A message from Vice President for Human Resources Bryan Garey
March 15, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Thank you for your ongoing commitment during this complicated time. We also appreciate your patience as we work through the many issues that the spread of COVID-19 has raised for our students, their parents, all of our employees – faculty, staff, wage, and students – and our operations across multiple locations.
We have received many questions from employees about their options should the coronavirus spread more broadly across Virginia, especially with Friday’s announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam ordering all K-12 schools in the commonwealth to close for a minimum of two weeks.
Speaking directly to the governor’s school order, we advise our faculty and staff who do not have readily available options for care of their children to visit with their supervisors and department heads to explore options involving telework, alternative work schedules, and leave. Even for those employees who are not directly impacted by the closure of public schools, supervisors and department heads are encouraged to arrange for employees to work remotely, if this can be achieved while still allowing the university to accomplish its important missions. We know that this a complex and difficult situation to juggle. Virginia Tech cares about our employees and their families, and we are committed to their health and safety.
Benefitted employees, which include staff and faculty, have annual, sick, and family/personal leave plans that they are able to use to accommodate time-off requests. Visit the Leave page for more information on faculty and staff plans for benefitted employees.
While non-student and student wage employees do not earn annual or sick leave, the university is researching options for how we may help wage employees should it be necessary for someone to be out sick or self-isolate due to the coronavirus.
One of the options we are working to provide to all employees — including faculty, staff, non-student and student wage — is the Public Health and Emergency Leave (PHEL) that Gov. Northam activated. This program provides employees with some leave, but the time can only be used in the event an employee becomes sick with COVID-19, must self-quarantine, or take care of a family member who becomes sick with COVID-19.
While we acknowledge that not all jobs are able to be performed from another location, we encourage all managers and unit leaders to be as flexible as possible when working with employees. Alternative work options should be discussed at the unit level. We also encourage units to look for options for wage and other employees to perform other work at Virginia Tech if their current duties are not needed while COVID-19 is being managed. Also, a flexible approach to work assignments is needed to enable reassignment of employees to cover for colleagues who are unable to work on campus.
We continue to encourage every employee to follow good health practices. Take care of yourself. Wash your hands regularly. Avoid touching your face. Practice social distancing. If you are planning personal travel, check the area you are planning to visit before you go.
We also encourage employees to take advantage of other resources the university has to help them, especially if they are struggling with anxiety or stress regarding the coronavirus. Our Hokie Wellness team stands ready to help. In addition, employees on our medical plans can take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program. Also continue to monitor the university’s COVID-19 page for the latest university information, including our faculty and staff frequently asked questions.
We recognize that you may still have questions. We are working to answer them all as soon as we can.
We thank you again for your incredible resilience during this difficult time.
Vice President for Human Resources