Note to Staff

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March 11, 2020

Dear Staff,

Today there will be an unprecedented move for Pitzer in moving to an online platform mid semester in light on concern for the safety of the community. There will be a message going out to the community momentarily.

We have all been watching in the media as cases continue to build, individuals are stocking their homes with supplies, and other peer institutions are taking similar measures to proactively respond to the virus threat. President Oliver and the other Claremont Presidents have been meeting daily among themselves, their leadership teams and their boards to assess the best path forward. Late yesterday on the advice of two epidemic experts, and with weighing all other factors, the decision was made to move forward in encouraging students to go home and to switch fully to an online platform.

At this time there is no known cases on any of the Claremont campuses, however we would not take this action if we didn’t see appropriate.  Many staff have already been engaged in preparing for this as a possibility, but today it is our reality.  We are not shutting down campus.  We have students that will have nowhere to go and we will be here for them; we have faculty researchers that will need access to labs and tools to get classes online, we will accommodate; we have staff that are relying on their paycheck and we will process that. There will need to be a presence on campus to accommodate a very limited operation. You are to adhere to your normal schedule and report to work until another arrangement is made with your supervisor and the Vice President of your area. Alternative work arrangements are being explored, and will be more aggressively sought after the majority of students have left. 

The College intends to pay staff employees based on the regular work schedule even if their job responsibilities are curtailed through the end of the 2020 spring semester. This was endorsed and approved by the board late last night.  Vacation and sick time will be accrued during this time and only reduced when an individual is sick or taking vacation. We hope to be back to regular operations at the end of the semester, but if not, please know I will be communicating that as soon as possible. It would be very helpful if we do not need to cut checks so if you have not already gone to direct deposit please consider coming to HR and doing so ASAP.

As we move through these next few days, I am very mindful of the safety of all of you. If you are sick, you should go home.  If you are scared, you should talk to your area leaders for guidance. I’ve been funneling information from HR through the area Vice Presidents for the past few days about alternative work arrangements and staff options.  You can go to them or you can go to Deanna in HR with questions and concerns. 

There are few things we know for sure about the virus, but what we are aware of we can consider in how we proceed.  Keep this in mind:

  • Social distancing is recommended. Think about what you can do. Limit in-person meetings. Keep 3-6 feet away from folks as you are talking to them if possible. Use Zoom and phone and other IT resources as you can.
  • Be mindful of touching your face. Even with handwashing, if you are touching surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose and eyes than you are creating a path to transmit.

In the past three days, I’ve been brought to tears by the remarkable dedication of many of our staff to supporting the health and safety of our community. Folks all around you are carrying burdens that you are not seeing on their face as they are pushing the limits of their abilities to respond the best they know.  I’m reaching out to ask you all to be supportive, be kind, be thoughtful and be calm. Check on one another, offer to help, and be a leader.

On behalf of the President, the Board and the Cabinet we are truly grateful for your contributions and commitment through this challenging time. 

Laura Troendle,
Vice President for Finance, Administration and Treasurer

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