Working on Campus
New Guidelines for Working on Campus
As many BU employees return to campus for the first time since March 2020, the University is issuing new guidelines for life in the new normal. The new safety guidelines, recommended by the University’s Medical Advisory Group (MAG), were explained at a Back2BU Repopulating the Campus Faculty & Staff Town Hall, hosted by President Robert A. Brown on June 2. An email with updated information, including the vaccination requirement notification, was sent to faculty and staff on July 19. Answers to the most frequently asked questions are posted below.
Many departments have been performing well with people working at home. Is bringing all faculty and staff back to a re-densified campus really worth the risk?
BU’s highest priority is maintaining a campus that is as safe as possible for all members of our community. We will continue to adhere to guidelines published by the CDC and state and local health authorities. However, in some cases we will have stricter requirements that allow us to best reduce risk of viral transmission in our community.
Do we have to maintain physical distancing inside buildings? Are there limits on the size of indoor meetings?
Physical distancing guidelines were relaxed at the beginning of the summer and currently, there are no distancing requirements on campus.
Will I be required to go into conference rooms with other people? Can I refuse to let another person come into my office if I am uncomfortable?
If you are uncomfortable sharing a conference room or your office with others, please tell your supervisor. As we return to campus, we appreciate that there may be a level of discomfort among those employees who have worked 100 percent remotely since March 2020, and we expect supervisors to be responsive to individual concerns while also striving to meet work requirements.
As we return to a workplace with health and safety protocols in place, will ADA accommodations in the workplace still be available?
Yes. If you need any ADA accommodations due to a disability, please consult with the Equal Opportunity Office.
I would like a workplace adjustment that will allow me to continue working remotely. How should I apply for such an adjustment, and what conditions are required for it to be granted?
As previously announced, workplace adjustments are not being considered for the fall 2021 semester.
How will I know when I am expected to return to on-campus work?
Your supervisor will inform you.
Will walk-ins without scheduled appointments (students, staff, faculty, and visitors) be allowed?
Beginning on August 16, 2021, the more restrictive visitor policy instituted last year was lifted. Moving forward, short-term visitors to campus, including those who are briefly on campus to attend a gathering or event, will simply be required to follow BU mask-wearing requirements, as well as municipal, state, and federal regulations. Hosts are responsible for ensuring that their visitors follow these rules. As outlined in the visiting student and visiting faculty and research scholar policies, host faculty and departments are responsible for ensuring that these longer-term visitors adhere to all University policies and external requirements related to the performance of work at Boston University, including regular COVID-19 testing and the vaccination requirement.
Will units be allowed to host in-person meetings with internal and external stakeholders on campus or should all meetings be held via Zoom?
Yes, in-person meetings can be held on campus upon return, including both in-person and remote participants. Conference room displays should be used to show remote participants and meeting content. Devices to enhance computer audio for remote participants are available through IS&T. IS&T will also be publishing tips and tricks for quality hybrid meetings.
Will there be restrictions with accessing buildings? Do we have to show a green badge to enter a building?
Most buildings will not require green badges to enter. However, green badges will continue to be required to enter Testing Collection Sites and some other buildings, and it is critical that anyone with symptoms report this on the attestation so that our Healthway nurses can arrange for expedited testing at the Annex.
I work in a private office. Do I have to wear a facial covering?
If you are in a private office and are alone, you do not need to wear a facial covering. However, you will need to wear a facial covering when you enter any public or common areas of the building, such as corridors, conference rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.
I work in a cubicle, not a private office. Do I have to wear a facial covering?
Yes, under our current policy, when you are in your cubicle, you will have to wear a facial covering. However, when possible, departments will allow employees who work in cubicles to perform their responsibilities in an empty office or conference room during the workday. Employees can also step outside during lunch or their paid breaks.
I work in a cubicle; if there are vacant offices available, can I use an office?
Please see your supervisor about this. Departments are encouraged to make this option available to employees, when feasible.
Do I have to allow others to use my office when I am not on campus?
If that is necessary in order to optimally and safely use the space, yes. Department heads will be responsible for allocating University resources as necessary.
Where do I eat my lunch? Can break rooms be used? Can I eat with colleagues? Can I use the office refrigerator/microwave? Is the communal coffee machine available?
Lunch may be eaten outdoors, at your desk/workspace (if food is generally permitted at your desk/workspace), or in lunch and employee break rooms. If you are eating in a public area, such as at a cubicle or in a lunch room, we recommend physical distancing when removing your facial covering. Office refrigerators, microwaves, watercoolers, and coffee machines may be used.
Will drinking fountains be turned back on?
Yes. Everyone is also encouraged to use bottle-filling stations, which are located throughout campus.
Can I bring my emotional support animal to work?
Generally, animals are not permitted in the workplace except service animals, which are animals that are individually trained to work or perform a task for a person with a disability. If you wish to request an accommodation for medical reasons, please contact the Equal Opportunity Office.
I have been very stressed, and even as we return to normal, I find myself unusually anxious about things like returning to work. What can I do?
We completely understand that returning to work may add to the stress that most of us have felt for the past year. We encourage all staff to take vacation time, get offline, and focus on building a comfortable work/life balance. We also encourage staff to take advantage of the University’s Wellness Resources for BU Faculty & Staff, get out of the office during the day when the weather is nice, and talk to a professional advisor in the Faculty & Staff Assistance Office if they’re experiencing stress.
Will there be occupancy limitations for the use of bathrooms, kitchens, and elevators?
Occupancy limitations are no longer required. Please see your unit or building coordinator for questions on specific spaces.
What is the role of building and unit coordinators in the reopening of the University for the fall semester and will building coordinator/unit coordinator roles remain in place during the upcoming semester?
Building and unit coordinators have been working closely with Campus Planning & Operations (CPO) and Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) to prepare for our return to campus. They have met regularly and will continue to meet as a group as we prepare for a fully populated campus this coming fall. If you have questions about your space, your unit coordinator is the best person to talk to. If needed, they will bring in CPO and EHS to help address unanticipated issues and concerns.
Research & Labs
When can research spaces return to full capacity?
As of Monday, June 14, all University research labs are permitted to operate at full (100 percent) capacity, with the following conditions:
- Before increasing capacity, labs need to complete and submit an updated personnel list using the template and submission form in the?Research Recovery Toolkit.
- Masks will continue to be required in research labs and administrative spaces.
- All research personnel will need to complete attestations.
- PIs are also responsible for ensuring?their personnel?are in the appropriate?testing categories?(categories?1 or 2?for those on campus?and?3 or 4 for?those?working remotely).?Students (who manage their own testing categories) should be prompted to change their category assignment if they will be working on campus.
Offices and administrative spaces associated with research will? be permitted to return to full capacity after August 1, 2021.
What restrictions and requirements will remain in place for research through the summer?
The requirements for on-campus research this summer are as follows:
- Before increasing capacity, PIs must submit an updated personnel list to the Office of Research, via the?Research Recovery Toolkit.
- Labs are responsible for managing their team’s testing categories to remain compliant.?Everyone on campus needs to be assigned to category 1 or 2, and everyone working remotely needs to be assigned to category 3 or 4. Students manage their own testing categories but they should be prompted to update their category assignment if they will be working on campus.
- Attestations will continue to be required.
- Masks will continue to be required in both research labs and administrative spaces.
The following are NO LONGER required:
- Social distancing is no longer required in labs and offices.
- Research recovery plans are no longer required before returning to campus, though as noted above, up-to-date personnel lists are still required for the time being.
Do I need to continue updating my research recovery plan?
No, but PIs?are required to?visit the?Research Recovery Toolkit?to?submit?a?full, up-to-date roster of on-campus research personnel. PIs are also responsible for ensuring?their personnel?are in the appropriate?testing categories?(categories?1 or 2?for those on campus?and?3 or 4 for?those not on campus).
Do I need to submit an updated personnel list for my research lab?
Yes. Please visit the?Research Recovery Toolkit?to?submit?a?full, up-to-date roster of on-campus research personnel for the summer if you haven’t already. Please note that PIs are also responsible for ensuring?their personnel?are in the appropriate?testing categories?(categories?1 or 2?for those on campus?and?3 or 4 for?those not on campus).
Are there any changes to human-subjects?
PI’s carrying out human subjects research can proceed with the plan outlined in their IRB approved protocol, as long as they maintain the capacity limitations imposed by the University and continue the use of masks.
Cleaning & Disinfecting
How often will cleaning and disinfecting be performed in my building?
In accordance with current CDC, state, and local guidance, Campus Planning & Operations custodians will regularly clean and disinfect spaces. Trash and recycling containers should be left outside of offices for pick up.
Can I still get office cleaning supplies for my unit?
Yes, via this webform. This is the same process used during the 2020–21 academic year.
Will Facilities clean labs?
Yes. Labs should coordinate cleaning schedules with their area manager.
I work in an office that is not maintained by BU and is cleaned by a property management firm (i.e., SIS). What measures are in place to clean and disinfect my space?
BU Real Estate has communicated with the owners and operators of these properties to ensure they are following cleaning and disinfecting practices recommended by BU Facilities Management & Operations and Environmental Health & Safety. The owners and operators will do deep cleaning prior to fully repopulating the spaces.
Now that we know that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air, I’m concerned about working indoors with many other people. What are the steps BU is taking to review the proper functioning of HVAC systems?
In summer 2020, Campus Planning & Operations’ Facilities Management & Operations group created an integrated, multidisciplinary team composed of University Engineering & Building Systems staff, HVAC technicians, external HVAC consultants, building area managers, and Environmental Health & Safety staff to review and monitor building HVAC system performance and maintenance on a continuous basis. This group continues to regularly evaluate the air quality of classrooms, offices, laboratories, and other spaces on the three primary campuses in Boston and Brookline.
BU will continue to follow guidance regarding air-quality standards to ensure HVAC systems are operating per their design specifications while increasing fresh air and filtration consistent with the CDC and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance.
Will the improved filtration measures implemented during last academic year continue for classrooms?
Yes. Throughout the 2020–21 academic year and going into the 2021–22 academic year, BU Facilities Engineering and its HVAC consultant (EH&E) studied classroom air quality and upgraded filtration and ventilation throughout the three campuses by:
- Upgrading filters for central-air filtration systems
- Increasing ventilation and outside air volume
- Adding supplemental filtration to classrooms with insufficient or no mechanical ventilation
Did Campus Planning & Operations and Environmental Health & Safety efforts to improve classroom filtration measures anticipate increased capacity in classrooms?
Yes. We have confirmed that existing air-quality measures will not be adversely impacted with higher density. Additionally, from a ventilation perspective, classrooms can be safely occupied to pre-COVID occupant densities in the fall with current ventilation and filtration levels.
What air-quality improvements have been made for offices and workspaces?
BU has implemented CDC and ASHRAE recommendations for ventilation and filtration in offices and workspaces.
For shared workspaces with central mechanical ventilation systems, HVAC systems have been checked to ensure they are operating as designed and meet ASHRAE-recommended outdoor air ventilation rates. Building HVAC systems have also been upgraded to MERV 13 air filters. In addition, faculty and staff may request portable HEPA units. Units may be ordered through your unit coordinator.
For shared workspaces in buildings that do not have central mechanical ventilation systems, faculty and staff should open windows to provide natural ventilation. Natural ventilation meets CDC/ASHRAE ventilation guidance for offices. Faculty and staff in naturally ventilated buildings may also order portable HEPA units through their unit coordinator.
If I am vaccinated, why do I have to continue PCR testing and health screening?
We continue to learn about the effectiveness of the vaccines as more people become vaccinated, including how protective vaccines are against the new variants of concern. Additionally, there are still cases of vaccine breakthroughs, and while these tend to be either asymptomatic or very mild illnesses, we want to identify cases as early as possible. Regular community testing and attestation will help us to do this. Attestations will continue when people are on campus, for badging purposes and to report symptoms.
What US and international vaccines will BU accept?
At this time, BU plans to accept all vaccines?being offered globally, including those without World Health Organization (WHO) or US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization or approval, unless federal or state guidelines mandate otherwise. Students, faculty, and staff are still subject to travel and close contact quarantine if they receive any vaccine other than Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.
How do I upload my vaccination card?
You can find the instructions on the COVID-19 Vaccination Information page of the Back2BU website.
Why is the University requiring me to upload my COVID-19 vaccination card?
First, all faculty, staff, and students are required to be vaccinated before the start of classes in fall 2021. Your vaccination information is confidential personal health information and will not be shared with managers or supervisors. If you are fully vaccinated, and received your vaccination outside of BU, you are required to upload your vaccination documentation. This information helps the University determine the current level of vaccination by the BU community as we plan for the fall and will help inform our campus health and safety protocols as we move toward full reopening.
Will the University have ongoing COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and if so, how will they work?
Yes, BU is periodically holding vaccination clinics and accepting both appointments and walk-ins. Please see the Back2BU vaccination information page for up-to-date information about on-campus vaccination clinics.
Will the percentage of BU employees and students who have been vaccinated be shared publicly?
Yes, when it is appropriate and only in aggregate. No individual-level vaccination information will be shared.
Will the vaccination data be added to the BU COVID-19 dashboard?
Yes. Please visit editoraregextremadura.com/healthway/community-dashboard for the most up-to-date information.
How will campus operations change once vaccines are widely administered?
BU protocols will continue to be guided by local, state, and federal guidelines. However, as the number of vaccinated people increases—on campus, and city- and statewide—we expect to gradually return to pre-COVID campus operations.
What is herd immunity and how does that affect BU?
When most of the BU community is immune to COVID-19, this provides population immunity (also called herd immunity) and makes it harder for the virus to spread on campus. As a growing fraction of the BU community is vaccinated, the average number of people who contract the virus from a single infected individual will decrease. We need the majority of our population to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. Only then can we relax health and safety protocols such as facial coverings and testing.
Do I have to disclose my vaccination status to other employees or service providers?
Whether or not you have been vaccinated is personal health information; you do not need to share this information with anyone other than Occupational Health/Healthway. Any individual-level information held by the University will remain confidential.
Am I required to interact with anyone who has not been vaccinated?
Individuals may come in contact with someone who has not been vaccinated yet or who has received a vaccination exemption due to religious or medical reasons, which is why we are currently planning that everyone follow the same health and safety protocols.
Which of the many health and safety protocols put in place during the last year remain in place?
The main protocols that will remain in place are testing, attesting, and wearing facial coverings indoors.
Do I have to wear my facial covering outside while I am on campus?
Facial covering use is not required outdoors on BU campuses.
Will I receive a warning for not wearing a facial covering indoors or following any other health and safety protocols?
Our goal is to reinforce safety guidelines on campus. Repeated failure to comply with protocols may result in corrective action, up to and including possible termination of employment.
I don’t work in a private office, but wearing a facial covering for eight hours a day is uncomfortable, exhausting, and makes it difficult to communicate with my colleagues. Can schedules be adjusted for employees who do not have private offices?
Supervisors and department heads will try to accommodate individual employee circumstances and comfort levels.
Can I take my facial covering off to take a drink at my desk?
Yes. However, we encourage you to remain physically distant from your coworkers when doing so.
Will there be different behavioral expectations (e.g., facial coverings and physical distancing) for vaccinated versus unvaccinated community members?
At this time, University-established public health protocols will apply to all persons on campus regardless of vaccination status.
How will I know what my testing category is?
If you are unsure of your Testing Category, please review the Testing Frequency?page, check with your manager, or go to and see the box “My Community Testing Category.”
I plan to work at home two or three days a week. Do I have to complete a health screening if I don’t plan to come to work on a particular day?
Revised guidance on?health screening requirements specifies that all faculty and staff in testing categories 1, 2, and 3 must complete a health screening on days you are coming to campus. Screening is not mandatory when working remotely or when not working, unless you will be on campus for any reason on those days.
Do I have to be tested before I return to work on campus? Can I take that test on campus?
BU’s health and safety protocols currently require that people in Testing Categories 1, 2, and 3 be tested on the first day they return to campus. Thereafter, people in Testing Category 1 will be testing once every seven days, people in Category 2 will be testing twice every seven days, and people in Category 3 will be tested once a week for every week they are on campus. You will be assigned a testing category prior to your return to campus. You will be able to test on campus if your testing category requires it.
I have never been tested for COVID-19 and I am very nervous about the process; can someone help me understand the process?
Who will be monitoring testing compliance when people return to campus, especially those in Testing Category 3?
Managers, deans, department heads, and vice presidents will continue to be responsible for monitoring compliance.
How do I report noncompliance for health and safety protocols? And have the guidelines changed since they were published in August 2020?
The current BU COVID-19 health and safety compliance protocols, including how to report a compliance issue, are available here:
Parking & Transportation
I plan to drive to work on campus two or three days a week. What are the parking options and rates on the Charles River Campus?
Parking & Transportation Services has several parking options listed on their website and is the best place to go for up-to-date parking information.
Is there a day rate for parking on the Medical Campus?
There are multiple daily options on the Medical Campus but price and availability vary. Please visit the or call 617-358-3506 for more information.
What about MBTA passes? Is there a discount for people who don’t come to work every day?
BU’s MBTA Pass Benefit provides a 50 percent subsidy for monthly bus, subway, commuter rail, and ferry passes. Please visit the Employee MBTA Benefits page on the Parking & Transportation Services website for more information.
Will the BU Shuttle run on its usual schedule?
Yes. The BU Shuttle is running its usual schedule. Please refer to Terrier Transit or the for live arrival times and schedules.
I rely on the BU Shuttle, but I’m concerned about the safety of public transportation. What health and safety precautions have been put in place for the BU Shuttle?
Facial coverings are still required to be worn on MBTA property, trains, and buses, as well as on the BU Shuttle. BU Shuttles and MBTA buses are being disinfected multiple times each day. BU Shuttle protocols may change as updates are made to federal, state, and MBTA protocols.
I’m concerned about safety on public transportation, so I will plan on driving to work. Will parking be discounted until safety on public transportation is no longer an issue?
The discounted, COVID-19 Daily Parking Program rate on the Charles River Campus will continue as dictated by public and University health guidance. Please visit the Parking & Transportation website for other alternatives to public transportation, including carpooling and bikeshare programs
Pre-COVID-19, I had a parking permit. How do I re-enroll in the parking program?
Charles River employees should re-enroll via the . Medical Campus employees should fill out a BUMC-BMC?.
In normal times, I would take public transportation to work, and I’m concerned that buses and other public transportation may present a health hazard. What can I do?
Ask your supervisor to consider allowing you to work flexible hours to minimize traveling during peak commuting hours. Shifting work schedules to start 60 to 90 minutes earlier or later may help avoid crowded commuting conditions.
I understand that special time-off accommodations have been made in response to COVID-19. Can you explain them?
Vacation Time Accrual: Retroactive to January 1, 2021, monthly vacation time that is earned in excess of the maximum carryover amount will be credited (added) to a staff member’s vacation time bank until the end of the calendar year. This will give staff more flexibility to use any accrued vacation time over the course of the year.
COVID-19 Paid Absence: The COVID-19 Paid Absence program has been extended, and time banks were reset to 10 days for all staff in April 2021. The extended benefit, for COVID-related illness or absence, is available for time away from work after April 1, 2021. This includes time off from work to be vaccinated off campus and, if needed, time to recover from vaccine side effects.
For personal and family medical needs:
Can employees use COVID-19 Paid Absence time for childcare issues?
COVID-19 Paid Absence was designed to cover family care interruptions caused by COVID-19; it is not intended to provide coverage for vacations. Employees should use vacation time to cover the typical gaps in family care.
When can I see my vacation time overage in Employee Self Service? When I request vacation time, does it automatically come out of my overage bank?
You can currently see any excess earned vacation time in Employee Self Service. When vacation time is used, it is deducted first from any available excess vacation time.