Beginning of the Return to Campus
May 26, 2020
Dear Yale Staff,
On May 13, Provost Scott Strobel wrote to the university community about our approach to the resumption of operations on campus, beginning with the phased reactivation of research and expansion of library services in June.
I write now to offer guidance for Yale staff as we begin this transition and as we continue to assess and respond to the health and financial challenges posed by COVID-19. Included in this guidance is information on temporary policies for the period from June 1 through July 10.
Since March 16, only staff and faculty performing essential services (including COVID-19-related clinical and research activities) have worked on campus. I wish to extend my deep appreciation to the front-line medical and nursing staff and the scientists and scholars who are treating patients and combatting the virus. I am also very grateful to those individuals working in our facilities, safety, security, police, and other functions supporting clinical and research activities on campus. And I admire how well and quickly so many of you have adjusted to working from home. Yale continues to operate well thanks to your dedication.
Public Health Considerations & Contingency Planning
In Connecticut broadly and New Haven in particular, the number of people hospitalized each day due to COVID-19 continues to decline. With these improving conditions, Governor Lamont’s “phased reopening” of Connecticut authorizes the resumption of certain business operations. The governor is also permitting colleges and universities to reactivate research functions and to begin preparing for the possibility of having students on campus in the fall semester.
As we carefully expand activity on campus, our primary consideration remains the community’s health and safety. Our approach will align with state guidance and adhere to the advice of the university’s Public Health Committee, one of the COVID-19 Contingency Planning Committees whose collective recommendations and wisdom have greatly aided our planning.
Expansion of Staff Working on Campus
Beginning June 1, a number of research, library, and related support staff will return to campus.
The Research Continuity Committee has recommended a three-phased expansion of activities. In Phase 1, those research activities that can be performed only on campus may resume, adhering to strict public health precautions. Each principal investigator must obtain explicit permission in order to return to campus, and must identify staff deemed necessary to be on campus in support of the research under consideration.
During Phase 1, we will also expand certain library services. Library leadership will communicate the timing and details of resuming library services as they are ready to be reactivated.
Certain support services such as Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety, and Information Technology may also require additional staff on campus during Phase 1. The leadership of each unit will inform the needed staff.
All returning staff and faculty will be required to complete online public health training before coming back to campus and will be expected to conform to a set of public health measures. Those who are already working on campus must also complete the required training and conform to these public health measures. We will write to you when the training is available.
The university will make face coverings available for employees returning to campus and will provide personal protective equipment as needed for specific areas and modes of work. We also are developing capacity for COVID-19 testing, beginning with a voluntary pilot program. All individuals working on campus will be required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms daily.
The COVID-19 Workplace Guidance website will provide updated guidance on health and safety, information regarding the required training, and childcare support. We have also established a Campus COVID-19 Resource Line at 203-432-6604 (toll-free at 866-924-9253).
Implications for Staff Not Asked to Come to Campus
Through July 10, Yale will continue to provide pay and benefits for all employees who are on payroll and are willing and able to work, regardless of whether they have been asked to return to campus or whether their work can be done remotely.
By that time, President Salovey will have communicated his decision about whether students can return to campus in the fall.
Through July 10, anyone who can do their work from home must continue to do so. For those staff who have not had work that can be done from home, the university will explore opportunities to reassign individuals either to work that can be completed at home or for work on campus. The university is working with union leaders regarding assignments across units.
Options for Vulnerable Staff Who Are Asked to Return to Campus
To assist employees during this public health crisis, we are instituting temporary policies for the period from June 1 through July 10.
At this time, the State of Connecticut recommends that people age 65 or over as well as people with underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 should work from home. Any Yale employees who meet these criteria and who wish to work from home may seek approval to do so. If an employee’s activities and responsibilities are not suited to working from home, the university will make its best efforts to find suitable alternate work that can be accomplished at home. In any case, such employees will be fully paid through July 10.
We recognize that many employees have increased challenges at home with childcare or caregiver responsibilities. To address this, we are providing unpaid leaves, with continued benefits, for the period from June 1 through July 10 for employees who cannot return to campus to work and cannot complete their work at home. Employees who are granted this leave can use their accrued paid time off first. If their paid time off balance reaches 5 days or less, the employee then will be eligible for 10 additional paid days for use through July 10.
The university is working with union leaders to finalize for staff covered by bargaining units the details of temporary programs for vulnerable employees and those with caregiver responsibilities.
More information regarding these temporary programs is available on the COVID-19 Workplace Guidance website. Although these programs end in July 2020, we will continue to monitor state and federal requirements and guidance as they relate to the return to campus and university activities.
One New Feature of Enhanced Retirement Programs
We will shortly announce an enhanced retirement program featuring an incentive for retirement-eligible managerial and professional employees who retire on or before July 31, 2020. Such retirees will receive a one-time payment of $1,500 for each completed year of service.
The path forward beyond July 10 will continue to be informed by: the evolving public health situation; whether we plan to have students on campus in the fall; the growing and immediate financial pressures we face from declining revenues in room and board, clinical activities, and summer programs; unanticipated expenses related to COVID-19; and the outlook for endowment returns.
Although the full economic cost of COVID-19 will not be clear for some time, we expect that the pandemic will have cost Yale at least $200 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2020 on June 30. The outlook for the following fiscal year is highly uncertain as the pressures on the university’s finances continue; there is a need to reduce costs in line with the lower revenues and increased expenses caused by the pandemic.
As President Salovey wrote to our community in April, “As we navigate the pandemic and its consequences, there are certain principles we will follow.” We will preserve the excellence and diversity of the student body. Yale will remain a great research university, and scholarship and research will be sustained and advanced when possible. The sacrifices that will be required will be shared, and we will work with colleagues across the schools, departments, and bargaining units to make financial decisions that will support Yale’s mission and priorities.
We will provide a financial update to campus as the Fiscal Year 2021 budget is finalized in the coming weeks.
I want to thank all of you for your resiliency and commitment to Yale as we navigate this crisis and address the challenges ahead. I wish you and your families good health.
Jack Callahan, Jr.
Senior Vice President for Operations