*Published on October 22, 2020*

Dear faculty colleagues,

Much has changed since the spring when we moved to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, people have settled into an adjusted way of life—wearing masks and practicing healthy distancing—as we eagerly await a vaccine or new forms of COVID-19 treatment. Compliance with public health guidance remains strong and we have demonstrated our collective ability to persevere in these challenging times. 

Northeastern has been no exception. The fall 2020 term has had a successful beginning to the academic year with strong compliance across our global university system, robust testing, and extremely low positivity rates on the Boston campus. Our students returned to our campuses this fall excited for a university experience and will return for the spring term. We now have a new normal at Northeastern.

In light of this, we are changing the policy for remote work requests for the spring 2021 term. For the spring 2021 term, except as outlined below, we expect faculty to return to campus to teach their courses and conduct their research and service.

We recognize that some faculty may need to make arrangements in order to return to campus and are thus providing this policy nearly three months before the start of the spring term to facilitate that planning.

Remote work policy for faculty

There are two means by which faculty may request to work remotely for the spring 2021 term. Requests will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and must be submitted no later than November 6, 2020. You will receive an email early next week with the link to request to work remotely. Your request will be reviewed and you will receive an email as to whether your request is approved as soon as possible.

Option 1. Faculty who are seeking to work remotely can follow the Human Resources Management (HRM) reasonable accommodation process. Northeastern will provide reasonable accommodations for faculty and staff with disabilities or a pregnancy-related condition unless doing so would constitute an undue burden. Individuals with a medical condition listed in the CDC guidelines who may be at greater risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 may qualify for a reasonable accommodation. Accommodation requests for remote work will be reviewed by HRM on a case-by-case basis.

Age. The university will no longer consider a person’s age alone as the sole factor for approving a work accommodation. However, individuals who believe they are at higher risk or vulnerability due to their age may raise their concerns with HRM by completing that section of the form in the link above. Please provide all required information.

Option 2. Individuals who live with someone with a medical condition listed in the CDC guidelines as posing an increased risk of severe illness with a COVID-19 infection may request a work accommodation. Please note that documentation of the medical condition of the household member will be required. Requests will be reviewed by HRM.

Please note that nothing in this policy affects the right of individuals to seek leave as needed under the Family Medical Leave Act. Anyone seeking FMLA leave should contact Mel Shea (ma.shea@northeastern.edu) in Human Resources Management.

This temporary remote work policy is effective as of October 22, 2020, applies to the spring 2021 term, and 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. We look forward to welcoming faculty and students back to campus for the start of the spring term.



David Madigan
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs