UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT, JASON S. WOOD, Ph.D. – March 15, 2020
Good Evening, College Friends.
I care about each of you because you are an important part of what we do to help students achieve their dreams. More importantly, however, you mean more to those closest to you and I want you to be at your best for them. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we certainly are learning and striving for continuous improvements as new information emerges.
Perhaps the most important thing most of you can do at this time is to stay healthy by staying home. Please adhere to the recommendations put out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Covid-19 is spreading through our countries, our towns, our workplaces, and our families. Health officials have encouraged people to avoid public gatherings, to stay home more often, and to keep their distance from others so the virus has fewer opportunities to spread. We limit our social interactions in an act of solidarity to protect the health and wellbeing of others.
I strongly encourage all faculty and staff to work from home if possible. If you have been traveling out of the state, we require you to work from home for 14 days for the safety and concern for your Southwest Tech family. If you choose to work from home to protect yourself or your family, we are here to support you as well. We will help you through the technical difficulties of getting started. If you are working from home, it is imperative that you stay at home and not be out in the public. I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of this expectation.
Remote Work Checklist:
- Inform your supervisor of your intentions to work from home or report to work.
- Faculty are not required to submit a Telecommuting Request form because we have an open campus. Faculty, please communicate your plans and any related questions with your supervisor. If you do not need to come to campus, please don’t.
- Management and staff: if you would like to work remotely and have not already done so, please fill out the Telecommuting Request Form.
- The typical review and approval process is waived and does not apply during the COVID-19 crisis.
- For those employees who are unable to work on campus or telecommute, please simply communicate your personal situation to your supervisor and patiently wait further information. You are welcome to remain at home, on the clock as if campus was closed, while we determine our next steps. During this time, please put together a list of projects you could complete by working remotely and submit it to your supervisor. We are reviewing alternative leave options and will have more information tomorrow.
There is plenty of work that needs to be completed. At this point we are not considering furloughs or non-compensated closures. We are processing payroll and expect a normal pay day for all employees to occur on Friday, March 20. We care about your physical, emotional, and financial well-being. We are making every effort to ensure that our faculty and staff are aware of their personal financial situation. If you have any questions, please communicate with your supervisor and Human Resources.
Please be very innovative in finding remote work opportunities. This includes alternative schedules that meet your needs as well as considering work projects that may not require the use of technology or internet access. This is an excellent time for professional development, research, and planning. Our intent is to continue salary and compensation per our regularly scheduled processes. I trust in our ability to engage in meaningful work while remotely quarantined which will strengthen us now and into the future.
Information Technology Services has created a resource to serve as a guide for those who are new to working from home. We anticipate a large volume of assistance requests for IT. Please patiently practice our college value of partnerships during this time as we work together to find solutions.
The college is providing daily updates as needed. Please continue to use https://www.swtc.edu/news/covid-19-coronavirus/ to see previous communications. You can locate an Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the left-hand side of the site. We will add commonly asked questions as they are identified to this section of the site. The most recent update includes an announcement about financial aid disbursements being mailed out instead of issuing checks.
There are still many questions in this ever-evolving situation. Communication is a priority. Tomorrow a link will be sent to all faculty and staff for a 9:30 CST zoom meeting. Hopefully, we can begin to address your specific questions at that time. If you are unfamiliar with zoom or need assistance, please refer to IT’s Knowledge Base.
If you need additional help or support, please consider using our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I am grateful for the counselors who have supported me from time to time during difficult situations and they are there to help you too. Our EAP is confidential and does not have any extra cost to the employee. As a reminder, we have LifeMatters as our EAP. They are an excellent provider of support and counseling. Their number is 1-800-634-6433 and this confidential service is free for our employees and their families. Information can also be found on their website. An informational guide is attached for your reference.
The full Emergency Response Team has convened and will work together again tomorrow. I am grateful for their expertise and commitment. They are planning how to serve students who do not have sufficient support structures in place to provide food, supplies, internet, health care, counseling, etc. We are those students’ only support. The ERT will also begin work with city, county, and state officials to prepare for broader community interventions and support. It is imperative we have minimal staffing on campus for these efforts to be of maximum use to our students in need and for broader response efforts to be effective.
If you have thoughts, ideas, feedback, or questions, please send a note to email@example.com. A team of people is regularly monitoring it.
Please accept my sincere gratitude for your patience and understanding. More than anything else at this time, I hope you and yours remain healthy.