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10 Takeaways from Staff Town Hall

A man in a white golf shirt with a blue background
“The foundation of everything we’re doing is flex,” said David DeJong, acting senior vice chancellor of Business and Operations and vice chancellor for Human Resources. On Wednesday, Aug. 5, DeJong joined colleagues to answer staff questions about remote work, the University’s operational posture and more.

Andy Stephany, associate administrator of the Vascular Medicine Institute and president of Staff Council, moderated the panel, which also included Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor of facilities management; Pete Chambers, director of Shared Research Support Services in Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Geovette Washington, senior vice chancellor, chief legal officer and executive sponsor of the Resilience Steering Committee; and John Williams, director of the COVID-19 Medical Response Office.

The staff town hall concluded a series of three Resilience Framework virtual events tailored for the faculty, student and staff communities. A recording of the staff town hall can be found on the Office of Human Resources’ YouTube channel. Here are the highlights.

1. Most employees will be remote through the fall

“Everyone whose jobs are amenable to working remote will continue to do so throughout the fall,” he continued, noting that, for example, staff in the Office of Human Resources’ (OHR) Pittsburgh office will not return to campus until January 2021 at the earliest.

2. Dedensification of space

Classrooms will be operating at limited capacity and non-traditional spaces will be used; for instance, the University Honors College will operate from OHR’s space in Craig Hall to help reduce the number of people using Cathedral of Learning elevators.

Accommodations are available for those whose jobs require in-person presence, but who are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 or who care for at-risk individuals.

3. What to expect when returning

Decisions about when employees will return to campus falls to supervisors; responsibility center heads have the ultimate authority.

Returning employees will have certain responsibilities, including:

  • Completing a training module.
  • Acknowledging they have read Pitt Community Compact.
  • Wearing face coverings.
  • Swiping into buildings, which supports capacity restrictions and contact tracing.
  • Completing a daily health attestation whenever they come to campus.
  • Cleaning shared work spaces. Supplies will be provided to supplement cleaning by facilities management employees.

4. Pandemic safety ambassadors

The University is setting up a network of volunteer pandemic safety ambassadors who can answer questions, provide directions, serve as role models for Pitt’s health rules and provide paper face coverings to those who need them. DeJong hopes the informal network will span all responsibility centers.

5. Re-opening preparations

To facilitate re-opening building across campus, the Office of Facilities Management used a multi-pronged approach that included cleaning high touch areas, a deep clean of every building, evaluations of every HVAC system, installing disinfectant wipes in all classrooms and study areas and a review of regional campuses’ facilities.

6. Compliance with health and safety guidelines

Anyone can report a compliance concern online. 

7. Getting to campus

For those who drive to campus, parking services has posted updates on their site. Many employees with monthly passes are currently working remote and have taken advantage of placing their permit status on hold, so there are many spaces available to accommodate employees returning to campus on an ad-hoc or irregular basis. Additionally, free 30-minute Healthy Ride bikes are available to staff, faculty and students on the Pittsburgh campus. For those who use their Pitt ID to ride city buses, that benefit is still available.

8. Childcare

Staff are able to adjust their schedules for childcare needs. The University has requested supervisors be patient and accommodate idiosyncratic work times. "For people who need help with daycare, we’ve been working with resources from the county and Southwest Pennsylvania to provide folks with access. … There may be more opportunities [for daycare] than people think, and we’re trying to publicize that,” said DeJong.

9. Symptomatic employees

If a staff member exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they should call MyHealth@Work, which is the point of contact for employees for both testing and contact tracing. The health care professionals there will determine whether testing is indicated, and they can refer employees for testing and advise on quarantine protocol.

10. Construction projects

Most construction project shut down in March when the University shifted into an emergency response to the pandemic. The University has cleared five projects to continue based on their importance to advancing the mission of the University, including the transformation of Bigelow Boulevard and the William Pitt Union grounds, infrastructure projects and the Salk Hall renovation.