University of Connecticut faculty currently working remotely were told in a letter sent Oct. 21 to plan on working from home for the spring semester.
“Today we are confirming that staff who are working remotely should plan on continuing to do so through the spring semester, pending some change in the status of the virus and the tools we have to combat it,” the letter said, sent on behalf of the University Provost Carl Lejuez, Executive Vice President for Administration Scott Jordan, and Associate Vice President Chris Delello.
The letter cited the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut as a factor in this decision, as well as uncertainty about the potential for a vaccine.
At time of publication, UConn reported 14 current positive cases at the Storrs campus, while Connecticut reported 292 current hospitalizations, according to their respective coronavirus data tracking webpages.
University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz clarified that this decision is mainly meant for non-teaching staff, many of whom have been working remotely since the spring semester. It will not impact faculty who have decided to keep the modality of their course in-person.
“Faculty will be expected to teach the class in the modality in which it was listed when students made the selection,” Reitz said. “This would provide the most stability and predictability for students.”
The need for faculty members to be present on-campus will be dictated by factors such as on-site teaching and research activities, as well as agreements between individual employees and their reporting organizations, according to the letter.
“It is clear that we will not be able to return to normal as a workplace until circumstances and public health guidance change to a level where the university believes that we can return to working on-site on a large scale.”
“While some employees must be on site to do their work, others can effectively work from home,” the letter said. “In general, no employee is barred from coming to campus if necessary, but no one should be coming to campus on a regular basis if they are not on the Human Resources registry.”
According to the announcement, the return to a normal, on-campus working environment will depend on many factors, including the state of the pandemic and advice from public health officials.
“It is clear that we will not be able to return to normal as a workplace until circumstances and public health guidance change to a level where the university believes that we can return to working on-site on a large scale,” the letter said. “As always, we will adjust to the state of the pandemic and will explore different options, including employees potentially returning at different times depending on certain factors, such as vaccinations.”
For now, the employees are encouraged to continue to wear masks, social distance and wash hands.
“Nothing is more important than your health and our community’s health – please do all you can to protect it,” the letter said.