COVID-19 Update from Dean Linton
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Your health and well-being is my top priority and that of the CALS Administrative team. Following up on the most recent communication from Chancellor Woodson, and as we continue to monitor COVID-19, it is becoming clear that additional efforts are needed to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the public health impacts of the pandemic.
All on- and off-campus employees, including Extension and NC State University personnel working at county centers, research stations and field labs, are asked to speak with their supervisors about working remotely or at an alternative work location and to practice social distancing until further notice.
If your presence is deemed essential, we ask that you follow these five simple mandates:
- Wash your hands well and wash them frequently.
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid those who are ill (coughing and/or have a fever).
- Do not shake hands.
- Please keep your food covered and personal.
- Practice social distancing at all times.
To help guide our community, please review the following university resources:
- Social Distancing and Telework Guidelines
- Frequently Asked Questions about reporting, leave policies, teleworking, status, and more
- Human Resources Guidance
All personnel are required to coordinate with their supervisors to define and confirm remote or alternative work expectations and work plans.
Clearly there are vital research projects taking place on- and off-campus. More details and specific guidance will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, we must pay attention to how we can work safely to support these projects.
At this time operational changes are up to each individual research laboratory, and we recommend that faculty and staff work with their supervisors and department heads and focus on the following:
- Identify essential personnel who are needed (essential) to maintain operations – animal or plant care, and other time-critical activities.
- Consider cross-training one or more other individuals in case an essential person is absent.
- Encourage remote work when feasible. These activities could include reading literature, writing manuscripts, designing experiments, analyzing data and other activities well suited for doing at home.
- Consider very carefully starting any experiment that could be affected by additional closures and restrictions, or shortages of supplies. While there is much uncertainty about the future, that uncertainty will be greatest in the next two weeks. Delays are likely the best course of action if possible.
Research Stations and Field Labs
- NCDA&CS and NC State University Research Stations and Field Labs are closed to all external visitors until further notice.
- Access to research stations by faculty, students and program staff to perform critical operations will require prior approval from the station superintendent.
- Upon arrival at a research station or university field lab, immediately implement social distancing practices that are suitable for the location.
- Research station superintendents are directed to implement staff social distancing practices immediately. This includes but is not limited to operating in shifts, practicing separation during breaks and implementing flexible work schedules.
- Research station priorities, in order, are: 1) well-being of staff, 2) care for livestock and 3) supporting research.
- Be advised that some counties have clearly defined their restricted activities. In those cases, the more restrictive authority will need to prevail, i.e. county-owned facilities.
- It is our encouragement to consider canceling, postponing or suspending activities as much as possible.
- Please coordinate any essential activities through DEDs and/or Extension Administration.
Please review previous memos and emails regarding our students and course continuity. As the situation is changing rapidly, be alert to continued correspondence from the university and CALS Academic Program Office.
What We Are Doing and How You Can Help
This is a very fluid and unprecedented situation, and we know there are more questions about research, teaching, business operations and human resource needs than there are answers at this point.
To help address all questions and ensure operational continuity, CALS Administration is working on the following:
- Daily Zoom meetings with all department heads to understand concerns and challenges and to work collaboratively to address them. Dean Linton and other administrators will take part in daily Zoom calls with university administrators and peers across campus as well.
- Provide frequent and transparent communications from CALS Administration across the entire community. Please find the CALS Admin Updates COVID-19 page: https://cals.ncsu.edu/intranet/covid-19/. Look for updates and information from all CALS administration, and submit your questions to our FAQ.
Additional communications for Extension staff and research station/off-site research facility personnel may be required and will be provided as necessary.
With this pandemic, it will likely be some time before the risk has decreased. We are probably in this for an extended period of time, and we will need the collective resilience and patience of the CALS community to get through this together. Please share your ideas on how we can best support each other through this evolving situation.
Additional communications from University administration and our college with additional information and guidance will soon follow, but we felt it important to share this update with you now. Thank you for being flexible and patient, and for encouraging and supporting one another.
Richard H. Linton
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
NC State University