Dear Faculty and Staff,
We are writing today to reflect on what we have heard from you regarding the challenges for faculty and staff caregivers. Particularly, we heard about challenges presented by the decreased availability of childcare due to social distancing and the hybrid and remote learning approaches taken in school districts in and around Syracuse. We also heard from you about additional caregiving responsibilities for elderly or disabled loved ones that are complicated by the pandemic. We acknowledge those challenges and the upheaval they have created in many of your lives since March. In response to your input, we are writing to share available resources and current initiatives that are underway to address some of the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Existing Resources
- Flexible Work Arrangements and Workload Considerations
- Caregiving Exchange Bulletin Board
- Complete the Virtual Tutoring Survey
- University Membership in Care.com
Syracuse University offers and is extending a number of benefits to help faculty and staff with caregiving responsibilities. These include:
- Dependent Care Subsidy Program—although the application deadline already passed, the University is re-opening the application process through Dec. 4 to provide eligible faculty and staff the opportunity to receive subsidies of up to $3,000 for their eligible dependent care expenses in 2020. Visit the Dependent Care Subsidy Program webpage on the Office of Human Resources (HR) website to apply.
- Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account—deadlines for 2019 claim submissions have been extended, and 2020 mid-year changes in elections are permissible during the pandemic. Please visit HR’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for details.
- Carebridge, the University’s faculty and staff assistance program, can connect faculty and staff with information, resources and referrals for caregiving.
Flexible Work Arrangements and Workload Considerations
We have heard that additional flexibility would be helpful. The Office of Academic Affairs will collaborate with deans and department chairs to increase flexibility in the allocation of faculty workload. Our listening sessions have also raised concerns about the impact of the pandemic on career progression for faculty. We are studying possible solutions to those concerns, including those that have been suggested by faculty, and will continue to engage in dialogue over the course of the fall semester.
For staff, HR has provided additional guidelines on flexible work arrangements during the pandemic, and staff who have caregiving challenges are urged to consult with their supervisor regarding appropriate options. If needed, employees and supervisors should also consult with their senior HR business partner for additional guidance.
Caregiving Exchange Discussion Board
We heard in this summer’s listening sessions that faculty and staff would like to connect with colleagues who also have caregiving responsibilities. These connections are more difficult to make while social distancing. Academic Affairs has arranged for a secure discussion board on the Answers platform, called the Syracuse University Caregiving Exchange (login required), where faculty and staff can share caregiving resources and needs and connect with colleagues who have similar needs and may be willing to share collaborative arrangements. This resource is open to all faculty and staff with a valid NetID.
Complete the Virtual Tutoring Survey
Faculty and staff have expressed an interest in support for learning help for your own K-12 children. Academic Affairs is assessing interest in a pilot program that is under consideration to provide virtual tutoring support for K-12 children of faculty, staff and students. We encourage anyone with an interest to fill out the brief survey.
University Membership in Care.com
The University has reached an agreement to provide an institutional membership in Care.com, a secure online digital platform that connects individuals and caregivers. Additional information will be provided to faculty and staff regarding this benefit and how to access it in the coming weeks.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your ideas, concerns and thoughts.
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost
Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer