Today Governor Whitmer announced a “stay home, stay safe” executive order, requiring non-essential services to be performed remotely effective at 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This order will remain in place through 11:59 p.m., on Monday, April 13, 2020.
The governor’s order broadly directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible and references several exceptions that are relevant to our university. These include workers in health care, public health, public safety and critical infrastructure. Specifically, the order references federal guidelines that specify as critical: “educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions, if operating under rules for social distancing.”
Exceptions have also been included in the state order to allow people to leave their homes for groceries, carry-out meals, medical supplies, gas and other essentials.
What does this mean for UM-Dearborn?
For the most part, we have been well ahead of this order. Already 84 percent of faculty and staff have been working from home. We have implemented strong measures that maintain critical aspects of our mission while protecting health and safety and diminishing the spread of the virus. I am deeply appreciative of your efforts, I know moving teaching and support operations remotely has been challenging and difficult.
All of us are responsible for important functions related to our students’ success and campus operations, and at this time, nearly all of these important functions can and should be done remotely. By the end of day tomorrow supervisors will inform employees if their job responsibilities require them to come to campus on a limited or regular basis. Campus positions that fall under critical tasks that cannot be performed at home include: police and public safety staff, limited facilities staff, functions that support remote learning, animal care and select other positions related to teaching and infrastructure.
As we continue to navigate this situation together, I encourage managers to identify work that could be reassigned and for employees to work with unit managers in identifying creative solutions and ideas regarding their job responsibilities. Managers should continually evaluate their units’ activities, including finding appropriate ways to redeploy employees for supporting critical operations and/or tasks that can be performed remotely within their units.
University leadership has been in discussions about how employee redeployment could work across campus or at other University of Michigan campuses. Any redeployment would always consider the health or safety of our employees. For instance, some units may need help with administrative or “back office” functions to free up staff to address other more pressing needs. Please remember the university has also established a one-time bank of paid time off for employees unable to work during this period or at some point in the future as we move through this pandemic.
Our collective health and safety is what we all should be focused on at present. If we all stay healthy, it will allow for a quicker return to normal operations when the curve has been safely flattened.
We will continue to post updates, information and answers to frequently asked questions on our COVID-19 information website.
Again, I appreciate your undaunted hard work and dedication to our students during this challenging and unprecedented time. We are continuing to fulfill the mission of our great university and will make it through this current challenge.
Be healthy, be safe, be gentle & kind, and stay Forever Dearborn Strong!