In HR, preparing for a challenge

first_img Q&A on Harvard’s move to online learning GAZETTE: Should employees be concerned about the status of their jobs?HAUSAMMANN: Our faculty and staff are needed to fulfill Harvard’s mission, even as we shift to distance learning in many of our academic programs. Said another way, the University remains open. Staff should know that the University is committed to sustaining pay continuity for the core workforce — and by that I mean the non-temporary workforce. People who continue to work, whether remotely or on campus, will be paid as they are normally. Additionally, Harvard’s regular and newly expanded workforce policies provide many different kinds of paid time off.  Through these benefits, we ensure the continuity of pay during illness, self-isolation, quarantine, disability, or times when dependents need care because they are ill or their care arrangements have been disrupted.  We’ll continue to revisit these commitments as the situation evolves.GAZETTE: Can you provide any more advice to employees who may be unsure as to how they should approach their decision to come to work?HAUSAMMANN: This is a stressful time for all of us, and since we are in uncharted territory, we may feel more anxious than we otherwise would.  I hope it goes without saying that we encourage and fully support self-care during these times, and encourage people to rely on the many services we offer. They are extensive.If staff members begin to feel concerned about their health status or the health status of those who may be close to them, I encourage them to remember that Harvard’s health plans offer comprehensive coverage for both physical and mental health care. Employees can also contact the Employee Assistance Program at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) for help with feelings of stress or anxiety about these events.If you’re in doubt about whether you should come to work, talk to your managers. Consult with your own primary care physician if you feel you may be experiencing symptoms. Officials detail University’s battle plan to combat coronavirus while education continues Harvard announced Tuesday that it would switch to teaching classes online effective March 23, with the goal of limiting the spread of coronavirus in the University community. But the spreading disease will change more lives than those of the students departing their residences and classrooms in the coming days. It will affect thousands of faculty and staff members across Harvard. Those employees are now hard at work making the switch to distance learning, keeping the University’s labs and health care facilities safe, and ensuring that important services and programs remain available.To learn more about what the coming changes are likely to mean for Harvard’s employees moving forward, The Gazette talked with Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann. Q&AMarilyn HausammannGAZETTE:  What can you tell us about the impact of recent events on the large community of people who keep Harvard up and running every day?MARILYN HAUSAMMANN: First, I’d like to reiterate the words of University leadership by saying that the health and well-being of our entire community — and that of course includes students, faculty, and staff — is our main priority.In HR, our overarching goals are to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and to enable Harvard’s mission. Right now, that means mitigation of COVID-19 through a variety of steps that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are asking all employers to take: promoting hygiene, cleaning, having generous and humane policies for paid time off, limiting travel, and, increasingly, social distancing. That means minimizing and limiting the size of meetings. But we’ve also been planning for larger-scale social distancing by asking everyone to prepare now to work remotely, if their job duties permit it.We are incredibly grateful for faculty and staff members who have been working around the clock to ensure that the University is able to transition to virtual learning, while remaining open and operational throughout the process. In many ways, we’re in unprecedented territory, and we wouldn’t have been able to make this critically important shift without the expertise and hard work of our colleagues.Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann. Rose Lincoln/Harvard file photoThis is a novel virus, and we are constantly integrating new information and guidance for employers into our contingency planning.  At the same time, we are trying to anticipate the emerging issues and concerns of faculty and staff, and to provide practical solutions and responses. To do that, we are in regular consultation with the human resource deans and directors in the Schools and units across Harvard to determine what kinds of issues we are facing and what kinds of strategies, policies, and information would be most helpful.And while we approach our contingency planning with a “One Harvard” mindset, we will rely on the good judgment and goodwill of our managers and colleagues across the University.  We recognize that there are thousands of different, sometimes very hyperlocal situations. For those, we need to rely on the expertise and commitment of managers and staff working together to take care of each other, to support the mission, and to protect Harvard’s vital capabilities.GAZETTE: Many people who work at Harvard may be concerned about what it means for them to stay on campus, while students are being asked to leave. What can you say to them about this? Have there been discussions about closing the University more broadly?HAUSAMMANN:  To begin with, the University’s decision to move to remote learning is designed to keep everyone safer. As my colleague, University Health Services Executive Director Giang Nguyen, has explained, this decision is based on the public health concept of social distancing, which shows that reducing the concentration of people in an area can lower the risk of infection for all involved.Obviously, health and safety measures for the workforce are a bit different than students, as employees do not live together in congregate housing. For the workplace, we are focused on measures that will be most effective, some of which I’ve just mentioned. If needed, Harvard will take additional steps to increase social distancing, by reducing the density of work spaces in terms of occupancy, and, as we are now, encouraging those who can work remotely to be prepared to do so.To be clear, Harvard would make a specific announcement if and when we were to move to large-scale remote work. That decision has not been made. For now, preparing to work remotely should be accelerated where possible and tested to make sure all the technology and connections work. Can you get and respond to your phone calls and email?  Can you access your work files? Can you send confidential information using encryption?And it may be that individuals who are more susceptible to complications from the disease will make changes sooner. We’ve asked employees who believe they would benefit from a change in job duties, schedule, or work location to consult with their local HR. And employees who are sick should not come to work. “In many ways, we’re in unprecedented territory, and we wouldn’t have been able to make this critically important shift without the expertise and hard work of our colleagues.” — Marilyn Hausammann University offers coronavirus resources and help guides Related Information aims to give students, professors, and staff a hand with moving, remote learning, meetings, travel, financial aid, and other issueslast_img read more

Local YMCA leaders map out return to youth sports

first_img Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 ELLSWORTH — As sports in Maine return with a slightly different look, they’re going to do so at the youth level first.Between localized schedules and games that feature smaller gatherings and team roster sizes, youth and community sports have a number of built-in advantages in comparison to their high school, college and even professional counterparts. In Maine, where the COVID-19 rate is the second-lowest in the entire country, seeing such sports back in action will likely take place sooner here than it will elsewhere.In both Ellsworth and Bucksport, local YMCA leaders are in the process of mapping out a return to — or, in one case, the continuance of — youth sports. Even if there are new adjustments that will take some getting used to, the effort is well worth it after a long stretch of isolation, youth sports leaders say.“These kids need to have that interaction and be together and see each other,” Down East Family YMCA Youth Sports Director Shane Lowell said. “They went 15 weeks without any real interaction with each other, and it’s time for us to make something happen for them.”This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textIn late June, youth sports officially returned at DEFY with the beginning of the organization’s Amateur Softball Association season. Coached by Lowell, Ron Bean, Josh Stevens and Steve Sullivan, the 11-member 14U team has been able to participate in numerous games against in-state opponents over the past several weeks.Before, during and after games, things are different. Players can’t high-five, shake hands or share equipment, and coaches don’t exchange lineup cards with one another prior to the first pitch; softballs are sanitized rigorously between innings; in practices, players participate in small player pods aimed at reducing potential spread of the virus.“For the most part, I’d say everything has gone really well,” Lowell said “It’s taken some time to get the hang of it, but the kids are just ecstatic to be together. … It’s not about winning or losing or even what they’re doing together; they could be bowling for all they care.”Whereas the differences on the softball field haven’t necessarily changed the action that takes place during games, that won’t be the case when DEFY resumes its travel soccer program in the coming weeks. The 2020 travel soccer season will see players prohibited from heading the ball, and throw-ins will no longer take place after balls go out of play.“We have to be very strict with these protocols and how closely they’re followed,” Lowell said. “It’s going to be challenging, but this is what we’re going to have to do to give the kids a chance to play.”In Bucksport, September is set to be a big month for youth sports with registration for football and soccer still ongoing. Practices for both sports are currently scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 7.Bucksport YMCA Director Matt McInnis, though, said the status of youth sports in the community remains “up in the air.” He wants youth sports in the area to be in lockstep with school sports, and with plans for the 2020-21 school year and fall sports season yet to be finalized, the YMCA is in wait-and-see mode.“I think it makes sense for us for schools and the YMCA to be on the same page,” McInnis said. “In our case, a lot of the fields we use are owned by the RSU or the town, and we have to get their permission first. If the schools can’t be using them, why should we be able to?”As has been the case throughout the ongoing pandemic, local youth sports leaders are optimistic — but they’re also uncertain. In the end, if there’s a way to bring back youth sports in some capacity, they’re going to do what they can to make it happen.“We have to give them something because they need some kind of normalcy,” McInnis said. “We’re looking at every option we have and doing everything with their health and safety in mind.” Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Biocenter_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Latest Posts MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020last_img read more