Message to Faculty and Staff from Human Resources

March 6, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The world health community continues to monitor closely the emergence of the “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19).   At this time, no one knows how severe this outbreak will be. Given this uncertainty, and the fact that the seasonal influenza (flu) virus is also widespread, Mercer University is taking proactive steps to address a number of business concerns. First and foremost, we want to maintain a safe campus and encourage and/or adopt practices protecting the health of our employees, students, visitors or others. We also want to ensure the continuity of academic and business operations.

Administrators across campus will continue to monitor the developing situation as more is learned about COVID-19 and monitor any cases that might be detected in our state, local and campus communities. As we move forward, we will be following guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Periodic updates will be issued as warranted.

Currently we are asking all employees to cooperate in taking steps to reduce the transmission of communicable diseases in the workplace. Employees are reminded of the following steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of any infectious disease including COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high touch surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipes.  National Management will now be cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
  • Practice social distancing (avoid shaking hands, maintain a 6-foot distance from individuals who are symptomatic and consider using teleconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings).
  • Practice other good health habits, including getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.

It is critical that employees do not report to work while experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and chills. Many times, with the best of intentions, employees report to work even though they feel ill.  Mercer is discouraging this practice. Mercer provides eligible employees with paid sick leave to compensate employees who are unable to work due to illness. Employees who report to work ill or with any of the symptoms listed above will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines.

While formal telework arrangements are highly exceptional, if quarantine is recommended, we will consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests from employees to work from home. While not all positions are conducive to telework, those positions with primary job duties that can be effectively performed remotely will be given consideration but please contact Human Resources to discuss these situations.

Given that this situation is constantly evolving, if you, or any employee you supervise, are returning from travel to any country outside of the United States, please contact the Human Resources department before you or your employee returns to work so we can review the situation, the exposure risk and determine if self-quarantining and/or remote work assignments are appropriate.

Let’s all keep perspective, demonstrate empathy, and show respect. Simple health practices will help prevent these types of respiratory illnesses, and Mercer is taking these steps to be proactive about the health of those on our campuses. Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.  Take care to avoid stereotyping or stigmatizing any individuals or groups in the Mercer global community.  Health and tolerance are compatible values; they are both central elements of the educational excellence that our students, employees and visitors deserve.

Please contact the Human Resources department (478-301-2786) with any questions or concerns.