Updated: July 21, 2020 at 8:33AM
Faculty and Staff Accommodations
As we reopen campus and resume our central work of teaching and scholarship, the University is committed to taking every reasonable step to create a safe and healthy environment.
Scientific understanding of the COVID-19 virus is evolving rapidly, as are technologies and therapeutics to detect and treat it. However, until a vaccination is discovered or the virus abates, the best medical advice is that each of us must adopt habits and norms designed to prevent us from catching or spreading the virus.
We are implementing a number of public health protocols including expectations regarding wearing masks, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and other hygiene measures. These efforts will be accompanied by an extensive communications campaign and signage across campus.
In addition, the University will be implementing specific changes to make our classrooms and workplaces as safe as possible. These steps --- all of which are based on medical advice from local and national experts, including a team from the Cleveland Clinic – include, among other things: a reconfiguration of classrooms and workspaces and assigned seating in instructional spaces to provide the recommended physical distance; a mandatory daily health check for all community members; an on-site testing facility for anyone with symptoms or who has been in close contact with someone with the virus; a robust contact tracing program to identify those who may need to be tested; isolation and quarantine spaces separate from the residence halls for on-campus students; policies governing movement within buildings; and enhanced and more frequent cleaning of common spaces and high touch areas. We will implement additional health and safety protocols as the science evolves and as we learn from the broader community.
All of these steps are being taken to protect the entire community as we return to the university’s core mission of teaching and research. We recognize that individual circumstances, including age and certain underlying health conditions, can increase the risk that, if acquired, the course of the virus can be more severe.
Therefore, in addition to all the protocols and changes already described, we are implementing, for the fall 2020 semester, a streamlined process for responding to individual requests for further accommodations related to COVID-19 based on personal circumstances. We may extend accommodations into the spring 2021 semester, without further requirements, as we learn more about the course of COVID-19.
Such accommodations could include measures such as: a special configuration of classrooms or workspaces, beyond those already planned; a change in the location or timing of your class or your work schedule; or enabling faculty, instructors, or staff to teach or work remotely. If you believe you may need further accommodation, we urge you to submit a request as soon as possible so we can begin working with you.
- If your request is based on a medical condition, you will be required to submit medical certification, as is always required for accommodations due to health concerns. However, to streamline the process, discussions about the accommodations you are seeking will begin before receipt of medical certification.
- If you wish to request an accommodation for a reason other than age or the underlying health conditions identified by the CDC, including the medical condition of a member of your family, you will have an opportunity to do so on the form.
You will receive a response from the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) within one business day after you submit your form. The OIE team is well versed in handling accommodations and will contact you directly. In a collaborative, interactive process, the OIE team member will discuss with you possible accommodations. We note that this interactive process may allow us to learn things that we will choose to implement across the university, thus benefiting the entire campus community. Depending on the nature of the accommodation under consideration, your department chair, dean, or supervisor may be consulted to determine whether an accommodation would present an undue hardship to the University. At no point in time will your medical information be shared beyond the OIE team. The decision on whether and what accommodations will be approved rests with OIE. Unless you specify otherwise, the accommodations will be communicated by OIE to facilities/operations and your department chair/dean/supervisor as relevant.
As we prepare for the fall semester, the University is committed to doing everything reasonable to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. We will need your cooperation. Again, if you seek a further accommodation due to COVID-related risks, please submit your request as soon as possible, ideally by June 26, to enable OIE to review your concerns, discuss possible solutions, and render a decision quickly.