All Updates Chancellor's Message

Important message on alternate operations

To Washington University Faculty and Staff,

We are in unprecedented times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed all of our lives and raised deep concerns for all of us. Our primary responsibilities at this time are to take care of ourselves, support our families, do all we can to slow the spread of the disease, and help the university maintain its essential role. Among the most critical of these roles for the university is, of course, the provision of medical services.

In order to help us meet our responsibilities, the university is taking a set of major steps:

  1. Alternate Operations: To reduce the spread of the disease, starting as soon as possible and no later than next week, only employees who are required to perform essential work that requires a physical presence should report to their place of work. This will last through at least April 6. This week, managers will be identifying essential functions that must be completed on campus and developing department-specific plans for other work that can be completed remotely. In certain areas, particularly—but not exclusively—for those critical to delivering medical services, all work will be deemed essential and employees performing that work will be required to report to their regular location. In some cases, all employees in a unit or doing a specific function that does not require physical presence on campus will be required to work remotely. In others, a skeleton or rotating group will need to be on campus.The goal is to implement this change starting March 23, but some units may need more time to develop and implement their plans. If units can develop and implement their plans before March 23, they should. Your manager will provide more information.
  2. Performance of WorkWe recognize that there are some employees who cannot effectively work remotely and whose regular duties and physical presence are not essential under university alternate operations. We will be working with managers to develop plans for redeployment of employees impacted. Employees who cannot work remotely and cannot be re-assigned will be eligible for the special paid time off benefit mentioned below. We will be providing more information to employees in this category as soon as possible.
  3. Special Paid Time OffDuring this pandemic, all employees will be eligible for up to 10 days of special paid time off for circumstances related to COVID-19. This is in addition to regular time off policies available to employees. This time off can be used in the case of quarantine, self-quarantine, illness or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure or other related scenarios. Details of this benefit are available on the COVID-19 FAQ pageGiven its important role in delivering health care services to the region, the School of Medicine will distribute a separate policy regarding travel and vacation.
  4. Child Care ServicesHuman Resources is working diligently to obtain additional child-care services for faculty and staff, prioritizing those who provide medical services and others whose on-campus work is deemed essential. We will be providing you with more information about child-care services as it becomes available.

A set of FAQs is available on the Employee Information page of the university’s COVID-19 website, providing more details on the information summarized above as well as other issues related to COVID-19. Please direct any questions to your manager or the university’s COVID-19 hotline (314-935-8300 or 888-234-2863).

I’ll be back in touch as the situation changes.

We’re in uncharted territory here, and we all may be asked to contribute and lend our talents in new and unexpected ways in the days and weeks ahead. As needs arise, we’ll reach out with opportunities to help support the effort. I hope you’ll join me in standing at the ready to pitch in however we each best can. Thanks to each and every one of you for all you do for Washington University, St. Louis and the world.


Andrew D. Martin