Dear faculty and staff,
It’s been a challenging weekend as we all have been navigating the closures, delays and anxiety associated with the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we head back to work tomorrow, I want to reaffirm the University’s commitment to your health.
Remember that maintaining social distance between you and your co-workers is an important way to fight the spread of the disease. Find good tips on social distancing and other measures in this information shared by County Judge Clay Jenkins from Dallas County Health and Human Services. If you have any concerns about your ability to maintain a distance of about six feet between yourself and co-workers in your workspace, please talk to your supervisor about alternative arrangements. And of course, if you should feel sick, please stay home. Our sick leave policies will be very flexible in coming weeks as we work together to stay healthy.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem that compromises your immune system, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. Please go to the special Human Resources Department site at https://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/HR/BenefitsAndWellness/Coronavirus, review the documentation, and if needed, work with your supervisor to fill out the Emergency Telecommuting Arrangement Form. Your supervisor will work with you to make necessary arrangements for these and other considerations, including issues related to childcare.
Because the progression of the disease in North Dallas is evolving, we are planning ahead to ensure that the University can continue operating if a larger percentage of our workforce needs to work remotely. Remember that SMU’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) will host a full day of drop-in training sessions for staff (as well as online webinars) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at Fondren Library East. Training will feature one-on-one consultation as well as short in-person sessions on Box, Skype for Business, Zoom, VPN, Remote Desktop and more. You can register for staff training at https://www.smu.edu/OIT/AcademicTech/Keep-Teaching/Training.
OIT is offering faculty training on Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19, to prepare you for online teaching when our students resume their coursework after Spring Break. The Office of the Provost will provide you with scheduling and registration information tomorrow.
We’re adjusting every day to changing circumstances. We are an institution with a mission of service and I appreciate both your patience and cooperative spirit as we continue this journey together. I’ll check in with you again as soon as I have more information to share.
R. Gerald Turner