University leaders issue COVID-19 workplace guidance and support for employees
University leaders issued new workplace guidance on Thursday, including the University's continued operation and recommended social distancing.
Dear University Employees,
Yesterday, we sent a message to the community outlining the University’s updated response to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. That message detailed several significant changes to campus operations that will impact everyone on our campus. We implemented these changes in concert with the UNC System with three basic guiding principles in mind: to mitigate the spread of the virus, to protect the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff and their families, and to continue to support our mission of teaching, research and service.
Protecting the health and safety of our campus community is our highest priority. We recognize this is a stressful time for many of you and the uncertainty compounds those emotions. In addition, we understand that many of you may have changing responsibilities at home, especially given that several local schools are now closing temporarily.
We have received several questions about what this means for staff on our campus. This message is intended to provide some clarity about the impact of these changes and the guidance we’ve received from both the State and the UNC System as it pertains to the recently declared state of emergency in North Carolina.
Please bear in mind this situation is changing rapidly and this guidance is based on our existing policies and the unique environment presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.
- First and foremost, the University continues to be open and operational. We are committed to ensuring the regular and essential functions of our campus continue.
- We have received guidance from the UNC System Office advising that we should take measures to further increase social distancing on our campus. We believe the delay of spring break and the limited return of students will afford a great deal of that social distancing, but we are asking supervisors and managers to work with staff to stagger work schedules and the use of teleworking options for employees, when appropriate.It is up to individual managers to determine whether and how staggered work schedules, teleworking and other social distancing strategies can be implemented in the workplace. Managers should decide which employees may telework based on the nature of their work and consistent with critical function. Not all positions are conducive to this approach. Supervisors and managers can also consider varying remote work schedules to ensure on-campus obligations are met; the goal is to improve social distancing and to reduce the number of people on campus.
- Regardless of mandatory or non-mandatory employee status, maximum consideration should be afforded to granting teleworking flexibility to those individuals who are identified by public health authorities as at high risk or who are care givers for such individuals. This guidance applies equally to both SHRA and EHRA employees, including those who are temporary or hourly employees.Managers must ensure that employees who work remotely have the necessary tools to complete their work responsibilities in a timely manner and are connecting with the office regularly. Keep in mind that some of the communications tools generally used by remote teams include Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. ITS has also put together a resource to assist those working remotely. Tech support is available at 919-962-HELP as well.
- We are asking supervisors to anticipate potential additional changes in our operations. Managers should be making determinations about what functions of the unit are critical and making plans for how those functions should be staffed and/or executed in the event of a changed work schedule.
Supervisors should also determine who needs to be designated as a Communicable Disease Mandatory Employee (CDME) and ensure they are marked accordingly in the ConnectCarolina System. A CDME Quick Reference guide is available to help make determinations. Note that CDMEs are NOT the same as mandatory employees during a weather incident, though some personnel may be designated as both.
Business systems in support of critical functions should be assembled, such as hotlines, dedicated email addresses, or web functions, among other things. Managers should know how to contact employees and ensure employees know how to contact them, in the event of schedule changes or other updates to work status.
Given the very dynamic and evolving nature of this situation, and the addition of new guidance every day, we encourage employees to remain vigilant, and to stay informed by visiting the University’s COVID-19 resource website regularly. We also created an HR-related FAQ, and are adding information and updates to it regularly. Inquiries about planning and the impact associated with COVID-19 may be directed to the university’s hotline at 919-445-5000.
The Employee Assistance Program is also a valuable resource for employees who may need additional support and can be reached at 877-314-5841.
These are extraordinary times, and we are grateful for the many dedicated employees that allow our world-class university to function at such a high level every day, despite the challenges we may face. Carolina is, at its heart, its people. Thanks for all you do.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost
Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance