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2020 winter closure checklist

The annual shutdown of university operations starts earlier than normal this year. Our list of year-end reminders has some new items this year, as well as some deadlines that have been adjusted due to the earlier start of the closure.

Winter closure is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, through Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, for those areas designated to close. Regular operations resume on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. The following dates have been designated as university holidays:

  • Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020
  • Friday, Dec. 25, 2020
  • Friday, Jan. 1, 2021

In addition to the designated university holidays, leaders have approved five extra days off with pay for employees working in departments that close completely from Dec. 14 to Jan. 1.

Before you leave for winter closure

✓ Pick up COVID-19 surveillance test kits

Eligible faculty, staff and postdocs can continue to participate in free, voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing over winter closure. This testing is an especially important public health measure if you travel during the break, host guests, or visit with people outside of your social pod.

Testing sites will operate on a limited schedule during winter closure. In support of Stanford’s travel policy, plan ahead and stop by a testing site to pick up kits to use upon your return from travel or your return to Stanford. Kits must be turned in at a testing site or kit drop-off box on the same day as you perform the nasal swab.

Review COVID testing information on Health Alerts

✓  Finish BeWell Program remotely by Nov. 30

The last day to finish any outstanding activities for the 2020 BeWell Program is Nov. 30. As a reminder, Screening has been waived, so you can complete all parts of the program remotely. Sign in to see what you have left to do to hone in on your wellness and earn incentives.

Sign into your account

✓  Plan for onsite child care

Stanford child care centers will remain open the week of Dec. 14. You should check with your specific child care center for closure days during the week of Dec. 21. General questions should be directed to the WorkLife Office.

Contact WorkLife 

✓  Submit final timecards for December 2020

  • For the first pay period in December (Dec. 1–15): Submit and approve your timecard prior to leaving for winter closure, or by noon on Dec. 15. Your last pay day of the calendar year is Dec. 21, which includes this pay period. Managers: approve your employees’ timecards by noon on Dec. 16, and be especially careful for this pay period and minimize the pay corrections needed from your department, as payday falls within the winter closure.
  • For the second pay period in December (Dec. 16–31): Submit and approve your timecard prior to leaving for winter closure or by the end of business on Dec. 31. Your first pay day of the calendar year is Jan. 7, which includes this pay period. Managers: approve your employees’ timecards by 9 p.m. on Jan. 3.

Note: Payroll will be open through the end of business on Dec. 18, then closed until Jan. 4. Emergency support will be provided during this period and should be directed to Payroll by submitting a Support Request.

Detailed timecard entry instructions and other deadlines for financial activities are available on Fingate.

Submit your timecard

✓  Confirm or adjust your retirement savings contributions for 2020, set your contributions for 2021, or request a distribution

  • Confirm your 2020 contributions: Check your year-to-date contributions to the Stanford Contributory Retirement Plan by logging into My Retirement Savings. The deadline to make 2020 contribution changes and have them reflected on your last paycheck of the year is 6 p.m. on Dec. 10.
  • Designate your 2021 contributions: Some of the IRS contribution limits for 2021 have increased slightly but some are remaining the same. Your total contribution limit increased to $58,000 (or $64,500 for age 50+). The before-tax contribution limit remains $19,500 (or $26,000 for age 50+), which also includes your after-tax Roth contributions. To ensure your elections are reflected on your first paycheck of 2021, update your new elections between Dec. 11 and Dec. 21, at noon PST. Read more about 2021 IRS contribution limits.
  • Submit distribution requests: To request your retirement distribution, contact your investment provider (Fidelity and/or TIAA) for the required forms and instructions. Note: Fidelity and TIAA will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
    • In order to receive a distribution in 2021, you must submit completed distribution paperwork to either Fidelity or TIAA by the following deadlines:
    • For hardship requests for home purchase or tuition, loans for home purchase, Age 59 1/2 in-service withdrawal requests from CRA account, and all TIAA distributions except required minimum distributions, the deadline is 5 p.m. on Dec. 11.
    • For all other Fidelity distributions and required minimum distributions, except those listed above, the deadline is 1 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Please note that if there is a problem or missing information on the distribution forms, it may require additional time and cause your distributions to be delayed until January 2021.

Log Into My Retirement Savings 

✓  Your parking permit options during the holiday season

Consider whether a monthly or daily permit makes the most sense for you, especially given the upcoming holidays. If you have a monthly parking permit that you do not need for December, consider returning it by the end of November to stop any automated payments you have set up with Stanford Transportation. Please be aware that permit charges are non-refundable.

✓  Transit passes extended due to shelter-in-place

To compensate transit pass holders for the service reductions and loss of use during the mandatory COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, Caltrain and VTA have extended the expiration dates for their 2020 transit passes beyond the original expiration of Dec. 31, 2020.

  • If you have a 2020 Caltrain Go Pass, it is now valid through March 31, 2021.
  • If you have a 2020 VTA SmartPass, it is now valid through April 30, 2021.

No action is required if you are a current Go Pass and SmartPass holders. The extension will be applied to your pass(es) automatically. Stanford Transportation plans to communicate more about the status of transit passes in early 2021, prior to the expiration of passes.

Log into Transportation’s online ordering portal

✓  Update StanfordYou, set your out-of-office message

Before you leave, verify your mailing address in StanfordYou. While there you can adjust your out-of-office settings and maintain your directory and emergency contact information to ensure you stay informed of campus news and notifications.

Update your settings and information

✓  Opt in for online delivery of W-2

To opt in for electronic delivery of your 2020 W-2 tax form, log into Axess through the “W-2 Consent” link below and complete the Consent Form. If you consented previously, the “Your Current Status” field will say “Consent Received” and now further action is required. Online W-2 Forms will be available in Axess by Jan. 15. If you prefer to have your form mailed to you, verify your mailing address in StanfordYou by Dec. 31. Note the second pay period in December (Dec. 16–31) is not included in your 2020 W-2 form because it will be included in your first paycheck of 2021, on Jan. 7.

Opt in and complete W-2 Consent Form

✓  Unplug computers and appliances, turn off all lights

Support a Sustainable Stanford and help maximize energy savings. Unplugging your devices in on-campus buildings is just one of a number of simple actions that you can take to help to conserve resources over closure. Log into My Cardinal Green — an online platform to track and reward individual contributions to campus sustainability — to view your list of actions and support campus sustainability. Completing energy-saving actions before break can earn you up to 25 points (out of 100) toward your reward.

Learn more about My Cardinal Green

During and after winter closure

✓ Participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing

Stanford strongly encourages eligible faculty, staff and postdocs with a regular presence on campus (of at least one campus visit per week) during the winter closure to continue to participate in weekly surveillance testing. If you need additional kits, the surveillance test sites will operate on a limited schedule during winter closure. Free-standing kit drop-off boxes will also be available for participants who wish to minimize person-to-person contact or who need more flexible testing options. Reminder, kits must be turned in at a testing site or kit drop-off box on the same day as you perform the nasal swab.

Review COVID testing information on Health Alerts

✓  Use your FSA or lose it

The deadline to use the balance of your health care or dependent day care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) is Dec. 31. Although you can submit claims for reimbursement through April 30, 2021, the services need to have occurred by the end of December.

New this year: The list of eligible expenses was expanded in 2020 to include over the counter items, if you have money to spend. And, there is a new carryover amount for your health care FSA: You may carryover up to $550 of unused funds from 2020 to 2021; any unused money over $550 will be forfeited. The annual amount you have elected for 2021, plus any carryover, will appear in your TASC account on Jan. 1.

For dependent day care FSAs: You cannot carryover any unused money from year to year. Funds appear in your TASC account in equal amounts within two days after each pay date.

Log into the My Benefits portal to access your TASC account

✓  New Medical ID Cards for new plan members

If you switched medical plans for 2021 during Open Enrollment or are newly enrolled in a plan, you should receive your new medical ID card by the end of December. Remember: Dental and vision plans do not provide ID cards at all.

  • This year, Blue Shield plan members (Healthcare + Savings, Trio, ACA Basic High Deductible) will be issued new plan ID cards in January, but if you’ve opted into electronic delivery of Blue Shield’s communications, you won’t receive a mailed ID card; you’ll have to access (and print) your card from the member portal when Blue Shield emails you that it’s available. If you have any questions, call Blue Shield’s Customer Care (888-499-5532).

✓ Closely review your first paycheck of 2021

Your first paycheck of 2021 is paid on Jan. 7. With this paycheck, your 2021 benefits deductions and retirement contributions will begin, and Social Security and VDI taxes will be withheld again for employees who reached the maximum in 2020. Closely review your first pay stub to confirm your deductions are correct for the health benefits you elected. If there appears to be a mistake, contact the University HR Service Team.

✓  Opt in for electronic delivery of IRS Form 1095

The IRS Form 1095 is a tax form notifying you of the medical coverage offered by Stanford last year, regardless of whether you enrolled in that coverage. The IRS does not require you to submit your Form 1095 with your tax return. However, you should secure it with your other important tax forms for future reference. Stanford will produce this form in January and send it to you via U.S. Mail unless you have elected electronic delivery. If you have previously elected electronic delivery, there is no need to do so again. If you have not, you may opt in for electronic delivery by Jan. 1. To view or change your delivery status, log into My Benefits, click “Link to My Account” and select “ACA 1095 Portal.” Those agreeing to electronic delivery will receive an automated email in January from the portal with the subject line “Important Tax Return Document Available,” directing you to log in to your account to view the form (note: this email is not spam).

Log Into My Benefits

Need support during winter closure?

Benefits questions

For all medical and retirement benefits questions, contact the University HR Service Team, but please note their modified schedule during winter closure:

  • Closed on the designated university holidays: Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1
  • Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 30
  • Closed, with voicemail only: Dec. 14-23, Dec. 28-29 and Dec. 31; voicemail will be monitored for urgent matters and callbacks will be made by the next business day
  • In-office appointments and online chat will not be available during the winter closure
  • Resume normal operating hours Jan. 4

University IT support

The Service Desk will be open, but with fewer staff and reduced hours. Staff will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days, but will be closed Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1. With the exception of those dates, requests submitted through will be monitored throughout the winter closure, with priority response given to urgent requests related to system outages. For an emergency or a critical need on university holidays, call 5-HELP (650-725-4357). Responses to all other help requests will be handled as quickly as possible, but you may experience longer-than-normal response times until we return to full staffing levels on Jan. 4. Visit UIT’s winter closure web page for more information on deadlines for service requests, ID Card Office hours and more.