Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we continue to respond to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. We are facing unprecedented challenges as this pandemic disrupts almost every aspect of our lives. At the same time, we are encouraged by the efforts, understanding, and responsiveness of our campus community.
In an effort to comply with recommendations from the CDC and local officials, we have been practicing social distancing, limiting hours of certain operations, taking extra steps to disinfect our campus, and implementing flexible alternate modes of educational delivery. In addition, we plan on joining efforts nationwide to protect our employees against the spread of the COVID-19 virus by reducing the number of employees who are physically on campus.
LIMITING ON CAMPUS OPERATIONS
We have already closed the Baker Family Fitness Center and swimming pool. Library access has been limited to faculty, students, and staff with reduced hours. Our food operations have been reduced to carry out service from the cafeteria and the number of students in the residence halls has been limited to only those with no place else to go. Going forward, we will start restricting public access to some buildings on campus by locking them throughout the day and evening. Employees will still have keyed access to these buildings, but servicing of the buildings will be reduced significantly. Please remember to carry your keys with you as you move around campus.
Starting March 23rd (Monday) we are going to start transitioning largely to a remote workforce — wherever possible. We anticipate that this effort will continue at least through April 10th.
Because of the nature of our operations, our approach to working remotely will differ in each department. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution. The primary goal is to reduce the number of employees working on campus while still keeping the University operational and meeting the needs of students and prospective students.
Here are a few examples, with further explanation below:
- There are some employees who perform critical functions that will need to continue to be on campus. For example, we will need a certain number of staff in the residence halls to work with students. Similarly, custodial staff can only perform their roles on site. Also, certain office functions can only be performed on campus at this point in time.
- There are some employees who can perform their jobs entirely from home on a digital platform. Communications and marketing, esports, and virtual engagement with prospective students for admissions are a few examples.
- Some employees will be in a position to do some work remotely and other aspects of their jobs will require them to come into the office.
We are trying to respond quickly to this situation. Some employees may be able to transition immediately to working remotely while others will need to work with their supervisors to determine whether and how they can move to working in these new adjusted situations. Still others may need to continue to be on campus full or part time.
We encourage you to speak with your supervisor as soon as possible to determine if your position can be performed remotely (or whether your work needs to be on campus). Part of the discussions should include whether you have the necessary access and equipment to support working from home, or whether it might make more sense for you to take advantage of your paid leave at this point.
Individual supervisors and their employees will need to work together to determine how employees can complete their duties. Supervisors need to clear their plans with HR. The conversation between supervisor and employee should include details about working hours, availability, technology needs, and all relevant details. Job requirements may require working from home part of the week, and then being on campus for part of the week. They may involve shifting work schedules so that employees rotate on-campus shifts. Depending on the job requirements and on-campus needs, the planning discussions may involve taking paid leave in an effort to avoid an unpaid leave situation. Remote work guidelines for supervisors and departments are available here.
REVISED COVID-19 LEAVE POLICY
In light of special considerations relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, a special leave policy will apply to benefit-eligible employees at Missouri Western, beginning on Monday, March 23, 2020 and continuing through April 30, 2020. (These dates may be adjusted and terms may be updated as needed as conditions change.) The full policy can be accessed here. This includes reminders about use of sick leave; incorporates the above indications regarding temporary remote working arrangements; makes available opportunities to use accrued leave for family and child care; and opens opportunities for temporary unpaid leave in certain circumstances. Please work with your supervisor as leave is needed and note the need for Human Resources approval for arrangements under the various components of this policy.
We sincerely appreciate you and your efforts to serve our students and sustain the University while attending to your own personal circumstances. As we move forward with this plan, we are most grateful for your understanding, flexibility, cooperation, and patience. During times like this, there often is not a perfect solution to all of our challenges. However, these challenges can present opportunities. In fact, I would again invite you to work on streamlining our procedures, moving away from paper, and getting things online. This is an opportunity for us to yet take another step forward and emerge even stronger once things have returned to more normal circumstances.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. Please know that your efforts are appreciated.