What to think about when returning from remote work

Employees who have worked from home during the pandemic may need to reacclimate to some of the basics of daily life on campus when they return by July 1. Here's a primer on a few things to remember: 

Get a permit

Faculty and staff who kept a parking permit during the 2020-21 academic year received email reminders to renew their permits online via AccessPlus. Employees who don't have a current parking permit need to visit the parking office in person to purchase one. The office at 27 Armory Building is open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Park in lot 21 west of the Armory. No meter fee is required while purchasing a permit.  

The parking permit rate increases of about 3% approved last spring for the 2020-21 school year were suspended for one year and will go into effect for 2021-22. General staff permits are $186, an increase of $6/ Reserved permits are $565 (up $17), 24-hour reserve permits are $1,005 (up $30) and motorcycle permits are $62 (up $2). The annual fee can be paid in its entirety or by payroll deductions.

Faculty and staff who let a reserved permit lapse in 2020-21 won't automatically be able to repurchase it, depending on lot-specific demand. Email parking director Mark Miller to inquire about availability and to be placed on a waiting list, if necessary.

Don't forget to pay attention to parking signs. Rules and regulations are enforced at all times, including during summer sessions.

Check office tech

Employees who will be returning to their campus workspaces for the first time in month may hit a few bumps in the road as they reconnect their office devices. Information technology services recommends employees visit campus sometime before their first day back to replace or charge batteries for items such as a keyboard and mouse, apply software updates and confirm they're connected Wi-Fi via the Eduroam network.

Employees who encounter issues should check out the ISU Portal to search for relevant self-help articles. If additional assistance is required, select "Get Help" from the IT portal and submit an incident request, email the IT Solution Center or call 515-294-4000. 

A clean workspace

Building hours have returned to normal (pre-pandemic) summer schedules and vary widely according to summer activity in a building. Building hours are updated on a facilities planning and management website.

Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, custodial teams last month ended the more rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols they followed for the 2020-21 academic year, assisted by as many as 70 temporary workers. Classrooms, Parks Library and high-use restrooms remain top priorities this summer and receive daily cleanings, said custodial services senior manager Michelle Lenkaitis. Most other spaces -- for example, department study rooms, employee offices, conference rooms, entryways, atriums and corridors -- are being cleaned at least monthly this summer, more frequently when time allows, she said.

Less traffic on campus during summer session, however, often means custodians need less time for scheduled cleaning and can pursue other cleaning tasks. Since May 10, she said custodial teams have been dusting, vacuuming, mopping and cleaning carpet as they can in personal offices.

Lenkaitis currently oversees a staff of 120 custodians, about 15 fewer than a year ago due to budget cuts scheduled for this fiscal year but neutralized by the dozens of temporary custodians. During that time, the Student Innovation Center and Gerdin Building addition came online, increasing the custodial load.

"We know expectations are high as more faculty and staff return to campus in July and August. I hope they understand their custodians are frustrated they aren't able to clean as often as they'd like."

Lenkaitis noted common trash and recycling areas were established on many floors during the academic year, when employees were tasked with cleaning their own spaces. While partially a response to the pandemic, those stations mostly are part of the university's zero waste campus initiative. She encourages employees to continue to empty office trash, including food waste, at those common trash areas. Contact your building supervisor or custodian to learn where the station nearest your office is. 

Senior leaders reviewed several building cleaning proposals for the academic year and selected an option that focuses time and resources on spaces heavily used by students. Details of the fall cleaning protocols will be shared in Inside in August.

Vaccines and tests

University employees are strongly encouraged, though not required, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees should contact their primary care physician or county public health office to schedule an appointment. The first opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at an on-campus clinic will be Aug. 17-20.

Faculty and staff showing symptoms of COVID-19 who want to be tested also should contact their primary care physician. Test results (positive or negative) still should be submitted to the university's public health team through ISU's self-reporting form. There is not an on-campus testing option for employees this summer.

Since May 20, when the state Board of Regents rescinded its March 2020 state of emergency, face coverings have not been required on campus, indoors or outdoors. Exceptions are while using CyRide buses, veterinary medicine facilities, research laboratories and health care operations. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to wear a face covering while on campus.

Emotional readiness

Story City-based Jason Haglund, mental health counselor and leader in the behavioral health field, will lead several webinars on behalf of ISU WorkLife that focus on a post-pandemic fresh start:

  • June 17 (2 p.m. via Zoom), "Moving from Confusion to Thriving: Life in an (Almost) Post-Pandemic World," letting go of the emotions caused by disruptions to work and home life in order to move forward and thrive, register

  • June 23 (10 a.m. via Zoom), "Welcome Back, Kind Of: The Age of Starting Over," shifting from a mindset of transition to starting over and exploring the ways you can adapt and thrive, register

Lunch, coffee and treats

Employees looking for a spot to grab lunch, coffee or a snack should have no trouble.

ISU Dining is operating under a typical summer schedule. So while most cafes in academic buildings are closed until fall, and the Memorial Union food court will close for the summer after orientation visits wrap up in early July, there are plenty of options still available.  

At the MU, the Market and Café is open all day (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.), and Lance and Ellie’s and Panda Express for lunch (10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.). At The Hub, The Roasterie is open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and Heaping Plato's lunch hours are 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. In the Union Drive area, Clyde's is open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and the Friley Windows dining center is open at meal times throughout the day. Gentle Doctor Café on the Veterinary Medicine campus is open 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For updated hours and menus, consult ISU Dining's online listings

Food trucks near Kildee and Beardshear halls also are open for lunch, and the student-run SPARKS café on the fourth floor of the Student Innovation Center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Craving a cold treat? In addition to the ISU Dining gelato at The Roasterie, check out the ISU Creamery retail store at 2953 Food Sciences Building. It is open every weekday afternoon except Wednesday from noon to 4:30 and Saturday, 2-6 p.m. Keep an eye out this fall for a standalone gelato shop opening on the food court level of the MU.