UO employees invited to engage in fall planning discussions

Aerial view of campus

As the UO continues planning and preparing for some in-person, on-campus instruction, research and other activities this fall, the Office of Human Resources and the Office of the Provost have coordinated an outreach effort to engage faculty, graduate employees, officers of administration and classified employees in resumption-planning conversations.

Officers of administration and classified employees received an email from Chief Human Resources Officer Mark Schmelz encouraging them to engage their supervisors in a discussion about employee work arrangements, particularly in light of school districts’ plans for fall. HR has asked supervisors to be proactive and creative when engaging and collaborating with employees to identify a plan that best meets both the employee’s and the department’s needs.

“Now is the time for UO community members to take a moment to pause and reflect on what lies ahead and what their world may look like, personally and professionally, as we move into and through the fall term,” Schmelz said. “Let’s be creative and as flexible as possible as we explore all available options such as remote work and flexible work schedules to shape workplace arrangements.”

Faculty and graduate employees received a message from Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips with a status update on the planning for the fall term. The provost described investments in technology and safety measures the university has undertaken to provide a classroom environment that is safe and supportive when it comes to both in-person and remote delivery modalities.

Next steps involve assessing whether the UO can move forward with a curriculum that has a significant portion of instruction done in classrooms or through a combination of in-person and remote (hybrid) options.

“Our goal, first and foremost, is the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Phillips said. “We continue to develop and review the possibilities. The pandemic is dynamic in that it continues to shift and change, which can make planning difficult. But we will continue to work closely with the UO Incident Management Team, Lane County Public Health authorities and Governor Kate Brown’s office to ensure that whatever the means we use to teach our students will be done in a safe and appropriate manner.”

To more accurately understand the university’s capacity and inform the planning for fall term courses, faculty members and graduate employees have been asked to complete an instruction survey about on-campus availability to teach courses. Equipped with the latest information about classroom safety measures, faculty members can make more informed, personal decisions when responding to the latest survey request, which allows them to change or update a survey they may have completed in early summer.

As shared in a previous message from Provost Phillips, the university will make a decision by Aug. 26 about its ability to offer some in-person instruction this fall.

“My hope is that, even if we are compelled to offer fewer in-person activities, we will be able to preserve the progress that we have made on supporting our research operations and other professional support activities, such as access to offices and workspaces,” Phillips said in the July 15 message.

As UO advances its fall term resumption planning, establishing safety precaution guidelines for the health and safety of our employees, students and community members remains paramount to planning efforts, Schmelz said.

“While the university strives to make its vision a reality, we also recognize that many employees continue to face uncertainties beyond the workplace,” he said.

The combined effort of the Office of Human Resources and the Office of the Provost is intended to engage faculty and staff in conversations to better inform departmental-level resumption planning efforts, both administratively and academically, added Schmelz.

UO community members can stay informed about resumption planning by visiting the UO Coronavirus website. HR continues to update the COVID-19 resources for faculty and staff on its website, which includes information on employee engagement and support, employee leaves, and guidance for supervisors and unit leadership.