Skip to main content

Cornell University

COVID-19 FCS Employee Info

Amid the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornell University's Facilities & Campus Services unit is committed to providing staff with an environment where operational excellence and human wellbeing can continue. 

The following protocols and resources are for all FCS employees. This page will be updated frequently. 

Note: This page provides guidance, procedures, and policies for current Facilities & Campus Services Staff only. For general Cornell University resources and guidelines, visit  

FCS Restart Guidelines

Principles for Reopening

Plans for restarting or expanding operations and increasing the presence of on-campus Facilities & Campus Services' staff are based on the following criteria and principles:
  • A commitment by all staff to exercise both personal and community responsibility for the greater good by using our organizational values. The combined efforts of all members of the Cornell community will create a culture that sustains a healthy and safe on-campus environment. Respect and Teamwork are especially vital during this time when we are working together to mitigate the current risks and provide the highest quality of service to faculty, students, staff, alumni, and visitors.
  • Existing and projected statewide government restrictions (e.g., New York's Phased Opening, Masking Requirements, Physical Distancing, Gatherings, etc.).
  • Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, and protocol and recommendations enacted by Cornell University central administration, and coordination on guidance, orders and ordinances of the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County Health Department, and other local entities.
  • Community Protective Equipment (CPE) availability, and safe work environment with 6ft distancing in place in working environments for staff.
  • Physical distancing strategies.
  • Financial feasibility.

Key Updates 

  • Human Resources at Cornell has created a "Working During COVID-19 Guide for Employees" Handbook with specific scenarios for remote and in-person work.  See link below.
  • Provost Kotlikoff and Vice President Opperman released the newly established guidelines developed by the Division of Human Resources to ensure workplace health and safety as Cornell's phased reactivation proceeds.
  • There is required training for those returning to campus – EHS Return to Work Health and Safety Training
  • The latest New York State guidance requires a daily screening assessment for ALL employees and visitors to the workplace. Supervisors will provide guidance.  
  • Those who can work remotely should continue to do so.

Key Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions gathered during the FCS Forum and through feedback from division staff. For university-focused FAQs, visit

Are all FCS employees and services returning to work June 1, or is it just Building Care?

  • No, not all FCS employees and services are returning to work on June 1. This date may have been misunderstood and/or miscommunicated, and included in some union communications.

  • Functions in FCS that can be performed remotely will continue to be performed that way.
  • Building Care has continued to provide essential services throughout the “PAUSE”. Staffing and service levels increased on May 18 to support the University's decision to restart research.
  • There are plans to ramp up services in residence halls, "crash-cleaning" units, and performing deep-cleaning of carpets and upholstery, using June 1 as the target date. Plans are currently awaiting approval.

Can you elaborate on the phased reopening plan for the University?

  • Please visit the University's Reactivation Planning page for the most up-to-date information.
  • As more information becomes available, we will share it here.

If a family member I live with/care for is quarantined, should I still come to work?

  • We ask that you exercise caution and remain at home. Please speak with your supervisor as soon as possible regarding your ability to fulfill job responsibilities remotely.

  • Due to the uncertain nature of this illness, nonacademic staff may be able to access New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) for the duration of the family member’s quarantine, and claim their time off as NYPFL if they meet both of these requirements:
    • A family member is quarantined under a directive from a recognized public health official (Tompkins County Health Department, other local county health departments, Cornell Health, etc.), and
    • that family member is regularly dependent upon them for care.
Such leave is subject to all the other regular definitions of NYPFL. You may supplement NYSPFL with HAP or vacation time. Please visit Cornell's NYPFL site for more information.

How can we encourage people to wear masks and maintain physical distancing consistently, especially as the weather improves?

  • Link to EHS/Cornell pages here

Our office is considered essential, but we are currently working remotely. I am in the High-Risk category, yet a supervisor thinks I should be coming into the office more. What should I do?

  • Staff who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions are urged to consult their physician about steps they can take to protect their health and speak with their supervisor about their concerns.
  • The ADA reasonable accommodation process may also be an option and is available to staff with underlying health conditions and/or who are identified (by the CDC) as being at a higher risk for COVID-19.
  • Supervisors have been encouraged to consider alternate work arrangements; if concerns arise, please speak with your supervisor or HR to discuss options.
  • The University provided 10 HAP days to be used in these types of situations (health care and daycare).

Other Related Information:

  • If you find yourself out of work to care for yourself or for someone in your family, STD or NYSPFL may be applicable.
  • If your work cannot be accomplished remotely, and you are not instructed to stay out of the workplace by your doctor, you may use HAP leave or vacation accruals if you wish to stay out of the workplace entirely. 
  • Discuss the possibility of flexible arrangements with your supervisor.

My supervisor is telling me I must report to work and I don’t have daycare. What are my options?

  • Diane Bradac and Michelle Artibee are the university resources who are providing guidance on this subject. Unions have also been providing guidance in this area.
  • The use of HAP leave is permitted for staff to use for childcare even though their child is not sick. This is an exception to standard policy.
  • If staff have no remaining leave accruals, FCS has allowed “no pay,” however, this needs to be discussed with your supervisor. This is an exception to our standard practice.
  • UAW and BTC Collective Bargaining Agreements provide language on requesting a leave of absence.
  • Discuss the possibility of flexible arrangements with your supervisor.

Alternative Child Care Information

If your child is healthy and you are seeking a care provider, you may use these resources to locate care, though options are limited. Also, consider joining a Cornell Parenting e-List or Newsletter for updates and connecting with other families who have care concerns.
  • Care@Work by – Cornell provides benefits-eligible employees and retirees with a free membership to Care@Work to help you locate babysitters, pet sitters/walkers, elder/adult care providers, and individuals to run errands.  You may post a job or search the directory for a care provider. Providers are not endorsed by Cornell.
  • Child Development Council of Tompkins & Cortland County (other Counties) – advises area families on child care options.  Ithaca – 607-273-0259, Cortland – 607-753-0106
  • Cornell Work/Life Consultant – may advise you on work/life issues, especially related to caregiving. Phone, virtual, and email consultations available or 607-255-1917.
  • Other Community Resources

Will the October 15th cutoff for over the maximum vacation be waived?

  • We are looking to the university for guidance; no decision has been made at this time.

Can I voluntarily furlough or reduce my hours?

  • Such requests should be communicated to your supervisor. Supervisors will work with HR to explore available options.

How will I renew or request a parking permit?

  • Transportation Services is finalizing the details on permitting for the fall, and it is likely that everyone will opt into their parking choice instead of having the permits automatically renewed as has been the process in the past. 
  • Transportation will be introducing new options, including lower cost permits and options for people who do not need to be on campus every day, so it would be beneficial for everyone to reconsider their parking and transportation needs.  Visit for updates.

Grounds Department employees must access buildings for lavatory needs. How can we gain access to these facilities?

  • Many buildings were locked during the course of the pandemic to provide safety and security.
  • There is a process in place to exchange information between CUPD, building coordinators, facility directors, and Facilities Customer Service to update the status of buildings.
  • We will provide updates to Grounds managers on the status of facility access, and will try to provide multiple options across campus.
  • Contact your manager if you find that facility access information is incorrect.

Can you explain the reason and justification for changing custodians to a 7.8-hour workday?

  • The 7.8 hours/per day ensures a 39 hour work week when there is a mix between working on-campus and the COVID 19 paid leave.
  • We do recognize that staff appreciate the shorter day on Friday. The 7.8 practice is not indefinite. When we resume back to normal operations, the four 8 hour days and one (1) 7 hour day on Friday will resume.

Are there opportunities for tradespeople to move to a 4/10 schedule?

  • Facilities Management is investigating and implementing many changes to enhance physical distancing like one person per vehicle, staggered start times, remote punch, breaks and meals on campus versus returning to a shop, etc.
  • Schedule changes have not been explored as part of this review process, but we will consider the idea as long as we can remain consistent with the collective bargaining agreements.

Key FCS Staff Resources

  • FCS Staff Forum

    Rick Burgess, vice president of FCS
    Closed captioning is available in the video link.

    Virtual Town Halls with FCS Leadership

    FCS Town Hall - June 25, 2020

    FCS Staff Forum - May 20, 2020
    Hosted by Rick Burgess, Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services.

    Questions from Town Halls are captured in the "FAQs" section on this webpage.  To participate in a Town Hall, look for information from your supervisor or the FCS Employee Listserv.

  • FCS Restart Teams

    Our Division Plan for Safe Restart

    FCS has convened senior leaders and key personnel within the division to create a specific plan for COVID-19 health and safety, and phased workforce reentry to the campus, specific to our work in the Humphreys Service Building.

    A Restart Planning Team met and created plans in May and June 2020 for the safe reactivation of FCS services and employee work, which were approved in June. 

    Since June, a Facilities Reactivation Team has met weekly to ensure active implementation of the plans.

    Gary Wilhelm, Senior Project Manager, Engineering and Project Management