Events. Given the continuing pandemic and consistent with the Governor’s proclamation for the reopening of higher education institutions, the university implemented an interim policy for Sponsored and Hosted Campus Events. We continue to strongly discourage in-person sponsored and hosted events during spring 2021 and require advance approval by the provost/applicable vice president. All approved events must adhere to applicable regulatory restrictions, including those regarding size of gatherings, wearing of face coverings, and physical distancing. Food and beverages are not allowed.
Virtual sponsored and hosted events are strongly encouraged. Technology Services can be contacted for a consultation regarding livestream capabilities. Technology Services requires at least one week notice, preferably two weeks, for events requiring support.
Self-screening. To help minimize coronavirus risks, and consistent with the Governor’s proclamation for the reopening of higher education institutions, all faculty, staff, and students are required to complete a daily online COVID-19 health self-screening form for each day they are scheduled to work on campus and prior to arriving on campus. They also need to verify on this form if they completed a COVID-19 test within the last 24 hours. Staying away from campus when persons have symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19 is an important part of maintaining a safe and healthy community. A daily campus community email reminder provides access to the self-screening tool, which provides response instructions when someone does not pass the screening and is prohibited from coming to campus. All medical data will be maintained confidentially by Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services.
The university also has leave policies that encourage faculty and staff members to stay at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when isolation or quarantine is required. Public health officials will inform faculty and staff members if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the workplace, and will advise on a course of action to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Testing. Faculty and staff who work on campus with regularity are required to test once or twice weekly per university testing criteria. Find information about spring 2021 testing at pugetsound.edu/covid19testing.
Practice physical distancing. Since people can spread the virus even when they have no symptoms, physical distancing is important across campus.
Faculty, staff, students, and visitors on campus should maintain a distance of 6 feet (about two arms’ length) and consistently practice this level of social distancing.
Faculty, staff, students, and visitors must avoid gathering in groups and in confined areas, including elevators. If employees need to take the elevator because they cannot use the stairs, please limit capacity to ensure physical distancing.
Workspaces, classrooms, labs, common spaces, meetings, and activities will be evaluated and adjusted as necessary to maintain proper physical distancing.
Faculty and staff members should do their best to avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use (including shared copiers).
Assess work environments. Facilities Services will continue to collaborate with departments to evaluate work spaces and implement measures deemed necessary to provide healthy work environments.
- Wearing a face covering is one of the most vital COVID-19 prevention measures. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask or face covering (their own or provided by the university) when in the presence of others within campus buildings and at all times outdoors on campus. Vented masks and bandanas are prohibited. A mask or face covering is not required if you are working alone in a self-contained workspace or open campus space, but should be worn when entering or leaving that space or to access other facilities outside of a contained workspace. If you are unable to wear a mask or face covering for any reason, please notify your supervisor or a department head so that other accommodations can be assessed. Your supervisor or department head can partner with the Department of Human Resources as needed to address accommodation requests.
Two reusable cloth masks were distributed on campus for each faculty and staff member. Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time and must be properly laundered before used again. It is recommended that faculty and staff members also have their own suitable supply of cloth face coverings to reduce the need for daily laundering.
It is important to understand that some people cannot wear face coverings for health, sensory, or other reasons. Please remember it is not always obvious who does or does not experience issues related to the wearing of face coverings. If you meet someone without a face covering, please assume they are doing their best in caring for themselves and the community.
Wearing masks and face coverings
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling your face covering.
- Ensure the face covering fits fully over your nose and under your chin.
- Tie straps behind your head and neck, or loop around your ears.
- Avoid touching the front of your face covering.
- When taking off your face covering, do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands immediately after removing.
- View more information from the CDC about how to wear cloth face coverings.
Caring for cloth face coverings
- Keep your face coverings stored in a paper bag when not in use.
- Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day at a time and must be properly laundered with regular clothing detergent after each use.
- Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and must be disposed of after daily use.
- View more information from the CDC about caring for cloth face coverings.
- Wash your hands often. Consistent with CDC guidance to minimize the spread of COVID-19, faculty and staff members should frequently wash their hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This especially is true after a faculty or staff member is in a public place; after touching frequently used items or surfaces; or after nose-blowing, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol should be used. The university has provided hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout campus.
- Limit the number of people using the restroom at the same time. Use of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. Faculty and staff members must wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
- Cleaning. Facilities Services staff members will clean public spaces, such as building lobbies, restrooms, door handles, handrails, and elevator buttons, consistent with recommended cleaning standards, which are subject to change. The university will maintain hand-sanitizer stations at major building locations. If there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 reported to the university, Facilities Services will coordinate cleaning and disinfecting of the affected individual's workspace. Faculty and staff members are encouraged to use disinfectant between uses of shared spaces throughout the day and to keep workspaces free of clutter, excess personal items, and other unnecessary items to allow for maximum cleaning of all surfaces.
- Training. COVID-19 prevention training is required for all faculty and staff members prior to or immediately upon returning to on-campus work. We encourage all faculty and staff members to take this short training now, even if not yet working on campus. Find a quick link to the required training. As indicated in the training, faculty and staff members must send an email message to the university’s environmental health and safety office at EHStraining@pugetsound.edu to confirm completion of the training as required by L&I.
- Building security. Most buildings currently are accessible only for use by students, faculty, and staff members, as well as limited, preapproved visitors. Buildings continue to be locked. Faculty and staff members must use electronic access points or keys to enter buildings. Doors should NOT be propped open. A faculty or staff member who cannot access a building to which they require ongoing access should notify their supervisor, who will work with a department head and Security Services to approve access.
- Vehicle use. There are COVID-19 protocols for university-owned Facilities Services vans. Procedures include limiting vehicle occupancy, wearing masks or face coverings, and use of cleaning supplies. Protocols are managed by Facilities Services.
- Campus visitors. Visitors may access outdoor campus areas if they comply with COVID-19 behavior signage. Visitors may access indoor areas in accordance with Campus Visitor Guidelines and Procedures. Indoor visits are limited to important mission and/or essential operating purposes.