COVID-19 Road to Recovery
UIC Returns to Campus
Phase 4 Restore Illinois-Recovery
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s COVID-19 pandemic response protocols and policy guidance focus on the safety and well-being of all employees – our health care providers, faculty, staff, student workers, our future and currently enrolled students, as well as the public with whom we interact.
We will also continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and applicable federal requirements. Expanding staffing on campus will be tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve.
Plans for how campuses can open to all constituents will follow guidance obtained from the Illinois Board of Higher Education COVID-19 Guidance issued on June 23, 2020 and updated on July 28, 2020.
COVID-19 Return to Work
Given the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 virus crisis, this guidance will be updated as needed when new information emerges or as the situations change.
Symptom Reporting and Quarantine Guidance
How to report COVID-19 exposures, symptoms and positive tests
UIC contact tracing is pleased to announce a single reporting tool for the campus community. All employees and students at UIC and UI Health should report:
- Having been exposed to a COVID-positive individual.
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Testing positive for COVID-19 anywhere but at UIC campus saliva testing, University Health Services, or Student Health Services.
Using this tool, students and employees will be asked a few questions, and will then be directed to the appropriate resource. This new tool is meant to streamline and simplify COVID-related reporting.
COVID-19 quarantine guidance
On Dec. 3, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an option to reduce the amount of time individuals exposed to COVID-19 need to quarantine and stay off of work. However, the CDC still generally endorsed a 14-day quarantine.
Whether or not to allow a shortened quarantine depends on local public health considerations, such as the availability of diagnostic testing and disease burden.
Based on these conditions at UIC and in the surrounding communities, UIC public health experts have recommended the following for individuals who have had a close contact exposure to a COVID-positive individual or who have traveled to other states where the City of Chicago requires quarantine upon return:
- UI Health employees and students currently on a clinical rotation may return to participation if:
- They are asymptomatic, AND
- They have a PCR test 7 days after last exposure to a COVID-positive person AND
- The test result comes back negative AND
- They continue to monitor symptoms for 14 days from exposure.
- All other UIC employees and students may return to participation if:
- They are asymptomatic, test negative, and quarantine for 10 days after their last exposure (PCR test must be performed no sooner than 7 days after last exposure to a COVID-positive person) and continue to monitor symptoms for 14 days from exposure and report any COVID-19 symptoms to contact tracing immediately, OR
- They are asymptomatic, do not test, and quarantine for 14 days after last exposure. However, if testing availability is not limited, a test before return is preferred.
- Note: this includes campus essential workers who UIC is treating as nonessential unless Unit Head or Vice Chancellor petitions for their return to work under essential worker guidelines. All returns to participation must be approved by UIC contact tracing, so it is crucial that any exposures be promptly reported to contact tracing so individuals can get the appropriate public health guidance.
Those returning from quarantine are recommended to begin or resume regular saliva testing as an additional measure.
All returns to participation must be approved by UIC contact tracing, so it is crucial that any exposures be promptly reported to contact tracing so individuals can get the appropriate public health guidance.
The above changes are effective immediately.
Flexible Work Arrangements for Employees
The University of Illinois System is committed to ensuring that all employees have flexibility in their work arrangements to the maximum extent possible, within the context of their job duties and the operations of their department/unit. This includes, and is not limited to, remote work arrangements, alternative scheduling, and other adjustments to the work environment.
All departments and units are directed to adopt highly flexible work arrangements for employees. In other words, supervisors will offer flexible work arrangements to employees, who will be able to opt-in to such offered arrangements without having to provide a reason or share any personal or medical information.
Please review the COVID-19 Flexible Work Arrangements for Employees document for more guidance.
Returning to work at the UIC campus during Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan is limited to the following circumstances, which require advance approval.
- Resumption of mission-critical business operations that require employee(s) to work onsite, whether for a portion of the workweek, or the entire workweek.
- Occasional access is needed by the employee for access to equipment; to retrieve materials required for continuation of telework or pick-up mail; to disburse critical materials or checks; and other business specific reasons.
Those support units that can continue to work remotely in an effective manner will continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings (Phase 4). If staff are currently working from home and productive, those employees should continue to work from home.
Phased Staffing: UIC will phase in the return of staff following a coordinated process to ensure PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing capabilities for COVID-19 are available and that the workplace will support appropriate social distancing.
No unit or department should increase on-site staffing levels beyond current needs to support necessary on-site operations during Phase 4.
As staffing on-site increases and operations expand, UIC officials will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus in the local area. Testing will be a critical part of assessing the impact of increased staffing. If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may need to be implemented.
COVID-19 Employee Safety Protocol Training
All new UIC employees are required to complete the COVID-19 Safety Protocol Training. The training shares information that will help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 on campus, including social and physical distancing, staying home if you are sick, proper hygiene measures, use of face coverings, and cleaning and disinfection procedures.
You may access the COVID-19 Safety Training in Ability LMS using your university NetID and password to log in. The link will be available to new employees in UI New Hire.
If you have questions about the ability to authorize alternate work schedules contact your unit’s HR representative or UIC Human Resources.
Alternating Days: Departments should schedule partial staffing on alternating days to reduce density and enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.
Staggered Reporting/Departing: The beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements.
Temporary Teleworking Policies and Guidance
Telecommuting agreements approved in March 2020 should continue to be in effect. Supervisors are responsible for updating agreements to account for any changes to business operations and conditions.
For UIC employees working remotely:
- if you are experiencing symptoms and need to be tested,
- if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or
- if you were tested for COVID-19 outside of University Health Services,
Do not come to campus. Isolate at home and contact your provider and your supervisor. Contact University Health Services if you test positive, need guidance on work status, or have any questions by completing the online form HERE.
University Health Services will triage all employee reports, respond to employees, schedule any necessary testing, provide any necessary contact tracing within the University, advise on change of work status, and communicate with employees and supervisors within 24-48 hours.
Please note that the University has several testing locations for employees. These locations are by appointment only and are scheduled through the University Health Services process.
In addition to utilizing University Health Services, you also have options to access care through your primary care provider office or medical home. If your medical home is UI Health, you can also contact 866-600-CARE to connect with COVID-19 nurse triage or your primary care clinic.
Supervisory Guidance for management of employees working from home.
- Establish expectations around work hours and how often you are expecting to communicate with the employee. Supervisors should tell employees how often they should send updates on work plan progress and what those updates should include. Supervisors should also communicate how quickly they expect the employee to respond while teleworking and the best ways for the employee to contact the supervisor while working remotely.
- Accommodate support resources regarding technology. If the employee is using their home computer or laptop, they are responsible for following all university practices and policies to maintain security on their device.
- Use collaboration tools for communication with your team.
- Remind non-exempt employees who work remotely that any overtime must be approved in advance.
- As units begin to return individuals to on-site work, decisions regarding who continues to telecommute should be based on operational needs and appropriately consider equity amongst staff.
All faculty and staff returning to work on campus must fully comply with the policies, protocols and guidelines outlined in this document.
I have an employee who is required to work on-site who is refusing to comply with the required health and safety measures (e.g. wearing a mask, washing hands, etc.). What can/should I do?
All University Buildings will remain closed for visitors during Phase 4 operations. Clinical operations have provided their own guidance. Staff may not bring non-employees (friends, family members, etc.) into any UIC building.
As a reminder, do not report to work if:
- you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to be tested,
- you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and/or
- you were tested positive for COVID-19 outside of University Health Services.
Isolate at home, contact your UIC supervisor, call University Health Services at 312-996-7420, and select the COVID-19 option. The call will be directed to a customer service agent who will ask for employee-identifying information (including UIN and supervisor’s email), any potential exposure, and any symptoms you may have. Please have this information available when making the call. The agent will provide you with information on your next steps. This line is available seven days per week, 24 hours a day. Nurse consultation and scheduling will occur Monday through Friday 8 am to 6 pm. Calls outside these times will be returned on the next business day.
If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek the closest care as soon as possible. This may include dialing 911.
Refer to the COVID-19 Public Spaces and Office Safety Guidance document for information on personal safety practices such as:
- Face Masks
- Social Distancing
- Using Elevators
A. The following leave policies continue to apply:
- 801-04 Sick Leave for Support Staff Employees
- 801-05 Sick Leave for Academic Employees
- 806-01 Special Leave of Absence for Support Staff
- 806-02 Family and Medical Leave
General information about Leave available to employees is found here: https://www.hr.uillinois.edu/leave/
B. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law effective April 1, 2020, was created to help protect families and workers during the COVID-19 outbreak including the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, amending the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Employees are eligible for the benefits defined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provided they meet the qualifying criteria outlined in the Act.
UI POLICY ON FFCRA: https://www.hr.uillinois.edu/leave/coronavirus_response_act
UI Health employees including pharmacists working in ambulatory pharmacies have different requirements under the law as outlined here: FFCRA and Leave Options
Last updated: January 5, 2021
In response to the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Illinois at Chicago has issued a number of travel restrictions.
The safety of our students is of paramount concern to us. As of June 4, 2020, UIC made the difficult decision to suspend all study abroad programming for the fall 2020 semester. This decision was made through regular consultation with trusted resources and experts such as the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately, due to risks presented by COVID-19, these agencies are discouraging international travel.
This decision applies to Fall 2020 and Academic Year 2020-21 programs and includes all program types (exchange, direct enroll, provider programs, faculty-led, and study abroad by petition). This decision also applies to Fall and AY inbound exchange students from partner institutions. Study abroad departing after January 15 will evaluated in September. The University will not permit any waivers or exceptions for fall 2020 study abroad, including for those programs with delayed start dates in September or October. Participants choosing to study abroad will have no University connection or support, including access to study abroad options through the University, international insurance, and pre-articulation of course credit.
We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to update you with any information we have. The latest communication and guidance for UIC is found at: https://studyabroad.uic.edu/covid-19/
University-sponsored domestic travel
The university is limiting domestic travel for faculty, staff and students to pre-approved travel for essential university business. Currently, there are no federal restrictions on travel within the U.S.
Those who believe they have an essential business reason to travel by air may be able to request approval through their unit executive officer (e.g. dean, vice provost, vice chancellor) and then to the Chancellor, VC Health Affairs or Provost, depending on the traveler’s reporting line, for final approval. It is expected that permission to travel will be granted only in the most limited of circumstances and caution should follow CDC guidelines for travel in the United States. In some special circumstances, such as Athletics, a blanket approval may be granted by the Chancellor in conformance with NCAA directives.
The City of Chicago has issued an emergency travel order directing travelers entering or returning to Chicago from certain U.S. states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. This currently includes the following states, and is updated every Tuesday, and go into effect the following Friday at 12:01 a.m. Updates are posted here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/emergency-travel-order.html
Personal domestic travel
Employees are urged to follow CDC guidance regarding domestic travel risks and for those employees living in Chicago, compliance with the above restrictions imposed by the City as indicated above.
Individuals who have been working remotely should continue to do so during this quarantine period. For employees who have been working on-site, the department may choose to allow the employee to work remotely during the quarantine period if operationally feasible. If the employee is required to work on-site and remote work cannot be assigned or completed the employee must utilize benefit time. Under FFCRA, the employee would be eligible for 80 hours (two weeks) of sick leave time as a result of the local order. If the employee has exhausted use of FFCRA, the employee must utilize their university benefit time.
The U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have all issued global health and travel advisories. The University strongly urges UIC community members to avoid travel to any country with a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 risk designation. The CDC Level 3 countries are listed on the CDC website and may change daily. A full list of CDC travel advisories can be found here.
Faculty, staff, and students should exercise caution and if at all possible, avoid making future international travel arrangements to CDC Level 2 (currently Japan) countries. If travel is deemed necessary, we strongly urge faculty and staff to enroll in the UIC Travel Roster, where they can also sign up for insurance (https://oge.uic.edu/international-travel-safety-enrollment/) and with the U.S. Embassy in each country they are visiting (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, known as STEP).
Additionally, travelers should prepare for the possibility of local quarantines in some locations; flight cancellations; and that return to the U.S. from some international destinations may be delayed or even impossible. Travelers to any international destination should recognize the potential for challenges in returning to the U.S.
University employees who believe they have an essential business reason to travel internationally by air may request approval through their unit executive officer e.g. dean, vice provost, vice chancellor) and then to the Chancellor, VC Health Affairs or Provost, depending on the traveler’s reporting line, for final approval. It is expected that permission to travel internationally will be granted only in the most limited of circumstances.
If travel is deemed necessary, faculty and staff to enroll are urged to enroll in the UIC Travel Roster, where they can also sign up for insurance (https://oge.uic.edu/international-travel-safety-enrollment/) and with the U.S. Embassy in each country they are visiting (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, known as STEP).
All individuals returning from travel abroad should be advised of the following information from Homeland Security: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html and follow any requirements of the City of Chicago and or Illinois Department of Public Health, whichever applies.
Personal international travel
The University strongly urges UIC community members to avoid personal travel to any country with a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 risk designation.
UIC Guidelines for Travel Approval
Any University-sponsored and or paid for travel requires pre-approval from both the Unit Executive Officer and a second level review by either the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs or Provost, depending on the reporting line of the traveler. The primary concern is to make sure that any travel is safe for both the traveler and for our community as well as essential for the conduct of University business. It is expected that permission to travel will be granted only in the most limited of circumstances.
- Each person who desires to travel should make their own formal request to the highest level executive of their home unit through their immediate chain-of-command.
- The request should identify the dates, location, fund source for payment, and rationale for the travel.
- The request should briefly justify the travel, describing why it is essential University business.
- Each unit head will decide whether to forward the request to the next level (i.e., department forwards to college, college forwards to Vice Chancellor, etc.) or to deny the request.
- The ultimate decision will be made by either the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs or Provost, depending on the reporting line of the traveler.
Criteria for Approval
- Is the travel strictly necessary to fulfill the University’s fundamental mission? Does the research have immediate consequences for health of the population?
- Urgency: Can the travel be postponed?
- Can the activity be accomplished virtually?
- Location of travel: what is the CDC status of the location? Travel to any areas identified by the CDC as Level 3 will be denied. It is expected that permission to travel will be granted only in limited circumstances.
Participation in disciplinary conferences is generally considered non-essential University business at this time.
Note: the pre-approval requirement does not apply to local mileage reimbursements in fulfillment of pre-approved essential business activities.