Message from Dr. Copenhaver (March 18, 2020)
Before I begin with new information, I want to clear up a couple of items from previous communications.
- Employee pay should the institution close—full-time, part-time, extra help, and adjuncts—all groups receive regular work-time pay. Unfortunately, however, only full-time have leave hours that can be used to cover absences for any illness or childcare.
- The form that HR sent out is primarily for medical quarantines that are necessary as a result of a potential Coronavirus exposure. Medical quarantine is a separate issue from teleworking for childcare reasons, and what is discussed below should help further clarify teleworking.
The following is new information and goes into effect today, March 18, 2020.
- During the Governor’s statewide address last night, he announced that West Virginia had its first documented Coronavirus case in the eastern panhandle. He mandated that all restaurants, bars, and casinos be closed immediately, and he authorized restaurants to continue with carryout services. Governor Justice also called on the citizens of West Virginia to be very diligent in our personal hygiene and social distancing. In order to support both the Governor and the US President and their social distancing requests, New River CTC is proactively implementing a voluntary and optional telework option.
- To be very clear—the College is not shutting down or discontinuing any of our services. All of our normal work will continue to the best of our ability.
- The overarching goals are to continue our operations while thinning out the number of people on campus as much as possible Additionally, in order to be able to have computer labs and other academic spaces open for students to come in and use the equipment, we need to make sure we can easily accommodate small groups at all our locations. Ensuring that our students can finish this semester is a priority.
- Teleworking Information and Guidelines for Staff:
- If you are interested in teleworking, contact your supervisor.
- Understand that not all positions can convert to a telework situation, and some positions will be required to continue working on campus. President’s Cabinet members are required to be in the office and working.
- If you prefer to come into the office to work, you may continue to do so.
- Your supervisor has the discretion to approve teleworking and will consider each position on a case by case basis. The supervisor must take into consideration the overall operations of the unit when making these decisions.
- When teleworking, you must work your regular hours, remain in contact with your supervisor, and attend any required meetings via phone or Zoom.
- Your supervisor will provide direction to you about work assignments and continuity of operations.
- If your job cannot be performed away from campus, your supervisor may choose to assign you a project to complete in lieu of your regular duties.
- You and your supervisor need a written weekly list of activities to document the work that is to be done. This documentation can be in the form of an email.
- Before beginning a telework arrangement, complete the attached form and return the form to Human Resources.
- The College will make every effort to provide you with materials you need to work from home—for example, VPN access, a disposable cell phone for calling students, etc. Unfortunately, we do not have many available laptops but the IT department will do the best that it can to meet your needs.
- If you need to take home files that are of a sensitive nature, make sure that you discuss this with your supervisor so that all confidentiality rules are preserved. Your supervisor must create a log that documents the check out and return of all files that you take home.
- If you are teleworking and become ill, you must take sick leave.
- If you are teleworking and do not put in a full day’s work, you must take annual leave.
- Faculty are free to teach their Zoom and/or Blackboard courses either from home or a campus location as previously outlined by Dr. Pagan.
The voluntary teleworking plans need to be in place by Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will continue until further notice.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns, suggestions, or rumor verification.
Bonny Ball Copenhaver, Ed. D.
New River Community and Technical College
Message from Dr. Copenhaver (March 17, 2020)
- In an effort to be responsive to the ever changing nature if COVID-19 (the Coronavirus), New River CTC is extending spring break through March 27th. This applies to all students, online, hybrid, and in-person, at any location that offers New River CTC classes. During the second week of spring break, faculty are to prepare adjustments to their delivery methods by incorporating Zoom and/or Blackboard. Some technical education courses, general education courses with labs, and courses with clinical components, may still need to have some in-person meetings to fulfill lab requirements. Faculty should prepare to use these adjustments for the rest of the semester. The academic calendar will not be adjusted for the additional week of spring break so content will need to be adjusted accordingly. Dr. Pagan will be communicating specifics about this transition in other communications. I am counting on faculty to communicate over and above what might be deemed as necessary with students so that students feel comfortable when they return to school; all students need to know you are there to help them be successful as we make this shift in the final few weeks of the semester. They will be looking to you to help them connect with resources that will help them learn to use any new technology that you will be introducing.
- New River CTC Procedure 15 addresses influenza and pandemic outbreaks. Our procedure dictates that we are to follow the guidelines outlined by the Center for the Disease Control (CDC). Our handwashing, social distancing, and additional cleaning measures are all in keeping with the CDC. The recently released guideline is to cancel all gatherings of 50 or more people for eight (8) weeks. Should the CDC keep this guideline in place, the Tech Expos, a pinning ceremony, the PTK Induction, the graduation ceremony, and a few other activities will be impacted. These events will be cancelled or postponed. A decision about each activity will be made within the next two to three weeks depending on the date of the event in question and the guidelines from the CDC. While I do not anticipate the CDC to decrease the time span of their directive, I did not want to cancel or postpone prematurely some very important milestone events for our students.
- The April meeting of the New River CTC Board of Governors, scheduled for April 2, 2020, will take place over Zoom. A link for the meeting will be widely distributed for attendance. Per statue requirement, the physical location for the meeting will remain RCC in room 201and I will be in that location.
- Gov. Justice declared a state of emergency in West Virginia (https://www.wtrf.com/top-news/gov-jim-justice-declares-state-of-emergency-for-55-counties-in-wv/). The Board of Governors Policy No. 18—Employee Leave—has a section that addresses leave in emergency situations. Section 13.2 says that “Work time lost by any employee during a declared emergency will be considered regular work time for pay purposes and will not require that the time be charged to annual leave nor will there be a requirement that the time be made up.” In short, if New River CTC has to close for any length of time, all employee pay will continue as normal as this pandemic is considered as emergency. This policy only applies if the College must close as a result of the pandemic.
- We are limiting campus access to all individuals except those who have college business, such as current students, vendors, deliveries, or potential students. Students may need access to campus computer labs in order to complete the rest of the semester because they may have limited or no internet and/or computer access at home, but allowing public access, for example, to use our WIFI at this time isn’t a prudent course of action.
- Should you have to self-quarantine, Human Resources and your supervisor will work with you on teleworking as appropriate. Not all positions are able to take advantage of teleworking because of the nature of the position, and you and your supervisor can discuss whether teleworking is an option for you. The quarantine time can be covered by sick leave and/or annual leave, and employees can request to use the sick leave bank if needed. Human Resources will be sending out some additional information along with a simple form to complete. Additionally, after this crisis is over the College will create a teleworking policy and procedure that is beneficial to the employee while balancing the needs of the College. However, if you are sick with any illness, taking time to rest and recover is the fastest way to get well, and you are not required to work while you are sick. If you are sick with any illness, do not come to work.
- During this pandemic, please do not bring your children to work with you. I know that for some this is challenging at best and a hardship at worst, but it is for everyone’s safety and wellbeing. If you are facing childcare issues at this time, teleworking and annual leave may be a good solution for you. Unfortunately, sick leave, by law, cannot be used for childcare absences even in this extraordinary situation. Like with the teleworking, after the crisis is over, the College will craft a policy that governs when it is appropriate to have children on campus and how we handle children on campus going forward.
- This situation is very stressful for all of us. When our students return they will be counting on us to be the faces of calm to help them get through these end of the semester. The last few weeks, under a normal situation, are stressful enough without adding this unusual situation on top of it. The following resources may help you manage your stress around this situation.
- It is not fun nor simple to make these changes nor is it easy to consider canceling something as special as our graduation ceremony, but right now it is not business as usual. We must all be flexible, understanding, and open to meeting these challenges head on and in the most professional way possible. We must be kind with each other in the process and remember our students are just as anxious and worried as we are. I have every confidence that this organization will come through this and will be a better and stronger institution for it. As always, if there are questions, concerns, or rumors, please do not hesitate to ask.
Bonny Ball Copenhaver, Ed. D.
New River Community and Technical College
Message from Dr. Copenhaver (March 13, 2020)
Governor Justice has closed the public/K-12 schools until further notice: https://www.wvnstv.com/community/health/coronavirus/gov-jim-justice-closes-all-wv-schools-amid-coronavirus-concerns/?fbclid=IwAR2vdVyoJUYAJs2FJiouZ5mhAeuy0OXuQZsK4NRvZ57e-Sq4avsallXCnLc
Obviously, this will impact employees and students with children. More details will be available later about how we will address this new challenge.
Message from Dr. Copenhaver (March 13, 2020)
First—Here is the Governor’s stated position, “During the event, the Governor announced that he has issued a State employee travel ban on both out-of-state and international travel for State business. He also asked all West Virginians to reconsider non-essential out-of-state travel for personal business” (https://governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2020/Pages/COVID-UPDATE-Gov.-Justice-announces-State-employee-travel-ban,-basketball-tournament-cancellation-among-latest-precautions.aspx).
Second—my statement “I would advise you not to engage in work related travel through the end of March” was aimed at travel to conferences and the like or travel that is not a part of your normal activities. Travel between campuses that is part of your normal routine (teaching, recruiting, etc.) should continue as usual. I apologize for not being more specific, and I hope this clarification helps.
Message from Dr. Copenhaver (March 12, 2020)
The corona virus is presenting all of us with unprecedented issues, and these issues are personal and professional. I want to pass along some information about what the College’s plans are in addressing this issue. Before I get into specifics, there are two caveats—1) these plans could change quickly; and 2) we all need to remain as calm as we can.
- I know that you have seen the universities making alternate plans for classes and changing general operating hours of the college facilities. One thing to keep in mind is that these institutions have a footprint that reaches far beyond West Virginia. As students travel home to a variety of states where there are documented cases of the virus, they run the risk of exposure and then bringing the virus back to other students in the dorms. We do not have this issue. Our students are local and we do not have a dorm. West Virginia, to my current knowledge, still has no identified case of the virus and the actions of the universities are designed to prevent bringing the virus to the state.
- At this time, I am not requiring in-person classes to be switched to online or Zoom, but over the next two weeks, the executive team and I will be monitoring the situation very closely. If you would like to leverage the distance learning tools that we have or start considering options that would work for you and your students, both Blackboard Learn and Zoom are available to you as you consider flexible options for delivering instruction to our students. More information for faculty will be forthcoming soon regarding recommendations and technical assistance.
- During the next couple of weeks, Dr. Pagan, the Deans, Campus Directors, and Department Chairs/Program Directors will be working on strategies and plans for programs/classes with a clinical component or a heavily hands-on emphasis if it is determined that we need to alter our teaching methods.
- I would advise you not to engage in work related travel through the end of March. A decision about any April travel will be made at a later date.
- At this time, access to campus by the public will not be restricted, but please make sure you are following handwashing protocols, personal distance protocols, and surface cleaning measures. Our maintenance staff have been doing additional cleaning and are working to provide additional supplies, such as antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, as needed and as they become available. Supplies like these are in a limited supply but we have been purchasing all that we can and distributing what we have on hand. See attached email for additional information about this topic.
- It is too soon to make any decisions about canceling planned activities like graduation or any other student-related celebration that is planned for April or May.
- Should we see the virus come to our communities, we will treat students and employees who become ill with flexibility and empathy. Do not come to work ill—with any illness—and do not allow students to attend class if they are ill.
- The Chancellor and I did speak yesterday afternoon, and she is aware of these plans. Her office is sending out information, and I have been forwarding it to the Communication department for distribution, and I will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks. She did send out these links to some additional information:
This is an extraordinary time, and we are trying to deal with something that is scary and unpredictable. We will get through this together. Please feel free to pass along any information that my team and I need to be aware of as we are monitoring the situation. I am sure that rumors are flying, and please ask if you hear something that sounds suspect or is counter to anything discussed here.