Note to Faculty: Drew Virtual Time Begins Tomorrow, 3/15/20

Note to Faculty: Drew Virtual Time Begins Tomorrow, 3/15/20

Dear Drew faculty,

Last Tuesday I wrote to inform you of Drew’s adoption of the practice of social distancing in order to decrease COVID-19 risk in our community. Beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16, and continuing through a currently slated period of three weeks, the University will operate in Drew Virtual Time (DVT) for both learning and business. Making a rapid transition like this is a challenge, and Drew is up for that challenge. As you are well aware, our faculty and staff have been working tirelessly to refine and finalize plans for DVT so that we can continue to execute on our mission of academic excellence. 

There are no reported cases of COVID-19 on the Drew campus at the time of this writing, and University leadership continues to monitor the situation. As you know, the university is practicing social distancing—a conscious effort to limit close contact with people, thereby reducing community transmission of a virus, in this case COVID-19. We are doing this for many reasons, the most important of which is to keep our students, faculty and staff safe. By having fewer people on campus, we decrease the potential health risk to the larger community

Drew has been working to prepare for this situation in earnest since January. Some of you are experienced with remote teaching, and, thanks to the work of our incredible academic leadership team, you are as prepared as possible to make the transition to distance education and to support our students. Yes, we expect some bumps in the road, from which we’ll learn, adapt, and move forward. Please refer to the email Provost Liebowitz sent on Friday with resources and information for getting your course online.

We have been further refining policies for office and building access over the past few days. At this point, all faculty members have been designated Virtual employees. You will be able to access your office and/or lab spaces on Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to retrieve anything necessary for your virtual work. Beginning Wednesday, the expectation is that you will be working exclusively remotely. 

We understand there may be exceptions to this policy. For example, we have reserved the Zoom-enabled classrooms in Seminary Hall for use by faculty members who are having great difficulties making the transition to distance learning. Another example might be a faculty member who has to be in a science lab in order to present something for an online session with students. If you are requesting an exception to your Virtual employee status for any reason, please contact provost@drew.edu. You will need to receive clearance to be on campus prior to coming to campus. 

The academic leadership team has also drafted a series of FAQs for students about instructional continuity. If you have questions about what students have been told, please review those FAQs on the website.

Please read this information, visit the COVID-19 site, and look for further info about the next few weeks and beyond. (You can also find information at the COVID-19 site on how Drew is working with students and staff during this time.)

Employee Designations

In order to decrease the potential health risk to our community through social distancing, we are moving to mostly remote business practices, which necessitated the designation of employee type—in short, we had to figure out where you physically will be working. Most staff are working virtually; some staff members are designated as Modified Virtual and On-Site staff. As noted above, at this point all faculty members have been designated as Virtual employees.

Building Closures

Additionally, we are temporarily taking as many buildings offline as possible. Visit the COVID-19 site for a list of building closures. By closing buildings and limiting the number of employees on campus, we encourage social distancing and reduce the need to clean and frequently sanitize our many thousands of square feet of space (thereby reducing risk to staff who are doing the sanitizing). 

Locks will be changed on decommissioned buildings on Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m for the duration of DVT. Requested exceptions should be directed to Stephanie McCormick only for access to decommissioned buildings with lock changes. Instructional continuity related requests should be directed to provost@drew.edu. You will need to receive explicit clearance to be on campus prior to coming to campus. 

Due to other issues and concerns during DVT, staff from Public Safety SHOULD NOT be called to pick up items from your offices. If you have not obtained what you need from your work space prior to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, you will not be able to obtain it.

Health & Wellness of On-Site or Modified Virtual Staff

Drew has maintained CDC-recommended cleaning guidelines for the flu season as well as increased cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces and added disinfecting practices in public buildings.

As an FYI, beginning Wednesday, March 18, Drew will take these additional measures:  

  • Relocate staff workspaces in a way that supports social distancing. For instance, we will limit offices to one-person occupancy or ensure at least six feet of distance between work spaces.  
  • Sanitize and close those buildings taken offline during this time. Any access into these buildings for any purpose will be monitored and controlled. By taking buildings offline, we can deploy more cleaning resources to the buildings that are occupied. 
  • Increase cleaning detail following current CDC guidelines for Institutes of Higher Education that do not have a suspected or known case of COVID-19.
  • Provide hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and/or disinfecting spray for On-Site staff for use in designated workspaces
    • Staff working on campus will continue to be expected to disinfect personal work spaces, computers and phones with wipes and/or spray provided in the buildings. Regular cleaning and trash management will continue to be provided in offices and buildings designated for use.
  • Notify all employees of any confirmed case of COVID-19 within our community.

Campus Usage

Buildings will be available during regular hours until Tuesday, March 17, at 5 p.m. to retrieve personal belongings and needed work supplies. After that time, offices and certain buildings will be closed and locked throughout the duration of DVT. Please practice social distancing if you and your colleagues are entering buildings. After accessing your office Monday or Tuesday, please lock the office door upon leaving.

Public Safety and the Department of Facilities will remain on campus and will periodically check on spaces. All buildings will be locked at all times unless there is approved activity in that space. All gates to campus will be closed with the exception of Lancaster Ave. 

Events and Gatherings

  • Through at least April 3, all internal, institutional, and external events are postponed. Organizers should consider remote technology. This period of time may be extended as needed.
  • All NCAA Landmark Conference and non-conference play is suspended until at least April 6.
  • We have not made a determination regarding Commencement, and expect to share updates in the next few weeks.
  • We will continue to evaluate the situation and stay in touch with you about the postponement and resumption of events on campus.

I want to publicly thank our dedicated and talented faculty and staff, especially members of the DVT Working Group, who have been diligently working around the clock for Drew during this unprecedented crisis. We’ll send updates to the Drew community every Wednesday during DVT. Please check your Drew email, visit our COVID-19 site and follow us on social media @DrewUniversity for updates on Monday and beyond. Only emergencies will be communicated via the Drew University Emergency Notification System.

By having fewer people on campus and practicing social distancing, we decrease the potential health risk to the larger community. Your cooperation allows us to care for our community at large, especially for those at high risk. Thank you for your continued understanding.

You’ll find this message and FAQ for our community at our COVID-19 site. I urge you to please take care of yourself and your loved ones. We will get through this together.

Sincerely,

MaryAnn Baenninger
President