Coronavirus Info for Employees

The following coronavirus communications were sent to employees:

Oct. 16, 2020 at 8:50 p.m. – Positive COVID-19 Case
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
Late this afternoon we learned that an individual in the Child Development Center received a positive test result for COVID-19.  This individual was last on campus on Tuesday and did not visit any other campus buildings. We are closing the Center through October 27th, reopening on October 28th, unless there are additional positive cases.
 
Employees and parents have been notified. We also notified the Health Department and the Maryland Department of Education (childcare licensing agency). Child Development Center employees will be tested and are required to quarantine through October 27th. Parents have been advised that their children should quarantine for this period also. Any positive tests results should be reported to Karen Berkheimer, 410-334-2915 or kberkheimer@worwic.edu
 
The entire building was fogged last Wednesday evening and has been cleaned daily.  
 
There has been an uptick in cases nationally and in Maryland. Everyone needs to remain vigilant—wear your masks, wash your hands often, maintain social distancing and sanitize. To date, we have not experienced any instances of campus spread.
 
Stay safe and have a good weekend.
Oct. 12, 2020 at 8:12 a.m. – Positive COVID-19 Case
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
We learned last night that a student attending classes on the second and third floors of Bunkhorst Hall last Wednesday was tested on Friday for COVID-19 and the test results came back positive last evening. Students and faculty in the classes with the infected student were contacted last Friday, informing them that a classmate was exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 indications and had been tested but had not received results yet. Through an abundance of caution, we transitioned the classes to remote instruction until test results were received. Now that we have been alerted to a positive COVID-19 test result, we have informed the students and the faculty that they will must quarantine for 14 days from the last class, which takes them to October 22nd. Brunkhorst classrooms were cleaned and fogged last Wednesday evening and have been subsequently deep cleaned.
 
Please continue to stay vigilant and safe.
Oct. 6, 2020 at 1:12 p.m. – Positive COVID-19 Case
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
We learned this morning that a student attending class last Thursday evening in Guerrieri Hall tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday (test results were made available over the weekend). The student did not have any symptoms but took the test on Friday after learning about a recent contact with someone who tested positive. The student came to class Thursday evening and left campus without visiting any other areas and has not returned to campus since. To date, we are not aware of anyone else in the class who has exhibited symptoms. The other students in the class and the instructor have been contacted to inform them of the possible contact and have been notified that they should quarantine for 14 days, until October 15th. The class will be conducted online for the next two weeks.
 
The Health Department has been notified and will be conducting contact tracing, however, as I noted above, we have already reached out to the other members of the class. The students and instructor were following our mask and social distancing requirements. Cleaning protocols are in place and a deep cleaning of the space will occur today.
 
Please stay safe and healthy.
Oct. 6, 2020 at 10:25 a.m. – Testing Locations
From Karen Berkheimer, Executive Director of Human Resources
 
Campus Community,
 
Below are links in your county where you can get tested for COVID-19.
 
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, contact your own healthcare provider first, if you have one. COVID-19 testing locations are listed below after selecting a county.
 
If you are a healthcare provider and you do not see your testing location listed, send an email to helpdelmarva@wboc.com
 
Sussex County        http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/sussex/
 
Caroline County     http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/caroline/
 
Wicomico County   http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/wicomico/
 
Worcester County   http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/worcester/
 
Accomack County   http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/accomack/
 
Kent County             http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/kent/
 
Somerset County    http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/somerset/
 
Dorchester County  http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/dorchester/
 
Talbot County           http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/talbot/
 
Queen Anne's County   http://helpdelmarva.com/county-testing-locations/queen-annes/
Sept. 23, 2020 at 12:56 p.m. – Reporting Reminder
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
Employees who (A) have symptoms of COVID-19, (B) test positive for COVID-19 or (C) were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 must contact me (Karen Berkheimer in HR) as soon as reasonably possible after experiencing such symptoms or learning about such information. This is very important to our efforts to protect the campus community. Supervisors must inform me if they know of someone who meets any of these criteria.
 
The same is true for students, except they/you must contact Dr. Deirdra Johnson.
 
Karen Berkheimer: 410-334-2915
Deirdra Johnson: 410-334-2902
 
Please help us keep our campus safe. Call us right away if you (or another employee/student) meet any of these criteria.
 
Thank you.
 
Be safe!
Aug. 19, 2020 at 4:19 p.m. – Returning to Work Guide Amendments
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
I’m attaching a revised amendments document to the Returning to Work – A Guide for Employees (RTW) document. This document include three additional amendments to the employee RTW guide. For your convenience, I’m also attaching the RTW document.
July 27, 2020 at 4:40 p.m. – Positive COVID-19 Case
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
If this sounds familiar it is because it is.  But, we learned late this afternoon that an individual who participated in training in the Criminal Justice Academy in Guerrieri Hall last Wednesday has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.  In addition to Guerrieri Hall, this individual had lunch on the 3rd floor of the Hazel Center. To date, no one who interacted with this individual has reported any symptoms.  However, per our policy, the students and instructors will be quarantined through later next week. 
 
The police training class, which does not intermingle or share space with the corrections class, will be allowed to continue and will be on campus tomorrow.  Deep cleaning will take place in the areas used by the corrections class.
 
The Wicomico Health Department has been notified and has accepted our plan. 
 
Please stay safe and healthy.
July 14, 2020 at 5:20 p.m. – Symptom List Changes
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
As we mentioned in the past, information related to COVID-19 is everchanging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its list of common COVID-19 symptoms to include nausea and diarrhea. In response, we updated our COVID-19 Self Screening Tool (attached) to include these additional symptoms. The mobile app will be updated, as well.
 
Please be sure to carefully review the questions each time you complete the self-assessment. For the health and safety of others, we ask that you do not report to campus if you answer "yes" to any of the questions on the form.
 
The CDC states that this list does not include all possible symptoms; they will continue to update this list as they learn more about COVID-19. We'll continue to monitor changes.
 
Take care and be safe!
July 14, 2020 at 12:56 p.m. – Positive COVID-19 Case
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
We learned this morning that an individual who participated with training in the Criminal Justice Academy in Guerrieri Hall last Monday and Tuesday has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. This individual did not enter any other facilities on campus. To date, no one who interacted with this individual has reported any symptoms. However, under the utmost of caution, the police cadets, instructors and staff will be required to have COVID-19 testing and will not be allowed back on campus until either negative test results are received or 7 additional days pass (that will be 14 days from the last contact with the positive individual). 
 
A corrections academy class began today. Although they are in the same building, they do not mingle or share classrooms. This class will not return to campus tomorrow, in part because the Academy staff will be quarantining. They plan to return on Thursday with substitute administrative and teaching staff in place to support their campus-based training.
 
The Wicomico Health Department has been notified and will advise us if we should change any of our plans. Although a week has passed since the person was on campus, we will close the building for a day and take this opportunity to do a deep clean of the facility before classes resume on Thursday, as described in our Return to Work document.
 
Please stay safe and healthy.
July 13, 2020 at 9:51 a.m. – Testing Option After Hotspot Visit
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
The RTW July 1 amendment defined hotspot states as those states where there is a 10% positivity rating over a 7-day rolling period. To find out if a state you are planning to travel to is a hotspot, you can visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/individual-states. Use the drop down box at the top of the US chart and click on the state you are visiting. Place your cursor at the last point on the graph to review the seven day rolling positivity rate. For example, if you check on Florida today you will see it has an 18.6% positivity rate. If you had visited Florida in the last seven days, you would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon your return before returning to campus.
 
To avoid quarantining for a full 14 days, you can be tested for COVID-19 and return once a negative test result is received. Similar to other return-to-work notes, negative tests results should be submitted to me or Anna Era prior to/on the day of your return. 
 
For more information on COVID-19 testing, please visit the applicable site below:
 
Wicomico County Health Department - https://www.wicomicohealth.org/preparedness/coronavirus-covid-19/
Worcester County Health Department - https://www.worcesterhealth.org/protect-menu/1726-worcester-county,-md-coronavirus-covid-19-information-2020
Somerset County Health Department - https://somersethealth.org/community-health-services/coronavirus-covid-19/
Delaware State Testing Information - https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing/
Virginia State Testing Information - https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/covid-19-testing-sites/
 
Take care and stay healthy!
July 2, 2020 at 4:01 p.m. – Self-Assessment Paper Form and Travel Amendment
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
As many of us prepare to come to campus next week, I wanted to resend the paper copy of the health self-assessment form that must be completed prior to gaining access to campus (so it's at the top of your inbox). Information Technology recently sent information about a digital version of this form that can be used from your phone (instead of the paper form). If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, or if you have a fever, you will not be permitted to come on campus that day. The Returning to Work: A Guide for Employees (RTW) document that Dr. Hoy distributed provides additional information. 
 
I am also attaching an RTW amendments page that I will update and distribute as things change in response to COVID-19. This first amendment includes Dr. Hoy's announcement about quarantining when returning from Hot Spots. 
 
These documents will soon be available at the main page of the employee portal (in process).
 
I hope you are able to enjoy this long weekend!
July 2, 2020 at 3:54 p.m. – Screening App
From the Information Technology Department
 
The COVID Clear Pass screening app is now available for your use at campus checkpoints starting Monday, July 6, 2020.  COVID Clear Pass is accessible through the Wor-Wic Mobile App.  Instructions on how to download the Wor-Wic Mobile app and use the COVID Clear Pass app are attached.  These instructions will also be available under Wor-Wic Mobile App on the Technology Resources page of our website.  
 
If you need assistance with this app, please contact the IT Help Desk at 410-334-2870.  
 
Thank you for assisting us in keeping our campus safe for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
July 1, 2020 at 4:16 p.m. – Budget, Campus Reopening and Travel
Employee Update #11 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
It seems as though I just sent out Employee Update #10, but a lot has happened since then, including a major action by the Maryland Board of Public Works today. I’ll begin with that.
 
The Board of Public Works considered a recommendation by the Governor to implement budget reductions today, on the first day of the new fiscal year, in order to deal with the budget shortfall due to the economic impact of the pandemic. They accepted $413 million of the proposed reductions and deferred other proposed cuts until revenue estimates are available. Through today’s action, Wor-Wic’s reduction in State funding is $1.2 million.
 
As you are aware, we have already implemented a number of budget reductions in anticipation of a state cut that was signaled earlier by the governor and a growing concern regarding fall enrollment. You might not be familiar with all of those adjustments so I will highlight them here:
 
  • Eliminated the 2.5% salary increase that was planned and budgeted for 7/1/2020
  • Froze 12 vacant positions
  • Furloughed 24 positions as of today (some full furloughs others partial)
  • Adopted cost-center manager budget reductions amounting to $400,000
The reductions itemized above will cover the State funding reversion, but until we know how many students will be showing up this fall and how many we are allowed to have in a classroom, we will not know whether these actions are sufficient to balance the FY 2021 budget.
 
I have mentioned before that all higher education is experiencing the fallout of student uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic on family’s personal finances. Our most recent data indicate that applications are up significantly, but registrations are down (-27%). We believe that many students are waiting to learn how colleges are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis before making a commitment. We know how we will be delivering instruction this fall and we will be informing students next Monday, July 6, the same date that we will be returning to campus, as outlined in my message to you two weeks ago that accompanied the Return to Work: A Guide for Employees document. A letter and video explaining credit instruction and student return to campus information will be sent to current students, applicants and prospects next week. It will be posted to social media and available on our website. The video has already been uploaded to our YouTube channel and you can preview it here: https://youtu.be/igP9ZACjxM0. Additional materials being shared with students regarding our fall class formats is attached for your information.
 
I want to emphasize that the video is not going public until Monday. The reason for that decision is that our revised schedule will not be accessible until then and we do not want to cause a great deal of interest driving students to our website until they can access the revised schedule. Next week, we are hoping for a tidal wave of interest! We are releasing it to you now so you have a heads-up regarding what students will be seeing beginning Monday and you are prepared to address questions that you might receive.
 
Non-credit instruction will begin on campus on July 15, 2020. New State tuition grants are in process to assist students and businesses in paying for training for upskilling employees and helping people prepare for new jobs. New corrections and police academy classes will begin in July as well.
 
As we return to campus amid the significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in states in other regions of the country, we are implementing additional safeguards. It is evident that this virus will be with us for a while, so we need to be prepared to alter our plans as the situation dictates. With that in mind, employees and students who travel to COVID-19 hotspot states will be required to quarantine upon their return for 14 days prior to returning to campus. Employees who are scheduled to work on campus during their quarantine period will be required to take vacation or personal leave for those days during the quarantine period. Employees will be expected to work from home on their non-on-campus workdays. Leave will not be assessed for the days that the employee works from home, except as stipulated above, when the employee is scheduled to work from campus. Student who are absent during their quarantine period will be excused absences.
 
Hotspot states are defined as those states where there is a 10% positivity rating over a 7-day rolling period. Current hotspots, as of July 1, include California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina and South Carolina are trending toward hotspot status and could be considered hotspots by the time someone visits and returns. Obviously, the hotspot states will be changing as the virus migrates. This means that employees and students must use their best judgment when planning travel. As you already know, we will not be supporting any out-of-state travel at this time.
 
We will continue to focus our efforts on supporting our students, employees and our community. Thank you for all that you are doing to keep the dream of education alive for students from the Lower Shore. We all know how important our education and training is to our students and the economic vitality of our community.
 
June 18, 2020 at 7:42 p.m. – Returning to Work
Employee Update #10 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
Last week, Governor Hogan increased the number of people who can congregate indoors to 15. That change offers us an opportunity to begin offering classes on campus. Given this announcement and our planning that was already ongoing for on-campus coursework in the fall, we have established July 6th as the “Return to Campus” date for the new-normal operations. The underlying guiding principle for all of our reopening decisions is an emphasis on the health and safety of our students and employees.
 
Within that context, not everyone will be returning to campus. Many will continue to telecommute. It will depend on your job and if there is anything for you to do on campus at this time. Supervisors will be contacting staff to discuss their schedules. Remember, we need to continue to social distance even in the offices as we return. Due to space constraints we will not be able to bring everyone back at the same time.
 
Whether you are returning to campus immediately or not, all employees will be required to complete Returning To Work training through SafeColleges prior to July 6, 2020 and quarterly thereafter until further notice. You will be receiving an email notification from SafeColleges when it becomes available.
 
Beginning July 6th, anyone coming to campus (employees, students and visitors) will need to go through screening before entering the buildings. We will have two screening sites. Walk-up screening will be conducted in front of Brunkhorst Hall main entrance. The second screening will be conducted while you are still in your car. You will need to circle around campus to the North Parking lot under the Solar Panel Canopy where you will be greeted by our outstanding Public Safety staff who will take your temperature and review your health self-assessment. The health assessment is a self-reporting questionnaire where you will be asked questions about any COVID-19 symptoms you may be experiencing and your interactions with someone who has tested positive. We hope to have this available on an App by July 6th, but if not, we will have a paper version, which will also be available for any first-time visitors. This will become part of your daily routine. A copy of the Health Self-Assessment Questionnaire is attached.
 
Buildings will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and as needed for evening courses.
 
As we become busier, we will stagger start-times to try to reduce the waiting period that could occur at peak arrival times. All employees, students and visitors will be required to wear face coverings when inside buildings and while interacting with others. 
  
Continuing Education will be allowed to begin offering classes on July 15th.  New courses for our nursing and other health professions disciplines are returning to campus as well. Students who need to interact with staff in-person for onboarding and course scheduling will also be invited to campus by appointment. With all this activity we will obviously need a campus presence beginning in July.
 
The details of what you should expect and will experience are outlined in the attachment titled “Returning to Work: A Guide for Employees.” Please take some time to review the entire document. It provides detailed information and guidance on our workplace expectations. It isn’t stated anywhere, but as we reopen, everyone should realize that we are returning to our practice of workplace appropriate attire (slippers, robes, tee shirt and pjs may be fine at home, but while interacting with students and one another on campus there is an expectation of a higher level of grooming and dress than what has been observed in some Zoom and Team meetings).
 
With a limited on-campus presence, the Jordan Center and the Café will not be operating this summer. Additionally, in order to ensure appropriate social distancing, we will be using the Hazel Center for the in-person meetings with students in July and much of August. You should not plan to eat your lunch in the cafeteria. More detailed information can be found in the guide.
 
As we prepare for the fall, credit faculty have developed a COVID-19 revised schedule for fall coursework. There will be six course delivery methods to ensure that students have options. We surveyed our students to learn how we can make them feel comfortable, secure and confident so that they will be successful this year. There was an interesting division in their choices with 37% choosing face-to-face instruction with social distancing; 33% selecting online; and, the remaining 30% choosing hybrid or virtual classes. Clearly, we need to offer options and the faculty responded.
 
The challenge is making the changes to the existing schedule, informing students and explaining what the changes mean. During the week of June 29th through July 2nd, staff will be making the changes to the fall class schedule. On July 6th, pre-registered students will be contacted to advise them of the changes and informing them that the fall payment deadline will be July 22nd. We expect some drop/add activity after students learn of their schedule changes and see the new options. We also hope that once undecided students who are sitting on the sideline waiting to see what’s going to happen learn about our schedule and processes, then they make the leap and come in and get registered. Next week, a video outlining what fall will look like at Wor-Wic will be filmed and will be sent to students, posted on our website and on social media on July 6th.
 
With limited campus activity this summer, we continue to be in a position where not everyone has work that can be performed. While the Board of Trustees committed to keeping everyone on the payroll through June 30, 2020, as we begin the new fiscal year the Emergency Closure Pay will end. A number of positions are scheduled for full or partial furlough until we resume normal operations in the fall. Affected staff have been notified. If circumstances change and we have work for everyone and can bring people back earlier, we will take advantage of that opportunity.
 
I know that everyone has been enduring a great deal of stress during this unprecedented period and we hope that our return to work goes smoothly and we can find some sense of normalcy this fall. I think that we all know that the likelihood of a second wave of the virus is high. However, we must plan for a number of eventualities, including restarting in the fall. If we have to pivot, I think that we are better prepared than we were this past spring.And, we did a pretty good job making that adjustment. Thank you for all that you have done to keep the college moving forward and keeping our students on track to achieve their goals. This coming year will continue to bring challenges, but if I have learned anything from the experience that we have been through over the past 4 months, it is that we are stronger than the challenges that we face and we’ll find ways to fulfill our Mission and support our students and one another.
 
Thank you.
May 21, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. – Employee Assistance Program
From Anna Era, Benefits Coordinator
 
We know these last few months have been difficult.  People have been cut off from their families (or been with them 24/7), family members have lost jobs/income, and people are worried about what the future looks like. Wor-Wic's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered by BHS is here for you and any family member living in your household any time of day. Call 1-800-327-2251. Plus they have lots of resources at their website (See attached flyer for more details). Information can be accessed at: https://portal.bhsonline.com  User name: WORWIC [No password required]  
 
Below is just a sample of the articles, videos, and resources BHS has to offer: 
 
Article Links:
 
1. CDC Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Website
2. Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
3. White House Opening Up America Again Website
4. Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
5. Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine & Isolation
6. APA Managing Anxiety and Stress in Times of Uncertainty (Session 1)
7. Parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic (PDF)
8. Lo que necesita saber sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
9. Managing Healthcare Workers' Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
10. USA.gov Unemployment Assistance Information
 
Videos:
1. Caring for Someone Who Has COVID-19
2. Dealing With the Stress of Self-Isolation
3. Disinfecting Your Home of COVID-19
4. How COVID-19 Spreads
5. Human Coronaviruses
6. KidsHealth - Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Clean Your Hands
7. KidsHealth - Coronavirus (COVID-19): Keeping Kids Busy
8. KidsHealth - Coronavirus (COVID-19): Top 5 FAQs
9. Simple Ways to Avoid COVID-19
10. Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection
11. Video: Hand Washing Fundamentals To Reduce The Spread Of Germs
 

If you have any questions regarding the EAP Program, please contact me at 410-334-2982 or aera@worwic.edu.
May 13, 2020 at 11:07 a.m. – Wear Your Masks and Clean Your Workspace
Employee Update #9 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
 
I hope everyone is doing well. We survived the Spring semester! Congratulations and Thank You!! This is quite an accomplishment given the profound impact of the pandemic on everyone’s life. And, it continues.
 
As you know, we have extended the hours that essential employees can come to campus to complete work that cannot be accomplished at home and/or to drop off and pick up mail and other items. The extended hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm. When you come to campus, please be sure to wear your face mask/covering in all public areas (hallways, stairwells, restrooms, elevators, office suites) just as you are wearing it in the grocery store. If you have an individual office, you can take it off within your office, as long as there is no one else with you.
 
Now through our return (whenever that is), it remains your responsibility to clean your work area and high touch items (office copiers, door knobs) within your office suite before you leave. The facilities department supplied disinfectant wipes to all office suites prior to teleworking. If your office is not within a suite, there are wipes mounted in the hallways for your use. It is safe to use the wipes to clean your computer keyboards.
 
Summer I online courses began this week and enrollment is much better than expected and far better than it was trending. This seems to confirm our suspicion that many people are delaying decisions about college enrollment until the last possible moment so they have the most up-to-date information. The Summer II term will also be online.
 
As mentioned in the Town Hall meeting, I established a faculty task force to plan for the Fall term and consider what it might look like if we can offer courses face-to-face or hybrid instruction with partial on-campus classes with social/physical distancing, in addition to courses offered completely online. Unfortunately, we have to plan for several different scenarios because we are not in control of the virus or the government’s response to the pandemic. In addition to the faculty task force, each division of the college is developing plans and making recommendations to President’s Staff, who along with Ruth Gill, Greg Grey and Karen Berkheimer are planning for the reopening of the campus.
 
When will we reopen to employees? When will we reopen to the public? Today, we don’t know. Like you, we want answers to these questions. Like the faculty task force, we are working on several scenarios. Yesterday, the University System of California announced that they will not reopen their campuses this fall. That is the largest college system in the country. Many other institutions have announced that they will be opening. Our planning efforts need to consider a number of different possibilities. When we open is important, but it is a question we don’t have an answer to yet. We do know that we will open, sometime. That is what we are preparing for. We’re not waiting, we’re getting ready. The underlying guiding principle for all of our reopening decisions is an emphasis on the health and safety of our students and employees. So, our considerations for reopening include the very real possibility that we will need to continue the practice of social distancing within the office suites and classrooms. That suggests that we will continue to have a number of staff telecommuting since offices are not large enough to provide 6’ distancing between office staff. 
 
There’s a lot going on, and of course, we are also awaiting further guidance from Governor Hogan, other State agencies and we are working with our colleague institutions across the state to gain insight from their deliberations as well. Tomorrow, the Maryland Higher Education Commission will convene a meeting with Maryland’s college and university presidents to discuss our path to reopening our institutions. Perhaps we will know more then, or perhaps they are just trying to learn what our thoughts are on the topic. I’m not really sure at this point. We’ll keep you informed as we learn more.
 
Another question that you are probably having is about the budget, since I brought it up during the Town Hall meeting. Like so many other things, we don’t have any new information that can help us project the FY 2021 budget situation. Frankly, fall enrollment will be the key factor in how much revenue we will have next year. As I mentioned above, Summer I enrollment materialized at the last minute. If the same thing happens this fall, we should be ok; and even better if other factors also occur. Things like, additional Federal higher education relief funding or if we don’t receive the State budget reduction that is anticipated. We are dealing with a number of variables that remain uncertain and we have to wait for most of them to be revealed to us before final decisions can be made. We can hope for the best, but hope isn’t a plan. So, we’ll continue to formulate our plans for fall and try to be ready for any eventuality. 
 
For now, and the foreseeable future, remember that when you are on campus, you need to wear a mask unless you are in your own office, by yourself. And, please clean your workspace with disinfectant, including common area items that you may have used, like copiers.
 
Until we return, stay safe and healthy. And, try not to worry too much.
May 11, 2020 at 11:05 a.m. – HVAC on Campus
From the Facilities Management Department
 
Dear Campus Community,
 
The HVAC will be scheduled on in all office areas from 9am to 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Any classes or other events that require HVAC must be scheduled on 25Live a minimum of 7 days in advance. This will guarantee that the air will be on in your area of use. 
 
We’re trying to minimize runtime of the HVAC equipment to save utility costs, but keep everyone comfortable when necessary. 25Live is the tool we will use to make this happen. You should also be aware that due to a chiller replacement at Fulton-Owen Hall, this building will be without AC from May 11th to May 28th. We will update you if these dates change. Please direct any questions in this regard to facilities management.
 
Thank you.
May 8, 2020 at 11:23 a.m. – Extended Hours for Essential Employees
From Jennifer A. Sandt, Vice President for Administrative Services
 
Effective next week, the campus hours will be extended to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm. Buildings are generally locked. Once you are on campus, you will need to call public safety at 410-334-2937 to request entrance to a building. Please coordinate with your supervisors/vp’s as to when you are coming to campus. We need to be sure that we limit the number of employees in an office suite at the same time and that we continue to practice social distancing.
 
April 14, 2020 at 7:38 p.m. - Campus Closed Until Further Notice
Employee Update #8 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

As you know, we are scheduled to reopen the college next Monday, April 20th. That is obviously not going to happen. Instead, the college will remain closed until Governor Hogan’s State of Emergency Shelter-at-Home order is lifted.
 
Due in large part to the funds made available to the college under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund of the CARES Act, at the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees last Thursday, the Board accepted our recommendation to continue to pay employees under the conditions set forth last month, outlined in Employee Update #6, partially reprinted below (please refer to Update #6 for additional details):

All employees will be paid. All work is straight time and any emergency call-in will be paid for actual hours worked (no minimum number of hours). Part-time credit and non-credit faculty will be paid upon completion of their course contracts. 
 
In response to questions regarding leave policies, the following decisions have been adopted:
  1. FY 2020 excessive Annual Leave accruals will be allowed to be carried-over through October 31, 2020.
  2. Unused Personal Leave will convert to Sick Leave on July 1, 2020, per usual college practice.
  3. Unused Comp Time will be paid and included in your July 17, 2020 pay. 
Students will be informed this week that we have set a new tentative graduation date as Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. We understand how important graduation is to our students, their families and friends. We hope that this date may provide an opportunity to celebrate their success. But, if social distancing is still required, we will continue to find another way to acknowledge our graduates.
 
Another piece of information that will be shared with students is that we will allow students to come to campus and take advantage of Internet access that is available in the South lot by Shockley Hall. Students will be advised to stay in their cars and respect social distancing guidelines. Access will be available Monday thru Friday from 8:00-4:00 and will continue as long as the privilege isn’t abused and the service is deemed appropriate. Public Safety will be on campus during these times.
 
As we are looking to the future, we need to prepare for Summer and Fall classes to be online. I am not suggesting that it is certain that we will need to convert entirely to online coursework, however, there is no guarantee that we will be back to pre-pandemic operations anytime soon. So, it is increasingly important to prepare for a number of different futures. You have all proven that you can deal with change. I have been overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication of everyone dealing with the pace of change needed to make this remarkable transition from face-to-face instruction and office work to remote instruction and telecommuting. It seems to me that one of the enduring contradictions of this crisis has been that it has brought us together, even as it has forced us to be apart. Thank you for stepping-up and meeting the challenge.
 
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home (as much as practical).
 
April 1, 2020 at 4:22 p.m. - Campus Closed Through April 19
Employee Update # 7 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President
(Please note, If you’re keeping track, I failed to label the 3/28/20 ESCJA closing message with an update #)
 
During this unprecedented period, most of us are doing things that we never imagined that we would be doing in our jobs or our daily activities. I’m receiving documents at home, printing, signing, scanning them and emailing them directly to the appropriate person through a wireless interface I set-up with my laptop and printer (don’t worry IT; I don’t have VPN access, and I don’t want your job!!). But, the fact that even I’m doing this just goes to show that when we have to do something, we figure it out.
 
While I am not a huge fan of telecommuting; I find that it is working. And that’s a good thing because we’re going to be doing it a while longer. As you may recall, we were scheduled to return to campus next Monday.  Today, I am notifying you that the campus will remain closed for two additional weeks. We will not return to our offices before April 20th. Obviously, the virus and the Governor’s Emergency Orders will dictate our future plans. So, if we have to extend beyond two weeks (and I expect that we will), that decision will be relayed later.  We are not going to do anything to jeopardize your safety.
 
As before, all employees will continue to be paid during this period. All work is straight time and any emergency call-in will be paid for actual hours worked (no minimum number of hours). Part-time credit and non-credit faculty will be paid upon completion of their course contracts. You are still expected to provide your supervisor with a summary of your work activities while telecommuting. Leave requests will still be required for absences during telework on regularly scheduled work days and hours that you are unavailable for any reason. 
 
Employees in high risk categories, including seniors age 60 and over and employees with underlying health conditions, are eligible to continue using liberal leave if you are scheduled to work on campus and choose not to. This means that if you need, you can elect to stay home and use leave time that you have available. Annual and personal leave must be exhausted before sick leave can be used for this purpose.
 
Human Resources has sent out several messages regarding changes in leave and medical benefit changes as a result of federal legislation related to the pandemic. If you have questions, as always, you should contact our outstanding HR team (Bonnie, Anna, Jenny or Karen). 
 
I have had two Zoom Town Hall meetings (one with Administrative Staff and one with Faculty) since I met in-person with Support Staff on Support Staff Day. I am going to continue with those meetings through Zoom, by invitation, to learn your concerns and provide updates. To keep the group sizes manageable, I’ll continue to meet by council groups (Administrative, Faculty and Support Staff). Nora will send out invitations with dates, times and instructions to participate. If nothing else, it’s just nice to see so many of you.
 
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home!
 
April 1, 2020 at 9:48 a.m. - Medical Plan Info for Covered Employees
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources
 
Good morning! 
 
I just wanted to share a few changes to our medical insurance plan as a result of COVID-19.
 
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires all private and individual group health insurance providers to cover the following COVID-19 services at no cost to the member (no copay or coinsurance) and without prior authorization or medical management requirements:
  • COVID-19 diagnostic testing
  • Any office visit, telehealth visit, urgent care or emergency room visit that triggers the need for COVID-19 testing, both in-network and out-of-network
In addition, the plan is temporarily providing coverage for all other telehealth visits as regular office visits (with applicable copay based on network) since health care providers were required to suspend all elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments.
 
We are doing our best to make sure you can still access services during these uncertain times.
 
Take care and stay well!
 
March 31, 2020 at 8:19 a.m. - Emergency Sick Leave and FMLA Expansion
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources

Good morning! I hope this email finds you healthy and safe.
 
You’ve probably heard about the new law that provides additional paid sick leave to employees as a result of COVID-19, effective April 1. This email will tell you all about those temporary benefits and related college changes.  
  • The new leave types will take effect at the college on 3/29/2020 and will be available through 12/31/2020 unless otherwise specified. 
  • This new leave supersedes the special leave directives of the college that were implemented as part of a proactive approach to assist employees in advance of this new law (The temporary allowance to permit sick leave balances to go negative and the temporary allowance to use 50% of your leave for self-quarantine will end 3/28/2020). 
  • A special leave request form and the required notice to employees are attached. Both will be placed at the HR page of the portal.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed into law on March 18, 2020. This act addressed a variety of things, but most applicable to our employees is the expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act and introduction of a new leave type entitled Emergency Paid Sick Leave, both temporarily available through December 31, 2020. The college is fully prepared to comply with this law effective March 29, 2020. I am providing details about how this new law benefits employees. If you have questions, please email or call me at kberkheimer@worwic.edu or 410-334-2915. I will be the key contact for questions concerning these leave types.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave
All employees are eligible to use this new leave beginning on the effective date for six qualifying events (listed below). As with all leave, you can only use it when you were scheduled to work, but are not able to work or telework due to a qualifying reason. Substantiation will be required and must be submitted to human resources before the leave is paid. Full-time employees are being provided with 75 hours of leave (amount equal to 10 regular workdays); part-time employees with generally regular schedules are being provided an amount of leave based on hours worked, on average, over a two-week period. Employees with variable schedules, such as part-time faculty, will be provided hours of leave (at the time of request) based on a six-month lookback or reasonable expectation of the number of hours expected to work based on agreements recently issued, as the law specifies. This leave can only be used for 10 missed scheduled shifts, unless you are teleworking. FMLA will run concurrently for qualifying absences of three or more days. It’s important to understand that, per the law, some of these leave categories will be paid at 100%, while others will be paid at 2/3 your regular rate (not to exceed $200/day or $2000 total). This Emergency Paid Sick Leave can be used for the following substantiated reasons:
 
1.      Employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19 (This is to be used ONLY if a governmental order was issued to quarantine or isolate – proof of the order is required);
 
2.      Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 (provider note is required);
 
3.      Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis (provider note is required);
 
4.      Employee is caring for an individual that meets #1 or #2 above (copy of the order or provider note is required);
 
5.      Employee is caring for his/her son or daughter due to that child’s school or place of care closing or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions (documentation of such closure/unavailable to care is required); or
 
6.      Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor (documentation is required).
 
Leave requests must be submitted to Anna Era or me using the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request form and must include applicable substantiation.
 
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Expansion
FMLA provides, at a minimum, 12 weeks of unpaid leave, job protection and group health benefits protection in a rolling 12-month period to eligible employees for certain qualifying events. The existing FMLA was modified temporarily to add a new qualifying event, reduce the eligibility period for this qualifying event, and provide a new type of paid leave for this qualifying event. Below is an overview of the temporary modifications in place from March 29, 2020 through December 31, 2020: 
  • A Qualifying Need Related to a Public Health Emergency was added: In addition to existing FMLA qualifying reasons, protected FMLA leave temporarily includes leave needed because an employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for his/her son or daughter under 18 years of age because that child’s school or place of care closed or is unavailable due to a public health emergency (substantiation must be provided to human resources); 
  • If an eligible employee is absent due to a qualifying need related to a public health emergency, the following types of leave will be available:
    • The first 10 days will be unpaid, unless the employee elects to use other accrued leave.
    • The remaining 50 days, if applicable, will be paid at 2/3 the regular rate of pay (Not to exceed $200/day or $10,000 total). We are calling this “FMLA Paid Leave for Public Health Emergencies.”
    • The paid leave hours will be determined based on the hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work or, in the case of employees whose schedules vary, will be determined based on (1) a six-month lookback or, if that employee did not work during those last six months, (2) the expected number of hours the employee would have been scheduled to work at the time of hire. The hours will be calculated, per the law, on a case-by-case basis at the time the employee requests leave.
  • Employees who worked at least 30 calendar days at the time of request are eligible for this new qualifying event and related paid leave.
This is an expansion of the existing FMLA program. It does not offer an additional 12 weeks of FMLA leave. If you have already used FMLA leave during the preceding 12 months of your new request for FMLA, that amount of leave will reduce your current FMLA protection period and associated benefits.
 
Leave requests must be submitted to Anna Era or me using the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request form and must include applicable substantiation.
 
Time Cards/Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Forms
For tracking purposes, new leave types were established for these new emergency paid leave benefits. Full-time and year-round part-time employees will be able to select the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave” type under “Other Time Types” in the electronic time keeping system. However, this leave will not be paid until HR has received your Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request form with applicable substantiation. As with regular leave requests, make sure you send those documents to Anna or me as soon as you think you are eligible to use this leave (do not wait for your supervisor’s approval or time card submission). Temporary employees, such as part-time faculty, will have their leave banks populated at the time of a substantiated request due to the complexity of calculating the leave amount.
 
The “FMLA Paid Leave for Public Health Emergencies” will not be available in the electronic time keeping system. Similar to other FMLA absences, payroll will make adjustments behind the scenes for qualifying absences. As with regular leave requests, make sure you send those documents to Anna or me as soon as you think you are eligible to use this leave (do not wait for your supervisor’s approval or time card submission).
 
Paper time cards were revised to include the new leave types.
 
Call Karen or Anna
Because of the complexity of FMLA and these new paid sick leave benefits, it is important that you communicate with me or Anna Era, benefits coordinator, as soon as you feel you may be eligible for them. Please do not contact Payroll with questions related to these leaves, other than how to fill out your time card. Eligibility will be determined by HR. We will be communicating regularly with payroll.
 
As always, we are here to assist you and ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
 
Karen:   kberkheimer@worwic.edu or 410-334-2915
Anna:    aera@worwic.edu or 410-334-2982
 
Stay Healthy!  
 

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March 29, 2020 at 8:40 p.m. - ESCJA Closed for Two Weeks
From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

As most of you are aware from prior correspondence, the ESCJA was still in session while we have been otherwise closed to the public. That action is consistent with Governor Hogan’s directives for first-responders and emergency personnel to continue their roles during the emergency situation. The Academy cadets are all employed by local police agencies but do not have full policing privileges until they complete their training. We implemented a number of safety protocols including taking everyone’s temperature (cadets and instructors) each morning upon arrival, increasing social distancing by splitting the class in two and requiring the instruction to be held in two separate rooms with never more than 10 people in a room, and holding the cadets responsible for sanitizing their space routinely.  
 
Late last night, I learned that the significant-other of a cadet had been in close contact with someone last Thursday evening who subsequently learned that they had tested positive for COVID-19. Unaware of the situation, the cadet (who was never in contact with the individual who tested positive) attended the Academy on Friday. So, that cadet had second-hand contact with someone who has now tested positive for the virus. When I learned this, I immediately shut the Academy down for the next two weeks and instructed the Academy staff to self-quarantine for 14 days. Last night and today an effort has been made to contact anyone and everyone who possibly came in contact with the Academy staff or cadets on Friday, or who entered Guerrieri Hall. I also instructed Public Safety to ensure that no one enters Guerrieri Hall for the next week. According to CDC protocol, that is more than enough time to ensure that the virus will not survive on inanimate surfaces. A week from now, a full-cleaning and disinfecting of the building will be undertaken, which will be a full week before any additional use of the facility will be considered. Also, the cadets fully sanitized their space before they left the building.
 
Even though everyone was maintaining social distancing, out of the utmost of caution I feel it is appropriate to make this decision and to inform the campus community of the situation. Realizing that no one was going to be on campus today, we took the time to reach out to everyone who may be affected before sending this message to the campus community.
 
Please continue to practice social distancing, limit unnecessary contact, and stay safe and healthy.
 
March 27, 2020 at 8:42 a.m. - Employee Assistance Program
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources

It is FRIDAY!!!
 
We made it through the first week of telework. For some of us, it's old hat. For others, it's been an adventure (insert whatever better word fits there!). Computer works, check. Getting things done, check. Interrupted, check...just by things that don't normally interrupt me at work. 
 
Having faced my own challenges this week, I find myself happy to know the weekend is upon us. I'm not sure if I'm in a better place when the cat sits on my notes when I need them...or ignores me altogether! Oh, the adjustments. Don't forget to check in with your coworkers...we all need to chat and connect...you can do this through Microsoft Teams, Zoom and lots of other ways...even text/phone.
 
Also, don't forget about our employee assistance program. There are lots of great resources out there for us on a regular basis, and now there are a variety of COVID-19 resources too. Below are some links to articles they have at their site addressing telework.
 
We are in this together! Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the outdoors if you can.
 
https://bhsonline.personaladvantage.com/portal/content/10120355;subject=10119156
 

COVID-19: Support for Employees & Managers Working Remotely (2 min read)

When you consider the sudden end to your commute and the opportunity to work in your favorite chair or beside a beloved pet, working from home may seem like a fun, stress-free change of pace. However, during a crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak, there are additional challenges that can turn a remote workday into a less-than-enjoyable experience.

Your home may not be setup with the necessary equipment or connectivity for telecommuting. Your children may be home from school and inexperienced with the boundaries you need to complete your tasks. Your normal routine may become destabilized, creating issues with time management, sleeping habits, and eating schedules. You may feel disconnected from your friends and coworkers, which may deepen a sense of isolation and anxiety.

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Across the nation, employees who have been asked to take on remote work for the first time are wrestling with the same challenges and finding unique ways to overcome them. If they can find usable solutions to their new workdays, you can too. To help you find success, we’ve prepared a list of resources below to give you an opportunity to find your footing and create a plan of action that is flexible enough to adjust to your particular role, no matter how far you find yourself away from the workplace.

A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers

How To Manage Remote Project Teams During The COVID-19 Outbreak

5 Tips For Effectively Working From Home During The Coronavirus Outbreak When You Have Kids

8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You

15 Questions About Remote Work, Answered

How To Work From Home Without Losing Your Sanity

Virtual Happy Hour Anyone? Working From Home But Keeping Connected
March 26, 2020 at 11:37 a.m. - Student Services Office Hours
From the Student Services Division

Please note if you need to reach someone within the Students Services department you can call their regular Wor-Wic phone numbers (as listed in the directory) and or via email. Please be advised Student Services operating hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
 
Stay Safe and Healthy
March 20, 2020 at 8:53 a.m. - College Closed Through April 5

Employee Update #6 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

I was planning to just write a thank you message to everyone for the way that you have handled these challenging times. The response from faculty and staff has been extremely impressive as everyone has been dealing with this unprecedented catastrophic health emergency. So, thank you!

Unfortunately, something changes every day and I have a lot more to share. Yesterday, Governor Hogan issued another Executive Order limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. He also directed higher education to convert to online instruction through the end of the Spring semester. Fortunately, even though we had hoped to reopen at some point this semester to face-to-face instruction, faculty have been preparing for this possibility.  Classes are scheduled to resume in a distance learning format beginning Monday, March 23rd. Students are aware of this, but will be alerted to the fact that the distance format will be the delivery method of instruction through the end of the semester. Faculty will alert students through their Wor-Wic email addresses and their course Blackboard sites, providing the details of their distance learning expectations. Many have already done so.

We have learned that some students have already lost their jobs. We will be informing all students that we are waiving the late fee for the final Spring payment for those who missed the March 16th date. They will be required to make their final payment before registering for Summer or Fall.

You are probably aware that there are now confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wicomico, Worcester, Sussex and Accomack counties. It was inevitable. Since we have had an opportunity this past week to prepare to telecommute and under an abundance of caution and concern for the health and well-being of everyone, the college will close to regular business operations this evening at 5:00 pm and remain closed through Sunday, April 5th. All employees who can work from home are expected to do so. Only designated employees will be allowed on campus during this time. When you are telecommuting, you must be accessible, responsive, reliable, and available by phone, email and chat, where appropriate. You will be expected to provide your supervisor with a summary of your daily work activities while telecommuting. Leave requests will still be required for absences during telework on regularly scheduled work days and hours that you are unavailable for any reason. All employees will be paid. All work is straight time and any emergency call-in will be paid for actual hours worked (no minimum number of hours). Part-time credit and non-credit faculty will be paid upon completion of their course contracts. 

Before you leave campus, please treat your departure as you would when you leave for the winter holiday break: close the blinds, turn off the power to electronic devices or unplug them. Make sure to water your plants and take a final look around before departing this afternoon. 

We are arranging for mail pickup on Mondays and Wednesdays. Individuals from various offices will be identified to stop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays (times to be announced) to sort the mail for their offices. Just like all classes cannot be conducted online, all of our business cannot be conducted without some personal contact. We are trying to minimize it, but if you need something, please alert your supervisor. 

This time of uncertainty and isolation is sure to be stressful for you and your families. With schools closing, many businesses being required to close or reduce services, and the challenges of keeping a family at home for extended periods of time, this national emergency has many of us feeling uncertain and anxious about what to do and how to respond.

I want to remind you that we have an employee assistance program (EAP), offered through bhs. This plan is available to every employee, not just those on our medical plan. Your EAP plan offers a variety of support services to you and anyone living in your household. Bhs can help find the support needed to cope with the stress that may develop during this emergency and provide any of us with resources to help create a plan of action that will assist us and everyone in our care in getting through this experience. This program is available at no cost to you.

Confidential services are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week by calling 800-327-2251. Plus they have many resources available at their website (https://portal.bhsonline.com/). The username is worwic (no password). The attached flyers provide additional information.

Please limit travel away from your home to essential travel. The best way to reduce the spread of this virus is by minimizing contact with others and practicing good health habits that are posted on the CDC website that I have referenced in past messages. All confirmed cases of Coronavirus on the Shore are from people who chose to travel. This virus is in every state in the country. There is really no place where you can travel where you can be sure to be immune from this pandemic spread.

Be safe, be smart and stay healthy. And again, thank you for stepping-up, doing what needs to be done and working to ensure the continued success of the college in the weeks and months to come.

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March 16, 2020 at 4:25 p.m. - Campus Closing to the Public Today

Employee Update #5 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

At 11:00 am, Governor Hogan announced additional “drastic” actions, closing some businesses, including gyms, restaurants and bars and encouraging other operations to remain open, such as child care centers, supermarkets, pharmacies and banks. The White House convened a press conference at 3:15 pm encouraging citizens to avoid groups of 10 or more. Consistent with the messages to limit day-to-day personal interactions, we will be closing the campus to the general public indefinitely beginning today at 5 pm. This does not extend to contractors who are here to provide scheduled or emergency services. The childcare center will continue to operate through this week. No decision has been made regarding continuing operations of the center beyond the week.

The college will be open for employees. However, employees in high risk categories, including seniors age 60 and over and employees with underlying health conditions, are eligible for liberal leave. This means that they can elect to stay home and select to use one or a combination of any leave time that they have, or telework if they have been approved by their vice president to do so. 

The vice presidents will be approving employees to telework within the context of continuing operations, maintaining a campus presence and minimizing face-to-face interactions.

All events are canceled through, Saturday, May 16th. This includes graduation as well as recognition and pinning ceremonies. Realizing how important these events are to students and their families, we are considering other options such as virtual ceremonies. But, much more work needs to be done before committing to alternatives at this time.

We will continue to offer instruction to the extent possible and we are extending the Spring term by one week in order to make up for this week. A marked-up copy of the revised academic calendar is attached. 

Faculty are diligently working on the delivery of instruction by converting to online learning as much as can be achieved. Most of the college’s clinical partners now have restrictions in place that preclude our students from completing their work in the clinical settings. Alternatives are being evaluated. Most student support services can be delivered online. However, we realize that there are students who do not have high-speed internet access, and instruction and other supports will not be available to them. We are still working on options for these students as well.

We had hoped that by closing this week we would have some time to work on these solutions. But, as you must be aware, the pace of change that is occurring as we deal with this pandemic is so rapid that we are dealing with new and different challenges every day. We will have more to share as the week progresses.

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March 13, 2020 at 5:11 p.m. - Campus Closing at 5 p.m. Next Week

From Jennifer A. Sandt, Vice President for Administrative Services

Next Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20, the campus will close at 5 p.m. each day. On Saturday, March 21, the campus will be closed.

In addition to classes being canceled for next week, the Testing Center (BH 226), the Library and Resource Centers (BH 217, SH 108, HH 100, GH 204), the Computer Lab (FOH 305), the Mathematics Lab (BH 225) and the Reading and Writing Center (BH 227) will be closed to students.

 

March 12, 2020 at 6:31 p.m. - Classes Canceled March 16-21
Employee Update #4 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

I had a completely different message prepared to be emailed before we learned of Governor Hogan’s planned press conference. In light of the fact that the public schools are closing as of Monday and Governor Hogan’s decision to “aggressively mitigate” the spread of the virus, we will suspend classes next week, Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 21, with two exceptions. First, the ESCJA will continue operations as usual. Second, off-site clinicals will be permitted to continue, as long as clinical facilities will allow students to attend. That does not extend to on-campus labs. Clinical students will be allowed liberal leave, meaning that if they cannot attend, they will be given a make-up opportunity after the State of Emergency is over.
 
The college will remain open for business as usual on Friday and Saturday, March 13-14. Next week, while students are away, the college will be open for faculty and staff to make final preparations for remote delivery of instruction that will begin on Monday, March 23, and make preparations for teleworking. By the end of next week, faculty will send students information on how their courses will be made available. Information will be posted on course Blackboard sites and communication will be emailed to students via their Wor-Wic email.
 
As of today, until further notice, no college-sponsored out-of-state travel will be approved. College-sponsored student and staff travel is limited to in-state and limited to events with fewer than 50 attendees. State affinity group meetings should be attended via conference call. In-state travel is not allowed in any community where community spread of the disease has become officially reported.

All scheduled events on campus are now canceled through the end of March. We are also canceling any future events on campus where more than 100 people are expected to be in attendance. If you are sponsoring an event with a smaller intended audience and you wish to cancel it due to the current situation, we will support that decision.
 
While we cannot control personal travel, we are asking you to disclose any out-of-state travel to your supervisor and to the Senior Director of Human Resources, Karen Berkheimer, as soon as possible.

If you or a member of your household has traveled or will travel to any of the areas under a level 2 or 3 travel advisory as identified by the CDC, the college is asking you to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you have traveled anywhere where there is a possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and want to self-quarantine for 14 days, you must contact your direct supervisor and the Senior Director of Human Resources.
 
Obviously, everything is subject to change as circumstances around this pandemic change.
 
March 10, 2020 at 5:07 p.m. - SU/UMES Closing; Wor-Wic Stays Open

From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

I am sure many of you have heard that Salisbury University and a number of the University System of Maryland (USM) institutions are closing this week for about a four week period. I was in a meeting with the Wicomico Health Department, Emergency Services, SU, Wicomico Board of Education, PRMC, the county nursing homes and many others providers when I learned this information (although it wasn’t announced at the meeting, I received an email from SU before they alerted the community). We are all keeping in close contact as we are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
  
At the meeting, the Health Department reported that there are no known cases of COVID-19 on the Eastern Shore, yet. The Chancellor of the University System “strongly encouraged” all 12 USM institutions to close for three weeks after Spring Break, in part because the students who are going home or traveling during Spring Break could be visiting communities where COVID-19 is active. Under an abundance of caution, the university system is in essence creating a buffer period, like a quarantine, to minimize the spread of the virus that could be caused by the students’ return to campus. Sometime during the next three weeks, they will probably continue assessing the situation to determine whether to bring the students back. This is very different from our situation as a commuter campus.

I want you to know that the university campuses will be open for employees. This isn’t a hard close. And, it does not affect our decision whether to close or not. We are taking our lead from the Health Department. I have personally met with them twice in the past week and we are in constant communication.

Tomorrow morning, president’s staff is meeting again, for a scheduled meeting to deliberate on a number of issues related to COVID-19, including travel. We will share the outcome of that meeting soon thereafter. We will also be discussing our COVID-19 response with the Board of Trustees on Thursday. At the same time, the Maryland Higher Education Commission is convening a meeting of all Maryland presidents to review higher education’s response to the outbreak. I will send a representative in my place.

I’m doing all I can to keep you informed with the weekly updates the past two weeks and will continue to update you more often as the situation changes. And, you can expect it to change.

March 9, 2020 at 1:21 p.m. - Pandemic Flu Training
From Karen Berkheimer, Senior Director of Human Resources

If you haven’t already, you will be getting a notice from SafeColleges to complete the Pandemic Flu web training. This course will provide some tips and tools that might be useful to you as we all monitor what’s happening around the world with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
 
A few people commented that they were having trouble near the end of the training when using FireFox. If you have trouble, such as having to repeat a section, switch browsers. Some systems work better in different browsers.
 
Thanks!
 
March 6, 2020 at 6:58 p.m. - If You Are Sick, Stay Home

Message #2 From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

Last evening, March 5, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a State of Emergency due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As of last evening, there were three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, in Montgomery County. This moves us to Level 3 in our Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

Level 3 Pandemic Evolving---Activities that should be undertaken as soon as there is a suspected or a confirmed case in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia or Delaware.

In response to this, I have declared a Special Emergency Situation and approved the modification of several college policies in order to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Don’t come to work if you have any of the COVID-19, flu-like symptoms. We prefer that you self-quarantine until there are no signs of fever (<100.4 degrees without the use of fever-reducing medications). If you come to work with symptoms, you will be sent home.

As of Monday, March 9, 2020, employees are not required to provide a sick note unless they are absent for five or more consecutive scheduled shifts. You are still required to notify your supervisor of your absence and you or your supervisor must notify the Benefits Coordinator in Human Resources of any absence of three or more consecutive scheduled days in order for the college to comply with the notice requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Employees who do not have an adequate sick and personal leave balances are permitted to use additional unaccrued sick leave of up to five days (pro-rated for part-time employees) after all sick and personal leave is exhausted. When the sick leave balance is negative, all future accrued sick leave will restore the negative balance before additional paid sick leave can be used.

If you are diagnosed with the COVID-19, please contact Karen Berkheimer in  Human Resources, kberkheimer@worwic.edu or by phone at 410-334-2915 so we can inform the Wicomico County Health Department and make appropriate decisions regarding the welfare of others.

We are encouraging students to stay home if they are ill and are modifying class attendance policies to be aligned with the realities of a public health emergency situation.

A special meeting was held on Wednesday with the College Council and the Wicomico County Health Department Director, Lori Brewster. That update was very beneficial and as things have changed and continue to evolve, our response is evolving. We spent a great deal of time considering other circumstances, including the possibility of closing the campus for a period of time at the request or direction of the Health Department.  We are also continuing to work on how to maintain continuity of operations during such a condition.

In the previous message I indicated that if a family member is ill you should self-quarantine. After meeting with the Health Department we are revising that message. Employees do not have to self-quarantine due to a family member’s illness unless the family member is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Just for added information, we have ordered boxes of tissues for all classrooms, additional hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes for computer labs and other identified locations around campus.  

For your health and safety as well as for others, we want to again remind you to take everyday preventive measures to help stop the spread of germs. Standard recommendations, as prescribed by the CDC include the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.

For additional information, visit the local health department and CDC websites. Links to official sites have been posted on the public safety webpage for your convenience.

COVID-19 information can be found on the college webpage where updated information will continue to be posted.

Stay Healthy!

Feb. 28, 2020 at 4:14 p.m. - No Cases in MD, DE, VA or DC Yet

From Dr. Ray Hoy, President

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is considered a pandemic global disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I am sure you have heard about it and have been following some of the news reports regarding the Pandemic outbreak that was first detected in Wuhan City, China. There are now confirmed cases in the United States, however, to date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia or the District of Columbia. Yesterday, Governor Hogan announced that tests are pending on two Marylanders and the results will be known next week. According to current information from the CDC, the "potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the United States." 

I want you to be aware that college staff are following the procedures in our Pandemic Preparedness Plan to ensure our readiness for this outbreak, if it spreads. Our plan has three levels and we have quickly moved from Level 1 Pre Pandemic—Activities that should be undertaken as soon as possible to prepare for a possible pandemic event, to Level 2 Pandemic Imminent—Activities that should be undertaken upon first confirmed human to human case in the U.S., Mexico or Canada. Major departments across the college have been and continue to be working on departmental plans consistent with our Pandemic Preparedness Plan and are looking beyond Level 2 to Level 3 Pandemic Evolving—Activities that should be undertaken as soon as there is a suspected or confirmed case in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia or Delaware, so that we are prepared for the next phase, if it ever materializes.

As a side note, in our Level 3 preparations we are considering what happens if we have to close the college for a period of time. One of the many issues is how payroll will be processed. We will not be able to print checks and we will not be processing mail. However, we intend to meet payroll. So, if you are not on direct deposit, you might consider making that move now. Remember, all direct deposit changes must be made in person in payroll or human resources. Also, don’t forget to make sure that you are signed up for our Omnilert notification system.  It is the fastest way to receive emergency notifications.

For your health and safety as well as for others, we want to remind you to take everyday preventive measures to help stop the spread of germs. Standard recommendations, as prescribed by the CDC include the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.

For additional information, follow the recommendations of your local health department and the CDC.

In order to prevent the possible spread of the disease, don’t come to work if you or any member of your household has any of the Coronavirus, flu-like symptoms. We prefer that you self-quarantine until there are no signs of fever (without the use of fever reducing medications). If you come to work with signs of illness or symptoms, you will be sent home.

If you are diagnosed with the Coronavirus, please contact Karen Berkheimer in Human Resources, kberkheimer@worwic.edu or by phone at 410-334-2915 so we can inform the Wicomico County Health Department and make appropriate decisions regarding the welfare of others.

We are creating a Public Safety webpage where updated information will be posted.

Stay Healthy!