Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:
At 6 p.m. today Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an unprecedented mandate ordering “non-life-sustaining businesses,” including colleges and universities, to cease operations in their physical locations by 8 p.m. this evening. The order provides a grace period until 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, for businesses to accomplish this. This announcement came after business hours with no advance notice or consultation with any of us in the higher education sector, including the state association representing us in the state capital.
The implications of this mandate for W&J are twofold. First, we will comply by transitioning to fully remote instructional operations over the next 24 hours. Though much of this has already been under way, additional employees will be asked to work remotely until further notice. We are confident this can be accomplished successfully. Second, we will continue to house and care for students who are on campus due to significant hardships, as these services qualify as life-sustaining and are necessary for those who do not have the option to leave. Thus, we will maintain some essential campus services including safety, dining, and some facilities support. Our Student Life Division will begin working immediately with the small group of students who are now on campus to determine who will qualify to remain in residence under the state directive.
Below is some important information for you:
- Online instruction will commence on Monday, March 23, as planned. All instructional activity must be performed off-campus. ITS will work to support any faculty members who do not have an internet connection.
- W&J will be a remote campus. All employees must remain off campus, with the exception of those designated to perform essential functions to support students in residence. These staff members will be notified tonight and speak with their supervisors tomorrow for more information.
- Employees who need to transition to working remotely are welcome to campus tomorrow to collect materials needed to perform their work remotely. Vice Presidents and HR will be available to assist you in your transition.
- W&J remains committed to ensuring your job security and compensation during this crisis. There will be no lapse in medical benefits and we will provide flexibility and paid time off as needed.
We are fortunate that over the past two weeks we have been preparing in earnest for online class instruction while greatly reducing our on-campus staff in response to the coronavirus. Only a small group of students now remain on campus. There are many logistical and process questions that must be addressed in the days to come, but we are confident W&J can continue to serve our students through the end of the semester.
We remind you to practice the guidelines recommended by the CDC on social distancing, prevention methods, and seeking medical care from your primary care physician should you experience symptoms related with COVID-19.
Please know that I have never been more proud of the resolve and determination of our faculty, staff and students. Our shared commitment to W&J College and each other is truly a blessing. We will get through this together!
John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor