VSU Operations Update - Staff - March 21, 2020
13 March 2020
I am writing to you today with some updates to our response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Valdosta State University continues to work to ensure the health and safety of our students and employees during these unprecedented times. As we navigate this uncharted course, we recognize that staff have many questions. We remain committed to keeping you informed. Some of your specific concerns are addressed below. We encourage you to read through this message carefully. Additionally, in an effort to provide as much information as possible, a Frequently Asked Questions page specifically for employee concerns has been added to the Coronavirus web page. This page includes questions that are specific for staff. www.valdosta.edu/health-advisory/faq.php#staff
In accordance with guidance from the University System of Georgia, VSU remains open at this time. However, every effort is being utilized to ensure that we keep you safe and that staff continue to receive pay for hours worked. This will mean that responsibilities will need to be redesigned temporarily, and the way in which we accomplish our work will change. In support of that effort, the following plan will be implemented effective March 23, 2020:
Modified Hours of Operation:
As previously stated in the email you received on March 17, 2020, from Human Resources, we plan to limit the public’s access to campus departments effective March 23, 2020. Accordingly, most departments will be closed to the public until further notice. The full list of departments and their limited public access status can be found in the FAQs. www.valdosta.edu/health-advisory/campus-operations.php
We will continue to conduct business and maintain a presence on campus. Select areas will be open and staffed Monday – Thursday from 10:00am-2:00pm. However, Odum Library hours of operation will be 10:00am to 7:00pm, Monday - Thursday. Access to Odum Library will be available by card swipe access only. Please remember to practice social distancing, and heed other recommended practices. Additional guidelines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html .
All departments will be asked to respond to phone calls and emails within one business day. A few departments that have been designated as “not open for public access” may also be required to provide services on an appointment only basis.
In order to maximize employee health and safety, most staff will have the opportunity to telework throughout the week. We have been able to identify work through the Division of Student Success that can be accomplished from a remote location for employees who were not initially able to engage in telework due to the nature and scope of their current responsibilities. A contingency plan has also been developed for employees within Plant Operations, Auxiliary, and other areas once critical functions have been completed.
The telework opportunity through the Division of Student Success affords the opportunity for select employees to provide individualized support to our students as an Academic Coach. In this role, you will have the opportunity to provide value-added services by connecting with students, serving as a point of reference, and redirecting them based on specified needs. While there is no higher level of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed aside from that which you already possess, training will be provided next week for those participating. The Division of Student Success will be reaching out to those employees directly.
While many work assignments will absolutely change in order to support VSU’s migration to wholly online learning, starting next week, many staff will be engaged in one or more of the following functions via teleworking or in office locations:
- staff will continue to serve in their current capacity when their normal job duties remain necessary for continued operation of the institution; and/or
- staff will be temporarily transferred to the division of student success to serve as Academic Coaches and assigned a group of online learners to support.
For Staff who will not be engaged in one or both of the above functions, managers will be in touch regarding personalized work duties after consulting with Human Resources. Managers should provide information to Staff employees who have not yet been assigned telework regarding staggered arrival and work times that will go into effect Monday, March 23, 2020. Managers will communicate with staff soon regarding their specific work assignment during the foreseeable future, and those assignments may change over time as the needs of our university and students change. Managers should consult with their Cabinet-level representative to best determine work assignments for their employees, understanding that some employees may complete their assigned time using a combination of above options.
Managers of Student Assistants/Graduate Assistants:
Student Assistants and Graduate Assistants should also plan to contact their home departments on Monday, March 23, 2020 between 10:00am-2:00pm. They are eligible to telework if suitable work is available. Similar to full-time employees, proposed telework will need to be approved through the chain of command, and ultimately by the Cabinet member for each unit.
For Student Assistants, if there is no telework option available through the department, any who need employment for financial stability will need to complete a web form available through the Career Opportunities office, and they will attempt to identify new temporary work and connect students to new employment opportunities within Plant Operations, Admissions, and Student Success by March 27.
For Graduate Assistants, if there is no telework option available through the department, please send their contact information to the Division of Student Success via email to email@example.com so they may be assigned work as Academic Coaches.
As President Carvajal recently shared with you via email, the University System of Georgia has announced that Spring Commencement ceremonies have been canceled for all 26 USG institutions, including Valdosta State. VSU is looking for alternative ways to celebrate this year’s special group of graduates. www.valdosta.edu/commencement
Conversely, while some students will soon complete their degrees, we understand that others are very concerned about this move to online learning, and some may be considering withdrawal. If asked, we hope that you will encourage them to give this new modality a try, and know that we have temporarily changed VSU’s Withdrawal Policy to allow students more time to do so. Additionally, VSU’s Counseling Center will continue to meet the needs of our students via tele-appointments and you can certainly refer them to available resources via the contact information found in the Other Questions section of your FAQs.
At the same time, we know that these are challenging times for many of you as well. Behavioral Health Services will, therefore, continue to be available through the USG Employee Assistance Program with KePRO. You can reach them at 844.243.4440 or www.EAPHelpLink.com .
Also, for employees enrolled in the USG healthcare plans, telehealth visits with licensed therapists and psychologists are available with $0 co-pay through June 30, 2020, using LiveHealth On-line.
Staff, your service and your dedication to Valdosta State are unparalleled. We continue to be impressed by the strength and fortitude of our employees and campus community. Now, more than ever, let’s continue to embody the core values of this great institution that are highlighted in the Blazer Creed - Civility, Integrity, and Citizenship, as we face the coming days together. We thank you for your patience and assistance as we work through this evolving situation. Most importantly, we are appreciative of the way in which you continue to pull together to meet the needs of our students, staff, and faculty. Thank you!
Chief HR Officer
REPORT HEALTH CONCERNS
Key term: Close Contact - this is defined as being within six (6) feet of an individual for more than 15 minutes regardless of whether a face covering is worn.
EMPLOYEES DO NOT come on campus if you believe you have been in close contact with a person having COVID or yourself having symptoms or receiving a positive diagnosis. Instead, notify your supervisor of your absence, seek medical services from your primary care provider, and self-report your information by completing the online form or contacting HR directly at 229-333-5709.
STUDENTS DO NOT come on campus nor go directly to the Student Health Center if you believe you have been exposed to COVID. Instead, call the Health Services at 229-333-5886 to speak with a triage nurse over the phone. Additional guidance will be provided on how to access the health center facility. The health center remains open for walk-in patients with non-COVID medical needs.
Members of the campus community should report all instances of close contact with a person having COVID or themselves receiving a positive diagnosis of COVID. To assist with reporting, a COVID Self Reporting link has been added within MyVSU.
If you have been instructed to self-isolate or quarantine, you should do so at your permanent home for the period given unless it should be extended due to remaining symptoms.
- Student Health Center
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta, GA 31698