Local teams will develop return-to-campus plans

The first of a multiphase plan to bring university employees back to campus has select managers (or designees) and a limited number of staff returning around June 1 for the purpose of developing a return-to-work strategy suitable for their workspaces. In a May 15 email to faculty and staff, President Wendy Wintersteen said "the vast majority" of faculty and staff working remotely will not return to campus June 1 for this planning phase.

"The health and safety of the Iowa State community is our top priority, and we recognize that departments and units perform diverse work in diverse workspaces," Wintersteen wrote. "Decisions about safely increasing work at normal locations must include local expertise."

She said the local teams will receive guidance in several forms:

  • A toolkit to help them develop their workspace plan. The toolkit is being distributed this week to administrative officers, who will more broadly relay its content and intent. The COVID-19 unified command team, representatives from some emergency operations working groups and university human relations (UHR) leaders prepared the toolkit.
  • Their building supervisor will provide information regarding that building's common spaces, including entrances and atriums, corridors, stairwells, elevators, open seating areas and restrooms. Facilities planning and management (FPM) leaders will develop and distribute baseline standards for using common spaces in all campus buildings and building supervisors will apply those standards to their buildings.

On the heels of these resources, faculty, staff and graduate student researchers will receive additional guidance for their laboratories and research projects.


Beginning June 1, all faculty and staff who are able will be expected to wear a face covering or face shield when they're near others and when other mitigation options (for example, physical/social distancing) are difficult to maintain. Prior to June 1, faculty and staff working on campus are encouraged to wear face coverings if they have them.

Wintersteen said the university is working to provide face coverings to faculty and staff who need them; more information will be shared when it's available.


Wintersteen acknowledged in her email that returning to campus poses a higher risk for employees who meet health criteria or live with someone who does. She directed any employee who is asked to return to their campus workplace but has health concerns about making the change to contact Andrea Little, UHR director of employee and labor relations. Little will discuss appropriate options with them, she said.

Workspace plans

Wintersteen wrote that local teams first will need to assess whether their workspace can accommodate greater distances between the employees assigned to it and what modifications -- such as physical barriers or signage -- are needed to help achieve physical distancing. Other decisions they'll need to make, all with a priority on employee safety and physical distance, include:

  • Staff levels and schedules for necessary in-person work.
  • What, if any, common spaces -- such as break rooms or conference rooms -- will be used.
  • Schedules for any workspaces shared across units.
  • Expectations for sanitizing surfaces and spaces used by many, such as copiers, printers, tables, phones, etc. This is in addition to regular cleaning performed by FPM custodial teams.
  • Additional needs, such as soap and hand sanitizer, to help with employee hygiene and safety.
  • If and how office visitors can be accommodated.
  • Other mitigation needs specific to a workspace.