Vice President for Human Resources' Message to Staff Regarding Fall 2020

July 6, 2020

On July 6, Vice President for Human Resources Lianne Sullivan-Crowley emailed all staff members with the following message about the fall 2020 semester:

In a message to our University community sent earlier today, President Christopher Eisgruber announced plans to resume Princeton’s teaching and research activities on a limited basis this fall. These plans include inviting back all graduate students and roughly half of Princeton’s undergraduates for residential living in each semester: incoming first-year students and rising juniors in the fall, and sophomores and seniors in the spring. As President Eisgruber noted, the return of undergraduates, like all in-person campus activities, will continue to be governed by restrictions that “are essential to protect the health of the Princeton community and to comply with New Jersey law.” He also announced the plan to change the academic calendar for the 2020-21 academic year.

You will naturally have many questions about what these fall plans mean for your departments and you personally, and we will do our best to answer them and to keep you informed of new developments in what remains a fluid situation. I also know that you are eager to return to more normal times and that you have missed the in-person collaborations and connections that no Zoom meeting can reproduce. One of our greatest strengths as a community is our ability to engage and learn from each other, and I appreciate how difficult this can be in the absence of in-person contact. However, until the pandemic is contained to the satisfaction of state and federal public health authorities, we must continue to act with caution: protecting everyone’s health and safety has been our top priority and will continue to be the cornerstone of our decision-making process.

Accordingly, for the fall semester, we are implementing operational measures of unprecedented scope and rigor to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of everyone on campus while we fulfill our diverse staff roles. Meanwhile, as departments determine operational and staffing needs for the fall semester, you should continue to follow the guidance you have received previously.

The measures we are taking, like those already in place, are grounded in several core expectations, and I would like to share these expectations with you now to enable you to plan appropriately.

  • Based on operational needs, several departments already have staff working on campus, and these staff members should continue to do so as directed by their managers with approval from their cabinet officer or academic chair or director. Individuals who are now working remotely should continue to do so unless otherwise directed.
  • In planning for the fall, notwithstanding the increased presence of students on campus, the University is carefully considering which jobs will require an on-campus presence with the goal of limiting the spread of and/or exposure to COVID-19. Exceptions that require staff to work on campus will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis where there is a compelling business reason.
  • Staff members whose circumstances require their presence on campus occasionally or intermittently must seek approval from their managers who will then seek approval from their cabinet officer or academic chair or director, as appropriate. For instance, if you need to be on campus to complete a specific task or project, you will need prior approval. At all other times, you are expected to work remotely.
  • Anyone whose job requires a physical presence on campus, either on a regular, occasional, or intermittent basis, must comply with all related policies and procedures that the University has issued or will issue in the coming weeks. Staff who work on campus must be fully familiar with the most up-to-date policies and procedures and must consistently act on directives that include, but are not limited to, practicing social distancing of at least six feet, wearing face coverings indoors and when congregating outdoors, and frequent handwashing.
  • All staff approved to work on campus regularly, occasionally, or intermittently must complete mandatory online COVID-19 General Awareness training to work on campus.
  • Departments that anticipate resuming or expanding on-campus activities must plan carefully and follow the guidance, policies, and protocols issued this summer that are available on the Office of Environmental Health and Safety’s (EHS) website. This information will be updated for the fall semester.

We expect all members of our community to adhere to these directives, as protecting everyone’s health and safety is a shared responsibility. Challenging though it is, all of us must build new work habits defined by increased self-awareness, accountability, and attentiveness to others. This means interacting with one another in a respectful manner, even when someone forgets to practice the guidelines designed to keep us as safe as possible. It won’t be easy to adapt to our altered campus workplace, but we must and we will. Should you have any compliance concerns, please direct them to your manager or your senior HR manager.

For additional information, refer to the University’s website, HR’s website, and the EHS website.

These are unsettled times, and the University continues to monitor the evolving public health environment in New Jersey and the country as a whole, how state and federal directives affect our own policies and procedures, and how the plans for graduate and undergraduate instruction may impact you and your departments’ activities. In the weeks ahead, we will share additional information with you.

Anyone with questions can email HR at staffreturn@princeton.edu. Refer to our new Fall 2020 Partial Resumption of Campus & Workplace Operations webpage often, as we will update it as we learn new information.

Thank you for your continued commitment to Princeton’s educational mission as, together, we navigate this pandemic. You have risen to a challenge unlike any we have known, and I am grateful for everything you have done, your collegial spirit, and your determination to persevere. Please continue to take good care of yourselves and one another!