As we continue to work towards the end of the semester, I write to you today to share some important steps we will be taking to continue to help safeguard the health and well-being of the members of the Ship community and our neighbors. We are continuously monitoring the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic and adjusting our response in light of what is best for our students and our campus community.
I would like to take a moment to once again express my deep appreciation for the way our Ship community has come together to support our students – and one another – during these challenging times. Thank you for your willingness to meet the challenges created by pandemic head on and for helping get us through this unprecedented semester in such a collaborative fashion.
The experts have confirmed that wearing a mask, washing hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing are the most effective ways to avoid infection. Another effective measure, to the extent it is possible, is to limit the number of people in indoor spaces. So, starting on November 21st, we will transition back to working remotely. This effort protects both those who can work remotely and those whose work necessitates their presence on campus simply by reducing the frequency of contact with others. The country is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infection rates. While the most recent data shows the infection rate in Cumberland County remains around 5%, it is anticipated that those numbers may rise after the Thanksgiving holiday.
By the end of the day on Friday, November 20th, we will phase in a process for staff whose roles allow, with the approval of their supervisor, to work remotely. Some jobs will require employees to be physically present on campus past November 20th. Those employees will work with their supervisors to determine the schedule that allows us to maintain our operational needs.
We will continue to monitor the situation and plan to ask staff working remotely to return to campus beginning January 11, in a phased process. If you are planning to travel during this time, please be aware that our return to work guidelines require quarantine for 14 days after returning home and prior to returning to work. Please make sure to plan your travel with this in mind.
If after reviewing this information you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly or contact your supervisor. Below you will find additional information that clarifies the university’s expectations regarding working remotely and guidance regarding data security.
Additionally, you will find a link to the available resources to assist you with the transition to working remotely.
Attached to this memorandum please find the PASSHE Procedure regarding Telecommuting and Working Remotely. That document should answer many of your questions. Three other documents are attached to the procedure that you should carefully review, fill out where needed, sign, and send to your supervisor for review and signature. Please make this a priority and complete these forms no later than Friday November 13, 2020. If you have any questions about the forms please contact
Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should adhere to your normal shift start and end time. For administrative staff this usually means logging in to your computer and being ready to answer phone calls at 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM, including taking time for breaks and lunch. You should perform your duties with the same level of professionalism that you display while on campus, for example, answering phone calls and responding to email requests promptly and courteously. It is understood that some staff may not have the same technology available while working remotely as they do on campus. These limitations might require that you perform other duties as assigned by your supervisor. It is critical that regular communication continues between you, your co-workers, and your supervisor to help facilitate the completion of department tasks and workflow. Once again, diligence, dedication, communication, and flexibility will be keys to our success during this time.
Assuring privacy, confidentiality, and protection of data is even more critical when working remotely. The university has installed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on laptops loaned for working remotely to assist with data security. It is your responsibility to adhere to privacy, confidentiality, and data security protocols established by your department. Direct any questions regarding these matters to your immediate supervisor.
Working remotely can create feelings of isolation. It is very important that you remain engaged with your work, maintain a regular work schedule, and be willing to take on different tasks during this time. We also encourage department heads to maintain regular communication with staff and use Zoom or other video platforms, if available, to hold virtual meetings. The staff training platform, LinkedIn Learning, has many excellent training materials and videos available to help with the transition to working remotely. You are encouraged to access them here:
Once again, I want to thank you for your continued dedication to our students and our institution. As we have shown this semester, the Ship community will continue to weather this storm together.
Thank you in advance for your continued commitment and understanding as we collectively work through these extraordinary times.
Dr. Scott W.H. Barton
Senior Vice President of
Administration and Finance