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

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

Dear Drew staff,

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. We have been working tirelessly to refine and finalize plans for DVT so that we can continue to execute on our mission of academic excellence and support our staff, the backbone of our community. This is a long message, full of important information; please take the time to read it carefully

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

We know this is a considerable disruption, to say the least, and you have many questions. Please read this information carefully, visit the COVID-19 site for FAQ specifically for staff and look for weekly updates by email on Wednesdays. (You can also find information at the COVID-19 site on how Drew is working with faculty and students during this time.)

Again, I know this is a lot of information to take in. Please carefully read through it, as we’ve thoughtfully prepared the information in the hopes that many of your questions will be answered through both the message and the FAQ specifically for staff. You’ll also note that, if you do have further questions, we have indicated a point-person to whom you may address questions.

Employee Designations

In order to decrease the potential health risk to our community through social distancing, we’re 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, Modified Virtual – Mail Only, or On-Site staff. 

At the DSA meeting last Wednesday, you were introduced to members of the DVT Working Group. Several members of that group were assigned as designated representatives for specific departmental areas within the University. Their instructions were to liaise with supervisors and managers to determine which staff members will be able to work entirely virtually; which staff members will need a modified schedule with most of their work managed virtually and a portion of the work completed on campus; which staff members will be asked to come to campus only to pick up the mail, but otherwise will be working virtually; and which staff members’ work needs to be entirely on campus.

We were able to jumpstart these discussions by using a survey document that had already been created for the one-week campus shut-down planned for May electrical work. This document, which was developed with leadership staff input, indicated which members of the staff could perform their responsibilities remotely for that week and which members of the staff needed to be on campus. Using this electrical shut-down plan as the basis for our current discussions, we were able to review each area with the supervisors and adapt it to this rapidly unfolding situation.

For the last three days, the people assigned to this task have been in conversations with staff supervisors, managers, and VPs, in order to complete the staffing determinations. Here are the four designations and their definitions:

  1. Virtual: If you are designated as a “Virtual” staff member during DVT, you will be expected to work 100% of your normal work hours off campus. Your office building will be available to you on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for you to retrieve your personal belongings and pick up any work supplies that you anticipate you will need.
  2. Modified Virtual: If you are designated as a “Modified Virtual” staff member, you will work the majority of your hours off campus beginning Monday, March 16. However, in consultation with your supervisor, you will be asked to be on campus for a limited planned period of time each week to perform work that cannot be completed virtually, e.g. processing checks or sending out transcripts. You either will work in your usual office, or in an alternate office space that has been assigned specifically to you, and only you. The latter office assignment would result if your building was one of several that will be closed for the duration of DVT. If part of your responsibilities include dealing with the mail, please pick it up at the Pepin Service Center and take it back to your workspace. If you have outgoing mail please deliver it to the Service Center. The Service Center Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be no individual building mail delivery or pick up during DVT. 
  3. Modified Virtual – Mail Only: If you are designated as a “Modified Virtual – Mail Only” staff member, you will be entirely a Virtual employee starting on Monday, March 16 with the exception of picking up your department’s mail at the Pepin Service Center on a regular basis (depending on your department’s needs). Please see above in #2 for the Service Center hours. You may review the mail at the conference table in Pepin, ETC-West, Suite 215, scan it to your Drew email address as needed, and return it to the Mail Room for storage. Alternatively, under special circumstances, a department may request the option to take mail off campus. Please submit this request to Louise Hood with a short explanation for this necessity. If approved, Louise will provide you with guidelines for mail security. Please do not take the mail off-site until that permission has been granted. Modified Virtual – Mail Only staff members will not be assigned office space and will otherwise not be working on campus. 
  4. On-Site: If you are designated as an “On-Site” staff member, then you will be asked to work your regular hours entirely on campus starting on Monday, March 16. Please see #2 above regarding mail pick up and delivery.

In addition to Category 1 Virtual staff members having access on Monday and Tuesday as was mentioned above, all employees, regardless of their designation, will be able to access their offices/workspaces from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday to retrieve personal belongings and supplies. Please pick up what you need and leave the building. 

As a reminder: employees are asked to practice social distancing and good hygiene 

when on campus. See “How to Take Care of Yourself” on Drew’s COVID-19 webpage. 

Sanitizing stations and sanitizing wipes or spray will be available.

If you are designated as a Category 2, 3, or 4 staff member, you will receive a follow-up email this evening by 8 p.m. from either Jessica Lakin (academic staff), Louise Hood (non-academic staff), or your supervisor, regarding your designation, and your assigned workspace (if it is different than your normal space and you are being relocated due to building closures). 

In order to reduce the likelihood of surface transmission from one person to another, we have intentionally chosen to limit departmental representation as On-Site or Modified Virtual Staff to as few people as possible. 

If you do not receive a follow-up email by 8 p.m. tonight, Sunday, March 15, you should assume that you are in Category 1 as a 100% Virtual staff member. 

If you have any questions, please refer to the FAQ specifically for staff. If you still have questions after reading this email and the FAQs thoroughly, please hold them until after 8 p.m. this evening when all emails will have gone out. After 8 p.m. you may email Kristin Bruno-Bates

Please know that our response to COVID-19 and the planning for DVT staffing has to be fluid. We will be continually reevaluating decisions and making staff designation changes as the situation warrants.

Building Closures

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 both encourage social distancing and reduce the need to clean and sanitize regularly our many thousands of square feet of space (thereby reducing risk to staff who are doing the sanitizing). We hope this will also reduce expenses and unnecessary staff time spent managing facilities to keep them safe.

Locks will be changed on decommissioned buildings on Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m for the duration of Drew Virtual Time (DVT). Exceptions to entry requests for important matters should be requested of Stephanie McCormick. 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. 

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. 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. 

Virtual Work Expectations

  • During DVT, you are expected to work your normal business hours, unless notified of another schedule by your divisional vice president.
  • Each team should create a plan with their supervisors for work during DVT including specific tasks, daily goals and checking in with their colleagues. 
  • For supervisors of student employees: No on-campus student employees should report for work on Monday and Tuesday, March 16–17. If there are student employees in your department who can work virtually and for which you have virtual work, please contact them and let them know this. Additional information will be provided by Wednesday, March 18. Please direct questions to Colby McCarthy, Associate Vice President for Scholarships and Financial Aid or Carolyn Parelli, Associate Director for Student Employment.
  • Budget managers will be contacted regarding next steps and processes for any outstanding invoices, existing purchase orders or other accounting needs. 
  • On Monday and Tuesday, March 16–17, staff authorized to work remotely will have an opportunity to visit their campus offices to retrieve work files. This will be an opportunity to also take a modest amount of consumable office supplies for use while working at home. After those supplies are consumed, after obtaining approval, individuals may make small replenishment purchases. For example, acceptable purchases in this category include products such as paper, pens, file folders, Post-it notes, and toner or ink cartridges. Sanitation products, such as wipes, may be purchased for those staff working on campus. More information about making these purchases is coming in a separate document.
  • If you are not currently receiving your paycheck by direct deposit, all faculty and staff paychecks will be mailed to the mailing address currently on file with the university. You can sign up for direct deposit by reviewing the Direct Deposit Guidance form. For questions, please contact payroll@drew.edu

Virtual Work Technology

  • If you are an hourly employee, you will need to clock in as you normally would. The Working from Home: Technology FAQ is an excellent resource for instructions on how to log in to ADP from your home computer.
  • Please do not forward office phones to personal cell phones. Rather, set an away message asking callers to contact you via email. Please visit the Working From Home: Technology FAQ page for assistance.  
  • During DVT, please change your voicemail message using this text as a model: You’ve reached the voicemail of [NAME, TITLE/DEPT]. Through April 3, Drew has moved to virtual business operations as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. I’ll be checking my voicemail, but would appreciate you also reaching out to me by email at [YOUR EMAIL]@drew.edu. Thank you.
  • If needed, the University has a limited number of loaner laptops (PC and Mac) available. We do not recommend removing any technical equipment from offices. Please review the loaner policies and complete the Loaner Laptop Request form by noon on Monday, March 16. Laptops will be allocated based on availability and after consultation with your supervisor.
  • UT recommends the use of Google Hangouts Chat as a communications tool. Please reference the Working From Home: Technology FAQ  for guidance on Google Hangouts.
  • Please refer to the Zoom FAQ guidance provided by University Technology and the Media Resource Center.
  • Please review guidance from the Working from Home: Technology FAQ if you have technology questions while working from home, contact the University Technology Help Desk at helpdesk@drew.edu or open a support ticket.
  • To meet the needs of the virtual workforce, several internet providers are making accommodations. Please visit the COVID-19 site for information.

Personnel Matters

  • All those who feel ill should not come to campus. Please evaluate any symptoms you may have and coordinate your care by calling your physician’s office. If it is an emergency, contact 9-1-1.
  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should follow your physician’s guidance and notify your supervisor and Human Resources at humres@drew.edu or leave a voicemail at 973-408-3223.
  • If you are unable to work remotely, you may choose to use your floating holidays or vacation time; however, you cannot use sick time as this is not allowed per the NJ Paid Sick Leave Policy. 
  • Under the NJ Paid Sick Leave Act, you may use earned sick leave to care for a family member. If the period of care is extended, Family Medical Leave Act and New Jersey’s Family Leave Act will go into effect and employees can apply for New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance. 
  • Drew continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and discussions about a possible DVT extension into May continue. We’ll continue to keep you posted as decisions are made. 
  • The Acorn Academy is following CDC guidelines and will remain open at this time. 
  • There is a possibility of short-term layoffs/furloughs, but no decisions have been made at the time of this writing. Working groups are meeting to review next steps for staff in consultation with supervisors.

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.
  • Club sports practices and contests are suspended at this time.
  • 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.

Dining

  • Peet’s Coffee House and the Ehinger Center Food Court are closed.
  • Other establishments are as follows:
    • Starbucks, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • Commons, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
    • McLendon C-Store, 6 p.m.–midnight

Simon Forum

  • The Simon Forum is closed.

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, where you’ll find this and all messages to the community, 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.

I am moved by the resilience that you all have shown in the face of this challenge, and I’m deeply grateful for the way in which you have all come together under very difficult circumstances—it’s “true Drew.” I look forward to the time when we are together in The Forest again.

Thank you,

MaryAnn Baenninger
President

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The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and continues to expand. A number of countries, including the United States, have been actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan. Infections with 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. The first case in the United States was identified on January 21, 2020, in a traveler returning to Washington State from Wuhan. While the CDC considers this a serious public health concern, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to those residing in the United States is considered low at this time. Nonetheless, the CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. At this time, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear within two to 14 days after exposure. If you develop any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.

The Drew University Health Service is continuing to monitor the situation as it evolves. Precautionary measures such as posting signage in our waiting room with surveillance criteria have been implemented. We will work with our International Office as well as local and state Departments of Health on an as needed basis. For more information on the coronavirus, click here.