Message from EVP Howarth and Staff Senate Chair Loftis - Update on Campus and Business Operations
- Susan Howarth
- Thursday, March 12th, 2020
As a follow-up to President Caboni’s recent communication, campus remains open to ensure continuity of services to our students and community. Details about adapting to this unprecedented event on our campuses are below.
HUMAN RESOURCES AND FINANCE
Telecommuting and Flex Place Work
Consistent with President Caboni’s message on March 11th and discussions with the COVID-19 Taskforce today, departments should have minimal staffing on campus. If someone can do their job from home, they should go home to maximize social distancing. While some jobs and related tasks cannot be performed remotely or away from the traditional work location, the campus community is reminded that these unusual times require us all to think differently about how we work and how our offices function.
Prevent the Spread of Illness
As a WKU employee, stay home if you are ill and/or if you are supporting or in close proximity to an ill person (COVID-19 or otherwise). Practice good hygiene as you would with any virus, cold or flu. Take care of yourself, and don’t take risks.
Continued Pay Status for Faculty and Staff
Employees who are unable to work due to their own illness (or a family member’s illness), will remain in a fully paid status without the use of any accumulated sick or vacation leave. This includes employees whose work/jobs are affected by necessary changes in business operations. This continued pay policy will be in effect through April 5, at which time it will be reevaluated based on any changing conditions. Details on how to report time will be available on the FAQ page in the coming days.
Health Care Coverage and COVID-19 Testing and Treatment
As of this morning, in compliance with federal guidelines and recommendations, we are working with Anthem to waive any out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19 testing and treatment for employees (and family members) who have coverage through WKU’s self-insured Health Plan. Out-of-pocket costs will be waived retroactive to January 1, 2020, to include any testing or services before COVID-19 testing became commercially available in March. Employees who experience cost/charges inconsistent with this should contact Human Resources at 745-5360.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Recognizing the stress and anxiety associated with current events—personally and professionally—please remember that WKU’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to employees and family members as a resource for consultation. Many services offered through the EAP are free of charge while other eligible services are covered by the WKU Health Plan. For more information see EAP.
Self-Reporting of COVID-19 Exposure
If you have come in contact with or otherwise believe that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, we are requesting that you self-report this information so that we are able to actively monitor our campus setting for any subsequent policy decisions. This is also important for WKU’s coordination with applicable health officials and any required reporting. A self-reporting form is being developed. In the meantime, email email@example.com. DO NOT COME to WORK. Seek medical advice and direction from your health care provider.
All non-essential, University-funded travel has been suspended through April 5th. Any decisions regarding what is considered essential are to be evaluated through the applicable Dean or senior divisional officer. Additional information about travel plans is forthcoming.
Facilities Management staff continue to clean and disinfect across our campuses. Normal operating hours are being observed. Direct questions to (270) 745-3253. In the event of an after-hours facilities issue, please call our WKU Police Department (270) 745-2548 and they will dispatch someone to assist.
WKU POLICE DEPARTMENT
The WKU Police Department remains open. If you need assistance, please call (270) 745-2548.
PARKING & TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
Intersession service will continue. Further details will be e-mailed to the campus community Friday morning.
INFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
ITS is focused on preparing our campus to learn, teach, and work remotely when possible. We have created a resource that brings together a number of our Knowledge Base articles explaining how to access resources when you are not on campus. Our site is called “Working Remotely” and is linked from the “Resources & Services” section of the wku.edu/covid19 site. We will continue to update and add information to this site. The notes that follow are detailed there, but if you have additional questions or requests, please contact the ITS Service Desk at wku.edu/its/contact .
Blackboard course sites are being created for all courses. CITL (wku.edu/citl) has information on Blackboard, Mediasite, and Zoom training availability. Our Working Remotely site has information on gaining access to these systems and reporting common problems.
Zoom is our video conferencing platform, and it will become an invaluable resource to you when you are away from campus or wish to attend a class or meeting from your office. The direct link to access our Zoom site is wku.zoom.us.
Your phone can be forwarded to your cell or home phone while you are away. Forwarding to a long-distance number will result in long-distance charges to your department. Please carefully consider this fact and work with your department leader to ensure that everyone understands this. Cisco Jabber is an alternative to call forwarding. ITS can enable a Jabber soft-phone that will enable you to take calls on your device (PC, mobile, etc.). The instructions for call forwarding and Jabber setup are available on the Working Remotely site.
Our portal (my.wku.edu) provides access to most of the services employees need while working from home. Some systems, like Banner, require that you also connect to the VPN in order to access them. See below for more information regarding the VPN.
The VPN is the mechanism for you to access many systems that you cannot normally access from off campus. The instructions for installing the VPN client are linked from the Working Remotely site. All current employees already have access to the VPN. If you need access to more than Banner or the WKU file shares, you need to contact the ITS Service Desk to request access.
Home Computers and Internet
We recognize that not all employees have home computers and/or Internet access. Remember that campus is not closed, and you may continue using your office computer and WKU’s network, if needed. We strongly discourage the removal of desktop computers from campus. Many desktop programs, like MS Office, have licensing limitations such that they will not function normally or at all if they are removed from campus. WKU ITS has a limited number of laptops available for checkout through TopperTech, and we are working on methods of prioritizing these. If you need a laptop for home use, please contact ITS to alert us to this need while we work to prioritize distribution of these laptops.
To access the shared and/or personal drive, you may use MyStuff (available from my.wku.edu) or work with us to access the files through the VPN. WKU is working to quickly implement MS OneDrive, a cloud storage solution, so that you may access your files from anywhere.
Good Security Habits
Please consider changing your password if you do not do so regularly. Review the safe computing practices available on https://www.wku.edu/its/security/. Please ensure that you have virus protection installed as well as all current updates and patches for your operating system, your office applications, and your browser before connecting to a WKU resource, especially the VPN. Be aware of phishing schemes that leverage the COVID-19 scare. Though you may be at home, do not use personal email to conduct university business. Doing so makes it harder for your coworkers to distinguish your email from phishing.
ITS phone and network systems will remain operational. Please report any network or computer issues as you normally would through the Service Desk. Pending available staff, we intend to continue normal operating hours of the ITS service window, the Service Desk, and open computer labs (Student Technology Centers). Next week, we will at least attempt to keep the spring break schedule for labs. Following that, we will attempt to return to as normal of a lab schedule as possible, pending staffing. The lab schedule is always available at wku.edu/its/labs/locations-hours/.
We’re Here for You
The ITS Service Desk (wku.edu/its/contact) will provide support and training for these resources and more. Please, if you have any technology needs, issues, or questions, contact us - we want to help.
Susan I Howarth
Executive Vice President Strategy, Operations and Finance
Staff Senate Chair
ITS Desktop Support Consultant