The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Behind the Scenes: How Your HR Peers Are Managing the COVID-19 Crisis

Across the country, institutions are adapting to COVID-19 by exploring and implementing solutions for business continuity, as well as care of faculty, students and staff.

CUPA-HR recently asked members to share what they’re doing in response to the outbreak, what workforce conversations and actions are taking place on campus, what campus communications plans have been shared with employees, and what HR policies or procedures are being created (or modified) to accommodate absences and remote work arrangements.

You can read the specifics and check out links in CUPA-HR’s online community, but here’s an overview of ways your HR peers are tackling issues created by the crisis on their campuses:

  • Creating task forces and teams dedicated to disseminating guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization on travel bans, quarantines, isolation and options for study abroad and international programs. These groups are also updating campus communications and business continuity plans, considering remote work and pay, and creating new policies for health-related closures.
  • Holding town hall meetings that are being telecast and recorded so that institutions can use them as a reference point if similar issues arise in the future.
  • Developing faculty, staff and student FAQs to answer the growing list of questions and concerns of those who teach, work and study at the institution.
  • Executing pandemic plans formed out of existing emergency management plans.
  • Considering contingencies for staff required to be on campus to support essential operations, as well as those working from home and those who don’t fit either of these categories.
  • Gathering input from major administrative areas to better inform decisions by identifying specific areas of concern, potential impacts, decisions points, necessary tasks, key communications needs and interdependencies among departments.
  • Staying in touch with external systems providers and vendors to ensure business continuity on their part.
  • Tackling the move to online learning for all students.
  • Separating fact from fiction by educating the community with accurate information.

Many institutions have shared in the General Discussion Group links to their websites and resources on several topics of interest during this time, such as:

  • Handling pay
  • Student employees
  • Telecommuting
  • Training and online teaching
  • And travel guidelines for faculty, staff and students

Continue the Conversation

In this time of uncertainty, sharing what’s worked for you and tapping into the knowledge and experience of others in the profession is imperative. We encourage our members to post in the General Discussion Group ways you’re responding to the outbreak to help equip our higher ed institutions with knowledge and resources to tackle these challenges.

Related resources:

CUPA-HR Connect – General Discussion on COVID-19 (CUPA-HR members-only resource)

Coronavirus COVID-19 Resources

Crisis Management Toolkit (2019 Novel Coronavirus) (CUPA-HR members-only resource)

Telecommuting Toolkit (CUPA-HR members-only resource)

House Hearing to Examine Mandatory Paid Sick Leave in Light of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concerns (The Higher Ed Workplace Blog)

What Should HR Professionals Know About the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak? (The Higher Ed Workplace Blog)


The CUPA-HR office will be closed Fridays through August 20.