Important Update About the Return to Campus Plan for Faculty and Staff

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As announced yesterday, Syracuse University will resume residential instruction in August 2020, which includes an accelerated academic calendar. Simultaneously, a cross-functional working group of deans, faculty and staff is working to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for returning our workforce to campus over the coming weeks and months. This plan—which prioritizes the health, wellness and safety of all members of our community—is informed by the critically important work of the Public Health subcommittee. I want to express my appreciation to all members of the working group, subcommittees and the many faculty and staff members who have provided their expertise and input.

To promote social distancing, reduce campus density and ensure the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing capabilities, faculty and staff will return to campus using a phased approach. I write today to share an outline of that approach and a preview of what you can expect in terms of upcoming communication and guidance.

In anticipation of clearance from state and local health officials to resume campus operations, deans, senior vice presidents and other leaders have assigned faculty and staff from each of their respective schools, colleges and units to one of four campus return phases. Some of the factors used by leaders to make these assignments included the nature of employees’ job duties, seating arrangements and the ability to successfully perform work remotely.

Please note: Our phases are subject to change as we continue to monitor public health guidance, campus density, employee health and the effectiveness of social distancing in the workplace.

Phase Zero
Essential personnel only on campus. We have been in this phase since March 16.

Phase One (tentatively planned for no earlier than June 1)
About 30 percent of faculty and staff will return to campus. This will primarily include all essential personnel, plus additional identified research faculty and staff needing to continue their research in on-campus laboratories.

Phase Two
An additional 10-15 percent of faculty and staff will return in Phase Two, about two weeks after the successful implementation of Phase One. This will allow time for adequate monitoring of the health and safety of our campus.

Phase Three
An additional 10-15 percent of faculty and staff will return in Phase Three, about two weeks after the successful implementation of Phase Two.

Phase Four
An additional 25 percent of faculty and staff will return in Phase Four, about two weeks after the successful implementation of Phase Three.

Continued Remote Working
If employees can remain fully productive at home, supervisors are strongly encouraged to continue to arrange for faculty and staff to work remotely for the next couple months to maintain reduced campus density.

Fall 2020 Return
Additionally, about 15-20 percent of faculty will not return to campus until the Fall 2020 semester begins.

As soon as the University receives approval from New York State and local government public health authorities, we will communicate with deans and other senior leaders, who will advise you of your likely return date or continued remote or flexible work arrangement.

What Faculty and Staff Can Expect Next
Next week, we will have an informational hub and comprehensive list of frequently asked questions go live on the Office of Human Resources’ website, There, you will find useful information about returning to campus, including:

  • new cleaning, safety and social distancing protocols;
  • guidance on personal protective equipment (e.g., face masks or coverings) and other public health measures;
  • options for flexible, remote, staggered and alternate-day work arrangements that will help departments adequately social distance in the workplace; and
  • what will be required of each and every one of us to keep our campus safe as we prepare to bring additional faculty and staff members back to campus, and especially as we look toward welcoming our students back for the Fall 2020 semester.

Thank you for your continued understanding and patience as we work to balance our desire to welcome back our faculty and staff in a way that protects the well-being of our entire campus community. We will provide you additional guidance and updates by email as more information becomes available.


Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer