Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response

Return to Work Guide for Employees

Updated: January 6, 2021

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Phased Reopening Plan

Wright State University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic seeks to protect the health of our community, while continuing our vital missions of teaching, research, and public service. Our Phased Reopening Plan has been aligned and is consistent with local orders and ordinances of the Cities of Fairborn and Celina, and Greene and Mercer Counties, as well as the State of Ohio’s Phased Reopening Plan. This guide supplements the campus workplace safety plan (Injury Illness Prevention Plan) by providing information for preventing exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Our Phased Reopening Plan also follows recommendations from the federal government (Opening Guidelines), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Department of Public HealthOhio/OSHA and COVID-19 Public Health and Testing Advisory Committee. Recognizing that the pandemic is an ever-evolving situation, this guide will be revised accordingly.

Several sub-committees worked together to explore the critical tasks/paths to safely reopen the university. Thank you to all those who have participated and allowed us to progress to this point.

Management Responsibilities 

Prior to allowing employees to return to campus, departments will assess building spaces that they use to institute measures to physically separate and increase social distancing. Department supervisors may also consider rotating or staggering employee work schedules to allow space for physical distancing in smaller groups. Lower occupancy limits for common-use areas such as break rooms, conference rooms, and restrooms must be implemented and posted to maintain adequate physical distancing. Facilities services will share the primary responsibility for cleaning offices and workspaces and other high-touch surfaces on campus based on CDC and OSHA guidelines for disinfection. Facilities services will also maintain hand-sanitizer stations at building entrances, elevator stops, and high-traffic areas, subject to the availability of hand sanitizer.

Phased Occupancy of Campus Buildings

Wright State will phase in a return of employees over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate physical distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment), a capacity to clean and disinfect, and to screen for COVID-19. Screening will include self-reporting of symptoms and/or testing for COVID-19.

Wright State will assess expanded staffing based on mission-critical operations, the ability to control and manage specific work environments, and the necessity to access onsite resources. These decisions, once approved, will be communicated through your respective dean or vice president.

The need to reduce the number of people on campus (density) to meet physical distancing requirements will continue for some time. Increasing onsite staffing will be tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks for employees, as well as the communities we serve. Employees who can continue to work remotely should continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings consistent with public health directives. No unit or department should increase staffing levels beyond current needs without approval from your respective dean or vice president. Once decisions to expand onsite staffing in certain areas have been made, employees should follow the policies and protocols detailed in this guide for returning to work on campus. 

As staffing onsite increases and operations expand, officials will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus, as well as existing policies and procedures to mitigate it. If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may need to be implemented again.

Building Access

Prior to a building being reopened for use, facilities operations will develop and implement a plan for the appropriate physical use of the building. These measures will include such things as limiting access to the building to certain entrances, designating traffic flow throughout the building to create physical separation, indicating waiting areas outside restrooms and elevators, and, where possible, creating physical distance between seats in classrooms and other spaces. All occupants of the building will be expected to comply with the measures so the building can be used while still allowing for the necessary physical separation between individuals.

Departments and facilities personnel should identify usable building access points and coordinate arrival and departure times of employees to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of the business day. If feasible, employee arrivals and departures should be scheduled in 30-minute increments to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs, elevators, etc.

If you have been instructed to return to the workplace, you should report to work or depart work through the designated building access and at the designated time to limit the number of people entering and exiting buildings at any one time.

Visitors and guests are not allowed onsite during this time. However, prospective students and parents are welcome with appointment.

Violation of these guidelines may result in the immediate revocation of building access privileges, as well as corrective action.

Signage and Posters

Occupants are expected to follow signage on traffic flow through building entrances, exits, elevator usage, and similar common use areas.

Working in Office Environments

As a general principle, face coverings/masks must be used at all times in Wright State buildings, including walking in hallways and tunnels. You should wear a face covering/mask at all times while in a shared workspace/room even if you are six feet apart. More information about mask use on campus.

If you work in an open plan office environment, remain at least six feet away from co-workers at all times. For example, for those in office cubicles, it may be necessary to have one workspace remain empty to provide the necessary six-foot separation. Management will be responsible for rearranging and/or reassigning workspaces to maintain appropriate physical distance.

If you work in an office, no more than one person should be in the same office unless the required six feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in an office, masks/face coverings should be worn at all times. A mask or face covering is not required if you are working alone in a confined office space unless someone else enters the room.

Masks/face coverings should be worn by all staff, faculty, and students in reception/receiving areas, including those areas protected by plexiglass.

Close Proximity Work

When a job task must be performed that puts two or more employees in close proximity of each other (e.g., within a couple of feet) for more than 15 minutes, employees and supervisors should work together to assess the exposure risks involved and determine the appropriate controls, including a review of engineering, administrative, and PPE controls. Contact Environmental Health and Safety for workplace hazard assessments.

Laboratory Work

When working in a laboratory, the normal safety standards still apply, in addition to current COVID-19 standards of physical distancing, enhanced personal hygiene, and regular disinfection. Specific criteria have been developed for employees working in laboratory environments.

Using Elevators

No more than one person may use an elevator at a time, so please consider using the stairs whenever possible. If you are using the elevator, wear your mask or face covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol upon departing the elevator. Wait for the elevator in the designated area to maintain the necessary six-foot separation. Individuals with a disability may have a personal care attendant (PCA) with them in the elevator.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Meetings should be held using the extensive range of available collaboration online tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, etc.). Conference calls by telephone also are a good option.

In-person meetings must be limited to two people per room (office or meeting room), unless signage on the meeting room indicates it is approved for greater occupancy. In addition, meeting should only take place if:

  1. Individuals can maintain six feet of separation and
  2. All participants in the meeting are wearing a mask/face covering.

Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees. All attendees should wear a mask or face covering while sharing space in a common room.

During your time onsite, you are encouraged to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone, or other available technology rather than face-to-face. You can also use a range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, etc.). If one attendee is using a remove collaboration tool, it is a best practice for all meeting attendees to meet remotely using that same tool.


Before and after eating, you should wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

If dining on campus, you should wear your mask or face covering until you are ready to eat and then replace it afterward. Eating establishments must meet requirements to allow at least six feet of distance between each customer, including lines and seating arrangements. Individuals should not sit directly facing one another. Staff are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside if this is reasonable for their situation.

Shared Break Rooms and Kitchens

Use of shared break rooms and kitchens should be avoided. If you need to eat in your workplace, the use of a break room or kitchen for the preparation of food or drink for one person at a time is permitted. Dishes, utensils, microwave, and other surfaces, including table, refrigerator handle, coffee machine, etc., must be sanitized after use.


Employees are advised to avoid any nonessential travel if possible. If travel is necessary, check the current Wright State policy for specific guidance before making reservations.

Approaches to Maintaining Physical Distancing

There are several options departments should consider to maintain required physical distancing measures and reduce population density within buildings and workspaces.

  1. Remote Work. Those who can work remotely to fulfill some or all of their work responsibilities should continue to do so, to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. These arrangements, which should be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be done on a full– or partial-day/week schedule as appropriate.
  2. Alternating Weeks/Days. In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments can schedule partial staffing on alternating weeks (preferred to reduce the amount of cleaning/disinfecting required) or days. Such schedules will help enable physical distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces.
  3. 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 will reduce traffic in common areas to meet physical distancing requirements.

Alternating days and staggered schedules must be coordinated not only within your unit but also with the management of the building where your team works.

COVID-19 Information and Safety Protocol Training

COVID-19 Awareness and Acknowledgment

All employees, including student employees, must complete the mandatory Return to Campus Awareness and Acknowledgment prior to returning to campus to work. Those who fail to do so may face corrective action or discipline subject to Article 14, up to and including termination. Every Wright State community member (faculty, staff, and student) shares in the responsibility for protecting the health of our community and all members of our community will be expected to follow the required Health and Safety Protocols while on campus and/or working in an offsite university property.

COVID-19 Safety Protocol 

All employees, including student employees, contractors, and campus visitors are expected to comply fully with all posted COVID-19 safety policies and protocol guidelines. COVID-19 safety protocol guidelines should be clearly posted and visible in all public buildings and offices. Safety is EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY. Please help remind those in your area of the need to practice safe behaviors.

If we each implement the measures set forth in this guide, the combined effect will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at work. When you see someone who has forgotten to put on their mask or forgotten to clean a common area, simply remind them of the proper protocol with a polite, “Please.” For example, “Please wear a mask when you are on campus.” And for those of us who receive a reminder from a colleague, we should politely say “Thank you” and immediately follow the proper safety protocol.

  1. Required Masks/Face Coverings. Must be used when inside all Wright State University properties, including tunnels, to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent asymptomatic carriers from unknowingly transmitting it to others except for the following reasons:
  • Facial coverings in the work setting are prohibited by law or regulations
  • Facial coverings are in violation of documented industry standards
  • Facial coverings are not advisable for health reasons
  • Facial coverings are in violation of the business’s documented safety policies
  • Facial coverings are not required when the employee works alone in an assigned work area
  • There is a functional (practical) reason for an employee not to wear a facial covering in the workplace.

    [More information about mask use on campus.]
  1. Physical Distance. Staying six feet away from other individuals in your workplace significantly reduces the likelihood of transmitting the virus. 
  2. Cleaning and Disinfecting. Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and office spaces is extremely important, but alone is not sufficient to stop the spread of COVID-19.  
  3. Frequent Handwashing. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is essential to prevent the spread of the virus.   
  4. Limit Capacity to meet Physical Distancing guidelines. Staying six feet away from other individuals significantly reduces the likelihood of transmitting the virus. Best practices include the following:
  • Establish maximum capacity
  • Use appointment setting where possible to limit congestion

Required Daily Self-Assessment 

All faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors must evaluate themselves for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to work, and to stay home if they are not well. Visit the CDC Self-Checker Guide for additional information on self-assessments.

Establish a protocol for managing people who become ill in the workplace, including details about how and where a sick person will be isolated (in the event they are unable to leave immediately) while awaiting transportation from the workplace, to their home or to a health care facility, and cleaning and disinfecting spaces the ill person has occupied to prevent exposure to other workers, customers, or visitors. Employers may need to collaborate with EHS health officials to facilitate contact tracing and notification related to COVID-19 cases or possible exposures.

Symptom Monitoring Requirement

Employees who return to the workplace, even if just to make a quick visit to pick something up from an office, must conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to work at the university. You must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 or have been evaluated and cleared by your medical provider to be eligible to report to work.

At this time, symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New gastrointestinal symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell

All employees should monitor symptom onset daily to lessen the community spread of COVID-19. If you have questions about your exposure, have a recorded temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees, or have any of the listed symptoms, you should contact your medical provider for an assessment and COVID-19 testing.

  • If you develop mild symptoms while on either the Dayton or Lake campuses, call Environmental Health and Safety at 937-775-2215 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for assessment and instructions. Otherwise, please call your own primary care provider for advice or go directly to the nearest urgent care. You can also call Occupational Health for testing if advised by your primary care clinician.
  • Notify EHS or complete the EHS Incident Report in the event of a positive test result.

You should self-isolate and maintain at least six feet of distance from others until cleared by your medical provider to return to work. Any employees that return to work following an illness should promptly report any recurrence of symptoms. 

In addition to getting clearance from your medical provider, employees who are ill with fever or acute respiratory symptoms should not return to work until both of the following occur:

  • At least three full days have passed with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and no acute respiratory illness symptoms; and 
  • At least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared.

According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Age (particularly, 65 years and older)
  • HIV 
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe) 
  • Chronic lung disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Serious heart conditions 
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis 
  • Severe obesity 
  • Being immunocompromised   

Employees who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA reasonable accommodations related to returning to the workplace should connect with the Wright State Office of Disability Services by emailing Other resources include human resources benefits for possible sick leave or FMLA options.

Employees who have been instructed to return to work onsite and have concerns about doing so for reasons unrelated to their own personal health should first discuss their concerns with the supervisor. If the employee and the supervisor cannot reach an agreement, the employee and the manager should work with their human resources business partner, Office of the Provost, or labor relations as applicable, for guidance.

Phases for Fall Campus Operations

Wright State will employ three phases for its Phased Reopening Plan.

Phase 1

Essential employees working on campus, phased-in researchers, and all remaining employees who were working, worked remote.

Phase 2: Target dates are August 3–14

All employees who can continue to perform the majority of their day-to-day responsibilities remotely should continue to do so. However, as the university begins to resume on-campus operations, additional employees may be required to physically report to work given business needs. Consistent with public health guidelines, most employees should continue to telecommute; in the limited circumstances of a physical return being necessary, supervisors should use the provided guidelines to inform their decision-making. For those employees who must return to campus, considerations will be made to limit the density of people throughout campus in order to maintain strict physical distancing practices. Where feasible, accommodations will be considered for people at higher risk of severe illness, including older individuals and those with serious underlying health conditions and people with household members at higher risk of severe illness. Non-essential travel will be limited.

Phase 3: Target dates are August 17–24

Due to the resurgence of COVID-19 across the country, employees should continue working remotely with their supervisor/department leader’s approval when possible. Supervisors will communicate expectations about employees’ return to campus in writing.

Changing outbreak conditions in each geographic community will directly affect an individual’s exposure risks to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. For all phases of reopening, Wright State has developed and implemented policies and procedures that address preventing, monitoring, and responding to any emergence or resurgence of COVID-19 in any campus location. Wright State will continue these practices to the extent possible to help prevent COVID-19 from emerging or resurging at our campus. Such a resurgence could lead to increases in infected and sick students, faculty, staff, and visitors, which then increases the need for contact tracing of individuals who visited our campus location, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, or even a temporary suspension of classes or campus operations.

Manager Toolkit

Resources to assist managers with the Phased Reopening Plan: