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March 12, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

Dear Colleagues:

In this daily update I will focus on how the unfolding COVID-19 situation is playing out for College staff. Up to now, we have devoted our communications more towards students and faculty, because their face-to-face meeting for classes has been by far the largest venue for human-to-human contact and, consequently, potential viral transmission.

While in-person classes are now suspended for the rest of the term, the campus remains open and operational. Through your ongoing efforts, we will continue to provide all of the services that students need in order to complete the term, prepare for the summer and fall sessions, or enter for the first time in the fall. I want to assure all members of the staff that you have never been absent from our discussions and planning at Lehman or at the CUNY central office.

I’m sure you have seen notices of gathering cancellations and much more in an effort to reduce community spread of COVID-19 through density reduction. Just a note of context: Just hours ago, the Governor announced that beginning Friday at 5 p.m. no gatherings with 500 people or more will be permitted in New York State. Venues with capacities up to 500 will be allowed only 50 percent of their rated occupancy.

At Lehman, we have dramatically reduced human density by suspending on-campus classes, but we have not brought it to zero or even close. No policy can prevent viral spread, it can only slow it down. So, our goal is to continue to reduce human density on campus, and minimize exposure of staff members on their way to campus, each through a variety of strategies.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Following CUNY guidance, staff may consult with their managers about working their regular daily hours on a flexible schedule that involves changing the start and end time of their regular daily hours or by working a condensed work week, similar to our schedule during the summer. An employee may be permitted to work at home or at an alternate CUNY location for all or part of their regular work week for the duration of the current recess if the employee’s primary function can be effectively performed remotely or could be temporarily modified. CUNY will let us know if telecommuting will be an available option available to staff beyond March 18.

Managers should consult with Human Resources for guidance on expectations for work assignments, check-in, and other parameters relevant to supporting a remote arrangement. It is particularly important for older adults, and/or those who have chronic medical conditions, including but not limited to, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control who seek additional accommodations to consult with Lehman College’s Human Resources office.

Alternate Ways to Work

Although this won’t be an option for everyone, we are opening the parking lots to staff who can, but do not usually, drive to work. Public Safety officers have been instructed to allow you to park in campus lots as long as you show your Lehman ID. There will be no charge.

Health and Wellness Concerns

We continue to encourage staff who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they are infected by COVID-19 and/or feeling sick to stay home and to see a physician. Buildings and Grounds and our facilities team has been regularly deep cleaning buildings and work spaces. All areas where staff or students who have potentially been in contact with COVID-19 have been closed for 24 hours, per New York City Department of Health and Hygiene regulations, and deep-cleaned before reopening. We will now also be able to catch up on cleaning that might have lagged as we responded to a host of extra tasks while students were still on campus. We are re-stocking cleaning supplies as we are able, and so far we have enough.

Maintaining Personal Distance

Some offices will continue to serve large numbers of students who will form lines and may crowd office spaces. Obviously, that is not a good thing. We need to quickly develop ways to structure the waiting spaces, as well as one-to-one meeting spaces, so there can be safe distances between individuals. Solutions will vary from office to office, so customized creative solutions are going to be needed. Please put on your thinking cap and come up with ways to do this. If materials or other assistance are needed, area supervisors should not hesitate to reach out for them. We will do everything we can to respond. And don’t be afraid to try something you’re not sure will work. Some experimentation will be needed.

Contact Information for Staff Concerns and Questions

We regularly update the Coronavirus website at Lehman daily and there, you can find a robust number of resources about what actions are being taken to keep you safe and to help with this rapid transition. Should you have further questions about how COVID-19 will impact Lehman College staff, or have suggestions or requests, please contact the Lehman College COVID-19 Task Force at covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu

Thank you for all you do every day, and stay healthy!


Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.