This message is sent on behalf of Executive Vice President Hof Milam and Provost Rogan Kersh.
We trust this email finds you well and that you share our cautious optimism about the semester ahead. In recent weeks, we have shared a number of resource updates, both in forums and in writing. Notably, several questions related to flexible spending accounts, health care policies, PTO, and parking fees were answered in a July 13 update.
Today we write with updates on several of the bigger questions about the return-to-campus process.
On July 14, Governor Cooper announced that public schools are scheduled to open on August 17 according to Plan B. Under this plan, school-aged children would attend classes in person on a staggered schedule, according to the plan developed by their schools. We also heard from the Governor’s Office that the state will remain paused in Phase 2 until August 7. These announcements signify how much of our planning may be influenced by decisions made beyond our campus.
The university recognizes that the lack of local child- and elder-care resources continues to be a significant concern for faculty and staff. Prior to COVID-19, the university was actively evaluating child-care programming opportunities. This evaluation was paused in April 2020 due to financial constraints.
Community members who are facing difficult decisions about balancing work and caregiving responsibilities should work with their dean’s offices or managers to identify times when they need to be away from work for family reasons. For staff colleagues specifically, unit leaders are encouraged to work directly with staff members to develop a fall work schedule that meets the academic/business needs of the university, while providing as much flexibility to our working families as possible. When a flexible schedule is not feasible, staff should utilize Paid Time Off as needed. We have updated the Paid Time Off (PTO) Plan for non-exempt staff to allow the use of PTO before it is accrued. This practice is already in place for exempt staff.
If a faculty or staff member, or immediate family member in the household, is subject to isolation or quarantine, they may be eligible for the Sick and Care Leave policy. The university has updated the Short Term Disability plan so those who test positive for COVID-19 and temporarily cannot perform the essential functions of their position may be paid at 100 percent of their income for up to six months.
Return to Campus
The university’s return-to-campus plan has been shared on the Our Way Forward website. Based on the university’s plan to reopen campus to students this fall, we are currently developing a plan to return faculty and staff members to campus in a phased approach in August. The proposed schedule will ensure on-campus positions receive the requisite training before they return. Academic and administrative leaders are working with managers to determine what work can continue remotely and that which will require staff members to return to campus as part of our overall “blended” delivery approach. (Faculty have already registered their plans for online or blended/face-to-face teaching with their department/area chairs and deans’ offices.)
Policies supporting the health of our community can be found on the website. We ask that you read through those policies even if you continue to work remotely. For staff who are designated by your manager to return to any Wake Forest campus or location, you will be required to review, acknowledge and comply with the policies. You will be notified of the expectation that you agree to comply with the policies via Workday. We also encourage you to read the important information contained in the COVID-19 Notice regarding actions Wake Forest is taking to minimize the transmission of the virus on university premises.
While we don’t yet have all of the answers, we are working on policies and procedures that support the university’s commitment to prioritize the health and safety of all Wake Forest community members, based on guidance from the CDC, OSHA, and other federal, state, and local agencies. Based on evolving public health conditions, we remain encouraged about our ability to reopen the campus for delivery of classes. At the same time, we must plan for a possible disruption of the semester. These developing scenarios will continue to inform our decisions about returning faculty and staff to campus.
Staff can submit unanswered questions through our designated Human Resources form. We will continue to answer them directly through email updates, centralized FAQs, and a staff forum on July 24 at 8:30 a.m. The Information Systems team has worked to ensure a safe and secure experience via Zoom Webinar. For staff, please join by visiting the link in your email.
Faculty will receive a separate communication about a July 24 faculty forum. Faculty with specific questions about the fall term should continue to direct those to your department/area chairs and/or dean’s office.
Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of Wake Forest.
Executive Vice President
Categories: University Announcement
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- August 5, 2020
- August 5, 2020