Dear Faculty and Staff,
First, let me give you a heart-felt thank you for work. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered our “normal” world as we know it. Our reactions range from fear to serious concern to questioning the accuracy of the information we read and hear in the news. Some of us struggle with the intrusion of COVID-19 controls on our work.
We see in Sioux Falls how COVID-19 can turn a large workplace upside down and produce a ripple effect of far reaching consequences. South Dakota State University has a responsibility for preventing anything similar wherever its people are active in Brookings or elsewhere. But it’s a challenge when dealing with a virus that is easily transmissible between humans. We know individuals can be infected with the virus and expose others to it, and not even know it. The remote work and restricted travel orders we are under are designed to prevent propagation of COVID-19.
Your research, scholarship and creative activity is very important, to you, the university and to society. At the same time, SDSU is a steward of the public good; we are collectively responsible to avoid putting one another or our partners at risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19. That is why we are working remotely from our residences and limiting our travel. It’s why only narrowly scoped exceptions are made for RSCA functions that will be carried out away from our places of residence. While you may be able to control infection risks in your group, risks will be out of control if all groups continue with even the minimum work they deem as especially important. We define “essential” functions narrowly because of the high responsibility we have to each other and to our university partners.
We have many unknowns about resuming on-site and field work. I encourage you to plan for the unexpected in your RSCA programs. Carefully plan for the potential of remote work conditions persisting beyond May 15, 2020 and for the possibility of prolonged transition back with limited staffing.
But, I also encourage you to think about how you can shape the future. Are you discovering that there are new ways to do your scholarly work? Can your expertise and collaborative ability be turned to helping our society adapt to a different post-COVID-19 world? I look forward to the next several years working with you and observing the solutions you develop and contribute to society.