Lander University is committed to bringing employees and students back to campus in a careful, phased approach that protects the health and wellbeing of the entire campus community.

In preparation for safely resuming face-to-face instruction at Lander University this fall, the University is implementing a gradual return to on-campus operations that will take place over the summer months.

Developed by Lander’s leadership and COVID-19 Task Force, all phases of the Employee Return-to-Work plan follow guidance and best practices from:

It is the goal of the University to provide employees with institutional and operational guidance, education and resources to allow the University to safely and successfully resume academic, extracurricular and intercollegiate athletic activities for the 2020-21 Academic Year. The success of these efforts will require a commitment from all faculty and staff to follow that guidance and to use good judgement regarding personal health and good hygiene practices.


Key Components of the Plan

As the University returns to on-campus operations, it is critical that each individual take responsibility for their role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus and ensuring the safety of all students, faculty and staff. This will be done through education, exercising good judgement, and following all guidance and protocols put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of the campus community.

  • Before returning to the workplace, all employees will undergo health and safety training to ensure understanding of current guidelines and best practices from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Each University unit/department will implement operational changes and safety guidelines that allow for appropriate social distancing and sanitization of workspaces and common areas.
  • Employees will be expected to monitor their health daily, and if they develop any symptoms of illness, they must stay home until they are well. Employees developing symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to report their illness to Student Health Services to receive additional guidance and to facilitate appropriate contact tracing and notification.
  • COVID-19 educational signage will be posted throughout campus to remind employees, students and visitors of best-practices and procedures that prevent the spread of infectious illnesses.

Additional information will be provided to the campus community throughout the summer, with updates regarding any planned or additional modifications to the University’s operations in response to COVID-19.


Protecting Employees with Special Circumstances

During this unprecedented global health crisis, the University understands that some employees may be experiencing extenuating circumstances that prevent their return to campus at this time. The return-to-work plan includes protections for vulnerable and high-risk individuals, and accommodations will be made for employees with extenuating circumstances, such as:

  • Those with underlying health conditions/immunocompromising conditions.
  • Those 65 years of age or older.
  • Those who are caring for or in frequent contact with at-risk individuals.
  • Those unable to secure adequate childcare.
  • Those with other CDC-identified risk factors (see CDC website for more information).

These factors will be taken into consideration throughout the return-to-work process, and supervisors will be encouraged to remain flexible in accommodating employees with extenuating circumstances. Employees who are vulnerable to illness or considered “high-risk” should not plan to return in Phase I, and should continue to telecommute until further notice.


Plan Phases

The goal of the return-to-work plan is to safely, gradually reintroduce more employees and on-campus operations across all institutional divisions throughout the summer, until the University is fully open and normal operations are resumed. This phased approach will provide the University with the opportunity to test protocols in preparation of safely resuming face-to-face instruction this fall. Details of specific changes to academic, residential, extracurricular, athletic and operational procedures for the Fall 2020 semester will be shared with campus in the coming weeks.

Each phase of the summer return-to-work plan will last a minimum of two weeks, and each phase includes key medical indicators and campus conditions that must be met prior to moving to the next phase. The University is prepared to remain in a phase for an extended period, or revert to a previous phase, if health indicators or campus conditions require such action.

Throughout this process, Lander officials will continue to evaluate, refine and develop protocols and procedures moving forward, based on COVID-19 developments, current campus and community conditions, and updated guidance issued by government and public health experts. Factors that will be taken into consideration include:

  • The capability to implement appropriate social distancing through online and/or hybrid academic and extracurricular opportunities; staggered scheduling; and telecommuting, to reduce the number of individuals in academic, dining, residential, athletic and recreational spaces, as well as offices and departments.
  • The capacity to identify, trace and quarantine/isolate (if applicable) individuals who test positive for COVID-19, as well as provide support for those individuals throughout their recovery.
  • The ability to implement environmental controls (i.e., heightened sanitization, protective barriers, directional signage, etc.) that limit exposure to and spread of COVID-19 on campus.
  • The availability of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) for students, faculty and staff.
  • The current capacity and capability of local health care systems to support COVID-19 cases.


Phase 1: Initial Return of Essential Employees (Begins June 1, 2020)

Phase 1 of the plan will begin Monday, June 1, and will be limited to:

  • Employees identified as essential to supporting/maintaining critical functions of the University.
  • Employees who are unable to readily continue remote work/telecommuting.

Employees will be contacted by their supervisors prior to their recall to campus. Employees not specifically notified by their supervisor to return to campus should continue to work remotely or use appropriate leave.

Employees who are categorized as high-risk and those who can continue remote work should not return in Phase 1, and Phase 1 should not be considered a return to normal operations.

During Phase 1, the Lander campus will remain closed to students, non-essential personnel (unless authorized by a supervisor to report to campus) and public visitors. As a reminder, employees should not bring children to campus at this time; employees experiencing childcare difficulties should work with their supervisor to arrange for telecommuting or other alternatives. For questions regarding leave options, please contact the Office of Human Resources at or 864-388-8310.

If all conditions of Phase 1 are successfully met for a period of at least two weeks, the University will announce the commencement of Phase 2.

Phase 2: Returning Additional Employees to Campus

During Phase 2, University divisions/units will bring back to campus an additional pool of employees to expand operational capacity and to support additional campus activities.

Employees will be notified by their supervisors if they are to return in Phase 2. Additionally, high-risk employees and those who can work remotely should continue to telecommute or use applicable leave, unless directed to report to campus by their supervisors.

Phase 2 will not represent a full return to normal operations; however, employees should be prepared to resume many office operations. Employees will be actively preparing for the return of students in the fall semester.

All guidelines and protocols established in Phase 1 will be in effect for Phase 2. If all conditions are met for a minimum of at least two weeks, the University will announce the commencement of Phase 3.

Phase 3: Returning the Remaining Workforce

During Phase 3, the remaining workforce (excluding employees who have been authorized or directed to continue remote work) will return to campus to resume operations and begin final preparations for the upcoming academic year.

All guidelines and protocols established in previous phases will be in effect for Phase 3 and will continue until further notice.

Beyond Phase 3: Return of Students and Beginning of Fall Semester

Following the successful completion of Phase 3, the University will continue to focus on its resiliency plan and safety procedures in preparation for the return of students in mid-August and the start of the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Academic, student life, and health and safety leaders are developing options that address a variety of scenarios related to pandemic response, all with the overarching goal of protecting the safety of students, faculty and staff, while allowing the University to maintain operations and fulfill its educational mission.

Lander’s Physical Plant, Student Affairs and Dining Services staff are also working with Aramark on necessary food service changes in response to the pandemic, and are currently establishing best-practices and protocols that will allow for appropriate social distancing in the University’s dining facilities.

More details of the specific changes to academic, residential, extracurricular, athletic and operational procedures for the fall semester will be shared with campus in the coming weeks.

*Portions of this plan are adapted from the University of South Carolina’s Return-to-Work plan.

**Information on this page is subject to change, based on future conditions and/or guidance and directives issued by government and public health agencies.