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IVCCD Board approves leave policy exception in response to COVID-19

The Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) Board of Directors met in special session this week to approve an exception to its vacation/sick leave policy. The District will now allow employees to accrue negative balances of sick leave (up to 80 hours) in response to anticipated absences due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Board was also informed about a new telework guideline that will enable several employees to work from home during the pandemic.

Details about the new employee guidelines are posted on the District’s website at https://www.iavalley.edu/covid-19-employee-information/.

“We’ve spent an extreme amount of time working through policies and guidance to employees for how they should use leave, and today we worked on a telework policy,” Dr. Kristie Fisher, IVCCD Chancellor, told the Board. “We do have employees who will be able to choose to stay home and work due to their own health concerns. What you’ll see in the Employee Guidance is a system that allows an employee to go up to 80 hours in the hole on sick leave, which they can recoup through July 15. Current practice is to allow employees to take only current available leave. We have a plan on how to track this and then, after July 15, have people “pay back” the leave taken with leave they’ve accrued.”

Dr. Fisher said the negative leave balance would only be granted to employees who run out of vacation and sick leave hours and who either choose not to report to work while the COVID-19 crisis plays out or who do not qualify for telework.

Dr. Fisher told the Board that employees have been working diligently to make decisions and share communications to ensure that learning continues to happen. Every all-student email and all-employee email is being posted on the website referenced above, as are all news releases. “These are all open records anyway, so we’ve done this with the goal of being completely transparent and keeping everyone informed,” said Dr. Fisher. “The number of our people who have done extraordinary work thus far is too great to allow me to name names or share individual kudos. Our faculty and academic leadership collaborations are enabling us to move all face-to-face classes to a virtual setting starting March 23. Not all faculty teach online, so faculty have been teaching and practicing with one another to prepare for next week, and we appreciate their leadership on that. Our science and health occupations faculty have come up with high quality virtual learning solutions that will enable students to get the required hands-on experiences they need to be successful. These are high quality solutions that come with a cost, but we’ve found ways to pay for the resources we need.”

Dr. Fisher added that there will never be a more important year to turn out trained healthcare professionals than this one.

“As far as Continuing Education, all classes and events have been cancelled through mid-April,” Fisher said.

After reporting on the status of building access, housing/food service and cleaning, Dr. Fisher said there’s still lots to be done in the coming days. “Since March 13 we’ve had a COVID-19 Response Team that talks daily and is addressing all of our most immediate concerns related to classwork, events, cleaning, housing/food service, student policies, employee policies and more. That group will continue to meet until it’s no longer necessary. We are also holding daily Zoom meetings for all employees to make sure that everyone gets daily news updates and has an opportunity to ask questions and hear answers.”

Dr. Fisher assured the Board that the District is working to balance the needs of students, employees, public health and learning with the District’s limited resources. She added that issues like graduation ceremonies will be considered as soon as the immediate need to ensure classroom continuation has been fully met.

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