Dear Gallaudet Community:
COVID-19 continues to disrupt our world with new government decisions emerging almost daily. Gallaudet University remains committed to supporting our students, employees, families and community in the best way we can in this most uncertain time. Our community remains resilient and has proven to be remarkably adaptive in these past few weeks. Circumstances globally, nationally, and regionally, continue to require us to adapt further. Today is no exception.
Last night, Mayor Bowser announced the closure of non-essential businesses and prohibition on large gatherings of 10 or more persons in the District of Columbia (“Order”). Under the Order, K-12 programs and universities are considered essential. The Order allows us to continue operations to facilitate Academic Continuity and Access for distance learning and remote working. We will continue to provide support and services, when possible, for the students and employees who have been approved to reside on campus and for employees who are supporting our physical operations.
Additionally, the Order requires us to comply with its social distancing requirements and restriction on large gatherings of 10 or more persons. Those requirements include:
- Maintaining a separation of at least 6 feet among and between employees and members of the public to the maximum extent possible;
- Separating staff by off-setting shift hours or days;
- Prohibiting large gatherings of 10 or more persons at the same time, in a single room or confined indoor or outdoor space;
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer frequently, or after contact with potentially infected surfaces, to the greatest extent feasible;
- Covering coughs or sneezes, preferably with a tissue to be immediately disposed of, or into the sleeve or elbow, not hands;
- Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; and
- Not shaking hands.
How Will This Affect You?
Essential employees will continue to report to work on campus to support the critical needs of our campus community. Essential employees must comply with the Order’s social distancing requirements and restriction on large gatherings and all University policies pertaining to COVID-19. We acknowledge and are grateful for our front-line responders; they are the lifeline of our community.
Non-essential employees will continue to work remotely and closely with their supervisor to ensure quality of work and productivity while balancing their need to care for themselves, their children, or other family members.
Students and Residents on Campus
All students and other residents who have been approved to stay on campus must comply with the Order’s social distancing requirements and restriction on large gatherings and all University policies pertaining to COVID-19. While we are cognizant of the Order’s mandates, we are also aware of the impact on the deaf blind members of our community. We are working on a case-by-case basis to provide access while protecting the health and safety of all community members.
Non-Essential Campus Services
All non-essential on-campus services are suspended for the duration of the Order.
Employment Security for Employees
We are committed to ensuring that our employees are compensated during this crisis. All regular status and extended temporary status employees will receive their regular pay through May 15th. All other temporary employees, including 120-day temporary staff and on-call staff, must check in with their supervisors to confirm their assignment. As you know, we have also expanded our paid leave program to address the extraordinary demands placed on employees and their families due to COVID-19.
More Information about Gallaudet’s Response to COVID-19
You can find detailed information about Gallaudet’s response to COVID-19 and other helpful resources on our dedicated website, coronavirus.gallaudet.edu. This site includes links to campus-specific information, key COVID-19 resources, the latest travel advisories and restrictions, guidance tailored to faculty, staff, and students, guidance on expanded paid leave, and frequently asked questions.
Many of us feel anxious and uncertain about the fast-moving developments in the coronavirus pandemic. Identify what you need to remain calm yet vigilant. Take steps to address your personal and professional needs during this difficult time. Seek out family, friends, colleagues, and other community resources that can support you, including your religious communities, social organizations and other community groups. Many of our social networks are moving online: if yours hasn’t, try to find a way to connect online to continue to strengthen your own personal supports that are needed during this difficult time.
This is an unprecedented time for many of us in our community who have not experienced this level of crisis in our lives. Our Gallaudet community is committed to staying united, strong and supportive for each other so that we all get through this crisis as healthy and resilient as possible. We are taking on big challenges every day. Amazingly, we are witnessing how all of us are finding ways to meet these challenges. Let’s take care of ourselves, our students, our families, and each other. Together, we will weather this crisis.
Roberta J. Cordano