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Working Through COVID-19

UMD globe

March 13, 2020

Dear campus community,

Yesterday, Governor Hogan announced actions to protect public health and safety, and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In President Loh’s message to the campus community on March 10, the university also announced major actions being implemented to protect our employees and students. Some of the actions will disrupt how we do our jobs. I am writing today to provide guidance to help with decision making about these impacts, including social distancing for those who continue to report to work on campus, increased use of telework and leave, and related workplace issues.

This is a dynamic and evolving situation. The university is working to provide options that may be used to adjust your personal and family risk, and taking actions that could help limit the spread of illness in the community. We should prepare so we can help lessen the risk for everyone, even if we do not feel personally at risk.

After spring break (beginning March 18), offices will be open and some staff will continue to work on campus. Updates will continue to be communicated by email and on the university website www.umd.edu/virusinfo.

How We Will Work

During this period, we are encouraging all supervisors to think practically and creatively about how to support employees in caring for their health and reducing risk of exposure to COVID-19, while enabling them to continue performing the important work they do for the university.

The University of Maryland has many activities that must continue, even in this period of significant disruption. Many of these activities require being physically present to do the work. For employees who will report to campus during this period (through April 10), the following guidelines are in place:

  • We continue to do enhanced cleaning, especially around high traffic areas bathrooms, meeting rooms, elevators, and dining locations. All employees can assist by wiping chairs, tables and other high touch surfaces after using them (e.g. door knobs, faucets, coffee machines, refrigerators).
  • Clean your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue in a waste basket. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or bent elbow, not your hands.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people—a practice called social distancing. Maintain space from others (approximately 6 feet), especially anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Do not shake hands—a smile, wave, nod or bow are very good ways to greet someone.

Some jobs can temporarily be performed remotely. As President Loh previously announced, the university will begin operating partially in an online environment after spring break, on March 18, with all classroom instruction conducted virtually beginning on March 27 through at least April 10. During this period, telework/work from home may be available for jobs that can be done remotely. The UHR website has frequently asked questions (FAQ) and other resources to help.

  • Telework/work from home is a work arrangement in which employees complete the same work normally performed at the workplace, but do it from home or other locations away from the office.
  • UMD has a wide range of job requirements and different levels of flexibility, so a “one size fits all” approach to telework is not possible. Please use the following guidance:
    • Some employees are currently approved for telework. As Governor Hogan announced yesterday, these employees are required to telework.
    • If you are not currently approved for telework, you believe your job can be performed remotely, and you wish to telework, please talk with your supervisor to determine whether you should transition (partially or completely) to an online work environment. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to support telework to the maximum extent possible.
    • If you are not currently approved for telework and your supervisor believes your job can be performed remotely, your supervisor may require you to telework.
    • If, despite best efforts, telework is not feasible and you continue to work on campus, you must follow the guidelines for social distancing and hygiene listed in the section above.
    • More information, including resources for supervisors, is available at uhr.umd.edu/telework and keepworking.umd.edu. These websites will be updated with new resources, so check them frequently.

What to do if you are sick

  • If you are sick, stay home. Do not report to work and seek medical attention, as necessary.
  • During this unprecedented situation, the university is increasing the flexibility of sick and advanced sick leave, and excused absence. Your supervisor and HR staff will work with you if you do not currently have sufficient leave available.
  • Inform your supervisor if you are sick, and continue to keep your supervisor informed during your absence.
  • Supervisors, check with your human resources team when you have a staff member who is sick. They will help you.
  • A thorough description of UMD employee leave types may be found at uhr.umd.edu/leave; questions may also be directed to the University Human Resources (UHR) Leave Management team at umdleave@umd.edu or 301-405-7575.

If someone in your household is sick, you may stay home to provide care.

  • During this unprecedented situation, the university is increasing the availability of sick and advanced sick leave, and excused absence. If you do not currently have sufficient leave available, please contact the University Human Resources Leave Management team at umdleave@umd.edu.
  • Please notify your supervisor, and continue to keep your supervisor informed during your absence.

Instructions for timesheets and payroll

  • Employees should continue to complete timesheets. Those employees who swipe in and out will be informed directly about how their timesheets will be completed.
  • Payroll will continue to be processed and employees will be paid.
    For those employees who do not have direct deposit, paychecks will be distributed as usual.
  • If you do not have direct deposit of your paycheck, we strongly recommend that you enroll in the Payroll Direct Deposit program.
    More information can be found on the payroll website.

Resources for managing fears and anxiety around coronavirus

As information about COVID-19 grows, there can be a wide range of thoughts, feelings and reactions. We understand this time can be stressful.

The health and safety of each employee is paramount for the university. We will continue putting measures in place that prioritize our community’s health and prevent the spread of infection. If you have questions regarding employment, please talk with your supervisor. Employees may also reach out to UHR at uhrconnect@umd.edu or by phone at 301-405-7575.

Most sincerely,

Jewel M. Washington
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources

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