04/01/2020 COVID-19 Staff Forum | Questions

4/1/2020 COVID-19 Staff Forum
April 1, 2020


  1. What do we know about the current confirmed cased of COVID in Tompkins County? Where are the positive cases located? How many of the current confirmed cases are part of the Cornell Community (students, faculty, staff)?

  2. Not a question, but I want to say that I've heard nothing but good things about the reception of the new Community Food Pantry that Cornell launched at GIAC yesterday. Kudos to everyone involved in putting that together.

  3. The Provost's e-mail on Monday indicated that salary increases related to faculty promotions are excluded from the freeze. Can you elaborate on why staff are no longer eligible for promotions, but faculty continue to be eligible?

  4. There is increasing evidence that wearing face masks is an appropriate action to help reduce coronavirus spread. Is this something that the Cornell Health people encourage? And if so, will "essential" staff be so equipped?

  5. Please remind people that the Botanic Gardens and the Arboretum are available to all as an outdoor respite.

  6. As it pertains to COVID-19 pay, is there any discussion about time and a half or double time for essential employees who are on campus almost daily? As I understand, there are some non-essential workers who cannot work from home are being paid and not risking Covid-19 exposure. Is this true?

  7. Will be get reimbursed for our parking fees that are taken out of our paychecks?

  8. Are you projecting this health situation to last into the summer?

  9. Does the projected shortfall include the offset from that $20M savings of the salary increase?

  10. Anne - are you optimistic that we'll be able to flatten the curve here in Tompkins County and avoid overwhelming the hospitals like we've been seeing in places with more dense populations?

  11. Is the leadership considering an early retirement program?

  12. I have read that the virus can live in the air for several hours, i.e. if an infected person was at the store an hour ago and then you go and walk through the same aisle, can you be infected that way?

  13. Is all staff and temporary worker recruitment frozen? The Cornell Jobs website still has many posts up on it that seem live and current.

  14. Can individual units ask their staff to begin working from the office before the entire campus is cleared to return? And in doing so, ask them to use sick/personal time if they choose not to return?

  15. Are the custodial jobs secure at this time or will there be layoffs?

  16. What are all of you doing on your own to help cope with working from home 100% of the time? Do you find yourselves missing the office environment?

  17. I understand there's a discretionary spending freeze. I have a user who needs a laptop to do online teaching which he will pay for through his R&T account? Would I have to put it through the provost for approval?

  18. If summer camps are cancelled, what is the plan for dependent care savings accounts? Will the university grant a grace period, return the funds or another alternative?

  19. Have we heard anything further about our parking fees that are currently deducted from our paychecks?

  20. I carry the insurance for all 5 of my family members, so I am wondering what would happen to that in the event of a short term lay off?

  21. Questions for one of the health care professionals: What are mask "best practices" in terms of post-mask usage? Can you bring filtered-out virus into your home or vehicle after using a mask in public? How should one store a mask prior to re-use? Can masks be sterilized between uses?

  22. What are you all doing to make sure that you are taking care of yourselves during this very stressful time?

  23. Could the hiring freeze continue through July for the replacement of a previously filled position? For example, if a staff member was planning to retire, could their position be filled prior to the beginning of the next academic year?

  24. Do we have a certain period of time to use the additional HAP days we were given?

  25. If student enrollment is likely to decline, then why not reduce financial aid, rather than increasing it another $30M?

  26. As the university revs back up, is there going to be potential for back pay for employees, since job responsibilities may have dramatically increased/significantly changed to accommodate online curriculum?

  27. God willing, my family and loved ones will stay healthy and I will not use the 10 days added to my time-off bank. Have you considered a voluntary give back of the COVID days to help budget shortfalls?

  28. All of our funds are from grants, which will expire within the next two years. How do we reconcile reduced spending with funds that will be lost if not spent?

  29. Does the salary freeze apply to faculty as well?

  30. Can you shed a light on the reasoning behind faculty promotion-related raises not being part of the salary freeze, when staff promotion-related raises are frozen? I assume it's due to legal requirements to honor contracts, but the wording from the email was unclear and clarity would be appreciated.

  31. What is the likelihood that we are going to see Staff cuts and lost jobs due to this?

  32. Do you know yet when the decision is planned whether we should assume SIP increase for PhD students?

  33. Will LTIP rates change for FY21? OR will there be a university-wide reduction in FY21 budgets?

  34. When will we know what the endowment payout will be for FY 21?

  35. Do you have any sense when help from the Federal Government may become available to the University? Do you think it will make an impact?

  36. I think you can save a lot of money not only on food but alcohol that is a major expense I have seen at the University also.

  37. The University has a sizeable endowment, and this is an international emergency - can't the shortfall be covered by dipping into the endowment, considering the unprecedented nature of the situation?

  38. Is there conversation of changing this? You say “at this time”, which leads me to believe at some point this could change.

  39. How much in savings have been realized over the past 3 weeks in the reduction of utilities demand and steam load shed? Is there any thinking around moving to a 4-day work week in the Fall to retain a portion of this cost saving?

  40. Has there been any discussion about offering a severance package to older employees?

  41. Anticipating a much longer time period of working remotely from home, are we allowed to return to campus to our offices to pick up additional materials/files/etc. that we may need?

  42. Being in a state college, is there any way to try and pressure the state, in their negotiations, to hold down any increases in the healthcare plans? This would help offset the plan of no salary increases.

  43. Regarding budget - specifically event expenses - will schools be required to reduce or pare back the spend on major events like Orientation, First Year Family Weekend, etc.? Some of those events could produce a significant cost savings.

  44. Any updates on Commencement?

  45. I missed the name of the person we ask about accessing our mail. Was it Richard Brady?

  46. Hooray for energy reductions and mitigation of climate impacts. Thank you!

  47. Mail and packages for students and staff who live and work on our North Campus Residence Halls are going to the North Campus Service Center at Robert Purcell Service Center. Mail and packages for students and staff who live and work in our South Campus Residence Halls are going to the Cascadilla Service Center in Cascadilla Hall. Students who need to forward their mail should log into the Housing Portal to update their forwarding address. All student mail questions can be sent to Student Mail services at scl-student-srv@cornell.edu. Any other further questions, please direct to Student Mail Services. Thank you!

  48. Thanks for all you have done, and are doing so far. 2 questions: 1) When everyone does return, will it be staggered to allow a slow start so that it is more organized, and staff isn't overwhelmed? 2) Is there talk about allowing early retirement options?

  49. Does Cornell need additional assistance from the staff for any tasks that go beyond distancing, sewing masks? How do we donate (money, time, and blood via Red Cross)? How can we assist the community?

  50. Joanne said that she hopes we will resume operations in early July. Does that mean we will be working remotely until then?

  51. Could you kindly share the priority list of recouping revenue? What avenues are top priority? Where do staff roles fall into this metric?

  52. How much leeway is there for north campus to be finished before missing the incoming class in the year it was targeted for opening?

  53. How much notice might employees have to changes to their employment status?

  54. Earlier this week, I emailed a request to cancel my parking permit to Transportation Services. In the reply email, I was told that there would be at least one more payroll deduction, the current permit has to be mailed in, and that I would not receive a new parking permit or renewal opportunity in June. Why can't this be processed immediately (through email) so we don't have to jump through hoops and mail the permit, and why would I not have the option for renewal?

  55. Could you repeat the page where you can find any COVID-related announcements, info, etc.?

  56. Will this recording be available to view later?

  57. In light of these developments, is there any discussion to push back performance evaluations so promotions and pay increases could happen more immediately when we get back to normal? Or will these promotions and pay raises need to wait until 2021?

  58. I would like to commend the President, VP's, Deans, etc. who are voluntarily taking a pay cut in order to hopefully alleviate some of the strains this may cause on our budget and perhaps prevent some layoffs. I'm not sure how big of an impact that is making in the big picture financially, but have to say it's great to see that our leadership at the top has done this immediately and is willing to give up some of their salaries to hopefully help the 'little people' in the long run.

  59. This feels a lot like, if not worse than, the recession of 2008. Is there talk of an early retirement incentive as there was in early 2009?

  60. President Trump extended social distancing to April 30th. When will employees be expected to return to office to work?

  61. LOW PRIORITY - how did you get closed captioning working? Is someone typing them?

  62. Apologies if this was already asked as I signed on late, is there discussion about transportation refunding us for the time we are not able to work on campus due to the work remotely mandate?

  63. Could Anne report those hours again/on surfaces?

  64. Did I correctly hear you say that Summer operations are cancelled? Does that imply that we will be operating remotely into May? June?

  65. If it rained, would it melt away the Corona virus?

  66. Could you please share the link to the recent study for hours the virus remains viable on different surfaces?

  67. Specifically regarding outdoor exercise/recreation, the Governor has made an exception for NYS golf courses to all them to open while observing CDC recommendation. My question is will Cornell open up its golf course and outdoor tennis courts?

  68. I have read that the virus can live in the air for several hours, i.e. if an infected person was at the store an hour ago and then you go and walk through the same aisle, can you be infected that way?

  69. Can you post the link to the information Anne Jones referred to that talks about protocols for purchasing groceries, returning to the home, etc.?

  70. Language is so important. It's really unfortunate that "social distancing" is the chosen phrase. This implies that we will be socially disconnected when we need social connection more than ever. A more reflective phrase would be "physical distancing". We do need to maintain the 2-meter separation to avoid possible infection. But keeping human interactions (online, from an appropriate distance, etc.) are crucial to our health, especially now.

  71. Employees were awarded 10 days for HAP. Employees that were at their max HAP did not receive this benefit. What was the reasoning for this?

  72. I am a lab manager and am curious what is the energy cost of closed fume hoods vs. hibernation?

  73. I'm a full-time staff - once I have used all my vacation and HAP hours, do I have the option of applying for unemployment? Thanks.

  74. How many students/employees are positive with COVID-19 right now and are they isolated and where if on campus? Will CU offer unemployment benefits if this goes on say into next fall?

  75. Has Cornell moved resources to research this virus?

  76. There are some open buildings where students are still going to study and work. Should these buildings be closed to these types of activities? This exposes our essential staff (CUPD, facilities) to increased risk.

  77. Do the restrictions on on-campus activities also include Cornell sponsored activities/ conferences that occur outside of Ithaca?

  78. Are current jobs posted on Workday still moving forward or are they also being frozen?

  79. Does anyone know the count for Tompkins County as far as: How many has been tested? How many tested positive? How many of these of the Cornell community? How many tests out and awaiting confirmation?

  80. Do you anticipate an early retirement buyout?

  81. It was helpful to know some of the thinking around summer planning, given the recent mention of July 12 as the earliest on campus classes. I know we don't know specifics of fall, but can you share thoughts of what is being discussed for potential fall implications?

  82. I joined the meeting at 12:20, so please disregard if I can find the answer in the recorded version. Can you elaborate on definition of outside consultants in the context of the discretionary spending freeze? If we work with a third-party vendor to create the content essential to our team's mission, does the freeze mean we are unable to work with them until further notice?

  83. Question for Dr. Jones: Could you please talk about how the virus is mutating? Is it getting more or less harmful? Is the strain of Coronavirus identified in Tompkins County the same as that in NYC?

  84. What about overtime - is that being looked at as something that should be kept to a minimum?

  85. Since we are all working from home, our home energy costs will go up. How is the university addressing that, seeing as not everyone can qualify for a home office deduction?

  86. If we don't have enough "work" to keep us busy for 7.8 hours a day, 5 days a week, do we have to use HAP or VAC time? Or can we use the COVID-19 code to be paid fully. Because of the department we work in and programs being cancelled.

  87. Given that we are "all in this together", it seems that faculty wages/raises should be considered in helping to address the University debt. This is an unprecedented time and a time to do things differently than maintaining the status quo.

  88. Does the suspension of discretionary spending apply to the future graduation celebrations for the class of 2020? That is, are departments still able to provide receptions (food costs, small award costs) to celebrate these students and their families?

  89. Will monies left in our 2019-2020 budget be taken back by the university?

  90. Given no raises, will Cornell cover the increases in health insurance premiums during the next year? The blanket decision to deny raises hurts the people who can least afford it most.

  91. Thought that getting outside is important and the Botanic Gardens has been highlighted as a way to do so. With increased traffic at the gardens/around campus, how are we addressing visitor safety (e.g. social distancing)?

  92. Follow up to the faculty promotion/raise question - could faculty voluntarily give up a raise for the time being to help out with costs while still obtaining appropriate promotions? Is that something that could be asked of faculty considering the issue?

  93. How do you project the loss of revenue when it comes to international students that won't be able to attend/travel to Cornell?

  94. Are there any plans to do a webinar regarding retirement investment changes?

  95. Now that provost or the executive vice president approval for discretionary spending is required, to ensure consistence, what is the preferred submission method to obtain approval? Is there a dollar threshold for those purchases requiring approval?

  96. This is for Anne Jones. Should we be wearing masks and gloves as healthy individuals when we leave the home?

  97. I believe Ms. DeStefano mentioned a 20 million revenue saving by staff losing SIP. Given the staff-to-faculty ratio in my department along as ~1:5 and then multiply that across the campus, it seems like simple math to also exclude faculty from SIP. Imagine the staff that could be saved (in the event layoffs are eminent) if faculty were to follow suit like some CEO's in this country.

  98. The best solution is everyone wearing masks, not just social distancing. Other countries already know this and eventually this truth will be accepted in the United States, and at Cornell. My question: I believe that a COVID-19 outbreak is likely if students return to campus in August. What does Cornell leadership expect to do if that occurs: send everyone home again? Thank you.

  99. Is the university considering a 5-10% or some % pay cut for all employees as an alternative to laying off employees?

  100. As we identify departmental funds that will no longer be used for FY20 (e.g. student recognition events), what's the best way to let the university know how much money we can roll back into the larger university budget?

  101. It was noticed that LVTs had been underpaid in many areas depending on when hired and that program to rectify that has been suspended. These technicians are some of the ones still going to work on campus on a modified basis. Is there any short term plan or consideration to rectify the pay deficit for those affected by that compression?

  102. Will the ban on staff travel for university purposes be lifted eventually in Spring of 2021?

  103. Question for Dr. Jones - I think what I heard you say earlier while defining social distancing is that it requires maintaining a 6' distance from others at all times no matter where we are. This surprises me when I consider that with respect to being within my own home. Did I misunderstand? (I don't think my children would allow that!)

  104. Some of the responses are "non-answers." For instance, the question about financial aid was not about Cornell's policy. But, IF enrollment will go DOWN, why would financial aid go UP?

  105. With the spending advisements, what are the implications and advice to prepare for fall virtual planning and programming?

  106. There are concerns and stress happening around our ability to be productive while dealing with the reality of our current situation. What would you say to folks who are struggling to balance deadlines and mental health?

  107. Also, for Anne Jones. I have been invited to "hang out" in friend's driveways or eat lunch with others outside where we will stay 6 feet apart - about 6-8 people. This feels dangerous but many feel confused about it. What are your feelings about this?

  108. Is the leadership considering an early retirement program?

  109. As of this morning, the Arboretum was still closed. A reminder to everyone to park in a legal space. Blocking the entrance or parking along the road is not allowed and to think about life safety response when parking on or off campus.

  110. With some corporate leadership taking salary cuts, is there any talk of University administrators following that lead?

  111. Are all staff and temporary worker recruitments frozen? There are still many jobs up on the Cornell U website that look live.

  112. Is there any way we can support the Weill Cornell Medical community?

  113. Is there any update to the time frame of when we will be allowed to come back to our offices?

  114. Are gigs still available for current employees during the hiring freeze?

  115. Which jobs will still be continued to be recruited for - you mentioned 80% are not? (for Mary Opperman)

  116. Are the Provost's searches for college deans continuing?

  117. What clear indicators need to occur or that we are waiting for, that would demonstrate that it is safe for us to return to work on campus or that it's safe for students to return in the Fall?

  118. You need us to help or volunteer with anything? Please let us know. Thanks.

  119. If any staff member voluntarily gives up some salary to help the university, is this considered a donation, and therefore tax deductible? If so, that would be an incentive for others to help in that way.

  120. Will hardware and internet costs incurred by those of us who work remotely be reimbursed by Cornell as there will be incremental costs we incur personally at our household?

  121. Are layoffs expected?

  122. The president suggest that social distancing continue until the end of April. The NYS Governor said April 15th. Will Cornell continue to follow NYS, or will we be shifting to any national plan as it arises?

  123. What about hiring for grant-funded positions?

  124. Can Anne repeat the amount of time the virus can live on certain surfaces?

  125. Has the university heard about cuts in funding from NYS?

  126. Are there conversation with peer institutions to try to understand how they deal with these same issues?

  127. Is this going to impact international student visas?

  128. It was announced that once safe travel can resume, only essential travel will be permitted, including travel necessary to conduct "essential university business." What would be considered "essential university business"?

  129. Will eCornell online facilitators be offered FT jobs as they are now PT?

  130. Is the leadership considering an early retirement program?

  131. As we move typical in-person events to virtual or cancel them (like graduation recognition events), how do we respond to students who say that this is an example of why they should have a tuition refund since they are not getting the full experience?

  132. Is there any way we can support our Weill Cornell colleagues?

  133. Along with the recordings, could the Q&A also be posted?