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Return To Campus Plan

Lipscomb University's comprehensive plan to return to campus.

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COVID-19 Update

Lipscomb University Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 update and response.

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If you have an employment question, please contact the Office of Human Resources at or call Lynn Chappin at 615-966-7015. All employee emails are archived here for your review. 

When will we return to campus to work? 

We are excited to return to a safe campus environment. To that end, we have put in place a staged approach to gradually increase the number of faculty and staff on campus as business operations increase and we move toward the opening of the fall semester. 

Our staged return depends on the current conditions in our community. Employees will be informed at least one week in advance of expected return dates to campus. At this time, we anticipate that by the week of August 3 all employees will be back on campus for some portion, if not all, of their work duties

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What does the plan of return to campus look like?

The goal of the staged plan to return to campus is for our community to return to a safe work environment. The stages will be implemented as our regional guidelines allow that are consistent with the guidelines in the Mayor’s phased plan. The stages are:

  1. Stage 1 (pre-June 15): Only essential employees allowed on campus.
  2. Stage 2 (begins week of June 15): Limited staff within critical administrative and business operations return to campus for the purpose of assessing offices, classrooms, residence halls and other key areas for the purpose of developing strategies in those areas for physical distancing and other safety measures to be prepared for the return of employees and students in subsequent stages. Approval for limited staff to return to campus in this stage may include staff critical to important business processes, positions that are needed for reopening or positions that cannot be effectively completed remotely and are critical to ongoing operations. Also included in this stage will be very limited approvals for academic programs that require face-to-face interactions. Critical business operations in this stage of reopening may include: Executive Leadership, admissions, registrar, business office, financial aid, development, marketing, public relations, student life, provost’s office, academic administration and limited academic programs.  
  3. Stage 3 (anticipated to begin July 15): Staff in other administrative, business, academic and student support operations return to campus. In this stage, we are carefully bringing back additional personnel to increase unit capacity and functionality as needed to prepare for the start of fall semester. 
  4. Stage 4 (anticipated to begin August 3): In this stage, all faculty and staff return to campus under the post-COVID-19 protocols. Even in this stage with full faculty and staff on campus, we will continue to make use of remote work, staggered scheduling, and other measures to maintain physical distancing and flexibility. 
  5. Stage 5 (begins August 14): Students return while implementing new guidelines and measures to maintain physical distancing and flexibility that are congruent with a successful learning and living environment. 
  6. Stage 6: Continuous evaluation. Throughout the summer months and once the fall semester is underway with a return to on-campus instruction and work, a task force will continuously update this plan for the newest federal, state and local guidelines. In the fall, we will evaluate the success and impact of the measures in place and consider local, state and federal guidelines at the time.

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If I need to come to access my office or department space before I’m scheduled to return, do I need to obtain “special” permission?

For the safety of our community and to have the ability for contact tracing, if you need to access your office or department space prior to your approved returning under the staged plan, you need to contact Kathy Hargis

Employees designated to collect mail are welcome to come to campus for that purpose at any time. Also, employees can reserve time in the temporary workroom if that is helpful for your work needs. You can access the Temporary Workroom calendar to view available time slots and make your own reservations. Once you access the Temporary Workroom calendar, select the day and time you want to reserve, add a description of what work you will be completing, and click Save. 

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Will there be any changes to our work environment?

Yes. Following best practices, each work environment will be evaluated for appropriate changes needed for the health and safety of our community members. These changes may include:

  • Using physical distancing strategies with others to stay at least 6 feet apart and be mindful of enclosed spaces.
  • Disinfecting work spaces thoroughly and regularly (Service Operations and employees have shared responsibility for cleanliness of individual work areas and departmental work spaces).
  • Staggering employee work times or days in shared office spaces or spaces where congestion can be limited.
  • Changing in office layout of furniture and flow of traffic to create natural separation of a minimum of six feet. 
  • Continuing to use remote meeting options when possible. 
  • Wearing face coverings when meeting in person and when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Adding other protective measures, such as plexiglass dividers, where frequent meetings take place.
  • Adding signage to help with physical distancing and good health practice reminders.

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What do I do if I am in a high risk category and need an accommodation?

Employees who have a health condition that may require an accommodation should contact the Office of Human Resources by emailing or contacting Lynn Chappin at 615.966.7015. In the event an accommodation is approved, a human resources staff member will work with the supervisor and employee to create a viable work plan. 

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What should I do if I'm sick?

Employees who are sick should stay at home except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school or public areas. If you knowingly come to work sick, you may be subject to disciplinary action. This is an effort to keep your co-workers healthy. Please review this guidance for what to do if you are sick. 

  • Report Your Status. Employees with COVID-19 symptoms and those with confirmed COVID-19 cases must report their illness to the Lipscomb Health Center. Employees who are in self-isolation and will not report to campus should report their status to their supervisor and to the Office of Human Resources by emailing or contacting Lynn Chappin at 615.966.7015. 

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What should I do if I work in a shared or congested work space?

We recognize that some suites and work space areas are more congested than others and when fully occupied present challenges to remain physically distanced in hallways, lobbies, and other work areas. In addition, some employees’ daily work takes place in a shared office space where two employees share an office and which poses similar physical distancing challenges. In these situations, supervisors may offer a staggered on campus work schedule in order to lessen the congestion and share the workspace with the other employees. Staggered hours may be either alternating mornings/afternoons (such as work mornings on campus and afternoons remotely or vice versa), alternating work days (such as work Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays on campus and Wednesdays and Thursdays remotely), or some combination of these options. 

Supervisors recommending any form of work-from-home schedule for any employee after July 31 must request approval through the Office of Human Resources. Supervisors should make requests as soon as possible by emailing In your request, please include the employee’s name and position, the reason for the work-from-home request, the expected time period for the remote work situation and the expected work schedule for remote and on-campus work. Unless a work-from-home arrangement is approved by the Office of Human Resources, all employees are expected to report to work on campus as normally scheduled.  

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What about staggered work schedules and employee cohorts?

Even as we take every precaution with enhanced cleaning methods, wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing and meeting virtually when possible, there is no way to guarantee a COVID-19 free environment. As we have already seen on campus over the summer months, as personnel numbers increased on campus, so did the number of COVID-19 instances. As the full university returns to campus, this will be an even more difficult situation to navigate especially for small offices and offices whose presence on campus to serve students is of utmost importance. To help limit a situation where a whole office is isolated to remote work due to exposure to COVID-19, every manager should assess his/her office area and create an appropriate employee cohort work schedule that would help to protect workers and maintain a healthy workforce to be present in the office. Under the cohort work schedule, the manager would designate a rotating schedule of 1-3 office staff a week who would work remotely for the week as “the remote worker safety net.” This way if a COVID-19 case is present in the office during the week and those in the office must go into a self-isolation protocol, the 1-3 workers who were working remotely would still be able to come into the office to assist students and others as needed.  

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How will departmental meetings be held?

We encourage all meetings to use virtual meetings when possible. All departmental meetings (for academic units and administrative offices) will be held virtually until further notice to protect the entire office from exposure. While there is a limit of 25 for any meeting until October 1, we are not encouraging employees to meet in this size of group. Meetings of smaller groups of employees may be held virtually or in an appropriate physically distanced way. To limit the risk of exposure to a single office or group of employees, we discourage any in-person meetings of even small numbers with individuals all from one office or individuals all working in one key area or on one key project.

When possible, please limit large virtual meetings between the hours of 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. as this is when many classes will be using the network's bandwidth. An exception to these hours is on Thursdays from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. since that is during student breakout chapel sessions. 

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Are there any travel restrictions?

Yes. We are delaying non-essential business travel for the fall semester to both be fiscally responsible and to limit exposure and possible spread of COVID-19 back to our campus. Members of the Executive Leadership Team can approve essential business travel arrangements.

If you are planning personal travel, please use extreme caution, follow the CDC Travel Guidelines to help protect our community and review and follow Lipscomb's Travel Planning guidelines. 

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Are visitors allowed on campus or in office areas?

Currently off-campus visitors are not allowed on campus. However, in the limited situations where an off-campus visitor is approved for a critical business purpose, the guest is required to first check in at the "Welcome Center" in the George Shinn Event Center. Deans and Senior Leadership Team members may request approval by emailing If you receive approval to invite a person to campus, please provide them with this information. The Welcome Center will be open beginning August 24. Visitors who have checked may proceed directly to their destination on campus.

In order to facilitate contact tracing, each office should designate a person responsible to manage a sign-in sheet for all visitors, whether external or internal, who visit that office area. This list should include date of visit, name and phone number. Should a COVID-19 case be positive in the office, this list would be most helpful in contact tracing to know the other people who need to be notified to self-isolate. 

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How do we request additional supplies?

All classrooms and departmental offices have received a delivery of disinfecting cleaning supplies. If you or your department need additional cleaning supplies or PPE, please visit the Bison Inn on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. where you can receive replenishments. If you notice a classroom or other public space in need of supplies, please complete the COVID-19 Supplies Request Form to request the appropriate supplies.

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How will time be reported during COVID isolation or illness?

In this unique and rapidly changing situation, the institution has established the following personnel policies to help employees and the institution during periods of COVID required self-isolation or illness. In general, employees in self-isolation who feel well and who can work remotely are expected to coordinate their daily work duties with their supervisor and to work remotely during the self-isolation period, to the extent their job responsibilities permit. Generally, employees who are in self-isolation and/or who are not feeling well will either work remotely and clock hours normally or report sick leave. More details are provided below. If you have any questions about your specific work situation or need to request workplace accommodation, please contact the Office of Human Resources by emailing or contacting Lynn Chappin at 615.966.7015. Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) or accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) will be offered to employees as applicable in these situations. Please review the CDC guidance for high-risk groups and special populations.

Below is more detail on employee time reporting options. Employees who are ill with COVID-19, who are in a required period of COVID-19 self-isolation or who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or who are absent from work to care for a family member with COVID-19 will report hours in one of following ways:

  • Record Time Worked. Employees feeling well should coordinate remote work with their supervisor and report all hours worked to remotely complete work assignments.
  • Sick Days. Employees may report sick hours during the self-isolation period when:
    • The employee is not feeling well and can’t perform work remotely; or 
    • The employee is taking care of a family member and can’t perform work remotely; or
    • The employee certifies for FMLA to care for a family member; or 
    • The employee’s supervisor does not provide work to complete remotely while in self-isolation or caring for a family member.
  • Vacation Days. Employees who are feeling well and who choose to not be available for work duties during the self-isolation period will report vacation hours for the time they are not available. Employees who also have no available sick days may use vacation hours during the illness period or period of self-isolation.
  • Depleted Sick and Vacation Days. Employees who are themselves in a period of required self-isolation for COVID-19 and who have depleted all earned sick and accrued vacation time should contact the Office of Human Resources by emailing or contacting Lynn Chappin at 615.966.7015 to discuss available options.  
  • Policy Exception. Employees who violate the institution’s travel policy and who upon return from such trip are restricted from campus in accordance with this policy or require self-isolation (whether for exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or recommended to self-isolate by following CDC guidelines or medical advice) may use earned sick leave and vacation time to cover any needed time off for such isolation. If any additional time is needed for this isolation period or illness recovery, the time will be taken as unpaid administrative leave.
  • Supporting Documentation. Supporting documentation from a medical or health professional may be required to support the use of sick leave for the isolation or quarantine period.

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What are the event management protocols?

All Lipscomb University events whether hosted on campus or off campus will comply with all local guidelines and follow the specific guidance provided by

The full event management guidelines can be reviewed here. To ensure compliance with the most up-to-date guidelines, please consult with the Lipscomb University event management team before planning or hosting any Lipscomb related event. For the foreseeable future, we will minimize settings for all events where the virus can spread. That means we will be asking questions about the necessity of holding all social events, ceremonies and non-class settings. Any events approved must follow all community guidelines in place (masks, physical distancing, etc.). Deans and Senior Leadership Team members may request approval exceptions for groups larger than 25 by completing this Event Exception Request form. If you have any questions, please email We continue to encourage all events to be re-envisioned to be held in a virtual format, be delayed or eliminated for this fall.

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