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SSW Return to Rutgers Plan

SSW Faculty and Staff Return to Workplace

Consistent with guidelines established by the University (Return to Rutgers Plan), the School of Social Work (SSW) submits to New Brunswick Provost Francine Conway a plan for phased repopulation of SSW’s physical spaces in New Brunswick, Camden, Newark, and various other locations throughout New Jersey. As expressed by President Jonathan Holloway in his May 27, 2021, communication to the University community, “Rutgers is meant to be an in-person, face- to-face university community, with campus walkways, academic building hallways, libraries, dining halls, and student centers buzzing with live interactions. We need to get back to that model.”

In April 2020, SSW convened a work group comprised of key faculty and staff members to work on “Operational Plan Development for Critical/Essential Onsite Work and Eventual Re-opening of SSW Locations”. Representing faculty and staff throughout the school, work group members reviewed various guidelines provided by the University (EOC) and Chancellor units, that of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the State of New Jersey (SNJ), and from community members to establish top priorities and guiding principles that inform this plan for a broader return to the workplace. Those priorities and principles are listed below.

TOP PRIORITIES                                                                                                                                    

  1. Preserving the health and safety of all community members: students, faculty, staff, etc. (adhering to established guidelines for workplace and learning environments).
  2. Providing a safe space whether onsite or virtually.
  3. Ensuring delivery of instruction, research, service and research/service agreements.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES                                                                                                                                    

  1. Necessity to socially distance all individuals.
  2. Flexibility is encouraged with regard to employee personal situations consistent with any effective policies relevant to employment at Rutgers.
  3. Individual adaptability to current environment and adherence to safety protocols is expected.
  4. Intentionality of activity will be delivered whether in person or by virtual means.
  5. Collective understanding that all personnel are performing under varied and changing professional and personal stressors.
  6. Transformational/innovative implementation of varied process, protocol and program delivery will be explored, and where appropriate, implemented.
  7. Communication strategies will be used to offer guidance and instill confidence in the integrity and intention to preserve the safety and health of the SSW community.
  8. Administrative decisions are rooted in science.


With the movement to remote work and instruction in March 2020, SSW has had several staff members onsite, whether full-time or with flexible work arrangements, to perform critical functions and serve the operational needs of the school. We owe these staff members much thanks and appreciation. These positions are headquartered in New Brunswick and serve the school across its campus locations in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, and coordinate activity in other locations across the state including Parsippany, Cherry Hill, and Princeton. This includes the following SSW positions:

  1. SSW Information Technology staff (MPSC-IT) who provide: Infrastructure/server support; Equipment service/distribution; and coordination of onsite recordings for various virtual events.
  2. SSW Facilities and Events staff (URA-AFT) who provide: Safety protocols as guided by SSW operational plans and University return plans. They also coordinate with the Rutgers Institution and Planning Operations (IP&O) Facilities Assessment Special Teams (F.A.S.T.) who assists in the determination of safe work and meeting occupancy; space coordination, oversight and management to maintain the integrity of our spaces; mail/package collection and distribution; and other duties as necessary.
  3. SSW Student Affairs faculty and staff who provide: Student advising and other supports, and coordination and delivery of various student focused events including commencement.


“Our expectation is that beginning on July 6, all units will be performing their functions in-person, and that all employees will resume working in-person, at least some of the time.” - President Jonathan Holloway

  1. “SOFT” Return will begin July 6, 2021 and will include:
    1. Coordination of faculty and staff reintroduction to their workspaces, inviting members to sign up for a minimum of one-half day during this period up to two (2) days per week as capacity limits allow.
    2. SSW will maintain maximum capacity of 25% in shared work areas during this period to allow for acclimation to the workplace return. Seating diagrams will be provided to each work group(s) to determine how they may build rotating schedules. One week prior to any employee attending onsite, they must seek approval from their area director/manager and register with the appropriate coordinator to schedule their time in office.
      1. Institute for Families (IFF) staff: contact Elizabeth Binstein at
      2. All other faculty and staff: contact Karin Crimmins at
    3. Strict adherence to all safety protocols – see section V below.
  1. “FULL” return will begin August 2, 2021 and will include:
    1. Coordination of faculty and staff schedules to accommodate onsite presence.
      1. To ensure equity and fairness, area directors will create rotating schedules for their work groups that includes flexibility in working both at the office and remotely from an alternative location that may include home offices. In addition, flexible assignment of offices or work spaces will be considered (i.e., office sharing with those in common areas)
      2. Maximum capacity of 50% in shared work areas or the stated occupancy limits at that time. Seating diagrams are made available to each work group(s) to determine how they may build rotating schedules.
      3. Employees should be onsite a minimum of two (2) days per week and area directors must coordinate those schedules to ensure coverage of core hours are met. Minimum days per week onsite is subject to change as capacity limits are adjusted.
      4. Schedules must include coverage of core operational hours which are normally 9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Those SSW activities that include evening and weekend hours will require alternative core operational hours and will be set accordingly by the director/manager at those locations.
      5. Schedules are not approved until it is confirmed/approved that social distancing is achieved.
      6. Area directors/managers and faculty who are not affiliated with a center, programmatic, or administrative work group, must register their planned schedules to:
        1. Elizabeth Binstein ( for IFF employees
        2. Karin Crimmins ( for all other work groups and faculty
      7. In solidarity with members of all work groups, those who occupy individual offices are encouraged to work with their doors open and masks on as their work permits. SSW will assign flex-offices so that those who work in common areas may schedule/access private space to conduct virtual meetings as space allows.
    2. Rebuilding our SSW community by way of permitted/approved gatherings.
    3. Strict adherence to all safety protocols – see section V below.


Faculty and staff should:

  1. Register their vaccine with the University portal (Return to Rutgers COVID-19 Vaccinations), as applicable.
  2. Register for weekly COVID testing (unvaccinated employees only- COVID-19 Testing - Universitywide COVID-19 Information (
  3. Complete the MyCampusPass checklist at every onsite working day.
  4. Wear a mask when in common areas, shared workspaces, or in offices when doors are open.
  5. Follow health and safety guidance (signage posted) for common areas and shared space/equipment - printers/copiers, refrigerators, kitchens/pantries, lounge/conference room spaces, etc.
  6. Socially distance per established guidelines.


Having already performed the work to ensure safety in physical spaces, SSW is confident it can meet the requirements to return to the workplace. The below captures SSW’s preparedness and areas where further University guidance is needed:

  1. SSW Preparedness:
    • SSW Operational review. In consultation with SSW Associate Dean for Administration/Finance, SSW Directors/Managers will determine which positions are suited for fully onsite work or partially remote work.
    • SSW Seating Diagrams. Employees can find seating diagrams for our shared workspaces here: These were informed directly by the University’s EOC F.A.S.T. team and will be used to determine schedules at established capacity requirements. In addition, SSW will use a SSW-centrally-managed scheduling portal to ensure no location exceeds established daily capacity limits for shared work areas. Should you have any questions in this regard, please contact Karin Crimmins at
    • Facilities/Ventilation. SSW understands from the university for on campus spaces and property owners of leased spaces that ventilation standards meet the standards in the Return to Rutgers plan.
    • Technology. SSW is preparing for more mobile work by employing a modern computing alternative to the desktop solution where appropriate and as funding allows.
    • Information Sharing. A shared online folder that includes seating diagrams and other information relevant to this plan will be made available for SSW faculty/staff to review. Faculty and staff forums will be held on June 29, and July 6, 2021, to review this plan and field questions and concerns.
    • Supplies. “Rutgers” supplied cloth face coverings will be provided to every employee – distribution of such will occur upon their first arrival onsite if they haven’t received them already. SSW has stocked inventory that includes hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and disposable face masks (for backup only).
  2. Where SSW needs guidance from the university:
    • Employment Policies. Capacity requirements that are less than 100% may require continued flexibility for telecommuting that meet the operational needs of each SSW work group beyond the current date of extension. Clear guidance for consideration and processing of COVID related accommodations is necessary to ensure a coherent and timely exception process.
    • Facilities/Ventilation. For on campus facilities, it will be important for employees to understand which locations meet ventilation standards to ensure disease transmission is optimally minimized. SSW appreciates the university’s efforts to inform the community as ventilation standards are updated.
    • Mail and Package Delivery. Delivery and pick-up must be re-established, and it will need to be coordinated between the appropriate parties.
    • Parking and Transportation. Communication that includes expected changes in parking policies and any related costs is needed for both continuing and new employees.
    • Supplies. SSW will utilize the Rutgers’ IP&O Essential Supply Inventory to stock supplies.

Recent University Communication regarding return to workplace:

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