What WSU employees need to know

Sedgwick County and the state of Kansas have issued a Stay At Home Orders that require us, as a community, to pivot yet again as we enter the next phase of our operational plan. Our officials understand and recognize that WSU, as a higher education institution, must be allowed to continue essential services and operations to support our learning and research.

During the span of the orders, work performed on-campus must follow the parameters below.

Who is Authorized to Work on Campus?

WSU campus will operate primarily remotely with only “essential business operations” continuing to operate on campus. All departments must now fully implement their plans to reduce their on-campus presence. Consistent with the county’s order, the following essential business operations at WSU may continue with limited employees on-site as directed by the divisional supervisor, but social distancing rules (explained below) must be observed:

  1. Essential operations related to distance learning and support (including, but not limited to, personnel from financial aid, registrar and admissions offices supporting Strategic Enrollment Management).
  2. Essential research activities, which are defined as those that cannot continue without on-campus presence and for which suspension of the research would cause irreparable harm to the project. Examples include, but are not limited to, activities related to:
    1. irreplaceable biological specimens (e.g., plants, samples, cell lines, etc.) that would otherwise be lost
    2. the care of animals (e.g., continual treatment, manipulation, special feeding, etc.)
    3. preservation of unique or rare reagents
    4. maintenance of essential equipment that cannot be attended to remotely or powered down without significant cost or consequence to the research effort
    5. experiments that have a small window for completion (i.e., data collection that is time sensitive in order for the long-term research and/or experiment to come to fruition)
    6. the understanding, treating or preventing of COVID-19 viral infection
    7. national defense
    8. compliance activities
  3. Departments, labs, centers and individuals who are needed to perform contractually obligated projects that support any of the county-designated “Essential Business” operations, which include: (1) essential infrastructure, (2) essential governmental functions, (3) aircraft, (4) commercial transportation and logistics providers and services, (5) manufacturing companies, (6) distributors, (7) supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for residences and industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, health care, chemicals and sanitation, (8) transportation, (9) aerospace, (10) energy, (11) national defense, and (12) products and services used by Essential Businesses, as defined by the county order. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following centers: National Institute for Aviation Research, Firepoint and Ennovar.
  4. Information technology, legal, human resources and financial services. These offices may work staggered on-campus schedules with reduced staff.
  5. Essential support services necessary to ensure continued health and safety of those on campus which will include, but not be limited to: Counseling and Prevention Services (CAPS), Student Health and Wellness, University Police Department.
  6. Housing and Residential Life.
  7. Personnel supporting on-campus maintenance and construction (including overseeing third-party construction), and maintaining university infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, HVAC repair, painting, lawn care and landscaping, and cleaning and janitorial services) which will include: Facility Services, Facility Planning, Environmental Services and Central Energy Plant operations.
  8. Food banks, which includes Shocker Support Locker (currently closed for Spring Break but will open for limited services and scheduled pick up of items).
  9. Media services, which will include Strategic Communications and Media Resources Center.
  10. Places providing mailing and shipping services, including the University Post Office (consistent with directions or guidelines from the U.S. Postal Service) and WSU Facilities Services Warehouse Shipping and Receiving.
  11. Food service in Shocker Hall and RSC will be restricted to carry out, pick up, delivery or curbside service as designated by those restaurants and must adhere to social distancing rules.

Questions or Clarification on This List

For questions on whether your department/office may fall within these guidelines, please request clarification from your divisional supervisor.

Social Distancing

“Social distancing” means maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.

Get more information about steps you can take to protect yourself

Employees Who are Precluded from Working on Campus and Cannot Perform Their Job Remotely

All departments are expected to support remote work. However, we understand there may be situations where that is not possible. Please remember, if you are prohibited from working on campus, and cannot perform your job at home due to the nature or requirements of your job, you must follow previously communicated guidelines on how to appropriately account for time. For questions about this, please reach out to payroll@wichita.edu or HR.ServiceCenter@wichita.edu.

“Essential Personnel” Under Other WSU Policies

Please note that the essential business services noted above should NOT be confused with the designation of essential personnel for purposes of a furlough or inclement weather under WSU’s policies and procedures.

Facility and Campus Access

Below is additional information pertaining to employee belongings and campus services:

  • Returning to campus/collecting items: Given the short notice of the Stay at Home Order, we are permitting staff to return to campus for a limited period of time to collect any items they may need for the next 30 days until 5 p.m. Thursday, March 26. If you require access to campus after March 26, please contact your dean (or supervisor).
  • Internet access: Do not come to campus to take advantage of better internet connections. We understand that it may be difficult for individuals to conduct academic and research work from home. WSU has procured a limited number of portable internet hotspots to help and faculty conduct online instruction. To submit a MiFi request, click here. Additionally, in response to the federal government’s call to “Keep Americans Connected,” several national internet service providers are providing internet access for free or at a greatly reduced expense. We encourage you to reach out to these providers for additional details.
  • Facility access: All university buildings are closed to walk-in traffic unless otherwise posted at the building entrance. Employees will still be able to access their building with their Shocker Card.
  • Use OneStop: If you are contacted by students who have questions, please direct them to OneStop. OneStop provides 24/7 student support via live chat, phone and web ticket options on a variety of topics.

Extraordinary Times Dictate Extraordinary Measures

It probably goes without saying that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. These changes are being imposed on us as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are intended to help keep everyone safe. It is our hope that we, as a nation, are able to resume a normal life – and a normal work routine – sooner rather than later. Everyone, including our students, are being forced to adapt and adjust to a different way of life. But we know this will be temporary. We are asking for everyone’s understanding as things continue to evolve. When we are able to resume on-campus learning, faculty and staff will be asked to return to campus and resume their normal job duties. We are looking forward to that day.

Other Information Important to Students and Faculty

A separate communication was sent to students and faculty regarding loaner computers, research lab access, internet access, access to the Rhatigan Student Center and Shocker Dining, Child Development Center, Shocker Support Locker and Student Health Services. That communication can be found here