Requesting an Accommodation for Working on Campus

June 11, 2020

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community:

On May 26, Provost Lynch, Executive Vice President Uretsky and I wrote to the community about the University’s approach to gradually ramp up campus operations in alignment with re-opening guidelines provided by Governor Baker. As we carefully and deliberately consider expanded activity on campus, our primary consideration remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

We wish to recognize and extend our deep appreciation to the essential staff working in our facilities, public safety, health services, student service, library, dining and other on-campus areas to seamlessly keep our campus open, safe, and operational. Your day-to-day efforts and dedication to Brandeis are greatly appreciated and have allowed us to continue to provide a broad education to our students, support our community and continue operations critical to our mission.

For our faculty and staff who are currently working off-site, we would like to provide some additional considerations as we contemplate a continued scaling up of campus operations and increase the population of faculty, staff and students on campus. We are operating in an entirely different environment, and we must carefully plan now so that we are prepared for multiple scenarios. The final decision on the mode of instruction for the fall semester (in-person, online only, or a mix of both) will be announced by President Liebowitz in early July. Decisions about who returns to campus, and when, will be managed by the COVID-19 Task Force and will be communicated to our faculty and staff through our Deans, Dept. Chairs and supervisors.

During the first stage of our scaling up efforts, we have implemented strict measures to meet or exceed public health practices including the use of face coverings, hand hygiene, physical distancing, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, frequent disinfection of common areas and personal work spaces. Additionally, the University is requiring all stage 1 returning and on campus faculty and staff to complete scaling up training, review the Campus Scaling Up Guide and to complete a daily health assessment, before coming to campus. Under the direction of the COVID-19 Task Force, there is a Working Group developing contact tracing and testing protocols for students, faculty and staff. These two areas of focus will provide additional measures to help manage and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Each of our personal situations will be unique and we recognize that some faculty and staff, like some of our essential employees, may have concerns about working on campus. If you are currently working remotely and have not been asked to return to campus, you should continue to work remotely. If you are asked to return to campus, are scheduled to teach in person in the fall, or are currently working on campus, and you would like to request an accommodation, one of the two categories listed below will need to apply. We ask that you contact the Office of Human Resources (humanresources@brandeis.edu or 781-736-4474) as soon as possible and prior to your scheduled return if you are:

  1. An individual who may be considered high-risk and, therefore, more vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 that increase the risk of infection or the severity of symptoms; or

  2. An individual who may have medical conditions that, based on the advice of a medical provider, could impact your ability to return to your work on-campus and for which a reasonable accommodation may be required.

The HR team will confidentially review each request on a case-by-case basis and provide guidance and options to best manage your medical needs in alignment with the requirements of your position at the University.

We also recognize that there may be faculty and staff who a) do not have a preexisting condition, or b) are not in a high-risk group, but might have children or elder care issues at home, a family member with significant risk factors, or simply have high levels of anxiety themselves regarding being exposed to COVID-19 on-campus. We encourage you to speak with your Dean, Dept. Chair or supervisor to identify possible solutions including flexible work options (remote working, alternative work schedules, etc.) and/or leave and time-off considerations. The Office of Human Resources is also available for guidance and support. Additional information on pay and time off options can be found on the Office of Human Resources website: COVID-19 pay and time off considerations.

These measures will be continued, and enhanced where possible, for all future stages as we learn valuable information. While we cannot eliminate all risks, we intend to mitigate these threats in every reasonable way possible. In the weeks and months ahead, we will work diligently to refine our preparations to create a safe, productive educational environment for the entire Brandeis Community.

Please continue to visit the Brandeis COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and guidance. To help manage stress and anxiety related to COVID-19, please visit the CDC website Coping with Stress or the Brandeis EAP (username 'brandeis university' and password 'guest') or by phone: 800-828-6025.

While there is a tremendous amount of variability and uncertainty in the world today, our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff remains steadfast. Thank you for your adaptability, patience, flexibility and commitment to Brandeis in these highly unusual times. Please stay safe and well.

Robin Switzer
Vice President, Office of Human Resources