For NMU employees to return to campus there are many factors that must be assessed. Reopening campus will be a gradual transition. Risk, exposure levels, and mitigation measures will assist in making that determination. We will continue to use telework to reduce social interactions when necessary.

NMU acknowledges that a positive safety culture includes effective communication and employee involvement. The responsibility for providing a safe working environment rests with all employees, students, and visitors to NMU.

Before returning to campus to work, each employee will be required to attest they understand their rights and responsibilities regarding safety protocols during the pandemic. To clarify, if you are currently on furlough, you do not need to complete the attestation and begin the daily symptom self-screening questionnaire until your furlough is over and you plan to report to work. 



Opening Campus

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed new executive orders ending the state’s “stay at home” mandate on June 1, and elevating all of Michigan's upper peninsula to Phase 5-Containing as of June 10. The executive orders also included the approval for most businesses to reopen. Indoor gatherings may include up to 50 people with social distancing rules still in effect. Work that can be done at home should continue in that manner.  All residents are expected to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands, according to the Governor. 

The lifted stay at home order does not significantly change Northern’s currently working scenario. The physical campus will remain closed until mid-to-late July. Those who can work at home will continue to do so. The Safety and Risk Management work group, along with the NMU Police Department, is meeting with departmental supervisors one-on-one to evaluate each unit’s physical space to implement any needed actions that will enable workers to return to campus safely. The University will bring various units and their employees back to campus in phases over the next two months.

During the summer transition (between the end of the stay-at-home order and the August 17 start of the Fall 2020 semester), NMU will take the steps outlined in this Preparedness and Response plan. The transition will be gradual and will be adjusted as necessary to account for the best advice from the State of Michigan and federal resources. In order to return to campus, each employee’s supervisor will assess the physical work space and work functions to plan for safety. Then each employee will become familiar with the safety readiness requirements. When this is complete, the NMU Police can reactivate the employee’s access to campus buildings.

Important Information for All Employees: Requirements for Returning to Campus

Before returning to campus, all employees will attest they have read this Preparedness and Response Plan. A link allowing employees to attest to their understanding of the information appears above.  

The basic categories of readiness are to:

  • Understand how to recognize COVID-19 symptoms
  • Know how to use the Daily Self-Screening Questionnaire and report symptoms or possible exposure
  • Become aware of the workplace hygiene expectations including the proper use of PPE
  • Become familiar with new cleaning requirements and other workplace infection controls
  • Recognize the additional options available to mitigate risk
  • Know how to report safety concerns
  • Know where to get answers about employment questions, such as paid sick leave, furlough, remote work, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other human resources issues
  • Become familiar with the other safety efforts occurring all over campus

All employees will:

  • Become familiar with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Self-assess for symptoms and risk by using the Daily Self-Screening Questionnaire each day before reporting for work. Reminders about this requirement will be posted and attached to time-keeping resources as well.
  • Call their supervisor if COVID-19 symptoms appear. Symptomatic employees will stay home and seek appropriate medical care. Any employee who develops symptoms during the work day will return home. In addition, employees are expected to contact their supervisor if they, or someone they reside with, has COVID-19 symptoms as described by the CDC.
  • Understand that Building Maintenance staff will regularly sanitize common areas; they will not sanitize each office or work space unless specially requested.
  • Sanitize shared equipment after each use. Do not spray cleaning solution on electronics or screens. Use a cloth or paper towel dampened with sanitizing fluid and wipe electronic equipment. A how-to guide on cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting can be found under "How to Clean and Sanitize or Disinfect."
  • Report issues or concerns about the work space, working on campus, and/or contact with others to your supervisor. If you feel that your supervisor has not addressed your concern, report to one of the Logistics work-group contacts.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least twenty seconds.
  • Use 60% (or higher) alcohol-based hand sanitizers when hand-washing is not available. Two hundred and fifty hand sanitizing stations have been ordered and will be installed on campus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Follow respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue; immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid unnecessary sharing of office supplies, phones, equipment, and tools.
  • Clean and sanitize any shared tools or equipment after each use.
  • Clean and sanitize commonly touched surfaces frequently (i.e. door handles, light switches, chair arms) with a non-bleach Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved cleaning agent. Cleaning supplies are supplied by NMU.
  • If document signatures are required, determine whether alternatives (electronic or verbal acknowledgment) can be substituted or if pens will have to be sanitized after each use.
  • Avoid sharing vehicles (for university business travel) when possible.
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining six feet between yourself and others. 
  • Wear masks when in shared spaces and interacting with others. The university will provide two masks to each employee and make available a disposable mask to campus visitors. See the CDC guide for face coverings.
  • Use barriers when distance of six feet or less is required.
  • Avoid handshaking or other forms of physical contact.
  • Attempt to interact by phone or video instead of in-person.
  • Employees should work with their supervisor in the return-to-campus plan. Options may include working from home part or full time; alternating or staggering work times (to limit close contact with other employees); tele-meetings rather than in-person meetings; identifying alternate work areas within campus; as well as other ideas. Some functions cannot be performed off campus but many of these can be altered to limit close contact with others.

The CDC advises that there is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The National Institute of Health indicates that droplets can live in the air for up to three hours, but that the droplets expelled by speech only remain in the air for as long as 14 minutes (sources PNAS and NIH).
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

It may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but the CDC continues to post updated information as it becomes available. The amount of time that the virus can remain alive on surfaces varies from 24 hours for cardboard to 3 days for non-porous surfaces like stainless steel (NIH).

More information is available from the CDC.

Prior to arriving on campus to work, each employee will self-assess for COVID-19 risks by using the Daily Self-Screening Questionaire. ​​​​​At NMU, most employees do not need to submit a form or sign on to an app to evidence that the self-screening is complete; if a form is required, the department supervisor will inform each employee of the requirement. Each day, by reporting to work on campus, employees are attesting that they have reviewed the questionnaire, feel well, do not have apparent COVID-19 symptoms, and do not know that they have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual.

Contact your supervisor if you feel unwell, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or believe you have been exposed to someone with the COVID-19 virus. Human Resources is available to provide information about accommodation or medical leave. This questionnaire does not replace the judgment of healthcare professionals. Please follow recommendations from your healthcare professionals, who will also recommend COVID-19 testing when they consider it prudent or necessary. 

Daily Self-Screening Questionnaire

How to self-assess: First, consider whether you feel physically well. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the emergency warning signs, which include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake up, or bluish lips or face. Then self-assess for any new* symptoms that may indicate COVID-19:

  • Cough, newly developed or worsening
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills or repeated shaking with chills
  • Feeling feverish*
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Recent loss of smell or taste

Also, self-assess for COVID-19 risks, such as:

  • Someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is displaying COVID-19 symptoms
  • You know that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

*To clarify, employees should assess for new symptoms, and not symptoms related to other known medical issues and medications. Generally, a temperature of 100.4F or higher is considered a fever. Employees can pick up 10 disposable thermometers, called Thermadots, from NMU Police Dispatch in the Services Building on Sugarloaf Avenue. 

If symptoms present while an employee is at work, the employee will call their supervisor, or wear a mask and inform their supervisor. If it is safe for the employee to drive, they should leave campus to go home. If a ride or emergency transportation is needed, call 911, and if possible, segregate the employee from others who may be in the area. Except for emergencies, further treatment or testing should be arranged by the employee from home.

The supervisor should obtain contact information in order to fill out the COVID-19 Reporting Intake Form. For instance, the supervisor may arrange to talk to the employee at a specified phone number after the employee has arrived at their home. The supervisor is expected to begin the reporting protocol within one hour; NMU is required to complete the reporting process within 24 hours.

Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals, should notify their supervisor. The supervisor will fill out the COVID-19 Reporting Intake Form.

Northern will be conducting free COVID-19 nasal swab testing for students, faculty and staff between July 27 and August 15 during NMU’s Passport to Campus event.

All NMU employees are required to test, either during the Passport to Campus event or with another test provider of their choice, before they return to work on campus. Passport to Campus testing will occur in 20 private bays located within the Northern Center ballrooms and will take approximately five minutes. To promote social distancing, you will register for a time slot to check in. The time slots between 8 - 9 am are reserved for individuals with higher risk for COVID-19 complications.

Test results for Passport to Campus will be provided through the Passport to Campus application. Positive results and guidance will also be conveyed by the Health Center staff. If you test positive, follow the recommendations of your health provider.

Employees who test outside the Passport to Campus event must provide evidence to Human Resources. Human Resources is available to provide information about accommodations or medical leave. 

Additional testing and contact tracing has been coordinated between the Health Matters Work Group and the Marquette County Health Department.

Currently, NMU asks each supervisor to use COVID-19 Reporting Intake Form and protocol when an employee reports symptoms or a positive diagnosis. The form will aid the university and the Marquette County Health Department in contact tracing as well as reporting requirements.

If testing indicates an employee is positive for the COVID-19 virus, the NMU Health Center will inform employees in their immediate work area that an employee has tested positive. While it may be obvious in small departments who is not reporting to work, be aware that we are not allowed to divulge the name of the COVID-19 positive person to their co-workers. Human Resources can help guide supervisors and all employees on how to address questions without breaching privacy requirements. 

This guide will be updated if testing and contact tracing protocols change.

NMU employees are requested to remain off campus property if COVID-19 symptoms are present, if an employee has been directly exposed to a person confirmed to have COVID-19, or if an employee has a positive COVID-19 test result. Follow CDC recommendations for self-quarantining guidelines.

Those who have been home under isolation may return to work following the most current CDC guidance. Employees returning to work from an approved medical leave should contact Human Resources and submit a medical clearance releasing them to return to work. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required on campus. Wear cloth face coverings (masks) when in shared spaces and interacting with others. The university will provide two masks to each employee and make available a disposable mask for visitors to campus. See the CDC guide for more information about face coverings. The university will provide gloves for cleaning when requested. The university is also obtaining or making Plexiglas desk shields for those who will eventually be in contact with visitors. The need for special PPE (beyond face coverings and gloves for cleaning) will be considered when supervisors assess the physical work spaces before employees return to work.

This is a good youtube video about the proper use of masks and gloves. 

All PPE can be requested by supervisors from the Safety Department through an ordering app. Ordering from the Safety Department allows NMU to obtain bulk pricing and it is believed that bulk ordering will aid the university in receiving all the supplies needed in a timely manner. PPE that is being ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be paid-for by the university and not by the individual department. PPE that would have been ordered to support classroom or other university operations should still be ordered through the Safety Department, but will be charged to the department's regular organization budget. 

Other PPE, such as gowns, face shields, and N95 respirators are provided for those who need them for their jobs. These PPE require special testing and training before they are effective. Contact the Safety Department if you or your department requires special PPE. 

Some university domestic travel restrictions were lifted when the State of Michigan's "stay at home" order was rescinded. Currently, per the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Northern has suspended all university-sponsored air and ship travel, both domestic and international, for students, faculty and staff until further notice. Domestic travel by land is permitted. Supervisors may require such travel that is necessary to perform essential job duties. Once restrictions are lifted, and absent any prohibitions by governmental authorities, supervisors may require travel to non-restricted areas the CDC deems safe, particularly if such travel is necessary for the employee to perform essential job duties.

Employees no longer have to automatically self-isolate 14 days if they travel outside of Michigan's Region 8. However, employees whose business or personal travel takes them outside of Region 8 into a "stay-at-home" area, an area of high exposure risk, or outside the United States, must follow a health care provider's orders. These orders may include a negative COVID-19 test and/or a requirement to complete a 14-day self-isolation prior to returning to work on campus. Contact Human Resources for leave options available. Remember that Human Resources is available to discuss leave options before the travel occurs.  

Cleaning with soap and water reduces the number of germs, dirt and impurities on the surface. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. According to the CDC, disinfecting refers to killing nearly 100 percent of the germs on a surface or object, while sanitizing refers to lowering the number of germs to a safe level by using a cleaning or disinfecting process. When you spray a surface with a general purpose cleaner and wipe it immediately, it is considered cleaned and sanitized. When you clean a surface and then spray a disinfectant and allow the solution to remain on the surface for the required amount of time, it is considered disinfected.

NMU does NOT use the term “deep cleaning” to refer to the process that will be used if an employee or student is reported to have exhibited COVID-19 symptoms. NMU Building Maintenance staff does “deep clean” some areas, cleaning carpet, windowsills, flat spaces, etc. for instance, when dorm rooms and classrooms are vacated at the end of the school year. After a report of COVID-19 symptoms, though, NMU custodial staff will disinfect the area if requested, but does not “deep clean” the area after for disinfection.

At NMU, we cannot use bleach inside buildings to disinfect. Use one of the other EPA approved sanitized/disinfectants. If you are able to procure an unused spray bottle, NMU Building Maintenance custodial staff can provide a water-based cleaning/sanitizing agent called Aqueous Ozone that is dispensed using a Hygeia dispenser.

To clean and sanitize/disinfect:

  • Wear disposable gloves to clean and sanitize or disinfect when you cannot immediately wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.  
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces using soap and water or a general purpose cleaner to wipe a surface clean. To disinfect, use a spray disinfectant and allow it to sit on the surfaces for the recommended time (as shown by the manufacturer). For aqueous ozone, allow the product to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Frequently touched surfaces and objects in public places, such as point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and sanitized before each use.
  • High touch surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks. These should be sanitized regularly.
  • For electronics, such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, terminal screens, and remote controls, use an EPA approved cleaner to spray a paper towel. Use the damp towel to clean the electronic equipment. Spraying directly on the equipment will eventually short the equipment and render it unusable.
  • Dispose of gloves, paper towels, and any other cleaning supplies in a bag-lined garbage can. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. 

Responsibilities for Specific Groups

The bullet points below were drafted in April, near the beginning of the pandemic. Since that time, many departments have been working on resources for supervisors. Some excellent resources developed by Human Resources include Guidance for Supervisors – Departmental Return to Work Checklist and the Guidance for Supervisors – Returning Employees to Campus. In addition, the employee section of the safeoncampus website has other links that are updated frequently. The Safety department developed an online ordering system that leverages the university's bulk buying to reduce prices for departments. A webpage with sample signage is nearly complete and will linked here when finished. In the interim, supervisors should be advised that signage will be delivered August 3 or August 4. After that time, supervisors will be able to order additional signage from the webpage or by calling x2454. Other general information includes: 

  • The Passport to Campus application should be utilized to arrange for COVID-19 testing. Each NMU employee who will be on campus for any reason during the semester is required to test. Other employees (temporary workers, limited service contract workers, etc) will be required to test if they have significant contact with students. Contact if you have a question regarding the testing.   
  • Read the Risk Assessment and Mitigation section of this document below. Conduct a risk assessment to identify risk mitigation options that will be appropriate for your areas. Important Note: Classroom space is being addressed by the Academic Work Group, headed by Rob Winn. Deans and Department Heads do not have to assess classroom space for faculty.
  • Contact a Logistics Team/work group contact person when there is a specific question or concern. Supervisors do not have to individually research or determine the appropriate action for every circumstance. The work groups have been assigned with the specific purpose of assisting return-to-work safety.
  • Consider requesting a hazard review of the physical space where your employees work. The Campus Safety/Risk Management workgroup will visit your work area and help you identify changes that you can make to minimize risk between workers. Do NOT install risk mitigation measures yourself or direct Facilities staff to install them. Curtains, shields, mechanisms to block entry, etc. have been featured on news programs, but often present fire hazards and building code violations. Even using a wedge to keep a door open may cause issues that you did not expect. Please check with Campus Safety before making changes.  
  • Lead by demonstrating recommended safety protocols and communicate safety protocols to employees.
  • Remind people about face mask and social distancing requirements.
  • Assess in-person work requirements versus work-from-home allowances. In general, work-from-home should be encouraged to the extent it continues to be effective for required operations. Remember to check that employees have updated their phone, email, and other contact availability information. Be sure that the department can be reached, even if the individual employee will not be available during regular business hours.
  • Request required safety equipment from the Campus Safety (x2151 or work group when available.
  • Become familiar with COVID-19 Workplace Guidance webpage from NMU Human Resources. There is important information about sick time, accommodation, and federal laws that affects our employees.
  • Become familiar with the sanitization expectations and work to remind employees of their responsibilities. Recent CDC advice includes reassessing areas to reduce the amount of paper and soft surfaces exposed as well as limiting food and beverage consumption to safe areas. It is the time to clean up clutter, keep surfaces as clear as possible, and limit face-to-face interactions.
  • Work with employees to develop expectations about shared equipment and tools. Consider copy machines, printers, shop tools, lab equipment, etc.
  • Consider delivery, such as mail delivery. There is little evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via fiber surfaces. However, departments may decide to segregate delivered items for some period of time, typically 24 hours, and then handle it as little as possible. This may involve a sorting station and a posted time to pick up the sorted mail.
  • Identify a dedicated location to isolate an employee who develops symptoms at work and is waiting for transportation. Employees are expected to arrange their own transportation unless emergency (ambulance) transportation is required.
  • Ensure that employees entering facilities are monitoring their temperature and otherwise assessing for COVID-19 symptoms each day before reporting to work.
  • Remind employees about daily sanitation protocols; each work space that has been used during the day should be sanitized.
  • If an NMU employee calls in with COVID-19 symptoms, contact the NMU Designated Reporter through NMU Dispatch x2151, and follow the reporting protocol (using the COVID-19 Reporting Intake Form). If other employees have not yet reported for work, you may delay opening the office until the area is sanitized.
  • The protocol is the same if an employee reports symptoms of COVID-19 while at work (contact the NMU Designated Reporter through the Police Dispatch 227-2151, and follow the reporting protocol (using the COVID-19 Reporting Intake Form). Instruct other employees to remain in a space away from the areas visited by the symptomatic employee. This may mean having them stay in their work space or in another area; staying in a work space may be safer than walking through a common space. In many cases, other employees will not have to leave work for the day as an aerosol mist sanitizer takes less than 30 minutes to be effective.  
  • NMU is required to tell employees when another employee in their immediate work area has tested positive. Initially, Supervisors were going to have to make the notification calls. However, the NMU Health Center will now be the area designated to make these notification calls. NMU will not identify the name of the COVID-19 positive person. Work with Human Resources if you have other questions about notifications. 
  • The contact department for the various supplies necessary in departments has changed several times as we pursue bulk ordering and determine whether we will buy or manufacture some of the required equipment. If you are not sure where to procure what you need, Campus Safety (x2151 or will help you find the things you need, as well as help you determine how much you need. These may include: 
    • Face masks for employees (NMU has a goal of obtaining 2 masks for each employee. Employees are allowed to provide their own as well.)
    • Face masks for visitors who arrive without a mask
    • Cleaning supplies*
    • Other PPE, such as face shields, gloves, gowns, etc.
    • Signage
    • Plexiglass desk shields to place a barrier between an employee and a visitor
    • Shield barriers to limit contact between desks
    • Stanchions, ropes, stickers, or floor paint to indicate appropriate social distance spacing
  • *Note: NMU will supply cleaning fluids and wipes. The Safety Department has attempted to make bulk purchases of these supplies so that they can be delivered to departments according to their needs and as supply allows. An ordering form is in development for the MyNMU page. Until then, contact Safety at 2151 or
  • Consider what you will need if employees must quarantine or become ill. Can you access necessary files? Do you need to forward phones or email? Do you have persons who can access the required IT systems to complete the necessary work? Plan before an employee cannot report to campus. 
  • Stay vigilant for fraud schemes. Criminals use social engineering to obtain passwords and other financial information. Remind all employees that good password hygiene is more important than ever. Be aware of strange requests to give up passwords, financial information, or to sent money or gift cards. If it is unusual, verify that the request if valid with the Help Desk, the Controller, or the Internal Auditor.   
  • Finally, supervisors will request evidence from each supervised employee that they understand and accept Safety Readiness Requirements before requesting that their access to university buildings is reactivated by the NMU Police Department. 

Supervisors of persons determined to have high or very high exposure risk may have to implement additional safety protocols, such as wearing K95 or N95 masks, latex gloves, virus protection goggles, taking temperatures, or aerosol disinfection protocols. Request guidance from the appropriate work group leader from the Campus Safety/Risk Management Work Group as needed.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfection Responsibilities:

Building Maintenance custodial staff are NOT required to clean and sanitize each workspace on campus. Their regular work duties of caring for the common areas have been adjusted and modified during the COVID-19 pandemic period to include the following additional responsibilities:

  • Comply with federal and state safety (sanitization and disinfection) standards as relayed during training to custodial staff
  • Clean and sanitize, according to safety standards, common areas, bathrooms, and areas each day or as directed by management; other employees have been informed that unless directed by Building Maintenance management, cleaning and sanitizing individual office spaces are the responsibility of the office staff
  • Periodically monitor and refill soap, hand-sanitizer, and hand-drying paper stations
  • Direct offices to the resources available for cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and other barrier/engineering controls, including Plexiglas dividers, informational posters, and the preparedness guide (to come)
  • Certain custodial staff may be specially trained and called upon to sanitize areas reported to have been used by a person with COVID symptoms. This effort will be guided by and initiated by Building Maintenance after receiving notification of a COVID-19 report through the designated contact person in the Safety Department. 

Members of the Building Maintenance custodial staff have been specially trained about the cleaning risks and protocols. After an area has been identified as being used by a person with COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis, the preferred protocol is to shut off the area for 24-72 hours. This allows any misted particles to fall and the virus to expire. If there is no pressing reason to access the space, this is the best practice.

If it is necessary to access the space, contact the Safety Department, who will coordinate the disinfection. Custodial staff will use either a misting solution or a new device called a Clorox 360 to disinfect the space. The area must not be used during the time it takes for the disinfection mist to work, typically no longer than 30 minutes. After the disinfection is complete, the area can used again.

Classrooms, Work Areas and Other Spaces

Classroom space is being addressed by the Academic Work Group, headed by Rob Winn. Deans and Department Heads do not have to assess classroom or laboratory space for faculty at this time. Risk mitigation detailed in the American College Health Association (ACHA) guidelines, including social distancing within the classrooms, and how to allot space and equipment for smaller population classes, distancing between class periods, laboratory work, and others are being considered. Currently, Department Heads can request a walk-through to prepare for employees returning to campus and for labs being conducted in the summer from the Safety Department (x2151 or As NMU moves closer to the start of Fall classes, more information about classroom and laboratory space will be communicated. 

Small shared spaces, such as elevators and bathrooms, present challenges for both cleaning and social distancing. Based on current guidance from the CDC, these areas will be marked to show adjusted maximum capacity. Generally, elevators should be used by no more than two persons at a time. Watch for signs that indicate the maximum number of people allowed and floor markings that indicate social distancing guidance.

Other areas specifically identified by State of Michigan Executive Order 2020-91 include some specific risk mitigation controls for several job functions at NMU. These additional requirements must be assessed before operations may resume/continue. The areas identified include:

  • Construction
  • Dining and Restaurants
  • Housing
  • Law Enforcement/First Responders
  • Health Providers
  • Research in Laboratories
  • Field Research

Each area will submit a Risk Mitigation (under Controls for High and Very High Exposure Risk) to the Campus Safety/Risk Management Work Group.

Assessing & Mitigating Levels of Exposure Risk

NMU cannot eliminate all risk factors surrounding the spread of an infectious disease. The decision on when and how to return to work will be done based on the individual job being performed and the risks that surround that job. Supervisors are charged with completing a risk assessment of each area to identify the exposure level and reasonable safety precautions. A checklist is being developed to assist with this process. The work group contacts can help supervisors with questions and concerns. Individual employees should notify Human Resources about concerns related to personal risk factors. 

The OSHA Occupation Risk Pyramid separates exposure risk into four separate categories. A summary of those categories follow. Review these risk summaries and identify when additional mitigation measures will be required. 

Lower Exposure Risk

These are jobs that do not require contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected. Examples of job tasks with a lower exposure risk include those with minimal occupational contact with students, the public, or coworkers. 

Medium Exposure Risk

These are jobs that require frequent contact with people who may be infected, but who are not known to be infected. Examples of job tasks with a medium exposure risk include those who may have contact with students or the general public. 

High Exposure Risk

These jobs have a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of an infectious disease. Examples of job tasks with a high exposure risk include healthcare support, medical transport, and mortuary workers exposed to a person known to have an infectious disease. 

Very High Exposure Risk

These jobs have a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of an infectious disease during specific medical, postmortem, or laboratory procedures. Examples of job tasks with a very high exposure risk include healthcare and morgue workers performing aerosol-generating procedures or collecting/handling specimens from potentially infectious patients or bodies of people known to have or suspected of having an infectious disease. 

Persons with Additional Risk for Serious Illness

In addition to the OSHA risk pyramid, NMU recognizes that persons with additional risk factors for serious illness, or who live with persons with additional risk, may want to request additional mitigation measures. Employees will contact Human Resources for guidance. Student employees also contact Human Resources. Note that when classes resume, students who request additional mitigation measures will work through the NMU Disability Services office.

These are the mitigation measures (controls) available at NMU for low and medium risk exposure. When implementation is already assigned to a specific department that is noted.   

Elimination Controls 
  • Social distancing of six feet from other people in a classroom, office, shop, or customers location;
  • Limit the number of persons allowed to work in a common area. The State of Michigan has proposed a guideline of 10 per space but NMU supports efforts to limit the persons in a space to less than 10 when possible. Avoid common areas (offices and shops) unless necessary;
  • NMU will not allow visitors who do not have a legitimate reason to be in campus buildings until allowed by state guidelines;
  • Campus Safety (x2151 or will designate entrances and exits for each location where required;
  • Campus Safety (x2151 or will post signage in common space areas to remind employees to social distance;
  • Consider curb-side pickup for materials distribution;  
  • Delivery personnel will use Verbal Confirmation (V.C.) in the notes section of the delivery confirmation (instead of collecting signatures); and  
  • By default, only one employee is permitted in any NMU vehicle. When two or more must travel together, they should wear proper PPE, assure each supervisor that they have not demonstrated any COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days, and distance as much as possible within the vehicle. 
Engineering Controls
  • COVID-19 Hazard Communication signs will be posted throughout the office and shop area. (Assigned to Campus Safety x2151 or;
  • Guard walls or wall segments may be installed at designated offices that are unable to adhere to six feet social distancing requirements (Assigned to Campus Safety x2151 or and the Campus Safety/Risk Management work group. Walls and dividers will be installed at supervisor request when materials are available). DO NOT install walls, curtains, barriers, or other dividers without approval from the Campus Safety/Risk Management work group. This is required to ensure we do not break fire and building codes, or inadvertently mitigate COVID-19 risk while increasing another kind of risk; 
  • Kitchen equipment, such as coffee pot, refrigerator, and microwave will be spaced apart, with a goal spacing of six feet, to avoid multiple people using kitchen equipment in a confined space. Alternately, allow one person in the break area at a time (Assigned to each department). For the time being, do not share plates or cups or utensils;
  • Sanitation of common areas, bathrooms, as well as door handles and light switches will be performed at least daily (Assigned to custodial staff); 
  • More frequent sanitation of commonly touched surfaces will be sanitized with product kept in the work area (Assigned to work-area employees); 
  • If possible, consider designated in and out doors as well as walking traffic flows; 
  • Consider delivery, such as mail delivery. There is little evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via fiber surfaces. However, departments may decide to segregate delivered items for some period of time, typically 24 hours, and then handle it as little as possible. This may involve a sorting station and a posted time to pick up the sorted mail; and
  • Areas governed by health department rules (such as kitchens that serve food to students or the public and health facilities) will be sanitized and disinfected according to health department guidelines (training directed by supervisors).
Administrative Controls
  • Supervisors are responsible for creating a schedule for employees returning to the office. Jobs should be prioritized to determine the work functions that must be performed in the office first. Staggering shift and break times for returning employees should be based on the availability of office space allowing for proper social distancing as well as union contract requirements. Contact Human Resources with questions;
  • Job functions will be evaluated. Remote work will be allowed unless the job function will not be effectively performed from a remote location. In-person contact should be limited to the extent possible;
  • Consider taking steps to reduce entry congestion, such as staggering start times or adopting a rotating schedule for on-site work; 
  • Meetings will be held using video conferencing systems; and
  • COVID-19 Hazard Communication Signs will be posted throughout office and shop area as reminders to maintain six-feet social distancing, hand sanitation, and sanitation of frequently touched surfaces. Generally assigned to Campus Safety x2151 or, although additional signage may be available from Campus Safety x2151 or

The risk mitigation controls for high and very high risk exposure are not suitable for a back-to-work general guide. For jobs identified as high or very high risk exposure, supervisors are expected to develop plans that adhere to OSHA, MIOSHA, CDC, and relevant professional organization guidelines. Supervisors must contact the Campus Safety/Risk Management work group before approving employees to resume high or very high risk exposure work activities. 

  1. Contact either one of the Logistics co-chairs (Cindy Paavola and Mike Bath) or Campus Safety and Risk Management work group co-chairs (Lee Gould and Jill Compton) to assign an appropriate review person or persons for the back-to-work risk plan developed;
  2. Use appropriate industry standards to identify appropriate risk mitigation controls for the high and very high risk functions; 
  3. Obtain review and approval; 
  4. Forward the plan to Jill Compton.

There is no formal template for documenting the identified risks. However, the following would be appropriate: 

Additional Risk Mitigation Plan for:_____________

Developed by:_____________________________

Approved by: _____________________________

Using standards from: _________________________ (link to standards resource)

Risk Identified

Control to be implemented: 







Logistics Team and Work Groups

Early in the pandemic, President Fritz Erickson formed an Emergency Logistics Team to coordinate NMU’s response to COVID-19. As the pandemic progressed, he deployed twelve work groups that report to the Logistics Team co-chairs. The Logistics Team and work groups include persons from every union group and represent a diverse cross-section of the NMU campus. The Logistics Team and work groups are now charged with:

  • anticipating and identifying the barriers to returning to campus;
  • providing reasonable alternatives when barriers are identified;
  • providing resources for returning employees and students;
  • identifying regulatory restrictions;
  • assessing the plan’s responsiveness and effectiveness as it is implemented, as well as recommending adjustments;
  • utilizing the university’s emergency communication plan;
  • identifying and applying for monetary resources;
  • addressing concerns reported as people return to campus and NMU moves through to the post-pandemic phase;
  • adjusting the university’s emergency response plan in order to be prepared should persistent COVID-19 spread or uncontrolled growth phases occur in Michigan Region 8 or the NMU campus.

You can report any safety concerns or unsafe working conditions to your supervisor. If you prefer, report to one of the Logistic Team Co-Chairs.

Co-Chairs: Cindy Paavola and Mike Bath

Academic Work Group: Rob Winn

Athletics Work Group: Forrest Karr

Campus Safety/Risk Management Work Group: Lee Gould and Jill Compton

Communications and Community Work Group: Cindy Paavola and Derek Hall

Facilities/Custodial Work Group: Kathy Richards

Financial Work Group: Matt Franti

Health Matters Work Group: Chris Kirkpatrick and Paul Mann

Housing and Residential Life Work Group: Jeff Korpi

Dining/Auxiliary Services Work Group: Tom Helgren 

HR/Staff Matters Work Group: Rhea Dever

Student Activities and Services Work Group: Christine Greer 

Technology Work Group: Dave Maki and Felecia Flack

General questions can also be sent to:

Additional Information

The physical spaces where NMU employees work and the kinds of interactions employees have with others will be evaluated using MIOSHA’s risk assessment standards. The results will guide decisions about how to reduce risk. The plan will also guide employees on the options available to keep the NMU community safe.

In addition, supervisors of any area identified as high or very high exposure must contact the Campus Safety/Risk Management work group to develop and document a safe return-to-work plan specific to those areas before employees return to campus.

Finally, this document is not the resource for determining how to record work and leave time. Long-established labor regulations have been adjusted by federal and state executive orders to respond to the pandemic. For up-to-date information about work and leave time, refer to the Human Resources website or call Human Resources at 227-2330.

NMU anticipates that this document will change. State and Federal executive orders as well as CDC guidance will affect this plan. This chart logs the changes to the document as they occur. 

Date:         Change:

07/30/20   Removed a confusing sentence about required COVID-19 testing.   
07/29/20   Updated Supervisor information to include links to Human Resources new web page and update information about ordering supplies. 
07/28/20   Changed travel restriction to meet current Human Resources Supervisor guidance. 
07/21/20   Added information about COVID-19 testing at the Passport to Campus testing event. 
06/18/20   Added 24 hour isolation time into the controls for handling mail (based on employee request for more direction)
06/08/20   Clarified self-screening to indicate that there is no form and that employees should assess for new symptoms. Received feedback from employees that some medical issues mimic COVID-19 symptoms but that employees generally would know the difference. For instance, certain medications have a chronic cough as a side effect. They did not want to "attest" that they did not have the symptoms when they did,
but knew them to be related to other issues. Changed reporting flowchart wording slightly. 
06/10/20   Updated the heading to specifically state that furloughed workers do not need to attest until after furlough is over. 
06/05/20   Updated with information from Executive Order 2020 114
06/04/20   Added link for attestation and link for the list of employees who have completed the attestation agreement
06/04/20   Added additional information about self-assessing for COVID-19 symptoms
06/03/20   Added reporting flowchart and updated Reporting Intake Form with 6/3/20 version
06/02/20   Current Status and Travel Restrictions (to reflect President Erickson's June 2 email to employees)
05/26/20   Preparedness and Response Plan presented to NMU Executive Council

List of employees who have completed the Attestation Agreement