UMass Staff Updates for the Spring Semester

MEMORANDUM


TO: All UMass Amherst Staff

FROM: Bill Brady, Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer

DATE: November 17, 2021

SUBJECT: UMass Staff Updates for the Spring Semester

 

Dear Colleagues:

As we near the end of the fall semester, I want to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to our community. Navigating the full reopening of our campus wasn’t easy, but it was successful because staff members from every corner of the university did a great job on behalf of our students. In particular, I appreciate your role in helping to keep our campus safe and healthy by getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask, and complying with public health protocols. The latest data from the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) reflects a consistent reduction in positive cases on our campus.

Of course, the university continues to monitor the public health situation closely, but recent developments, including increased vaccination rates, booster shots, low positivity rates, and vaccination availability for some children under 12, are encouraging. As we look forward, I wanted to give you some updated information related to spring:

Requests for Medical Accommodations for Spring 2022

University staff seeking an accommodation for their own medical condition should complete the medical accommodation request form. The Accessible Workplace team within the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access will evaluate the requests, collect necessary medical documentation, engage the requesting party in an interactive dialogue, and consult with the relevant department about the request. Decisions regarding medical accommodations will be examined in light of the underlying medical condition and the availability of reasonable accommodations.

We continue to be encouraged by the downward trend in the positivity rate of Covid-19 as well as the high vaccination rate on campus. Please note that if you were previously approved for a medical accommodation that was specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the Fall 2021 semester your accommodation will expire and a new request should be made using the medical accommodation request form.

Questions regarding the accommodation process can be directed to accessibleworkplace@umass.edu.


Updates to Public Health Protocols

Staff are reminded to pay close attention to communications from the university’s Public Health Promotion Center. Any changes to public health protocols, such as changes to masking requirements or event protocols, will be shared by the PHPC via email and the information will also be posted on the university’s coronavirus website.

Currently, the university is strongly encouraging all members of our community to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. All university staff, faculty, and students are eligible for a booster once the appropriate waiting period has elapsed (Moderna/Pfizer 6 months after 2nd dose or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen 2 months after vaccine). Boosters are available on campus free of charge. Check out the university vaccine clinic website for more information.


Modern Workplace Initiative

This semester, the Modern Workplace Initiative Working Group has been meeting to discuss the future of remote, hybrid, and flexible work on campus. The working group, which is made up of staff representatives from around campus, will be making recommendations to university leadership on a more permanent framework for flexible work that takes into account considerations such as supervision, information technology, space, collaboration, and the needs of our workforce.

The recommendations will be used to develop policies and procedures and also be the basis for conversations with our staff unions about how to incorporate best practices in flexible work into our collective bargaining agreements. More information about the project can be found on the Modern Workplace Initiative website.