HR News

Changes to Academic Calendar and Faculty and Staff Working on Labor Day

Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Fall 2020 semester, the University is operating under a revised academic calendar that includes holding classes on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7, 2020). Faculty members who hold classes on Mondays are expected to conduct in-person and online classes as they would any other week.

That said, Labor Day continues to be a paid University holiday. The Office of Human Resources has asked each school, college and unit to identify the level of staff needed to support classes being held on Monday, Sept. 7, and notify staff accordingly about expected work schedules. Exempt staff members who work on Labor Day will be allowed a different day off and non-exempt staff members who work that day will receive holiday pay (or overtime pay if applicable).

Staff members with questions about their work schedule should contact their immediate supervisor. Faculty can reach out to their deans for further guidance.

Important Information Regarding COVID-19 Benefit Notifications

In light of COVID-19 relief rules recently issued by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor, and guidance issued by the University’s insurance carriers, certain employee and retiree benefit notice, election and claims deadlines have been extended.

Notifications include:

  • Extension of special enrollment deadlines for group health plans;
  • Extension of the 2019 health and dependent care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) deadlines;
  • 2020 mid-year FSA election changes and increase in carryover amounts;
  • 2020 FSA reimbursement of over-the-counter medicines and menstrual care products;
  • Extended plan claim and appeal deadlines under the University’s group health and disability plans;
  • Premium payment relief for certain employees and former employees enrolled in group life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), as well as an extension of deadlines to request rights or benefits under the plan; and
  • Extension of the COBRA election deadline, COBRA premium payment deadline and the deadline for qualifying event and disability notices.

View the Human Resources COVID-19 Benefit Notifications webpage for further information. If you have any questions on how these notifications may apply to your specific situation, contact HR Shared Services at hrservice@syr.edu or 315.443.4042.

SU Safe Weekly Roundup

Syracuse University Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Mike Haynie is hosting a series of weekly virtual update sessions to assist University community members in preparing for the Fall 2020 semester. A new video will be added each week through August 14.

Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Three More States Added to New York Travel Advisory and Quarantine Order

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

Earlier today, the State of New York announced the addition of three states, Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, to the New York State Department of Health’s existing travel advisory and quarantine order.

Today’s announcement expands the list of travel advisory states to 34, increasing the number of Syracuse University students who must quarantine for 14 days in New York State (or in another non-travel advisory state) prior to the start of the semester. We anticipate this list to continue to evolve as COVID-19 cases spike in various regions.

This latest news is yet another reminder of the fluid and rapidly changing circumstances the global pandemic is creating. We are working quickly to determine how many students are impacted and how the University may be able to support them in achieving the quarantine requirement.

We are sensitive to the enormous stress and anxiety caused by the ever-shifting circumstances. We hope to have more information to share with you, and more specifically, the students and families from the states added to the travel advisory, as soon as possible.

As a reminder, please be sure to visit Syracuse.edu/fall2020 for the latest on our planning efforts.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Amanda Nicholson
Interim Deputy Senior Vice President, Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience

10 States Added to New York Travel Advisory and Quarantine Order

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

A short time ago, the State of New York announced the addition of 10 states to the New York State Department of Health’s existing travel advisory and quarantine order.

Specifically, the states added to the travel advisory today include Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington; one state (Minnesota) was removed from the list. This is in addition to the states already included in the order: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Today’s announcement expands the list of travel advisory states to 31 and significantly expands the number of Syracuse University students who—as a requirement of the New York State Department of Health—must quarantine for 14 days in New York State (or in another non-travel advisory state) prior to the start of the semester.

As we have said previously, we expect this list to continue to evolve in the weeks to come. We recognize that for our students and their families in these newly added states, planning for the return to campus just became significantly more challenging. Please know that we continue to engage with New York officials—alongside many of our peer colleges and universities statewide—to advocate for safe alternatives to the existing 14-day self-quarantine requirement.

We will share more detailed information on quarantine options for this expanded population of impacted students as soon as possible. In the meantime, Syracuse University will continue to do everything it can to support the safe return of all our students to campus. We remain chiefly focused on safeguarding the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and our neighbors throughout the Central New York region.

Sincerely,
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Amanda Nicholson
Interim Deputy Senior Vice President

Staff, Faculty Invited to Symposium to Learn about Changes to Student Services, Spaces, Activities Due to COVID-19

Staff and faculty are invited to attend a virtual event to learn about what student services, resources, spaces and activities will look like for the Fall 2020 semester as new health and safety guidelines are in place for COVID-19.

The “Fall 2020: What to Expect for Student Engagement Symposium” will be held Wednesday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is required. Those interested in attending must register by the end of the day on Monday, July 27. Live closed captioning will be provided.

The event will be recorded and available later for viewing.

The symposium will provide staff and faculty with information on changes to student-facing services pertaining to COVID-19 and the expectations for creating a safe and healthy community.

The symposium was organized by the training group members of the Student Engagement and Experience subcommittee, one of nine subcommittees formed as part of the Fall 2020 Open Working Group to ensure a safe and smooth return to residential instruction for the entire campus community.

The subcommittee is led by Amanda Nicholson, interim deputy senior vice president in the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, and Rob Hradsky, vice president for the student experience, with Meredith Davis, associate vice president for student engagement, and Cory Wallack, Barnes Center at The Arch executive director.

Representatives from student-facing units and services will take part in the symposium, including the Barnes Center at The Arch, Food Services, the Office of Student Living, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, and the Office of Student Activities.

“The ultimate goal of the symposium is for people to get a glimpse into the shift of services, programs, resources and spaces available for students as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester in this time of COVID-19,” Davis says. “The subcommittee has been working since the spring on the policies, spaces and training necessary to bring students back together safely and still have a valuable on-campus student experience.”

The symposium topics are:

  • 10 a.m.: Health Guidelines and Testing for Students
  • 10:30 a.m.: Student Events and Programs
    • Student Centers
    • Student Activities
    • Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
    • The Student Dining Experience
  • 11 a.m.: Health Services and Recreation
  • 11:30 a.m.: Residential Experience
  • Noon: Social Compact/ Dean of Students Office

Each session will last thirty minutes, with time for questions and answers from participants.

Coronavirus Update 7.9.20: Engagement Opportunities, Mask Guidance and Travel Restrictions

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families,

This is a critical time of preparation as many faculty and staff return to campus this summer, and as we plan to welcome back thousands of students next month. You will continue to see evidence of the work being done by teams across campus to implement new policies and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. This work is often made more complicated by the evolving nature of the global pandemic, and as we receive new recommendations from public health authorities and government officials. We will continue to adapt our planning efforts in response to this dynamic environment.

I’ve heard from many of you related to our operations and plans to reopen Syracuse University safely. It is right and expected that many members of our campus community will continue to have questions about our plans for the fall. It’s also true that our community is uniquely positioned to contribute valuable insights related to our planning and preparedness. For that reason, beginning this week and extending throughout the remainder of the summer, we’ll be hosting weekly virtual update sessions, where you can ask questions and offer feedback in real time. More information on these update sessions is below. I’m very much looking forward to engaging with our campus community in this way.

Today’s campus update includes new information related to our ongoing planning for the fall, and policies and resources relevant to faculty, staff and students throughout the summer and beyond.

For Our Community:

  • SU Safe Weekly Roundup Virtual Update Sessions
  • New York State Travel Restrictions
  • Daily Health Screening Questionnaire Requirement
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supply Request Guidelines Available
  • Mask Guidance for Individuals with Disabilities

For Students and Families:

  • Updated COVID Testing Information
  • New Parent and Families Virtual SUmmer Series

For Faculty and Staff:

  • Fall Course Preparation Resources, Services and Tools for Faculty
  • Phase Three Return to Work Underway

For Our Community

SU Safe Weekly Roundup Virtual Update Sessions: Starting this Friday, July 10, I will host “SU Safe Weekly Roundup,” a series of weekly virtual update sessions to assist University community members in preparing for the Fall 2020 semester. The hourlong Zoom sessions will be held on Fridays from 1 to 2 p.m. and will feature myself and other University leaders and subject matter experts speaking on such issues as public health, the student experience, teaching, learning and researching during a pandemic. These meetings seek to provide clarity on the path forward to in-person instruction for the Fall 2020 semester; answer questions and address concerns of community members about returning to campus; and to receive feedback and suggestions. The meetings will be captioned and will run in a “webinar” format. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions via the chat function. The sessions will run weekly from July 10 through Aug. 14, and can be accessed through this link using an syr.edu email account. Each session is limited to 500 attendees. For those unable to participate live, the link to the video will be posted on Syracuse.edu/Fall2020 and on the University’s campus social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

New York State Travel Restrictions: On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that three more states have been added to the previously announced travel restrictions. Individuals traveling to Central New York from 19 states experiencing high infection rates of COVID-19 will be expected to self-quarantine for 14 days. This action, announced in partnership with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, will impact how Syracuse University accommodates students, faculty, staff and others traveling to campus from other states around the country. This restriction currently applies to individuals traveling to Syracuse from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and share more information on this subject once New York State provides additional detail.

Daily Health Screening Questionnaire Requirement: To comply with New York State requirements, anyone coming to campus for work or research (including faculty, staff and students) must complete an online Daily Health Screening Questionnaire prior to arriving on campus each day. The questionnaire has two questions related to exposure to and symptoms of COVID-19. Within the questionnaire, instructions are provided as to how those working on campus should proceed if they, or any member of their household, has been directed to self-isolate or quarantine or they are experiencing symptoms. Faculty and staff who have returned to campus will also receive reminder emails to complete the questionnaire on a daily basis.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supply Request Guidelines Available: As more faculty and staff return to the campus workplace over the summer and the University prepares for fall reopening, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety Services has released new guidelines for requesting PPE and cleaning supplies, including masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer. Schools, colleges and departments are encouraged to compile their initial COVID-19 supply needs and make one request via the COVID-19 supply request form. The request should be made by a dean, senior leader or their designee with leadership approval. We ask that you do not stockpile supplies and request only what is needed. Schools, colleges and departments are encouraged to follow guidelines and request only what is needed for the resumption of on-campus operations this summer and the initial campus reopening in August (not the entire Fall 2020 semester). More supplies can be requested, especially as supply chain availability improves. Excessive requests will be flagged for review by University leadership. Visit news.syr.edu for additional information and resources.

Mask Guidance for Individuals with Disabilities: Wearing a face mask may be difficult for some people with a disability. The Southeast ADA Center and the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University have released guidance offering answers to questions about the issue of face mask policies; reasons why a person with a disability might not be able to wear a face mask; information on the legal rights a person has under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and a listing of reasonable modifications that businesses and government agencies may make in their face mask policy to accommodate an individual with a disability. The Southeast ADA Center and BBI’s ADA and Face Mask Policies brief is available online.

For Students and Families

Updated Testing Information: As detailed in prior messages, Syracuse University plans to test all returning students for COVID-19 at the start of the semester. The plan for testing all student upon arrival remains unchanged. However, we want to make students and families aware that we are enhancing our testing program to add a pre-travel testing requirement. Specifically, given the increasingly availability of COVID testing in communities across the U.S., Syracuse University will require that all students be tested for COVID-19 before traveling to campus in August. We are incorporating this enhancement to our testing program based on recommendations of public health experts, and given ongoing consultation with peer institutions in New York state and across the U.S. The University will provide additional details in the coming weeks, related to how soon (prior to travel) this test should be accomplished and how to document a negative test result with the University prior to travel.

New Parent and Families Virtual SUmmer Series: The Parent and Family Services Office has organized a series of live Zoom sessions to provide new parents and families with information on multiple facets of the student experience, as well as share how to support a student transitioning to college life. Each session will cover a specific topic area and feature staff who will present and answer attendees’ questions on their respective topic. Topics covered include homesickness, healthy relationships, resiliency and more. Each live session is 7 to 8 p.m. ET and most will be recorded for future viewing. New parents and family members can learn more about each session and register on the Virtual SUmmer Series page.

For Faculty and Staff

Fall Course Preparation Resources, Services and Tools for Faculty: All faculty teaching this fall are highly encouraged to utilize the University’s suite of Fall Course Transition Services. No matter what format will be required, you can plan for a successful semester and get a running start on the first two weeks of classes. Use the Fall 2020 Preparedness Checklist as a starting point, then consult the Fall 2020 Align Your Course for Any Format for helpful resources on designing objectives, assessments, assignments, weekly activities and running class sections in a mixed formats. If you teach a large course session with TAs, consider working with them now to begin planning for their fall sessions as well. The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Online Learning Services and the Center for Online and Digital Learning can help—complete the brief Fall Course Development Form to get started.

Phase Three Return to Work Underway: For those involved in Phase Three of the University’s Return to Campus Plan for Faculty and Staff, the Wellness Initiative has compiled a list of mental and emotional well-being resources to facilitate a smooth transition. And please remember to complete your Daily Health Screening Questionnaire each day before you leave home.

The Wellness Initiative invites faculty and staff to register for the Real Food Challenge. The challenge runs from July 13-31 and involves each day swapping one fake food (heavily processed, packaged foods containing chemicals and additives) for one real food (any food that is minimally processed or not processed at all). Replacing fake food with real food provides your body with the nutrients to sustain a healthy weight, healthy mind and healthy brain function.

And registration is open for the THRIVE! series sessions “Working with Worry” (July 21 from noon to 1 p.m. or July 22 from 1 to 2 p.m.) and “Real Time Resilience” (July 28 from noon to 1 p.m. or July 29 from 1 to 2 p.m.). Sessions are offered via Zoom.

Thank you for remaining attentive to the evolving situation, as external forces continue to have an impact on our planning and procedures. We continue to add resources in programming and services to ensure a smooth transition for return to campus for the thousands of students, faculty and staff who truly define the Syracuse University experience both in-class and online. We will keep you informed through these updates.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Completion of Daily Health Screening Questionnaire Required by Those Working on Campus

Anyone coming to campus for work or research (including faculty, staff and students) must complete an online Daily Health Screening Questionnaire prior to arriving on campus each day.

The online questionnaire is secure, HIPAA-compliant, and includes just two questions related to exposure to and symptoms of COVID-19. The questionnaire must be done before coming to campus. Within the questionnaire, instructions are provided as to how those working on campus should proceed if:

they, or any member of their household, has been directed to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 exposure; or
they have a temperature or are otherwise experiencing symptoms.
Completing this mandatory online Daily Health Screening Questionnaire is not only a New York State requirement, but the right thing to do for the health and safety of everyone on campus.

For easy daily access, bookmark the Daily Health Screening Questionnaire on your computer or mobile device. Faculty and staff who have returned to campus will also receive reminder emails to complete the questionnaire on a daily basis.

Staff, Faculty Members, Along with International Students and Families, Support Essential Workers through Fundraising Effort

When a group of local Chinese American community members, including University faculty and staff, heard about the devastating impact of COVID-19 on China’s people and its health care system earlier this year, they recognized what could happen in the United States.

And, as the first cases of the illness were reported in the country, they took action to help.

Through social media and community connections, the community members and many international students at the University and their families took part in an effort that raised $40,000 and gathered personal protective equipment donations to supply Syracuse-area health care facilities, government agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations with needed items for essential workers.

In January, international students at the University had seen the troubling news from China and initially launched a fundraiser to help supply medical supplies to the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, which was the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The international students from China paid so much attention to what was going on and how damaging the pandemic was. They started to think of ways to help, so they had a ‘A Hand for Wuhan’ fundraiser,” says Wei Gao, associate director of operations and outreach for the Center for International Services. “It was so successful—$53,000 was raised.”

Local community members also watched what was happening closely.

“Social media was flooded with discussions about the whole situation back in China, and then a few months later, the wave turned and the U.S. started getting hit hard,” says Zunli Lu, associate professor of Earth sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We observed very closely what happened in China and how the health care system was heavily affected and the horrific things that could happen, so some local community members thought we could really do something about it here.”

A core group of 11 community members, including Gao and Lu, set up a GoFundMe page and began making calls and circulating notices on social media about helping local health care professionals and organizations with needed supplies.

“We looked everywhere to find medical supplies. The core group found a lot of resources through personal connections and online,” Gao says.

The supplies were verified to make sure of their sourcing, and an Upstate University Hospital staff member assisted in ensuring the quality.

Once the word spread that this local effort was taking place, international students and their parents were also eager to be involved.

“We didn’t want the tragic story in China with the impact on doctors and nurses who took care of the sick to happen here,” Gao says. “We wanted to work ahead of time to find the resources and equipment to supply doctors and nurses who may need them, or even community people who are working as essential workers.”

Along with the core group of volunteers, another 34 volunteers assisted with receiving and distributing supplies that had to be carefully logged.

Half of the funding was raised through a GoFundMe social media campaign, including donations from University faculty and staff; the other half was raised from parents of Syracuse University international students in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.

Through the group’s fundraising efforts and the personal protective equipment sent from families of students in China, more than 45,000 pieces of personal protective equipment—including surgical masks and gowns, gloves and face masks—were donated to local organizations. Over 100 packages from families of international students were shipped by air freight from China to Syracuse. On one day in May, they received a shipment of 33 boxes containing thousands of isolation gowns donated by Beijing parents who raised funds together. In addition, parents from all over China held two big fundraising efforts. The first was to acquire and donate PPE; the second raised more than $23,000 for the Syracuse COVID-19 Response Fund.

The group was also able to obtain the specialized N95 respirators, specifically for medical professionals working with patients—a critical item that had been in short supply.

Supplies were donated to some 40 Central New York organizations, including Upstate University Hospital, Crouse Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Tops Supermarket, the Syracuse Community Health Center, Meals on Wheels, the Fayetteville-Manlius School District and the Syracuse Police Department. The organizations have responded with “thank you” notes and letters, appreciative of the resources and the work of the community members, students and families who made it happen.

Some of the funding was also used to provide kits—which included isolation gowns, goggles and gloves—for international students traveling home on long flights.

“We take care of our international students—they consider Syracuse and the University as their second homes,” Lu says. “They have a lot of emotional attachment to the University. When their second home needs something, they are more than happy to contribute.”

Gao was proud of the students and the work they did to raise funds for Wuhan and then asking their families in China to help when Syracuse was in need.

“It’s touching to see, even in this difficult time, how they donated money to their community in Syracuse,” Gao says. “We have several key families of international students who took the lead in this and who sacrificed their time and money and energy to help out Syracuse University and the local community. They are a great resource for the University and a great resource for the community during this pandemic.”

Lu agrees: “I am most proud of how the international students contributed wholeheartedly to the effort and the community.”

College students may appear to be isolated from the community, but they shop at local restaurants and grocery stores and participate in the community. “Any effort like this can bring people together, instead of dividing people,” Gao says. “What we can say, using this as an example, is that we are truly in this together. If one part of us hurts, the other part will hurt as well.”

Gao also points to this as a learning experience for students. “Many international students might not know how local grassroots efforts work to make change,” Gao says. “This is action. Students think if they need something, they can work something out. They can do something, and we can find a solution together, even if they feel afraid or isolated. This is an opportunity to work together, and we can all make something beautiful and better than before.”

Return to Campus Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supply Request Guidelines Available

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to source personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, University teams have been hard at work centrally procuring safety and cleaning items in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency.

As more faculty and staff return to the campus workplace over the summer and the University prepares for fall reopening, the Department of Environmental Health and Safety Services has released new guidelines for requesting PPE and cleaning supplies, including masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer.

Facilities Services works diligently to clean and disinfect each building daily throughout the University and has increased the frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas. To further reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, the Return to Campus Guidance for Faculty and Staff asks all of us to pitch in to help keep shared and personal work areas as clean and free from germs as possible. Here are some helpful things to know.

Who Can/Should Request Cleaning Supplies and PPE?

Schools, colleges and departments are encouraged to compile their initial COVID-19 supply needs and make one request via the COVID-19 supply request form. The request should be made by a dean, senior leader or their designee with leadership approval.

Don’t Stockpile Supplies—Request Only What Is Needed

The guidelines provide recommendations for where disinfectants and dry paper wipes should be made available to support the cleaning and disinfecting of personal and shared work areas, as well as guidance for requesting additional masks and hand sanitizer beyond what is provided to every employee upon campus return.

Schools, colleges and departments are encouraged to follow these guidelines and request only what is needed for the resumption of on-campus operations this summer and the initial campus reopening in August (not the entire Fall 2020 semester). More supplies can be requested, especially as supply chain availability improves. Excessive requests will be flagged for review by University leadership.

Where To Find More Information