Northeastern University will require most professors to return to campus for teaching and research during the spring semester, a top university official said Friday afternoon.
Northeastern considers the move safe because it has contained the virus through frequent testing and strict adherence to safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing, David Madigan, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in an e-mail to faculty.
For the fall semester, Northeastern is offering a mix of online and in-person learning, and the university has allowed wide latitude for both professors and students uncomfortable returning to campus.
But in the spring, faculty requesting to work from home will be approved on a case-by-case basis, Madigan said. Those eligible include people with disabilities, those with pregnancy-related conditions, anyone with a medical condition that puts them at greater risk of becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19, and those living with someone who has such a condition.
The university will no longer approve work accommodations based solely on a person’s age, but employees who are concerned that their age makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus may fill out a form to notify human resources staff, Madigan said.
He added that the new policy “may be subject to change, given the evolving nature of the current coronavirus crisis, as well as university operational needs.”
“We recognize that the limits of this temporary policy may impose burdens on faculty that were not the case in the fall term and we will endeavor to help,” Madigan said. “We look forward to welcoming faculty and students back to campus for the start of the spring term.”