Precautions and Business Continuity
TO: Faculty and Staff
FR: Jodi Gentry, Vice President for Human Resources
Yesterday, President Fuchs announced that all academic courses for the spring semester will continue but will be provided on a remote basis by Monday, March 16. Students also are being encouraged to go home and continue their semester remotely until March 30. President Fuchs also announced that campus services and UF’s general business operations would continue as normally as possible during this same period.
Our highest priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and the social distancing achieved by this decision is designed to heighten protection for all of us who are part of the university community.
During the next few weeks, UF Human Resources, in consultation with university administration and Emergency Management, will continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 and will communicate any future adjustments impacting the workplace.
The university’s website related to COVID-19 (http://www.ufl.edu/health-updates/) provides important information for faculty and staff. Some general guidelines include:
- Despite changes to the mode of delivery of academic content and our student residential status, UF remains open and fully operational. All OPS employees, including postdoctoral associates and student/graduate assistants, may continue to work as appropriate. This includes graduate teaching assistants.
- Faculty and staff will play an important role in helping transition coursework online as well as continuing the operations of the university. As such, faculty and staff should plan to report to work as normal in their regularly scheduled work locations, including those outside of Gainesville. Moving forward, this guidance may vary by county based on public health recommendations.
- With supervisory review and approval, working from an alternate location has been and continues to be available for faculty and staff, including hourly and all OPS employees, when such arrangements would benefit both the organization and employees. For more information, see https://hr.ufl.edu/covid-19/working-remotely-during-covid-19/. This includes tips for supervisors about how to manage someone working from a remote location.
- There are no restrictions or limitations on research activities at the University of Florida at this time, including access to research facilities. Sponsored research will continue, understanding that some activities may be modified or moved to alternate workplace locations. For individuals paid through a grant or contract, the expense allocation should continue so long as the individual continues to work on the project, whether from campus or elsewhere.
Taking Care of Yourself and Our Community
As with any virus, prevention is the key to protect both yourself and others by:
- Staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover
- Appropriately covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your flexed elbow
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily or more often
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
The CDC website provides a wealth of additional information about preventing the spread of COVID-19, including guidelines for home, school and work. The university is also making precautionary plans in the event of a more serious outbreak, and a UF COVID-19 Updates website has been established to provide regular news and updates.
As President Fuchs noted in his message, our caring university community has a history of pulling together to support one another through challenging times. Please remember that by taking care of yourself and by staying optimistic and calm, you are also caring for those around you.
Please feel free to reach out to your college’s HR director or my office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, or visit the FAQs available at http://www.ufl.edu/health-updates/frequently-asked-questions/#facultystaff. If you need additional assistance during this time, please contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (833) 306-0103. The EAP will also be hosting a webinar, “Coping with Uncertainty about Coronavirus,” on Tuesday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to noon. To participate, you may register online. Please also remember that the university’s Aid-A-Gator program remains available to offer support to colleagues and students who experience a temporary financial hardship. For more information, please visit https://benefits.hr.ufl.edu/gatorperks/aid-a-gator/.