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Sunrise Plan FAQs

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Return to Safe Campus Public Health Alert

In an April 24 message, President Joan Gabel announced the creation of a workgroup aimed at developing a University of Minnesota Sunrise Plan that follows guidelines from the State of Minnesota regarding how to safely and gradually return to workplaces. On May 1, President Gabel’s systemwide message shared the resulting Plan, which includes a process for faculty and staff to request a return to their worksite, as well as a series of requirements and guidelines for all University units as they begin to permit employees to return. The plan was updated May 14. As the directives from the State and health officials change, the Plan and FAQs will continue to be revised.

For more details on the FAQs below, view the systemwide Sunrise Plan.
For HR related questions, visit the 
Office of Human Resources COVID-19 FAQ. 

FAQ content

Returning to University campuses and facilities

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Who may return to campus or a University property now?

  • Until further notice, the University expects that any faculty or staff member who can work from home will continue to do so. 
  • Initially, faculty, staff (particularly researchers), and undergraduate student workers who needed to return to campus or another University location to complete their work could consider doing so as long as they discussed the need with their manager/supervisor and secured approval by using this form. This process continues. All requests must be approved by leaders within your unit or on your campus. View the Plan for full details.
  • Over time, and as public health conditions allow, we expect the Plan to evolve to allow more faculty and staff to slowly return to workplaces. See the Plan for updated request criteria and details on who may qualify to return.

    Last updated 6/12/2020

Does this plan include student workers?

  • Yes. Any student workers working on-site are expected to follow the requirements of this Plan
  • Individual students should not file requests under this process; those requests are submitted by supervisors.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

If I am currently considered an “Essential On-Site Employee” and I have already reported to my workplace, do I need to reapply to continue my onsite work?

  • No. Any faculty or staff who are currently considered “Essential On-Site Employees” will maintain their status and do not need to seek approval under this plan.
  • However, the University encourages all “Essential On-Site Employees” to continue to follow the health and safety guidelines outlined in the Plan and that have already been established for their work circumstances.

    Last updated 6/10/2020

If my request to return was declined, should I reapply using the same process?

  • If your request was previously declined, you can revisit the request with your manager and reapply using the updated criteria.

    Last updated 5/15/2020

When will all employees return to campus and who will make that decision?

  • While some faculty and staff will return to campus or to other sites in the near future because they must do so to complete their work, the University’s long-term plan to return to normal operations must be done gradually and will closely rely on public health conditions.
  • The University will follow guidance from Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) before any widespread return to campuses or facilities is allowed.
  • In the meantime, individual colleges, units, and campuses may develop plans to have employees return—as long as such plans align with the University’s Plan and the request for return is approved. If you have questions about when you will return to your worksite, contact your supervisor.
  • Additional leadership and committee work is underway to help the University prepare for the eventual full return of students, faculty, and staff.

    Last updated 5/15/2020

Why is the University moving so slowly to return faculty and staff to their workplaces?

  • Faculty, staff, and students are the University’s most important assets, and the health and safety of all members of our University community continue to be the top priority in our COVID-19 response.
  • University leaders and public health experts agree that returning people to University facilities too quickly, and without proper safety precautions, could lead to further spikes in the COVID-19 spread. The University will approach our return to workplaces in a gradual and slow manner to prevent unnecessary health risks and to avoid, as much as possible, a situation in which we must send employees home again for an extended period of time.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

What must each campus, college, or unit do to prepare for employees to work on campus or at another University location?

  • First, the leaders of campuses, colleges, and units are encouraged to consider if their employees’ work can continue in a remote working environment. If that is the case, those employees should continue to work from home.
  • If work cannot continue from home, leaders or supervisors are encouraged to develop localized plans that are unique and specific to the needs and safety of their faculty and staff. Such plans must align with the University’s Sunrise Plan. Each request to return must receive approval from a number of leaders in the requestor’s department and on their campus prior to employees returning to any University campus or facility.
  • Ultimately, these steps will allow the University to slowly and gradually return certain aspects of our work to campuses and facilities across the state without placing health and safety at risk.

    Last updated 5/15/2020

Do I need my campus or building ID to access my workspace?

Yes. Public access to most facilities is prohibited, and an ID and/or keys will be needed to gain access to your workspace.

Last updated 6/23/2020

Will I be able to continue to work remotely once my unit has returned to campus?

Supervisors are empowered to determine the best working arrangements for each team, which may include a phased or staggered return and work-from-home options, depending on individual departmental needs.

Last updated 5/1/2020

I am a caregiver whose children attend schools and/or daycares that are closed. What guidance can the University provide?

  • University leaders are aware of the daycare and K-12 school closures and the challenges they may present for faculty and staff who are also parenting and homeschooling children. At this time, returning to campus is only available for faculty and staff who believe they must return to complete their work. 
  • The University will continue to monitor other closures in the state and will consider them as plans for the return of additional employees are developed.
  • In the meantime, supervisors and managers are encouraged to be as flexible as possible to help those who report to them successfully manage their work and personal responsibilities.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

I am a caregiver of someone who has COVID-19, or I have COVID-19 symptoms myself. Do I return to my campus or workplace?

  • No. According to MDH and the CDC, if you are sick or are caring for a person who is sick, do not return to campus or your workplace until you have been asymptomatic for 14 days after exposure. You should consult with a medical professional before determining you are ready to return to your workplace.
  • The University has leave policies in place that allow faculty and staff to stay home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household because of COVID-19.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

Does the University remain under Extended Reduced Operations?

No. As of June 20, 2020, Extended Reduced Operations was lifted. To learn more about this operational status, review the policy here.

Last updated 6/23/2020

Are visitors allowed back on campus or at worksites?

  • Until further notice, non-U of M visitors are prohibited from entering any University facility that is not currently open to the public.
  • Separate guidance has been provided for the Landscape Arboretum and Les Bolstad Golf Course, which have partially reopened to the public.

    Last updated 6/23/2020

What will occur if Minnesota or my community experiences another spike in COVID-19 cases?

  • Public health officials remind all of us that this pandemic may ebb and flow, and we all will need to respond appropriately to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
  • It is always an option to suspend return-to-campus approvals and/or send people back home. These options would be considered if state and local public health officials advise the University to consider such actions or if the University otherwise believes it to be appropriate.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

Safety and wellbeing

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What role can I play to ensure the health and safety of our University community?

  • The health and wellbeing of our University community is a responsibility we all share in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you can continue to work from home at this time, you are expected to do so. A significant step in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is continuing to stay at home and away from others if possible.
  • For those who must return to the workplace to complete their work, and who have the approvals necessary to return, you must follow the proper health guidance:
    • Take your temperature in the morning and when you return home from work. Please keep a log and report any fever to your manager or supervisor.
    • Report any exposure to COVID-19 positive individuals, respiratory symptoms, sore throat, or dry cough to your supervisor.
    • If you are a supervisor and your employee indicates they have been exposed or have symptoms, you must require them to stay home and the employee should seek guidance from their healthcare provider. 
  • The systemwide Sunrise Plan outlines additional public safety guidelines that you and your colleagues are expected to follow.

    Last updated 6/10/2020

Will there be enhanced cleaning of workspaces to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19?

  • Yes. Regular housekeeping practices are being enhanced by facilities management teams on each campus, including frequent cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas such as door handles, railings, and elevator panels, among others. 
  • This is a shared responsibility. Please do your part to keep your workspaces clean and to avoid sharing workspaces and/or equipment.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

Can offices or workspaces be modified for increased safety?

  • Modifications to individual offices or workstations are not permitted unless an assessment from University Health and Safety deems health habits and other measures described in the Plan are insufficient to promote a safe work environment.

    Last updated 5/15/2020

Will in-person meetings be allowed?

  • Based on MDH and CDC guidance, in-person meetings are discouraged. If a meeting must be in person to accomplish the purpose of the meeting, it must be in a large room with attendees six feet away from each other, no larger than 10 people, and with cloth masks.
  • Continue to use the alternative methods of meeting and interacting with colleagues that became integral during the state’s “Stay at Home” order.

    Last updated 5/15/2020

Will other spaces in my work area be closed, such as a breakroom, kitchen or other facilities?

  • Yes, if it is impossible in those spaces to maintain safe physical distancing and regular cleaning. Break rooms / lunchrooms will be limited to food preparation only. 
  • When possible, employees are encouraged to bring meals that do not require refrigeration or heating.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

Am I required to wear a face covering on campus or at my worksite?

  • Yes. Per CDC recommendations, employees are required to wear face coverings indoors, as well as outdoors where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Review information on required face coverings for employees, students and visitors and possible exceptions. Individuals may bring their own mask, or campuses/units may order them at no cost from U Market Services (masks are limited to two per employee at no cost).
  • If you choose to wear a face covering, do not use N95 or surgical masks unless working in a laboratory or clinical setting that requires it. Instead, refer to CDC guidance on mask alternatives.

    Last updated 6/30/2020

Will I be asked to check my temperature at the office or at home before returning to my worksite?

  • All employees allowed to return to a University campus or facility are asked to check their temperature prior to leaving for work and when returning home from work. Please keep a log and report any fever to your manager or supervisor.

Last updated 5/1/2020

Will employees be tested for COVID-19?

  • At this time, the University does not intend to test employees for COVID-19 as a requirement to work onsite, unless you are a member of a medical, clinical, or research team directly involved in COVID-19 reponse and testing is deemed necessary to protect your health and that of others.
  • If you have questions about whether you should be tested for COVID-19, consult with your healthcare provider. If it is determined by your provider that you should be tested, your clinician will recommend a testing facility or may refer you to the Minnesota Department of Health’s list of testing facilities across the state.
  • The University’s approach to testing may evolve over time, based on the availability of testing in Minnesota and the changing situation related to the pandemic.

    Last updated 5/1/2020

Is there mental health support for faculty and staff returning to campus?

  • The University of Minnesota’s five system campuses offer a number of virtual care options for physical and mental health. Learn more about mental health resources on the Human Resources website.

    Last updated 5/1/2020


What if I notice unsafe working conditions?

  • If you are experiencing any unsafe working conditions, please contact your manager or supervisor to help address issues and concerns. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety has guidance on its website about how to best report safety concerns. Employees may also report a situation or conduct they believe violates a law, regulation, or University policy through UReport. More information about UReport is available on the Office of Institutional Compliance website.

    Last updated 5/1/2020