Friday, October 23, 2020
A Special Message From Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President
More than six months ago, we made the decision to move to a remote work and learning environment due to the growing concerns and impact of COVID-19. Initially, we thought these new arrangements would last for a few weeks and that we would be able to return to our campuses relatively quickly. In our first meetings about the College’s response to COVID-19, two key priorities were articulated and remain our guideposts for decisions today: 1) the health and safety of our colleagues, students and community, and 2) the continuity of student learning. These priorities have led us to operate in our Roadmap for Reopening Phase 2 guidelines through the fall semester. The Conditions to Reopen team and many others around the College have started planning for the spring semester, and we have decided to remain in Phase 2 operations for the foreseeable future.
We continue to consult with medical professionals and are closely tuned to infection rates in our community. Neither indicate a substantive reason to change our status at this time. Of course, new testing methodologies, treatments and vaccines are being developed and when available, may allow us to move to our Phase 3 plans later this spring or in the summer. Until that time, however, the majority of our employees and students will remain in a remote working and learning environment.
UCF and Valencia Spring Break Plans
Our partner, the University of Central Florida (UCF), has decided to move its spring break to the end of the spring term and deliver all final exams online so that students do not return to the campus after the break. Our Senior Team has evaluated the impact of UCF’s decision on our plans for the spring semester and decided not to make any adjustments to Valencia’s spring break dates. This decision was made with the purpose of minimizing disruption to you and our students, and though our spring break dates will not align with UCF’s this spring, we anticipate minimal impact to students who take classes at both institutions. We also recognize the importance of a mid-semester break to allow for rest and renewal.
As we prepare for the winter season and begin thinking about the spring semester, we have heard from many of you that you’ve reached the point of exhaustion. The stress of the last several months has taken its toll and, as we settle into this routine for longer than any of us ever imagined, it’s time to adjust our practices to better care for ourselves, respond to the stress that we are feeling, and take some time to reflect, rest and reset. In light of this need that you have expressed, I have decided to make Veterans Day — Wednesday, November 11, 2020 — a student and employee holiday this year. Our college credit students are already scheduled to be off that day so the disruption to the learning environment will be minimized.
While this decision might not work for every division due to previously scheduled classes, activities or critical work, I am committed to everyone having a day off. Thus, if you are a full-time employee and are unable to take Wednesday, November 11, as a day off, our Organizational Development and Human Resources team will add one day of “banked holiday” that you may use at a later date, with your supervisor’s approval. Our part-time colleagues should record hours they were originally scheduled to work on Wednesday, November 11, as “Leave with Pay.” Full-time employees who complete a time card should record the hours as “Holiday.” For full-time employees who complete a timesheet and work that day, please enter hours worked. Your banked holiday hours will then be added to your record once your timesheet has been completed and approved. For full-time employees who do not complete a timesheet and work that day, banked holiday will be added to your record with receipt of an e-mail from your supervisor to let us know that you worked that day and have, therefore, earned banked holiday hours. A Certificate of Absence (COA) for banked holiday is required when a full-time employee uses those banked holiday hours after they have been earned. Due to legal restrictions as defined under the Federal Work Study guidelines, our FWS student employees are not eligible for this paid time off.
Though one day off is certainly not the full resolution to the feelings of exhaustion, I trust it will provide some relief. I encourage you to explore additional ways to create clear boundaries between work and home responsibilities, consider scheduling meetings to end at the quarter hour to leave a few minutes between appointments, and to incorporate other health and wellness routines into your lifestyle.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Veterans Day closure on November 11, please reach out to Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources, Amy Bosley, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all of our Valencia colleagues who are veterans, and to those who have family members who have served. We are grateful for your bravery, selflessness and commitment to protecting our country.