Update following Governor’s press conference
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