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Coronavirus Information Update for Staff, March 22

March 22, 2020

On March 22, Vice President for Human Resources emailed staff with the following update about coronavirus:

As many of you know—and as noted on the University’s homepage—Governor Phil Murphy has issued a state-wide “stay at home” Executive Order for all New Jersey residents effective at 9:00 p.m., Saturday, March 21. The Executive Order directs residents to limit non-essential activities outside the home, bans all public gatherings, specifies certain types of businesses that must cease in-person operations, and requires institutions across the state to facilitate remote working arrangements for their employees.

The Executive Order does not require the cessation of work that can only be done in person at institutions such as universities, nor does it restrict the ability of those who must perform these duties to travel to their workplaces. Princeton, therefore, remains operational, with remote classes to commence as planned on Monday, and we continue to support both undergraduate and graduate students living on campus. I am grateful for the tireless efforts that have made this possible.

What the Executive Order does require us to do is to conduct as much of our work as possible from home. Fortunately, many of you have already begun to work remotely, and the University has adopted minimum staffing models for critical services that must be performed on campus. I write to provide additional guidance to ensure compliance with the Executive Order and to assure those among you who must come to work to perform critical services that you may and should do so under the terms of Governor Murphy’s directive.

Working from Home

While past communications regarding the coronavirus have strongly encouraged managers to consider and adopt work-from-home arrangements for staff where practical, the University, in keeping with the Executive Order, is now explicitly directing that all work that can be done from home must be done from home. Employees whose duties can be performed remotely should be in contact with their managers to discuss arrangements for moving their work off campus immediately, including coming to campus to collect whatever materials they may need to facilitate working from home.

Services That Require Being on Campus

The Executive Order exempts from staying at home “employees who need to be present at their work site in order to perform their job duties,” including, but not limited to, “law enforcement officers, fire fighters, other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, IT maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.” In the context of our University community, this permits staff whose work cannot be done remotely to come to campus as required to support operations, remote teaching and learning, and to otherwise care for students. When on campus, it is essential to practice social distancing by maintaining at least six feet of distance between you and others whenever possible, as well as to take preventive measures, such as thorough handwashing.

Managers, please contact your senior human resources manager if you still have questions about how the Executive Order applies to your specific operations and staff members. Refer to the University’s COVID-19 website for additional information. I would like to reiterate that all work that can be performed from home must be performed from home. And if you are not feeling well, please make sure to contact your healthcare provider and get the care you need.

I appreciate all that you are doing under challenging conditions to ensure that Princeton continues to fulfill its core responsibilities while safeguarding your own and others’ health.

Thank you and be well!

Refer to the HR Coronavirus Resources for Employees webpage for helpful benefits, well-being, work-related, and other information.