Hello to all my fellow UW staff,

We find ourselves at the beginning of a new term at UW - one like we've never had before - completely online for our students.  Classes start this Monday, May 11.  While many universities have a very slow spring/summer term, Waterloo remains very busy.  I believe this will serve us well as preparation for the Fall term.  

As we saw from the President's announcement, the University is preparing for any potential shortfall in revenue by holding back 15% of operating budgets.  This will require all of us to look for ways to save costs.  We were very pleased to see that the aim is to maintain regular, ongoing employee positions that are currently filled.  We have reached out to the President and the Provost to offer our input and assistance in any way we can.  We continue with regular meetings of the Staff Relations Committee (SRC) and the Provost's Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation (PACSC) to raise any issues or concerns for staff.

One issue we continue to get questions about is that of support and accommodations for staff who are working full time while also caring for their families.  This is a challenging issue for sure.  For now, our best advice is to work with your supervisors to see how best to accommodate the demands of family life while working at home.

We know that many of you are struggling with issues of taking vacation time.  We were therefore pleased to see the announcement that HR will automatically carry forward any additional days over 10 until August 31, 2020 to allow you more time to plan to take vacation.  This is a welcome accommodation for this current situation.

We were pleased to see that Health Services is now offering to provide Covid-19 support to essential service employees who do not have a primary health care provider.  This is great support for employees who are needing to work on campus, at this time.

As you may be aware, this is the time of year we send out requests for proposals for our Staff Excellence Fund (SEF) and our Staff Enhancement Grant (SEG).  We are going to go forward with those calls with the understanding that proposals will need to be carried out within the safe parameters identified due to COVID-19.  For more information, check out our pages for the Staff Enhancment Grant (up to $500 for an individual) and the Staff Excellence Fund (for larger initiatives for many staff).  Look for those announcements in your email soon.

The UWSA Board continues to meet regularly and carrying on the business of the organization.  Several of us recently attended two web sessions entitiled "Governing in Uncertain Times" and "Designing Virtual Meetings" - both aimed at non-profit boards, such as ours.  We have even created a protocol for how we handle our board meetings using Teams.  If you're curious, you can check out our Board meeting protocols using Teams (PDF) document.

The internet is certainly filled these days with videos of people coping with "life in quarantine", late night hosts are filming from their home, musicians are holding concerts on Instagram and Facebook. One particularly good Youtube show I'd like to recommend if you haven't seen it already - SGN ("Some Good News") hosted by John Krasinski, formerly of "The Office".  The stories and his presentation are brilliant! (Warning - you may need tissues at times.)

We'd like to thank the Daily Bulletin for featuring a link to our blog posts in the section "Where and When to get support".  While you're on the Daily Bulletin, be sure to enjoy the ongoing feature "Good Buddies of the University".

Happy Friday and welcome to the Spring Term!  And Happy Mother’s Day, especially to those Moms with young children to care for while working from home and to Grandmothers who are not able to hug their grandkids just yet.

Your UWSA team,  

Lawrence Folland, President, Cell: 226-218-1822, lfolland@uwaterloo.ca 
Gail Spencer, Executive Manager, gspencer@uwaterloo.ca 
Cathy Bolger, Communications and Administrative Coordinator, lbolger@uwaterloo.ca
General mailbox, uwsa@uwaterloo.ca

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