Return to Campus Pre-Planning

Dear College of Arts & Letters Staff and Faculty,

As you have read recently in President Stanley’s e-mail of May 17 “Bringing More Employees Back to Campus,” the state of Michigan as part of its Vacc to Normal plan has chosen May 24 as the date after which in-person work for all business sectors can recommence. This date corresponds to 2 weeks after the state reached a 55% vaccination rate. Aligned with the University, the College will recommend a very gradual return to campus over the summer with a focus on the latter part of July and August to ensure that we remain true to the commitments we made in our original contingency planning document to: 1) Protect the health and safety of all members of our community and put people first; 2) Enact our commitment to equity; 3) Advance our core academic mission; and 4) Lead transformative change.

As we consider these commitments, we recommend following several important considerations outlined in the President’s message, including:

  • All employees who have been working remotely should continue doing so until told otherwise by their supervisor.
  • Unit leaders will have the flexibility to determine how their teams work best (in-person, remotely or hybrid), keeping equity and individual team member circumstances in mind.
  • We plan to phase in returning locations to minimize the impact on the workloads of IPF, IT, and other staff members in support roles.
  • All unit leaders are still required by the state to complete a Return to Work Plan, which must be approved before employees can return to campus.
  • As we plan for more in-person work, face coverings, health screening forms, and other mitigation strategies (such as physical distancing) still are required by MIOSHA emergency rules and will continue.

In the College, and as units begin to consider a return to campus, health and safety remain the top priority. To this end, please consider getting a vaccination if you have not yet done so. It is the most important way that we can keep each other safe as we return to campus. There are opportunities at the MSU Pavilion and the MSU Health Care Pharmacy and also at many commercial locations. As always, continue to check the Together We Will site for the latest in updates on health and safety.

Over the next few months, we have an important opportunity to return to campus in ways that embody the culture of care we have sought to establish. This is the time to lead transformative change with intention and imagination. How can we create supportive, dynamic, and honest spaces of working and learning that will empower everyone to thrive? How will we respect and support one another as we transition back to campus and acclimate ourselves to being in the same physical spaces with one another? How can we incorporate the best aspects of remote work into our new habits and practices of working together as we return?

Over the next weeks and months, we will likely need to adjust physical spaces and work schedules to protect personal and public health and to stay within safety guidelines. The transition back has many practical considerations that require planning for a gradual timeline back to campus. Some examples are:

  • The need to bring furniture, IT equipment, plants, etc. back into offices.
  • The need for IT updates on a number of computers throughout the college that have been sitting idle. This also includes resetting printers, photocopiers, etc. as needed. Not all of this work will be discovered until we start shifting back, so a gradual approach is needed in time for the start of classes.
  • In the latter half of the summer, consider drawing up a return plan for shared office spaces.

Employees who wish to return to work should contact their supervisor first. They must fill out the Health Screening Form each day they wish to come to campus.

Further guidance will be forthcoming from the University in mid-June that will help unit leaders and their faculty and staff to begin to plan a return to campus. We recognize that many are eager to return, while others meet the idea with some trepidation. It will be important to value all such responses and respect requests for continued safety measures. There are many who still do not yet have access to vaccines and many also who are still experiencing hardships due to COVID-19, including financial challenges and mourning the loss of loved ones. Let us treat each other with kindness and grace as we move into a new period of togetherness.

Please be well, stay safe, and take care.

Chris Long, Dean

Cara Cilano, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

Sonja Fritzsche, Associate Dean of Academic Personnel and Administration

Bill Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Education