Guidance on reopening plans sets stage for return

Most Iowa State employees working remotely will continue to do so after the first phase of a reopening plan begins June 1, a gradual approach to build readiness for in-person instruction this fall. A handful of supervisors and staff who had been working off-site will be back in their usual workplaces next week, developing local plans for safely resuming on-campus operations.

Training available

President Wendy Wintersteen announced in her May 26 message to faculty and staff that an online training session on Learn@ISU will provide employees with information about the procedures needed to resume on-campus work.

Last week, supervisors received updated guidance for preparing plans. The documents are available in the summer planning section of ISU's central COVID-19 website. Among the resources was a guide for returning to the workplace, a 13-page document marked as "Version 1."

"We expect there will be other updates and versions," President Wendy Wintersteen told administrative officers during a May 21 virtual meeting presenting the resources.

The guide outlines health and safety measures as well as university expectations and procedures. It addresses some common scenarios, for instance:

  • Wearing a cloth face covering is expected when physical distancing of 6 feet can't be maintained, so masks will be unnecessary in private offices or cubicles but needed in all shared spaces such as break rooms, hallways and restrooms. Central stores will supply departments with two cloth masks for every employee who needs them. 
  • Elevators should be limited to one person at a time and reserved for those with mobility needs.
  • Avoid trips with more than one person in a vehicle and, if possible, walk instead of taking CyRide.

Local plans

Supervisors designated by academic department heads and unit leaders will develop workspace plans using a 10-page worksheet released last week. The plan will identify on-campus staffing needs, changes to employee schedules and work areas to achieve physical distancing, educational and communication efforts, cleaning plans and other risk mitigation steps. Guidance for supervisors during the phased increase in operations also was released last week.

Supervisors will submit the plans to department heads and unit leaders for approval. They need to be approved before employees can return to work, which requires at least a two-week advance notice. The plans don't necessarily need to be complex answers for each topic, said ISU Police chief and associate vice president for public safety Michael Newton.

"A few sentences in many cases will be fine," Newton told administrative officers in the May 21 meeting.

The worksheet includes links to workplace cleaning guidelines and suggestions -- with photo examples -- of physical distancing strategies for general workplaces and laboratories

Questions about workplace plans can be directed to