The following message is being shared on behalf of Dr. Mark Abrahams as chair of Memorial’s Vice-Presidents Council.
Earlier this week, Memorial announced the winter 2021 academic semester will remain primarily remote. Many employees who continue to work from home may wonder what it means for you. As well, units may be considering how this announcement impacts operations.
Policies will evolve
Memorial continues to evaluate risk and maintains a priority on health and safety, both factors which lead decisions. It’s understandable that as the pandemic continues and our infection rates in this province remain low, and our campus densities remain low, our policy and approaches to operating during the pandemic will evolve.
Specifically, we acknowledge certain functions can only be completed while in the office/laboratory or are significantly more productive if completed on campus. We are hearing that many departments are at a point where they need to bring more people back to campus either on a part time or full-time basis. There is work that needs to be done on site and it is safe to do so with appropriate precautions.
“Environmental Health and Safety will continue to have to sign off on all plans to bring workers back to campus.”
Units should continue to update operational plans to ensure they are current, including any on-campus operations. For employees, if you are required to return to campus, your supervisor may contact you to arrange a plan. Also, if you think your work requires you to return to campus, have that conversation directly with your supervisor. Environmental Health and Safety will continue to have to sign off on all plans to bring workers back to campus to ensure it happens in a healthy and safe way.
Many unit operational plans may consider a hybrid model, with employees returning to campus on a part-time basis to balance risk, health, unit requirements and productivity. Units may consider staggered attendance of employees in an area to reduce density at any given time. For instance, one employee may work on campus on Monday and Wednesday and another employee on Tuesday and Thursday. To support the university community, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer has created a Guide to Living with COVID-19 in Our Campus Communities. Please take time to review this document’s important and relevant information.
Keeping density down
Memorial continues to support working from home where possible, in line with public health messages for all alert levels, and to do our part to keep density manageable in our buildings, while acknowledging access to campus is important for many functions.
For St. John’s and Signal Hill campuses, please use this flowchart to guide your plans if employees need to return to campus. It outlines the process and links to required forms. Building occupants at Marine Institute and Grenfell Campus will continue to receive location-specific information directly from leaders.
We commend Memorial’s employees on your commitment to sustaining university operations and appreciate your efforts toward achieving a phased, safe return to campus by individuals who require access. For those employees on campus, please review this health and safety moment and follow the mandatory non-medical mask directive when not seated at your desk. Masks are required in all shared or common areas like washrooms, lobbies, corridors and stairwells. Employees are also reminded of the daily self-assessment tool and the COVID Alert app accessible in MUN Safe. These are additional health and safety controls in place at Memorial to help in the fight against COVID-19.
We continue to monitor the situation across the country and in our province and we remain nimble to changing Memorial’s approach in order to continue to help safeguard the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students.