March 16: Updated Employee Guidelines related to COVID-19 - For Staff

The following message was distributed to CalArts Faculty and Staff

Dear CalArts Employees,

During these unprecedented times, we thank you for your patience as we follow the latest guidelines related to COVID-19 and try to adapt our policies to best serve the needs of our students, faculty, and staff. As CalArts employees, we have a critical job in front of us: helping our students who are transitioning to online learning, who are perhaps returning home, and who are perhaps remaining in residence halls because, in some instances, this is the only place where they have both food security and housing security. We must rise to the challenge of supporting our campus through these difficult and changing times. We are so very appreciative of the great work you are doing every day! 

We care about you, and we are aware that many local K-12 schools have closed and the situation continues to evolve. We understand that this new development might present some of our working parents and guardians with unique challenges. We want to share additional important information for employees, including what you can do to manage your professional and personal needs due to the COVID-19 virus.

Please carefully read all of the below information.

Social Distancing
According to health experts, the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 or any contagious disease, is to reduce community density through social distancing. CalArts’ decision to transition to remote classes, postpone or cancel large events, and reduce the number of people in the Main Building will help reduce the risk of the virus spreading on campus and in the broader community. Employees should remain home if they are sick in order to protect themselves and their colleagues.

As always, we encourage you to be mindful of employees’ health needs. While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the CalArts campus at this time, we are committed to the safety and welfare of our employees and hope this employee guidance will be useful to schools and departments as we all work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we ask that when operationally feasible, employees start to work remotely this week. We realize certain positions will be required to be on campus. However, many positions are conducive to work completely or partially from home. In those cases, supervisors should follow the guidelines below to transition their employees to remote work temporarily. 

Campus Remains Open
Even though classes are transitioning to remote learning temporarily, the campus remains open for employees and the students living in the residence halls. It is important to keep in mind that our academics, as well as business and operational support functions, will continue. Recognizing we are undergoing an immense transition in the way we currently deliver educational services, this requires that all of us work together through this period of change and uncertainty. We thank you for your flexibility as we may call upon you to help with tasks that may differ from your regular job duties. 

Temporary Remote Work Provisions
As the campus remains open, we need to maintain business continuity to support campus needs, particularly during transitional periods. Schools and departments are encouraged to further develop business continuity plans that will identify where remote work opportunities are operationally feasible. The Institute recommends that for those positions that are not required to be on campus, work should be transitioned from on-campus to remote this week. Each employee must complete a Remote Work Agreement prior to working remotely. You will continue to be paid for your time working remotely. 
Human Resources and CAIT are developing telecommuting resources and guidelines for employees and supervisors. We realize there are multiple scenarios, including some employees that can telecommute, others could telecommute if equipment is available and others cannot telecommute given their job functions. For those that require equipment, CAIT began providing the equipment on Friday, March 13, 2020, and will continue to do so this week. Please email CAIT for further assistance with technology needs. For those where the nature of work is not conducive to work, we recommend considering utilizing or modifying work shifts, for example, to accommodate for dependent care needs. Supervisors may also consider changing job duties temporarily. Respective vice presidents and deans are responsible for ensuring business continuity and approving telecommuting plans for schools/departments. Supervisors are responsible for managing their remote workforce.

We know there are going to be varied outcomes for staff based on these departmental business continuity plans. Additionally, the way in which departments implement their plans could change day to day or week to week, depending on shifting conditions and departmental needs. These are unprecedented times, so we greatly appreciate your flexibility and understanding.

Temporary Leave Policy Changes
CalArts has enacted the following temporary actions for leave if an employee is directly impacted by COVID-19: 

  • Per the email, on Friday March 13, 2020, we are relaxing the rules regarding the use of accrued sick leave vs. vacation, and either may be used. 
  • Employees unable to work due to their own or a family member’s COVID-19 illness should use available leave balances. If employees do not have accrued sick or vacation, CalArts will work with them to explore other options, including providing paid leave. 
  •  Employees directed to self-isolate due to Institute-related reasons (at the direction of the Institute due to potential exposure that occurred during work or is otherwise work-related) will continue to be paid. Asymptomatic employees should continue working remotely if possible when self-isolating. 
  • Employees unable to come to work due to a COVID-19 day-care or school closure that requires them to be home with their child may work remotely if their school/department determines that it is operationally possible. If remote work is not possible, employees may use all available leave balances, including sick leave and vacation. If there are no available leave balances, CalArts will work with the employee to explore other options.
  • Employees desiring to work remotely/telework must complete CalArts' Remote Work Arrangement Agreement. If employees are approved to work from home, it will be considered paid work status.
  • Please contact HR if you have any questions or concerns.

Health Insurance and Medical Resources
CalArts’ health insurance provider, Anthem, has provided important information about benefits, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and LiveHealth Online, Anthem's 24/7 access to health providers. We encourage you to review this information available on the CalArts website here.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Dealing with uncertain situations such as COVID-19 can take a serious toll on all of us. We would like to remind you that if navigating the current COVID-19 crisis is becoming difficult for you to manage, we encourage you to avail yourself to counseling services through the CalArts Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”) serviced by Anthem Blue Cross EAP. You may call them at: 800-999-7222. Please state our program name: CIA.

Please rest assured that CalArts will work with each of you during these uncertain times and will do what we can to accommodate you and your needs.
Thank you all for your understanding and hard work in this moment. It is paramount for the community to come together so that we can ensure the health and safety of all of us, and our greater communities. We thank you in advance for your understanding, patience, and willingness to help serve one another, so we can continue to deliver on our mission to serve our students. 

Warmest regards, 
Maeesha Merchant
SVP, Finance and Operations 

Charmagne Shearill
AVP, Chief Human Resources Officer 

Go to Coronavirus Information and Updates