I write to share with you a change to our operational standards for university faculty and staff.
In fall 2020, the greater Appleton area faced widespread community transmission, limited testing capacity, and limited capacity at our local healthcare providers. In October, Lawrence made the decision to reduce the number of non-essential employees on campus to 25% or fewer, which aligned with the Department of Health Services emergency orders at the time. Essential services were allowed to continue while following all university health and safety protocols.
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious public health emergency, there has been encouraging progress in controlling spread and protection provided by vaccines. In light of the improvements to the health of the greater Appleton community, our campus health, and as we see an increase in the number of colleagues receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, we are making a change to the allowable non-essential employees on campus.
Taking immediate effect, individual offices and departments may have up to 50% of their staff working in campus office spaces during any given time. This threshold may be exceeded in the event that urgent or essential work needs to be completed and is better done physically in the office. While in shared gathering spaces, such as conference rooms, shared office space, or classroom space, occupancy should be no more than the room’s stated pandemic capacity and physical distancing guidelines must be adhered to. Individuals uncomfortable with the increased occupancy limits continue to have the option to work remotely. If there are questions about an occupancy limit, contact Mary Alma Noonan.
Additionally, the CDC clarified its guidance about surface transmission stating that this is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads. Considering this guidance and as long as individuals continue to practice good hygiene in compliance with the Pledge (handwashing, masks, and physical distancing), objects that are commonly used by more than one person – from pens, to books, to the breakroom coffee pot – are ok to share. Masks will still be required in breakrooms, so communal eating remains impermissible at this time.
Lastly, the CDC recently released new guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This guidance does provide a small glimpse of a future many of us hope to return to. At this time, we will not be making changes to our other current guidelines in place. The Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT) is diligently reviewing this new information and will communicate any changes to university guidelines.
If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please do not hesitate to bring them to your supervisor, department chair, human resources, or LPPT member.
Director of Human Resources