Messages to Faculty and Staff
Dear Albrightians,I hope this message finds you and your families healthy, safe and well. This is a difficult time for all of us, especially as the situation we are in continues to evolve and change. We wanted to write to you today to ensure you that know we are working hard to make the best decisions we can for both the college and our valued employees.
As you have seen in the news around the world, things are changing daily in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the number of cases and subsequent state mandates, orders and acts that may provide relief to individuals and businesses. President Fetrow and the Cabinet are meeting almost daily and the Pandemic Planning Task Force is meeting twice a week in order to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape that we are currently facing.
Two weeks ago, when the college moved to a remote work environment, the decision was made to keep all employees regardless of ability to telework in full active status with continued pay through April 4.
Today, due to uncertainty regarding government funding and the extension of the federal stay-at-home order, President Fetrow and the Cabinet decided to continue this pay through the end of the current biweekly pay period, April 11, for employees who do not have the ability to telework. All employees who have been approved for telework and have developed work plans with their supervisors will continue to be paid as usual.
For those employees who are not able to telework, we are working to the greatest extent possible to provide meaningful work for all and will continue to provide updates as decisions are made. We know that some members of our staff do not have internet access or technology resources in their homes, so we ask supervisors to please ensure that the members of your teams are aware of this communication. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact the human resources office at HRIS@albright.edu.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this challenging time together.
Stay safe and be well.
Rita Franklin, Interim Director of HR
Dear Fellow Albrightians,
Here we are, at the third day of virtual classes, almost one week since the Pennsylvania governor declared all non-life-sustaining business to close operations. Since then, I’ve watched faculty come together to support virtual teaching, student groups self-organize into study and “keeping in touch” groups, staff develop approaches to work from home, and trustees engage in our call to reach out to senators to support higher education in the COVID-19 bill that the US Senate passed last night.
What I’ve learned is that, like the strong community we are, we are coming together to meet this challenge. And, even though we miss the face-to-face interactions, I know we will come out on the other side a stronger community than when we started.
In this past week, I’ve realized even more how valuable our community is, one of which I am so grateful to be a part. I’d like to invite each one of you to reflect and think about how valuable our Albright community is.
To Albright Students: Give your professors positive feedback – let them know what works. Your professors love teaching you in the classroom! For many of them, this is their first foray into online teaching – and it’s not the way they want to teach. Teaching virtually is rarely perfect – from crashing videos, to sound not working, to pixelated screens – laugh with them, and thank them for their effort to help you continue your education.
To Albright Faculty: Some of your students are learning online for the first time – this is not what they came to Albright for either! For many, virtual learning may be much less compatible with the way they learn. Give them positive feedback for engaging online. Share with them things that you have learned that help other students.
To Albright Staff: Working from home is not easy – many of you have children, partners and pets who are also at home and you’re balancing your workload while making sure your children engage in their own online learning. Remember to breathe. Take the dog for a walk. Stay in daily contact with your teams and managers. Use technology to connect virtually and keep those “water cooler” conversations going.
To Essential Personnel: Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is not an easy time for anyone, and you are in jobs that require your continued service to and support of our students who are still in residence. Your dedication and commitment to our community is commendable. I invite everyone in our community to reach out to Albright’s essential personnel – in public safety, the Gable Health Center, the cafeteria, and those in facilities maintenance and custodial services – and thank them. Remember that not all heroes wear capes.
Everyone, please be diligent in observing the CDC’s recommendations and in keeping yourselves and your families healthy and well.
In the last several weeks, each of our lives have been upended – we’ve had disruptions to our classes, our work, and our learning. It seems like the continuous news cycle brings ever worsening news, heightening our anxieties and fears. We are currently living through a time much like the Great Depression and World War II – a crisis that will in many ways define a “before” and an “after.” Keep a journal of your time, your learning, your feelings, and your impressions – like the pandemic of 1918, this will be a time to be remembered in history.
As Albrightians – a pride of Lions – it is important to remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together and we will get through it together. Face-to-face interactions and a strong community are what we value at Albright College. As the pandemic prevents us from that experience, it becomes ever more important to build that community virtually. I will continue to be in contact with you during this time as will other community members, to inform you of operational details and to share words of encouragement – we could all use some words of encouragement as we navigate this situation together.
While we are living through circumstances unlike anything seen in generations, this too shall pass, and we will take from our experiences the strength we will use to heal our college, our society and our world. Continue your good and important work and learning – it matters.
Stay safe, healthy and well, and know that Albright College is there for you. I look forward to our return to campus and to our daily in-person interactions when this pandemic wanes.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ‘82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Good afternoon, faculty and staff –
Whether you’re working remotely, on campus serving our students, or beginning a new journey in teaching online, I hope you are doing well during these challenging times. We’re all “learning to learn” as we go in this new online environment. I wish each of you peace of mind and patience as we work through this challenge together.
I write today to inform you of the protocols that have been put in place to keep our community healthy and safe, and to remind you of the steps you can take to keep yourself and your family well.
Students in emergency shelter
As of this communication, there are 139 students who remain in residence on campus. These students have been approved for emergency housing. For the health and safety of our community, including those essential personnel who are providing services to our resident students, students who are staying on campus are not permitted to leave campus for any reason, including to go to the grocery store, WAWA, or any off-campus employment. The Dining Hall is open for three carry-out meals per day, regardless of the student’s meal plan.
To lessen the health risk to staff, students in need of medical care from the Gable Health and Counseling Center must call the health center at 610-921-7532 to speak to a staff member. Dr. Williamson and his team will provide care during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During the evenings and on weekends, calls will be handled by Public Safety and emergencies addressed as needed.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath, which can appear 2-14 days after exposure. Please keep in mind that these are also symptoms associated with other types of infections.
Help us be proactive in lessening the spread – self report your symptoms
If you are experiencing these symptoms and have contacted your health care professional for testing, or if you have been tested, we ask you to please also contact the Gable Health and Counseling Center at 610-921-7532 so that we may be proactive in alerting members of our community that they may have been exposed. We will need to know when you were last on campus and who you were in contact with. Self-reporting your symptoms will allow Albright to be proactive in addressing this public health crisis.
For those members of the Albright community who are listed as essential personnel and are currently reporting to campus, it is critical that you monitor your health daily and do not report to work should you exhibit any of the symptoms listed above.
How can I keep myself and my family healthy?
We are urging Albrightians to continue taking all precautions recommended by the CDC:
· Keep a six-foot distance between yourself and other people
· Avoid contact with those who are sick
· Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
· Cover coughs and sneezes
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a daily basis
What counseling and support services are available?
It’s understandable that many of you may feel anxious about this evolving public health situation or have concerns about friends and family and their well-being. Our chaplains are always available to talk, provide guidance and direction, or simply to listen. They may be reached at: Rev. Dr. Mel Sensenig, email@example.com, Rev. Ibrahim Bangura, firstname.lastname@example.org, Rev. Dr. Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, email@example.com.
Faculty and staff may also consult the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides three free counseling sessions per year for employees and their household dependents through Inroads at Family Guidance Center, a local provider. You may access their website www.familyguidancecenter.com. All sessions are completely confidential.
New information from the Department of Education
Yesterday, in a message from Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, the Department of Education (PDE) announced that all educational institutions in the commonwealth will remain online only through at least April 6, and that this order could be extended beyond April 6. Given the current situation, this extension is likely. Please know that the Pandemic Planning Task Force is monitoring this situation daily and meeting twice weekly in order to make decisions to protect the health and well-being of our Albright community. We will continue to keep you updated.
Thank you for your patience, resilience and cooperation as we work together to navigate this unprecedented situation.
Stay healthy and well,
Samantha J. Wesner, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC
Senior Vice President of Student and Campus Life and Chief Health Officer
O: 610-921-7611 | F: 610-921-7590
Dear Albright faculty and staff –
This has been a trying time for all of us as we adapt to the changes that the unprecedented public health situation of the novel coronavirus has presented. This evening, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close physical locations until further notice, effective Saturday, March 21, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Higher education was specifically listed as a non-essential business in the list of businesses.
What does this means for Albright College?
Albright College is moving into the mode of “community food and housing, emergency, and other relief services,” which counts as an essential business. As of noon on Saturday, residence halls will remain open only to those students who are unable to go home, feel unsafe going home, have no home to go to, or those who have food or shelter insecurities. Students who remain on campus will not be allowed to leave campus and will be held accountable to Community Standards if they do. The dining hall will remain open for carry-out of three meals a day for these students regardless of how many meals the student has signed up for.
What does this mean for faculty and staff?
Only personnel needed to provide essential services for our resident students in the areas of public safety, health center, facilities, dining, residential life, and the mailroom will be allowed on campus. Essential personnel necessary for the minimum maintenance of our physical plant will be allowed on campus. Online classes and telework for those who are able to work from home will continue as planned. Details regarding other workers, whom we are working to support through this, will be shared by their vice presidents or their supervisors.
Faculty and staff who need to retrieve items from offices may do so tomorrow, Friday, March 20, during the core business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After tomorrow, buildings will be locked and no one other than essential personnel will be permitted on campus, as per the governor’s order.
You likely have many questions about how this will impact you, your work and your classes. You will be hearing additional details on specific information for each group of employees from the vice presidents, the athletic directors and the chief of staff.
What does this mean for our community?
This was not an easy message to either compose or send, and I know that it is not an easy message to hear. This new government order will likely evoke even more fear and anxiety. But, know that we are a stronger community standing together than we are apart — we are a pride of lions, even if we must be so from distant locations for a while.
We are urging Albrightians to continue taking all precautions recommended by the CDC. Keep a six-foot distance between yourself and other people; avoid contact with those who are sick; wash your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover coughs and sneezes; and clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces on a daily basis.
As this situation continues to evolve, the Cabinet and I are working through the many questions that have already been presented and doing all we can to continue to support the success of our students while addressing the health and safety needs of our community. We are committed to our faculty and staff, and are taking every effort to support the work and employment of Albright employees. Each of your divisional vice presidents, athletic directors, or chief of staff will be communicating with you soon to provide additional details. In the meantime, if you have questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My thoughts are with each of you as well as your families as we continue to navigate this unprecedented and emergent situation together. Be safe. Be well. Take care of each other. When this is over, we will emerge a strong community.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ‘82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Good evening, Albright faculty and staff,
First, my apologies for the late evening communication. This email provides a follow-up to this afternoon’s press conference by Gov. Tom Wolf, during which he announced an extension of his order to shutdown non-essential businesses to include the full state of Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf’s announcement was made in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Following this announcement, the Cabinet, Pandemic Planning Task Force, and I have taken time to carefully consider how this affects our various communities here at Albright College, and how we as an institution can continue to educate our students of academic promise while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our entire community. Let me state our values upfront:
- We are here to support the success of our students and we are committed to that success, and the options for students laid out last week are not changing at this time.
- We are committed to our faculty and staff, and are taking every effort to support the work and employment of Albright employees.
WHAT DOES PENNSYLVANIA’S “SHUT-DOWN OF NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES” MEAN FOR US?
For institutions like Albright College, this shutdown does not mean that we are closing. We will continue to follow our plan announced last week for online learning and we will continue to provide essential services for our students who have chosen to remain on campus during Spring Break.
And, in accordance with the Governor’s announcement, we will move quickly to a remote work model for all non-essential staff beginning Wednesday, March 18. Some divisions have already begun this transition. Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, we ask that employees report to work to gather what you need in the way of equipment and materials for your work from home and to discuss any last-minute issues with your supervisors. This work from home model will begin with the start of business on Wednesday, March 18.
As communicated late last week, we will follow this model through Friday, April 3. We will be re-evaluating, as this situation continues to develop. The earliest that we would bring students, staff and faculty back to campus would be Sunday, April 5.
WHO ARE ESSENTIAL STAFF?
In last week’s communication, we encouraged our students to remain on campus during Spring Break to help limit the spread of the coronavirus and to ensure our students have the resources available to them to be successful in an online learning environment. Following that announcement, approximately one third of our student body made the decision to stay. In order to continue to provide a functioning, comfortable and safe living and learning environment for those students who remain, while maintaining the highest standards, essential staff members in several key areas will need to continue to report to work in person. These areas include facilities, dining services, public safety, housing, the health center, payroll, human resources, and digital strategy and infrastructure.
Not all staff in all of these areas are considered essential. Divisional vice presidents and supervisors will be communicating with the individuals in their respective divisions and departments regarding which personnel are considered essential. They will also provide details and guidelines for safe work practices and social distancing for essential staff. Divisional vice presidents and supervisors will be working with non-essential employees to develop a work-from-home plan, or to develop alternate work plans for their employment during this time. Additional information from human resources about teleworking for both employees and managers is forthcoming as well.
WHAT RESOURCES ARE THERE FOR REMOTE WORK?
To help employees make the transition to remote work, the college has created an online resource called Work from Anywhere. This resource is designed to collect in one place the tools and resources you’ll need to be productive off-campus. The menu at left lists all the questions addressed in the resource for easy navigation. A Collaborate discussion forum provides a place to post questions and network with colleagues about how they’re handling the transition. Additional resources will be added as they’re needed and available, so check back often.
To use this resource, just go to Work from Anywhere and click Enroll me.
WILL I BE ABLE TO GET BACK ON CAMPUS?
As of Wednesday, March 18, only those who are defined as essential staff will be allowed on campus and have access to campus buildings. If anyone else has a need for a short-term visit to campus or to a campus building, prior arrangements must be made and approved by your divisional vice president. The provost will follow-up with an email tomorrow, regarding arrangements for faculty who wish to produce their classes from classrooms on campus.
SELF CARE AND COMMUNITY
We want to do all we can to keep everyone safe and healthy in the midst of this crisis, while also providing education to our students. I urge every one of you to continue taking all precautions recommended by the CDC. Keep a six-foot distance between yourself and other people; avoid contact with those who are sick; wash your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover coughs and sneezes; and clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces on a daily basis. Please do all you can to protect your own health and the health of your loved ones. As you do, you will also be helping countless others.
The Pandemic Planning Task Force will continue monitoring this rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to keep you up to date on all college developments. The Cabinet will be meeting regularly to hear and discuss issues as they arise during this uncertain and difficult time.
Please take care of yourselves, your families, and each other as we navigate this situation together. As always, please find the most up to date information on our website: www.albright.edu/coronavirus.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dear Albright faculty and staff,
Last week was a blur of information, of change, of questions, and perhaps of fear. Things moved quickly. Decisions were made, new information became available, and then more questions were raised. There isn’t anyone at the college, including myself, who didn’t need to turn to someone for help in navigating what has been an extremely difficult week.
On Thursday evening, Albright community members received an email from Provost Karen Campbell, and Chief Health Officer Sam Wesner. This email shared that we had made the difficult decision to move teaching to virtual and online mode for at least two weeks following Spring Break. The email also described the various options that were available for students, options designed to fit the needs of our varied student population.
This was not a decision taken lightly or in haste. Albright’s Pandemic Planning Task Force has been meeting since mid-January and has been working diligently to continually monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation in order to ensure the health and safety of our community. As the possibility of pandemic loomed, this group recognized the many different needs of our students and our staff, including those who are unable to continue in their coursework from home, while others who do not have homes to which they can return.
WHY DID WE MAKE THIS DECISION?
We know that many of our students come to Albright for its close-knit community. Now we are being asked, each one of us, to adhere to the principle of social distancing. Social distancing, meant to “flatten the pandemic curve,” is why so many institutions – museums, theatres, schools, Disneyland, ski resorts, the NBA, and many others – have closed or suspended their activity.
One might think, why colleges? College students are young and at less risk than older and less healthy individuals. For one reason, many of our faculty and staff are more at-risk. But really, social distancing is also essential for those who aren’t high risk, to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. An illustration of the importance of social distancing and what it means to flatten the curve can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/.
Today, slowing the spread of this virus is a public health imperative. Continued spread of the virus is inevitable. It will not be limited to any particular state, or region, or country. We must all work together to slow the spread, so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed and, thus, compromised.
WHAT ABOUT EACH OF US?
As Rita Franklin, our interim director of human resources, indicated in her Friday email, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that employers establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., teleworking) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to increase the physical distance among and between employees.
We’ve asked managers to work with employees to determine how this will look. Much remains to be determined. The Pandemic Planning Task Force continues meeting to answer questions and address new data as it becomes available. You can expect to continue to receive information on a regular basis.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
Please know that we don’t have all of the answers right now. I expect that timeframes will be different than what we are currently projecting. Educational and other activities will happen in different ways and in different places.
I also know that the quality of the education that our students receive will not degrade. I know this because our faculty and staff are committed to students and committed to student success. The faculty are already working hard, through Spring Break, to bring the quality of an Albright education into the virtual world.
I know that you, our faculty and the staff, will bring your talents and creativity to bear as we work together to navigate constraints that are so essential to meeting the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community is one of the many things that is special about Albright College. And we know that our students come to Albright for just the thing that the current public health pandemic does not allow us to do — be together. During this time, we will miss that community in its physical reality. However, we are fortunate that we may still be able to experience that community as we work together in the virtual world to support our students and to meet the challenges this pandemic brings.
And when this situation has passed, we will welcome the return of all students, faculty, and staff, to our campus, and we will look for opportunities to gather and to celebrate our community.
Be safe and well during this time.
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dear Albright staff and faculty,
We find ourselves in challenging times. Our current situation requires us to think about and prepare for how we continue the important work of educating our students of academic promise and providing them with the services and resources to succeed, while ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our campus community. As we all know, the situation we are in continues to change at a rapid pace. The Pandemic Planning Task Force continues to monitor this evolving situation and make decisions based on the most up to date information and the well-being of our community.
As announced last evening, Albright College has been working very hard to consider the many needs of our diverse student population, many of whom do not have reliable internet access at home or home environments that are conducive to online study, and those who are unable to go home at all. This, coupled with our desire to lessen the spread of the Coronavirus by not allowing students to leave and come back, is why Albright College has decided to provide the option to stay on campus during Spring Break and move all classes online beginning March 23.
We are also very aware of and concerned about the needs of our staff and wanted to let you know that options and resources for teleworking are currently being reviewed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that employers establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., teleworking) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to increase the physical distance among and between employees, and we are working toward this end.
At this time, while essential personnel will remain on campus, we ask that supervisors consider if and how their staff and/or student workers are able to work remotely, or what barriers for teleworking exist for their staff and/or student workers. A teleworking policy along with a teleworking request form will be distributed next week. In the meantime, it is important that all department managers think about the critical functions that your teams must provide and how to best proceed in this environment.
Additionally, if you are currently in the process of a hiring search or you have someone needing to be onboarded now or in the near future, please contact our office at HRIS@albright.edu so that we can assist you with these needs.
Though you will be receiving additional information next week, below are a couple of resources to help you as you think about and plan for the possibility of teleworking.
- Learn how to connect to network drives from off campus
- Comcast free 60 day “internet essentials” package
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to monitor and navigate this dynamic situation. Please visit Albright.edu/coronavirus for more information, or to review all college updates and policies pertaining to Coronavirus.
Rita R. Franklin
Interim Director of Human Resources
Dear Albright faculty and staff,
As the Coronavirus continues to develop, we understand that you may have questions and concerns. We want you to know that the health and safety of our employees and students are our highest priority.
Albright’s Pandemic Task Force was formed during the avian flu in 2008, and has been meeting regularly since the news about this new virus initially broke. Early on, the team made sure that our facilities crew had the necessary CDC-approved cleaning chemicals (on hand and in use), and that our Health Center is prepped and ready to implement the CDC and PA State Department of Health triage and testing protocols. Although no current Albright international students come to us from cities of great concern, the virus has disrupted travel plans for a number of students. A faculty-led Spring Break trip to Paris and Madrid has been cancelled, and one student has decided not to pursue a study abroad trip to South Korea this semester. Two students studying in Italy will soon be returning to their homes (but not to campus).
The task force’s discussions range from smaller points (like hand sanitizers that are available throughout campus) to larger plans that we hope will never become necessary (like isolation, quarantine, and shutdown protocols).
All employees are encouraged to take precautions which can help to prevent the spread of not only the Coronavirus, but also seasonal flu and colds.
What You Should Do:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces — such as computer keyboards.
- Review the CDC’s specific guidance for travelers
What You Should Not Do:
- The CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks for the general public to prevent respiratory illnesses like seasonal flu or COVID-19.
Learn more via:
The Centers for Disease Control website: https://www.cdc.gov/
Real-time Johns Hopkins Coronavirus world map: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
The college’s health alerts on the Gable Health Center webpage.
Rita R. Franklin
Interim Director of Human Resources
Albright College Gable Health Center
1829 Linden Street
Reading, PA 19612-5234
Phone: (610) 921-7532
Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Should an emergency arise after business hours or on weekends please call Public Safety at 311.