Guide for Returning to the Workplace

Guiding Principles

The goal of this Guide is to provide directions, policies, and guidelines that will help minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection as we plan for the phased return to work at Boston College.  Boston College’s plans will be aligned with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Phased Reopening Model and be guided by recommendations from the federal government, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

Understanding that public health guidance and scientific knowledge will continue to evolve in this area, and that the course of the pandemic cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty, Boston College is prepared to remain flexible in its reopening approach. Accordingly, this Guide may require future updates.


It's important that every BC employee be tested for Covid-19 prior to returning to work. Testing for the spring semester will start on January 19 and run through January 31. This includes anyone who expects to be on campus for any reason at any time this semester, as those without a test will be restricted from entering the libraries, their office, or any other campus spaces.

Staffing Decisions

A. Phased Staffing

As the need to meet physical distancing requirements will continue for the foreseeable future, Boston College will phase in a return of staff and faculty in a coordinated process, consistent with the Commonwealth’s requirements on building occupancy. The University, when assessing expanded staffing, will consider such factors as the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing capabilities for COVID-19, while also prioritizing mission-critical operations and the necessity to access on-site resources. The University will prioritize, to the extent practicable, the return of employees who are less able to perform their essential functions remotely.  Expanded staffing decisions will be tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of our community, and will only be approved and communicated through the respective dean, vice president, or vice provost.

B. Staffing Options

There are several options departments should consider to maintain required physical distancing measures.

1.     Remote Work

Staff and faculty who can fulfill their work obligations, either fully or partially, from off campus should continue to work remotely if feasible. Continued remote work arrangements may be conducted on a full or partial day/week schedule and must be approved by the respective dean, vice president, or vice provost or their designee(s).  Moreover, departments should encourage staff and faculty with increased health risks to continue working remotely.

2.     Alternating Days

In an effort to lessen campus density, especially in larger common work areas, departments should consider scheduling partial staffing and alternating days on campus.

3.     Staggered Start Times and End Times

Consistent with physical distancing requirements, departments should stagger reporting and departure times.

Employee Return to the Workplace

A. Workplace Expectations and Guidelines

All staff and faculty who work on campus are expected to fully comply with the policies, protocols, and guidelines outlined in this document. 

B. Daily Attendance Protocols

1.     Symptom Monitoring

Staff and faculty who work on campus must conduct symptom monitoring by utilizing this self-checklist, prior to reporting to work.  Staff and faculty must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19, or have had an evaluation and clearance by a medical professional to be eligible to return to work.

At this time, symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose with new sinus congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • New gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell


Staff and faculty who have any of the symptoms listed above must inform their supervisor or department chair/dean. The employee should self-isolate at home, and call their primary care physician’s office for further direction.

2.     Temperature Screening

Staff and faculty who work on campus may be required to submit to daily temperature screenings before entry to their designated workplace. Such screenings will be conducted in a private area near the designated entrance of their workplace.  Staff and faculty who interact with large numbers of people or provide direct contact services to other members of the community (Facilities and Dining Services employees, for example) are more likely to be subject to temperature screening.  If temperature screening is deemed appropriate, it will be administered by a properly trained representative of the University using a non-contact, infrared thermometer. Staff who register a fever will be moved to a safe and private area to discuss next steps and return to work requirements before being sent home. The recorded temperature reading will be kept confidential. For purposes of this Guide, Boston College follows the CDC definition of “fever,” which is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

3.     Positive COVID-19 Cases

Staff and faculty who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home until cleared to return to work by their physician.  Moreover, staff and faculty who come in close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, are required to quarantine prior to returning to work. 

Contacts will need to remain quarantined for:


  • At least 7 full days, provided all of the following are satisfied:
    • you have not had, and do not have, any symptoms;
    • you are tested between days 5-7 of your quarantine period or later using a molecular diagnostic test (e.g., polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) to detect the presence of the virus;
    • you receive a negative test result; and
    • you monitor yourself for symptoms for 10 days. If you develop symptoms you should contact your health care provider and be re-tested.



  • at least 10 days from the date of last exposure, provided all of the following are satisfied:
    • You have not experienced any symptoms up to that point; AND
    • You conduct active monitoring through Day 14.


  • 14 full days, if you experienced ANY symptoms during the quarantine period EVEN if you have a negative COVID-19 test

If you develop symptoms you should contact your health care provider and be re-tested.Those who test positive for COVID-19 should use accumulated sick leave to cover their absence while in isolation.  Those faculty and staff who are required to quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19 will be granted up to 14 days of leave with pay. To the extent possible, self-quarantined employees whose roles are conducive to working remotely will be expected to do so as long as they are able, provided they obtain the permission of their supervisor or department chair/dean.


C.          Special Accommodation Process

Effective May 31, 2021, all special accommodations approved through the Office for Institutional Diversity related to the pandemic, including authorizations for remote work, will expire.  Individuals who desire a special accommodation must reapply for the summer 2021, and any special accommodation granted through the Office for Institutional Diversity will end no later than August 13, 2021 unless otherwise approved through the normal ADA accommodation process.  Please note that individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be eligible for a special accommodation.

Request Accommodations

Facilities, Work Areas, and Use of University Equipment and Property


1.     Entry and exits

A Boston College identification card is required for entry into all University buildings.  In addition, to support future contact tracing, all individuals who enter a University building that is not their home office, including visitors to campus, will be required to provide information for a building or departmental/office log (e.g., College Road houses have a building log; administrative or academic office buildings have a departmental/office log).

2.    Restrooms

Everyone should wear a mask/face covering, adhere to social distancing guidelines and always wash their hands when using a public restroom. If social distancing is not possible, wait outside the restroom until it is possible.

3.    Elevators

People are encouraged to use stairs when possible. If using an elevator, everyone is reminded to wear a mask or face covering, maintain social distance and wash hands or use the recommended hand sanitizer upon departing the elevator.

4.    Frequent Cleaning

Boston College will follow the CDC’s cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, scheduling frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all University buildings, especially high-traffic areas.

Conducting Work and Work Areas

1.     Meetings

All Boston College business meetings both on and off campus should be conducted electronically/virtually whenever possible. If a meeting cannot be conducted virtually, participants must be limited to 10 or fewer, space should enable required physical distancing, and all participants must wear a mask or face covering unless the meeting room is large enough to accommodate physical distancing of at least 6 feet as required above.

2.     Laboratory Work

Specific criteria have been developed for faculty and staff working in laboratory environments.  Information will be provided here when finalized. 

3.     Open Office Environments

Open and shared office environments may be reconfigured to ensure required physical distancing.  Generally, departments will assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase physical distance between coworkers and customers. In addition to the redesign of space, departments may institute measures such as:

  • Placing visual cues including signs or tape to indicate to customers where to stand when waiting in line
  • Placing one-way directional signage for large, open work spaces to increase distance between employees and customers moving in and out of the work area.

4.     Customer Service Areas

Departments may consider the efficacy of installing glass or plexiglass barriers at customer service desks/counters.

5.     Meals and Break Rooms

When eating meals on campus, staff and faculty are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside if possible.  Whether dining at a University dining hall or an office break room, individuals should wear a face mask or face covering until ready to eat, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing, refrain from facing other diners, and use disposable plates and utensils supplied by the University.  Eating and gathering is prohibited in break rooms that cannot be reconfigured to accommodate physical distancing requirements.

Staff and faculty are reminded to wash their hands before and after eating, and to disinfect table surfaces, refrigerator handles, and coffee makers when done using a common area.

6.      Shared Items

Shared items such as printers, copiers, shared workstations, shared kitchen equipment, etc. should be cleaned before and after use by employees using provided cleaning materials.

Use of University Equipment and Property

1.     University Equipment

Equipment assigned to individual staff and faculty should not be shared with others. Equipment includes, but is not limited to, keyboards, computers, phones, and tools.

2.     University Vehicles

Whenever possible, University vehicles will be limited to one occupant at a time.  In situations where that is not possible, all occupants are to wear masks or face covering while in the vehicle.  Upon exiting, all occupants should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.  Before and after each use, regardless of the number of occupants, surfaces should be wiped down with disinfectant wipes provided by the University.           

Facilities FAQ

Boston College Facilities Services is totally committed to your safety and well being and is following approved federal, Commonwealth and city guidelines and directives. Primary among the agencies is the Center for Disease Control. While we have worked long and hard to meet all needs, we all must understand that this may be a process of constant communication and improvement. 

All building systems were run through a rigorous pre-occupancy check process recommended by CDC (especially HVAC, domestic water, and life safety) and are operating properly.


CDC Training Videos

These videos from the CDC contain information on:

  • How wearing a cloth face covering may help slow the spread of COVID-19
  • How you can do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19
  • Social distancing as the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19