Expanded Testing and On-Campus Adjustments

To Our Faculty and Staff:

Despite reports of rapidly climbing COVID-19 cases within Cuyahoga County and around the country, Case Western Reserve has not seen comparable increases—at least so far.

We are exceptionally grateful to you and our students for your ongoing care and caution, as well as the tireless work of staff directly involved in our testing and mitigation efforts.

Nevertheless, we must continue our vigilance and willingness to adapt to new developments. Today we want to provide two updates relevant to those points.

Optional COVID-19 Testing for Faculty and Staff

Over the weekend, we announced that a partnership with a new vendor, Vault Health, had the potential to allow the university to provide screening testing to interested faculty and staff. We piloted the new tests with students this week to determine operational capacity; based on our experiences over the past three days, we plan to offer voluntary employee testing through Vault next week. 

Please know, however, that those who register for these tests will be expected to participate in subsequent screening tests as part of our efforts to assess the extent of COVID-19 infections on campus. These periodic tests will take place roughly once every eight to 14 days; people can learn more about Vault’s saliva-based test on our COVID-19 testing webpage

Our first priority for testing will be those faculty and staff who have direct interaction with students. University Health Services (UHS) will provide information about how to register for screening tests in a subsequent communication.

Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who believe they may have been exposed to an infected individual should not participate in this screening testing, but instead contact University Health Services (UHS) immediately at 216.368.2450 or healthservice@case.edu.

Reducing the Number of Faculty and Staff on Campus

The growing prevalence of COVID-19 in our county increases the likelihood of exposed faculty and staff coming into campus prior to the onset of symptoms. To lower the risk that this possibility represents, we ask that supervisors work with their units to identify ways to reduce the university’s on-campus population during the coming weeks.

To be clear, this request does not mean that fewer of those working on campus will continue to do so. Rather the goal is to adjust schedules so that the number of people on campus on any particular day is roughly 10% lower than now. Given the broad range of units and their functions, the adaptations made to meet this goal are likely to vary widely. In addition, we do not expect the goal to be met all at once. In some instances—especially where student interaction is high—such staffing changes may need to wait until after in-person classes end Nov. 20. 

Faculty now teaching in person should continue to do so, but may want to reduce other on-campus activities. With regard to faculty engaged in research requiring their physical presence on campus, we ask that you consider staggered schedules for faculty and staff in those spaces whenever possible. 

To help inform approaches to reaching this goal for staff, consider the examples below:

Unit A: 10 people

  • Current Schedule: Half of the members of this unit work on campus every other week (e.g. five one week, the other five the next week, and so forth).
  • New Schedule: Half of the members of this unit work on campus every other week (e.g. five one week, the other five the next week, and so forth), with one person from each group staying home one of the days in the week when that group is on campus.

Unit B: 12 people

  • Current Schedule: Staff alternate days reporting to campus over a two-week period, with half working M, W, F, Tu, Th, and the other half working Tu, Th, M, W, F.
  • New Schedule: One fewer person from each group works on that group’s respective days, alternating through the entire group.

Unit C: 20 people

  • Current Schedule: 15 people in the office every day, with each person working four days on campus, and one day off campus.
  • New Schedule: 15 people in the office every day, with each person working four days on campus, and one day off campus. Those working on campus that day work staggered shifts to ensure that only 13 people are in the office at any one time.

Ultimately, our primary expectations are three-fold: First, that units providing service to the public and/or internal stakeholders find ways to maintain that service at a comparable level; second, that supervisors ensure equity to all in adapting schedules to meet this goal; and third, that supervisors continue to be as flexible and supportive as possible with their employees while addressing the first two expectations.

We ask that units begin to adjust staffing and schedules to achieve this goal as soon as reasonably possible. Those with questions can contact Human Resources at AskHR@case.edu.

Scott Cowen
Interim President

Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President