Information for Staff
Staff members are vital to Harvey Mudd’s mission. As the College works to provide an outstanding educational experience in unprecedented conditions, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of all members of our community. The responses listed below to the questions raised at the staff town hall meetings reflect preliminary responses provided at the town hall with some modifications based on review of additional information, including the budget models prepared for the Trustee Budget Committee. Health measures are based on best practices and may need to be adapted as guidance from state and county public health officials and the status of the pandemic evolves. We will keep the community informed of any updates.
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Q: What’s happening with commencement this year?
A: We have asked the class presidents of 2020 and 2021 to poll their classes, and we will be discussing the poll results at the Cabinet meeting next week. Both classes want an in-person commencement, so they want to wait until we can have a ceremony with family in attendance. We will plan to do a virtual celebration for the Class of 2021 (as we did for the Class of 2020), but this will not be their formal commencement.
Q: Is there any expectation of coming announcements from LA County that would affect us?
A: Yes. We participate in a weekly call with LACDPH. Our ability to bring students back to campus and resume normal operations this fall depends on how well vaccinations roll out and how the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations decrease. The county has stated clearly that even when schools reopen, we should expect to continue the COVID-19 precautions we’ve been following.
Q: What is the likelihood that the College will be allowed to bring students back to campus for all or part of the spring semester?
A: Given the high infection rate this winter in LA County, we have decided to remain remote for the spring 2021 term. Read the announcement from the President’s Cabinet for details.
Q: If we are not allowed to bring students back to reside on campus, is there a possibility that we could consider some model to bring seniors to campus to work on Clinic or Thesis?
A: Right now, we are only allowed to have essential employees on campus.
Co-Curricular Life on Campus
Q: Have students and faculty been successful in pursuing their clinic experiences this year?
A: We believe so. We recruited clinics last summer with expectation that we might have to have projects continue remotely for the entire year. As of this call, it looks like we will have deliverables for each clinic team. All clinics are on track to be completed on time with students partnering with their clinic liaisons and faculty advisors remotely.
Courses and Modalities of Instruction
Q: Beyond course evaluations is there a way to provide feedback regarding remote learning to help shape spring semester?
A: We will be sending out a second round of the technology survey that we issued during the summer, which includes opportunities to provide feedback on remote learning to date. You can also reach out directly to faculty members, department chairs, academic deans and dean of the faculty with any feedback.
Q: How have fall classes and research worked from your perspective? Will there be any reports to families about how academics went in the fall and lessons learned? Any changes for spring?
A: Over the winter break, faculty will be looking at the assessments we’ve gathered about how classes went in the fall. We’ll look at teaching evaluations, which provides some feedback from students. We’ll look at the second technology survey. After the scholarly standing committee meets early in the break, the academic deans will have an opportunity to reflect on the data and synthesize what we know, and make recommendations regarding the spring. We’ve already sent faculty some provisional recommendations from the Student Advisory Board. We are always looking to improve our teaching and learning.
Q: Will the new Core changes planned for fall impact the Class of 2024?
A: It’s not clear yet whether there will be an impact on the class of 2024. Faculty will be discussing whether there are any modifications of the core that can be introduced for the sophomore class, but up till now the planning of the faculty has been largely devoted to managing the transition to remote education. The Core implementation committee continues to meet and we’ll have a better understanding of how the changes will impact the Class of 2024 later this spring.
Q: If courses begin entirely online, could practical/support/lab staff be on campus to produce filmed or interactive distance learning?
A: Faculty are allowed to come to campus to conduct essential activities related to course development and delivery. Please coordinate with your department chair and/or the dean of the faculty.
Employment and Benefits
Q: Should staff anticipate changing job duties or having to work in other areas?
A: We have already done this in some cases, and we would anticipate possibly needing to do this as we progress into the fall. Every Cabinet member will review the needs of their departments carefully to make changes in job duties and responsibilities within their areas.
Q: Has all the money currently in the EERF been spent? Will we need to raise more to support employees whose furloughs will be extended into spring semester?
A: The College raised $180K in the first round of fundraising for the EERF, both cash in hand and voluntary salary reduction contributions committed through August 2021. With available funds, we have been able to provide financial assistance to our furloughed employees and cover their portion of health insurance contributions through the end of February 2021. Since furloughs will need to be extended into 2021, given current LA County orders, we are doing another round of fundraising for the EERF in order to reach our initial goal of $200,000. Additional contributions will allow us to continue the health insurance subsidy until August 2021 and to increase the amount of the EERF-139 awards. Please see the email from Andrew Dorantes for more information and for ways to donate.
Q: Is the Community Emergency Aid Fund meant to help us prevent furloughs if we cannot be in residence in the spring? Is the HMC Community Emergency Aid Fund something staff, students, and faculty in need can apply to or is it intended to support the operating budget? What is the EERF?
A: The Community Emergency Aid Fund provides operational support to the College following the unforeseen expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically, the need to cover unforeseen budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic. The College also has created an Employee Emergency Relief Fund to provide direct support to employees who were furloughed as a result of students not being allowed to return to live on campus.
Q: My daughter is in the process of getting braces, and I don’t know how this is going to work with our benefits if we have layoffs or furloughs.
A: We have committed to continuing health insurance for our staff who may have to be furloughed. Please reach out to Human Resources to discuss your specific needs. Since staff members’ concerns and needs vary greatly, we can better respond once we know more about a person’s specific circumstances and needs.
Q: Have we looked at reducing health benefits?
A: It is our intention to do everything we can to preserve health benefits, and we plan to cover the cost of those for any staff we are forced to furlough.
Q: If and when faculty and staff are allowed to return to work, will they be given an option to work remotely?
A: Cabinet will be discussing this question in the coming weeks. At the present time, we are still encouraging those employees who don’t have to physically be on campus to continue to work remotely if they can.
Q: If students are allowed to return to campus, will the College also bring staff who are telecommuting back to campus?
A: Los Angeles County expects that most employees will continue to telecommute as much as possible in order to reduce density on campus.
Q: Are cuts to the dependent scholarship program being considered?
A: Not at this time. We felt cutting this program would have a direct and immediate negative impact on staff and faculty and wanted to avoid that.
Q: If students aren’t allowed to return to campus in the spring, will the College need to furlough additional employees or cut salaries?
A: Due to the excellent work departments across the college have done to reduce spending and additional financial aid savings, salary cuts for FY 20/21 will not be necessary. If HMC is not approved for the pilot program unfortunately, we would need to continue with all of the current F&M and dining services employee furloughs. If approved for the pilot program, approximately two thirds of the dining and F&M staff furloughs will continue since we will only house one third our students on campus.
Q: Will the College accept more voluntary furloughs? If so, what is the process for interested employees?
A: Yes, the College will accept additional voluntary furloughs. For those employees interested in voluntary furloughs, the first step is to speak with your supervisor and then reach out to Dana Nagengast, AVP for human resources at email@example.com.
Q: If furloughed, can we cash out vacation hours?
A: Furloughed employees are allowed to be paid for accrued time.
Q: If furloughed, can employees collect unemployment?
A: Employees can apply for unemployment and decisions to award unemployment to an individual are made by the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD).
Q: If staff are furloughed, would the College continue to pay benefits?
A: Health benefits (medical, dental and vision), will continue. However, no other benefits, such as dependent scholarship or retirement contributions, will be provided for furloughed staff.
Q: If we go to furloughs, do we have to reapply for positions or do we keep our positions?
A: It is our intent that you would keep your position and that furloughs would be temporary.
Q: At what rate will furloughed staff retain benefits? Will the cost to the employee remain the same per pay period? What happens if the employee does not pay their portion?
A: We would continue to pay the HMC portion. The employee would continue to be responsible for their portion. We will need to verify this with our existing plans and post an update if there are changes. If the employee does not pay their portion of the premium, we believe that the coverage would end, but we need to verify this.
Q: How can the College help employees with burnout?
A: The College, through the Office of Alumni Relations, is offering a number of workshops to which staff and faculty are invited. For details, visit Online Offerings on the alumni website.
Q: I’m wondering how the College is planning on supporting parents with school age or preschool children when we are looking at many more months without full school or child care?
A: We encourage faculty members to speak with their department chair, with Dean of Faculty Lisa Sullivan, or Dana Nagengast in the Office of Human Resources.
Q: How will HMC support people working from home with kids?
A: The College can provide support in different ways, depending on the situation. For staff members, if you can work remotely, the college will continue to support that. If you can’t work remotely and are required to come to campus, we encourage you to work with your supervisor and human resources to identify if flexible work schedules might be a possibility. In addition, the College offers a backup care program with Bright Horizons, which provides the employee with 80 hours of care per academic year. We encourage you to reach out to human resources for assistance in accessing these benefits. If these options have been exhausted or are not possible, we ask that you work with your supervisor or department chair and human resources to look at any other option that might be feasible.
Q: If salary cuts are required in the future, will Harvey Mudd commit to progressive cuts like the UC system’s 2008-09 policy, where those with bigger salaries took on larger cuts while those with smaller salaries faced smaller cuts (10% vs 4%)?
A: This would be a decision made by the board of trustees based on the recommendation of the board’s compensation committee in consultation with President Klawe and Cabinet. President Klawe is in favor of advocating for a “progressive cut” approach.
Q: What is the extent to which the College would be willing to dip into its endowment or go to trustees to ask them to help out vs. cutting retirement, salaries or other benefits?
A: We have discussed with board leadership. The majority of funds in the College’s endowment are restricted—much of that by the original donors—so we cannot spend it on other things and the process to modify that would be lengthy. There is a portion of the endowment that the board controls and that can be designated. In many cases, these funds are being designated by the board for specific purposes such as to contribute to financial aid or to cover faculty salaries. Even if we changed those designations, we would still face a negative impact in areas where we would need continued support. It is important that we preserve intergenerational equity, ensuring that financial aid and other critical resources will be available for future generations of students, faculty and staff vs. addressing the current financial crisis by making short-term endowment payout changes that could have outsized impacts on future generations Mudders.
Q: If there are cuts to pay or benefits, will those cuts be shared equally between faculty and staff?
A: We do not believe we will have to have reductions in pay or benefits, but given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty around what government and public health officials will allow, we cannot predict what may happen. While we have modeled various mechanisms for meeting budget shortfalls in the online-only scenario, it is too early to predict which of those specific actions we may be forced to take. It’s also possible that those with higher salaries would be asked to take a larger pay reduction to help protect the salaries of people who make less. If furloughs are required, it is much more likely that staff would be furloughed than faculty, because faculty will still need to provide online instruction to our students.
Q: Have we considered implementing a pay ceiling, as in, we wouldn’t pay anyone more than $150,000?
A: This is not something we have considered, nor are we aware of any institution having considered this type of approach.
Q: Have you identified pay cut bands and associated cuts and can you share this information?
A: There has been no discussion at Cabinet yet about the specifics of the modeling; we prefer to not share numbers until we have been able to discuss the various modeling scenarios as a group. It is also important to note that any adjustments will need to be reviewed and approved by the board.
Q: Has there been a change to retirement contributions?
A: There has been no change. At the present time, the College is continuing its contribution with no interruption.
Q: When will we know the final answer on whether cuts to the College’s retirement contribution for faculty and staff will be necessary?
A: We believe we will not have to make cuts to the retirement contribution. However, we are still verifying that we can redirect some of the endowed funds to make adjustments to other budget areas. Once we receive that verification, we should be in a position to provide a final update to everyone.
Q: Can faculty choose to supplement their own retirement accounts though tax deferred annuities to get to 12% contribution?
A: Yes, any employee may do that as long as they do not exceed the maximum contribution limits. There are some exceptions for making additional contributions—for example, if you are over 50, you may make an additional $6,000 in contributions. We are happy to discuss options with you and coordinate with TCCS to make adjustments.
Q: Is the percentage that gets put into retirement from the College fixed or could it be variable on a per employee basis? Some might prefer to take less money home but would rather keep the same level of contributions to their retirement accounts—is that possible?
A: Most likely not. Since we have to amend the retirement plan agreement with TIAA, we will need to make sure we are consistent.
Q: Given the trustees’ decision to freeze salaries for the coming year, will there be a time when a later increase will be large enough to get salaries back to where they would have been?
A: Given that this is a global pandemic that will most likely radically affect incomes around the world, it is unlikely that there is a scenario where we or most other organizations/colleges will be in a position to make up the difference.
Q: Why is there no staff representation in shared governance at the College? Why do students have more of a voice in the running of the College than the staff do?
A: Shared governance with the faculty is fairly common in small liberal arts colleges. In our case, the faculty are primarily responsible for the curriculum and the policies and procedures found in the Faculty Notebook. Students primarily have shared governance in areas around student activities. We continue to seek ways to involve staff members in decision-making at the College where appropriate. If you have additional suggestions, we encourage you to share those with your direct supervisor or any member of the President’s Cabinet.
Q: Can staff (and faculty) anonymously vote our preferences for our preferred benefits or compensation cuts to prevent anyone having to be furloughed or laid off?
A: This is not a situation where faculty or staff can vote. The ultimate decision is made by the HMC Board of Trustees. There will be a recommendation by the Cabinet and we are using the feedback we receive through questions in these meetings to help guide our recommendations.
Q: Would HMC consider implementing a vacation or sick leave bank?
A: The College made the decision back in March to allow any employee to accumulate a negative sick leave balance. If you are sick, we want you to stay home for your own safety as well as for the safety of others in our community. Given we are providing unlimited paid leave for illness right now, we don’t believe creating a bank is necessary.
Q: Under Section 2802 of the California Labor Code, employees should be reimbursed for Wi-Fi if they are expected to work from home. Will Harvey Mudd cover the cost of this?
A: Due to evolving government guidance, it is necessary for the College to implement a COVID-19 Telecommuting Policy beginning December 2020, which includes a taxable allowance to help cover costs associated with cell phone, internet, utilities and the use of non-HMC owned peripherals, such as printers and other devices. If you did not complete the COVID-19 Telecommuting Agreement, please do so. If you are required to work remotely and you don’t have appropriate internet access to do so, we encourage you to contact your supervisor to determine what alternative work arrangements might be made. For any further questions, please contact Human Resources.
Health and Safety
Q: If antibody testing becomes available, will HMC purchase the kits so we can be tested and return to work?
A: The College is working with Student Health Services to provide testing to essential employees who are required to come to campus on a regular basis. Additional information is available in the College’s COVID-19 Testing Policy.
Q: If we need something from our office to bring home for work, will we be able to go to campus to get it?
A: If you have not been designated as an essential employee who should report to campus for work, we ask that before coming to campus for any reason, that you please reach out to your supervisor or your area vice president to request permission. If you are given permission to come to campus, please complete the symptom screening questionnaire before traveling to campus, limit your time on campus as much as possible and wear a mask/face covering at all times while on campus.
Q: How will contact tracing happen? Is there a publicly available set of guidelines for contact tracing if and when an individual tests positive?
A: The College follows the guidelines from the CDC for close contacts. For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated. Right now, the general idea is that there will be two complementary approaches. One will be an app that people have on their phones. The other is to involve individuals to assist with tracing—those will most likely be people working with TCCS or possibly in Student Health Services with the addition of some students hired from CGU’s School of Community and Global Health who have been trained. There also will be individuals on each campus who have received training to assist. We will share additional information as plans solidify.
Q: Do we anticipate any staffing changes on campus with the post-Thanksgiving rise in Covid cases in L.A. County?
A: No, during our planning for the fall and spring semesters we determined which employees need to be on campus when students are not in residence, and we do not need to make changes at this point.
Q: Are we okay with positive cases of COVID-19 like we have seen on other campuses around the country?
A: We are taking steps to try to prevent an outbreak on campus. That said, it would be naive to believe we will not have any positive cases on campus. We are making every effort to follow the guidance of health officials, including asking our students (once they are allowed to return to campus) to quarantine in their rooms for the first 14 days as well as to follow stringent guidelines related to the use of masks or face coverings, social distancing, etc. We will be asking students to study and eat outdoors, maintaining social distance and not to have other students in their rooms. They are expected to only leave campus for essential services such as doctor’s appointments and to get groceries.
Q: Will HMC make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory if a vaccine becomes available?
A: We strongly encourage that all members of our community get both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccination (once it is widely available) if possible. We encourage students, faculty and staff to refer to CDC Flu Vaccine Guidance for medical/allergy considerations.
Q: If a vaccine comes out, is that something that Mudd will arrange for students to have or will families have to do that themselves?
A: Student Health Services has submitted an application with CalVax to become a vaccination site as part of the California COVID-19 Vaccination Program. SHS is currently awaiting approval from the state. It’s important to note that initially, SHS does not anticipate being able to vaccinate students, who are currently in Phase 2 of the LA County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization and Allocation plans.
Q: What are the plans for COVID-19 testing? Will it be mandatory and how often?
A: We plan to regularly test faculty and staff who are required to be on campus. Additional information is available in the College’s COVID-19 Testing Policy.
Q: Will COVID-19 testing be available on campus?
A: Yes, through Student Health Services for asymptomatic individuals. Testing will be free to students, as well as to those faculty and staff who are deemed essential workers. All students who live on campus or at the HMC-sponsored Arrow Vista Apartments will be required to be tested twice weekly. Faculty and staff who are experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider to discuss whether testing is necessary. Faculty and staff who are experiencing symptoms should NOT report to campus for work and should contact their direct supervisor.
Q: Will Student Health Services charge a fee for COVID-19 testing?
A: Student Health Services will not charge students to test for COVID-19.
Q: Is there a plan for campus to get all students vaccinated?
A: Students are not a priority in Los Angeles County or the State of California for vaccination right now, and given the speed at which vaccinations are occurring, it may be some time before students are even eligible to receive the vaccine. The college presidents have been discussing whether we can require vaccination for students who want to live on campus. It is more likely that we would strongly encourage students to be vaccinated if they want to live on campus, but the situation is constantly evolving.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the vaccine and will Mudd help us get the vaccine? Is HMC extending vaccinations to furloughed employees as well?
A: Student Health Services (SHS), has been approved to be a vaccination center. They have requested enough doses of the vaccine to allow them to give two shots to currently active faculty and staff of The Claremont Colleges. Since they don’t know when they will receive the vaccine, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to not wait until SHS has doses available. Each area VP has received letters verifying employment to share with the faculty and staff in their respective areas should they need them to get vaccinated. Based on guidance we have received, we are unable to provide employment verification for furloughed employees at this time.
Q: Will we be required to get the vaccine? Are there any exceptions?
A: The legal guidance continues to change. We are strongly encouraging employees to receive the vaccine as soon as they are able to do so. There are exceptions for those with certain disabilities or who object for religious reasons. Given that everyone’s situation is unique, we encourage you to direct your specific questions to the Office of Human Resources.
Q: Will students, faculty and staff be required to take the Covid-19 vaccine if we resume residential living? Is Mudd one of the priority places to receive it?
A: We want as many students, faculty and staff as possible to take the vaccine and will strongly encourage all members of our community who are able to do so to receive it. Mudd is not a priority vaccine recipient; the first vaccines will go to frontline medical workers and nursing homes. As an educational institution, we are on the list of essential services but we don’t know the time frame yet for receiving the vaccine.
Q: Will Mudd still require masks in fall 2021? Safety protocols in 2021?
A: We will require masks throughout the spring semester; decisions about safety protocols for the fall semester will depend on the availability of vaccines and rates of community transmission.
Q: What are the College guidelines for masks/face coverings?
A: Essential employees who have been asked to come to campus for work, along with a small number of faculty members and others, must wear masks/face coverings when they are on campus. This is in keeping with recommendations from public health officials in order to protect people from the spread of COVID-19. Employees and students may wear their own masks/face coverings or if they need one, they should contact Theresa Lauer in facilities and maintenance. For additional details and requirements, visit the College’s Guide for Faculty, Staff and Student Employees Returning to Work.
Q: What are the expectations about wearing a mask when you are in your office?
A: If you work in an individual office, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required 6 feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, masks/face coverings should be worn at all times. If you are the only person in your office with the door closed, you may remove your face covering. The College is investigating the possibility of providing face shields for those who need an alternative to the mask/face covering.
Q: Will laboratory research performed by staff and faculty (not students) potentially be allowed this fall even if students are not allowed back on campus?
A: A planning group comprised of Dean of Faculty Lisa Sullivan, the Department Chairs Committee; Chair of the Faculty Tom Donnelly, Registrar Mark Ashley, and Senior Director for Emergency Preparedness and Safety Theresa Lauer will develop plans around these issues. That work will begin soon, and updates will be provided. There is a good chance we’ll be able to let people into their labs at some point over the summer. It’s unlikely to be in the next two weeks, but possibly sometime in the next three to four weeks, provided safety protocols are followed.
Q: If I live with someone who is immunosuppressed, will I be required or even able to go back to work?
A: It depends on the facts and circumstances. We’ll handle it on a person-by-person basis. We encourage you to contact your direct supervisor, the VP for your area or to the Office of Human Resources to discuss your specific situation.
Q: Does Dana’s response to the question about living with a family member that has a pre-existing condition/high risk to contract COVID-19, apply to staff with family members who are first responders and exposed every day? They may not be high risk but they could be a risk for others on campus.
A: Yes, the response is the same (see above). It would be handled in a similar way.
Q: Have any staff, faculty, students or family members tested positive?
A: Yes. Announcements of results will be posted to the Coronavirus Information home page. It’s important to note that patient confidentiality requirements will not permit us to tell people the name of a person who tests positive, merely to inform people that someone they may have been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19.
Q: Will staff and faculty have to use their own sick time to quarantine if there is a positive test on campus?
A: If you are sick, we ask that you do not come to campus, alert your supervisor as soon as possible, and you record your time away from campus as sick time. The response to the question of what to do if someone on campus has tested positive is nuanced. Just because someone tests positive on campus does not necessarily mean that employees should quarantine themselves and not report to work. The response depends on whether an employee has been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.” If you believe you have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and you are otherwise healthy and not showing symptoms, you should speak to your supervisor, who as necessary, will put you in touch with HR so they can walk you through an assessment of whether quarantine is advised by HMC.
Q: How are you bringing departments back to campus?
A: Each department and vice president is handling this issue differently given the needs of their particular area.
Q: What will be the options for staff who cannot work remotely but still need to work?
A: I know this is an uncertain time for everyone, and I’m sorry we are going through this. We have two priorities for the college:
- Protecting the safety and well-being of all members of our community, and
- Providing a high-quality educational experience for our students.
Each vice president has been asked to develop plans that outline the needs of their particular divisions as well as the resources and procedures necessary for us to continue the College’s educational mission. If we are able to be on campus with special restrictions (cleaning, masks, sneeze guards, etc.) I am hopeful that we can avoid layoffs and pay cuts. Our strong preference is still to have students back on campus this fall with physical distancing and other safety measures in place to protect our community. Staff who cannot work remotely may reach out to their direct supervisor, to the vice president over their particular division, or to the Office of Human Resources. Since staff members’ concerns and needs may vary greatly, we can better respond once we know more about a person’s specific circumstances and needs.
Q: On a safety level for all our employees what threat level do you think we are at if we start coming back to campus full-time/part-time?
A: Provided everyone is following the appropriate safety measures (face coverings, regular hand washing, maintaining physical distancing, etc.) the threat level should be low. Anyone who is not feeling well should not come to campus and should instead contact their immediate supervisor.
Q: What do we do about faculty or staff who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and do not feel it is safe to be on campus? Could some people continue to work remotely even if others do not?
A: It depends on the facts and circumstances. We encourage staff and faculty members to speak with their supervisor, department chair, with Dean of Faculty Lisa Sullivan, or Dana Nagengast in the Office of Human Resources. Staff may reach out to their direct supervisors, to the vice president over their particular division, or to the Office of Human Resources. Since faculty and staff members’ concerns and needs may vary greatly, we can better respond once we know more about a person’s specific circumstances and needs.
Q: How confident can non-essential staff feel they’ll be allowed to work from home due to either having a pre-existing condition or living with family members that do?
A: The June 18 LA County Department of Public Health Order recommends that employers offer telework or other accommodations to those age 65 or older and all employees of any age who have active or unstable pre-existing health conditions. Therefore, if an employee has a pre-existing condition and if your presence is not required on campus and you can work remotely, the College will allow you to continue to telecommute. Remote working arrangements will be approved by your direct supervisor and area vice president. If your presence is required on campus and you cannot work remotely, you can currently take advantage of enhanced paid sick leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which provides 80-hours of emergency paid sick leave (or equivalent for PT employees) if you are unable to work or telework due to qualifying reasons. These benefits are available during the period of time that the College employee count is below 500.
However, if you are living with a family member that has a pre-existing condition and if your presence is not required on campus and you can work remotely, the College will allow you to continue to telecommute. If your presence is required on campus and you cannot work remotely, please reach out to your supervisor, who will coordinate with HR, to discuss options, including ADA reasonable accommodations to meet your unique situation. This will be handled on a case by case basis, considering the various facts and circumstances for each employee.
Q: If we have a pre-existing condition that makes us more susceptible to COVID, will we be required to provide a doctor’s note?
A: As mentioned by Dana during the forum, each situation is unique and we will evaluate each situation based on the individual facts and circumstances. However, the following is our general response. The College has a policy and practice to require doctor’s notices when someone is sick and cannot come to work. Understanding the unique times we are in, including the difficulty of obtaining non-emergency medical care, when the CA stay at home order was enacted in mid-March, the College temporarily suspended the requirement that one provide a notice when someone was sick for more than three days. Since March, most, if not all medical providers began providing tele-med services that could be quickly scheduled. Recently some medical providers have begun providing in-person care. The following is the College’s approach regarding medical notes from a physician regarding pre-existing condition that makes us more susceptible to COVID:
- For individuals telecommuting, the College will not require a doctor’s certification that you suffer from a pre-existing condition that makes you more susceptible to COVID-19.
- For employees deemed to be on-campus essential employees, the College will require a doctor’s certification that you suffer from a preexisting condition that makes you more susceptible to COVID.
Q: Should staff with asthma be on campus?
A: We encourage staff with health concerns to reach out to Human Resources to discuss their individual situations as each situation is unique and we will evaluate each situation based on the individual facts and circumstances.
Q: Are the proposed budget reductions for a single year or are they propagating forward?
A: The budget reductions proposed in the various models would be for the 2020–2021 fiscal year only. Right now, the intention would be to return to the pre-COVID-19 funding level after the current fiscal year ends (on June 30, 2021).
Q: We’ve discussed the importance of ongoing reduction of spending; would it be helpful if we cut back on conference registrations?
A: Generally, we are referring to spending reductions realized in the operating budget, not from savings of grant support. There is the possibility that some grants would allow for operating purchases that could offset an operating budget expense. If there is this level of flexibility and you need to purchase something you would have had to purchase anyway, it could be helpful, but again, it depends on how the grant is written.
Q: Do the budgeting scenarios change if we are required to be remote in spring?
A: Since we have announced our intention to remain online for spring 2021 and given that there will not be students living on campus, we have had to extend the furloughs of those employees in F&M and Dining Services who were already furloughed. At this point, we believe that the existing furloughs, coupled with additional budget savings, should obviate the need for additional furloughs or salary reductions. If that changes, we will notify everyone as soon as possible.
Q: Besides pulling from the endowment, has the College considered other options, such as taking on debt?
A: The College recently took out a significant amount of debt, and our current debt level is at the top of what our debt policy allows. In addition, there are constraints on our ability to cover the debt service from the operating budget if we go beyond the current amount.
Q: How can the individual arms of academic affairs help by reviewing budgets and considering potential cuts?
A: We are activating the Department Chairs Committee to think about budget scenarios, and we will be meeting with that group to dig into that more deeply.
Q: Does any of the College’s endowment principle carry a stipulation that it may be withdrawn to cover emergencies or unforeseen hardships to the college?
A: The majority of funds in the College’s endowment are restricted—much of that by the original donors—so we cannot spend it on other things and the process to modify that would be lengthy. There is a portion of the endowment that the board controls and that can be designated. In many cases, these funds are being designated by the board for specific purposes such as to contribute to financial aid or to cover faculty salaries. Even if we changed those designations, we would still face a negative impact in areas where we would need continued support. It is important that we preserve intergenerational equity, ensuring that financial aid and other critical resources will be available for future generations of students, faculty and staff vs. addressing the current financial crisis by making short-term endowment payout changes that could have outsized impacts on future generations Mudders.
Q: Has HMC applied for and received COVID-19 aid?
A: Yes, we received some direct support from the CARES Act that went to help students. The other portion of those funds helped to offset the room and board refunds we provided to students and families last spring. We have been reviewing opportunities on an ongoing basis and believe we have taken advantage of those available to us. There are some programs to which we didn’t apply because the College doesn’t meet the criteria for various reasons.
Q: When will the McGregor Center open?
A: The construction is going well and should be completed by March. We don’t expect to actually move in until the summer, simply because we don’t do move-ins to academic buildings in the middle of the semester.
Q: We received a message that the College would no longer pay for the Piazza service. Why were faculty not consulted on this decision?
A: It is our understanding that the service is still available, albeit in a contribution-supported model. We decided not to purchase a site license at this time, given the College’s current budget crisis, and instead, are waiting until we can do a more thorough review of all site licenses in consultation with faculty this summer.
Equipment (Laptops, iPads, Software)
- The laptop cart program has been suspended for the academic year 2020–2021.
- The laptops from the laptop carts will be placed in the loaner program for semester long loans to students.
- No justification is required for a student to request a loan.
- The Help Desk will continue to function as it did after we left campus in spring 2020.
- Remote support will be provided during help desk opening hours.
- No one will be physically present at the Help Desk in Sprague.
- If equipment needs to be handled physically by CIS staff, drop off and pick up arrangements will be made. CIS staff will sanitize equipment before and after working on it.
- Printing will not be required for submission of class work.
- Other printing is strongly discouraged.
- The Academic Planning Contingency Committee is working on a way to ensure that lab notebooks are not passed around.
- No networked shared printers will be operational. This is to avoid transmission of infection (people gather at shared printers; printers are difficult to sanitize on a regular basis.).
- Administrative and academic departments are strongly encouraged not to use shared printers and are responsible for cleaning them if they do.
Q: Why are we dividing the town hall meetings between faculty, staff and students? If we are one community, why not have them with everyone together?
A: The only reasons we’ve separated the groups so far is because the situations and many of the concerns are different for faculty and staff. We felt it was more efficient to have sessions with the different groups separately, so we could focus on the concerns specific to each community group. There is no reason we couldn’t have a joint session if everyone preferred that. If you feel that we should have a joint session, we encourage you to reach out to your direct supervisor or any member of the Cabinet.
Travel and Study Abroad
Q: Are there guidelines for distant travel which would require employees to quarantine?
A: We realize that employees will experience family emergencies that could require them to travel outside the local community. Generally, the College will not permit College-sponsored, business-related travel, either domestically or internationally. If you voluntarily travel away from your local community (i.e., visiting a tourist destination such as a beach, amusement park, etc.) know that these activities increase your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you will need to stay at home until you are no longer considered infectious. Please contact your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources for additional guidance.
- HMC COVID-19 Testing Policy for Faculty and Staff
- Teaching and Working Remotely
- Employee Benefits Information Regarding COVID-19
- Provisional course modalities (access to this document requires you to be signed in to your HMC Google account)
- TCCS Contact Tracing Team Chart (PDF)
- Contact Tracing Protocol (PDF)