Monday, March 16, 2020
In order to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible regarding COVID-19, we want to share some new details that emerged this weekend.
The first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Luzerne County. An emergency has been declared by city and county officials, and just this afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all nonessential businesses in the state to close. The PA Department of Education has confirmed that institutions of higher education fall into the nonessential category. It is clear that we need to suspend on-site operations and move instruction and administrative work to remote environments as quickly as possible.
Exempt employees: Exempt, known also as salaried, employees will begin to work remotely as soon as possible, but no later than Wednesday, March 18. Supervisors should meet with their employees to see when remote work can reasonably be underway and to set individual and departmental work plans that continue the University’s mission.
Members of our facilities and University police departments will continue to report to campus. Facilities will focus their efforts on cleaning and disinfecting the campus and completing certain projects, while the Wilkes police department will continue to keep our campus safe. Other important offices, like the Registrar, I.T., health services, the mailroom and the Office of Technology for Teaching and Learning, have special clearance to be on campus during staggered shifts. This is subject to change based on the recommendations of the CDC or Pennsylvania and Wilkes-Barre Departments of Health.
Nonexempt employees: Nonexempt employees who are paid hourly are also encouraged to work from home. If working from home is not possible, there are opportunities to help with important projects where staffing is limited, notably in cleaning and disinfecting the campus. If this is also not possible, staff members can utilize their vacation time, or ultimately, take unpaid time off. Nonexempt employees wishing to assist with campus cleaning should be in touch with their own supervisor and contact Charlie Cary at firstname.lastname@example.org for further instructions.
Telecommuting resources: Here are several things to keep in mind as you work remotely:
- We have increased our VPN licenses to accommodate our campus community. Certainly our systems will continue to be tested in the coming days.
- There are a handful of laptops in the Farley Library that can be reserved by students, faculty and staff on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Some internet providers are offering lower-cost services for those in need of connectivity at this time. Learn more here.
- Please consult the ITS Remote Resource Guide for information on preparing to work from home.
Please also note that access to all university buildings will be by swipe access only for students, faculty and staff. Student access to buildings will be restricted to the Henry Student Center, Farley Library and respective residence halls where residents have been given permission to remain on campus. To be clear, it is the expectation of the University that employees will not be on campus as of this Thursday, unless mentioned above or previously arranged. Files and other materials can be obtained during this recess, but you must contact Wilkes University Police for building access.
One of the truths of this COVID-19 pandemic is that things evolve quickly and that decisions we have made on one day may have to be changed the next, based on new guidance from local, state and federal authorities. We ask that you continue to embody the spirit of consideration and collaboration that is the cornerstone to our campus. Let us all practice patience, flexibility and understanding with each other as we navigate through this challenging time.