June 18, 2020 - Message from President Markwood
I am constantly astonished by the speed and dexterity with which you have been able to adjust to challenges wrought by COVID-19. Your ability to learn and adapt — on the fly, no less — has allowed us to maintain the high standards of educational services which we always strive to provide. Flexibility is an essential attribute in times of great change and uncertainty, and as we prepare to return to campus for face-to-face instruction in the Fall, I want to make sure that there is clarity regarding alternative work arrangements like online instruction and teleworking.
Earlier today, we sent out guidelines that address how best to ascertain if you are eligible to continue working remotely and how to request a review to determine if you qualify for accommodation and/or alternative work arrangements. We understand that each individual's situation is unique, and the information provided may not cover all scenarios that might apply to your situation.
To that end, we offer the following guidance on requesting alternative work arrangements based on the information we know to be correct as of today. For information and updates, we encourage you to visit https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/ regularly.
I would like to pull out and reiterate some of the crucial and time-sensitive pieces of information regarding requests for alternative work arrangements:
- Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and follow the ADA accommodation process, by which employers and employees enter into an interactive dialogue and work together towards a mutually-agreeable solution, which usually involves a reasonable accommodation. If the accommodation request is due to an employee's health condition, medical documentation will be requested to help inform the process.
- You may qualify to continue to teach online or telework if you are at higher risk for severe illness. For the most up-to-date information on who is considered high-risk, please refer to the CDC website. It is important to note that in Governor Kemp’s recent executive order dated June 11, the stay-at-home order was lifted for persons age 65 and older and, as a result, age alone will not qualify an individual for telework accommodation.
- To request alternative work arrangements, contact your Dean, Department Chair, supervisor or the HR office (Venus Frank or Carole Clerie) to discuss your individual situation. If, after this discussion, it is determined that your situation may qualify for accommodation, you will be directed to complete the USG Reasonable Accommodations Request Form. HR reviews the form and any supporting documentation, makes a determination, and relays relevant information to your supervisor. From that point forward, HR's role is to facilitate the interactive dialogue process between you and your supervisor in order to ensure compliance with the ADA, and any other relevant laws and policies.
- And lastly, while there is no deadline for submitting a request for alternative work arrangements, we do ask those who are teaching this fall to submit your requests by July 10 to allow for adequate planning before the academic term begins.
I hope that this information is helpful to you and that we continue to engage and uplift one another in our return to campus.
I would also like to take this opportunity to commemorate the important American holiday that will be celebrated tomorrow from the shores of Galveston, TX to each and every corner of the nation — Juneteenth.
It was on June 19 that Union General Gordon Granger read General Order Number 3 to the festive assemblage in Galveston, TX stating that all persons who were enslaved would then and forevermore be free and equal. With the proclamation read, the first Juneteenth celebration began; and the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States continues to this day, 155 years later.
Tomorrow is a day for reflecting and rejoicing, for empathy and understanding, for remembering the past and coming together to make sure the future is a better world than the one into which we were born.
As you remember and celebrate Juneteenth, know that Bridget, Reagan, and myself are celebrating with you.
As always, I am thankful for all you do for our students, our community, and for each other.
President Chris Markwood