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March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Time-sensitive operational update

Dear University Community,

In times when we are most greatly tested, I find that pausing for a moment of reflection—even briefly—will help refocus attention toward what is critically important.

Today, and in recent weeks, the significance of maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of the La Salle community cannot be understated. I am inspired by the universal cooperation we have seen from our students, faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers during these extraordinary circumstances. Together and by association, we will navigate this public health crisis and continue to support one another.

As you know, a task force at the University is working swiftly to share updates related to this global pandemic, recognizing that this situation is changing rapidly.

Given Governor Wolf’s most recent mandates placed upon Montgomery County, it is imperative to me that we continue to take care of our students, faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers by taking preventative measures in the interest of public health.

It is important to note that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the La Salle community.

We are currently focused on ways to follow social distancing best practices and provide additional flexibility for our employees, while also maintaining overall productivity and momentum of the important work that we undertake for the benefit of our students. As such, we have made the following decisions, effective immediately and continuing through at least April 5:

  • All face-to-face events and activities at all La Salle University sites scheduled through April 5 have been suspended. Individual event organizers will work to move their events to a virtual setting, postpone, or cancel.
  • All campus visitors should be redirected to virtual experiences or rescheduled. This includes admissions visits, vendor meetings, or otherwise scheduled visits from anyone other than a student, faculty, or staff member.
  • We have elected to postpone the University’s 7th Annual Day of Giving, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, March 25. In light of this current public health crisis, our focus needs to remain on the health and well-being of our University community. We are so grateful to those who have supported—and continue to support—La Salle University.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, and to lessen the stress that many of our employees may be experiencing surrounding COVID-19, the University is taking the proactive step of asking employees to work remotely between Monday, March 16 – Friday, March 27. Please see the message below for additional guidance and applications.

The complexity and severity of actions that are taking place are likely to cause anxiety for all of us. It’s important for each of us to practice self-care and support one another during this extraordinary situation.

Warmly,

Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D.
President


To the University faculty and staff,

Next week, the University’s campus will be staffed physically by academic and administrative staff specifically designated by a vice president or dean. Divisional Vice Presidents have been meeting with their leadership teams to disseminate more specific information and instructions.

It is strongly recommended that all other faculty and staff work remotely. These employees are not required to report to campus during these two weeks. However, the University will not be closed to faculty and staff. For example, the retrieval of an essential item from a campus space will be permitted.

Employees who are unable to work during this period of remote operations  should be prepared to use their available allotments of vacation and sick time. Employees with an insufficient balance of available vacation and sick time should contact the Office of Human Resources at hr@lasalle.edu.

As a reminder, Dr. Hanycz previously gifted staff employees with a discretionary holiday to be used on either March 16 or March 20. Recognizing the additional burden that the event of COVID-19 may be placing on our employees, we encourage staff to use this extra day to practice self-care and to take care of any personal needs.

Immediate next steps

As employees work with supervisors to define their critical tasks, it is important to note that Project Compass will remain a top priority for all employees involved.

During these next two weeks, non-essential personnel who are working remotely will be required to:

  • Compile a written list of critical tasks, projects, strategic priorities, and lower priority projects that can be completed remotely in order to ensure business continuity.
  • Discuss the list with their supervisor and document the written work plan on the COVID-19 Remote Work Plan Template.

The supervisor will give the completed Remote Work Plan to their Divisional Vice President as soon as possible.

This Remote Work Plan will serve as an agreement between the employee and their supervisor on roles and responsibilities during a remote work period. Divisional Vice Presidents will set any other division-specific expectations. Divisional leadership or Human Resources reserve the right to request additional documentation of work at any time.

In addition to identifying the employee’s work schedule, tasks, and projects, employees and supervisors will set expectations for regular check-ins. Remote work plans should be approved and reviewed by Supervisors with an eye toward equity, responsibility, connectivity, and productivity. Employees who may need reasonable accommodations to work remotely should contact the University’s Affirmative Action Officer, Rose Lee Pauline, at pauline@lasalle.edu.

Best practices and tips

Some tips for creating productive and successful remote work experiences:

  • Establish work hours. Remote employees should make every effort to honor the departmental hours of operation, though they are not working on campus.
  • Define clear expectations and deliverables.
  • Follow up with open communication. Employees and supervisors should be flexible and communicating frequently and clearly.
  • Think creatively about what tasks can be completed remotely. While many employees will continue to perform their regular day-to-day work functions, this necessary change in workflow may postpone or prevent the completion of certain projects, or create a lack of resources. Employees may be asked to complete tasks outside of their own areas of responsibilities for the good of their departments and to ensure that the employee is able to work a full day.

Resources and technology

Tools are available to faculty and staff to ease the transition to remote work. The following represent considerations each employee and supervisor should make while preparing to work remotely:

  • Ensure that you have the resources you require to work remotely. If you need to, you may come back to pick up your equipment, projects, and supplies.
  • Think creatively about ways you will complete work and collaborate. For example, remote work employees may still be able to actively participate in meetings through available technology, such as Zoom.
  • Work through your supervisor to identify your technology requirements including the need for a laptop computer. Most of the University’s operational systems are available through the Internet and can be accessed using a personal home computer. Additional information is currently being gathered from campus leaders to assess gaps in technology required to work remotely.
  • Please be cognizant and cautious of what you are transmitting to and from and saving on a computer that was not issued by the University, as well as information contained in any paper documents you may be taking with you.

Questions

If you have questions, please contact hr@lasalle.edu. Remember to frequently review the University’s site dedicated to COVID-19 updates for the latest information from La Salle. Thank you for your continued support of our students and each other.

Sincerely,

Kristin

Kristin Heasley, M.S., PHR, SHRM-CP
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources

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