Guidelines and Protocols for Returning to Work on Campus

A working group comprised of representatives from various divisions and offices was convened to develop protocols and guidelines regarding the eventual return to working on campus or other off-site workspaces. An additional working group, comprised partially of internal and external public health experts, helped inform several of the protocols and guidelines. 

See Keep Working site for training, guidelines, toolkits and more about working on campus.

To protect our community, all employees are expected to comply with the protocols and guidelines articulated in the Guidelines and Protocols for Returning to Work report.

Returning to Working on Campus or the Employees’ Off-site Workspace

Supervisors are expected to follow these guidelines for the remaining of the summer and for Fall 2020:

The guidance that came out in late May encouraging those employees who can work remotely to do so through July 31 is extended through Aug. 16.

Beginning Aug. 17, 2020, most offices and facilities that are student-facing (e.g., academic departments, student support services, cultural resource centers) or that serve employees or the community (e.g., human resources, admissions) will be open during normal business hours for in-person visits.

To maintain appropriately reduced density, supervisors must work with their teams to develop staffing plans, where appropriate, for the entire fall semester.

  • Supervisors are encouraged to continue the use of rotational or staggered schedules to reduce density and foot traffic.
  • To accommodate employees with desktop computers, supervisors might want to consider rotational schedules in weeks instead of days. For example, in an office with two employees, one might work in the office for the first half of the semester while the other works from home. The two employees would then switch mid-semester.
  • Before returning to campus for work, all employees must take a brief training. Those employees who do not have access to the internet at home should take the training on campus when they return to work. The training is necessary because we value each other and want to make sure that all employees understand the safety expectations and protocols.
  • Employees should think about what will work best considering their personal situations and contact their supervisors to discuss and reach agreements on work schedules that consider and support the needs of the departments and the circumstances of the employees.

Offices that can continue to provide their services to students, employees and the community remotely are encouraged to do so as long as those decisions are widely communicated to staff and the community, and do not result in a disruption of services. Employees working remotely will not be required to complete Work-At-Home Agreements through the end of the calendar year.

This guidance is subject to change depending on federal, state and local orders, as well as decisions made by local school districts regarding fall schedules.

Cleaning and Sanitation

All buildings will be cleaned daily using cleaning products and protocols consistent with CDC guidelines. Daily cleaning will focus primarily on common spaces and will include wiping down high-touch areas, such as doorknobs, sinks, water fountains and elevator buttons.

Employees should be sure to wipe down their workspaces on a regular basis. To request disinfecting products for office areas, visit

To help offset additional cleaning/sanitation tasks required for buildings and avoid the need to enter individual office areas more often than necessary, office trash collection will only be performed daily from designated centrally located containers. All employees should transfer trash from individual desk-side containers regularly to these designated centralized collection points, each of which will be marked with a sticker noting “Centralized Waste Station.” These collection points are being coordinated with building representatives and office contacts, as possible. If adjustments need to be made for the centralized locations, please contact Building Services for additional coordination.

Face Masks

With the exception of private offices or personal workspaces where physical distancing can be maintained, employees, students, vendors and visitors to campus must wear face masks when indoors. If an employee is not alone (e.g., in an office, a conference room), face masks must be worn even if physical distancing is possible. Employees, students, vendors and visitors to campus will not be required to wear face masks outdoors unless physical distancing cannot be maintained.

For those who need or want them, the university will provide each employee with two (2) reusable, washable face masks. Each unit or area should have a designated person request the number of face masks needed. Requests can be made at the Facilities Management and Campus Services/Central Stores website.

Bandanas and neck gaiters—made of thin, stretch tubes of fabric down the neck—aren’t effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are not acceptable face coverings while on campus.  

Meetings and Other Employee Interactions

Employees are strongly encouraged to continue using Microsoft Teams for meetings even when employees are working on campus.

If meetings must be held in person, face masks must be worn, physical distancing must be followed and no more than fifty (50) people or 50% of overall room capacity can be present, whichever is less.

Employees are encouraged to limit the use of public spaces, such as lounges or breakrooms, and should not invite unnecessary visitors to campus.

Student Employment

Huskies Get Hired will be the one-stop online location for advertising all hourly student employment positions beginning Aug. 1. More information will be shared with campus employers and students in the coming weeks.


The Employee Assistance Program has developed Returning to Working on Campus Toolkits for employees and supervisors available at the NIU Keep Working website.

Please regularly review the Protecting the Pack website for the latest guidelines and protocols for working on campus.

Virtual information sessions will be held for supervisors on navigating the guidelines and protocols related to working on campus and how to best manage and support employees. The sessions will be led by Human Resource Services, the Employee Assistance Program and Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education, and will be promoted through the NIU calendar and the Monday email announcements.

Fall 2020 Plan (PDF)

Message from President Freeman

COVID-19 Concerns Form

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