7/29/20 Provost conversation

Bill Bell, vice president for human resources, and Provost Jay Akridge discuss human resource questions for the Fall.

Employees will receive 10 additional days of paid sick leave and are encouraged to work with their supervisors should they need more flexible work schedules, administrators said during Wednesday's weekly provost conversation, as they discussed other topics of interest.

Vice President for Human Resources Bill Bell said it is hard to say with any certainty how long remote working will last for employees because of the "dynamic nature of COVID-19."

"I think that as those plans are developed and solidified regarding the spring semester, we'll be able to provide additional guidance around the duration of remote working, ideally giving people as much advanced notice as possible," Bell said.

On the topic of sick leave for on-campus employees of the University, Bell addressed the flexibility that will be given this year.

"The key point here is we absolutely do not want people to come to work if they're sick," he said.

"In addition to our Purdue provided paid time-off benefits, there's additional paid time off available through the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act that was passed earlier this year," he said, "and that allows for an additional 10 days of emergency paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons (which) is available through the end of the calendar year."

Bell said additional information for this added sick leave can be found online.

The conversation also addressed the question of what employees can do if their child's schooling goes virtual and they have to stay home to provide child care.

"I recognize the pressure and difficulty that this puts on working parents and  this is one of those cases where I encourage employees and supervisors to communicate, often and openly about these about these types of situations in order to explore any type of flexible arrangements that could possibly be put in place," Bell said.

Bell said there are a lot of different options that could be explored for those in this position. Solutions could include employees having their work hours adjusted, moving across departments or shifting to remote working.

Testing for students

Beyond information for employees, Eric Barker, the dean of the College of Pharmacy, said that Purdue is rolling out information to students about how to schedule their COVID-19 test prior to their arrival on campus.

Barker said they are sending out information each day in waves of about 7,000 emails.

If students have not received an email detailing the self-testing procedure by Monday in their Purdue email, Barker said, then they should contact the University further for that information.

He gave a reminder that the intention behind testing all students prior to arrival is to reduce the risk of disease from outside of the campus community.

"Our intent is to prevent that influx or reduce the chance of that influx at the beginning of the semester to zero, or as close to zero as we can," Barker said.

He also clarified that those students who are already on campus now in one of the summer programs who have already been tested do not need to be tested again; the test they took when they arrived to campus first was the "re-entry" test, he said.

Barker also said that graduate students are also going to be required to take the COVID-19 test before entering campus, but said that the University is classifying post-docs among faculty, staff and researches who are not required to be tested.

As far as continued testing, Barker said that those who travel off of campus and return will not be required to get tested, but if those people were involved in high-risk activities a second test is recommended. Barker reminded viewers that even when traveling, individuals should still follow the Protect Purdue Pledge.

"Every time you leave campus and come back you shouldn't feel like you have to be tested. It really is about the duration and the type of activity that occurred while you were off campus," said David Broecker, the chief innovation and collaboration officer for Purdue Research Foundation

Broecker shared his personal experience this past week as an example of how he is handling exposure to a larger number of people.

"My daughter got married last Friday, and we had about 100 hundred to 120 people, we moved the event outside so we could get fresh air. We got big areas on both sides of the tent, when it came to dancing we were dancing all over the place, but reality is I was exposed to over 100 people," Broecker said.

He said that upon his return he decided to stay away from people for this week, monitor for symptoms and wear a mask wherever he goes. He said he doesn't necessarily need to be tested but will be taking cautionary activity to mitigate any risk.

Barker later discussed the training that testing data-handlers have completed, and noted that those people have been both HIPAA- and FERPA-trained to protect people's privacy.

To maintain individual's privacy, Barker said that if individuals are tested outside of Purdue's testing partners, the University does not automatically receive those test results. Thus the Protect Purdue Health Center encourages people receiving tests from other labs and hospitals to send in their test results manually, so contact-tracers can follow up with those testing positive.

Barker shared that the University is looking into ways of establishing a "funnel partnership" with the county and the state to make this process more seamless.

Future of events and visitors

Steve Abel, associate provost for engagement, addressed the topic of on- and off-campus events and how organizers can register their events with the University.

Updated information on the Protect Purdue website now includes information for how to get events approved, Abel said. The approval for these events is at the "unit leader level," which he said means the dean or vice provost.

A link leading people to the guidance and approval forms for events of more than 50 people was recently sent out through Purdue Today, he said. Abel also said the approval for events of this type goes through the Office of the Provost.

"If you take a look at the approval forms themselves, the required information includes things such as the purpose of the event, the plan for social distancing, cleaning, communication, staffing, registration and food service if that happens to be applicable to the event," Abel said.

As for student-organization-hosted events, Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life, explained the application process.

"All student organizations who wish to host an event must do a student activity form. That form will be reviewed for all safety protocols, and then, only then, once that's approved can space be booked," she said.

McCuskey said that student events will also be capped at 50 people, with "rare approvals."

"Students won't be able to host off-campus events because we believe that we can manage the internal spaces a lot more safely than then things that go off campus," McCuskey said.

Abel also said that as far as visitors on campus go, the University will expect them to follow the Protect Purdue guidelines, and approval for visitors, like guest lecturers will also go through the unit level.

"Our recommendation is to minimize campus visitors to the extent possible at least through the Fall 2020 semester," Abel said. "If for whatever reason, this isn't possible, it's up to the individual sponsoring unit to assure that visitors that here to the Protect Purdue Plan as it relates to the health and safety guidelines."

Recommended for you