Phased Return of Faculty & Staff
Time has come to begin a slow, phased, monitored return to more normal, though still modified, operations, which includes the return of faculty and staff to campus, as we prepare for the possible return of students this fall. The decision to bring faculty and staff back in phases is based on OSHA, CDC, USC System, and DHEC guidelines and recommendations. Our plan is also based on the belief that our campus faculty and staff will follow best health and wellness practices in order to assure the health of themselves, fellow colleagues, students,university constituents, and the entire campus community, including guests.
At this time, I want to provide the broad strokes of the plan. Many more specific details will be communicated next week, after the Futures Planning Task Force makes its report today.
As has been the case from the very beginning of the pandemic's arrival in South Carolina, our priorities for a managed return to campus are and continue to be:
- The safety, well-being, and health of our institutional population (students, visitors, employees, and community) are our highest priorities.
- Limit and mitigate risks of resurgence and be prepared for action if resurgence happens.
- Protect those individuals most at risk for COVID-19 (without sidelining them) and attend to the mental as well as physical health of our campus community.
- Foster and maintain a high level of excellence associated with UofSC Aiken.
- Attend to institutional stability and sustainability.
Broad-based Plan for a Phased Return to Campus (more to come next week):
Since spring break, we have conducted deep cleanings in every building, using a hospital-strength disinfectant. This practice will continue. In fact, we have additional cleaning contracts that include more meticulous sanitation of bathrooms, common spaces, and surfaces, like door handles and stair rails. While the university is taking prudent steps to help mitigate the spread of germs, I would ask that each and every one of you assist in ways you can to take care of yourselves and out of respect for your peers and colleagues.
As we all gradually return to campus, please continue to take responsible, prudent precautions as you have at home the last couple of months. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water; maintain physical distance; wear a mask or face covering in common spaces outside of your office; wipe down your work spaces and office equipment; do not congregate in common spaces; avoid using coffee-break rooms or kitchens; and for now, avoid bringing additional individuals into your office spaces.
Essential Personnel -- May 18:
During the pandemic, the number of essential personnel on campus was reduced by order of the governor, to "exceptionally essential" personnel only. That included those individuals needed on campus to serve the 76 students who remained on campus and those needed to maintain the streamlined functions of the university. Our thanks to those individuals in this category who have been on campus every day since spring break!!
On Monday, May 18, a larger contingency of essential personnel will return to campus. All personnel returning on May 18 have been or will be contacted by their supervisor and personally notified about the need to return to campus. Personnel in this category in higher risk categories for COVID-19 should not return to campus at this time. Those at higher risk or with special circumstances need to discuss a strategy for continuing to work from home or working on a modified schedule with your supervisor. Supervisors may assign alternative work schedules as needed to provide physical distancing, flexibility, and safety.
Phase I: Return of Non-Essential Personnel -- May 26
Supervisors will notify individuals who should plan to return on May 26. Again, any personnel in a high risk category or with special circumstances should discuss alternatives to returning to campus with their supervisors.
Phase II: Return of Non-Essential Personnel -- June 8
Supervisors will notify individuals who should plan to return in this phase. Again, any personnel in a high risk category or with special circumstances should discuss alternatives to returning to campus with their supervisors.
At this time, faculty may return to work in their offices for brief periods of time as needed to prepare for Summer II, conduct research, and prepare for Fall 2020. Please notify your department chair about your plans to make certain too many individuals do not come into the departmental space at the same time.
Phase III: Return of Remaining Workforce -- July 20
Remaining personnel who did not return in Phases I or II should return to work as normal. As always, personnel in high risk categories for COVID -19, or with special circumstances, should continue to work remotely and discuss alternatives to returning to campus with their supervisors. COVID
We recognize you have many questions, and we are putting additional information together to share with you next week. Thank you for your patience as we make preparations for returning to more normal operations. YOU are very important to me, to our university, and to the successful attainment of our mission. We want to make certain we are monitoring our return closely. If needed, we will make adjustments to the plan to ensure that we are maintaining our priorities, which are first and foremost to provide a safe working, teaching and learning environment and mitigate risks.
Best wishes and stay healthy.
Sandra J. Jordan