May 17 Message to Faculty/Staff: Employees Returning to Campus

To Our Faculty and Staff:

Tomorrow begins the first official phase of staff returning to campus after the university began remote operations. We say “official” because some employees in the medical school began resuming work in labs as of May 4. In addition, as most of you are aware, roughly 600 staff never stopped coming to campus. They include people in public safety, facilities and custodial services, as well as those who work in unique functions that support critical research.

All of you—along with faculty colleagues on campus leading that research—have our deepest gratitude.

In addition, we must acknowledge our wonderful partners at Bon Appetit, whose staff continued to provide boxed meals to students still living on campus as well as faculty and staff working here. We very much appreciate their commitment to feeding our community throughout these difficult times.

As noted in previous communications, we intentionally started the formal return-to-campus with a relatively small group of fewer than 100 people—all in university administrative offices. Per the process:

  • Staff from emergency management assessed each work area and worked with facilities staff and individual supervisors to provide necessary materials and guidance;
  • Supervisors received guidance regarding how to reduce risks through preventive measures including daily temperature checks and staggered schedules to lower the number of people in a space; and
  • Returning staff received an orientation regarding these efforts that included a question-and-answer session with leaders from human resources, health services and emergency management.

We also have a website that provides staff and supervisors more detailed information about the entire process.

Despite these measures, we understand that the prospect of returning to the workplace can feel unsettling. The virus remains, and while measures like masks, handwashing and social distancing lower risk dramatically, they do not eliminate it altogether. Nevertheless, hundreds have worked on campus throughout this time, and thousands more in area hospitals with people being treated for COVID-19.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for more than 100 COVID-19 diagnostic tests, and one treatment showed such promising clinical trial results that the FDA granted an EUA for its use as well. Today, researchers in the U.S. are leading more than two dozen clinical trials involving treatment. None of these numbers guarantees positive outcomes, but they do underscore the broad efforts underway.

Finally, we want to note the university will be ending the additional financial support for those who continued to work on campus May 31 as scheduled. That said, the university will continue to provide free meals to those working on campus throughout the month of June. In addition, those working on campus are eligible to participate in Case Western Reserve’s Take Two staff appreciation initiative starting June 5 and continuing through July 31; this year Take 2 only applies to those working on campus.

Again, those with questions about the return-to-campus process should visit this website for more information.

We look forward to seeing more of you this week.

Carolyn Gregory
Vice President for Human Resources

Sara Lee, MD
Executive Director for University Health and Counseling Services