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May 12, 2020

Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear staff,

Such is the rhythm of our work that we finish one year only to begin immediately to think about the next. In that way, at least, this year is no different than others. Of course, we would normally have met today for our end of year celebration. Although I am not able to say it in person, I want you to know I am deeply grateful for all that you have accomplished under the most trying of circumstances.

In recent days, many of you have inquired about summer and fall. We are a residential college at heart, and it is our planning priority to open in the fall – with a commitment to the safety of all members of the community as well as an emphasis on quality education and the continued success of our students.

We are actively planning for fall contingencies. Provost Boyd has created an Academic Affairs Reopening Committee that begins its work today. Dean Taylor is working with many of you as she and her team plan a virtual SOAR. Our emergency planning team continues its work in looking at the various scenarios we could be facing this fall.

Beginning next Monday, May 18th, we will begin a phased reopening of campus. Employees returning to campus should be attentive to any symptoms (self or household members). Do not return to work if you exhibit symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. The college will have a screening protocol for returning employees beginning Monday; copies of the protocol will be distributed by Friday of this week.

While on campus, employees are encouraged to wear masks outside of their immediate work area, and to maintain six feet of social distancing inside and outside of their work areas. Some work areas / offices on campus may require masks for entry as a protective practice. Public areas of campus will be cleaned regularly.

Employees whose work by its nature needs to be conducted on campus should plan to return to campus. Employees who can fully complete their work from a remote location should seek approval from their supervisor and discuss appropriate measures of productivity as well as a cycle of rotation through their office. Employees whose normal works activities have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis should initiate a conversation with their supervisor regarding alternate work assignments at Berry during this period. Employees whose home responsibilities, including child care, have been complicated by COVID-19 should contact your Vice President and Wayne Phipps, Director of Human Resources.

It is important that all employees engage in meaningful work so that the college and its employees can continue to thrive. If employees would prefer to reduce their work hours during this summer in response to the unusual circumstances, please contact your Vice President and Wayne Phipps, Director of Human Resources.

The Berry Board of Trustees meets virtually this Wednesday and Thursday. Later that day, Thursday the 14th, several members of the cabinet and I will host a town hall similar to the one we had in March that will focus on our phased reopening beginning Monday, May 18th and our planning for fall semester. You’ll receive an Outlook invitation for a Zoom Town Hall for staff for 2 p.m. on May 14th. We’ll provide information and you’ll be able to ask questions in advance or via Chat during the call.

I look forward to talking with you on Thursday when we can turn our attention to the 2020-2021 academic year, having finished this semester with strength and good spirit and a sense of worthwhile work done well.

Steve Briggs

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