Dear UWM Faculty and Staff,
I write with the latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on UWM faculty, staff and operations. We continue to take steps to promote your health and safety, as well as that of our students, and to help limit the spread of the virus.
UWM will extend online or alternative delivery of instruction from Monday, March 30, to the end of the spring semester. Yesterday, Gov. Evers issued an emergency order that allows universities to continue instruction and operations but prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people in a single room or enclosed space. For this reason, online and alternative modes of delivery are the best way to continue and complete instruction this semester.
If you haven’t accessed them already, many resources are available to help with the transition. To start, information technology specialists from across campus have put together an excellent guide on how to prepare for working remotely.
The websites for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the Division of Academic Affairs offer tips, guides and links to more information. CETL has online workshops nearly every day through March 27, and UWM is also working with two other institutions to provide assistance with the transition to online instruction.
As a reminder, we began strictly limiting most onsite, non-essential operations at noon today on all three campuses. This includes closing most offices and services that are open to walk-in traffic and having staff provide services remotely when they can do so. Please note that our campuses are not closed. Indeed, some employees will continue to provide critical in-person services, such as caring for students living in our residence halls, providing core IT and networking services to campus, maintaining academic research programs, providing library services, continuing payroll operations and providing security for those accessing campus.
There will be impact on student employees, many of whom are unable to perform their duties remotely. Student employees are a valuable part of our workforce, and as operational planning is solidified, supervisors will be in contact with employees as to their status. We asked UW System to discuss with the state some form of compensation relief for student employees. Please know that it is unlikely such compensation will be provided as we are subject to state authority on this issue, and early indications are that the state is unwilling to pay what is essentially a leave benefit to employees who are not eligible for benefits. We will explore alternative student hourly employment opportunities and share more information as this develops. Meanwhile, our Development team is working to raise money for the UWM Student Emergency Fund.
I realize this is a stressful time due to frequent changes and uncertainty, and it is not what any of us were expecting this semester. Please know that your hard work and flexibility during this unprecedented period are very much appreciated. You will find additional details below on campus operations, and we will share more information as developments occur. If you have questions, please continue to submit them here. I wish you good health, and please stay safe.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee