March 17, 2020
Continuing the Mission During COVID-19 Response Protocols
COVID-19 is interjecting itself in our personal, social, and professional lives. While our campuses and many local unit offices are preparing to shift as many of their faculty and staff to work-at-home scenarios as possible, it does not mean that we are suspending our work as Extension professionals. We will continue to pursue the ideals of our Extension mission. We will work as Extension professionals and overcome this latest life challenge by working smart and using digital and distance technology to interface with the people we serve and each other. Even if we have not used some of our available tools to engage in this type of work, we will learn it, and we will become even better at it than before. We can do this!
The following list offers one-stop shopping for the key components of our COVID-19 response updates that I emailed out on Saturday and Sunday. The timelines in the protocols have also been adjusted to account for the timeline extension announced on Monday, March 16.
From Saturday, March 14, 2020:
1. ALL local, regional, state, national, and international K-State Research and Extension face-to-face events (for example: workshops, club meetings, shows, etc) conducted by Extension employees or our volunteers and targeted for our constituents and stakeholders between March 15 and May 16 must be cancelled, postponed, or held via Zoom or other distance technology.
2. We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE that all local, regional, and state internal K-State Research and Extension meetings (for example: staff, Program Development Committee, Program Focus Team, Extension Board, task force, professional development, program planning, volunteer training meetings, etc) that are scheduled between March 15 and May 16 should be held via Zoom or other distance technology. In cases where local unit or Kansas Farm Management Association offices remain open, individual face-to-face interactions and meetings have to be conducted in a manner that each individual can practice sound social distancing practices. For example, every member at the meeting needs to be a minimum of 6 feet away from each other. If social distancing practices cannot be maintained, the meeting must be held via Zoom or some other distance technology.
3. We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all K-State Research and Extension employees and volunteers to work via telecommuting (work-from-home) whenever possible between March 15 and May 16. Employees should seek the guidance of their supervisor to determine if telecommuting is appropriate for their position. If it is not appropriate, work needs to be conducted in a manner that conforms to social distancing. For those offices under the direction of an Extension or Kansas Farm Management Association Board, we ask that the supervisors consult with the board or board chair about these decisions.
From Sunday, March 15, 2020:
1. All of the March 14, 2020 COVID-19 response protocols are still in effect.
2. These Sunday COVID-19 response updates directly involve Kansas State University and K-State Research and Extension employees who work at the Manhattan campus of Kansas State University, K-State Olathe, K-State Polytechnic in Salina, our Research and Extension Centers, and all of our research farms. Workplaces governed by local unit Extension Boards and Kansas Farm Management Association Boards are outside the purview of this update.
3. Some of these employees, including me, will be working at home for an undetermined amount of time. Others will continue to work at their normal stations. Members in this latter group would be those involved in keeping facilities maintained and operating, those involved in caring for plants and animals, and, possibly, a small number of office staff. If you are an employee on one of the facilities listed above, you should check with your supervisor regarding where your work location will be.
4. Email is the preferred way to initially contact each other. Our telephone systems vary widely concerning how easily telephone calls can be forwarded to those working out of the office. If you need to contact an employee who normally works at one of the affected facilities listed above, we recommend contacting that employee by email.
5. In Dean and Director Minton’s Sunday, March 15, 2020 email update to the College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension leaders, Dr. Minton addressed what would happen if an employee was not able to work at their normal workplace, but they also were unable to work at home. Dr. Minton wrote, “All employees (including student employees) will continue to get paid at regular rates during this emergency period.”
We are currently putting together another one-stop shop for COVID-19 response protocols and basic work-at-home and primers on using Zoom and One Drive. These will be listed on the Employee Resources portion of our K-State Research and Extension website. We are also offering two sessions of a “Zoom and One Drive 101” training via Zoom. Due to constraints on the total number of sites allowed to view a Zoom meeting, we request that you do not log on to the trainings if you are familiar with these two technologies. The first offering will be on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Central Time. To join this meeting, please click on the following link at that time: https://ksu.zoom.us/j/525204126 . The second offering will be on March 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM Central Time. To join this meeting, please click on this link at that time: https://ksu.zoom.us/j/948950300. We will offer additional sessions of this training if needed.
During this period of reduced in-office workforce, the Extension Administration office will have a person answering the telephone (785-532-5820) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Please read through the rest of this Tuesday Letter as there are other articles that pertain to our new and temporary work paradigm. Thanks to all of you who are working so hard to comply with our COVID-19 response protocols. Thanks also for continuing to pursue the Extension mission by using digital and distance technology and for discovering other innovative ways to provide the people of Kansas with the research, education, and facilitation they need to help them improve their lives, livelihoods and communities.