Over the past couple weeks, we have all experienced unprecedented changes in our work and personal lives that would have been unimaginable just a short time ago. This has arguably been the most unusual Spring Break—and return from break—that any of us has encountered. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, we wanted to reach out to our faculty and staff colleagues to offer some important information and guidance for the weeks ahead. We sent a similar email to students Friday with details about a variety of services that are available remotely as we transition to alternate delivery of courses.
Our principal focus remains sustaining the health and safety of our community and supporting the success of our students. That focus takes on new meanings with each new day. As our students return—some to campus and most “virtually”—we ask all of you to exercise a great deal of compassion, patience, and care. Many of our students are feeling scared, lonely, confused, and concerned in these unusual and uncertain times. And, while a good number of them are anxious about all of their courses going online, some may also face challenges such as limited access to the internet. Please check in on the students you interact with regularly during this time. You and your colleagues may also be experiencing these emotions. So, stay connected to one another in any way you can. Have coffee with a coworker over Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, or another platform. Call to check in. Offer to help a colleague get their course online or navigate technologies and software that might be new to them. Right now—as much as ever—we need to step up and be present, albeit remotely, for our Community of Bears.
We appreciate the effort, commitment, and creativity our faculty and staff are already demonstrating as we adjust to these new operational conditions. As you engage with colleagues, please join us in sharing your gratitude for the extraordinary effort they are putting in and exercise patience as we all adjust to changing circumstances and work through issues that are not yet resolved.
Thanks to your efforts, we are going to continue to serve our academic mission and provide critical campus services and support for our students and one another. We are not always going to get it right, but we will learn, grow, and adapt together. If you have questions or encounter any challenges, please reach out for help.
Take care of yourselves, as well as your students, colleagues, and loved ones.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Director, Human Resources
Up-To-Date Information about UNC’s Evolving Response Efforts
For several weeks, UNC has maintained www.unco.edu/coronavirus as a central repository of information about the University’s efforts, including responses to frequently asked questions and important University communications. Although circumstances and guidance from federal, state, and local authorities change with some frequency, a team of communications professionals across the University is working to keep this central hub for information up to date. Last week, we also began hosting a Daily Operational Status Update call with key leadership groups on campus and posting recordings online to share information with our full community and the public. You may also submit questions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the UNC Coronavirus phone line at 970-351-4848.
Working from Home
The University is asking everyone to follow CDC best practices during this pandemic and follow social distancing standards. Specifically, we are asking all employees who are not designated as essential and who are able to work from home to do so. Please continue to work with your supervisor on essential personnel assignments and arrangements for working from home. Working from home agreement forms are available on the Human Resources COVID-19 website. Even if it has been determined that you are unable to work in person or remotely, please continue to check-in with your supervisor once a week or more frequently at their discretion. Now more than ever, it’s important for us to stay connected, so keep in touch and check in with colleagues and coworkers.
Only designated essential personnel should be reporting to campus to work when necessary at this point in time.
UNC is “Open” on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24
The University is not closed on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24. However, any courses that are transitioning from an in-person format to alternate modes of delivery will not be taught on these dates. These two days were set aside to allow faculty time after Spring Break to finish preparing their courses for alternate delivery.
Courses that are normally taught online should continue to be offered, as planned, on these dates.
Courses Transition to Alternate Delivery Wednesday, March 25; Faculty to Share Revised Course Delivery Plans and Expectations to Students
All in-person courses will transition to alternate delivery Wednesday, March 25. Faculty should email their revised course delivery plans and expectations to all students in their courses by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 if they have not already done so.
Access to Buildings This Week; Facilities Lockdown Beginning Friday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m.
This week, University buildings are available by normal key-card access. However, between Monday, March 23 and Friday, March 27 we ask faculty and staff not to linger in their offices or other facilities. While the buildings are available for you to retrieve necessary work materials, we do not want people to be working on campus during this period of time. Please retrieve all materials from your offices that you need to work from home and leave campus.
Beginning on Friday March 27 at 5:00pm, all campus buildings will only be accessible to those who have been designated as essential employees. At this time, normal key-card access to buildings will discontinue, and only essential employees will have access. We have been working with Vice Presidents and Deans during the break to develop a list of essential employees and expect final decisions to be made by the middle of the week. Please be mindful that we cannot say for sure when you will be able to return.
If you forget something and absolutely must come back after this date, you may contact UNC Police Department Dispatch by phone at 970-351-2245 to schedule a time to gain access to the building. Please understand that officers may not be able to assist at the time that is most convenient to you, as they are responsible for attending to other issues and emergencies throughout the day. You must have your Bear Card to identify yourself and any keys necessary to enter your office or lab. You will be asked to leave the building after retrieving your belongings.
Resources for the Transition to Virtual Meetings, Events, and Alternate Delivery of Instruction
Information Management and Technology (IM&T) has developed several useful resources, including a quick reference guide on how to create a Microsoft Teams meeting. Microsoft also has a good Teams resource library. If you encounter technology challenges, have a question, or need to request technology resources, IM&T has created a special ticketing category for questions or requests specifically related to efforts to sustain business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once inside the portal, search for “COVID19.” A service request item will appear, allowing you to submit your request or question.
UNC’s Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) and the Instructional Design and Development team have developed resources to help faculty convert their instruction to an on-line format. Faculty are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these. CETL is also hosting webinars on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24. We encourage faculty to participate.
On Thursday, March 19, Human Resources sent an email to all student workers and their supervisors outlining the University’s commitment to pay student workers through April 30, 2020. Some students will continue to report to work on campus and others may be permitted to work from home. Those whose work does not allow for either of these options will still be paid through April. If you are a supervisor for student employees on campus, please refer to the email that was sent for additional details and communicate with your students regularly.
Open Enrollment for Classified Staff
There are changes to UNC’s medical insurance providers this year. All classified staff are required to log into BenefitSolver and make elections during the open enrollment period or risk losing insurance coverages. Human Resources will send open enrollment materials to classified staff at their home address this week. There will be instructions included in your materials on how to contact Human Resources with any questions or to assist in makes selections if you do not have internet access. If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at 970-351-2718.
Employee Assistance Program
UNC will continue to make its Employee Assistance Program available during this time. We are here to support you with both professional and personal concerns that may impacting your overall well-being. Services are available by calling the counseling center 970-351-2496 or reaching out by email to UNCCounselingCenter@unco.edu.