Yesterday, Governor Holcomb issued an Executive Order directing all Indiana residents to “Stay at Home.” The Order, which is effective today at 11:59 p.m. and continues through April 6, 2020, provides that all non-essential businesses and operations must cease.
The Order, however, expressly identifies public higher education institutions, including Ball State University, as “essential businesses.” Under the Order, our University is encouraged to operate “for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-foot per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.”
Faculty and Staff
On Saturday, after the Delaware County Commissioners issued a Disaster Emergency Declaration, I directed administrators and supervisors to assign all of our faculty and staff to work remotely, unless an employee’s on-campus responsibility is vital to our fundamental mission or if it is not possible for the employee to work remotely.
In light of the Governor’s Order, I am directing all administrators and supervisors to review the actions that they have taken in response to my Saturday email in the following two respects:
- Please ensure that employees who are working remotely are doing so at their place of residence or at another location expressly permitted in the Governor’s Order; and
- Please review any decision that requires an employee to work on-campus to ensure that the employee’s work is to facilitate distance learning, to perform critical research, or to perform an essential function.
I have asked the Vice Presidents to communicate to their respective employees whether and, if so, how the Governor’s Order requires the Vice President to alter any of the assignments that have previously been authorized and required.
Extraordinary Paid Leave Plan
I anticipate that the majority of our employees—faculty and staff—will be able to work remotely during the duration of this public health crisis. I am grateful to those employees whose specific responsibilities require them to continue to work on campus. Your dedicated service is a testament to the character of our University community.
But I recognize that there are some employees who are not able to work remotely and whose service cannot reasonably be characterized as essential at this time. And I suspect that, if you are one of these employees, you may be concerned that you will exhaust your ability to take paid leave during this uncertain time.
Yesterday, I consulted with the leadership team and the Chair of the Board of Trustees to develop a proposed plan to protect this group of valuable University employees. Our objective is to ensure that all current employees will be fully compensated during the pendency of this public health crisis. Subject to the approval of the Board, our plan consists of the following essential elements for those employees who cannot work remotely and who are not presently assigned to work on-campus:
- Subject to Board approval, we will create a paid leave “bank” that employees can draw from after they have exhausted their other paid leave options. I am pleased and proud to report that the vice presidents and the academic deans have agreed to join me in making the first donations to this “bank.” When we have finalized the relevant policies and procedures, other faculty and staff will be able to contribute paid leave to this “bank,” if they choose to do so.
- As I indicated in my Saturday email, under legislation recently enacted by Congress, some of our employees may be eligible to obtain two additional weeks of paid leave. For University employees who are not eligible for the additional leave under this new federal law, I will ask the Board to approve an additional two weeks of paid leave for this fiscal year.
- Subject to Board approval, if any employee exhausts all of these additional leave opportunities, an employee will be able to “advance” some anticipated leave from next fiscal year.
These extraordinary measures require approval of our Board of Trustees. I hope to convene a meeting of the Board later this week, so that I can present these recommendations to the trustees for their consideration. If the Board approves this plan, our colleagues in Human Resources will develop the specific policies and procedures to implement the Board’s actions.
In light of the Governor’s Order, I ask that all students who remain in our residence halls vacate their room by 10:00 p.m. this evening, unless you have already obtained approval to remain in a residence hall. If you believe that you have an extraordinarily compelling reason to stay temporarily in a residence hall beyond 10:00 p.m. this evening and you have not already obtained approval to do so, you must seek that permission immediately.
I commend Governor Holcomb for taking aggressive, proactive steps to stem the spread and mitigate the harm of the novel coronavirus pandemic, while giving us the limited capacity to maintain those operations that are essential to serving our students and fulfilling our mission.
And I am profoundly grateful to all of our students, faculty, and staff for your courage, your creativity, and your sacrifices.
Geoffrey S. Mearns
Ball State University
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