FAQ – ISU Return to Campus for Employees and Supervisors
Q: I have been working productively from home; why do I need to return to the workplace?
A: The sudden shift last spring to maximum remote work was done based on public health guidance. Having whole teams working remotely created an ease of operations but was intended to be temporary. In the future, the ISU WorkFlex program for staff intends to offer more types of flexibility beyond remote or hybrid work that will require careful planning at the individual unit level before implementing.
Returning to pre-pandemic levels of campus services and operations will be an adjustment. University leadership feels it is important to get employees settled in to support the Fall 2021 on-campus experience before introducing additional complexity for supervisors and teams to manage for the WorkFlex program for staff.
Faculty will have the same flexibility they had prior to the pandemic in planning their return. In-person instruction will serve as the default for AY21.
Q: I am a staff member; what if I have a temporary need for flexibility in my work arrangement?
A: Similar to pre-pandemic practices, ISU is supportive of supervisors providing employees with short-term flexible work arrangements in order to address various employee needs and circumstances while also ensuring business needs are met. Sporadic flexibility may be allowed; however, normal policies and procedures (FMLA, ADA, etc.) need to be followed where applicable. Longer-term arrangements may not be made until after the ISU WorkFlex program details and processes have been finalized for staff in October 2021.
For example, in pre-pandemic times, an employee may have support from their supervisor to work from home on days they have a medical checkup because they don’t live in Ames and it saves time to work from home and go to their local appointment.
Q: I am a staff member and have concerns about childcare between July 1 and the start of K-12 schools, what should I do?
A: Staff members should work with their supervisors to create a plan for how work will be done during this period in the event that alternate childcare cannot be arranged. For childcare resources, contact ISU’s Childcare and Family Services at email@example.com.
Q: Will ISU consider flexible work arrangements for staff in the future
A: Yes. Planning for a flexible work program for staff began in 2019 and has continued during this past year. The original program was designed prior to the pandemic and work had to be slowed in order to align with post-pandemic workplace expectations. Although staff are expected to return to their regular work locations by July 1, this does not mean that planning for this program is ending. This WorkFlex program is expected to be finalized by October 2021. Until then, supervisors should not implement new flexible work arrangements for staff for the Fall 2021 semester.
Q: What if I had a flexible work arrangement in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Pre-pandemic telecommuting or flexible work arrangements are not impacted at this time provided the arrangement is still supported by your supervisor. ISU is continuing to review and define the process for the ISU WorkFlex program for staff. Additional details will be provided in October 2021.
Q: Can I return to my workplace before July 1 for staff or August 19 for 9-month faculty?
A: Yes, faculty and staff may return to their primary work location at any time. Please work with your supervisor regarding your anticipated date of return and discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding the current ISU community expectations and protocols that all ISU employees are expected to adhere to. Staff members are encouraged to return to their campus workplace prior to July 1, even if on a part-time basis.
Q: As a supervisor, can I require someone to return to his or her campus work location prior to July 1 or August 19?
A: Supervisors are encouraged to work with employees regarding their return. Employees may need to make childcare or other arrangements in advance of being able to return. When possible, supervisors are encouraged to try to achieve a mutual agreement on a return date when returning staff before July 1. As has previously been communicated, supervisors should provide employees with at least a 14-day notice prior to requiring them to come back to their regular work location, if requiring a return date earlier than July 1 or August 19, as applicable.
Q: I have an employee who has a current AWA in place. Can I ask this employee to come back to their regular work location before June 30, when the AWA program is set to expire?
A: If you would like to make a modification to the current AWA, including a request that the employee return to their regular work location prior to June 30, please send an email to the COVIDHRSupport@iastate.edu inbox and a member of UHR will be in touch with you to discuss your request to modify.
Q: Prior to returning or when I return, can I ask or find out if there are colleagues in my work area who chose not to get vaccinated?
A: No. The COVID-19 vaccination is highly encouraged but not mandated for ISU employees. Individuals may choose whether to receive the vaccination and whether to share that information with others. There may be reasons that are sensitive or private to that individual, such as personal health conditions or religious reasons, as to why they chose not to receive, or are unable to receive, a vaccination.
Q: What if I am not vaccinated before returning to the office?
A: ISU believes that the appropriate health practices, mitigation measures and community expectations have provided for, and will continue to provide for, a safe working environment, regardless of vaccination status.
Q: Is my workspace safe to work in?
A: We believe that the Cyclones Care behaviors, when followed correctly, provide for a safe working environment. If you have concerns about your workspace, please contact your supervisor to discuss those prior to your return.
Q: What steps has ISU taken to implement safety measures for the return to the workplace?
A: ISU’s response to the pandemic has prioritized the health and safety of our campus community while continuing the fundamental core missions of the university. ISU’s plans and procedures consider science-based guidance and have incorporated the most current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and internal experts from ISU’s Incident Response Team.
Q: What if I have canceled my parking?
A: Employees are encouraged to review their parking needs and contact ISU Parking as needed.
Q: What if I took equipment home to enable working remotely? When and how should I return my equipment?
A: All ISU equipment and technology that was taken home to support remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be returned to ISU. Employees should bring this equipment back to their assigned work location upon their return. Please contact ITS if any additional technical support or assistance is needed.
Upon your return, check in with your department equipment contact to let them know your equipment has been returned to campus or if any equipment remains at home.
Q: What if I have been working out of state during the pandemic? Do I have to report to campus by July 1 or August 19?
A: Faculty or staff who are currently working remotely out of state need to make plans to return to campus if that arrangement wasn’t already in place prior to the pandemic. Supervisors should engage HR Delivery where such situations are happening so a plan can be developed.
FAQs for Employees Previously Eligible for COVID-19 AWA
After June 30, 2021, Iowa State University will discontinue the COVID-19 Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) program for graduate assistants and employees (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and student workers). This decision was made after careful consideration of the expanded vaccination distribution, the prioritization of the vaccination of populations at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and the expected decreased infection rates. The following are some frequently asked questions and answers related to this transition.
Q: When do current AWAs end?
A: Current AWAs will remain in place through June 30, 2021, unless your supervisor has requested a modification through the UHR AWA working group and this modification has been approved.
Q: If I have a current AWA in place through June 30, is it acceptable to come to the workplace sooner?
A: Yes. The COVID-19 AWA program is a voluntary program for eligible employees and graduate assistants and those individuals may voluntarily choose to discontinue their AWA. You should first check in with your supervisor to ensure appropriate COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place for your campus workspace prior to returning.
Q: What are my options if I am unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and I have a medical condition or other criteria that makes me more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19?
A: If you are an employee or graduate assistant that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for being more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, and you are unable to receive the vaccine, you may pursue a leave of absence (if eligible) through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other relevant university or Graduate College policy. If you are ineligible for FMLA, your FMLA has been exhausted, or you do not intend to take leave, you may pursue a disability accommodation request (DAR) in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please contact UHR to determine your options by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What are my options if I have received the COVID-19 vaccine but my health care provider has advised me that despite receiving the vaccine I continue to be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19?
A: You may pursue a leave of absence (if eligible) through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other relevant university or Graduate College policy. If you are ineligible for FMLA, your FMLA has been exhausted, or you do not intend to take leave, you may pursue a disability accommodation request (DAR) in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please contact UHR to determine your options by emailing email@example.com.
Q: What are my options if a member of my household is unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and they have a medical condition or other criteria that makes them more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19?
A: You may pursue a leave of absence (if eligible) through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other relevant university or Graduate College policy. Please contact UHR at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss options.