Guidance and a Note of Gratitude for Yale Staff

March 11, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Yale staff,

I write to follow up on President Salovey’s announcement of last evening that in response to the continued health threat posed by the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are moving classes online and asking Yale College students to stay away from campus and return home. Graduate and professional students are encouraged to remain off-campus and participate in online instruction, unless being on campus is necessitated by the nature of their research or academic programs. This includes clinical experiences of those in the health-science schools.

The above guidance, as the president explained, is effective from March 23 through at least April 5.

The university remains open, and we are monitoring events to determine what actions they suggest. In this work we are fortunate to have faculty and staff with deep expertise in epidemiology and public health: they are offering direct guidance to President Salovey and his senior leadership team. The decisions you have seen to date have been formed from this input as well as from the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other governmental sources.

Right now, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun and his staff are working hard to help students make arrangements to be off campus, and to prepare for their virtual return to class. Likewise, Provost Scott Strobel and the deans of Yale’s graduate and professional schools and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are helping the faculty prepare for the use of the digital tools that will allow an online classroom experience.

In addition, our clinical teams and public-health professionals are clarifying guidance to our patient population and preparing for potential increases in symptomatic people in coordination with many units throughout the Yale community. The value of the work of our clinical staff simply cannot be overstated.

Given the importance of these efforts, and of the continuation of Yale’s operations most generally, President Salovey has asked me to convey to you how essential he knows you all are at this critical time. He has also asked me to ensure that just as you will be a foundational source of support for Yale in the critical period ahead, you in turn feel well cared for by the university you so ably serve.

What follows is current guidance bearing on three priorities: 1) the health of our staff; 2) the livelihood of our staff; 3) the continued operations of the university.

Social distancing: March 16 – April 15

In order to prevent or reduce the spread of infection, we ask managers and their direct reports to implement social-distancing practices meant to reduce close contact within the workplace:

  • Maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others;
  • Moving to virtual meetings;
  • Establishing flexible work schedules to reduce the number of people working near each other on a given day;
  • Asking staff to work from home where possible, provided it does not interfere with the continued operations of the university.

Here, we are asking everyone to be as flexible as possible, especially on the question of working from home.

While we encourage working from home where possible, there is some work at Yale that simply isn’t able to be done off-campus. In such a case, we encourage arrangements that promote a good distance between employees and the absence of in-person meetings. We ask managers to work with their Lead Administrator (in consultation with the relevant Vice President or Dean) in developing approaches that meet our twin goal: reducing close contact between staff while meeting our most important responsibilities.

Any arrangement that involves working from home will require sign-off by a given employee’s manager.

To ensure that such arrangements are made swiftly and fairly, managers should work closely with their Lead Administrator to develop a consistent and coordinated approach across a given unit. We ask managers to begin to make these arrangements by Monday, March 16, recognizing that some will take more time to plan or implement. You should assume social-distancing practices will be in place until at least April 15. 

Your Pay and Time Off

The practices we are putting in place are meant to keep you safe and the university functioning, and we do not want them to adversely affect your pay or time off.

We are following the usual practices for sick leave, leaves of absence, and other paid time off, and we encourage managers to be very accommodating to requests for personal time off.

If you do become infected with COVID-19 or have been advised by Yale employee health services that you must self-isolate, you will be paid for the mandated self-isolation up to 10 business days. The time will not be charged to your paid time off. If you have concerns about your well-being, please speak to your supervisor, your lead administrator, or your human resources generalist.

Continued Operations of the University

Yale will need to keep a baseline level of staff activity going even if the situation with COVID-19 intensifies. Employees who fulfill our most essential operational functions will be given the protection they need in order to fulfill their duties safely even if circumstances require us to reduce the presence of staff on campus.

If you are in a position that requires contact with patients or potential patients, you will be provided with appropriate safety equipment and training.

If we need to limit operations to critical functions, you will be notified via the Yale Alert system, which sends both a text and an email message. Yale Alert uses emergency contact numbers that have been registered with Yale. You should make sure that you have provided your contact information on the Workday website.

In closing: thank you

I encourage you to make use of Yale’s COVID-19 website, which provides up-to-date information and guidance, as well as good tips for how to stay healthy and what to do if you get sick.

Most importantly, I ask you to take care of yourself and your fellow members of the Yale community—and to accept my and President Salovey’s gratitude for the work you are doing. Yale has been through a great deal in its more than 300 years. With your continued care, we will in due time be able to say that at a moment of importance and great need, we provided Yale the highest level of service.


Janet Lindner
Vice President for Human Resources and Administration
Yale University