Skip to Content

DU Announces a Gradual, Phased Return-to-Work Plan in Community Town Hall

Back to News Listing


University of Denver

News  •

More than 1250 people attended a virtual town hall yesterday, to learn about a new five-phase plan to bring employees back to campus in a gradual and safe way now that the City of Denver will join the state of Colorado in the Safer-at-Home phase of the coronavirus response beginning May 9. The conversation was moderated by Corinne Lengsfeld, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, and also included commentary by Chancellor Jeremy Haefner as well as Leslie Brunelli, senior vice chancellor for financial affairs, and Jerron Lowe, interim Vice Chancellor of Human Resources.

DU’s plan will put in place numerous safeguards for ensuring a healthy work environment, including a very slow, gradual return; physical distancing within buildings and on our grounds; symptom monitoring, protective equipment, cleaning procedures, and other protocols. While the plan will continually be revised to reflect new guidelines from federal, state, and city officials—and the specific lessons learned on campus—the priority always will be the safety and well-being of the DU community.

Chancellor Haefner stressed the importance of planning, not only up front, but throughout the return-to-work process. “We are turning over every stone that we possibly can,” he said. “I’ve been thinking of resiliency in terms of controlling the things that you can control—and for those things you can't control, you just plan the heck out of them.”

The phases of DU’s plan, which over time will allow for increased density and less distance between individuals, will progress from phase two, with 20 percent of employees on campus, to phase three, with 50 percent; and phase four, with 100 percent. Phase five brings us, as Lengsfeld said, “fully opened and close to the way we were before.” She stressed that there is no way to predict the timeline for the five phases, because of a host of unknown factors. 

“We strongly encourage everyone who can stay and work at home to stay working at home until we have all our procedures perfected,” said Lengsfeld, as she walked viewers through a slide presentation referencing the five-phase plan that is available here, as is the full video recording. “We want to make sure that everybody knows that phase two doesn't actually fully launch on Monday. We will gradually move into phase two. We need to make sure we have the resources, the employees, the cleaning supplies, the protective equipment, to make this work.”

The individuals returning in the second phase (up to 20 percent) will gain approval through a process coordinated by their supervisor. Work accommodations will continue to apply for individuals who meet the criteria, such as those who are immunocompromised, are caring for someone who is or who has other health factors that place them at risk. Staff are encouraged to reach out to their HR partner if they have concerns or questions about returning to work.

“We don't have all the answers,” Lengsfeld said, “but we're thinking about each other first and thinking about how we're going to get to our ultimate goal which is really an exceptional community that enjoys every day of their work and inspires and leads students to the next phase of their career. These are the things that we're striving for.”

Community members provided feedback to the first iteration of the plan by Friday, May 8. This feedback was taken into consideration and included in revised plan which can be found here.