COVID-19 Update: Guidelines for Andrews Employees
Dear campus colleagues,
This continues to be a remarkable and challenging time for Andrews University—not just as a higher education institution but as a community of faith that was inspired in 1874, at the very start of our history, by God and His purpose.
These challenging times will continue to have a profound, sometimes almost hour-by-hour impact on each one of us and Andrews University. We want to thank you for your continued engagement with us in making important changes to the way we do our business. Your personal support is greatly valued.
In this letter we will share a variety of updates that reflect what we now know about COVID-19 and its direct impact on every level of our operations.
As we seek to respond and implement these changes, we also wanted to remind all of us that our most effective strategy, especially amidst these tumultuous and uncertain times, is prayer.
Certainly, this will include our own individual prayers and reflection on God’s purpose—but also we need to find creative and intentional ways to pray and come together as a community even as we largely work remotely. You may also have your own ideas on new and powerful ways to continue to put God at the center of our journey ahead; please let us know.
We’d like to share an array of other relevant updates in this letter:
Working from home
We have invited each of our University vice presidents and deans to develop plans, with input from supervisors who are your direct reports, to allow employees to carry out their normal work schedule and work from home whenever possible. Please coordinate with ITS to help ensure that the technology needs of our employees are met during this transition. In some cases, due to the nature of the job description, where working from home is not feasible, please explore adjustments in work responsibilities to help respond to and support the needs of our employees. Our Campus Safety office will continue to update us on safety guidelines on our COVID-19 website. We want you to know that as best we can, we are committed to ensuring that all of our employees are kept safe.
We also want to take this opportunity to provide some meaningful tips on how to adapt to the possibility or necessity of working from home. If you have never worked outside of an office environment, there are some distinct challenges.
You can find some additional and specific tips here that will help you transition if you find it necessary to begin working from home for the next several weeks.
Please review FERPA requirements so that you are fully aware of what information should be protected even if you are working from home. Don’t assume that others in your household will know FERPA rules and respect them. Do not take it upon yourself to “train” others on FERPA regulations. The work you take home is considered confidential and you are not at liberty to share it with anyone.
Email and voicemail
Set your Outlook email with an appropriate “away” message, i.e.: I am currently working from home until further notice and will respond to your message as soon as possible. You may also call 269-471-_____ and leave a message (you may include your cell phone if you choose for inside organization responses).
Please check pages 70–71 in your campus phone directory for directions on how to listen to voicemail messages from off campus. Also found on page 71 are directions to set up a temporary greeting.
Check your email frequently! This will be the preferred method of communication for the time being as many people do not publish their cell phone numbers. In this rapidly changing environment, it is critical for you to read and respond to emails in a timely manner.
Committees and other group meetings
Until further notice, committees/meetings should not occur in person. Please explore and use Zoom, Skype, phone, etc., as determined by your supervisors or committee chairs.
On this issue, if you are uncertain about whether or not any particular gathering or work assignment is appropriate, please email email@example.com with your specific circumstances and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Remember that we are all in an unprecedented situation. We invite your patience and prayers as we navigate our way through this, understanding that for some on our campus, this time of challenge and change may be much different than it is for you.
Closing of non-essential classrooms/buildings
Yesterday, you probably had a chance to read about specific buildings that are closed because of the state of Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-9; those state guidelines have also led to the current closing, announced yesterday, of our Andreasen Center for Wellness and the James White Library. Please note that Governor Whitmer’s order includes all gym and fitness areas (which in our case will include Johnson Gym and Beaty Gym).
In addition, we ask building managers to please assist us as we conduct an audit of buildings to gauge current usage as we move into this changed environment. Especially as we transition from a face-to-face modality to a remote learning/working modality, the use of many of our academic buildings may be significantly minimized. In those cases, those buildings would be closed to the public. Certainly, employees may continue to access those buildings as needed. For employees who do plan to continue to work at times in their campus offices, they should remove non-essential items from their desktops and tables that are free and easily removed, such as candy/mint bowls, pens and other items.
There are now state and federal guidelines in terms of size of group, social distancing and more that will influence how we gather as a community in the weeks ahead. This means that at this point, regularly scheduled Sabbath services and vespers in campus buildings are suspended. However, live streaming of the Pioneer Memorial Church services as well as a Friday vespers service will be available and we’ll continue to explore alternatives for online group gatherings in the weeks ahead.
Changes in campus operations
The campus traffic gates will now close at 9 p.m. each evening. The Gatehouse on J.N. Andrews Boulevard will continue to be the access point for vehicles after the gates are closed. Access will be available through authorized AUID cards (using the card reader) or driver’s licenses (provided to the Campus Safety employee on duty).
Andrews University continues to suspend all University-sponsored international travel. Additionally, we are now also suspending University-sponsored domestic travel until further notice.
We also strongly discourage international and domestic personal travel. If you travel domestically or internationally for personal reasons then the University reserves the right to restrict your access to the campus upon your return, based on your travel destinations. Such restrictions may also have implications for your employment and/or learning.
As we shared at the beginning of this letter, the urgency of prayers and a commitment to community (even if the visible definitions and approaches to community are drastically changing) is an essential response to the threat and impact. All of the technical steps we describe here are also important—but the idea that God’s presence, peace and perspective are central to this journey is one we must embrace and pursue. Sometimes, it may be no more than two or three of us who will gather together (and there may even be a Zoom or Skype link involved)—but we will continue to invite God to be infused in all of this journey ahead.
Once again, God’s blessings to all, and many many continuing prayers. We are confident that with God’s help, we will rise to the occasion. It shall be well with us!
We continue to invite you to share your feedback, new suggestions and concerns during this challenging time. We have set up a new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for any additional questions you might have. Please feel free to share that address widely with your colleagues, our students and their families.
Darcy De Leon
Director, Human Resources
Working at home tips for Andrews employees
- Routine is essential. Get up at your regular time, follow your normal routine as you usually would. This signals your brain that it is time to work and may have a huge impact on your productivity throughout the day.
- Create a dedicated workspace. The laundry will beckon, dirty dishes in the sink will call your name. When you are in your office/workplace, these things have no influence on you. But when you are at home, they can be irresistible. Don’t succumb! Carve out a dedicated space, as far from household distractions as you are able, and make it cheery and comfortable. As far as possible, set it up as a work environment so that you can accomplish your given tasks without feeling the need to attend to home chores. Limit distractions by turning off the TV or any other devices that will keep you from your work.
- Maintain normal hours. Does anyone really know what time you begin working when you are not punching a time clock or sitting at your desk? Honestly no, however, your productivity will reveal your habits. When you work from home, it is especially important to set specific hours and stick to them. Talk with your supervisor to establish expectations of when you will be available and “on the clock”. One suggestion is to create time blocks. For example: check and respond to emails during certain hours. List the tasks in order of priority and determine when they will be done. Hold yourself accountable – don’t wait for someone to do it for you. You will have no one to blame but yourself if your work is not done.
- Focus. There is a big difference between working from home for a few hours on occasion when you just don’t feel good, and transitioning to a home base for weeks or months at a time. In a remote work environment, you will be judged by the volume, quality and productivity of your time. It is a good idea to create a list of tasks to be accomplished each day, then stick to it. Having it in writing also establishes credibility with your supervisor, just in case there is ever a need to justify the time you spent at home.
- Eat healthy snacks and lunches. Just as you would in the office, plan your routine to include a lunch break and occasional stretches away from your computer.
- Social media is often used as a communication tool and can be very effective. However, the evidence suggests that social media use is strongly associated with anxiety, loneliness and depression. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has been linked to intensive social media use and is associated with lower mood and life satisfaction. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you limit social media usage during regular working hours.