Update to Staff: Extension of Bates Work Arrangements
I write to provide an update on college operations, specifically relating to support for employees who are unable to work on campus due to the COVID pandemic, paid time off for those who are ill or tending to dependents, and our remote working model for any employees whose physical presence on campus is not required to carry out their duties.
Current Working Arrangements
In the interest of public health, Bates has reduced the number of people on campus by transitioning most employees to remote working environments and by prudent scheduling to limit the number of employees needing to be physically present on campus at any given time. It is important to note that Bates continues to provide full compensation and benefits for staff during this period of uncertainty. We will extend these current work arrangements – previously announced through April 10, 2020 – to May 9, 2020.
Paid Leave Guidance
As noted in a March 17 staff update from President Spencer, we recognize that the COVID-19 situation creates significant challenges for staff and their families. Child care centers and schools in Maine have announced extended closures, 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. I want to renew our guidance for sick leave or dependent care responsibilities, available here.
Executive Order by Governor Mills
To clarify certain questions with respect to Governor Mills’ recent Executive Order No. 28 FY 19/20, Bates remains categorized as an essential business, which means that the college is open to teach the academic program remotely, serve the small number of students remaining in residence on our campus, and maintain the functioning of our campus facilities and systems. Staff who are assigned to work on campus should continue to perform those duties until further notice, and do so in compliance with CDC guidelines, including maintaining six-foot physical distancing to the maximum extent possible. We must advance the important work of the college that can only occur on site while closely observing public health guidance.
Financial Considerations & Impact to the College
The COVID-19 crisis exerts significant pressure on the college’s economics. To help us weather this unprecedented time and market, Bates must identify opportunities to preserve financial resources for a potentially long-term period of uncertainty. By limiting unnecessary expenditures, Bates will maintain some flexibility to address issues as they emerge. To that end, we will immediately implement a hiring freeze, which means that no new staff positions will be posted and no hires will be made without express approval by my office. Additionally, we are suspending all discretionary expenditures that are not critical to the operation of the college, and any other expenditures must be approved by your senior staff member. This includes all college-sponsored travel, already prohibited due to overall public health concerns.
Personal Health Considerations
As COVID-19 continues to progress, please be mindful of your health and take note of 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:
- Observe social distancing practices and avoid physical contact with others
- Wash your hands frequently (especially after being around others)
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Support Through This Crisis
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.
As we all confront this unprecedented national crisis, I truly appreciate the hard work, creativity, and generosity of our Bates community. We are all navigating our way through uncertain times while delivering the Bates experience to our students and taking good care of each other and our loved ones. Thank you all for your patience and efforts. As this situation evolves, we will provide updates accordingly.