These are unprecedented times. I realize the uncertainties of the COVID-19 virus and its implications on our regular operations are creating many questions and concerns for you. I know you are facing a great deal of stress — professionally and personally. For all of us, navigating through the options as our community grapples with this situation is challenging on many levels.
Above all, we must strive to put the health, safety and well-being of our community first. This will require great flexibility, compassion and patience. However, I have no doubt this community is ready to rise to the challenge. I have been frankly awed by the energy and dedication I have already seen from around the College. Yet, no matter how prepared we may feel, we are certain to face additional questions, uncertainty and obstacles along the way.
You have just seen a message from the University providing additional guidance, particularly on policies for employees. Please know the College is coordinating closely with the University as decisions are made.
Maintaining continuity of operations during this uncertain time is critical for our students, and for the ongoing benefit of our research and service to society. However, you are likely facing difficult decisions about whether or not to report to work, how you will care for children or what may happen if you or a loved one were to fall ill.
Beginning immediately, and until further notice, we encourage staff to increase social distancing. To the extent possible, this includes increasing teleworking. Supervisors have maximum flexibility to implement this shift.
You should consult with your manager to determine what steps can be taken to help minimize your risk:
- Determine if there is work that can be done remotely without disruption.
- If you can’t telecommute for a full eight-hour workday due to childcare or other issues, determine how many hours can be dedicated to working/training remotely and develop a plan with your manager.
- If you need to report to work on campus, determine how to configure your workspace so that you are at least six feet from incoming guests and/or co-workers.
- Avoid group meetings and gatherings as much as possible. Use technology solutions to attend mandatory meetings remotely. In-person meetings should be in rooms large enough that you can maintain a distance of six feet from others.
- Get up and wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds throughout the day. Clean your workspace often with disinfectant.
- Finally, you should consult with your healthcare provider about any other steps that may be necessary given your specific circumstances.
For those impacted by COVID-19 who cannot work, a special limited-time policy will provide up to 80 hours of paid time off for COVID-19 related absences.
- This is intended for use by individuals who self-quarantine or have personal illness (isolation), or family care responsibilities associated with the COVID-19 such as caring for those in quarantine or ill, as well as caring for children whose school or child care has been closed due to the virus.
- Absences tied to COVID-19 virus that are greater than the 80 hours (prorated for part-time effort) will follow standard policy. This could include utilizing sick or vacation time, or an unpaid leave of absence.
- Access to the time-limited COVID-19 paid time off will be extended to temporary staff who are scheduled to work but unable to do so due to the virus.
- More details about the program, including timekeeping mechanisms, will follow.
More human resource related information regarding COVID-19 can be found at the University Human Resources web page at https://hr.umich.edu/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19. For telecommuting resources, please visit https://covid-19.engin.umich.edu/telecommuting-resources.
If you find that you are in a situation that requires special assistance, please reach out to the College’s Human Resources department for guidance.
In the coming days and weeks, I want you to know that I and the rest of the College leadership are committed to providing as much transparency and clarity as possible, to update you promptly as decisions are made, to listen and respond to your questions and concerns, and to keep the health and well-being of our community as our top priority. To that end, we will endeavor to keep communications brief, clear and frequent, providing you with the critical information you need to do your work. Please share any concerns and feedback here.
I encourage all of us to support one another. Now, more than ever, our values are critical. Transparency, collegiality, leadership, daring and, as always, fulfilling our mission to serve the common good.