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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Last updated: June 3, 2021
VCs, Deans, and other UIC leaders,
Earlier this week, the City of Chicago announced that there are no longer any US states on the “orange” list for the Chicago Emergency Travel Order. “Orange” status requires travelers to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period. (https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/emergency-travel-order.html)
With this news, UIC will no longer require advance approval by the Deans, VCHA, Provost or Chancellor for domestic travel to a “yellow” state. Instead, approval will revert back to the traveler’s unit head per UI Purchasing rules, which state that Unit heads or their delegates are responsible to approve travel and verify the unit has funds available. University Payables reviews and approves all travel expenses.
We will continue to monitor the Chicago travel order. Should states become “orange” again, we would require the safety review and advance approval. The travel form website has been updated with this information — https://vcha.uic.edu/about/vcha-initiatives/covid-19-university-travel-request-authorization-form/.
Additionally, UIC will continue to require advance approval for international travel. Level 1 countries will receive approval to travel with travel pre-counseling and a safety plan. Level 2 and 3 countries will route to the Dean/VC for approval as well as requiring a safety plan and pre-travel counseling. Level 4 countries are not being approved at this time. Travelers may appeal these decisions – if this occurs, we will route to the Dean/VC and a safety review committee for a determination.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Executive Director, VCHA Administration and Operations
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University-sponsored domestic travel
The university limits all university-sponsored out-of-state domestic travel for faculty, staff and students to pre-approved travel for essential university business.
Those who believe they have an essential reason to travel shall request approval through their unit executive officer.
Permission for university-sponsored travel within the United States may be granted for essential university business. Travel plans should follow guidelines from the CDC , Illinois Department of Health, and the City of Chicago. In some special circumstances, such as Athletics, the Chancellor, in conformance with NCAA directives, may grant a blanket approval.
University-sponsored international travel
The university limits international travel for faculty, staff and students to pre-approved travel for essential university business.
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 3 or Department of State Level 4 risk designation. The CDC Level 3 countries are listed on the CDC website and may change frequently. 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 3 countries. Based on current CDC COVID-19 recommendations, international travelers should avoid all travel to destinations the CDC classifies as ‘Level 4: COVID-19 Very High’” and reconsider international travel to destinations that are classified as ‘Level 3: COVID-19 High’. 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. – including CDC required negative test results or documentation that must be provided prior to departure for the U.S.
Those who believe they have an essential business reason to travel may be able to request approval through their unit executive officer (e.g. dean, vice provost, vice chancellor) and then to the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, Provost or Chancellor, depending on the traveler’s reporting line, for final approval. Permission for international university-sponsored travel will be granted for essential university business; travel plans should follow guidelines from the U.S. Department of State, CDC , Illinois Department of Health guidelines, and the City of Chicago.
Request approval for university-sponsored international travel by completing the form available online here. (https://vcha.uic.edu/about/vcha-initiatives/covid-19-university-travel-request-authorization-form/)
The approval process:
- International travel requests will receive an initial determination within 5-7 business days. In most cases: Level 1 countries will be approved; Level 2 & 3 countries require safety plan development and essential function review by unit executive officers; and Level 4 country requests will be rejected.
- Any conditionally approved international travel requests will receive a confirmation review approximately 4 weeks before the date of travel where travelers will receive any updated safety determinations and to schedule a mandatory pre-travel counseling conversation with UIC Contact Tracing.
- The pre-travel counseling should occur approximately 2 weeks prior to travel, at which time, travelers should provide a safety plan outline.
Employees are expected to comply with the pre-and post-travel counseling processes, which are meant to provide consultation on appropriate safety expectations for university-sponsored travel. A safety plan template is available here and should include any safety documentation provided by organizing institutions for events/meetings to be attended during travel.
Returning from international travel
Depending on the current guidance, employees may be required to quarantine after international travel. 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 the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), which extended the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (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.
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONS
When traveling with any research-related data or materials, refer to The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) guidance on international travel to ensure protection of your research and IT hardware, as well as adherence to current federal regulations. Also, update the University Conflict of Interest disclosures as appropriate for all current guidelines.
Personal domestic and international travel
Employees are urged to follow guidelines from the CDC, Illinois Department of Health, and the City of Chicago for travel in the United States. The University strongly urges UIC community members to avoid personal travel to any country with a CDC Level 3 risk designation.
Employees are required to inform the university of their travel by using the UIC COVID-19 reporting decision tool and following the instructions provided. UIC contact tracing will then be in touch to provide guidance on required testing and quarantine. Employees should complete this reporting prior to departure.
Please note that this travel policy is subject to change based upon any continued developments in federal, state or local guidance.
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.