Returning to Work in the New Normal

Paul B. Johnson Commons at Ole Miss
Paul B. Johnson Commons at Ole Miss.

By Richard L. Bradley, CAPP

The University of Mississippi has started inviting faculty and staff back to campus for work. We were well taken care of during our campus shutdown, which stretched from mid-March until July 1, and paid administrative leave was allowed for those with positions not conducive to a remote working environment. As we all found out, service industries find it nearly impossible to function during pandemics.

Now we have been challenged with bringing staff back in a safe environment. Is that even possible for higher education campuses? College campuses share the same risk level during a virus breakout as cruise ships. Would you want to go on a cruise right now? Would you want to be staffed on one of those ships? Would you send your child on a cruise? These are the questions our staff members are wrestling with right now.

I work for a great university that ranks high on the Modern Think list of Great Colleges to Work For every year. We currently offer two programs to assist our staff during these times: Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave. These offer relief to staff members who are sick or have a close family member who is sick with COVID-19, anyone that is quarantined by local policy, those considered high risk due to an underlying condition, or those with child care needs due to care provider and school closures.

I consider us lucky to have these programs provided by our state. These programs provide equity and support for our staff. This will provide a sense of safety to our staff they often do not feel in other jobs. Providing information to employees is crucial. Without the information, opportunities might be missed and costly staff turnover could ensue.

Richard L Bradley, CAPP, is manager of administrative affairs, department of parking & transportation, at The University of Mississippi.