March 24, 2020 Employee Update

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Special message from Dr. Briggs

Dear Berry employees:

Last evening the City of Rome issued an ordinance related to COVID-19 directing citizens to shelter in their place of residence from 5pm today, March 24th, until Monday April 6th. The college itself is located in Floyd County, and County Commissioners will consider a similar directive this evening.  Yesterday, Governor Kemp also asked education and non-profit organizations to encourage their employees to work from home for the same time period. It is important for the college to support our local and state health and government leaders as our communities confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 illness. 

Effective at 5pm today, March 24th, all employees of Berry College are directed to work from home, unless an exception is approved by their Vice President, consistent with the City’s ordinance for citizens to shelter in their places of residence. We encourage employees who reside in Floyd County or surrounding municipalities to participate in this shelter in place directive as well.

The City of Rome’s ordinance allows for certain exceptions to the directive to shelter in place.

  • educational institutions – including private colleges – for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions
  • minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
  • water, sewer, gas, electrical, solid waste collection and removal, internet and telecommunication systems, business infrastructure.
  • law enforcement, dispatchers
  • all health care services provided to animals; food cultivation, including farming, livestock
  • plumbers, electricians, contractors and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to constructing and maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences …
  • mailing and shipping services
  • facilities that prepare and serve food:  food can be provided to students on a pick-up and take-away basis. Schools shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is prepared, or at any other gathering site.
  • minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions

Employees who need to work on campus in an area that is included on this list of exceptions should consult directly with their supervisor. Faculty may come to campus to facilitate their distance learning responsibilities or maintain the essential functions of their laboratories as needed, but remaining attentive to social distancing requirements. If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact your Vice President. 

Routine access to Memorial Library’s print and DVD collections, as well as print interlibrary loan services, will be discontinued. Faculty with critical needs for materials in the print collection may email library@berry.edu to discuss options for access. All remote library services, including access to and acquisition of electronic resources, chat and online reference services, and interlibrary loan of articles will continue. Refer to the Library’s Remote Services Guide for details (https://libguides.berry.edu/remoteservices).

Many employees are able to conduct a significant portion of their daily work from home. Others, however, are less able to do so. As I shared on Friday, we do not anticipate the need to lay off staff at this time. We will continue to pay our staff. We may call on staff members to help in other departments to meet the critical needs of the college. Your willingness to do so last week enabled us to send out financial aid packages to continue the work of recruiting our fall class.

Later today, I will be sending our students an e-mail extending the remote instruction period until the end of the semester. I’ll share that e-mail with faculty and staff so that you have the same information our students receive.

Certainly, many of us at Berry, staff and faculty alike, have had our work routines upended. We have had to pivot abruptly to meet the challenge of a closed campus, the absence of students, and providing an education remotely. We have maintained our core functions as a college while focusing on social distancing and cleaning precautions. It has been a difficult and demanding period.

The strength of Berry has never been more evident than in the resilience and flexibility you have shown through this experience to date. While it would be foolish to predict how the weeks and months ahead will unfold, your on-going care of Berry, our students, and each other will enable us to persevere and thrive as a college.

Thank you. And best wishes for your weeks at home.

 

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