Early this week, President Burwell shared that AU is planning for a fall semester that will feature in-person classes and on-campus residential experiences for our students. This will be a significant shift from the university’s operations over the last year, and there is extensive work underway to develop the workforce plans to support the university’s approach for fall 2021. Therefore, we wanted to provide you with an update on that planning.
The central focus of our planning is how and where staff will work in the fall, in order to support in-person classes and a return to large-scale residential experiences for students. This planning will incorporate many of the lessons we learned over this last year of expanded telework. It will take into account the evolving health and safety guidance from the CDC and DC Health, along with the best practices from other organizations. We know that our operations will not be the same as they are now, but they will also be different from our experiences in February 2020 before the pandemic.
Importantly, our plan will incorporate input from you and your colleagues across the university, to better understand the staff’s experience with expanded telework over the last year. The opportunity for you to provide feedback will include a survey to all staff, an upcoming webinar for staff, and consultation with the AU Staff Council and other staff groups across campus.
It is our anticipation that all staff will work in one of two models in the fall – full campus presence or hybrid remote work/campus presence. Those in the hybrid category will likely have a range of experiences – spanning from mostly telework to mostly on-campus presence. Job functions and university operations will be used to identify the approach for each staff member. AU will develop options for work models and support managers to implement those models in their departments. We expect this planning to occur in early summer. As part of these efforts, we will transition the process for requesting employee work modifications into our reasonable accommodation process. This process, which is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, ensures that employees with covered health conditions will receive the accommodations that they need.
We know people have many questions about the fall, including about the work models, facilities and office space, air flow and building ventilation, cleaning procedures, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and many other topics. We will continue to engage and communicate with you about the plans as they develop over the next several months, and to update policies and procedures to ensure the safety of our entire community, reflecting our increased understanding of transmission and prevention. University leaders, including President Burwell, will be hosting a forum with staff on March 9, as a follow-up to the community-wide forum yesterday. We encourage you to attend this staff forum to learn more about the university’s planning for the fall. We also encourage you to participate in the forthcoming survey and other opportunities for input, including providing input at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff are foundational to the mission of the university and the education of our students. Navigating the pandemic would not have been possible if not for your hard work, problem solving, and commitment to excellence in all that you do to support our students, faculty, and each other. We look forward to working with you as we plan for a safe and productive fall.
Vice President of People and External Affairs & Chief of Staff and Counselor to the President
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources