Message to Penn Faculty and Staff Regarding University Operations
March 13, 2020
Our highest priority is the overall well-being of the Penn community. The COVID 19 virus has created an extraordinary public health situation requiring unprecedented measures to reduce transmission and maintain a safe campus and workplace for faculty, students, staff, patients and visitors.
Public health experts advise social distancing for containing the spread of this virus. As a result, we are depopulating the campus for the remainder of the semester by transitioning to virtual teaching and dramatically reducing the number of students residing in the College Houses. We continually monitor the international and domestic spread of the COVID-19 virus and are in constant contact with public health officials for making proactive decisions to minimize the potential spread of the virus. As such, we are writing to you today with important guidance about University operations:
We are recommending remote work for employees.
Effective Monday, March 16th, the University is strongly encouraging remote work and asking that supervisors begin planning immediately, in consultation with School and Center senior leadership, to support this. Those employees whose job functions do not allow them to work remotely, including temporary employees, should work with their supervisors to develop additional duties they can complete off-site. At this time, no University paid employee will be put in an unpaid status. We anticipate this modification to normal operation will be in effect at least until March 31, 2020, and subject to possible extension. We will continue to provide guidance and updates to the University community.
Supervisors who approve remote work should meet with their employees to develop a workplan. As the workplans are developed, consider the following questions:
- How will we support faculty who may be teaching virtually?
- Which duties and responsibilities have due dates within the next few weeks?
- If working remotely does the employee have access to the technology and equipment needed to do their duties and responsibilities?
- If working remotely can the employee undertake special projects or trainings via LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)?
- What are the duties and responsibilities that cannot be completed if campus operations are suspended?
To support the employee, you may wish to verify that:
- Calls can be forwarded to home or cell phone devices and they have appropriate access to emails and calendars
- Teleconferencing software is downloaded to be able to hold and attend meetings as necessary
- Applications and files can be accessed remotely
Additional tools and guidelines can be found at ISC’s remote work tools website or The Center for Resources and Strategies for Teaching Remotely.
Supervisors should consult with Staff and Labor Relations for University employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.
We are further restricting University-related travel, including all visitors.
Effective immediately and until further notice, we are prohibiting all University-related travel without exception. This includes both outbound domestic and international travel, as well as for all visitors coming to campus. Recruiting of faculty and staff must be done remotely. Please follow the process below for interviewing staff candidates:
- Use an alternative to on-campus interviews. Online options include: BlueJeans, Zoom or Skype. For candidates who do not have access to a computer with a camera, consider using BlueJeans or a conference line to conduct the interview by phone.
- Allow flexibility if candidates need to reschedule. During this time, hiring managers may need to accommodate candidate schedules so as not to exclude any applicant from consideration due to circumstances beyond their control.
All events must be cancelled or postponed. We are revising the limit to the number of people who can congregate from 100 to 25. Gatherings of greater than 25 people are prohibited.
- No University events can be held through the remainder of the Spring semester.
- We are also prohibiting internal meetings of 25 people or more. The use of conferencing technology is strongly encouraged for all meetings.
Be mindful of coronavirus phishing scam information.
Cyber criminals are taking advantage of this high-profile event to try to steal passwords and financial information by using deceptive "phishing" emails and impostor websites. You can protect yourself from these scams by carefully reviewing email and webpage addresses to confirm they are trusted sources. If you receive a suspicious message, please check in with your local IT support or forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org for review.
We are grateful for all you are doing to support Penn during a tumultuous time which is rapidly changing. We appreciate everyone for the measures taken to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus -- through social distancing, frequent handwashing, other sanitary precautions, or self-isolation, while continuing to ably perform their duties. These are exceptionally stressful times, and we ask you to continually support each other. We will continue to update the community consistent with the evolution of this dynamic situation.
Wendell E. Pritchett, Provost
Craig R. Carnaroli, Executive Vice President