COVID-19 Employee Updates
Updated 5/7/2020 10:15AM
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I hope you and your families are well. I appreciate all your hard work, cooperation and understanding as we move forward during these challenging times. I want to update you on a number of important items.
Reopening of the WVSOM Campus: This is a complex and challenging process. My administrative staff is putting together a comprehensive reopening plan that will include directives for both employees and students. We anticipate testing, following safety protocols (mask wearing in public areas, good hygiene and social distancing practices, and not meeting in groups larger than ten at this time, etc.), cleaning of facilities, monitoring, quarantining when necessary and tracking if an outbreak occurs. A detailed reopening plan with directives will be released soon.
Please note that I do not anticipate the campus reopening to employees until June. Employees who have essential duties or those who cannot work from home will continue to be allowed to work on campus. Those employees who are able to work from home are encouraged to continue to work from home until further notice as directed by the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order; you may come on campus to obtain office items as needed. Also, some employees may be asked to come onto campus to help get ready for the reopening. GTAs will be allowed on campus only for essential work-related responsibilities. The campus will not be open to students unless approved by Administration. Leave options are still available for those who are not able to work; please contact your supervisor and HR to discuss if needed.
The Founder’s Gym and O’Café will remain closed, we will notify you when they reopen. The campus will remain closed to the Public and only employees and approved students are to be on campus.
Travel continues to be restricted, especially for out-of-state travel. I encourage everyone to continue to use audio and video conferencing to conduct business until further notice. I want to commend the IT and Media Services departments for keeping us connected!
Institutional Strategic Plan: Just before the coronavirus pandemic started to impact us, the WVSOM BOG passed our new Institutional Strategic Plan at the March board meeting. I have attached the plan to this message so that everyone will become familiar with the direction the institution will be taking in the coming years. Dr. Ed Bridges will be reaching out to departments/offices to develop their departmental strategic plan based on the institutional plan. I look forward to continuing to move the institution forward together!
In closing, I hope you and your families continue to be safe. It is critical during this reopening phase that we are even more vigilant to practice accepted safety measures so that we can all be as safe as possible.
Take care and be well!
Jim Nemitz, Ph.D.
Updated 4/30/2020 2:54PM
Update from the Office of Human Resources
WV STRONG – THE COMEBACK
On Monday, April 27th, Governor Jim Justice outlined his plan to reopen West Virginia in phases over the next six weeks if the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the state remains low. Updated information on the Governor’s plan can be found here: https://governor.wv.gov/Pages/The-Comeback.aspx
The Governor’s plan required three consecutive days maintaining statewide cumulative percentage of Positive Test Results to be below 3% before entities have the option to reopen under specific guidelines. The Governor also stated that any opening would be announced at least one week prior and guidelines for each business sector will be released in advance. Any plan for reopening could be modified at any time and updates from the Governor continue to be posted to the coronavirus.wv.gov and governor.wv.gov sites. The Governor announced yesterday, that West Virginia had achieved the three consecutive days of Positive Test Results and could begin reopening.
During this time, the Governor stated that West Virginians should continue to practice physical distancing, wear face coverings in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, follow statewide Stay at Home Order until lifted, follow all county Health Department regulations, and telework when possible.
WVSOM administration is actively assessing options and planning for the eventual safe and prudent reopening and return to campus for all employees. WVSOM’s reopening plan will be shared in the near future. Much like the Governor’s plan for reopening, we will be sure to notify employees prior to the implementation of our reopening.
As we all become more proficient with WebX , Go-To-Meetings, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, you may be wondering how you can effectively use video conferencing to stay in touch with your family and friends.
For personal use, employees should set up a personal account with your preferred video conferencing platform. Zoom is not currently one of WVSOM’s preferred conferencing sites for work related video conferencing however it may meet your personal needs.
Updated 4/17/2020 2:40PM
As we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to make sure you are taking care of yourself and others!
Here are a few tips to consider as we all work to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit:
- Take care of you – Remember to take care of your basic needs including getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, and getting some movement in your day. Get outside and take a walk in nature. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate.
- Check in with each other and engage in new ways – While we are all practicing social distancing, find creative ways to stay connected with your friends and loved ones through FaceTime, phone calls, and online games (Words with Friends with your grandma, anyone?). Be sure to talk with someone about any worries that you may have.
- Make time for things you enjoy – Reflect on the activities that refuel and ground you during times of stress such as art, music, and other hobbies.
- Take breaks from the news – It is hard sometimes to maintain a balance between being informed and hyper-focusing on events. It is okay to take a break from social media and news coverage to focus on yourself and family during this stressful time.
- Know the five signs of distress – The five signs of emotional distress include personality changes, agitation, social isolation, poor self-care, and hopelessness. If you or somebody you know are experiencing these five signs, reach out and get support.
Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group, is opening its Emotional-Support Help Line. Professionally trained, mental health staff are there to support people who may be suffering from fear or stress created by COVID-19. Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line number is 866-342-6892 and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free of charge and available to anyone so you can share it with family and friends.
- Additional Resources through Optum at - https://www.liveandworkwell.com - Select “Browse as a Guest with a Company Access Code”, Company Access Code: UHC
- Optum COVID-19: Emotional support resources
Other resources available to the entire WVSOM community include:
Seneca Health Services (304) 497-0500
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255
WV State Crisis Line 1-844-Help4WV and www.help4wv.com
Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741
Alternate Work from Home Assignments
See recent email from HR regarding work from home assignments. If you have ideas for work from home duties that you would like to share with us please send them to email@example.com. Employees are reminded to work directly with their supervisor to determine which tasks they should complete.
If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with us!
Updated 4/13/2020 1:52PM
Employee Emergency Leave Clarification
Employees who would like to request the WVSOM issued Emergency Leave should send their request to their supervisor and both Human Resources and Payroll. If you have any questions regarding emergency leave or your ability to work from home, please contact Human Resources.
Employees should note that in compliance with federal and state laws, supervisors will not specifically disclose the identity of any infected employee or provide information that will allow other employees to identify individuals. We ask that you please not speculate about other employees’ health. If you suspect a co-worker has been exposed, shows signs of illness, or is ill with COVID-19, please take your concerns directly to the Office of Human Resources. HR will address situations as they arise and ask that you please not spread information that you are not sure about or do not have consent to share.
TIAA - Retirement
TIAA is working hard to maintain the highest service levels possible during this time. Employees with any questions regarding their TIAA account should be in contact with TIAA. TIAA’s public websites, which provide transaction and other services 24/7, are an especially valuable resource at times like this. 1-800-842-2252 or https://www.tiaa.org
WVSOM listed fourth in nation for primary care residents
WVSOM was listed fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for producing the most primary care residents. The 2021 edition of the publication's "America's Best Graduate Schools" recognized WVSOM for the 22nd consecutive year.
Updated 4/7/2020 8:30AM
Alternate Work from Home
Be sure to look at the recent email from Human Resources regarding working from home. Employees are reminded to work directly with their supervisor to determine tasks they should complete. Alternate work from home assignments may be possible when primary job duties are complete.
As many of us are working from home and have replaced our in-person meetings with email communications, WebEx, Zoom, etc., we wanted to take a moment to remind you of some quick email etiquette tips!
- Your e-mail is a reflection of your professional image, so please remember that what you send out is a representation of WVSOM and the department you work in, especially in mass communication.
- You should include a Subject, but please keep your subject brief. Also, please refrain from writing your entire email within the subject line.
- Be careful of your tone within your email as it is easy to misconstrue without the context you'd get from vocal cues and facial expressions. A good practice is to read your message out loud before hitting send. If it sounds harsh when you read it out loud, it will be received as harsh to the recipient. It is also a good practice to have a colleague review it for you before sending.
- Carbon Copy (cc): This field is used for including several individual(s) who need to receive the same message.
- Blind Copy (bcc): Use this field when e-mailing a group of contacts who may not personally know each other, or for sending an email to a large number of individuals. This can limit the number of individuals who “Reply All” in their responses. When using blind copy we recommend that in the to: field you put the person’s email that will receive questions/responses.
- Speaking of “Reply All,”, you should use your best judgement and discretion when using the Reply All button. Reply All should be only used on that rare occasion where “all” really need to be aware of your input.
- Finally, you should wait until you have written and carefully proofread your email before you add the e-mail address to the e-mail header. This ensures you don’t send the email before you are ready to.
Employees who live in other states
WVSOM recommends that employees who live in states outside of WV and travel to WV to work on campus or other SWC locations follow the travel guidelines of the CDC, WV, and the state in which they reside.
CDC: “If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you’re considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness.”
WV: Individuals who have travelled to West Virginia from hot spots such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, Italy or China must quarantine for 14 days if they travel to WV. There is an exception to this that includes people commuting back-and forth across state lines for essential work duties. We are working with all employees who reside outside of WV to perform their essential job duties at home doing this time.
Since the safety and well-being of its employees is its highest priority, WVSOM is following these best practices guidelines, which requires that employees in the following conditions self-quarantine, monitor their health and avoid coming to campus for at least 14 days:
- Those that live with persons who have known cases of Covid-19
- Those that have come in contact with known cases of Covid-19
- Those that live with persons who have been exposed to known cases of Covid-19
- Those that live with persons who have travelled to high-risk areas or “hotspots” – as determined by the CDC
- Those that live with persons who are travelling outside of West Virginia even if it is for essential duties
Updated 3/25/2020 11:30AM
In an email from HR on March 24, employees were notified that designated essential staff who are still reporting to campus in any capacity need to monitor symptoms and check their own temperature twice a day. Family members of these employees are also recommended to monitor symptoms. If at any point the employee, or a household member, becomes sick or is exposed to someone with COVID-19, they will need to notify HR and stay home.
Updated 3/18/20 - Message from the President
WVSOM Faculty & Staff –
In light of the ongoing situation with the novel Coronavirus, additional guidance has been provided by Governor Justice specifically for Higher Education Institutions in West Virginia. The Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) has been working with the Governor’s Office and the Presidents at each institution on a regular and ongoing basis. I have been working with the Vice Presidents daily to address the needs of employees and students. I appreciate your continued patience, understanding and cooperation as we make decisions affecting our institution.
Governor Justice has provided the following directives to WV Institutions of Higher Education:
At this time Higher Education operations should remain open to meet the needs of students.
Non-essential employees should be working from home as needed.
Essential employees are needed on campus to keep the institution operational and should follow CDC guidelines including social distancing, good hygiene, deep cleaning, and no more than ten (10) people should congregate at any time including at work for the next 15 days. We need everyone’s help to maintain the 10 person rule until it is lifted.
We are providing specific guidance for our employees below. Students are being informed through communication from their appropriate Associate Deans.
Before I go into the details, please know that we are entering this crisis from a position of strength –
We are a community of health care providers and educators that are accustomed to addressing healthcare issues and determining how to deliver quality education under a variety of conditions. Every employee at WVSOM is focused on doing their job to the best of their ability under these extraordinary circumstances.
Our students, faculty and staff are digital natives and can quickly and effectively respond to these altered learning and work conditions. Plus, we have a robust IT infrastructure that includes knowledgeable IT personnel and resources to support these changes. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has approved our request to use online learning for the delivery of the curriculum. AOA COCA has allowed colleges of osteopathic medicine to modify their curricula to on-line experiences, including third and fourth year rotations.
The majority of our faculty and staff are located in their own offices and can easily minimize or change how they are working together.
Those tasked with cleaning our campus are working hard and are committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment.
WVSOM is fortunate to have the resources needed to respond to this pandemic – we have the people, financial stability, and passion to find solutions regardless of the obstacles.
The goals are to keep employees and students safe, to continue to deliver the curriculum so that students can stay on track and to keep the campus open to enable employees to be paid who cannot work at home.
I greatly appreciate the efforts of Dr. Boisvert, Dr. Russ, Dr. Pepper, our SWC Assistant Deans, faculty and staff to take care of the needs of our students. I also greatly appreciate the work of Leslie Bicksler, Larry Ware, Dr. Ed Bridges, Dr. Mace, Marilea Butcher, Jeffrey Shawver and their respective employees for their efforts to keep WVSOM operational during these challenging times.
As this situation evolves, additional precautions at this time makes sense. We are undertaking the following changes to continue our educational mission:
Effective immediately, the WVSOM Founder’s Gym will be closed.
WVSOM Bookstore and Café will be moving to card payment. Cash payments are no longer being accepted as of March 19th.
Effective March 20th at 4:30 PM all doors will be accessed only by a WVSOM prox card, including during business hours. Employees should be sure to have their prox cards on them to access buildings after this time. If you do not have a prox card or if your prox card needs to be reprogrammed, contact your supervisor.
The Dean is working with his Associate Deans and Faculty and will continue to provide updates to our students as changes are made to the curriculum and curricular schedule. Continue to visit the COVID-19 webpage for updates.
Student study space will remain open including the Library. Everyone is to continue to follow the directive from the Governor that no more than 10 people are to congregate at a time and to follow all other social distancing guidelines.
No decision has been made regarding Commencement. I anticipate that a decision will be made sometime in April.
The BOG meeting scheduled for this Friday, March 20, starting at 10:00 am will occur; finance committee will meet at 9:00 am. Board members will be participating via video conferencing; employees are encouraged to listen to the BOG meeting via the audio link provided by my office. The meeting agenda will include the budget which contains a 2% increase for employees, review of our mission statement for accreditation purposes, institutional strategic plan and the President’s evaluation.
WVSOM will remain open and operational at this time until directed otherwise by the Governor and WV HEPC. Please note that the guidance being given to higher education institutions differs from the messaging to the general public.
Any employee who feels that they need to work at home, regardless of the reason, high risk, child care, quarantined must request to work from home through their supervisor. HR is managing these requests to ensure that employees have the necessary devices, job tasks and parameters to achieve this goal. Further specific guidance is below:
Approved non-essential employees can work at home, must be approved and monitored by supervisor, written report of activities will be required – supervisors are to inform their VP and HR.
Essential employees will work on campus as needed to keep the campus open and functional unless they can do their job remotely and have been approved.
Employees who cannot work at home will be allowed to work on campus, ie. blue crew, they cannot congregate in groups larger than 10 and they will follow social distancing guidelines
Employees who are able to work at home, but choose to work on campus will be allowed, they cannot congregate in groups larger than 10 and they will follow social distancing guidelines
Also note that our students will continue to be allowed on campus to study and for other academic activities as needed. The campus will be closed to the general public.
We are committed to working with each of you to address the extraordinary and unique circumstances that are evolving from this pandemic. We will do our best to keep you safe as we work together to keep our campus open and to continue to deliver the curriculum to our students. Please continue to let us know your questions, concerns and solutions as we move forward together.
I very much appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation as we continue to address the needs of our students and employees during this public health crisis.
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D.
Updated - 3/12/2020 4:20 PM
Governor Justice has suspended until further notice all official state business travel for state employees outside West Virginia, including international travel. Accordingly, WVSOM will follow the Governor’s directive.
State officials are also strongly encouraging West Virginia citizens to refrain from non-essential travel and to avoid large meetings and gatherings.