For Faculty and Staff
Last updated: April 29, 2020 at 2:38 PM
Last updated: April 29, 2020 at 2:38 PM
If you do not have formal permission to be on campus (and are not on the list of names of essential personnel that public safety has) you should refrain from entering any campus building. Some staff or faculty may need to come in very briefly to pick up documents or materials from offices or labs, but please recognize that this will require custodial staff to do extra deep cleaning in any place you enter.
Please do not bring your children to campus and do not come yourself for recreational purposes.
The university has been assured by Sodexo that all their Brandeis dining services employees will receive the equivalent of what they would have earned prior to the pandemic through May 17. Sodexo workers at Brandeis fall into two broad categories:
Category 1: Typically, at the end of every spring semester, much of dining services work comes to an anticipated end and a number of dining workers take leave of their jobs until the new semester begins. This year, due to the pandemic, the end of the work year happened sooner than anticipated. Sodexo has assured the Brandeis administration that all dining services employees will be back on campus as soon as possible. In an effort to reduce the amount of staff whose work year ended early, Sodexo has provided opportunities to work as part of a satellite operation in Usdan, which is providing meals to healthcare workers in area hospitals. All Sodexo staff — those who decide to work in Usdan and those who do not — will receive at least as much as they earned before the pandemic from ongoing wages (for those who work in Usdan) or from unemployment insurance and the federal stimulus supplement (for those who do not).
Category 2: Sodexo dining staff who continue to be scheduled to work at Brandeis will be paid through May 17 for the same hours they were being paid prior to the pandemic, even if they are now working fewer hours. This includes any staff who are sick or caring for a loved one who is sick.
All Sodexo employees (in both categories above) will continue to have access to health insurance.
Statement from Sodexo
Sodexo has not received any individual or union concerns related to either their pay or any increased cost of Health Care coverage. Virtually all of the employees with whom Sodexo has had contact reported that they have received their state unemployment benefits, as well as the supplemental federal payments related to the CARES Act. It has always been Sodexo's intention to keep these employees whole from March 30th through May 17th (following Commencement, when summer layoffs traditionally begin) as it relates to base pay and benefit expense.
Given the outpouring of concern, Sodexo is reaching out to each of its employees and through the employees' union representative to make sure each employee is receiving pay equal to, or greater than their traditional base schedule would provide. Sodexo will also make sure that each employee is receiving their Health Care benefits at no greater cost than what they experienced prior to the pandemic, and the resulting early layoffs. If there are any individual concerns, Sodexo will address them accordingly.
If you have recently traveled to a country with community COVID-19 outbreaks or have been in close contact with a person with a known case of COVID-19, you should self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
If you may have the flu or have underlying health issues that put you at greater risk for complications from a respiratory infection you should contact your health provider for guidance. There is treatment that can reduce the duration of the flu if it is identified early in the infection.
If you have no known risks for COVID-19 and have a mild illness you should practice standard health precautions including limiting participation in large group settings, frequent hand washing and practicing appropriate cough hygiene (cover your cough with a disposable tissue or your elbow). If you have a fever or have symptoms of a viral infection you should self-isolate until the fever goes away.
The state of Massachusetts has extended its stay-at-home advisory until May 18, so at least until then. Beyond that, much will depend on the course of the pandemic and we will follow the guidance of elected officials and public health experts.
Brandeis has established a telework and alternate work arrangement policy (PDF) that will be used to guide decisions on remote working going forward. Individuals will need to be in conversation with their supervisors to determine what will work for their individual departments.
With the transition to online classes and a virtual workforce, the community is currently working, teaching and learning using Zoom video conferencing. With universities and institutions increasing their worldwide use of Zoom, new cybersecurity threats have emerged. One such trend is "Zoombombing.",where a random, uninvited guest joins the meeting to share inappropriate content via screen share or inflammatory messages via chat.
ITS has identified the following security best practices to try and reduce your risk of zoombombing as much as possible. For more information and detailed instructions please see Zoombombing Resources.
The University Ombuds Office is available to help all members of the community — students, faculty, staff and alumni — as a confidential resource to talk through challenging issues. Its staff are available for anyone affiliated with Brandeis that has a concern or question and does not know where to go. A policy issue, a housing issue, a relationship or communication concern. The Ombuds is available to discuss any problem for which people don't know where to seek support during any difficult time period.
Ombuds staff do not advise or get involved in formal processes such as reporting. They can help community members with issues outside of Brandeis if it has an impact on their involvement at Brandeis (parent, roommate, housing, travel, international status, etc). All interactions are confidential, informal, impartial and independent.
Please be as supportive as possible to students who may be ill. Contact your dean if you have questions.
The Center for Teaching and Learning website has compiled a list of resources and frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and preparing for teaching continuity.
All online course materials must be accessible for students who use assistive technologies. The Center for Teaching and Learning offers faculty many resources to enable them to post only materials that are accessible, including captioning or other text alternatives for material with audio components. CTL has included links to accessibility resources on the new online teaching resources page, so all faculty may access them. They are also currently providing bootcamps on online teaching and learning with instructional designers familiar with accessibility processes.
We are currently creating new online tutorials on specific accessibility topics for those faculty who need more assistance adapting their courses. Faculty are being encouraged to reach out to the CTL and partners, including Media Technology Services (for captioning) with any problems they have creating accessible materials. We will do all we can to support them during the transition.
It’s impossible to know now the full extent of the challenge posed to Brandeis or any enterprise by the pandemic. While unanticipated layoffs cannot be ruled out, they would be among the last options Brandeis would undertake in order to cope with the financial crisis that is going along with the pandemic. If layoffs were deemed necessary, the university would endeavor to provide as much notice as possible. For employees in collective-bargaining units, that would be determined by their contracts.
No, but Brandeis, like all employers right now, needs to carefully monitor its financial position. Any plans for new or replacement hiring or salary adjustments now must be approved by both Provost Lisa M. Lynch and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stewart Uretsky.
Brandeis learned many lessons from the 2008 recession. At this time, Brandeis remains in a strong cash position, and our conservatively invested endowment has fared much better than the Standard & Poor's 500 Index in the stock market downturn. It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the economy going forward, but Brandeis is better positioned to weather an economic downturn while protecting our educational mission than it was in 2008.
The decision to defer the usual raise increase (for employees not part of collective bargaining units) will be reviewed again around Oct. 1. The decision of whether to reinstate raises will be based on the financial reality facing the university in the fall semester.
Raises that are part of collectively-bargained contracts will occur as scheduled. For faculty who have been promoted, the step increase associated with that promotion will continue to occur because that's a separate category of compensation than the annual paid salary pool. Other adjustments to salaries will follow the normal process, in which a supervisor makes a request to HR. However, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Stewart Uretsky and Provost Lisa Lynch will review all requests.
The university cannot rule out needing to take such a step in the future depending on economic conditions, but it has no plans to do so at this time.
Brandeis encouraged all faculty and staff to look for any items that could be used as personal protective equipment (PPE) to assist area efforts to protect health care workers and first responders. These materials were donated to the Waltham Fire Department and to area hospitals. Additionally, parents and alumni have been making donations of such materials through Brandeis. And we know many alumni are working through their organizations and businesses, as well as serving on the front lines of the effort in caring for patients. We encourage all our faculty and staff to continue doing what they can to support this effort, even if only by staying home!
Custodians are provided all Occupational Health and Safety Administration-required PPE, gloves (latex free), masks (N95 & surgical), eye protection and footwear.
Brandeis has made a commitment to provide emergency paid time off through the end of the current semester for any employees who are healthy and able to work, but no alternative work or assignments are available. It is our understanding that the Federal Government will allow us to include employees paid from a federal grant in this scenario. Should the Government change its guidance on this topic, then we will need to re-evaluate and consider other options, which could include furloughs.
As was communicated, the 7/1/20 salary raises have been deferred until at least 1/1/21. Managers should begin the review process with a focus on employee performance during the current fiscal year (7/1/19 – 6/30/20). Human Resources will be providing more information and general guidance on effective performance management guidelines and training opportunities, as they have in past years.
Brandeis' health insurance offerings are based on a calendar year. Our current rates, including what our faculty and staff pay each pay period, are effective until December 31, 2020. It is not clear at this time if/how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact future plan design or costing scenarios.
If an employee on a fellowship (NRSA or other fellowship) whose stipend is tied to the NIH salary ranges, or other fellowship agreement, falls below the dictated stipend level, then his/her stipend will be adjusted to the dictated (NRSA or otherwise) stipend level. Those whose salary increases are already written into research grants will have their increases deferred until the University proceeds with salary increases for all other faculty and staff.
Requests for vacation days can continue and will be granted with approval from managers or supervisors. The University is continuing to assess the impact of the current pandemic on our operations, including flexible hours during the summer. We will be communicating more information on this in the coming weeks.
Yes. Please review the CARES Act Provisions communication on the human resources website for complete information.