Student Employees and the Fall Return-to-Campus Plan

Many supervisors are wondering how the Fall Return-to-Campus Plan might impact their student employees. While we encourage you to honor your student employees’ comfort levels, the nature of the position duties may require on-campus work. It’s important to be aware that students are experiencing the same uncertainty and possible stress alongside staff and faculty. With thoughtful care, planning, and flexibility we can support one another through this coming year.

Whether your department decides to have your student employees work on-campus, remotely, or in a flexible location capacity (a blend of the two), below are some considerations and recommendations to help you think through a plan with your student employees.

Recommendations and Considerations

  1. Check-in with how your student employees are feeling about the possibility of working on campus.

Ask how your student employee is feeling about working on campus. Are they comfortable coming in the office with certain safety precautions as outlined by the Creating a Community of Care Action Plan? Would they rather not come in the office? What scenarios would make them feel more comfortable?

  1. Be flexible and assess whether their job can be done remotely.

Now more than ever is the time to be flexible. Evaluate the employee’s position and consider duties which can be completed remotely. Have a conversation with your student employee about their ideas for work that could be done remotely. Are there ways they can do staggered scheduling or remote assignments from home? Need to get creative? Check out the “Creating Remote Assignments” and “Remote Assignment Ideas” below.

Additionally, if you have multiple student employees and some feel comfortable with on-campus work while others do not, could you create duties and assignments that match these preferences? Be sure to list any requirements for in-person work clearly in open job descriptions. It’s important to be up front and clear as you are hiring.

Be mindful that students have a variety of financial situations and there is a potential for the inability to meet financial needs without employment. Nationally, 79% of undergraduates work at least one hour per week and 76% of entering first-year students plan to work in addition to taking classes. Furthermore, “7% of students in FWS (federal work study) relied solely on work study for employment; 86% of students has employment outside of work study; 7% have both” (Baum, 2010).

Anything we can do to keep students employed is helpful.

  1. Set and communicate expectations.

Be clear about what the student employee’s priorities should be during remote work. Set goals with your student employee about what they should accomplish. Be in frequent communication regarding expectations, performance, and deliverables. Document these agreed upon terms via email, so they can be used as a reference in one-on-one meetings and/or serve as a reminder to both the supervisor and the student employee.

  1. Provide technology.

During the check-in with your student employee about their comfort level, ask if they have the appropriate technology and systems access they need to work from remotely. If they do not, connect with your department business officer to inquire about technology and system access. It’s possible students are experiencing gaps in technology access and certain populations can be disproportionately impacted.

  1. Stay connected.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings. Turn your video on and ask your employee to do the same. Send an email or a Teams message to check-in with how they’re doing. How’s the day going? How are their classes? Anything they may need your support with?

Resources for remote communication include:

Student Employees Working On-Campus

Student employees working on-campus should follow similar guidelines given to staff and faculty through the Creating a Community of Care Action Plan. Please refer to the DU Fall Return-to-Campus Plan website for information. This website links to the CDC, the State Health Department and more. Please be aware that the orders given by the state and local government can be amended or extended at any time. Stay informed so you and your student employees can make the most informed decision.

If you have questions regarding specific DU policies (COVID and other) and guidance, please reach out to your HR partner or Shared Services at Questions about student employment can be sent to and questions about work study funds can be sent to

Resources: Stony Brook Student Employment, University of Texas San Antonio Student Employment, BU Center for Learning and Teaching, DU Creating a Community of Care Plan, Employing Student Success: A Comprehensive Examination of On-Campus Student Employment, McClellan, George; Creager, Kristina; Savoca, Marianna (2018). A good job.

By Stacey Stevens
Stacey Stevens Director of Student Employment Stacey Stevens