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UM System President Mun Choi and the chancellors at the four universities sent the following message to staff and faculty on March 17:
Dear Staff and Faculty Members,
The UM System is committed to the health and well-being of our staff and faculty. Now more than ever, we’re dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace while sustaining academic programs and operational continuity. As recommendations from our public health experts evolve, we will continue to offer guidance and make decisions with the well-being of our staff and faculty in mind. We appreciate your patience as we work together to keep our universities functioning during unprecedented circumstances.
As you know, classes are being held remotely andall of our universities remain open. We’re working daily with public health partners and medical experts, as well as monitoring and adapting to local, national and global events. We will continue to do so. Regular updates can be found here.
The needs of our employees are shifting quickly. To adapt, the University of Missouri Board of Curators on Monday granted the UM System President temporary authority to institute measures that will help ensure a nimble response to the local and national situation.
To support our employees, President Choi has authorized a number of measures to temporarily enhance leave policies for those unable to work through telework options. Some of these changes include expanded leave options for:
Employees affected by school and day care closures.
- Employees who need to care for immediate family members due to closures or limits of schools or daycares can use up to 30 days of sick leave for that purpose.
- Employees also may use vacation leave for this purpose and, if needed, may use up to 15 days of vacation leave before it is earned. It will be tracked as a negative balance and can later be replenished with future accruals.
Quarantined healthy employees.
- If a healthy employee is directed to spend time away from work to quarantine for precautionary reasons, the university may grant paid administrative leave for up to 15 days if telework is not possible. This provision covers benefit-eligible employees, part-time and student workers.
- If an employee becomes sick, cannot work through telework arrangements, and has insufficient accrued paid leave, the employee may use up to 15 days of vacation leave before it has been earned, to be replenished later with future accruals.
Employees affected by closure of specific campus facilities.
- The policy increases the amount of paid administrative leave from 5 to 30 days for employees unable to work or be reassigned due to closures of specific campus facilities, such as recreation centers. It also expands this leave to include part-time and student employees, with the appropriate approval, in addition to benefit-eligible employees.
- The policy allows probationary employees access to vacation leave, including the options noted above to use vacation leave before it is accrued.
In addition to these policies, we encourage supervisors to review operations and identify employees who can perform their duties through telework arrangements. These decisions must be made while still maintaining university operations. Supervisors may use resources available at HR’s Working Through COVID-19 website to assist with this process. Telework arrangements that are already in place may continue, but must also follow the process outlined below.
- Supervisors must submit telework arrangements to the appropriate vice president or associate vice president, vice chancellor, vice provost, dean, or their designees for approval.
- Requests for approval this week are not required to be in a specific form, but must identify the employee involved and provide a brief justification of how the employee performs duties through the telework arrangement.
- Approvals may be issued to begin these new telework arrangements on March 18.
- Beginning March 23, supervisors will commence evaluating telework arrangements on a weekly basis to review work productivity, whether the arrangement meets the needs of university operations or whether the arrangement should be refined. Leadership will determine when the universities will return to regular practices once public health circumstances improve.
For those shifting to telework, please find the following resources:
- Install the University’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). Learn more or get started by downloading the client with instructions from the VPN webpage.
- Download Zoom Pro, our videoconferencing software, for free. Learn more about Zoom or install the software with instructions from the Audio and Web Conferencing webpage.
- Test all technology to make sure it works on your home network.
For employees who continue to report to the university in person, social distancing will be made easier by having fewer people on campuses. We encourage you to continue following basic preventive measures and avoid close contact with others. Our universities will shift to new CDC guidance for suspending gatherings of 10 or more. We ask supervisors to conduct larger meetings virtually to support social distancing efforts.
Thank you for the work that you do. Your work is vital and necessary. Your efforts in this time of uncertainty continue to offer much needed support to our students and our communities. We appreciate all that you’re doing to support each other and we are proud of the grace and kindness of your interactions as we strive to fulfill the missions of our four universities.
Mun Y. Choi, President, UM System
Alexander N. Cartwright, Chancellor, MU
C. Mauli Agrawal, Chancellor, UMKC
Mohammad Dehghani, Chancellor, Missouri S&T
Kristin Sobolik, Interim Chancellor, UMSL