TO:   Members of the North Central Michigan College Community

FROM:   Dr. David Roland Finley, President, North Central Michigan College

Earlier this week, the Governor’s Office issued three Executive Orders aimed at both providing flexibility for schools, colleges, and universities to use spaces not previously identified as classrooms for instruction and limiting the spread of COVID-19 infection.  These were EO 2020-159160, and 161, respectively.  In addition, the MI Safe Start Plan remains in play, and the MI Safe Schools Roadmap also exists as guidance for operations.  Northern Michigan (Region 6) is currently designated as a Phase 5 region when reviewing these documents.

All of this information has led to many questions.  The two most pressing matters relate to item 1 in EO 2020-160 Remote Work and items 7 and 8 Rules on gatherings, events, and large venues, specifically the applicability of these rules in Regions 6 and 8.

The Governor’s Office (Policy Advisor, Education & Workforce) responded to inquiry earlier today with the following clarification.

  1. It is the employer’s discretion to determine what work can be performed remotely and what work can’t be performed remotely.
  2. New student orientation sessions of ~25 to 50 students remain allowable under item 8.(c)(2) in Northern Michigan, and the limit of 10 people for an indoor gathering does not apply.  It was specifically noted that items 7 and 8 pertain only to social gatherings.

Nevertheless, it is also important to do all that we reasonably can to comply with the spirit of these latest Executive Orders.  By copy of this communication, I ask the Vice Presidents to work with Directors & Supervisors to implement scheduling plans for staff to optimize social distancing in the coming weeks wherever possible, and as soon as Monday, August 3.  For instance, two employees in a given office area may choose to work alternating days remotely, if tasks can be completed effectively.

As we move toward the start of Fall 2020 semester classes on September 8, activity on campus will be ramping up.  Student Services has begun to see this already in July, and this will only increase in August.  Increased activity in other areas/functions around campus will increase shortly thereafter (if not already happening).  We must also remember that not all students have ready access to the internet, many processes on campus remain paper-based, and our IT infrastructure is not currently robust enough to support all job functions being accomplished remotely.  As such, it is important that each office across campus be staffed in-person, so as to support visitors with appointments through August 7, appointments and walk-ins beginning August 10, and general semester-start activities thereafter.

Be smart, be safe, and stay healthy in the coming days.  By pulling together, we can create the best working environment possible under these challenging circumstances.

As always, I thank you for your good work on behalf of the learners at North Central.