Important COVID-19 Update for Staff
I write with an important update about the college’s continued response to the COVID-19 situation. Beginning immediately, Bates will transition to a remote working model for any employees whose physical presence on campus is not required to carry out their duties. This arrangement will continue through Friday, April 10, or longer, as necessary, unless external events or public health guidance require us to make changes.
For those employees transitioning to remote work, please discuss with your supervisor specific work plans and determine what materials and equipment you may need to carry out your work. The transition will begin tomorrow, March 18, and be completed by the end of the week. Information and Library Services (ILS) has prepared a list of helpful resources to support remote employees.
We are moving to remote work, to the extent possible, because public health guidance tells us that decreasing the number of people on campus, combined with other social distancing practices, is crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19. This guidance led to our decisions to send our students home, close certain campus facilities, and limit outside visitors and large gatherings. Moving to a remote working model will reduce the number of individuals on campus on a daily basis, mitigating health and safety risks for those who continue to work on campus.
Employees Required to Work On Campus
Some employees will need to continue to work on campus to support the students who remain in residence, assist with the delivery of the academic program for all students, or allow us to maintain facilities and perform critical business and other functions that cannot be accomplished remotely. Managers have determined which staff members will be required to work on campus. If you are among this group of staff, you will hear directly from your department head or the senior staff member in your area.
Potential Changes to Scheduling and Duties
Operating the college under these changed conditions will undoubtedly affect daily workflows for all of us, and there will continue to be new work generated by the COVID-19 situation. We ask that all staff, whether working on campus or remotely, be flexible in accepting new assignments or adjustments to schedules to accommodate this new reality. Should your department have staff with extra capacity on one hand, or on the other hand, require additional staffing support, please contact the senior staff member in your area.
Administrative and academic buildings will be card-access only during this period. Employees working remotely may access their individual work space on campus to retrieve needed materials or to perform specific duties. However, they should limit their time to a minimum. Following public health guidance, buildings that are used for large gathering spaces will be closed and only accessible to those employees who work within those spaces. This applies to Commons, Ladd Library, Olin Arts Center, and all athletics facilities. Other facilities, such as Post & Print, will continue to provide service, and we will provide updated schedules as needed.
Guidance for Sick Leave or Dependent Care Responsibilities
We recognize that this public health situation creates a number of significant challenges for staff and their families. Many day care centers and schools in Maine have announced closures for a period of time, which presents dependent care responsibilities for a number of our employees. Additionally, both our employees and members of their immediate families may become ill and unable to work. Employees with accrued sick time balances should use their sick time to cover hours not worked. Any employee who does not have accrued sick time or who exhausts their balance during this period will receive their full pay and benefits and will not be required to use vacation days or take unpaid leave. Employees in this situation should continue to record their leave and consult with Jay Phillips if they are in Facilities Services Operations, Christine Schwartz if they are in DCCE, or their senior staff member.
Taking Care of Yourself
As COVID-19 continues to evolve, we urge all members of the Bates community to be mindful of their health and any potential symptoms of the virus. If you are required to continue your work on campus for the remainder of the semester and feel ill, please do not report to work and contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
Regardless of your work environment, please keep in mind the following as you interact with others:
· Avoid physical contact (handshakes, hugs, kisses hello, etc.)
· Maintain physical distance between yourself and others
· Wash your hands frequently (especially after being around others)
· Avoid passing shared communal objects between people
· Do not share food or beverages
For employees experiencing difficulties in any area of their lives, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free service for all Bates employees and their dependents. You can reach EAP at (888) 238-6232 or online. The EAP site has a webinar with information on how to protect you and your family from the coronavirus as well as a list of resources for information on coping with coronavirus fears.
These are unsettling times, with anxiety running high about personal health, loved ones, and finances, and uncertainty about the scope and duration of the crisis adds an extra layer of stress. Under the circumstances, I so appreciate your patience and flexibility as you continue to approach your work at Bates with energy and dedication. Our commitment to you, in return, is to do our best to support you, in practical and intangible ways, through this challenging period.