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Return to Lab and Current JPL Guidance

Updated Aug. 11 with the latest on mask requirements: The Lab’s official information page on the process for reopening JPL facilities and offices impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Introduction

We have organized the information below by category: Telework Policies, Dual Setups and Office Space, Access to Lab and Parking, Safety Protocols, Facilities and Logistics, Travel, and Time Charging and Human Resources. Anyone not on the JPL network can find the same information (minus access to linked internal sites) at www.jpl.nasa.gov/stateofthelab/.

As of May 19, 2022, this site contains only updates that remain relevant and timely. Other updates have been moved to an archive page that contains:

  • Previously communicated information on JPL’s gradual Return to Lab process that began June 23, 2021
  • The Return to Lab Task Force weekly updates (suspended after the week of July 18, 2022)
  • Coronavirus and Current JPL Guidance page, which provided information on the Lab’s pandemic response

You can find important resources and policies in the sidebar below titled Key JPL Resources.

We recognize many JPLers are facing unique circumstances. If your situation is not addressed below, please discuss with your supervisor and HR Business Partner or Talent Specialist. You can also submit inquiries about the return to Lab process through AskHR.


Most Recent Updates

Are masks required on Lab?

(Updated Aug. 11, 2022) The Los Angeles region had been at a High/Orange level of Covid transmission for a few weeks, but has now dropped to the Yellow level. Therefore, in keeping with federal workforce guidance, masks are no longer required indoors at JPL effective Friday, Aug. 12. 

(Updated July 28, 2022) Masks are required indoors at JPL effective Monday, Aug. 1. As a federal contractor, JPL follows Safer Federal Workforce guidance, which includes complying with mask requirements published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Los Angeles region has been at a High/Orange level of Covid transmission for the past two weeks. According to the CDC, masks must be worn indoors until the level of transmission drops into the yellow or green tiers.

Masks can be removed when eating and drinking, when alone in a separate room or space from others, and when outdoors (with social distancing recommended).

What is the latest travel guidance?

(Updated July 28, 2022) Effective immediately, JPL business travelers no longer need to complete the “Covid Prevention for Travelers Safe Work Practice” training.

Other Updates

(Updated July 20, 2022) JPL will end its contract with CLEAR for vaccine and testing verification on Sept. 1, 2022. Employees are still required to update their evidence of vaccination into Workday under our vaccination policy, which will be updated to reflect that CLEAR will no longer be an option for providing vaccination or test data.


Telework Policies

When did JPL’s telework policy take effect, and can I revise my agreement?

(Updated April, 14, 2022) JPL’s Voluntary Telework Policy took effect on Monday, May 9. The telework agreements entered in Workday can be revised at any time. Please discuss any changes with your supervisor. Primary Telework agreements (more than two days a week) require section manager approval. Remote Telework agreements (out of the local area) require Director for approval.

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) The telework agreements entered in Workday can be revised at any time. Please discuss any changes with your supervisor. Primary Telework agreements (more than two days a week) require section manager approval. Remote Telework agreements (out of the local area) require Director for approval and may be subject to a compensation adjustment.

How will my on-Lab days be decided? Do they have to be the same days every week?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) These are questions that Lab management has decided are best answered by each employee and their direct supervisor after discussing the specifics of their work assignments, those of their co-workers, and the needs of the projects and customers that they support.

Which telework agreement meets the LCUSD eligibility requirement?

(Updated Sept. 20, 2021) To meet the La Canada Unified School District (LCUSD) requirements, an employee, if Voluntarily Teleworking, can only select a General Telework Agreement with 1 day teleworking so that 32 hours of work will be performed on site at JPL during each work week. Each work week is based on a 40 hour payroll week for employees working either 5/40 or 9/80 schedules. Any other Telework choice: General Telework 2 days, Primary Telework, or Remote Telework would not qualify for LCUSD requirements. For employees on either 5/40 or 9/80 schedules, the 40 hour work week is based on payroll hours per week. Employees who wish to change their telework agreements in Workday should inform their supervisors.


Dual Setups and Office Space

I no longer have a chair on Lab, and I may want to keep my office chair for teleworking from home. Can I order a second chair?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) Discuss with your supervisor and BAM. The Lab has a limited supply of surplus chairs. We expect that the existing supply of surplus chairs, augmented by chairs returned by remote teleworkers, will be sufficient to satisfy most requests. Once the existing supply is depleted, supervisors should work with their BAMs and Facilities to order additional chairs as needed.

Will I be allowed to order extra computer equipment to support working in both locations?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) These decisions will be made by your supervisor and depend on factors including your ultimate telework agreement level and the nature of your work. In general, priority will be given to personnel with the greater number of on-Lab days and the most immediate need.

If I order additional equipment, how long will it take to arrive?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) Supply chain issues are impacting deliveries of IT equipment worldwide. Your BAM will be able to update you on the status of your orders.

My job requires specialized IT equipment that is not easily moved back and forth. How should I manage where and how I work during this transition?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) In general, employees will need to choose a primary location for IT equipment that is not easily moved, while using a laptop and dual peripherals at the location where they spend the lesser part of the week.

How do I request assistance with bringing my equipment back to Lab?

(Updated Aug. 18, 2021) If you need assistance with moving equipment, including your chair, from your vehicle back to your office, you will need to submit a Move Request and select “Return to On-Site Work” as the move type. This will generate an email that will be sent to Corovan to help facilitate the move. ManTech will follow-up to see if assistance with set-up is needed. Personnel planning to participate in the voluntary reopening during the summer and who plan to continue to routinely telework should consider whether they will need to order additional IT equipment needed to enable them to work efficiently from home or the office (e.g., additional monitor, keyboard, peripheral). However, we strongly encourage personnel to wait to order until they have returned to Lab for a period of time and determined what is needed for optimal work.


Access to Lab and Parking

Do we still have to fill out the daily health screening questionnaire?

(Updated July 6, 2022) Effective July 11, personnel coming on site no longer will be required to fill out and submit a daily health screening survey, but will continue to be required to conduct a self-assessment of their health before coming to work. All personnel will receive an email at the start of each work week until further notice, as a reminder to monitor one’s health and to stay away from JPL facilities if experiencing possible Covid symptoms.

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) The daily health screening remains a requirement of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health until further notice.

What are JPL’s plans for parking when the West Lot and parking structure are full? Can we still park in the East Lot?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) The East Lot is no longer available for parking. Adequate parking should be available on Lab and in the West Lot during the transition, but demand will vary according to the distribution of on-site days. Everyone should park in the areas designated on their hangtags.

How will the Lab verify vaccination and testing status upon entrance to Lab?

(Updated May 26, 2022) Beginning the week of June 6, rapid antigen testing will be available to all on-site personnel on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. which supports the 96-hour validity window for a negative test. For the week of May 30, testing will be available Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(Updated April 21, 2022) The validity window for a negative Covid test, which was shortened to 72 hours in January, will revert to 96 hours effective April 22.

(Updated March 4, 2022) Testing for unvaccinated individuals working on site remains a requirement of our mandatory vaccination policy. We will continue to monitor the data and will review the need for the testing requirement as appropriate. Voluntary testing for vaccinated personnel also remains available for now.

(Updated Jan. 19, 2022) Rapid antigen testing is available to all on-site personnel starting Jan. 19 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Only those working on site are eligible for testing, and only if not experiencing symptoms. Self-administered testing is not permitted.

What is the status of visitors on Lab?

(Updated June 2, 2022) Due to L.A. County’s rate of Covid-19 spread moving from ‘low’ to ‘medium’, effective June 2, 2022, all visitors to Lab are required to complete a NASA Certification of Vaccination Attestation Form prior to obtaining a visitor badge. Anyone who does not attest to having been fully vaccinated will be asked to provide proof of having received a negative Covid-19 test from within the previous 72 hours. Visitors who do not attest and cannot satisfy the test requirement, or who decline to respond, will be denied access to Lab.

(Updated May 23, 2022) JPL’s Visitor Management System will start accepting requests for general employee-led tours on June 1. General tours will only be allowed to start at 9 a.m. or 12 p.m. for two-hour intervals. Tours that start late can still occur but must be completed within the two-hour time frame. Tours with over nine individuals must be processed through the Public Service Office (PSO). Public tour reservations also will reopen June 1.

(Updated May 19, 2022) JPL’s Visitor Management System will start accepting requests for general employee-led tours on June 1. Public tour reservations also will reopen June 1.

(Updated May 5, 2022) The Lab encourages JPL hosts of NASA badged civil servants from other Centers to complete a JPL Visit Request so we can ensure our NASA colleagues receive JPL-specific Safe at Work protocols and smooth passage through the Oak Grove security checkpoint.

(Updated April 14, 2022) Tours of JPL remain limited to business-essential visits at this time. Public tours are expected to resume in June.

When will ridesharing services resume?

(Updated May 26, 2022) Schedules are posted for the Gold Line shuttle and the Caltech-Woodbury shuttle. Both shuttles pick up and drop off at the bus stop just outside the Oak Grove checkpoint. Please contact the Rideshare office at ext. 4-7433 or visit the Rideshare site for information on subsidies and vanpools. Additionally, personnel can use the Lab’s new parking app, JPL Park, to find out real-time parking situations and view recent parking trends. Learn more on JPL Space.

(Updated May 5, 2022) The schedule effective May 9 is posted for the Caltech-Woodbury shuttle. The schedule for the Gold Line shuttle will be posted shortly on the same site. Both shuttles will pick up and drop off at the bus stop just outside the Oak Grove checkpoint.

(Updated April 14, 2022) The Caltech shuttle and the Gold Line shuttle from the Del Mar Metro station in Pasadena will resume service on May 9. Vanpools operate from cities throughout the region. Contact a coordinator or the Rideshare Office to join an existing group, or email rideshare@jpl.nasa.gov for information on starting a vanpool.


Safety Protocols

Are masks required on Lab?

(Updated Aug. 11, 2022) The Los Angeles region had been at a High/Orange level of Covid transmission for a few weeks, but has now dropped to the Yellow level. Therefore, in keeping with federal workforce guidance, masks are no longer required indoors at JPL effective Friday, Aug. 12. 

(Updated July 28, 2022) Masks are required indoors at JPL effective Monday, Aug. 1. As a federal contractor, JPL follows Safer Federal Workforce guidance, which includes complying with mask requirements published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Los Angeles region has been at a High/Orange level of Covid transmission for the past two weeks. According to the CDC, masks must be worn indoors until the level of transmission drops into the yellow or green tiers.

Masks can be removed when eating and drinking, when alone in a separate room or space from others, and when outdoors (with social distancing recommended).

(Updated July 20, 2022) The CDC has designated Los Angeles County in the High (Orange) Covid-19 Community Level Stage. As a result, we anticipate the County of Los Angeles and the City of Pasadena health departments to reinstate an indoor mask requirement as early as next week if current trends continue. We will continue to monitor the data and health department guidance and we will notify personnel through an all-employee email and signs posted at the entrances to Lab. Please plan ahead and keep a mask on hand when you come on site. JPL will monitor compliance with public health requirements to ensure the safety of all personnel.

(Updated March 4, 2022) Recent updates by the City of Pasadena, Los Angeles County and NASA, as guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have ended indoor mask mandates in most circumstances. JPL has been following public health and NASA guidance throughout the pandemic, and therefore the Lab is lifting our indoor mask requirement effective immediately, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are still strongly recommended by our public health agencies for the time being. Mask supplies are available from General Inventory in B171-107, online or in designated Covid safety supply areas.

Will I be able to know which of my co-workers are vaccinated and which have an exemption or accommodation?

(Added Feb. 18, 2022) Out of respect for their privacy, no.

Will JPL offer routine testing to all returning employees?

(Updated May 26, 2022) Beginning the week of June 6, rapid antigen testing will be available to all on-site personnel on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. which supports the 96-hour validity window for a negative test. For the week of May 30, testing will be available Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(Updated April 21, 2022) The validity window for a negative Covid test, which was shortened to 72 hours in January, will revert to 96 hours effective April 22.

(Updated March 4, 2022) Testing for unvaccinated individuals working on site remains a requirement of our mandatory vaccination policy. We will continue to monitor the data and will review the need for the testing requirement as appropriate. Voluntary testing for vaccinated personnel also remains available for now.

(Updated Feb. 18, 2022) Routine testing every 72 hours (3 times/week) is mandatory for all personnel on site who have a medical exemption or religious accommodation. Self-administered testing is not permitted. JPL plans to continue to provide free on-site testing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to any vaccinated personnel working on-site who would like to test for peace of mind.

How should I report possible exposure while on Lab?

If you test positive, or if you develop symptoms suggestive of Covid-19, or if you believe you may have been in close contact to an individual who is exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive, inform your supervisor or HR business partner immediately. The Lab’s response team will evaluate your circumstances and err on the side of caution in protecting you and your colleagues.


Facilities and Logistics

Will all three cafes reopen as we return to Lab? What about the coffee carts?

(Updated Aug. 17, 2022) Due to the reduced foot traffic on Lab, the Hill Coffee Cart next to the JPL Store has been closed.

(Updated April 20, 2022) The Mall coffee cart and Cafe 303 will reopen on May 9, joining the already open Cafe 167 and the JPL Store coffee cart. Cafe 190 is expected to reopen later this spring.

When will the gyms reopen?

(Updated May 16, 2022) The 321 and 180 gyms are now open without restrictions. Badge reader access and the completion of a Wellness Program - General Release form are required to use the gym. The gyms are open 24 hours per day and open to JPL Employees only. Request gym access through the JPL Physical Access Management System (JPAMS).


Travel

What is the latest travel guidance?

(Updated July 28, 2022) Effective immediately, JPL business travelers no longer need to complete the “Covid Prevention for Travelers Safe Work Practice” training.

(Updated April 4, 2022) In alignment with NASA protocols, the travel team is removing the Director For approval requirement for international travel, effective immediately. Authorization for international travel will revert back to the pre-Covid-19 process. With this change, all travel, both domestic and international, will now return to the Lab’s pre-pandemic approval process.

The travel team will continue to ensure travelers have completed the “Covid Prevention for Travelers Safe Work Practice” training prior to the start of their domestic or international trip.


Time Charging and Human Resources

What is the latest with the administrative leave charging guidance?

(Updated Feb. 15, 2022) California has approved a Covid-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave benefit, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2022. Click here for the qualifying criteria and timekeeping processes including corrections dating back to January 1. Effective Feb. 21, Time Tracker will have a drop down box for Covid-19 Supplemental Sick Leave use going forward, and employees will be able to start submitting manual timesheets to Payroll to claim Covid sick leave between January 1 and February 20.

Since March of 2020, JPL has adapted policies for the use of administrative leave related to employees who are unable to complete all or some of their regularly scheduled hours due to Covid-related concerns. As the Lab completes the process of returning to our new normal operating procedures, use of Administrative Leave for Covid-related concerns will phase out gradually between now and Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.

Employees with Covid-related or other medical issues that may require consideration of a workplace accommodation beyond that date should contact the Medical Leave Unit in HR.

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