Dear NEOMED Community:
I hope you are finding ways to enjoy your family and your summer while remaining safe during these challenging times.
It has been six months since our first University communications regarding COVID-19 (then called “2019-nCoV”). While the times remain uncertain, we have been remarkable as a community ― united to ensure our safety as well as the sustainability of our University.
Adhering to precautionary practices to fight against the virus; instantly shifting our operations for learning, teaching and working remotely; and adjusting our budget to accommodate millions of dollars in state reductions and revenues lost, combined for a seemingly impossible perfect storm ― one that was only surmountable because the NEOMED community listened, fought, planned, worked and stayed together.
From Monday, March 23, when we were all encouraged to work from home due to the stay-at-home order for Ohio, to our phased return to campus which began May 4, you have been patient and understanding.
I am deeply appreciative of all your hard work and support during such difficult times.
On Monday, Aug. 3, we begin the fourth and final phase of our return to campus.
As many of you prepare to return, I want to remind you of the policies and protocols that have made such a return possible, and to reiterate that they are still in place, requiring strict adherence.
The policies and protocols can be found at the Return to Campus section of the Coronavirus Updates on our website. Among them are mandatory requirements for face coverings, hand-washing and physical distancing; monitoring and reporting; and use of spaces and places within the University.
With Gov. DeWine’s recent decisions to re-open day care facilities and K-12, we will allow those employees who meet the federal criteria for Families First Coronavirus Response Act expanded FMLA coverage to allow for COVID-related circumstances to continue to temporarily work from home until Sept. 7. Subject to validation by Human Resources, this provides additional time for those without day care to make day care arrangements.
From now through September, the Human Resources team will also work with administrative units to develop a standard University teleworking policy that is fair, equitable and optimal for a sustainable and quality educational and work environment.
Although NEOMED does not have the people-to-space density issues of other Ohio public universities, we will establish this policy to further de-densify our campus and enhance our already improved use of space and physical distancing.
To ensure consistency, only HR will have the authority to approve teleworking through a centralized and standardized approach that includes appropriate position selection, training and accountability. All positions aren’t conducive to teleworking, therefore, some employees may have to rotate to ensure adequate in-person services are available to our students and employees during normal business hours.
As a result of your compliance, the University has not had a single COVID-19 positive case since our return began May 4.
We ask that each of you play a role in not only adhering to all polices but also ensuring that others do. A friendly reminder doesn’t hurt ― we have all had those momentary lapses where we approach a grocery store entrance only to realize that we forgot to put on our face covering. We simply go back to our cars to get them. And even though we all miss one another’s company, we must also be mindful of our physical distancing.
Whether you are the provider or recipient of a reminder, we are all thankful to you for keeping us healthy.
I look forward to seeing you all this week, even with partially covered faces.
John T. Langell