Project Orange outlines guidelines and timeline for a return to campus

A group of University of Utah leaders is working on guidelines to assist colleges and departments with planning for a return to in-person services and programs. The team is using recommendations from the governor’s office and Utah Department of Health to create a roadmap for reactivating campus, while ensuring the safety of our campus community.

The plan will rely on a color-coded system (green, yellow, orange and red) to indicate what services and activities are allowed, in what format and when, as well as triggers for how and when certain activities should remain or return online. The guidelines are expected to be made available to the campus community by May 1, at which point colleges and departments will be asked to adapt the plan for their areas.

The initial goal is to provide guidance for the university’s return to on-campus operations under an orange condition. Once finalized, the guidelines will be added to the coronavirus.utah.edu website.

You can read the full memo sent to the President’s Leadership Council below.

April 24, 2020

To:                   President’s Leadership Council

From:              Jeff Herring, Chief Human Resources Officer

Re:                   Project Orange—Return to Work Guidelines

A group of university leaders appointed by President Watkins is developing a framework to guide college and departments in planning a return-to-campus under various scenarios.

The guidelines will be available for review and campus distribution by May 1 and will closely align with the "Utah Leads Together" plan prepared by the governor’s office. Similar working groups are preparing guidelines for University of Utah Health’s clinical operations and campus-wide research operations.

The guide will provide criteria for how the university will return to in-person operations under various conditions using a color scheme that mirrors the one used by state public health officials.

  • Green = normal risk (normal operations)
  • Yellow = low risk (modified working)
  • Orange = moderate risk (limited working)
  • Red = high risk (mandatory only)

Our initial goal is to provide guidance to support the university returning to on-campus operations under an orange condition.

Key principles in this planning (adapted from the Utah Leads Together plan):

  1. Vigilance and data-informed decision making: The COVID-19 risk will remain and all of us need to be vigilant. It is not a short-term problem, but rather a new risk Utahns will have to manage.
  2. Confidence: The COVID-19 emergency is not only a public health and economic crisis, it’s a crisis of public confidence. People have to believe they and their loved ones are safe before the economy and the university can ramp up operations.
  3. Patience, respect and care for the vulnerable: Lifting public health measures prematurely will destabilize confidence and hurt the economy. The university must act in accordance with the best public health guidance balanced with other key social, economic and health indicators.
  4. Innovation and new protocols for safety: The university and the state have learned important lessons over the past month and we have the opportunity to improve our systems moving forward.
  5. Engagement: We can feel invigorated during a crisis if we engage. Pandemics end; we will get through this and emerge even stronger.

More information about Utah Leads Together is available online:

Members of the university’s Project Orange planning group include:

  • Laura Marks, Academic Affairs
  • Sarah Projansky, Academic Affairs
  • Robin Burr, Facilities
  • Wendy Hobson-Rohrer, Health Sciences
  • Will Dere, Health Sciences
  • Ed Clark, Health Sciences
  • Jeff Herring, Human Resources
  • Wendy Peterson, Human Resources
  • Diane Pataki, Research
  • Marlon Lynch, Safety
  • Lori McDonald, Student Affairs