Winter Operations Department Protocols 2020-2021

These protocols for responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic apply to all employees (faculty, staff, student employees) and are rooted in protecting the health and safety of our students, employees and the general public we interact with. Protocols are regularly reviewed to align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health and/or Black Hawk County Public Health.

Winter Operations department protocols cover the time period of December 11 at 4:30 p.m. to the morning of Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The extended semester break and the addition of winter session online courses will result in different operational needs compared to past years. This information serves to address those differences and inform departments of operational expectations. 

Winter Operations Employee FAQs


Assess Winter Operations Staffing

1) Moving to Virtual Operations & Telework

During Winter Operations, departments should move to virtual or remote operations similar to summer 2020. Departments should consider their operational need for maintaining face-to-face availability to students and customers and determine the most optimal timing to limit or temporarily suspend in-person availability. For many offices, this will result in locking office doors to the public through Monday, January 18, 2021.  

The CDC’s Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education continue to encourage telework for as many employees as possible. Consider which staff can feasibly continue or shift to working remotely, either on a continuous or intermittent schedule. When a level of on campus staffing is necessary, consider staggering work schedules or telework days to allow for greater physical distancing within the work space.

Effective December 12, 2020 through January 18, 2021, a formal telework agreement will not be required. A formal telework agreement will be required starting January 19, 2021 in accordance with policy 4.26 for employees who will continue to or begin teleworking during the spring semester.

Where teleworking isn’t readily feasible and the employee has indicated they have a medical condition, direct the employee to HRS Workplace Accommodations Services to initiate the interactive process in accordance with the ADA.

2) Review the Governor's Disaster Proclamations

Continue to review the Governor's Disaster Proclamations to ensure compliance with updates to the Governor’s directions. Contact University Counsel with any questions, Tim McKenna, extension 3-3241.

3) Contact Employees

It is important to keep contact information up-to-date. Personal information can be viewed and updated in the MyUNIverse portal under the Update Personal Information tab.

When returning employees to their normal work location, a minimum of two weeks should be offered before requiring them to be in the office. Employees may waive the two-week notice and request supervisor approval to return earlier.

Employees may need additional time to return to working on campus, given constraints with childcare or other COVID-19 related impacts. The Iowa Childcare Resource & Referral program may be of assistance to them. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible.

4) Employees Utilizing Public Transit

For employees who commute to work using public transportation or ride sharing, consider allowing employees to shift their hours so they can commute during less busy times. Remind employees to wash their hands as soon as possible after their trip.

5) Employees at Higher Risk for Severe Illness

For information about the university’s ability to arrange alternate work schedules, job assignments, and teleworking visit Faculty/Staff FAQ | Information on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Regularly check-in on those being provided accommodations or alternate arrangements to ensure they continue to foster employee success as public health circumstances transition.

For information about leaves view the COVID-19 Employee Leave Frequently Asked Questions and COVID-19 Temporary Leave Flowchart. If an employee needs to be on leave, complete the Panther Health Survey

6) Workplace Policies and Training

All employees (be sure to include newly-hired employees) returning to campus or currently working on campus must complete either of the following trainings if they were not completed during summer or fall operations:

Encourage employees to follow the Forward Together website for any new policies or procedures related to illness, cleaning and disinfecting, work meetings, and travel.

Regularly Assess the Workspace

1) Hazard Assessment

Review the latest hazard assessment completed by UNI Environmental Health and Safety. If your department’s unique operational needs justify the creation of a separate hazard assessment contact David Oesterle, UNI Environmental Health and Safety, extension 3-7491.

To report a safety concern, please go to the Incident Portal.

2) Maintain Necessary Supplies

Each department received a COVID-19 kit in early August, which included two transaction counter dividers, two large floor stickers, two transaction counter stickers, one sanitizer station, one bottle of Purell, two packages of Terri towels, one bottle of hand sanitizer per employee, and appropriate signage. Contact Jeff Van Gelder, UNI Warehouse, to obtain any additional supplies deemed necessary according to the hazard assessment or any other relevant items such as tissue, floor markings, cleaning supplies or sanitizer refills.

3) Physical Distancing

Reinforce and model policies and practices for physical distancing within your department.

Regularly assess workspaces to help individuals maintain social distancing and physically separate employees from each other and from students and guests, when possible. Enforce and model limited access to common spaces such as break rooms, workrooms and conference rooms, particularly as more employees and students return to campus. Contact Facilities Management for additional assistance if required, extension 3-4400. For workspaces shared across departments or units, supervisors should work together to determine a schedule for use of the space.

4) Maintain Appropriate Signage

Departments should continue to ensure the following signage is posted in a space visible to their employees:

Consider assigning an individual to be in charge of this task. This signage was included in the COVID-19 kit provided to your department. Additional signage can be found in UNI’s COVID-19 sign library.

5) Contact Facilities Management

Contact Facilities Management so the appropriate maintenance specific to COVID-19 responses can be completed as needed, extension 3-4400.

Maintain Healthy Business Operations

1) Daily Screening

Prior to every shift, all employees must conduct the Panther Health Survey before coming to work on campus. Supervisors may also require that employees complete the COVID-19 Daily Screening Certification upon arriving at the workplace. An electronic COVID-19 Daily Screening Certification can be provide upon request, please contact UNI Environmental Health and Safety, Joseph Rayzor, extension 3-3189.

Employees who have symptoms should complete the Panther Health Survey and stay home. For information about leaves view the COVID-19 Employee Leave Frequently Asked Questions and COVID-19 Temporary Leave Flowchart. Further questions regarding employee leave options should be directed to

Employees who are well but who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 should complete the Panther Health Survey and stay home. Revised guidelines effective September 29, 2020 from the Iowa Department of Public Health indicate close contacts of COVID-positive cases do not need to quarantine if a face covering was consistently and correctly worn by both people during the exposure. A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact (less than 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes where one or more individuals are not properly wearing a mask) with an individual who is COVID-19 positive. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic. Supervisors will be contacted by UNI Environmental Health and Safety, Joseph Rayzor, extension 3-3189, to see if safety measures can be put in place to allow the employee to return. Completion of the Panther Health Survey also connects employees with information about leave options, specific to their situation. For general information about leaves, view the COVID-19 Employee Leave Frequently Asked Questions and COVID-19 Temporary Leave Flowchart.

2) Face Coverings

All employees who are able will continue to be required to wear face coverings while in campus buildings. Face coverings are also required in outdoor settings when physical distancing of six feet or more cannot be maintained. Face coverings are not required while:

  • Actively eating or drinking and six feet physical distancing is maintained

  • Alone in a private office

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets and aerosols produced when an infected person coughs, breathes, talks, sneezes, etc. These droplets and aerosols can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Face coverings and shields provide an extra layer to help prevent droplets and aerosols from traveling in the air and onto other people.

Ensure employees understand how to properly put on and take off their face covering as well as how to properly clean face coverings.

All employees are being provided two free cloth face coverings and a face shield courtesy of the university. These items are available for employee pickup at the UNI Bookstore and Essentials. A UNI ID must be provided at the time of pickup.

For tips on how to proactively communicate with employees, students, and visitors about campus expectations for COVID-19 face coverings visit the Dean of Students Faculty and Staff Resource page on COVID-19.

3) Symptoms in the Workplace

Individuals who appear to have symptoms upon arrival to campus or who become sick during their time on campus should immediately be separated from other employees, students, and visitors, and sent home. In emergent situations where the individual is unable to arrange for safe transport, they should be transported by ambulance. 

Employees and students with COVID-like symptoms more severe than their baseline should call the Student Health Center at 273-2009 to determine if testing is appropriate. In addition to utilizing the Student Health Clinic, care can also be accessed through their primary care provider or the TestIowa site. 

Employees should complete the Panther Health Survey immediately upon receiving confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test result. Due to confidentiality requirements under the American’s with Disabilities Act, supervisors must contact HRS when they become aware of employees who may have been exposed to the virus so that individual or group communications can be initiated accordingly.

Contact for information about leave options for the affected employee. For information about leaves view the COVID-19 Employee Leave Frequently Asked Questions and COVID-19 Temporary Leave Flowchart.

4) Suspected or Confirmed Cases in the Workplace

In most cases, supervisors do not need to shut down their entire area. If able supervisors should close off any spaces used for prolonged periods of time by the sick employee and contact UNI Environmental Health and Safety, Joseph Rayzor, extension 3-3189. UNI Environmental Health and Safety will work with the supervisor and the appropriate custodial team to ensure the area is cleaned and disinfected according to CDC guidance.

Employees with confirmed or suspected cases should complete the Panther Health Survey.  

5) Sick Leave and Supportive Policies and Practices

For more information about leaves, view the COVID-19 Employee Leave Frequently Asked Questions and COVID-19 Temporary Leave Flowchart. If you need to be on leave, complete the Panther Health Survey.

Employees may use their employee assistance program (EAP) benefits to help manage any anxiety or any uncertainty they are experiencing related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). To access EAP call 1-855-784-2057. UNI’s EAP vendor has created a tip sheet to help employees stay connected to their emotions during a time of uncertainty and social distancing. Additional information can be found on the HRS Supporting Services web page. Students who have mental health concerns should contact the UNI Counseling Center at 273-2676.

Employees in need of medical care should call their healthcare provider prior to visiting the office or clinic. Employees are encouraged to consider telehealth options through their own healthcare provider or through Doctor on Demand.

6) Absenteeism

Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children when school or childcare programs are unavailable.

Plan to monitor absenteeism at the workplace and notify HRS in the event of an absenteeism spike.

Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher-than-usual absenteeism.

Cross-train employees to perform essential functions so the workplace can operate even if key employees are absent.

Review the department’s continuity of operations plan and make any changes that may be necessary.

7) Meetings

Where feasible, even if all attendees are on campus, meetings should be held in whole or in part using videoconferencing or teleconferencing. Information Technology (IT) has created a detailed web site to support faculty and staff, visit the Information Technology Remote Services and Support website.

Cancel, adjust, or postpone large work-related meetings or gatherings that can only occur in-person in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance.

8) Contractors, Vendors & Guests

Communicate to any contractors, vendors, patrons or on-site visitors about changes that have been made to help control the spread of COVID-19. Ensure they have the information and capability to comply with these protocols. Limit on-site visits or replace them with videoconferencing or teleconferencing when feasible.

9) Travel

Effective June 18, 2020, all university-sponsored, in-state travel is permitted for faculty, staff and students per the normal approval processes.

Domestic, out-of-state travel must be pre-approved by the institution. Please work with your division head to receive the necessary approval.  Factors to be considered in evaluating this travel include the local COVID-19 case data, public health guidance, and quarantine requirements for any destination, layover, or stop.

International travel is still prohibited, per direction from the Board of Regents. This continued moratorium does not apply to personal travel. Individuals pursuing international personal travel are strongly encouraged to review the CDC's travel guidance related to COVID-19. Current CDC guidance provides that individuals returning from international travel should stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days from the time that they return, additional information can be found on the CDC's Returning from International Travel page.

Additionally, we encourage employees to check themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 before starting travel and to notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. Employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment should notify their supervisor and promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.

All employees must continue to follow the university’s protocols for face coverings when traveling on university business.

10) Cleaning and Disinfecting

Custodial teams will shift from a regular cleaning schedule to deep cleaning where building occupancy will allow. Employees should take responsibility to keep their personal workspace clean when working on campus.

For items generally not cleaned and disinfected by custodial teams, develop a cleaning and disinfecting plan. The university has purchased various cleaning supplies in bulk to ensure that the products used meet the EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19 and that the appropriate personal protective equipment is available. Departments needing to clean their own spaces and objects should contact Jeffrey Van Gelder, UNI Warehouse,, to obtain supplies.