President Khator

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Since my last communication regarding the university’s response to COVID-19, President Trump as well as state and local officials have announced additional efforts to slow its spread, or “flatten the curve."

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal, state and local health officials, my leadership team has been working to adjust operations with regard to the health, wellbeing and safety of our UH community.   I encourage you to consult our website regularly.

The University of Houston is open for operation and services. No classes are being held this week and all of the instruction and most of the operations will be conducted remotely from March 23 until at least April 4.   To comply with guidelines issued by the City of Houston, all retail and dining establishments on campus will convert to takeout orders only, effective immediately. Social distancing procedures are being introduced in residence halls, libraries, workspaces and student spaces.  A decision with regard to commencement will be made next week.

The purpose of this communication is to put things in perspective and offer you additional guidelines as it comes to your day-to-day decision-making.

In the coming weeks, our goals are:

  1. To continue our educational mission by offering instruction and support services to students.
  2. To keep university functions and services operational.
  3. To attend to resident students still living in university housing.
  4. To attend to the needs of those students most in need, whether financial, academic, mental, physical or otherwise.
  5. To keep the research labs operational and productive.
  6. To keep all facilities fully sanitized and clean by following the protocols of the CDC.

To this effect here are some important things you should know:

  1. Faculty and staff may work from home to the extent they are able to perform job functions remotely and with appropriate approval from their supervisors. More clarity will be forthcoming from Human Resources to answer questions that you might have.
  2. The University is open for those who need to physically come in and for those who are asked to come in due to the nature of their work. Please continue to take the preventive actions as recommended by the CDC.
  3. With guidance from the CDC and local officials, we discourage events with groups of 10+.
  4. We are committed to protecting your salary and benefits irrespective of your job category to the fullest extent possible based on state requirements.  We want you to take care of yourself and your family and to do your part in the controlling the outbreak.  We also want to find ways for you to balance your personal and professional lives.
  5. Many people may have questions about COVID-19 or begin to experience a variety of heightened emotions during this period of uncertainty.  Please know that UH has resources available that can provide support for you including the following:
    • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers a dynamic array of services intended to meet your needs where you are.  The phone number is 713.743.5454.
    • Current United Healthcare – Service Resources member and non-member students can connect with a physician via phone and/or video chat using Telehealth.
    • Employees can visit the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to find self-help tools and learn more about the resources available.  Employees can also call to schedule a free, confidential appointment with one of their many skilled professionals
  6. We have reestablished our Cougars Care SharePoint sites for faculty and staff to help one another with resources or support during these next few weeks.  You can locate this service on AccessUH.  

My team and I are committed to the fair treatment of all involved and are seeking flexibility and guidance from the state. We are also in constant touch with other university systems and conferring about best practices.

This is uncharted territory, and these goals cannot be accomplished without your help, dedication and creativity. I know you care about your work, our common mission, and most of all our students. In the city of Houston and in the Cougar Nation, we rise to the occasion when called upon.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment. Follow health protocols and stay healthy.

With warm regards,
Renu Khator

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