Campus Community: NECC and Coronavirus Preparation and Prevention – March 17, 2020
Dear NECC Campus Community,
In my lifetime and during my career in higher education, I have witnessed or experienced many crises: the AIDS epidemic, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession, and the Merrimack Valley Columbia Gas Explosions to name only a few.
Each of these were devastating in their own way, taking lives, destroying communities, wrecking economies; and each was an experience shared by many.
But the COVID-19 Pandemic is unique in its global impact, and in the ways it is constantly evolving and challenging our efforts to respond.
Even as we all tend to our personal health, and to our families and loved ones—our most important duties right now—NECC staff and faculty have also been responding swiftly and heroically to ensure the safety and continuance of necessary services for our students.
As of today, public colleges across the Commonwealth, including community colleges, state universities, and University of Massachusetts campuses, remain open for restricted services, with very limited access to the public, and no in-person classroom instruction.
The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education recently completed negotiations with AFSCME and is continuing negotiations today with the MCCC
As these negotiations conclude, and as conditions and guidance from state and federal authorities evolve, NECC is taking additional steps to ensure, as much as possible, the health and safety of everyone on our campuses, and to provide for the accessibility and the quality of teaching, learning, and services we provide our students and community partners.
Please note the following important updates and reminders:
Remote Work, Teaching, and Learning
NECC and all of the Massachusetts Community Colleges are fully committed to maximizing remote work, teaching, and learning opportunities for the foreseeable future as we work to ensure the health and safety of our students, employees, and communities.
Accordingly, we are taking the following steps as of 12:00 noon today, March 17:
On campus, in-person services, the hours of services, and the staffing available for services, will all be limited.
For the remainder of this week, and through March 29, in-person services to students and the public will be limited on both the Haverhill and Lawrence campus to these hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Employees of the college, as much as possible, will be asked to work remotely.
Every area of the college has been involved in remote work planning, and managers have developed specific steps to take to provide minimum campus staffing levels, while ensuring employees have the tools needed to work remotely.
Additional, more specific information about telecommuting will be distributed soon, based on union negotiations and the needs of specific areas of the college. Generally speaking, if you are working remotely, you should expect to:
Be accessible during working hours, and respond to emails and calls within a reasonable time.
Conduct as many meetings as possible via phone, skype, Zoom, or other means.
Use this opportunity as a time to get larger projects done that have been farther down your to-do list.
In order to assist with the college’s move to remote work arrangements, if you are a supervisor and have not already done so already, please complete an online IT Help Desk Ticket via the MyNECC Portal specifying the technology needs (e.g., laptop, VPN access, etc.) of employees in your area(s). Please provide a description of how urgent the need is (e.g., immediate for an employee working from home today, next week for a faculty member teaching online, etc.)
Use of Sick Leave, Vacation Time, and Personal Days
IMPORTANT: Please stay home if you are sick.
Additionally, so that we can protect the safety of the rest of our campus community:
If you are an employee suffering flu-like symptoms, or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19, please contact Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or (978) 556-3943.
If you are a student suffering flu-like symptoms, or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19, please contact Student Affairs at email@example.com or (978) 556-3735.
Personal information will be kept strictly confidential.
Please note that employees should continue to follow their appropriate contract or employment handbook regarding the use of sick time (for illnesses), family leave time (caring for ill family members), vacation time, personal days, etc. At the same time, managers will be as flexible as possible in arranging combinations of remote work and a combination of these benefits, so everyone can tend to healthcare, family, and childcare needs.
Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.
Strength, Inspiration, and Support
In the days, weeks, and perhaps months to come, communication will be vital for all of us.
I am encouraging everyone to please be as clear as possible in communicating expectations, goals, deadlines, needs and other essential information among managers and staff, and with your colleagues and students.
Please also recognize that we are all human, and will likely be imperfect at this. Try to presume goodwill, and believe that we are all doing the best we can.
Northern Essex Community College has always been a source of strength, inspiration, and support for our students, for the communities we serve, and for each other. And I know those essential qualities will help us meet the challenges we are facing, and get through this together.
Please continue to check your NECC email for updates, and the NECC Coronavirus Information web page at www.necc.mass.edu/public-safety/coronavirus-information.
Thank you for all you are doing, and please be well.
Lane A. Glenn
Northern Essex Community College