Provost Campus Messages

Vice President of HROE Campus Messages:

December 21, 2020

Multiphase Return-to-Work Plan New Adjustment Effective January 4, 2021

Texas A&M University and Health Science Center Employees,

In consultation with University leadership, we are once again making an adjustment to the University’s phased approach to returning employees to work on campus. In light of an expected surge of COVID-19 cases through the holiday break, we are reverting to Phase 2 guidance effective January 4, 2021. Therefore, we are adjusting the maximum percentage of employees working in any given location and on any given day from 75% to 50%. Departments are encouraged to implement a return to work plan that includes the rotation of employees onsite.

As previously communicated, these percentages are not targets that must be achieved but rather maximums that may be necessary for division, college or departmental operations as we begin the spring semester. Units seeking to exceed 50% of employees in any given physical location and on any given day must consult with their respective Dean or Vice President to discuss measures being taken to mitigate employee exposure. We do not anticipate a full return of employees to campus in the immediate future and foresee remaining at 50% capacity through March 2021. As conditions change, we will communicate them to you through university email.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Alternate Work Location Requests: In accordance with System Regulation 33.06.01, department heads may continue to approve short-term requests for remote work for employees whose work does not have to be performed on campus.

  • AWL requests are subject to supervisor AND department head approval; must be based on appropriate job tasks that can effectively be performed remotely.
  • This temporary delegation of authority for AWLs to department heads will remain in place through the end of March 2021, unless otherwise communicated.
  • If an employee or unit anticipates the AWL will remain in place beyond the spring semester, a long term request must be submitted through the formal request process.
  • Documentation of approved AWLs is maintained in the personnel file.
Healthy Habits: Continue to practice healthy habits including staying home when sick and wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, as well as practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.

Leave / Time Off: Employees are expected to continue fulfilling their normal job duties regardless of whether they are working on campus or remotely. Otherwise, employees are expected to utilize leave as applicable/appropriate to their position and circumstances.
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA) paid leave provisions became effective on April 1, 2020, and only apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
    • If the federal leave provisions afforded by FFCRA are extended beyond December 31, we will provide further details via email. Alternatively, if a temporary alternate work location arrangement is not feasible for the employee, departments may request approval of Justified Emergency Leave for Other Circumstances.
    • Additional FFCRA resources including eligibility criteria summary charts, FAQs, employee request forms, and a Workday job aid are found on our dedicated webpage.
Required COVID-19 Testing: Employees at the Bryan-College Station campus/sites (faculty, staff, part-time employees, student workers, grad assistants) are required to test for COVID-19 between January 2-12, 2021. Additional information here.

Required Training: All employees are required to retake the course 2114130 : Protocol and Certification for System Member Employees before returning to work on campus (regular worksite) in January 2021. This requirement also applies to employees who have continued to work onsite. Current employees who completed the Safe Practices course (2114131) will not be required to retake that course.

Resources:

Travel: All faculty, staff and students returning from travel outside of the Brazos Valley should avoid contact with others to the greatest extent possible for 72 hours.


As 2020 comes to a close, let me say THANK YOU once again to each of you for your dedicated service to Texas A&M. It has been an extremely unusual and challenging year, but through it all, you have maintained the course. Happy Holidays!
Thank you and Gig ‘Em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness

July 16, 2020

New Adjustment to the Employee Return to Campus – Multiphase Plan

Texas A&M University and Health Science Center Employees,

In consultation with University leadership, my office issued additional guidance in late-June regarding an adjustment to the University's phased approach to returning employees to work on campus. The adjustment postponed the implementation of Phase 3 until July 20. In light of the continued growth in COVID-19 cases, we are further adjusting Phase 3 which will still begin on July 20. We recognize that some units will need additional personnel on campus to prepare for the beginning of the academic semester. Therefore, we are adjusting the maximum percentage of employees in any given physical location from 50% to up to 75% until further notice. We do not anticipate a full return of staff to campus by mid-August and foresee remaining under 100% through the fall semester. As we have stated before, these percentages are not targets that must be achieved but rather maximums that may be necessary for division, college or departmental operations as the fall semester preparations continue. If what your college/division is currently doing is working well and meeting your operational needs, there is no need to adjust your current practices. Units seeking to exceed 75% of employees in any given physical location should consult with their respective Dean or Vice President to discuss measures being taken to minimize the risk of exposure.

A few important reminders:

We will continue to monitor and adjust this plan accordingly. If additional adjustments are needed, these adjustments will be communicated to you in a timely manner. We encourage all employees to review relevant COVID-19 information available on our website. For general guidance from the University, visit Texas A&M's coronavirus website.

Thank you and Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness


June 24, 2020

Adjustment to Employee Return to Campus – Multiphase Plan

Texas A&M University and Health Science Center Employees,

Under the direction of President Young, my office issued guidance in mid-May regarding a phased approach to returning employees to work on campus. This phased approach was designed to slowly begin the process of bringing everyone back to campus and to evaluate the effect of returning people to their regular worksite. It began with 25% of employees being allowed to return to work on campus and then recently moved to 50% as of June 1. This approach has worked well and we have not experienced any major issues. However, some new concerns have arisen with the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas.

As you are aware, our phased approach was due to make another adjustment beginning on July 1. The Phase 3 adjustment would have allowed up to 100% of employees to return to campus based on each college's/division's operational needs and managerial discretion. In light of the recent growth in COVID-19 cases, we are suspending the implementation of Phase 3 until July 20. Therefore, Phase 2 guidance will remain in effect until then (up to 50% of employees in any area). As we have stated before, these percentages are not targets that must be achieved. If what your college/division is currently doing is working well and meeting your business needs, there is no need to adjust your current practices. In addition, some colleges and divisions have adopted a rotational approach where, for example, certain staff will come to the office on Mondays and Wednesdays and a different group will come to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Any plans of this nature are perfectly fine.

As before, we will continue to monitor what is happening and adjust this plan accordingly. In the event additional adjustments are needed, these adjustments will be communicated to you in a timely manner. We encourage all employees to also visit our website for employment-related resources concerning COVID-19 including instructions for responding to confirmed or suspected employee cases of Covid-19 and other FAQs. For general guidance from the University, visit the Texas A&M's coronavirus website.

Thank you and Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness


May 15, 2020

Employee Return to Campus – Multiphase Plan

Texas A&M University Employees,

Under the direction of President Young, the Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness is closely monitoring developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result of Governor Abbott's executive order of April 27 (GA-18) which laid out the plan for the reopening of Texas, we have developed a three-phase return-to-campus plan informed by guidance from state and federal officials.

  • Phase 1: May 18 – May 31, 2020
  • Phase 2: Proposed June 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Phase 3: Proposed July 1 – August 31, 2020

This plan intentionally takes a phased approach so that we can learn from small, incremental movements towards a full return to work on campus. Learn more about Texas A&M University's return-to-campus plans online:

The return-to-campus plan provides important information about:

As is the nature with a phased plan, we will carefully monitor the effect of each phase and this guidance is subject to change along the way based upon what we learn. In developing this plan, we have adopted the following guiding principles:

  • the health, wellbeing, and safety of all of our Aggie family members are key priorities;
  • we are committed to supporting the mission of education and research and seek to maintain all university operations necessary to support mission-critical activities;
  • we must remain committed to the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service;
  • to the extent possible, implementation of each phase of the plan should proceed only after careful evaluation to ensure that risks identified in each phase have been mitigated;
  • adjustments to our phased return-to-campus plan will be made as changing conditions require; and
  • employees who can effectively complete their work remotely may remain in their Alternate Work Location (AWL) status. Department heads may continue to approve AWL requests for employees in manner that addresses departmental needs and in accordance with System Regulation 33.06.01.

While the majority of University employees have transitioned to working remotely as COVID-19 reached our area, it is important to acknowledge that many essential workers continue to perform their duties on-site to sustain critical functions. We recognize and thank them for their significant efforts to support our great university.

  • Phase 1: May 18 – May 31, 2020
  • Phase 2: June 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Phase 3: July 20 – August 31, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain health conditions may increase an individual's vulnerability to the COVID-19 infection. Some vulnerable populations include:

  • Persons 65 and older
  • Persons with HIV
  • Persons with moderate-to-severe asthma
  • Persons with cancer
  • Persons with chronic lung disease
  • Persons with diabetes
  • Persons with serious heart conditions
  • Persons with chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Persons with severe obesity
  • Persons who are immunocompromised

Employees who are instructed to return to work on campus and have concerns about doing so as a result of a medical condition that places them in a higher-risk group, those who are caring for someone in a higher-risk group, or those who are pregnant should consult with their manager and/or HR Liaison to discuss the feasibility of the employee continuing to work remotely. The employee's specific medical information should not be shared with managers directly, but rather discussed with the departmental HR Liaison, to prevent unintended disclosure of Protected Health Information under federal law.

Flexibility from managers and employees is essential as we navigate the process of returning to the workplace. Extenuating circumstances expressed by employees should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. An employee (staff, faculty and student workers) who requires a reasonable accommodation should inform their manager and/or HR Liaison. Departments can find support for responding to ADA Reasonable Accommodation requests by contacting Employee Relations at Employee-Relations@tamu.edu or (979) 862-4027.

In order to satisfy the requirements set forth by Governor Abbott's executive order GA-21 as amended by GA-22, employees will be required to complete two TrainTraq courses* before returning to work on campus (regular worksite). This requirement also applies to employees who have continued to work on-site.

Notice: Spanish versions of the courses are now available in TrainTraq:

*Completing either the English or Spanish version will meet the assignment requirements to complete the courses.

In all phases of this plan, all activities on Texas A&M University property will follow social distancing measures and good hygiene practices consistent with guidelines from state and federal officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other public health officials.

Employees will:

  • Return to campus when advised by their manager/department head
  • Not come to campus when ill
  • Self-screen daily for possible COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. Consult the CDC's online self-checker
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and/or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette by covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 6-feet from other individuals

Managers/Departments Heads will:

  • Develop and communicate their return-to-campus plan to each employee (considerations: jobs that can telework, jobs that must be performed in the office, flexible hours, alternating work days, etc.)
  • Evaluate employee extenuating circumstances for returning to campus on a case-by-case basis
  • Promote physical distancing with visual aids and/or markings (hallways, elevators, stairways, conference rooms)
  • Evaluate meeting spaces to determine the maximum capacity based on a 6-foot social distancing requirement
  • Use virtual meetings whenever possible and limit all in-person meetings and gatherings of faculty, students, staff, or others to 10 or fewer people
  • Communicate social distancing and other expectations for common areas and individual interactions
  • Leverage staggered shifts and lunch breaks
  • Make adjustments to workstations to increase separation
  • Implement one-way traffic patterns throughout the workplace where feasible

Texas A&M Face Covering Requirement

COVID 19 Reporting Process

COVID-19 Reporting Portal

Notice: Supervisors should follow the COVID 19 Reporting Process. Texas A&M University implemented a new reporting process for students, faculty, and staff as outlined in an email message from Provost Fierke on July 20, 2020. Visit the COVID 19 Reporting Process webpage for all reporting guidelines. (This new process has replaced the Ill Employee Protocol Supervisor Checklist.)

Questions regarding the COVID-19 reporting process may be sent to COVID19Process@tamu.edu.

Visitors may be invited to physically attend meetings at the university but they should be expected to observe State-wide guidelines related to social distancing, meeting size, face coverings, that are in place at the time of the visit.

In order to satisfy the requirements set forth by Governor Abbott's executive order GA-21 as amended by GA-22, employees will be required to complete two TrainTraq courses before returning to work on campus (regular worksite). This requirement also applies to employees who have continued to work onsite.

We encourage all employees to also visit our website for employment-related resources concerning COVID-19 including frequently asked questions. For general guidance from the University, visit the Texas A&M's coronavirus website.

The past couple of months have presented a variety of challenges resulting from the global pandemic. As Aggies, we have responded the best way we know how—with courage, confidence, and resolve! Better days lie ahead of us. I look forward to your safe return to campus and wish you well!

Thank you and Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness


April 12, 2020

Acts of Gratitude and Appreciation

I want to express my gratitude and admiration for your extraordinary commitment and service to our university.;

Over the last few weeks, we collectively have been challenged to fundamentally change everything we do—from educating students and maintaining business operations, to how we go about our lives at home and in the community. Each small act of patience, resolve, gratitude, and service has a compounding effect on how we experience work. Small actions are the difference between great and exceptional.

An email was sent out in February, announcing the expansion of staff appreciation activities for the month of April. While the events we highlighted in that email, including the President's Meritorious Service Awards, will no longer be able to take place on campus this spring, there is more potential for small acts of gratitude and appreciation than ever before.

I am challenging each of us to make our university an exceptional place to work by taking on acts of appreciation, gratitude, or service this spring. Let your colleagues and work-family know how much they are valued. Show your appreciation in small ways. EVERY DAY.

The new Flourish program is here to support you:

Invite your colleagues:
Flourish is hosting virtual events that are just for fun, get you moving, help you manage stress, and give you a chance to be more connected.
Send a note:
Email Flourish with your thanks, positive thoughts, or encouraging words for an individual or team on campus who is making a difference. We want to celebrate them.
Help those affected by COVID-19:
Flourish has established a COVID-19 support site where you can request assistance, volunteer resources, or donate money to the staff emergency fund.
Be the change:
Want to be a leader in gratitude and appreciation? Send us your ideas. Flourish has a small number of grants to help you get your idea off the ground.

With appreciation for all you do—thanks and Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness


March 20, 2020

Updated Employment-Related Information Concerning the Coronavirus

Texas A&M University Employees,

Under the direction of President Young, the Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness continues to closely monitor the evolving situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of all of our Aggie family members remain our priority as we continue to support the missions of Texas A&M. We remain committed to providing all Aggies with a safe and welcoming educational and work environment.

As you are aware, the University is currently open to faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, employees are expected to continue fulfilling their normal job duties, or other duties as assigned by their supervisor to remain flexible. In an effort to ensure that we are all operating under the same understanding regarding work expectations, we ask administrators, department heads, and managers to follow these measures:

  • Visit our website for resources including frequently asked questions (FAQs) for faculty, staff, and student employees that apply to all of our campuses including Qatar, McAllen, Galveston, and HSC. This site is updated regularly as circumstances change.
  • Regularly monitor email communications and updates to the University central COVID-19 website for the latest information.
  • Maintain regular communication with employees. Ensure that all employees have updated their contact information in Workday.
  • Clearly communicate work expectations and provide guidance to their employees in accordance with their unit's business continuity plan.
    • Employees unsure of their work expectations should consult with their managers.
    • Employees involved in clinical activities should consult their respective leadership for guidance.

If an employee requests to work remotely, managers are asked to accommodate the request to the extent possible assuming the employee's duties can be performed remotely.

  • Non-essential faculty and staff who have the capability to work remotely and have their managers approval should work remotely.
  • Department heads are familiar with the commitments and requirements of their areas of responsibility within the University and are uniquely positioned to make the decision as to who needs to work onsite as an essential employee during this time.
  • Employees should speak to their respective supervisors to determine whether or not they will be required to work onsite to maintain campus operations.

Employees who belong to categories considered to be at higher-risk of getting sick from COVID-19 or who have family members who are at higher risk should consult with their managers about accommodations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Higher risk individuals include adults 60+ OR people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, etc.

Department heads may approve requests for remote work otherwise known as Alternate Work Location (AWL) in accordance with System Regulation 33.06.01.

  • Each request must be documented in writing and approvals should be maintained at the department level for reporting at a later date.
  • At this time, we have suspended normal AWL procedures (AWL form not required) and are not requiring HR approval. An email will be considered acceptable documentation. Documentation should contain the following statement:

    To the extent possible, [employee name] agrees to perform all the essential duties in their job descriptions. Other duties may be assigned in an effort to remain flexible. This may involve work that is outside of the employee's primary responsibilities.

Department heads should also consider equipment needs and maintenance, employee safety, communication and supervision, and adherence to state and federal laws.

Onsite managers are asked to implement safety precautions for all employees including:

  • Following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
  • Minimizing contact with employees and customers.
  • Staying home if you or members of your immediate family are ill and request sick leave in Workday.
  • Offering virtual services, where possible.
  • Holding virtual meetings.
  • Practicing social distancing (maintain 6 feet distance from others).
  • Limiting all in-person meetings and gatherings of faculty, students, staff, or others to 10 or fewer people.

If remote work is not possible for employees otherwise able to work but are not able to report to their normal work location, departments may request approval of Justified Emergency Leave for Other Circumstances in accordance with System Regulation 31.03.03, section 2.5.2.

  • This may include non-essential employees who are unable to report to their normal work location because of the need to care for (1) dependent children where schools or daycare facilities have closed or (2) relatives residing in their households who are in self-isolation because of potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Vice Presidents or designees are authorized to approve emergency leave for five to ten days due to COVID-19 related absences as appropriate.
  • Vice Presidents (not designees) are authorized to approve emergency leave beyond ten days due to COVID-19 related absences as appropriate.
  • Appropriate documentation of the need for emergency leave should be provided with the request.
  • Emergency leave requests in Workday should be entered as "Other Emergencies" and must include COVID-19 in the comments box. All emergency leave must be tracked and reported in accordance with Tex. Gov't Code sec. 661.902(d).

All employment-related questions concerning the coronavirus, including the use of AWL duty or any type of leave, should be emailed to benefits@tamu.edu. For general guidance from the University, visit the Texas A&M's coronavirus website.

We urge you to do your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and appreciate all of your diligent efforts thus far.

Thank you and Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness


March 13, 2020

Employment-Related Information Concerning the Coronavirus

Texas A&M University Employees,

The Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness along with Texas A&M leadership is meeting regularly to discuss and review the evolving situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The safety of all of our Aggie family members remains paramount during this rapidly changing event. As you are aware, Provost Fierke announced yesterday that classes are cancelled through March 20 to enable faculty, staff and student leaders to continue planning efforts for the remainder of the semester; however, the university will remain open to faculty, staff and students. In order to support University functions, employees will be expected to continue fulfilling their normal job duties.

Department heads and managers are asked to follow the measures below:

  • Communicate work expectations and provide guidance to their employees in accordance with their unit's business continuity plan.
    • Employees unsure of their work expectations should consult with their managers.
    • Employees involved in clinical activities should consult their respective leadership for guidance.
  • Maximize employee telecommuting or working from home, where feasible, especially for employees who belong to categories considered to be at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 (adults 60+ or people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease). Employees with risk factors should consult with their managers about accommodations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
  • Department heads can approve requests for Alternate Work Location (AWL).
  • For job duties that must be performed onsite, managers are asked to implement safety precautions for all employees, including:
    • Minimizing employee contact.
    • Holding virtual meetings.
    • Practicing social distancing.
    • Offering virtual services, where possible.

In an effort to address a variety of employee inquiries that have resulted from recent University communications, we are updating our website regularly with employment-related information concerning the COVID-19. Visit our website for resources including frequently asked questions for faculty, staff, and student employees that apply to all of our campuses including Qatar, McAllen, Galveston, and HSC. All employment-related questions concerning the coronavirus, including the use of AWL duty or any type of leave, should be emailed to benefits@tamu.edu. For general guidance from the University, visit the Texas A&M's coronavirus website.

Our HR staff stands ready to provide support to you as this situation unfolds. As additional information becomes available, we will be sure to keep you up to date.

Gig 'em,

Jeff Risinger │ Vice President
Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness