The purpose of this page is to help employees understand how interim modifications to University policies may impact them as we move into and operate throughout the 2020–2021 academic year. It is the University’s intent that these policies and statements supplement existing University policies within the Staff Handbook rather than replace them. As always, employees are encouraged to contact Human Resources should they have any questions or concerns or need additional clarification.

Our goal, as ever, is to maintain essential and safe operations while preventing the spread of COVID-19 as we host students on campus.

Jump to: Compensation | Time Away from Work | Health & Safety


Hiring Freeze Statement–published June 15, 2020

The University has implemented a hiring freeze for any non-essential unfilled staff and faculty positions. Recognizing that it may be important for the University to fill certain open positions during the hiring freeze in order to fulfill our mission, a request to fill an essential position will need to be submitted to Human Resources. 

Alternative Work Schedule Statement–published June 15, 2020

Departments have the ability to design alternative work schedules that allow for variations in the employee's core hours in starting and departure times, but does not alter the total number of hours worked in a work week.

Remote Work Statement–published June 15, 2020

Utilization of remote work arrangements may continue in some University departments in an effort to reduce the campus population and to better allow for social distancing. While the health, safety, and contributions of all staff members are equally valued, the reality is that some, but not all, work can be performed remotely. Individual supervisors and departments, in consultation with Human Resources, will work with employees to determine who may perform their job duties remotely and who will be required to be on campus. Determinations as to whom will be required to be on campus will be driven by guidance found in the Returning to On-Campus Work plan. 

For more information, please review the University’s Remote Work Policy

Child Care Statement–published June 15, 2020

During this time of continued adjustment and adaptation, it is understandable that child care options for our employees may be fewer. Nevertheless, employees are not permitted to bring children to campus in lieu of child care. If locating appropriate child care prevents an employee from reporting to work or from performing all or part of their duties, the employee should speak to their supervisor who will consult Human Resources on all possible options.


Pay for Non-Exempt Employees Statement–published August 10, 2020

Non-exempt staff members will be paid for hours worked including screening and testing time and for the time spent waiting to be screened or tested and should record the hours as ‘regular pay’ when reporting hours.

Salary Freeze Statement–published June 15, 2020

There will not be a salary pool increase for employees in Fiscal Year ‘21 (July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021). The effect this measure has on employees and their families does not go without notice, and we regret that it is necessary. It is especially painful as so many members of our community have worked tirelessly and effectively this spring in response to the extraordinary challenges COVID-19 presented to our academic mission.

Overtime Statement–published June 15, 2020

Except in the case of emergencies, non-exempt staff members must have authorization from their supervisor before working overtime. Failure to obtain such authorization may lead to disciplinary action. However, all time worked must be recorded and paid regardless of whether or not it was approved in advance.

Time Away From Work

Quarantine and Isolation Policy–updated July 30, 2020

The CDC defines isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, and quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. The following scenarios may result in an employee being required to quarantine or isolate. 

  • Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Employees who have recently had close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Employees who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
  • Any employee who has traveled to a location with a COVID-19 outbreak, where the infection rate is greater than 1.0, who experiences fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after leaving such location must do one of the following:
    • call their physician’s office for advice and tell them about recent travel and symptoms
    • quarantine if their health care provider suspects or tests for COVID-19.

The period of quarantine or isolation should be determined by the University's Office of Public Health in consultation with the TN Health Department. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for the period of time determined by the University's Office of Public Health in consultation with the TN Health Department. Employees required to quarantine or isolate must follow the directions of their health care provider and the CDC’s self-isolation recommendations and must contact the Office of Public Health as well as their dean, department chair, or supervisor (as applicable), and Human Resources.

Vacation Statement–published June 15, 2020

To facilitate necessary contact tracing when a case of COVID-19 occurs on campus, staff members are required to register their travel related to vacation time off. By registering travel intentions, employees are contributing to efforts to better equip our community–of friends, family and colleagues–to care for one another.

Leave of Absence With Pay–updated July 14, 2020

Without limiting the use or applicability of Leaves of Absence With Pay or Family and Medical Leave as stated in the Staff Handbook, up to 10 paid days of leave may be granted to staff members who:

  • Are in quarantine or isolation due to being (a) suspected of having COVID-19 and awaiting test results, (b) diagnosed with COVID-19, or (c) in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and
  • Are unable to work remotely

Staff members should contact Human Resources to request a leave of absence with pay. Staff members who have been granted a leave of absence with pay will retain their eligibility for benefits.

Leave of Absence Without Pay–published June 15, 2020

Without limiting the use or applicability of Leaves of Absence Without Pay or Family and Medical Leave as stated in the Staff Handbook, unpaid leave may also be granted to staff members who are unable to perform the essential functions of their position while working remotely, have exhausted all applicable paid leave, and who:

  • Are told to quarantine or isolate by a healthcare provider due to vulnerability to COVID-19, or
  • Refuse to report to work due to COVID-19 related concerns*

Staff members who are away from work in excess of accrued leave and have been granted a leave of absence without pay will not generally be disciplined and will retain their eligibility for benefits. Staff members should contact Human Resources to request a leave of absence without pay.

*Employees who feel they are unable to return to work due to being at increased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms must contact Human Resources and provide documentation from a health care provider certifying that they should not return to work. 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Statement–published June 15, 2020

Staff members taking a leave of absence without pay may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits as determined by the Tennessee Department of Labor.

Health and Safety


Community Health Policy Statement–published July 14, 2020

We have established health strategies, policies, and the support necessary to safely operate the University while hosting students on campus. Specifically, we are focused on testing, tracing, isolation, and other environmental mitigation efforts to reduce the likelihood of viral spread. As a community of friends and colleagues, we’re in this together. As such, employees working on campus are expected to adhere to all health and safety policies as a condition of continued employment. Simply stated, the risks posed to our collective well-being (physical, mental and financial) are simply too great to allow for nonadherence to these policies and they will be strictly enforced across all segments of our campus population. 

Please note that some departments and/or work areas, such as Sewanee Dining, may establish more stringent requirements due to the nature of their functions. Please contact your supervisor should you have any questions about these. 

Face Coverings Policy–published July 14, 2020

All employees are required to wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth at all times, with the following exceptions.

  • While working alone in an individual, enclosed office with the door closed
  • While eating or drinking
  • When maintaining a social distance of six feet of more from any other person
  • If they have a documented medical condition that precludes wearing a face covering
  • Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible
Face Covering Details:

In accordance with CDC recommendations, cloth face coverings are NOT surgical masks or N-95 respirators. We must preserve these for health care workers and vulnerable individuals. A cloth face covering should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • completely cover the nose and mouth
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and dried without damage or change to shape

Face coverings, physical distancing, hand-washing, and good personal hygiene are all critical to helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This face covering policy is meant to supplement hand-washing and the physical distancing protocol, which requires maintaining a six-foot distance from others whenever possible. Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing or hand-washing. For more information on how to properly use face coverings, see our tips on how to wear a face covering and how to wash cloth face coverings.

Daily Wellness Screening Policy–updated July 14, 2020

Employees working on campus are expected to consent to the following: 

  • Screening: Prior to the start of each in-person shift, supervisors or a designee must confirm that you have followed the University's COVID-19 wellness screening process.
  • Temperature Checks: You will have your temperature checked prior to entering the workplace or starting your shift. If your temperature exceeds 100.3° Fahrenheit you will be asked to return home. You are encouraged to take your temperature before leaving home. 

Non-exempt staff members will be paid for screening time and for the time spent waiting to be screened and should record the hours as ‘regular pay’ when reporting hours worked. 

COVID-19 Testing Policy–published July 14, 2020

Prior to students returning to campus in July, all employees (faculty and staff) were required to be tested for the coronavirus. New employees are also required to be tested prior to their beginning on-campus work. Additional periodic testing will also be required throughout the semester. More information about the University's employee testing processes can be found in our FAQ–Employee Health & Safety.

Contact Tracing Policy–published July 14, 2020

Employees who receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis are expected to self-report to Human Resources. All employees are responsible for knowing and tracking their encounters each day with others (write them down and record the date) and for participating in the University’s contact tracing efforts, as appropriate. More information about the University's contact tracing processes can be found in our FAQ–Employee Health & Safety.

University-Sponsored Travel Policy–published July 14, 2020

All University-sponsored travel must be approved by the Office of the Provost. The University discourages all employees from engaging in non-essential, University-sponsored international and domestic travel, regardless of location, until further notice. The University also strongly discourages personal international travel and domestic travel at this time. 

Additional Posted Requirements Statement–published July 14, 2020

Some departments, areas or locations may require adherence to additional guidelines in order to maintain the health and safety of our community. Employees are expected to adhere to the specific guidelines posted or provided at a given location, e.g. University Child Care Center, McClurg Dining Hall, Stirling’s Coffee House, campus events, elevators, etc. 

COVID-19 Vaccination policy statement–PUBLISHED march 1, 2021

The University recognizes that widespread vaccination is one of the best ways to:

  • prevent continued spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19
  • reduce the occurrence of serious illness and/or death due to a COVID-19 diagnosis
  • return our institution and our communities to a level of operation similar to the one that existed prior to the pandemic

To better allow employees to schedule vaccination appointments, the University will provide up to three paid hours for work hours missed while receiving each shot required by the vaccine’s manufacturer.

The University will also grant employees one paid day off following the final shot prescribed by your vaccine’s manufacturer, allowing recovery time from any potential symptoms due to an immune response. Currently, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech prescribe two shots.

Employees who record their hours worked (non-exempt employees) should record these hours under code PNW (paid not working). Employees who do not record their hours worked (exempt employees) should not include these hours in their leave reporting. All employees are expected to communicate with their supervisor their intent to take these hours off, as appropriate.