COVID-19 Update: May 20, 2020

Return to Campus Provisional Planning

Dear UC Community,

I know when and how we plan to return to campus is of keen interest to our community. Many of you have indicated a desire to preview our tentative planning, while knowing much can change from week to week, much less from month to month.

Although the ideal scenario would be to share a fully vetted and finalized plan, the reality is we are not yet there. Nevertheless, I understand and appreciate your need to have a better sense of our shared horizon, even if it is subject to change. With this aim, let me share where things stand at this time.

Thanks to the tremendous work of several leaders across campus, I am pleased to report we are developing a provisional, multi-phased plan for your safe return to campus. Before outlining the general framework of this Return to Campus (RTC) plan, I want to say a few words about trying to define certain goals in uncertain times.

This plan is, by design, open to change. If the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issues new directives, we will comply. If our medical experts identify new or different ways to safeguard our community, we will follow the science. If something is not working as well as originally intended, we will correct our course. If your ongoing feedback enables us to upgrade this plan, we will integrate the input. In short, we will learn every step of the way and adjust our efforts accordingly with your safety and health top of mind.

Nevertheless, it is worth underscoring the obvious: none of us have done this before. We must therefore rely on each other—and our mutual patience, understanding, cooperation and support—to see this plan to success. It won’t be straightforward or stress free. But our community has proven, time and again, its uncanny ability to rise above the adversity at hand and deliver extraordinary results.

Below are the building blocks of our RTC plan. Given it is still a work in progress, we would benefit greatly from your advice and assistance. The RTC Task Force, comprised of stakeholders from across campus, will continue to build out this provisional plan in the weeks and months ahead. If you have thoughts or questions on how to better our planning efforts, now or in the future, please send your ideas to

Safety Protocols

In implementing our RTC plan, these safety protocols will remain in effect until further notice.

  1. Before returning to campus for the first time, all employees must successfully complete a brief online information session administered by University Health Services to ensure awareness of CDC and ODH guidelines. The tutorial can be found here.
  2. Before returning to campus for the first time, all supervisors and lab leaders must complete a health safety assessment of their workplace setting. Find more information, including deadlines for completion, here.
  3. Before coming to campus each day, all employees must complete a self-administered wellness check based on CDC and ODH guidelines. The wellness check can be found here. All employees who have symptoms that may relate to COVID-19 should contact University Health Services immediately at
  4. All employees must wear facial coverings on campus, except while eating or alone in a private space. For more information on facial coverings, including exemptions to this requirement, click here.
  5. All employees must adhere to social-distancing requirements detailed here.
  6. All areas must clean and sanitize their workplace settings throughout the day. These efforts will supplement cleaning and sanitizing activities that will occur after hours by our facilities staff. Click here for specific directions.
  7. All employees must continue to abide by restrictions on travel detailed here.
  8. All employees who meet the CDC’s definition of individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may continue to work remotely. CDC information on risk factors is available here. Please contact Human Resources to submit a request to work remotely due to being at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  9. For more information on mental health resources, please click here.
  10. For more information on maintaining a safe work environment as well as wellness and support resources, please click here.

Phase One

We plan to commence Phase One on June 1, presuming safety protocols are followed. At this time, our researchers will begin a gradual, stepwise return to campus. The Vice President for Research and his team have been working diligently over the past several weeks to prepare for this phased-in approach. More direction on Phase One can be found here.  

Phase Two

Based on our learnings from Phase One, we plan to commence Phase Two on July 1, presuming safety protocols are followed. At this time, portions of our employee base will return to campus. Supervisors will determine the employees to include in Phase Two based on institutional needs as well as on the health safety assessment for their respective area. In the days ahead, we will provide more direction on Phase Two.

Phase Three

Based on our learnings from previous phases, we plan to commence Phase Three on August 3, presuming safety protocols are followed. At this time, other portions of our employee base will return to campus. To effectively manage the density on campus, employee groups will work alternating schedules. Supervisors will determine the best alternating schedules for their respective areas. In the weeks ahead, we will provide more direction on Phase Three.

Phase Four

Phase Four will coincide with the start of fall semester on August 24. At present, we cannot say with finality how the fall semester will be structured for our students in terms of their on-campus experience. Our hope is to have enough data points in hand to make this decision by no later than late June. Once this decision is made, we will provide more direction on Phase Four.


I realize this plan will be received differently within our community. Some will want us to get started sooner on the transition. Others will want us to wait longer until we know more. Both views are valid and must be balanced.

Yes, when it comes to planning for your safety, we will err on the side of caution. And, yes, we know it is critical for us to pursue our mission, vision and values the best way we know how—on campus and in person. Our leadership imperative is to build a safe and nimble framework to accomplish both. In sum, we believe this provisional, multi-phase plan—with your continuous input and support—has the ability to do just that.

On behalf of a grateful University, thank you for all you do to make UC such a special place.

With gratitude,

Neville G. Pinto

P.S. Remember this: When we’re out, masks on!