Message to Staff Regarding COVID-19

Posted on 3/13/2020 3:46:19 PM

Dear Staff Colleagues,

Yesterday, President Driscoll sent the campus community a message regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) and IUP’s plans for the next week. See Coronavirus Information.

Our first concern is for the health and safety of our students, staff, and our community. A separate communication has been directed to faculty regarding how to handle instruction, but this communication is directed to all non-faculty and is intended to provide some direction and consistency of information.

The campus is not closed. Our employees are vital to the success of our institution and we will do everything we can to support them during this time. Union members, non-represented staff and administrators will continue to report for work as usual for now and until otherwise notified. Knowing this is a fluid situation, and we all must be prepared for changes, our plans right now are that all employees continue to report to work as scheduled and perform their regular work in order that we can continue to serve and support our students.

However, above all, if you are not feeling well, do NOT come to work. Use ESS to request sick leave and contact your immediate supervisor to report your absence.

At this time, there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Indiana County (all the cases are in counties on the eastern side of the state), but regardless, we are taking extra precautions to minimize the risk of any contagion by cancelling, postponing or restructuring any event through April 19 that we believe will draw more than 75 persons.

Staff are doing extra cleaning and disinfectant procedures, adding focus to sanitizing frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and hand railings and making sure that soap and hand sanitizer is available (following Centers for Disease Control guidelines). Thank you for all that you are doing to continue to keep our areas clean and sanitary.

For those facilities that will remain open, including the library, we will practice social distancing whenever possible (staying six feet away from others). As you read in President Driscoll’s message yesterday, face-to-face class instruction is canceled for the week of March 16 and students are being asked not to come back to campus until face-to-face classes resume on March 23. Move-in to the residence halls is planned for March 21 and 22. Students in on-line classes will continue classwork as scheduled starting March 16.

We are following Governor Wolf’s guidelines on travel, which is to suspend university-sponsored travel (with exceptions to be approved by the president) in order to minimize the opportunity for transmission of the virus. Requests to approve essential travel, including previously approved trips, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The purchasing departments have been provided with emergency procurement guidance and instructions for contract cancellations. Please contact our procurement staff for assistance on those matters.

In an effort to limit face-to-face contact, all paper paychecks will be mailed to residences on record. They will not be available for pick up in the payroll office.

The university is exploring tele-work options and social distancing measures that may be deployed should conditions change. In the coming days, the Office of Human Resources will contact unit directors and other managers regarding essential functions and telecommuting options.

Please understand that not all positions lend themselves to working from home. We will review each request on a case-by-case basis. The State System is in the process of constructing and releasing a procedure specific to working from home. As information becomes available, we will share it with you via email and post information on the IUP website.

We also will continue to monitor guidance from the State System, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education to ensure any actions we take comply with their guidance. We will share resources from them with the university community.

Again, if you are not feeling well, do NOT come to work. Should you have questions about your health, please direct them to the university health center or your doctor.

Please visit this site to learn more about the symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, please follow the recommendations included in that post.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that hand washing is a key action to prevent the spread of this (and other) illnesses. It’s a simple thing that most of us already practice, but we just want to remind you to wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds; avoid contact with those who are sick; be vigilant about practicing personal hygiene (don’t refill cups, don’t share utensils, avoid touching your face, cover your cough or sneeze, disinfect frequently touched items in your home, including cellphones); and practice social distancing (staying six feet away from others) whenever possible. It is also not too late to get a flu shot to protect yourself from influenza.

If you have recently traveled to a coronavirus “hot spot,” i.e., places such as China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan or hotspots in the United States—or believe you may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, please do not come to work. You should self-quarantine at your home. Please contact your supervisor to inform them of your situation. The university will make every attempt to assist you to work from home. If that is not a possibility, you will be required to use sick leave. The university will try to be as flexible as possible during these times to respond to special situations.

We do understand that this is a time of great fear and uncertainty for many, as well some employees are at greater risk than others, for instance those with weakened or compromised health conditions. If you or an immediate family member (living in your home) is in a high risk population and you would prefer to work from home, please talk with your supervisor. The university will make every attempt to assist you to work from home. If it is not a possibility, you will be required to use sick leave.

There will be many questions about process. We will continue to communicate regularly with updates via email and updates will be posted on the IUP website. We also know that you will have specific questions and concerns about how this ongoing situation will impact you, as well as operations of the university. Your supervisor and Human Resources are the most immediate sources of information.

The uncertainty of this situation, including the possibility of changes to your work routine, is upsetting. We will do all that we can to provide you with as much information as possible as quickly as possible. We ask that you continue to be patient with us—and with each other—as we work through this difficult time together.

Dr. Debra L. Fitzsimons
Vice President for Administration and Finance