Return to Campus Safely for Employees FAQ (8/19/2020)


What is the Gallaudet Way Forward Plan?
The Gallaudet Way Forward Plan (GWFP) provides detailed information on how the University will safely bring the community back to campus. The GWFP consists of three phases:

  • Phase 1: Remote Activities

  • Phase 2: Hybrid (Remote and Face-to-Face Activities)

  • Phase 3: Adapted On-Campus Learning, Living, and Working

More information on GWFP can be found on the Coronavirus website and the newly-designed Your Way website.


Who is working on the Gallaudet Way Forward Plan?
There are five working groups or “strands” tasked with addressing different aspects of our reopening process. The Public Health and Safety strand provides guidance and consultation to the other four strands as well as the Executive Team on the health and safety protocols to mitigate COVID-19. This group is led by Dr. Rosanne Rushing, director of the Public Health program, and Dr. Alicia Wooten. assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. Ted Baran, chair of the Crisis Leadership Team and director of Public Safety and Transportation, will also provide leadership and support.

This Public and Safety strand group reviews reports on the pandemic and works with the appropriate public health authorities on health and safety matters, including planning for comprehensive testing for COVID-19, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation protocols. They will advise the University on ensuring that all designs for our campus, including classrooms, offices, and residence halls, are safe. They will also advise the University on using appropriate physical distancing measures that will balance health and safety with other needs, particularly visual and tactile communication. This group will review all plans for restoration of our campus developed by four distinct and complementary “tracks.” Those plans, in turn, will then be reviewed by other authorities, including the government of the District of Columbia.


When are employees expected to return to campus?
Under Phase 1, most employees will continue to work remotely. As of August 17, 2020, the plan is for Phase 1 to continue throughout the Fall. All classes are provided remotely in Fall 2020. Most employees will continue to work remotely. Essential employees will continue to work on campus.

When the University moves into Phase 2, we will begin a transition to bring employees back to campus safely. This will include a rotating schedule and a limitation on the number of employees in the office or building. The Task Force is working on a strong safety plan to ensure all employees feel safe and healthy in the workplace.

In Phase 3, it means that the University is resuming normal on-campus operations. All employees are expected to return to campus.

An employee tested positive for COVID-19 today. That employee was working on campus yesterday. What do we do next?
Please send an email immediately to The Contract Tracing Team includes:

  • Dr. Rosanne Rushing, Public Health and Safety Co-Leader

  • Dr. Alicia Wooten, Public Health and Safety Co-leader

  • Nurse Kim Lee-Wilkens, Student Health Services (SHS) Director

  • Ted Baran, Crisis Leadership Team (CLT) Co-leader and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director

There is a guideline that is developed by the Contract Tracing Team. The guideline can be found here.



I have children at home. I am worried that I cannot manage both child care and work.
The University has asked supervisors to be as flexible as possible with our employees. Please discuss with your supervisors to see how your schedule can be shifted but still support the needs of the department.

If you are absolutely unable to shift your schedules, you may use your paid leave (annual and/or sick leave) to care for your child(ren). Supervisors are asked to be lenient and understanding. This is a very unusual time and we recognize the stress that working parents are dealing with.


I just tested positive for COVID-19. I must stay home for 14 days. Do I need to use my sick or annual leave?
Depending upon the nature of your illness and your job responsibilities, you should work with your supervisor to make up the work in the same workweek or to develop an alternative plan for work. However, if you are unable to make up the hours or work from home, you will need to use your sick leave or annual leave. If you don’t have any remaining, there is an option to carry a negative annual leave balance for up to 15 days. This is in effect until further notice.  You may also opt to apply from the Leave-Sharing Program. Please contact Human Resources for more information. 


I was asked to self-quarantine due to a potential exposure in the workplace. Will I be required to use my paid leave?
No, since the University asked you to self-quarantine, you will be placed on administrative leave with pay.

I am out of paid leave and was tested positive for COVID-19. What options do I have?
You have three options:

  • You may carry a negative annual leave balance for up to 15 days. 

  • You may apply for leave donation from the Leave-Sharing Program.

  • You may apply for benefits under the DC Paid Family Leave Program. Please note that if you are approved for benefits, you will be placed on Leave Without Pay at the University.


Does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) apply to Gallaudet University?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) does not apply to Gallaudet University. This policy applies to certain public employers and to private employers with under 500 employees.

Can I apply for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave if I contract the coronavirus or if I need to provide care to my immediate family members who contracted the coronavirus?
The coronavirus would qualify as a "serious health condition" under the FMLA, allowing an employee to take FMLA leave if the employee contracts the disease or when the employee must provide care to an immediate family member who has contracted the disease.   

However, FMLA should be applied for only if the employee expects to not be able to work for an extended period of time as a result of his or her sickness or need to care for an immediate family member. Regardless of whether FMLA leave is used, the employee would still use their accrued leave to ensure continuous pay.  

Information on how to apply for FMLA can be found here:

I have a medical condition that may put me at a higher risk from complications related to contracting the coronavirus.  If the campus reopens, can I continue to work from home? 
You may request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs.  More information on this process can be found under the Administration and Operations Manual.


If we feel unsafe, would we be required to come back to campus?
The Public Health and Safety Task Force is designing several protocols to ensure that employees feel safe to return to campus. The protocols include but are not limited to:

However, if you have underlying medical conditions that will put you at risk, please request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs.


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800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002