Stay Home Work Safe
Tuesday, March 24
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents,
Thank you to all of you who are diligently working to adjust to our changing environment created by the coronavirus pandemic. As the situation and conditions change, we want to continue to keep you informed as we prioritize the health and safety of our campus community, the ongoing continuity of our academic mission and the continuity of business operations.
Earlier today, County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order for Harris County, which includes the City of Houston. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. March 24 (Tuesday night) and will stay in effect until at least April 3. Fort Bend and Galveston Counties have issued a similar order, effective for the same period. Other neighboring counties are considering similar actions.
The order states that all individuals currently living within the City of Houston or Harris County, Texas, are ordered to stay at their place of residence to prevent and slow down community spread of COVID-19. All persons may leave their residences only for essential activities, essential government functions or to operate essential businesses and must continue to practice social distancing (at least six feet from others) when they are outside their residence.
Here are some important things you need to know about how these actions affect the University:
- Reducing the population density on our campus must be a priority. We have already shifted a substantial number of faculty and staff to telecommuting status. All University offices will close to the general public at 6 p.m. today and all building entrances, except for the Learning Commons in the Moody Library, will revert to key access. We ask that you contact your supervisor to discuss any required on-campus staffing for your office.
- Even in a telecommute environment with few on-campus personnel, it is important that we continue to provide limited, yet essential, on-campus services in support of students, faculty and staff. In addition, we must remain focused on the vital support of our online course instruction through the end of the spring semester.
- We understand some employees may have to return to campus periodically to complete essential parts of their work or to support business continuity. Employees maintaining essential business operations who do not feel comfortable coming to campus for any reason should consult with their supervisor. Remember that whether you are home telecommuting or on campus, please continue recommended personal safety practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing practices, and follow the instructions of federal, state and local officials. If you are sick, please stay home and follow CDC guidance for what to do next.
- Critical aspects of our business operations considered essential under the Harris County “Stay Home, Work Safe” order will continue. These include health services, food services, emergency responders, public safety, mail services, residence halls, janitorial and maintenance services, technology support, and financial services. Again, please contact your supervisor for information regarding any required on-campus staffing.
- Our residence halls will stay open for the limited number of students who received permission to remain. Baugh Dining Hall will remain open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food is available on a to-go basis or limited seating for a limited number following social distancing requirements.
- The limited number of approved students living in residence halls must comply with the Stay Home, Work Safe order. The order allows students to leave their residence only for essential activities, such as going to the grocery store or picking up meals to go from restaurants or in the dining hall following the guidelines listed above, visiting a healthcare professional and engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, running or riding a bicycle, with proper social distancing.
- The Counseling Center will continue to serve students via technology connections through the remainder of the semester. Also, pastoral care is available through technology. Additional details will be distributed through the weekly Student Newsletter and Campus Connections.
- Beginning on Wednesday, the bookstore will be closed to walk-in traffic. Book orders to support classroom training will still be processed through the website.
- The Learning Commons will remain open to students who need access to technology for completing coursework with the expectation that social distancing guidelines be followed. Moody Library, however, will be closed to walk-in traffic.
We recognize that this situation changes each day, and we appreciate your understanding and adherence to these important directions. We ask that the campus community prepare for continued disruption and telecommuting procedures at least through April 3. We will continue to share information and updates by email and on our dedicated website at HC.edu/coronavirus.
An Encouraging Word
The Christians in Philippi were suffering because of their faith in Christ. Paul’s letter to them is his encouragement to persevere even in difficult times.
We need perspective. The things we are suffering today will not have the final word. God’s triumph through Jesus and, in the end, the final defeat of death and the lifting of the curse upon the creation will happen. Therefore, we should not lose heart. However, we have not yet reached that final day, so we must learn to press on in faith and to do so with discernment and perspective. And that’s what Paul prays for on behalf of the Philippians in 1:9-10. “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may distinguish the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.”
Christ is still Lord over heaven and earth, and all our days are in his hands. Trust Him.