The extraordinary need for social distancing continues to be a focus of the guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Department of Public Health. We recognize recent announcements, such as the closing of K-12 schools statewide, have far-reaching impact for our faculty and staff, including health and safety, and childcare concerns.

The quickly evolving situation has already prompted us to take substantial, proactive measures to ensure safety. I have been in close consultation with our human resources team, leaders across campus and the UA System Office to assess our operational needs to remain in front of this unprecedented situation.

Beginning March 16, UAH suspended face-to-face instruction. Coursework and tests will be provided through remote delivery or online for the rest of the spring semester term. Beginning Monday, March 23, UAH will begin operating under limited business operations, which includes essential staffing and remote work assignments. 

To facilitate the move to limited business operations, the University has canceled classes and all student-related educational activities March 19, 20, and 23. On-line instruction will resume March 24. Classes that were online before the transition of face-to-face classes to remote delivery are unaffected by this cancellation notification. 

Spring Break will take place as scheduled March 30 – April 3. 

Our goal is to promote social distancing and limit on campus work to the fullest extent possible. Given these objectives, we anticipate most faculty will be able to work remotely while the vast majority of staff should fall into Staff Groups 2 or 3 noted below. The following guidelines apply to all UAH employees in this limited business operations plan.

FACULTY:

Faculty are asked to work remotely (if you are instructing online, do so from your home), and come to campus only if required or necessary (e.g. a critical administrative role, access to specialized equipment, direct patient care or critical research responsibilities that require a physical presence on campus).

STAFF:

University staff members will be classified into four groups by their supervisors who will communicate their group assignments and expectations to each staff member by 5 p.m. Friday, March 20.

Staff Group 1  – Staff (i.e., part-time and full-time) needed on campus/on site to continue mission-critical University work.
Staff Group 2  – Staff (i.e., part-time and full-time) needed to continue their work, but who can do so from home.
Staff Group 3 – Staff (i.e., part-time and full-time) not immediately required to work during a time of limited business, but who may be reclassified to Group 1 or 2 should critical business needs arise.
Staff Group 4 – Staff on-call employees who are called into work by the supervisor.

Group 1 staff should report to work on campus as normal (unless the employee is sick or has been in immediate contact with a person known to have COVID-19) with the following guidance:

  • Maintain social distance, good hygiene, and use phone calls and virtual meetings as much as possible (even for small groups). Any gatherings of more than 10 people, even work gatherings, will require approval from a dean, vice president or AVP.
  • Student-employees should not be included in Group 1. If a supervisor thinks a student employee’s role is essential, approval must be granted by HR.
  • Even for this group, staggered times on campus are encouraged, as are remote performance of duties when possible.

Group 2 staff will work remotely with the following guidance:

  • Prepare to effectively work from home. If a visit to campus to retrieve essential items (laptop, supplies) is required to facilitate remote work, coordinate with a supervisor to stagger campus visit times and limit contact with others.
  • Sign a temporary telecommuting work agreement, which will be provided by your supervisor by 5 p.m. Friday, March 20 (See https://www.uah.edu/hr). The agreement must be completed and submitted by noon Monday, March 23. 
  • Be prepared to shift to Group 1 or 3 as business needs change.

Group 3 will not actively work:

  • Group 3 employees will be paid during this initial limited business period. The University will determine the necessity for any further limited business operation periods, and the related employment terms will be communicated.
  • Group 3 designation may be subject to change if business needs arise.
  • Group 3 should report administrative leave on their timesheet.

Group 4 would not actively work unless called in.

  • Group 4 employees will be paid if called in by the supervisor.
  • Group 4 employees will not be paid if not called in by the supervisor.

Please know these complex decisions are not easily made. This is a dynamic and fluid situation, and this plan is subject to change. Employees with particular health concerns that impact their group designation should contact their supervisor.

I want to stress that we are fully committed to completing the academic semester. Minimizing the number of people on our campus and limiting large group interactions are the best ways to achieve our goal. We will continue to provide regular updates via email, through our website and UAH’s social media channels. Please continue to monitor the following link for the latest information: https://www.uah.edu/news/news/coronavirus-precaution as well as the UA System website: http://uasystem.edu/news/2020/02/ua-system-covid-19-updates/

Thank you for your patience, dedication and understanding during these unprecedented times for our state, nation and world. By working together, we are using informed guidance and best practices to keep the UAH faculty, staff and students healthy and safe under these very challenging circumstances. Please don’t forget to take care of yourselves mentally and physically as you balance concerns for your loved ones while adjusting your work responsibilities.

Sincerely,
Darren Dawson
President

To submit an announcement, contact omc@uah.edu.
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