To Our Faculty and Staff:
This time last year, Case Western Reserve was just beginning to distribute masks to students on campus.
Today, we’re in our fifth week of administering COVID-19 vaccines, and planning for a full return to operations this fall.
Hope has returned, with good reason.
Yet even as we eagerly anticipate the end of the pandemic, we also acknowledge its devastating impact.
More than 1 million Ohioans have contracted COVID-19. Nearly 54,000 had to be hospitalized, and 19,000 died.
We extend our deepest condolences to those of you who lost family members, and empathize with everyone who suffered from infections and/or cared for those who did.
But the effects of this public health crisis extend well beyond those directly touched by the disease. Isolation, fear, and simultaneous work and family duties have stretched and stressed everyone. In fact, a report this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that two of every five people recently experienced symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder.
We took one small step to ease our community’s burdens by canceling most classes and all but essential operations on Friday, April 23. Still, we must do more.
As one part of those efforts, we have designated Friday, May 7, as a university Day of Remembrance. The term applies not only to loved ones lost since March 2020, but also meaningful events missed and ongoing activities stopped altogether. You will receive more details in the coming weeks, but the day will include a memory wall, virtual panel discussions and campus community sessions.
In addition, this summer we will continue the university’s staff appreciation program, CWRU Take Two, and resume its availability for all staff—regardless of work location. Each Friday in June and July (i.e. June 4, 11, 18 and 25 and July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30), employees are permitted to leave two hours early without any reduction in pay—unless they work in an area or function that must continue to operate the entire day. In those instances, supervisors and staff coordinate alternate arrangements to ensure they get comparable time off.
Through our partnership with Impact Solutions, we also are adding access to Tess, a mental health chatbot developed by psychologists that uses artificial intelligence to provide support and coping strategies to users. Research studies have shown that individuals who work with Tess on average see significant symptom improvements for depression and anxiety. Human Resources will provide additional information regarding how to access Tess when it launches early next month.
Finally, we want to remind you of existing resources and support available to faculty and staff. They include programs for stress management, connecting with community members with similar interests, and nutrition and exercise guidance. You can learn more about our offerings on the Faculty & Staff Wellness site.
Thank you for all that you continue to do for Case Western Reserve and for one another. Please also try to find opportunities to take care of yourself as well.
Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President