Dear Yale Staff,
Earlier today, President Salovey and the provost wrote to the university community announcing major decisions for the 2020-21 academic year. We are writing now to offer guidance for Yale staff as to how we all will work together to resume operations and welcome students back to campus for the fall semester.
These extraordinary last few months have filled us with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being part of the Yale community. There is a great deal about which to be proud. Faculty converted courses to online almost overnight; students persevered in their studies despite challenging conditions; and through it all, and in support of it all, our staff have worked tirelessly to advance Yale’s mission.
During this extraordinary period, thanks to careful financial stewardship over many years, Yale has had the resources to maintain support to our employees and community at this moment of trial despite the pandemic’s profound disruption to our revenues and operations. We are proud to have been able to maintain pay and benefits for our staff, even for those who could not perform their work.
Furthermore, with the end of the 2020 academic year, we acknowledge the remarkable things we have accomplished since the university moved mostly online. Another class of students graduated. The virus is in decline across Connecticut in part due to the ongoing efforts of our medical staff, new insights from our scientists and scholars, and community adherence to public health guidelines. On-site research is ramping back up, and plans are now in place to welcome students back to campus.
Despite all our progress, we cannot continue to operate as we have for the past four months. Rather, we need to work together in a new way, one that integrates public health protocols into all roles performed on campus, continues work from home whenever possible, and reassigns staff to high priority work if their current role cannot be performed. This approach is essential to maintaining the community’s health and safety while fulfilling our role in the university’s mission. It will continue to be hard work, but we know that with your dedication Yale will rise to the occasion.
Expansion of Staff Working on Campus
Since June 1, over 2,000 faculty and staff encompassing research, library and support staff have resumed their work on campus.
With the return of students and the continued expansion of on-site research, we will ask additional staff to return to campus while maintaining strict health precautions. Department leaders are developing plans to determine which work functions must be conducted on campus and which ones can continue to be done at home. If you are working from home now, you should continue to do so unless asked by your manager to return to campus. If asked to return, you will receive at least seven days’ notice prior to return to campus. We are grateful that the return of many students to campus will allow us to have work for most of our staff. Staff with assignments, working from home or on campus, will continue to be paid.
We recognize that some employees do not have assignments that can be completed at home due to the nature of their work. Due to this unprecedented public health crisis, the university wanted to support all staff with ongoing pay and benefits regardless of their ability to work from home. Going forward, an employee must be able to work and willing to take a temporary or new permanent reassignment to continue to be paid.
Therefore, our goal is to seek alternative work assignments to continue to pay staff for their contributions to the university. If you do not have an assignment, your manager will work with you on reassignment options as follows:
- As a first preference, your manager will work with you for reassignment within your department;
- If reassignment within your own department is not possible, your manager and Human Resources will work with you to identify a reassignment opportunity elsewhere at Yale.
The university and unions are engaged in discussions to achieve new agreements, including how staff may be deployed. For bargaining unit staff, assignments and rules for accepting assignments will be consistent with the current contract or new agreements that may be reached with the unions.
You will continue to be paid even if you are unassigned provided you have not turned down a reassignment. If you decline a reassignment, you may use vacation time, choose to go on unpaid leave, or consider electing one of the voluntary program options that remain available, such as summer or reduced hours. More information about leave and the voluntary programs is available on the COVID-19 Workplace Guidance website.
Options for Vulnerable Staff
Current state guidance recommends that people over 65 as well as those with underlying medical conditions should work from home. Any employee who meets these criteria and who wishes to work from home may seek approval to do so. Your manager will work with Human Resources to seek to find work that you can do at home.
Requirements for Staff Returning to Campus
If you are asked to return to campus, you will receive detailed information about back to work safety protocols and training. We must all work together to protect ourselves and the community by wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, monitoring our health every day, and staying away from campus if symptomatic. Campus work areas will be modified, and some departments may choose to stagger shifts or adjust schedules to encourage social distancing.
Staff who return to campus in any capacity must complete the COVID-19 Return to Yale Campus training and follow the guidelines outlined in the Guide to Returning to Yale. More details are available regarding the campus safety standards and guidelines for returning to campus on the COVID-19 website. For additional information please visit the COVID-19 Workplace Guidance website, which includes updated FAQs and topics of interest to staff.
Looking Ahead To 2021
While we move down the path of reactivating campus, we will continue to assess the financial impact of the pandemic.
For the fiscal year 2021 that begins today, budgeted revenue is $300 million lower than prior expectations. There are significant incremental COVID-19 related costs for testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, and the reconfiguring and cleaning of facilities. Looking ahead, we remain concerned about the long-term financial impact of the pandemic, particularly if the virus persists, or if the economic fallout negatively impacts the university finances beyond what is currently anticipated. We assure you that we will do everything we can to keep our community together and will make difficult changes only if necessary, and with great care and consideration.
We will provide a financial update to campus on the outlook for fiscal 2021 once the 2020 fiscal year is closed.
As President Salovey and the provost wrote to the community this morning, “Now more than ever, the world needs the very best from Yale. The Yale community rises to every challenging time with spirit and optimism, and we know this moment will be no different.” Despite the demanding times in which we find ourselves today, together we will make Yale’s 320th year a successful one.
Jack Callahan, Jr.
Senior Vice President for Operations