This policy provides direction for UW–Madison’s implementation of interim workplace policies, procedures, and expectations for all university faculty, staff, and other campus community members in response to ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the University of Wisconsin–Madison due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant percentage of University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty and staff has been working remotely since March 2020 with only limited numbers of personnel required to report to the workplace. Designated employees who have been working remotely are returning in a gradual, controlled manner to on-site campus workplace locations. This policy provides direction and expectations for on-site campus work.
This policy is subject to modification as new regulations, information and guidance become available. The university relies on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and Public Health Madison & Dane County to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and for purposes of returning employees to the workplace in a gradual and controlled manner.
The university works closely with the aforementioned agencies, as well as relevant campus units, including (but not limited to) the Office of Human Resources (OHR), Environment Health and Safety, University Health Services, the campus Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, Employee Disability Resource Office, the Office of Risk Management, the Office of Legal Affairs, and others to revise, update, and rescind these policies and procedures as public health guidance evolves.
Principles Governing the Return to the On-Site Workplace
- Promote the safety and well-being of every employee as the campus transitions from significantly reduced in-person operations to increased on-site operations while following public health guidance and considering individual circumstances.
- Consider sustained remote work for those able to do so, with supervisor approval and taking into account the mission and function of a given unit and other relevant factors.
- Minimize health risks through less dense work arrangements including physical work locations and scheduling, regular COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees, physical distancing, individual health monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, and following all current and applicable public health guidance.
- Support flexibility for colleges, schools, and divisions to develop plans and approaches specific to their mission and function in a manner emphasizing a need to consult with this policy and all State of Wisconsin and/or Dane County public health guidance and regulations.
- Maximize simplicity, accessibility, and transparency with clear and consistent guidance that all faculty, staff, and members of the campus community can easily and effectively follow.
- Provide enhanced compliance reporting mechanisms for employees with health and safety concerns. This includes, but is not limited to, accessible reporting options for employees with limited or no computer access, limited or no English language skills, and employees with disabilities.
Implement fair and appropriate consequences for instances of non-compliance.
COVID-19 is not specific to an ethnicity or race–disease does not discriminate. All members of the UW-Madison community deserve to feel welcome, valued and safe. We do not tolerate harassment and discrimination, and racist behaviors and stereotyping are inconsistent with the values of UW-Madison. The Office of Compliance and Dean of Students Office provide resources and reporting options for students, faculty and staff.
Preparing to Return to the On-Site Workplace
When returning to the workplace, employees are expected to complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers. This training will provide employees with important information regarding the return to on-site work in a manner which protects the health and safety of co-workers, students, and visitors. Note, as governmental agencies such as the CDC and Public Health Madison & Dane County update their information, tools, and resources, this training may also be updated. Employees may take an initial version of the training and then be informed there are updates of which the employee needs to be aware. Employees currently in the workplace are also expected to complete the required training. Employees should also be sure to engage with their supervisors or managers so they are aware of important process and procedural information about returning to their particular work area or unit. If employees have concerns or questions about their return to on-site work, they are encouraged to first discuss these concerns or questions with their supervisor or manager. If the concern is related to a disability or medical condition, or that of a member of the employee’s household, the employee should contact their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR). Divisional human resources offices in the college, school or division and/or campus Workforce Relations in OHR are also resources available to help answer employee questions or concerns. Employees who are directed to report to the on-site workplace and fail to do so without supervisor approval may be placed on a leave of absence and may be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal.
Return to On-Site Work Plan Review
All colleges, schools, and divisions that plan to have one or more employees return to on-site work will be required to maintain specific plans appropriate to those area(s) and function(s) returning to the on-site workplace, consistent with this policy. These plans may be coordinated by the Dean/Director’s office or delegated within the college, school, or division. Plans may include a summary of the functions and how the duties returning to on-site work support the university’s interests in teaching, research, and outreach.
Return to On-Site Work
The university cares for its students, faculty, staff, and other campus community members. As such, the university is doing its part to mitigate risk and support a safe and healthy campus environment during the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for the university to be successful in maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment, we expect that all faculty, staff, and campus community members do their part to support these objectives. Faculty, staff, and other campus community members must periodically review the information provided by the university to remain aware of up-to-date university information on continued preparedness, action, and response to COVID-19. Policies provided by the university rely on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and Madison and Dane County Public Health. As information changes and is updated by these governmental agencies, there may be changes to this policy, required training, policy support resources, and policy tools. Faculty, staff, and other campus community members who come to the on-site workplace and have a reason to utilize university facilities, or engage with our students, faculty, staff, and/or volunteers, will be provided with information necessary to stay up-to-date with the university’s COVID-19 information and resources, understand what the university is doing to help keep the campus healthy and the safety precautions that are in place for COVID-19 prevention, and be knowledgeable about what they can do to directly contribute to a safe and healthy campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees who can successfully work remotely – in full or in part – should continue to do so, with supervisor approval, taking into account the mission and function of a given unit and other relevant factors. Maintaining reduced density of faculty and staff in the on-site workplace reduces risk of transmission of COVID-19 and protects vulnerable members of the campus community. Faculty and staff placed in full furlough and/or telecommuting since March 2020, and who will be returning to the on-site workplace under approved college, school, division, or departmental plans, will receive communication from their department or supervisor in advance of the expected return to on-site work. Topics covered in these communications should include information regarding COVID-19 Workplace Safety policies and procedures, health and safety requirements, as well as procedures to address concerns faculty and staff members may have regarding returning to the on-site workplace. Additionally, faculty and staff returning to on-site work will be provided with training regarding how to comply with this policy to support a safe and healthy working environment for themselves and their colleagues. Reasonable accommodations will be made for employees with disabilities in accordance with applicable laws. Employees are encouraged to contact their DDR to discuss a potential request for accommodation. If an employee with a disability makes a request for an accommodation to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and/or due to another COVID-19 related issue (e.g. limitations related to wearing a face covering, limitations related to the use of cleaning supplies in their workspace, etc.), the DDR will make an individualized assessment to identify if a reasonable accommodation can be made.
Self-Monitoring Requirements, Campus Testing, and Contact Tracing for Faculty, Staff, and Other Employees Reporting to the On-Site Workplace
Effective testing and contact tracing are needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by identifying positive cases for isolation and treatment.
Self-Monitoring: Faculty, staff, and volunteers working in the on-site workplace are expected to self- monitor for COVID-19 symptoms each day before reporting to work, and they are not to report to work if they have any new and unexplained symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19. If an employee has one or more symptoms, they should follow their normal absence notification procedures, which typically includes notifying their supervisor or divisional HR that they will not be reporting to the on-site workplace. These symptoms include the following:
- Cough (new onset or worsening of chronic cough)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fever (greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius)
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If an employee develops symptoms while at work, they must leave the workplace and follow their normal absence notification procedures, which typically includes notifying their supervisor or divisional HR they are leaving. Individuals with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19, and they are strongly encouraged to test immediately and contact their healthcare provider for medical guidance and evaluation. If an employee tests negative for COVID-19, the employee should follow standard illness protocols for returning to work. Example: The employee may return if 24 hours fever-free, 2 days after their last episode of vomiting or diarrhea, when they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours, or as approved to work by a doctor.
If an employee who is exhibiting no symptoms of COVID-19 tests positive within 90 days of a previous positive test, the employee may continue to work and does not need to isolate. People who have COVID-19 can test positive for many weeks after they recover and are no longer infectious.
Any changes to these requirements must be reviewed/approved by Environmental & Occupational Health (EOH) and UHS before they are implemented to ensure that appropriate public health practices are followed. To be clear, faculty, staff, and other community members are not to report to the workplace with any of the above identified symptoms. The university has developed guidance to support supervisors and HR managers who become aware of employees who may be exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Testing for UW–Madison Employees: Beginning on August 30, 2021, an employee who works on campus and who is not vaccinated or has not shared proof of COVID-19 vaccination with UHS is required to test weekly on campus. For purposes of this section, “employee” means an individual: (1) who has an appointment as Faculty, Academic Staff, University Staff, Limited Appointee, or Post-Degree Training (research interns, research associates, postdoctoral fellows, and postdoctoral trainees); and (2) who works on campus and has a business address in a zip code that includes or is proximate to the 936 acres of grounds along the Lake Mendota shoreline in Madison. Graduate Assistants are not “employees” for purposes of this requirement; graduate assistants are treated as students for purposes of the student testing requirement as delineated in the Chancellor’s August 28, 2021 order regarding Student COVID-19 Testing.
- Positive COVID-19 Test Results: All faculty, staff, and campus community members who have received a positive COVID-19 test result from a testing site or health care provider outside of UW–Madison are expected to report their positive COVID-19 test result to University Health Services (UHS) via the Safer Badgers app. Positive test results are expected to be reported as soon as practicable in order to support the state, county and campus contact tracing efforts. Contact tracing is part of a multi-pronged approach to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Contact Tracing: All COVID-19 positive cases are reported to public health officials. UHS is working to support officials at Public Health Madison & Dane County to conduct case interviews and contact tracing. An employee who has been directed by a public health official to isolate should stay away from the workplace for the duration of the isolation period and follow the advice and guidance of their healthcare provider.
Personal Responsibility When Sick or Feeling Sick and for Public Health:
All faculty and staff and other community members must stay away from the on-site workplace if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., close contact with an infected person, see definition below).
- Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 must:
- Stay away from the workplace until:
- They have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication); and
- Their other symptoms are improving; and
- It has been at least 10 days since their positive test; or
- If the person had no symptoms, they may return 10 days after they were tested
- Report positive COVID-19 test results to UHS via the Safer Badgers app.
- Notify their supervisor through the standard procedures of their work unit that they are unable to report to work. If employees need to share any specific medical or health information, employees should contact their DDR.
- Consult with their local human resources department about their leave or remote work options. In the event protected medical leave and/or a workplace accommodation may be necessary, faculty and staff will be referred to their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR); and
- The employee is strongly encouraged to consult their regular healthcare provider for medical advice and guidance about care and isolation information.
- Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 will be contacted by official contact tracers at UHS or PHMDC and must:
- Stay away from the workplace.
- Report positive COVID-19 test results to UHS via the Safer Badgers app.
- Notify their supervisor they are not reporting to work because they were exposed to or in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- Contact their local HR department with questions about leave or other options if they need to quarantine.
- Follow all appropriate procedures, including testing, if they develop symptoms.
- Contact their DDR with any questions about protected medical leave.
- Consult with their DDR before returning to the workplace.
Employees are strongly encouraged to consult with their personal healthcare provider for medical advice and guidance around care, testing, and quarantine information.
Note that “close contact” is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a prolonged period (cumulative 15 minutes or more) starting from 48 hours before a positive test or illness onset, whichever occurs first.
Contact tracing experts will contact you if their investigation discovers you have been in close contact with a confirmed positive case. The DDR, in consultation with the employee’s supervisor and the local HR department, will determine whether the employee needs to remain out of the workplace as a result of the exposure or contact. Employees may not return to the on-site workplace until they have consulted with their DDR, who will ensure that the criteria established by federal and state agencies to quarantine have been met. Note: Certain clinical operations may have modified procedures related to exposure or close contact to COVID-19 positive individuals or patients.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Increasing the physical distance between individuals reduces the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19, which is considered to be the primary route of exposure. Physical distancing between individuals should be maintained indoors while on campus. Physical distancing is not required outdoors for individuals who are fully vaccinated. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated should maintain physical distancing outdoors and if physical distancing is not possible outdoors, wear a face covering. Colleges, schools, and divisions with employees approved to return to the workplace will be required to follow these guidelines:
- Limit the number and density of people in any building space at one time. If there are concerns with the density of people in a building, employees should share concerns with their supervisor, human resources office, or OHR’s Workforce Relations.
- Facilitate employees’ ability to stay at least 6 feet (1.8m) apart whenever possible.
- Limit the number of in-person meetings. Where possible, conduct meetings virtually or by telephone rather than in person.
- If meetings are required and electronic or telephonic meetings are not an option, limit the number of attendees at in-person meetings to 10 people or less and maintain physical distancing practices staying at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart; attendees who are not fully vaccinated should wear a face covering.
- Support supervisors in making efforts to stagger work schedules for employees reporting on-site– including arrival times, departure times, and breaks–where possible to further limit density. If supervisors require assistance, they should work with their divisional human resources office for assistance and support. If the staggering of work schedules will result in employees being alone in the workplace, supervisors are strongly encouraged to adopt a check-in/check-out system so employees can be safe coming, going, and working alone in the workplace.
- Continue to work remotely when the tasks allow, with supervisor approval and taking into account the mission and function of a given unit and other relevant factors. Only visit the on-site workplace to perform tasks that cannot be done remotely.
- Supervisors or human resources representatives should be available to discuss if faculty, staff, and/or other campus community members have concerns about the reconfiguration of their workspace.
- Minimize the use of shared kitchen equipment, dishes, and utensils. Faculty, staff, and volunteers who want to consume food or beverages in the workplace during the day must bring their own personal containers such as coolers and/or lunch bags/boxes. These items should be taken home each day and cleaned before bringing them back the next day.
- Make every effort for maintaining 6 feet (1.8 meters) from others in hallways and stairwells. Avoid elevators; use the stairs if possible; and save the elevator use for those individuals who may be unable to physically take the stairs. If an employee must take an elevator, they should limit the elevator to one or two persons, stay as distant as possible, limit conversation, and, if not fully vaccinated, wear a face covering.
- Communicate with the appropriate supervisor, college, school, or division human resources, or Workforce Relations in OHR if the employee has questions or concerns.
Frequent handwashing and sanitizing are simple but effective ways to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Each unit with people working on-site will be required to do the following:
- Review all work areas to confirm that sufficient handwashing facilities and/or sanitizing products are available.
- Provide sanitizing products as needed, especially in high-traffic, high-touch areas (e.g., outside elevators and stairwells, in work areas with no sinks, etc.).
- Please note that certain cleaning supplies, particularly hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, may be in short supply. Units are encouraged to establish internal controls as needed to ensure supplies remain adequate. Free cleaning supplies from campus inventories can be obtained by completing an online request here.
- Encourage the frequent use of handwashing facilities and sanitizing products in the unit.
Effective August 5, 2021, all individuals, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, must wear an acceptable face covering that is properly fitted to cover the wearer's nose and mouth at all times when present in UW-Madison indoor public spaces, including while riding a campus bus or when two or more people are present in a university vehicle, with the following exceptions:
- When actively eating or drinking.
- When in one’s assigned residential hall room without guests.
- When alone in a private, unshared office or lab.
- When engaged in water-based activities or wet conditions that would result in the mask getting wet.
- Children under the age of 2 years.
- When accommodation is granted by express written permission of the University as determined on an individualized basis, considering reasonable accommodations due to a documented medical condition.
- Approval by the Provost of an academic or administrative unit’s request for an exception for arts performances.
- As permitted by an athletic facility or by varsity athletic conference or association policies, procedures, or rules.
Indoor public space does not include outdoor space connected to or incorporated within a building or other structure including by way of example but not limited to parking ramps, courtyards, patios, and stadiums. This requirement is in effect until September 30, 2021, unless extended, terminated or otherwise modified. Additional information is available in the Chancellor's August 28, 2021 order requiring face coverings.
Other Personal Protective Equipment
Per the campus Public Health Protocols, the requirements for the use of PPE to mitigate identified job-specific hazards will not change. Campus units are experienced in these areas and must continue to ensure that employees are using the correct PPE for their jobs in addition to PPE used to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Reusable cloth face coverings and single-use disposable face coverings differ from personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 respirators and surgical masks. The university will continue to provide PPE to employees who may face potential exposure to COVID-19 or other hazardous substances related to their work. These types of PPE will be reserved for this purpose and they will not be used in lieu of face coverings. See PPE Procurement for more information.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Each campus unit is responsible for the regular cleaning and disinfection of its work areas, tools, and equipment.
- Common Areas. Custodians will continue with routine cleaning as well as additional cleaning of high-touch areas in common areas including restrooms. Custodians will also continue to remove trash and recycling from common areas, bathrooms, breakrooms, and kitchenettes.
- Each unit is responsible for the cleaning and disinfection of offices, laboratories, conference rooms, workstations, and other unit-specific space. Each unit is also responsible for the removal of trash and recycling from unit-specific spaces. FP&M will provide additional guidance to building managers regarding the process for completing these tasks. Changes to these practices will be communicated to the best extent practicable. All faculty, staff, and volunteers are expected to keep their workspaces clean. Where available from building managers or supervisors, employees should use disinfectant spray and/or cleaning wipes on hard surfaces in their work areas where cleaning and disinfection is necessary and appropriate. Employees should ask their supervisor or divisional human resources office for more information or if they have concerns about cleaning or disinfecting in their work area.
- Units with campus vehicles are responsible for the regular cleaning and disinfection of their own vehicles. Campus buses are cleaned and disinfected by Madison Metro. Additional guidance regarding use of campus vehicles can be found on the FP&M webpage.
Please note that certain cleaning supplies, particularly hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, may be in short supply. Units are encouraged to establish internal controls as needed to ensure supplies remain adequate. Free cleaning supplies from campus inventories can be obtained by completing an online request. If faculty, staff, and/or volunteers have allergies or chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies and/or the use of cleaning supplies in their work area, they should consult their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR).
All faculty, staff, and other community members who are approved to return to on-site work are required to follow the workplace safety procedures outlined in this policy and the UW–Madison Reopening Public Health Protocols, in addition to any procedures or expectations from their college, school, or division leadership. In situations where UW–Madison employees are working in facilities owned or controlled by another entity, these policies continue to apply to UW–Madison employees. UW–Madison employees working in facilities controlled by other non-UW entities may be subject to additional workplace expectations. In the event that there is conflict between these policies and the expectations of another employer or facility, the employee should consult with their UW–Madison supervisor or human resources representative immediately.
Employees returning to the on-site workplace, or in the case of personnel already performing on-site work, continue to be in the on-site workplace, are expected to successfully complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers and comply with these policies and procedures.
Consequences for Non-Compliance
University employees who violate this policy and/or associated policies, protocols, or procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures applicable to their employee category.
All faculty, staff, and campus community members to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy.
University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
Employees are expected to:
- Stay home or leave the workplace immediately if they have one or more symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, and follow unit procedures for notifying the employee’s supervisor of the absence.
- Report to the workplace only if directed to do so by their supervisor. Employees should continue to work remotely until directed to report to the workplace.
- Adhere to the most current workplace safety guidance, including, but not limited to, wearing a face covering if unvaccinated, practicing physical distancing, and engaging in frequent hand washing and sanitizing.
- Complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers before returning to the workplace.
- Stay up-to-date regarding changes in workplace safety expectations, guidance, or procedures.
Supervisors are expected to:
- Direct the employee to leave the workplace immediately if they are exhibiting observable symptoms and/or behaviors in alignment with a severe cold, flu, or COVID-19.
- Explain to employees that the guidelines to request to utilize sick leave and report time off still apply. If an employee is unwell and unable to work, they should use sick time.
- Provide any information in connection with an employee request for leave based upon a medical condition to the DDR. Remember that employee medical information is confidential and should not be shared beyond need to know, for example, the DDR.
- Encourage a healthy workplace by requiring that employees engage in regular and good personal hygiene practices and regularly clean and disinfect their workstations.
Supervisors are expected NOT to:
- Encourage or participate in interoffice conversations that include negative comments about employees that blame them for the spreading of COVID-19, assume someone has COVID-19, mock those who have COVID-19 and/or to the extent a supervisor is aware of an employee’s personal health status and/or medical condition, share that information beyond those who need to know such as the DDR.
- Ask employees to disclose their personal health status or medical conditions, other than asking for a simple confirmation that an employee is ill when they report they will not be at work.
- Discuss, question, or list concerns regarding an employee’s symptoms or perceived medical condition publicly, in open spaces, and/or with others beyond those who need to know, for example, the DDR.
- Threaten an employee’s employment status based upon illness, disability, recent travel, or their exposure to somebody who is returning from travel.
- Remind employees that all travel for business-related reasons and campus events are subject to current campus travel and events policies.
- Remind employees that a condition of returning to the on-site workplace will be physical distancing and that employees are expected to complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers.
- Plan and implement strategies to regularly monitor and respond to the employee experience, both before and after the return to the on-site workplace.
- Enforce the requirements of this policy and associated procedures and support employees and supervisors in the same.
The Office of Human Resources (OHR) Responsibilities:
- OHR will support college, school and division HR Reps and DDRs with timely information and updates regarding their responsibilities for employees who test positive for COVID-19, are symptomatic for COVID-19, or are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- When OHR becomes aware of an employee in the on-site workplace who has tested positive for COVID-19 and/or reports exposure to COVID-19, OHR will contact the appropriate DDR for follow up and next steps.
- OHR and other relevant campus divisions has created an online COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers and brief assessment on workplace policies under COVID-19 in multiple languages, including proper preventative measures, in accordance with this COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policy.
- OHR will collaborate with other relevant departments to create a process document for employees who need to take extra precautions and those who are at a higher risk for severe illness.