The following message was sent March 23 to all UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire – Barron County students, faculty and staff:
Dear faculty, staff and students at UW-Eau Claire, UWEC-Barron County and Marshfield,
Over the past weeks, our first priority has been the health and safety of our students and our faculty and staff. We have made a number of decisions to stop the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. Governor Evers has expressed this same goal as he has made decisions that will impact our entire state. If we can reduce contact and limit interaction, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.
To that end, today Governor Tony Evers announced a “Safer at Home” directive for the entire state. Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, all non-essential businesses are closed and individuals are asked to stay at home. In his words, “People across our state are still out and about unnecessarily that are putting our friends, our neighbors, and our communities at risk. Please stay home and help us save lives.”
Already the majority of our staff, faculty and some student employees are working from home. Today, I am directing all but a core group of employees in essential, on-campus service areas to work from home, until further notice. As Provost Kleine announced on Friday, our buildings in Eau Claire and Rice Lake will be locked, but employees who need to return temporarily for short-term work, or to pick up equipment or files, will be able to do so. If you need a key to your building, please discuss with your supervisor.
The following employees in essential services will continue on-campus work:
- UW-Eau Claire Police
- Children’s Nature Academy
- A limited number of employees who are supporting the students remaining in our residence halls and food service
- Faculty with active research projects or staff caring for research animals
- Employees on both the Eau Claire and Rice Lake campuses engaged in specific facilities support services
Services for students, staff and faculty will be handled virtually during regular business hours. A limited number of employees from the following offices will be on campus to handle student needs or business functions as appropriate:
- Counselling – minimal staffing available for in-person emergencies
- Health Services – minimal staffing available for in-person emergencies
- Blugold Central/Solution Center – to process deposits, payments, enrollment and refunds
- Admissions – to process admissions materials
- Accounts Payable – to process payments
- Banking – available by appointment to serve students (especially international students)
- CETL – to assist faculty in online course conversion as needed
We are working to make arrangements for mail delivery and pickup that minimize employee interaction.
Deans, directors and supervisors are determining who we will need in place and will be reaching out to their staff. I have encouraged all supervisors to identify all work that can be done remotely, so as many employees as possible can work at home.
I realize that this latest change is very unsettling, especially for employees who do not have work they can accomplish off campus. I want to assure you that the 80 hours of COVID-19 leave, announced by UW System last week, will be available to those staff. I have also asked my Vice Chancellors to identify projects that employees could tackle at home to reduce the need for our staff to use the special leave hours.
Staying informed and connected is important as we face uncertainty in the days ahead. I can promise that we will keep you up to date on what we know and that as a campus community we will rally around each other.
Please look out for one another—with a phone call to a colleague or fellow student, an offer of help if you can, a kind word. Blugolds, this is when we need each other most.
James C. Schmidt
Chancellor, UW-Eau Claire