We write to update you on our latest understanding of Governor Wolf’s order from late Thursday, March 19. While information from the Governor’s Office was not initially clear, we have since spoken with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, leadership of the Association for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and outside counsel. We have advocated for guidance that would best support College operations, students who remain on campus, and our academic work as we transition to virtual classes. The Governor’s order is effective immediately and states that enforcement action will be taken against businesses for noncompliance after midnight tonight.
As we said last night, we will continue to house and feed the students approved to remain in campus housing because they do not have a safe, off-campus alternative. Related support, such as takeout dining at Sharples and basic custodial services, will continue to be provided.
Remote work can continue unchanged. Those of you who are approved to work remotely should continue with that arrangement.
The PA Department of Education has made it clear that faculty are strongly encouraged to teach their virtual classes from off campus. If it is essential for faculty members to use their offices, classrooms, and labs, you must practice social distancing. We encourage all faculty to take any needed materials they can safely retrieve from their offices, labs, etc., now in case additional directives from the government further restrict or prohibit travel to and from campus.
Essential staff should continue to report to work. We now understand the definition of “essential” to be more limited than under earlier guidance. Effective tonight (12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21), identified essential staff should still report to work in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our facilities and on-campus students. Essential areas of operation and services include, but are not limited to:
- Public Safety
- Worth Health Center
- Support services for remaining students on campus, such as Environmental Services, Dining, and others that support life-sustaining services and emergency maintenance, etc.
- Information Technology Services support for virtual learning and other essential operations
- Core operations, such as Mail Services, Payroll, and Accounts Receivable/Payable
- Utility services (Facilities staff who maintain critical utility systems on campus)
- Animal/Plant care
If you have questions about your status under these revised guidelines, please consult your supervisor. All staff who are required to come to campus should practice social distancing and follow CDC recommendations on handwashing and other good hygiene practices, which are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As we said last night, we are deeply grateful to you as colleagues for your crucial contributions to the College and your flexibility as we adhere to new and sudden orders from the Governor during this state of emergency.
COVID-19 Planning Group