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March 17 Covid-19 Community Update

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Dear D’Youville Community:  

I thank our hardworking community for all that is being done to be proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to educate our students and provide a safe and uninterrupted environment for our residence community. D’Youville is continuing to follow the advice of the Erie County Health Department, gather information, assess risk and recommend evidence-based precautionary approaches for our entire campus community. Based on current assessment, our campus will continue to operate during this period.  

I extend my sincere appreciation for the patience exhibited by the entire campus community, as well as for your understanding of our decision to transition all remaining Spring curriculum to a digital format for our more than 3,000 students in less than a week. This a tremendous accomplishment requiring an exorbitant amount of dedication and flexibility on behalf of faculty and staff. While there remain many challenges associated with clinical placements and testing, we are confident that D’Youville has nearly achieved our goal of readying our faculty for remote digital delivery of the curriculum to begin tomorrow.  

Now that we have satisfactorily planned for the accommodation of our students and faculty, we are now prepared to turn our attention to executing a work-from-home option for staff. This email serves as the first formal communication regarding the planning for a work- from-home policy. Below are updates on essential areas of college operations. Please read carefully.  

 

The Developing Work-from-Home Policy 

Community Health and Safety 

The health and safety of our community is our number one priority. D’Youville has taken extreme measures, being the first higher education institution in Western New York to announce our decision to move instruction online, we have effectively taken a community of 3,500 and social distanced ourselves down to less than 400 individuals spread across a ~700,000 sq.ft. campus. We continue to encourage our community working on campus to take the proper precautions for safeguarding their health and others. This includes staying home when sick especially with fever and cough and observing robust mitigation approaches, such as hand washing, cleaning, and using hand sanitizer. We all understand that this is an unprecedented time in our nation’s history and an extremely stressful time for our students, faculty, and staff.  

Identifying Essential On-campus Functions 

The process for implementing a temporary work-from-home option for the remaining on campus stakeholders begins with identifying exactly what work function MUST be conducted on campus to continue to effectively serve our current and future students. Following the identification of essential on-campus functions, it is necessary to ensure we have the appropriate means for individuals to successfully continue their work remotely. The administration is in the process of completing a campus-wide assessment which will clarify specifically how this impacts the remaining employees continuing to work on campus.  

Please expect a follow-up communication by close of business Wednesday, March 18th clarifying your status as being either an essential on campus employee or whether you are eligible to work-from-home. 

Charting Work-from Home Objectives 

All staff and administrators eligible to work from home must complete a ‘Remote Working Action Plan’ and have it signed off by their manager. Managers are required to submit all completed documents to Human Resources.  

The Timeline 

D’Youville will be offering two dedicated training days to eligible work-from-home staff and administrators beginning Thursday, March 19th. Then, beginning on Monday, March 23rd, the temporary work-from-home policy will commence.  

Financial Implications 

For Employees: Effective Tuesday, March 17th, institutional funds will be frozen to ensure financial viability of the institution during this time of great uncertainty. College-issued credit cards are also being suspended at this time. We want to remind employees that all employees have access to the college’s Employee Assistance Program located on the HR SharePoint site.  

For students: We understand that the Federal Work Study (FWS) program employment has been disrupted by our steps to social distance campus and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please note the following for students working under either the Federal Work Study program (FWS), Student Employment Program (SEP), or as graduate assistants:  

  1. Both FWS & SEP students are expected to stop working in their current on campus roles and are being given the opportunity to apply for a variety of other jobs that can be done remotely through Purple Briefcase.
  2. Graduate assistants are being asked to contact their supervisors to discuss options to continue their work remotely for the duration of the semester. If they are unable to work remotely due to the nature of their duties and they are interested in continuing their employment as a GA, they are being invited to visit Purple Briefcase.

 

Other Campus Operational Updates 

Group Gatherings and Events 

The State of New York has issued guidance promoting social distance practices to colleges and universities to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Among these new precautionary measures, we have all been requested to keep all gatherings to the federally suggested number of 10 or less.  

Dining Services 

Colleges are being required to provide take-out dining services only for students. Chartwells is equipped to provide take-out dining for our students. D’Youville is also preparing insta-food kits so that students will have additional options available during this time. Additionally, Campus Ministry has prepared special care packages that will be strategically placed around campus for returning students. Many other initiatives are underway to support our students including “Pop in for Pop-Tarts” which is a way for small social interactions to occur to reduce the sense of isolation among students.  

Computer Accessibility 

Upon request from our students, we have made the Montante Library Computer Lab available 24/7. The lab is located on the Lower Level and will have modifications made to support social distancing. In addition, we will continue to make available the 4th floor of the library for study.  

Closing Remarks 

In the next few weeks, disruption will be the norm. I sincerely thank you for continuing to help the college traverse these troubled times in such a way that we can emerge healthy and strong when this pandemic abates, as it will. I ask for your continued patience and resourcefulness as we take further steps to guard the health and safety of our community and continue our students’ progress toward degree completion.  

Lorrie Clemo
President