Returning to Mines

A tool kit for safely returning to campus

to Mines

A tool kit for safely
returning to campus

Returning to Work

Guiding Principles

Colorado School of Mines policies and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be rooted in safety for the nation’s health care providers, safety for our staff, safety for our faculty, safety for our students and safety for our community while continuing the institution’s vital missions of education and research.

Mines’ plans will conform to state and county public health orders and align with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidanceThis information will be regularly updated as conditions and emerging or new guidance requires. 

On-Campus Staffing

Mines will phase-in a return of staff over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate social distancing and protections for those who are most at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, and those over the age of 65.

Mines Leadership Team will assess expanded staffing based on mission-critical operations, ability to control and manage specific work environments, and necessity to access on-site resources. These decisions, once approved, will be communicated through your respective dean, vice president or supervisor.

The need to maintain a reduced number of people on campus to meet social distancing requirements may continue for some time. Support units that can continue to effectively work remotely will likely continue to do so until restrictions are eased for larger gatherings.

As staffing on-site increases and operations expand, leadership will closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus, as well as existing policies and procedures to mitigate it. If localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and reduced staffing may need to be implemented again.

Once staff members have been instructed to return to work on campus, there are several options departments should consider to maintain required social distancing measures and reduce population density within buildings and workspaces.

  • Remote Work: Those who can work remotely to fulfill some, or all of their work responsibilities should continue to do so to reduce the number of individuals on campus and the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. These arrangements, which should be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be done on a full or partial day/week schedule as appropriate, ensuring that department needs are met.
  • Alternating Days: Departments should consider scheduling partial staffing on alternating days. Such schedules will help enable social distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces. For example, half of the employees in an office/department can work remotely Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the other half of the office comes to campus to work. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the first group can work on campus while the other group works remotely. Additionally, establishing alternating shifts such as utilizing 4X10 or 9X80 schedules would accomplish social distancing and shift separations.
  • Staggered Reporting/Departing: The beginning and end of the workday typically brings many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 30 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements. (See Enter/Exit Controls for further details).

All faculty are asked to prepare all courses for online/remote delivery as well as face-to-face instruction.

Academic Affairs is working on a course delivery plan for a mix of in-person, remote or faculty option instruction. If you are scheduled to teach an in-person delivery class, you will be expected to do so within appropriate state and federal safety guidelines.

Department heads should assist in-person instructors in developing a “just in case they become ill” plan including substitute teaching options and switching to on-line formats.

According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Being immunocompromised
  • Individuals determined to be high risk by a licensed health care provider

Staff members who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA Reasonable Accommodations related to Returning to the Workplace should contact Human Resources at  or call 303-273-3250.

Leave and Return to Work

If you are unable to return to work for one of the following reasons:

  • Employee is advised by health care provider to self-quarantine
  • Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis
  • Employee is caring for an individual subject to self-quarantine
  • Employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed
  • Health Screening app indicates the employee should not go to campus and the employee cannot work from home

Please complete the following steps:

  1. Notify your supervisor of your circumstances.
  2. Submit a Families First Coronavirus Response Act request via the FFCRA Leave Request Form
  3. If you have additional questions, contact HR via email at

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

If you fall into one of the following categories:

  1. You are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine/isolation order related to COVID-19
  2.  You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
  3.  You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis

You will be paid as follows (in this order):

  1. 80 hours of EPSL (ES1 or ES2) time at 100% salary up to a maximum of $511/day
  2. Sick time – until exhausted
  3. Vacation – until exhausted
  4. Borrowed sick time – up to 40 hours
  5. Upon exhaustion of accrued leave, you would move to unpaid leave

If you fall into one of these categories:

  1. You are caring for an individual who either is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine/isolation order or an individual who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
  2. You are experiencing any other substantially similar conditions specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You will be paid as follows (in this order):

  1. 80 hours of EPSL (ES3 or ES4) time at 2/3 salary, up to a maximum of $200/day
  2. You will be able to “make whole” your salary with sick leave, followed by vacation time
  3. If you exhaust your sick/vacation time, you will be eligible to borrow up to 40 hours of sick time to “make whole”
  4. Upon exhaustion of accrued leave, you would move to unpaid leave.

If you fall into this category:

  1. You are caring for an eligible child under the age of 18 whose school or child care facility has closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

You will be paid as follows (in this order):

  1. 80 hours of EPSL (ES3 or ES4) at 2/3 salary, up to a maximum of $200/day
  2. EF1 or EF2 (depending on salary) – up to 10 weeks at 2/3 salary
  3. You will be able to “make whole” your salary with sick leave followed by vacation time
  4. If you exhaust your sick/vacation time, you will be eligible to borrow up to 40 hours of sick leave to “make whole”
  5. Upon exhaustion of accrued leave, you would move to unpaid

When you are on campus, you are required to follow the guidelines provided by Environmental Health and Safety.

Workplace Expectations and Guidelines

Persons returning to campus are expected to fully comply with the guidelines outlined in the Required Procedures for Working on Campus document. 

Expectations and enforcement

Mines employees are expected to comply with the COVID-19 safety precautions. Supervisors will be enforcing these expectations – beginning by coaching employees on the importance of complying with the COVID-19 precautions and Return to Work Guidelines.  Repeated observations of non-compliance will be addressed as other disciplinary issues.

Face masks / cloth face coverings

Face masks or cloth face coverings must be worn by all employees working on campus when in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common work spaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, etc.).

  • Mines will provide each employee with two masks; supervisors will order these masks and other needed equipment from the COVID-19 Safety Supply Store. Employees may also wear their own mask or cloth face coverings.
  • Masks should be stored in a clean and secure place
  • Each employee is responsible for their own face mask
  • Face masks / cloth face covering must cover both the nose and mouth and fit under the chin.
Putting on a cloth face covering/disposable mask:
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask.
  • Ensure the face-covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate the face covering/disposable mask properly with the nose wire snug against the nose (when applicable)
  • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears. Keep tie length at or above chin height to prevent the ties from being caught on objects or in moving machinery.
  • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face covering/ disposable mask.
Taking off the face covering/disposable mask:
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the face covering/disposable mask.
  • When taking off the face covering/disposable mask, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear or untie the straps.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing your mask.
Care, storage and laundering:
  • You can keep face coverings/disposable masks stored in a paper bag when not in use.
  • Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day in a row and must be washed after each use by the wearer/employee. Cloth face coverings should be properly laundered with regular clothing detergent before first use and after each shift. Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (e.g. ripped or punctured) or visibly

Disposable masks must not be used for more than one day and should be placed in the trash after your shift or if the mask becomes soiled, damaged (e.g., stretched ear loops, torn or punctured material) or visibly contaminated.

Social Distancing

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms.

Employees shall follow these social distancing practices:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people at all times
  • Do not gather in groups


Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Coughing / Sneezing Hygiene

If you are in a private setting and do not have your cloth face covering on, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Then, throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Public Transportation

If you must take public transportation, put a mask on before entering the bus and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. Upon disembarking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible and before removing your mask.

Working in Office Environments

If you work in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from co-workers. You should wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times while in a shared workspace/room.

Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees, other coworkers and customers, such as:

  • Place visual cues such as floor decals or signs to indicate to customers where they should stand while waiting in line.
  • Place one-way directional signage for large open workspaces with multiple through-ways to increase distance between employees moving through the space
  • Approved COVID-19 signage will be available through the COVID-19 Safety Supply Store in FAMIS, accessible through departmental representatives.

A mask or face covering is not required if you are working alone in a confined office space. (This does not include partitioned work areas/cubicles within a large open environment).

Workstation areas (shop benches, break rooms, offices, etc.) should be kept clear of papers and other materials to allow for easy cleaning. Work areas and frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day by employees within that area. These supplies can be ordered through FM.


  • Whenever possible, in-person meetings should be discontinued and replaced with virtual meetings (Zoom, Microsoft Teams).
  • Essential, in-person meetings should be limited, and social distancing should be maintained.
  • Reduce the standard room capacity for meeting rooms and personal offices to ensure at least 6 feet of space between all participants. Please reference the space guidelines.
  • All attendees should wear a face mask or face covering while sharing space.
  • Disinfect meeting rooms, particularly frequently touched surfaces, before/after each use.

Common Areas

  • Rearrange or remove furniture in common areas to discourage congregation
  • Common areas should be disinfected and cleaned throughout the day, particularly frequently touched surfaces including handles and counters. Disinfectant sprays are available through the COVID-19 Safety Supply store.

Using Restrooms

  • The capacity of restrooms should be limited based on size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

Using Elevators

  • No more than one person may enter an elevator at a time, so please use the stairs whenever possible. If you are using the elevator, wear your mask or face covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol upon departing the elevator.

Lunch and Break Periods

  • Follow social distancing protocol within lunch areas and break rooms.
  • Staff should wash hands with soap and water before and after each break.
  • Microwaves and refrigerators can be used, but surfaces and frequently touched areas should be cleaned before/after each use.

Computers, Mines Vehicles, Other Equipment

  1. Computers
    1. Shared computer keyboard/mouse should be disinfected before/after each use.
  2. Mines Vehicles
    1. Employees should not ride in the same vehicle with anyone other than members of their household.
    2. If the employee is the only vehicle driver (no passengers), no special cleaning is required throughout the day.
    3. Mines vehicles shall be cleaned/disinfected at the end of each day and before a driver change by using disinfecting spray and wiping high-touch surfaces.
  3. Other Equipment
    1. Minimize the sharing of equipment
    2. If you need to share any of these items, they should be disinfected before/after each use

Mental / Physical / Emotional Well-Being When Remote

It may be hard to focus on your mental and physical health during this time, but we are here to help. Some areas overlap, but others are unique to the current situation. The Mines community is a family—you are not alone. We are in this together!

First, go easy on yourself. Most employees are not used to working from home. There can be several obstacles to overcome and new systems to learn. We are all in this together.


Set up your workspace for success

  • Even if it is a corner of the living room, it is important to create a dedicated space for work. Studies show it is important to separate sleeping/lounge areas from work areas. Read more from remote employees over at Buffer – “The Science Behind Why We Should Never Work from Bed.”
  • Check the lighting and ergonomics of your space. Can you work comfortably? This will impact your mood and productivity. What can you do to make your space feel welcoming and comfortable? CBS has some ways to help. “Cheap ways to make your work-from-home space more ergonomic…”
  • What equipment do you need? Do you have everything you need? Take inventory and check with your supervisor if you need equipment to successfully complete daily tasks.

Stay Cyber-safe

  • Working remotely can add a level of security vulnerabilities that could impact your work. Make sure you’ve updated the password on your home WiFi network from the default settings.
  • Mines employees must use multi-factor authentication (DUO).
  • Install computer updates as necessary.

Punch in for work every day

  • Routines are important for success and help people feel a sense of control (especially important in times of stress). Psychology Today cites studies related to routines and your mental health: “The Power of Routines in Your Mental Health”
  • Get up as you did when you worked on campus.
  • Wearing “work” clothes helps create a mindset for the day. It also helps ensure you’re ready to take unexpected video conference calls.

Set daily goals and mark progress

  • Going back to the importance of control, it may help to create daily goals. What can you do today to make the transition to online work easier? As you accomplish new tasks, don’t forget to reward yourself. The University of California, Berkeley has some advice on how to create positive career goals. “Goal-Setting: Developing a Vision…”

Have you and your departments decided on which communication tools to use? And when to use specific tools?

  • Teams vs Email? Zoom vs SharePoint? Communicate with your department or teams about what communication tools you have available. Get specific about what tools should be used when. 
  • Set up notifications in Outlook/Teams that share with your department/colleagues when you are available and when you are offline. Be considerate of other employees’ “offline” times. 
  • Have back-up communication tools. What happens when your Wi-Fi goes down? Outlook, Teams and other apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.

Communicate often and in real-time (when possible).

By communicating in real-time (or synchronously), people tend to feel more connected. It can also help eliminate miscommunication because people can ask clarifying questions in the moment.

Create online connected spaces. 

Part of working face-to-face is the ability for small talk. Whether it’s conversations a few minutes before a meeting starts or time around the “water cooler,” people develop relationships during down time. It is important to recreate those opportunities virtually.

  • Leading a meeting? Take a couple of minutes at the beginning of a session to check in with everyone. 
  • Create a virtual water cooler. 

Get comfortable with video.

With the world going online, bandwidth can be an issue. But, if possible, share your screen:

  • Many people are isolated in their homes. Video helps alleviate those feelings of isolation, which can lead to depression.
  • Video can also help avoid instances of miscommunication.
  • The use of video, especially in meetings, helps keep team members present and engaged. 

Video Tips:

  • Look at the camera, not just at the screen so people can see your eyes. 
  • Be aware of your framing. Are viewers looking at your ceiling? 
  • Be aware of your background. 
  • Video may not be feasible in large group conferences. It is okay to turn video off if it is overloading local bandwidths.

When meeting with people remotely, be present and mindful.

  • Limit multitasking
  • Pause for others to speak
  • Monitor meeting chats
  • Reduce things in your background that may be distracting to others in your meeting (e.g. pets, children, noise, cell phone calls)

Don’t forget to make communication channels available to all employees.

Are your meetings accessible to the employees in your team?

  • Live captioning is available in Teams.
  • Microsoft products include an accessibility checker to ensure documents are accessible to employees (and students). 

We’ve all heard the directives from the CDC about staying healthy in the era of COVID-19.  How can you care for your overall physical and mental health?

According to the CDC, you can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses with these actions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • BOUNDARIES: Set up and communicate boundaries with children.
  • FLEX TIME: Get creative. Talk with employers and spouses about possible flex schedules.
  • ROUTINES: Children respond to routines. Keeping consistent habits can reduce stress.
  • FORGIVE: Be forgiving with your children and yourself. This is a stressful time for everyone.

Since most K-12 schools are also closed, parents are finding themselves in the unique situation of being both employees and teachers. 

We’ve gathered a list of some resources you may find helpful to either working online or for those struggling with life in the COVID-19 era. 

CSEAP is now providing teletherapy services in place of in-person offerings such as Personal Counseling, Conflict Resolution & Mediation, Professional Coaching, and Financial Assistance. Additionally, free CSEAP webinars on various topics are available to all state employees.

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