Update on Mason’s Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Dear Patriots,

We appreciate your flexibility during the continuing changes associated with the coronavirus outbreak. As the situation evolves, Mason’s response evolves with it. We will continue to communicate with you via email as much as possible to make sure you have the most updated information. Please also continue to refer to the university’s coronavirus website, which is the official source for university updates.

We want to share some additional information and guidance about George Mason University operations during this time.

Events: All events are cancelled until April 10. All student events, registered student organization functions, social functions, and gatherings are cancelled.  Programing for students who remain on campus during this period will be organized and managed by University Life. Only routine administrative and academic functions may be held on campus. Whenever possible, faculty and staff should conduct meetings using collaborative technology.  If a face-to-face meeting is necessary, meetings must be held in space managed by the department and social distancing must be maintained.  To reinforce this restriction, reservations will not be taken through University Events during this time.

Telework: In an effort to promote social distancing, the university is encouraging faculty, staff and student employees to telework during this time. Teleworking employees are expected to be reachable by phone and email, attend meetings via Webex, and be able to perform their duties as they would while present on campus. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that telework accommodations do not diminish university service delivery.

Additional resources are being deployed to support the institution’s migration to a telework environment. ITS has created Webex accounts for all Mason employees and is setting up Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, which will allow employees remote access to basic office tools from their personal computers. For status and support, please check ITS’ Working Remotely.  Please look for additional guidance on this topic soon, and share any questions you may have with your supervisor in the meantime.

Travel: On Thursday, March 12, Gov. Northam prohibited out of state travel for all employees of the Commonwealth, with exceptions for those whose work requires them to commute in the Northern Virginia/DC metro region. We are seeking additional guidance from the Commonwealth regarding official travel across state lines within DC region and will share those details when they become available. The university has restricted all student, faculty, and staff domestic and international travel. International travel is prohibited.

Student organizations, teams, and clubs are prohibited from travelling domestically for university related functions.  Employees should suspend all domestic travel unless it is required to support a critical business or academic function that cannot be accomplished remotely. Use of commercial transportation is prohibited. Attendance at events and conferences does not qualify as an exemption to this restriction.  Supervisors must approve critical travel in the local area and social distancing must be maintained at the traveler’s destination.

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL): The Commonwealth of Virginia has announced Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL), which provides employees with up to eighty (80) hours of leave when the State Health Commission and Governor declare communicable disease of public health threat conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  All state employees, covered or not covered by the Virginia Personnel Act, are eligible, including student wage employees, non-student wage employees, graduate assistants, and adjunct faculty. Employees may use PHEL to attend to their own medical needs or the medical needs of an immediate family member being treated for COVID-19.  For more information on PHEL, please see this guidance from HR.

We appreciate your patience as we prioritize the health and safety of our Mason community.

Respectfully,

David Farris, PhD
Executive Director, Safety & Emergency Management

Lisa Park, MD, MPH
Executive Director, Student Health Services

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