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The University will coordinate a phased return to campus strategy to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and others who might come into contact with them. 
Without adversely impacting the health of our employees or students, institutionally, our goal is to:

  1. Provide supervisors with tools, strategies, and resources to help safely and effectively transition employees back to campus. 
  2. Assist employees with their gradual return to campus while simultaneously managing risk related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department heads/directors/chairs

In consultation with senior leaders and the Safety Office, coordinate the development and implementation of departmental return to campus health and safety plans, taking into consideration occupancy, work unit interactions, work from home efficiency and overall unit operations.


Like their team members, supervisors will also experience change as they transition back to campus. During this transition period, feelings of heightened anxiety may be experienced. To lessen these anxieties and to prepare for the needs of the team, the supervisor is encouraged to familiarize themselves with this document and the Workplace COVID-19 Supervisor Checklist

In preparation for the return to campus, supervisors must assess the working area before their team’s return to ensure the workspace is ready. This must include a thorough health and safety inspection. This gives supervisors an opportunity to get familiar with new signage and tidy up areas to ensure the workspace is in a good state, especially following a prolonged absence. 

Supervisors may also consider updating bulletin boards with new updates and supportive messages. Returning to campus following an extended period of time will no doubt be a daunting experience for many. Helping employees to prepare ahead of their return will help to alleviate anxieties.

Pre-return responsibilities

Before any employees return to campus:

  • Acknowledge that returning to campus will require an adjustment which may temporarily impact productivity and extend support to those who may struggle with the change
  • Arrange for employees to have access to buildings per the ‘Guidelines for Building Access’ protocol
  • Establish appropriate schedules that enable employees to maintain appropriate physical distance from one another while onsite
  • Provide clear expectations (E.g., work, safety, and behaviour) regarding what will happen when employees return to campus and ensure employees have acknowledged ALL specific procedures
  • Complete, and ensure all employees returning to campus complete mandatory “Returning to Campus Safely during COVID-19 (SO2036)” online training
  • Inspect the work area, ensure the first aid kit is stocked and a small supply of spare non-medical cloth masks are available

Ongoing and general responsibilities

  • Reinforce the need for completing daily self-assessments for symptoms of illness
  • Monitor adherence to physical distancing, hygiene, and screening protocols
  • Encourage open dialogue to address concerns and reinforce expectations
  • Reach out to support services on campus if there is concern over employee morale and well-being.
  • Monitor and assess employees’ return to campus and where necessary, adjust schedules and concerns to meet employee needs
  • Be in regular consultation with department head; check updates from senior leadership, including emails and Daily Bulletin articles and update employees accordingly 
  • Maintain a current contact listing of direct reports
  • Maintain a log of employees in their workplace. This may include external parties including contractors or vendors working on campus. In the event of illness, Occupational Health will use this list to help identify people with whom positive cases may have been in close contact.
  • Implement corrective actions when non-conformance occurs to these guidelines.
  • Ensure all employees have access to required technology
    • Monitor and address needs for working from home
    • Coordinate the return and set up of equipment* for employees resuming work on campus 
      *Unless otherwise directed to do so, employees will return technology, equipment and furniture to campus while working on site. 
  • Assess impact and potential risk of an employees’ inability to perform their regular responsibilities, either on campus or remotely (refer to the Supervisor Conversation template)
  • Refer workplace questions to your HR Partner. General questions on the University’s pandemic response can be sent to coronavirus@uwaterloo.ca
  • Continue to manage work from home:
    • Work arrangements should continue to be both flexible and appropriate and must consider operational requirements.
    • Identify how daily work requirements will be accomplished with a hybrid team (members on campus and those working from home) 
    • Coordinate the technical assistance needed to work from home (information is available on the IST website)
    • Communicate the following expectations:
      • Be available for contact during regular work hours and maintain a regular contact schedule with their supervisor
      • Have regular discussions about work priorities and other matters that relate to the assigned work


The University of Waterloo is planning for a staggered return to campus. Return to campus options will continue to be monitored and assessed for all employee groups. For more details please review published Four-Phase Return to Campus and Health & Safety Guidance information.

To minimize risk to the community and facilitate physical distancing, employees will be instructed to continue to work from home until their role has been deemed by the supervisor and department head as being one that must be carried out on campus or the work group is included in the next phase of resumption. 

All employees returning to campus are expected to:

  • Complete mandatory “Returning to Campus Safely during COVID-19 (SO 2036)” online training
  • Undergo any other training as required by the University and your supervisor
  • Follow procedures and signage to minimize the spread of infectious disease, specifically COVID-19
  • Report absences to their respective supervisor 
  • Follow University of Waterloo procedures for disclosing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or group protective equipment (GPE) as required by their supervisor
  • Participate in screening or testing programs, as appropriate
    • Daily self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms is required – employees can access the self-assessment questions via the Campus Check-In Tool.
  • Employees who experience any symptoms of COVID-19 or Influenza-like-illness (ILI), should follow Public Health guidelines and contact a testing and assessment centre directly to book an appointment.
    • If directed to self-isolate, advise Occupational Health at occupationalhealth@uwaterloo.ca of your first date absent, related symptoms, and if unable to work, the expected return to work date

Returning to work on campus

Employees required to return to campus will be contacted by their supervisors. Together, preparations will be made to help the employee transition back to campus. Once on campus, employees are required to maintain physical distancing as well as appropriate hygiene and safety practices to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of the campus community.

Whether working from home or campus, flexibility with schedules will be key. Employees are to consult with their supervisors to assess and determine appropriate schedules to ensure adherence to health and safety protocols. In addition, supervisors should familiarize themselves with their department’s protocol regarding building access, closures, and established ‘core hours’. 

It is possible that employees or graduate students may feel compelled to return to campus but have not received permission to do so. Regardless of whether or not an employee or graduate student wishes to return to campus, the decision remains with their supervisor. Should an employee or graduate student wish to return to campus, they are required to consult with their supervisor and obtain their permission. 

Work from home

While continuing to work from home, employees are expected to: 

  • Familiarize themselves with the University’s Work from Home Guidelines 
  • Ensure the personal contact information in Workday is accurate
  • Keep in contact with their supervisor by phone or email 
  • Not work if they are unwell
    • While it might be tempting to continue working due to proximity in their home workspace, regular sick leave processes should apply, including not working, notifying their supervisor that they are unwell, and entering their time away in Workday
    • For absences greater than five workdays, they should contact a member of the Disability Management team for guidance on next steps
  • Be cognizant of the time and make sure you stick to working hours when possible
    • When working from home, it can be easy to always remain connected and let the end of the day role into your personal time

Safety Office

The Safety Office is the overall authority on workplace health & safety COVID-19 related guidance and will:

  • Keep this guide updated with the latest and best information available
  • Provide interpretation of this guide where needed
  • Support units in the creation of COVID-19 return to campus plans 
  • Monitor adherence to this guide and compliance with public health directives