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K-State Today

July 31, 2020

Come Back 'Cats: Employee return to campus updates

Submitted by Chuck Taber and Jay Stephens

Dear colleagues,

Since President Myers first announced our plans to return to campus, the COVID-19 situation has continued to evolve. We want to assure you that we are monitoring the developments closely with a team of university leaders and medical experts. The university is in reopening phase 3 and we remain committed to our guiding principles that were established at the beginning of our response to the pandemic. As the start of the fall semester nears, we want to share with you several updates regarding employees' return to our campuses in the coming weeks.

To reduce individual and community risk and de-density our campuses, we encourage all employees who can work remotely to continue to do so. These arrangements can be made directly with supervisors. Employees will be informed by their supervisors when and under what circumstances they are to return to work on campus and should not return until authorized.

We have a number of employees who are at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications, or who live with someone who is at higher risk, and whose job duties cannot be performed remotely. We have developed detailed guidance to assist these employees. If you are an employee who is 65 or older and/or have underlying conditions that place you at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, or who have at-risk household members, you may visit with your supervisor to determine your options, which could include accommodation in the workplace or for taking accrued leave and/or leave without pay. 

We have been monitoring the announcement of plans for K-12 education for school districts in our area. We know that the changing circumstances and uncertainty presents many challenges for all of us, especially members of the K-State community with school-age children. Many of you have been balancing work and class schedules with home schooling and/or child care since early March and are making difficult decisions about education and/or childcare. We encourage employees to talk to their supervisors about requests related to work schedules.

We are committed to a compassionate and flexible approach to working with all employees. We encourage our supervisors to be as flexible as possible with employees' schedules.

Earlier this summer, we asked you to take the COVID-19 and Face Mask Safety Training. More than 4,000 of you have completed the training. Come Back 'Cats-Reopening K-State is the updated version of that training and will be available Aug. 3 on the K-State COVID-19 website. For those of you who have already completed the original training, we strongly encourage you to take the new version. If you have not completed either version of the required training, please do so before returning to campus.

We are asking all members of the K-State community to practice prevention behaviors, including wearing a face covering, maintaining a 6-feet physical distance from others outside your home, and washing your hands often. Our vigilance in this regard helps to slow the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and our communities. We also ask every member of the community to voluntarily commit to care for self, fellow Wildcats, and for K-State and our surrounding communities by taking the Every Wildcat a Wellcat pledge.

Several of you have asked about the protocol if you, a co-worker or student is exposed to COVID-19. We have recently posted guidance that explains the conditions that must be met before an individual may return to in-person work, class, or university activities. We have also updated the guidance for supervisors in working with employees during this time. You can also find detailed information about employee resources and leave policies, including leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCRA, on the Human Capital Services website.

The Come Back ‘Cats-Guidance and FAQ page is being updated regularly. Please also continue to check the K-State COVID-19 website for the most recent updates on fall 2020 planning and return to our campuses.

It is clear that we will continue to operate throughout the coming year in a fluid and challenging environment that will require adaptation, patience and care for each other and our K-State community. Since March, our faculty and staff have been resilient and flexible as we have shifted to emergency remote operations and a phased return. Your support and persistence in delivering our land-grant mission under these extraordinary circumstances are much appreciated. 

Thank you for all you do,

Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president

Jay Stephens
Vice president for Human Capital Services