Social media and my email and phone have been busy with two key complaints in the coronavirus pandemic.
One is about the difficulty of getting tested. No, I don’t think testing is being held down to hold the cases down. I think the medical community lacks material and equipment to do optimal testing and it follows CDC guidance on testing the likeliest cases (which has given a daily high positive result).
Another topic is the complaint that some employers are more willing to let people work at home while others are requiring too many to stay at desks and other job sites.
I’ll give one example, both to answer a complaint and to demonstrate what one public institution has told employees.
I asked UA Little Rock about a complaint that the faculty was given more leeway than office staff.
Jeff Harmon, associate vice chancellor for communications and marketing, said:
It is not true that faculty were allowed to work from home and staff were not allowed. However, faculty operate much differently than staff even in normal times. I believe that in the stress of this situation, some folks interpreted communication from their supervisors differently than others may have. It has been difficult for obvious reasons. This morning, Chancellor Drale drafted a communication that spelled our plan of operation very clearly.
Dear Campus Community,
Once again, I wish to thank all of the members of our campus community for their heroic efforts to adapt to a rapidly developing public health crisis and to go the extra mile to help each other and our students. Your actions have allowed us to continue offering educational services and to keep our students on track toward graduation in the online environment. You have also been conscientious in helping us maintain a safe environment for those who remain on campus, and have ensured that our essential business operations have continued without interruption, I deeply appreciate the contributions that all of you make each day.
Today, I write with important updates to our campus operations.
Starting Monday, March 23, in compliance with the just released UA System Temporary Remote Work Policy, UA Little Rock will implement a Temporary Remote Work Plan that will allow employees who are able to carry out their job functions remotely to do so. Supervisors have been directed to work with employees to manage this transition in an orderly and consistent manner. It is likely to take several days to transition employees to remote work as we assess essential work functions and ensure adequate remote work environments. In some cases, campus offices will temporarily close to on-site interaction with services redirected to telephone and online interaction. For employees who remain on campus, strict social distancing standards will be implemented along with continued hygiene practices. A list of offices operating remotely or with reduced on-site hours, along with contact information will be posted on our website and updated daily. We know that there will be many questions about the details of such a complex transition. I ask that you continue to help one another as we work our way through this adjustment.
As many of you heard yesterday, the UA Board of Trustees has directed all UA campuses to cancel or delay their spring commencement ceremonies until after June 1, 2020. The UA Little Rock leadership team was already planning for this when this announcement was made so we are able to share our decision with you today. The spring 2020 commencement ceremonies are canceled and will not be rescheduled for a later summer date. Instead, we will invite all spring and summer graduates to join the December 2020 graduation ceremony with full recognition. We will likely offer two ceremonies in December to accommodate all participants. We will get those details out to you in the coming weeks. We realize that this will be disappointing to many of our graduates who may have difficulty returning for a December event, but given the seriousness of the health risk and the uncertainty of the duration of the public health crisis, we feel this is the safest option for our Trojan family and guests. There will not be any delay in receiving diplomas for spring and summer graduates. Degrees will be posted as soon as the completion of degree requirements is confirmed by our Office of Records and Registration.
We will continue to update you every weekday with our daily bulletin and our Coronavirus Update website is updated regularly as well. Please consult these resources for important information. If you have additional questions, please let us know by submitting them through the Coronavirus website or by contacting the office connected to your concerns.
Thank you for your continued patience and goodwill as we navigate through these serious challenges. We will get through this and discover new strengths as we emerge on the other end. I look forward to seeing you all back on campus in the not-so-distant future.
Christina S. Drale