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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

June 23, 2020: Employee Return to Campus Update

June 23, 2020

Dear Staff and Faculty,

SUNY Potsdam is required to adhere to the New York State Reopening Office-Based Guidelines for Employers and Employees. Employers are following these mandatory guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and create the safest working environment possible. A workgroup was charged by President Esterberg to ensure our campus fully complies with these guidelines.

This email provides an update based on the current information. We will continue to communicate with the campus as we receive updates.

Telecommuting Pilot Program
As you may be aware, the telecommuting pilot program was extended through October 2, 2020. SUNY Potsdam has chosen to approve telecommuting plans through July 30, to the greatest extent possible. As explained below, after that date, we are planning on beginning to bring employees back to campus in phases. As stated in our previous announcement, you must have approval from your supervisor to extend a telecommuting arrangement, along with an approved application on file with Human Resources. 

Safe Return to Campus
President’s Council members are currently reviewing staffing deemed non-essential to determine priority groups to return to campus. We will return employees in three phases, and will communicate to you in mid-July what priority group you are in. When employees return to campus, they will be required, per New York State, to complete a daily health screening prior to the start of their workday, complete a mandatory training, wear a face covering, and take additional actions to ensure everyone’s safety. Employees will be sent another email prior to their arrival to campus on the requirements. 

Access to Campus
As a reminder, at this time, you should not be coming to campus unless you are identified as an essential employee and have approval from your supervisor. Anyone who needs access to campus facilities, including their offices, should contact Casey Nelson at   

July Holiday
Employees entitled to observe holidays and for whom Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a regular day off will be credited with one day in lieu of the holiday. Classified Service employees who are required to work on Saturday, July 4, may be eligible for holiday pay or granted holiday compensatory time off pursuant to annual election.

The College has determined that only those services deemed essential will be maintained on state designated holidays. Please note, essential as it relates to the observance of holidays is separate from the COVID-19 related essential definition. The essential services policy has been put into place in an effort to help facilitate the observance of holidays that have been negotiated in the contract as well as to minimize the costs associated with working on holidays. The following definition can be helpful in further understanding essential services:

Essential services are services that relate directly to the health, safety and welfare of our campus. Some services may be deemed more essential when the College is in session than when it is not. When the College is not in session, essential services personnel typically include, but are not limited to, the Heating Plant staff, University Police, snow removal personnel, and possibly a small number of Physical Plant staff for operational emergencies. When the College is not in session, but students are residing in the dorms, certain Student Life areas may also be deemed essential such as Residence Life and Student Health. The Library may be considered essential at this time. When the College is in session, essential services personnel typically include the same people listed above as well as Physical Plant staff to lock and unlock buildings. Given the complexities of the College’s integrated and computerized administrative systems and their relationship to the State of New York’s administrative systems, administrative offices are typically not considered to be essential services on State holidays. 

NYS EAP Program
SUNY Potsdam is pleased to host the NYS EAP Program, “Solutions for Managing Stress During a Crisis.”  During this seminar, the presenter provides a realist view of unhealthy habits people rely on to manage stress and provides position solutions that can reduce stress.  This is a live 30-minute webinar that will be held on June 30, 2020 at 10 a.m. For those interested in joining please email Sheila Scott at no later than Friday, June 26, 2020.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in providing a safe working environment for the campus community. 

Melissa Proulx
Director of Human Resources 
(315) 267-2086