May 19, 2020 Employee Forum Executive Committee Minutes
Attending Tiffany Carver, Jen DeNeal, Phil Edwards, Stephanie Forman, Shayna Hill, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Jim Potts, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Greg Smith, Rose Thorp
Via Zoom, Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. She called for a motion to approve the March and April minutes. Jen DeNeal made this motion seconded by Katie Musgrove. The motion was approved without opposition.
Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly report. There was a question about the money allocated for the upcoming blood drive. Jim Potts said that he would need to purchase wrapped sandwiches due to pandemic concerns. He planned to purchase from local businesses whenever possible.
Banks noted that his previous estimates of a surplus in the Forum budget were inaccurate due to grandfathered expenses from the previous fiscal year. Members discussed the possible need to redesign the Forum logo due to the University’s current licensing policies. The Chair noted that the current logo had been grandfathered allowing for current use. Greg Smith thought that the Forum might use options other than Carolina Creative when seeking vendors to redesign its website.
The Chair sought feedback on how to conduct elections remotely. She said that the window to create panelists for the Zoom meeting is very short, which could affect voting possibilities. She confirmed that the Forum Bylaws specify that the elections must take place during the June meeting. In response to a question, Banks noted that the Bylaws specify that only those present may vote in the officer elections. The Chair asked that Banks solicit volunteers to attend a special meeting to prepare a ballot procedure for the upcoming election.
The Chair advanced the possibility of outgoing delegate David Rogers conduct a teambuilding presentation for the July retreat. The committee discussed planning for the retreat. The Chair said that the Rizzo Center had allowed the Forum to void its contract for the in-person retreat July 8th. As a result of the discussion, the Chair asked Banks to put together an APAR for Rogers’ presentation and to ask Rogers for a quote.
Kevin Robinson thought that an eight-hour, one day retreat would be too long on Zoom. Rose Thorp said that she planned to be on vacation the week of July 8th. The committee decided to change the date of the retreat to July 14th and 15th. The Chair asked Banks to search the University calendar for possible conflicts on these dates and to send out notice to the membership.
The Chair reported that she, along with the Chair of the faculty, had been asked to moderate a webinar about the University’s COVID-19 planning process. She was thrilled and excited to carry out this responsibility. Members noted a change in the administration of the time and a half compensatory policy for employees working on campus during the pandemic. Rose Thorp said that details on this change have yet to be formally announced. Members added that employees will need to know that the Forum is a place to bring concerns and advice on the upcoming opening of campus. Rose Thorp noted that over 500 people participated on a remote call discussing the reopening of campus research facilities.
The Chair was pleased to welcome Darrell Jeter, Director of Emergency Management & Planning, Derek Kemp, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety, and Catherine Brennan, Executive Director of Environment, Health & Safety, to speak on Covid-19 Work and Planning. Jeter noted that Community Protective Equipment (CPE) will be procured and distributed from a central office. He said that a key objective of planners is that people wear masks on campus. He anticipated that masks would be required at least into the next year. He did not think that employees would need medical grade CPE masks.
Catherine Brennan recalled that previously, the standard was that people either wear a mask or remain six feet away from others. Now, the standard is that people wear masks all the time and still observe social distancing. Arlene Medder asked if the University plans to supply employees reusable or disposable masks. Jeter said that this has yet to be decided. He added that employees will likely want to wear personal reusable masks.
Rose Thorp said that the School of Medicine moved to require masks early on as a part of its clinical functions. Brennan said that the School and UNC Health practices have served as a model for University policy.
Laura Pratt asked how the University would ensure adhesion to campus policies on masks and social distancing. Kemp said that he did not want to make this question one of a police function. He preferred that supervisors set this policy for their units. He said that a campus-wide educational campaign would ideally clarify rules, set expectations, and build a culture so that people naturally follow these policies.
Phil Edwards asked about the situation with Chapel Hill Transit and GoTriangle transit. Kemp said that the University has joined with the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to discuss the procedures governing transit use. Laura Pratt recalled that her rides on the FCX bus were jam-packed. She could not fathom how physical distancing will work on the buses with half the ridership allowed. She anticipated that employees affected would not get to work on time.
Arlene Medder asked about homemade masks. Brennan said that Facilities Services employees working outside and sweating will need disposable masks. Employees working in an office environment should be fine with cloth masks. Jeter raised questions about expectations of standardization of mask use and appearance among employees.
The Chair thought that campus leadership should model this behavior to provide an example to others. She cited examples of leaders in Health Affairs who have refused to have their temperature taken, a refusal that leaves staff caught in the middle regarding enforcement. She said that leadership must understand the power they hold in providing an example to faculty, staff, and students. Jeter said that similar decision points will occur in Student Affairs. He noted the importance of everyone understanding the importance of observing community standards.
Tiffany Carver raised the question of reception staff employees dealing with the public who might not observe mask or physical distancing standards. She was personally affected by this situation. Rose Thorp said that signage would be needed. Kemp said that his office has studied the need for signage depending on the number of visitors expected per day. He said that the University must measure the need for signs in different office situations.
Katie Musgrove said that departments will try to plan for contingencies but will need a timeline for establishment of procedures. Kemp said that campus policies must get approval at the Chancellor’s level before recommendations can be implemented. He noted the possibility that University-wide policies might overrule local plans.
The Chair asked if there were any other thoughts regarding face coverings. Greg Smith was uncertain about the level of general enthusiasm for disposable masks that are required to be reused. Katie Musgrove thought that it would be troubling to be required to reuse a disposable mask particularly if the University will not allow use a personal mask.
Tiffany Carver said that her personal mask may offer more protection than a University-provided mask. She thought that if a mask provides more protection, an employee should have the option to use it.
Laura Pratt asked about University decisions regarding smaller campus events, aside from big occurrences like Athletics contests and Arts concerts. Kemp said that any event with an aggregation of people will still be subject to University policies.
The Chair invited Kemp, Brennan, and Jeter to speak at a future Forum meeting. Given the lack of time remaining, she asked to table the remaining topics until the next meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:33 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary