UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With the recent announcement of expectations for summer and fall 2021 on-campus activities and promises of vaccines rolling out in mass quantities before May 1, Penn State’s Return to Work Task Group is reconvening to discuss employee guidelines and outcomes for future semesters.
The Return to Work Task Group is co-chaired by Lorraine Goffe, vice president for Human Resources, and Abby Diehl, assistant vice provost for faculty affairs, and consists of various members from across the University's work spectrum. While select employees have already returned to work at various times in the past several months, the Return to Work Task Group is examining what a return to campus for all employees might entail.
“With the safety of the University community as the top priority, the team is accounting for evolving scientific guidance, as well as evolving statewide guidance, various roles and employment types at the University, and multiple needs and differentiators across Penn State’s campuses, colleges and administrative units,” Goffe said.
Faculty have already provided for scheduling purposes the anticipated mode of delivery for their courses in summer and fall, and University officials understand that questions still remain for many employees about expectations for their inevitable return to on-campus work.
Goffe explained there will be flexibility built into any plan for return to campus, due to changing public health concerns and requirements. The group is collaborating closely with University leadership and will be analyzing, among many items, a return plan with a coordinated, timed and measured resumption of on-site work.
Currently, the Return to Work Task Group is determining the resources that must be in place before any return to in-person work can proceed; new policies to support new health and safety measures for employees in the workplace; and ongoing public health training and communications for all employees on all campuses.
More specifically, the task group will look at social distancing measures, office space reconfigurations, expectations for personal and public hygiene, and isolation protocol and self-quarantine guidance. The creation of protocols for shared spaces, like meeting rooms, copy rooms and lunchrooms, will be addressed along with detailed cleaning procedures (in-place since early 2020), training for employees, and compliance with OSHA record-keeping.
There is also keen awareness for employee wellbeing, Goffe said. The task group must look at various employee assistance programs, such as, but not limited to: wellness programming; childcare and accommodations for employees returning to work; discovery of work/life balance support options; and investigating reasonable accommodations for older and/or immunocompromised faculty and staff.
More information on return to work can be found online via human resources. Goffe, along with Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State’s new COVID-19 Operations Control Center, will join Penn State President Eric J. Barron on at 3:30 p.m. on March 31 for a University-wide webcast, as they discuss various issues and the University begins to address the complex questions of how to proceed toward fall.