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An Update from Human Resources on COVID-19

Dear Faculty and Staff Members,

I am writing to you to share updates on employment practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including upcoming changes to the temporary leave practices that the College implemented this spring in response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Leave Time

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has made significant investments to offset a potential financial disruption to our employees. Those measures included fully compensating all staff members through the spring semester, regardless of whether they were able to work due to circumstances related to COVID-19. The College also created a number of new, special COVID-19 leave categories under which staff members could take time away from work without having hours deducted from their vacation or sick-time balances. 

On May 31, at the conclusion of the academic year, we extended those practices to all regular full- and part-time 12-month employees through June 30. They will now continue through July 17. Please note the following changes, which will take effect on July 18:

  • The College will no longer be able to provide unlimited COVID-19 leave time.
  • Staff members will be compensated for actual time worked or by using accrued time off.

Fortunately, we have been able to avoid furloughing staff members for whom work is not available due to the College’s modified operations, including by reassigning individuals to different shifts or duties in order to support the needs of the College. That said, we cannot rule out the possibility of furloughing individuals in the future depending on factors such as enrollment for the upcoming academic year and what services are needed to support the College’s continued modified operations. We are regularly reassessing the College’s needs and will continue to communicate with staff members who may be affected by changing circumstances related to COVID-19.

Moving forward, if staff members are unable to work a full schedule, either because work isn’t available to them due to the College’s continued modified operations or because of personal circumstances related to COVID-19, the following options may be available:  

  • As always, staff members may use their accrued vacation and/or sick time to make up for the loss of hours.
  • Staff with a qualifying medical condition or disability, or who are caring for a sick spouse or domestic partner, child, or parent, may be eligible to participate in the College’s disability leave programs or may be able to receive reasonable accommodations to perform work.
  • If staff members exhaust all of the other options available to them, they may be eligible to take unpaid leave through at least Sept. 30. Individuals interested in doing so must coordinate with both Human Resources and their direct supervisor. If approved, the College will commit to continuing to cover the employer’s portion of health insurance benefits for individuals approved for unpaid leave through at least Sept. 30.

If you have questions about your eligibility for these programs or would like additional information, please contact Human Resources.

We are also working to create a vacation donation bank, which will allow staff members to donate a portion of their vacation time for use by eligible employees under certain circumstances (vacation donations do not apply to faculty). In addition, we are finalizing details of the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund that President Val Smith announced in her May 13 communication, which was created to help support members of our campus community who are adversely affected by the College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect to share details on both of these programs in early July. 

Remote Work

The Workforce Planning Group will soon share with President Smith its recommendations for a phased return-to-work strategy that follows appropriate federal and state safety guidelines and also adheres to our own protocols that are being further developed. These guidelines may include flexible options for continued remote work for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, all staff members who can work remotely should continue to do so until further notice.

We appreciate that these are uncertain and challenging times. Please know that we will continue to follow the guiding principles set forth by President Smith, including the commitment to make decisions about College finances and operations with empathy, compassion, and humanity, and work to maintain operational continuity and retain staff members to the greatest extent possible.

Again, if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to Human Resources and we will do our best to address your concerns.

Sincerely,

Pamela Prescod-Caesar
Vice President for Human Resources