Managers, directors and chairs should follow the steps below in developing their Operational Plans to help return faculty and staff to campus.

Stage 1: Develop the Plan

Updated: November 26, 2021

Human Resources or Faculty and Academic Staff Relations consultants can provide support as necessary in developing the operational plan.

A “cohorting model” should be considered as applicable to operations, that will support physical distancing and business continuity. This will see a limited number of employees rotate on site on a predefined schedule (e.g., alternate days or weeks).

At the discretion of the department, evaluate equipment needs and reassign or purchase as necessary to facilitate the hybrid work arrangement. If required, floor plans to assist in planning can usually be provided through the PR work order desk.

Assistance with technology needs can be provided through CCS Help Services. Departments should strongly consider replacing desktop systems with laptops, when they are due for a refresh.

Consistent with the University’s Human Rights commitment, attention is to be given to members of vulnerable populations and those with family requirements. Occupational Health and Wellness will assist with medical accommodation requests. Human Resources and Faculty and Academic Staff Relations representatives can assist in the various accommodation options available to address other  individual needs.

When having discussions with employees, the Back to Work Checklist for Mindful Leaders may be helpful.

Departments are responsible for posting signage in offices, labs, research spaces and department shared spaces. Pre-printed signs and decals and self-print material is available through Physical Resources. Consult with other departments that share common spaces (e.g., lunchrooms) to avoid duplicate efforts. Physical Resources (PR) has posted signage related to foot-traffic flows, space etiquette and expectations, room capacities and hygiene protocols for centrally booked classrooms and public and common campus spaces assigned to PR.

The University of Guelph COVID-19 Daily Screening Form must be completed each day before employees attend the workplace. The daily screening form can be accessed from the U of G intranet or the Safe Gryphon App.

Advise employees that they are not to attend the workplace if they are feeling unwell, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or if a close contact is unwell or has tested positive for COVID-19. They are to complete and submit the Employee Self Declaration Form. If they test positive for COVID-19, they are to contact Occupational Health and Wellness at

Encourage employees to download the Government of Canada’s COVID Alert app, which notifies of possible exposures to the virus.

Direct employees to complete the mandatory Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Awareness training through CourseLink. Employees should forward the email confirming completion to their immediate supervisor and/or designated department person (e.g., administrative assistant) as record of completion.

Those who have previously completed the training are encouraged to review it again as a refresher.

In general, all those on University of Guelph campuses are required to wear masks when indoors. This means wearing a mask in cubicles, classrooms, hallways, washrooms, stairways, meeting rooms and other common spaces. People must wear a mask when outdoors and unable to maintain 2 metres of distance from others.  These requirements align with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s Section 22 Order on masks. Refer to U of G’s Return to Campuses website and EHS COVID-19 Guidelines for further information on masks and faceshields/eye protection.

A 2m physical distance from others should be maintained. Complete the Physical Resources Return to Campus Checklist to help evaluate your workspace.

Occupancy rates for shared spaces should be established to ensure physical distancing for enclosed areas (e.g., meeting rooms, lunchrooms, etc.) Employee scheduling or cohorting is to be prioritized over space reconfigurations.

If further assistance is required after completing the Return to Campus Checklist, email the Physical Resources Work Order Desk (

If physical distance cannot be maintained due to the tasks being performed, consideration must be given to engineering controls or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Consult with EHS for PPE requirements Additionally, refer to the EHS guideline for physical distancing requirements and guidance on employees travelling in a vehicle. 

Protocols should be developed for department-assigned areas such as meeting rooms, lunchrooms etc., including personal work areas and high-touch surfaces such as photocopiers, printers, small appliances, shared tools etc.

Cleaning supplies can be ordered through the Physical Resources Stockroom. Proper PPE (e.g., disposable gloves) must be worn when using cleaning and disinfecting products.

PR-Custodial Services will clean centrally booked classrooms and public and common campus areas. View Physical Resources Cleaning Measures webpage for more information.

Face masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning and disinfecting products, paper towels, dry wipes, etc., can be ordered through the Physical Resources Stockroom. Consider having hand sanitizer available for employees, in shared spaces, high-touch areas and in general reception areas.

Departments need to develop a method for maintaining a record of employees attending campus (e.g., common spreadsheet, shared calendar, etc.) to facilitate contact tracing as required.

Where there is no Local Joint Health and Safety Committee, consider bringing together a group of employees to review and discuss the operational plan. For applicable research stations, this should include Health and Safety representatives. In some cases, employee groups may also need to be informed of a return to the workplace. A list of Local Joint Health and Safety Committees and Environmental Health and Safety liaisons is available on the HR website. Work with your Human Resources or Faculty and Academic Staff Relations representative on these requirements.

Deans or AVPs must approve all operational plans before they are implemented.

Send a copy of your approved operational plan to:

Stage 2: Implement the Plan

Step 14: Communicate the operational plan to returning employees and address any concerns

Step 15: Confirm all health and safety measures have been implemented

Step 16: Confirm necessary equipment/technology is in place

Step 17: Provide orientation to all returning employees on the operational plan, emphasizing personal responsibility and accountability

Step 18: Return employees to campus

Step 19: Monitor compliance with the plan

Step 20: Adjust the plan as required by University, public health and government policies and guidelines and in consideration of operational experience

Additional Practices and Considerations When Developing the Operational Plan

  • In-person and hybrid meetings are permitted provided capacity limits for the space are followed.
  • Where possible, windows should be opened to increase fresh air into the space.
  • Weather permitting, employees should be encouraged to take their breaks and eat outdoors.
  • Proper hand hygiene should be practiced (i.e., frequent hand washing and/or use of sanitizer). Proper respiratory etiquette should be ensured (i.e., coughing/sneezing into a tissue or the bend of an arm, not into a hand).
  • Consider staggering  breaks to minimize the number of people in a space at a given time.
    • Masks should only be removed while eating and drinking.
    • A minimum 2m physical distance must be maintained when engaging in activities that require people to remove their mask (e.g., eating or drinking). A distance greater than 2m is preferred.
    • Employees must wear a mask while in the lunchroom for all other activities like accessing the fridge, waiting for the microwave etc.
    • Position furniture in the lunchroom to help employees keep at least 2m of distance from each other.
    • Consider providing visual markings for where to sit, if necessary.
    • In shared kitchens, cups, mugs, cutlery and plates should not be shared. Food and drink should be stored in sealed containers, leaving space between containers in fridges.
  • Shared equipment and tools should be disinfected before use. Do not assume the previous user disinfected the equipment/tools after they were done.
  • In washrooms, maintain 2 m of physical distance. If the washroom is too small to maintain 2 m from others, confirm if it is empty before entering.
  • Follow physical distancing/occupancy rates in elevators. Take the stairs whenever possible.

Additional Guidance

Please refer to the University’s COVID-19 website, the Return to Campuses website and the University of Guelph Staffing Framework.