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COVID-19 Response & Resources

COVID-19 Operational Update

May 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this week, Governor Edwards and Mayor Cantrell announced plans for the city and state to begin easing stay-at-home order restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus and to begin a phased approach to reopening businesses, restaurants, houses of worship, child care and other service organizations.

In light of these announcements, Tulane is reviewing the best course of action to bring our employees – faculty and staff – back to campus. We know that this process will be gradual – taking place throughout the summer. It will also be flexible and every step will be taken with special consideration for the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us.

The city’s plan, Phase 1: Safest at Home, will begin on Saturday, May 16. Before the city will allow a move to Phase 2 and further reduce restrictions, the mayor has stated that there will need to be a continued decline in positive cases, increased testing capabilities, robust contact tracing and isolation procedures, and adequate healthcare capacity (e.g., facilities, staffing, equipment, PPE).

Although the plan does allow for the resumption of many business, the city advises – based on the best public health data available – that everyone should continue to stay at home as much as possible, except for essential needs and other permitted activities. In alignment with the city’s Phase 1 guidelines, we continue to encourage remote working arrangements for all Tulane employees who are able to do so.

Soon, a memo from the university’s Human Resources & Institutional Equity Department will be issued with further guidelines for supervisors to begin planning and prioritizing the order in which employees needed to support the most essential functions in each department will return to their campus offices. Supervisors will notify employees individually regarding timelines for their return. For employees who are concerned about returning, there will be a process in which possible alternative work arrangements can be explored in concert with each unit’s HR business partner. Questions regarding such arrangements should be directed to your supervisor.  Again, we are continually reassessing our policies in light of the ongoing pandemic. The flexible work arrangements protocol and any unused temporary emergency COVID-19 paid leave will remain in effect to support the phased returns.

We are currently reviewing preliminary recommendations made by our top leaders, students, faculty and staff regarding the best path forward in resuming on-ground classes in the fall.    However, before we can get there, we need to make sure that we have the policies, practices and supports in place to reduce risk of infection not only within our campus community, but for the community-at-large. In the coming weeks, we will share more information on the timeline for this and will hold virtual town hall meetings to discuss our shared path forward and plans for fall. In the meantime, please continue to review FAQs on the Employee Resources webpage and submit your feedback to help inform and guide this process.

Protecting public health while bringing back the workforce is essential to the planning and resumption of on-ground classes in the fall. This effort will take all of our collective will and wisdom, but there is no doubt we will succeed if we move forward carefully, thoughtfully and together.

Robin Forman
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
 
Patrick Norton
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer