Delta State University's response to Coronavirus

Coronavirus Update #4 – March 16, 2020:

TO: Delta State University
FROM: DSU President William N. LaForge
UPDATE #4: Coronavirus Update from President LaForge – March 16, 2020

[NOTE: This is the fourth and a MAJOR update on the university’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and is being distributed to faculty and staff only.]

Today, President Trump issued strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions in an urgent attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Also today, Mississippi Governor Reeves signed two executive orders in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. See attached documents.

In an effort to reduce the number of people gathered on campus on a daily basis, while still maintaining the core functions of the university, Delta State will remain open, but with a significantly modified schedule.  As a result of today’s directives at the state and federal levels, Delta State will implement new guidelines, beginning Wednesday, March 18, and effective until further notice.  All eight public universities will implement a similar version of this modified structure and plan.

Tomorrow, March 17, the Vice Presidents, Deans, and Directors will determine the categorization—essential and non-essential—of all staff, as related to campus services needed during the period of time that we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Before close of business tomorrow, every supervisor will notify his/her employees of their categorization, assignments, and work schedule.

Essential Staff

Employees who are designated as essential personnel, and who are able to work remotely, may be allowed to do so. Or, they may be required to work on campus, depending on unit needs and circumstances, as determined by the supervisors.

Non-Essential Staff

Employees who are designated as non-essential personnel will be asked to stay at home until contacted by their supervisor to report to work. Because the University will still be open, each department will need a limited number of employees to report to campus in order to remain operational. We will ask all supervisors to reduce the number of personnel to the bare minimum, and to rotate, to the extent possible, those employees who must report. All non-essential staff will be on-call during this time period, meaning they must be able to report to work, or work from home, as needed and when called upon. Please understand that the University is operating under unprecedented circumstances, and we need each employee to remain flexible.

Administrative Leave

As a result of the Governor’s executive orders, as well as his earlier declaration of a state of emergency for Mississippi, I (along with the other public university IEOs) have been given the authority to place all employees, who are not asked to report to campus or work from home, on administrative leave with pay.  I will do so for those designated employees.  No employee will lose their compensation or wages during this challenging time.

Faculty

As announced earlier, faculty will spend this week preparing to transition their classes to an online format. Resources will be available both on campus and online to provide the necessary training.  If faculty are able to access the online training, we ask that they please do so, and that they work remotely to the extent possible.

We continue to receive updates from a variety of sources on a regular basis, so I emphasize again that it is imperative that all students, faculty, and staff closely monitor the university’s website (www.deltastate.edu/coronavirus), official social media accounts, and their email for updates.

Our goal and rationale for taking these measures are to reduce the number of daily personnel on campus as much as possible for health and safety reasons, while keeping the university functioning in support of the instruction and academic progress of our students.

For campus-related additional questions, contact the campus Police Department at 662-846-4155.