Preparing our faculty and staff for possible disruptions from COVID-19

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e have been closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. We understand the anxiety many individuals are experiencing during this time of unprecedented health challenges and unknowns. 

As is always true of the Bobcat family, we each do our part to help each other. We must also recognize that we are each responsible to help ensure a safe, healthy workplace for the collective well-being of everyone — so that we all remain healthy for our families, friends and neighbors, and for the continuity of university operations. 

A lot has been happening at QU to prepare for precautionary and constructive measures we may all need to take. Here are several important updates and resources to ensure that we are ready for any possible work-related disruptions that might be caused by the coronavirus.

Increase use of video conferencing
Employees are encouraged to use conference calls and video conferencing when possible in place of large, face-to-face meetings for the next several weeks. This will minimize opportunities for contagion. In the unlikely event the university would need to close for a period of time, this practice will ensure employees are already familiar with the technology needed to work from home. IT support services are available to employees who need assistance getting set up with these virtual technologies. Please contact Lauren Erardi, director of academic technology, at lauren.erardi@qu.edu

More flexible work-from-home policy
Given the unique challenges we are facing with both COVID-19 and a more aggressive flu season, Quinnipiac will support more flexible use of work-from-home arrangements during the foreseeable future. Some employees may also face greater health risks and should be assisted in protecting their own health by working from home. We recognize that not all positions are suited to telecommuting. If a job can effectively be performed from home, if the employee has the necessary technology, and the employee expresses a desire to work remotely, managers should attempt to support the employee’s request to work from home. 

Please stay home if you’re feeling sick
It is critical that employees NOT report to work if they are feeling ill and experiencing any symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, body aches, chills or fatigue. QU provides paid sick time and other benefits to compensate employees who are unable to work due to illness. If you need to self-isolate at home or be quarantined due to possible exposure to an individual known to have COVID-19, rest assured that the university will continue to pay you for that time away from work, even if you have exhausted your paid sick leave. Your health and the well-being of the rest of our community are vital at this point, and are the most important priorities. Specific benefits-related questions, including additional resources, such as the Employee Assistance Program and LiveHealth Online, should be directed to Laura Lepeska, director of benefits, at laura.lepeska@qu.edu

QU travel
Beginning March 15, we are suspending all university-sponsored travel for the remainder of the semester, including organized trips and individual travel for research and conferences.  For trips already booked, please contact the airline carrier/hotel for refunds, and/or work with staff to revise the travel plans.  For any exceptions, please contact your relevant dean or division head. 

Practice preventive health measures – regularly and aggressively
Please remember that the best protection from illness is self-protection and self-monitoring. It is essential that you practice the following healthy habits — all the time — to minimize your risk of contracting any virus:

  • Get plenty of sleep and good nutrition – a healthy body is the best defense against illness.
  • Wash your hands with soap frequently, for at least 20 seconds, and especially after sneezing, making other bodily contact with another individual, and before eating. Health authorities suggest you make a habit of washing your hands as soon as you arrive home from work.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick – health officials call this “social distancing” and recommend staying about three to six feet away from someone who is sick.
  • Use an elbow bump to say hello! Do not think you’re being disrespectful by not shaking hands – it’s one of the best preventive measures you can take right now.

Support each other through COVID-19
Coronavirus is not specific to any ethnicity or race, and Quinnipiac is committed to ensuring that no one in our community is singled out or feels discriminated against due to misinformation or ignorance. We’re proud of the kind, compassionate and respectful community that characterizes our Bobcat family, and how our population has met these challenging times in a decent, sensible and understanding way.

We will be announcing additional measures regarding our teaching plans and student community. We know these last several days have been unsettling. By practicing patience instead of panic, and focusing on facts and not fear, we will come through this together — as a healthy and stronger community. Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation.

With appreciation,

Judy Olian
President, Quinnipiac University