Weekly Newsletters

10/28/20

Dear Staff,

We hope this message finds you healthy and well.

Since the start of the semester, we have made a concerted effort to provide timely and relevant communication. We will continue to do so as we head into the second half of the year. However, now that we are settled into our new routine with well-established safety protocols and processes, the Northwestern Law Return to Campus Newsletter will be sent on an as-needed basis rather than the regular Wednesday cadence.

Important Election Week Information

As communicated in yesterday’s message, the Law School buildings will be closed beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. and will reopen Saturday, Nov. 7 8 a.m.

Time offAll benefits-eligible staff are eligible to take up to two hours of paid time off to vote. In addition, you may wish to take additional time off to work as an election judge, poll worker or perform other election-related service. Personal floating holiday or vacation time can be used for these activities. Please work with your manager if you would like to request time off on or near election day.

Election Resources: Northwestern’s NU Votes initiative centralizes voting information, resources and support for the University community. You can review NU Votes’ guidance about when, where and how to vote in Evanston, Chicago or across the nation. You can also visit NUVotes.org for additional details on voting deadlines, mailing support and ballot tracking, educational resources, upcoming election-related events and more. 

Election-related Events: In addition to events sponsored by the Law School, we encourage all staff to seek community and conversation around the election through a variety of events posted on the Planit Purple calendar. Staff can register for post-election support circles here.

Resources to support Northwestern community members: The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion’s resource page provides links to supports and resources for students, faculty and staff. 

Upcoming Staff Townhall with Interim Dean Speta

Interim Dean Speta will be hosting a townhall for all staff on Friday, Nov. 6 at 12pm. Please register here.

As you are likely aware, we are seeing a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases in the Chicagoland area. Yesterday, Governor Pritzker announced additional restrictions that go into effect Friday morning, Oct. 30. These include stopping indoor drinking and dining, imposing an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants, and further limiting group gatherings. Please continue to be vigilant in observing health and safety precautions. These include respecting social distancing guidelines as well as wearing face coverings in all public and shared environments on campus as well as when social distancing is not feasible.

Over the last nine months, our community has done a remarkable job in managing the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at us. We have witnessed admirable perseverance, flexibility, and creativity, and there is no doubt we will demonstrate the same resilience as we head into the second half of the academic year. We know the election brings added stress, and we implore you to take care of yourselves and reach out to your manager or another University resource should you feel elevated levels of stress or anxiety.

Best,

Jim Speta

Rita Winters


10/07/20

Colleagues,

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful fall weather!

As you saw in Dean Speta's email, one of the 1L class sections moved to remote teaching only because a small number of students (low single digits) tested positive for COVID-19. We have reason to believe that the Law School facility was not the source of the infection. We wish all the impacted students a speedy recovery.

This is also a good reminder for all of us to re-commit ourselves to best practices of social distancing, mask wearing, good hygiene (personal and facilities-wise).

Speaking of Health and Wellness, Northwestern will host the 2020 Virtual Health and Well-being Fairs on Tuesday, October 20 and Thursday, October 22, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. A variety of benefits information and well-being sessions will be offered ranging from 10-60 minutes, including sessions to help prepare you for Open Enrollment. Find further details and links to Live Open Enrollment Information Sessions

As mentioned in the last newsletter, Northwestern is offering flu shots for faculty and staff. The portal to schedule flu shots is now open. Get the details on the University's COVID-19 website.

​Lastly, LSSAC sent out an email requesting applications for membership for the upcoming year. The application can be found here. I hope you will consider applying to join this important and valuable organization.

Stay well and have a good week!

Rita Winters


9/23/20

Dear Law School Staff,  

Happy Fall! That’s right, as of September 22, it is officially Fall. I hope you are all able to enjoy the beautiful weather. As we Chicagoans know, this season is fleeting, and Winter is around the corner. This Winter, health and wellness will be more important than ever. 

As colder temperatures and shorter days approach, here are some ways to focus on health and wellness:

  • Northwestern’s Work/Life and Family Resources provide support for the mental, physical and emotional health of you and your family.
  • CDC Guidelines recommend flu shots for everyone over 6 months of age. Flu shots will be available on both campuses in October and November. An appointment is required. Details can be found here.
  • Benefits Open Enrollment starts in October. During this period, you can make changes to your health, dental, flexible spending, childcare and other benefits. The opportunity to change your benefits only comes once a year, so be sure to review your coverage to determine if it still meets your needs, and the needs of your family.

Other News and Reminders

Harry’s is OPEN

After a long hiatus, Harry’s Café is now open! Stop in and say hi to the Harry’s team! Grab a cup of coffee or a slice of pie or quiche from Justice of the Pie. Fall is here, so try their savory house made soups or prepacked sandwiches and salad. Current hours of operation: Monday – Thursday 9am- 4pm and Friday- 9am- 2pm.

Short on time? BOOST mobile ordering is now available. Place your order, pay and pick up.

Having a socially distant meeting? We have you covered with a Joe to Go, enough coffee for up to 10 guests delivered to anywhere within the Law School building for $18.00. Or place your Joe to Go order via BOOST mobile ordering. 

Access to Campus

In addition to fulfilling the required steps in order to come to campus, all building access is controlled through your Wildcard. Some faculty and staff have discovered that their Wildcard is expired and their building access has been inactivated. To prevent this from happening to you, please look at the expiration date on your Wildcard. If your Wildcard has expired (or is about to), you can contact the Wildcard Office for a replacement. During COVID, you must make an appointment in advance in order to replace your card. 

Thank you for all you do, and be well!

Best,

Rita Winters  


9/2/20

Dear Law School Staff,

Happy September! The second week of classes has been smoother than the first, as is the case each year. A huge thank you to all of you for your support, patience and poise as everyone settles in.

As you have heard, Northwestern decided last Friday that Freshman and Sophomore students will NOT be moving into the dorms for the Fall quarter. The decision was made as we witnessed a spike in cases in the northern suburbs and University officials became increasingly concerned about the density on campus and available spaces for quarantining. President Schapiro and senior leaders hosted a conversation about this decision yesterday. If you missed it, you can watch the discussion here.

Although this news was disappointing, it does not impact our plans to begin in-person classes on Tuesday, September 8. A great deal of planning and effort has gone into making the learning environment as safe and effective as possible. For those of you coming to campus with more frequency, please be sure you know all the requirements, noted in the next section.

Working on Campus

Work Schedules and Access: As I mentioned last week, anyone who needs to work onsite must have approval from their supervisor in order to come to campus. The Access to Campus Form MUST be approved by your supervisor and Administrative Services at least two business days before your planned time on campus. If you have a set schedule, we can set up your access for multiple days at one time. However, capacity is extremely limited, so please be as accurate as possible when proposing your schedule.

Daily Symptom Monitoring Form: You must complete the symptom monitoring form EACH DAY you come to campus, within 2 hours of your arrival.

Return to Campus Training Requirement: If you have not yet completed the COVID-19: Returning to Campus Training in myHRLearn, please do so this week. Access to the building will be denied to anyone who has not yet completed the training.

Coming to Campus: Provided you have completed the steps above, your keycard will allow you access to the building. If you have any difficulty with your keycard, please contact Law Facilities at (312) 503-5753.

Maintain Hygiene: It is easy to get “COVID fatigue”, as we are entering our 7th month of handwashing, mask wearing and social distancing. However, these measures are more important than ever, particularly as more people return to campus. Please do your part as a member of our community to protect yourself and each other. If you are concerned that other members of the community are not complying with these requirements, please contact Administrative Services regarding your concerns. If you prefer to express your concerns anonymously, the University’s EthicsPoint hotline can be used to report non-compliance.

Engagement Activities

To maintain our connections as a community, LSSAC has reinstated the monthly staff coffee hours (virtually). Please join us at the next coffee hour on Thursday, September 17th, from 9:30 to 10:30. Please “stop in”, if only for a brief check in with your colleagues. LSSAC has also begun planning activities for the Fall, including a Staff Town Hall, Halloween activities, and another Book Club. Stay tuned for details, and please let us know if you have any suggestions for fun activities!

Best,

Rita Winters


8/26/20

Dear Law School Staff,

Classes have begun! Thanks to everyone for your role in making this happen. Many of you worked to support faculty through the Monday morning Zoom issues, and your help made all the difference. 2020 continues to deliver curveballs, but you keep hitting them out of the park!

As the nature of our work takes another turn with the start of the new school year, below are updated guidelines about the next phase:

Working on Campus

In addition to the daily symptom monitoring form, a key precaution we have in place is limiting our building capacity to 25% or less. This level of occupancy ensures that social distancing can be maintained throughout the building. For this reason, you can only come in to work if you have obtained your supervisor’s approval to do so. This access form must be completed and approved by your manager at least one business day prior to your planned attendance on site. If you have a set schedule, we can set up your access for multiple days at one time. However, capacity is extremely limited, so please be as accurate as possible when proposing your schedule.

Work Schedules for the Fall

Most of us will continue working remotely for at least the Fall semester. Although it is not feasible to continue to have a “pause” in operations for “Friday Flextime”, we do want to continue to provide as much flexibility as possible for all staff. Please work with your manager to determine the best way to balance flexibility with departmental operations and service levels.

REMINDER: Return to Campus Training Requirement

If you have not yet completed the COVID-19: Returning to Campus Training in myHRLearn, please do so this week. Access to the building will be denied to anyone who has not yet completed the training.

“Zoom Fatigue” and Other Issues

When we began working remotely last March, none of us anticipated that this crisis would last as long as it has. The nature of our work, and our response to it, changes and evolves over time, and it varies by individual. It is possible to feel both isolated and “Zoomed out” at the same time. Given how innovative and resilient you have shown yourselves to be, we want “crowdsource” your ideas about how we can continue to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. If you have any “hacks” you would like to share, or proposals for us to consider, email us here. We’ll share your ideas in future newsletters.

Thank you again for all you do to make Northwestern Law so special.

Best,

Rita Winters


8/19/20

Dear Law School Staff,

Happy New Student Orientation week! With the start of the semester just days away, I hope you are all well and taking deep breaths as we welcome students back to Northwestern Law. As classes start, we want to again recognize the great work that you all have done, under the most trying of circumstances, to prepare us to start the year.

Below are some updates and reminders:

Performance Excellence Update

As you may recall, the University postponed the deadline for completing 2019-2020 performance reviews to August 15th. However, after much consideration, we have decided to officially close the 2019-2020 cycle as it stands today. No ratings or summaries will be issued for the 2019-2020 cycle (May 1, 2019 - April 30, 2020). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic shifted everyone’s focus in unprecedented ways, and at this point, we believe too much time has passed to accurately complete ratings and assessments. Therefore, we are not expecting staff or managers to take any further action in the myHR Learn system.

We are excited to focus our time and attention on the current cycle which started May 1st, 2020 and ends April 30th, 2021. We believe the performance management tool is incredibly valuable and serves many purposes. We will continue to integrate its use into our efforts to develop and engage staff, but will focus on moving forward rather than looking back. Stay tuned for communication regarding trainings, timelines, etc. In the meantime, you may explore Performance Excellence tools and resources here.

Access to Campus

In addition to the required training and symptom monitoring form, it is critical that all staff work with their supervisors to ensure that building access is approved in advance, should you need to come to campus. The reason for this structure is to ensure that our overall building capacity stays below the 25% cap mandated by the City of Chicago. If you are coming to campus, you must obtain your supervisor’s approval and contact Administrative Services at least one business day in advance of coming to campus.

Please observe the following guidelines when on campus:

  • Wear masks inside University buildings.
  • Observe six-foot physical distancing when entering, occupying and exiting campus spaces, including classrooms.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.

REMINDER: Return to Campus Training Requirement

As noted above, if you have not yet completed the COVID-19: Returning to Campus Training in myHRLearn, please do so as soon as possible.

CORRECTION:

Last week’s newsletter indicated that daily parking passes needed to be purchased in advance. Actually, you can obtain up to 10 discount coupons at a time, and pay-as-you-go when you park. The cost is still $11.00 per day. We apologize for the confusion.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns, and we will try to answer them as best we can. In addition, if you have any suggested topics for future newsletters, let me know.

Best,

Rita Winters


 

8/12/20

Dear Law School Staff,

Thank you for joining Interim Dean Speta and me for last week’s Staff Town Hall. We hope you found it helpful. In today’s newsletter, we want to touch on some questions and issues that were raised during that session.

Past newsletters as well as other helpful information can be found on the Law School’s COVID-19 webpages.

Parking During the Fall Semester

The University understands that staff returning to campus may be interested in driving, even if they took public transportation in the past. The Parking and Transportation Office is determining how to best accommodate these additional parkers. In the meantime, staff can obtain parking coupons for the Erie/Huron Lot. The daily parking cost with the coupon is $11.00, and up to 10 coupons can be purchased at one time.

Find more information on parking.

Childcare Challenges

Last week, Chicago Public Schools joined a growing number of school districts that will continue with remote and/or hybrid instruction this fall. While we do not have ready solutions to the widespread problem of access to schooling and childcare, we understand the challenges of juggling childcare and work. Please work with your supervisor to discuss arrangements that take your family's needs into account.

The University has also some childcare and networking options that may be helpful.

Equipment and Supplies for Remote Work

We are developing a policy for staff who need supplies and computer equipment in order to continue to effectively work from home. We hope to share this information later this week.

Testing Guidance

The University issued its initial testing guidance this week. All students expecting to take in-person or hybrid courses are required to be tested prior to the start of in-person classes (September 8th for the Law School). This testing is expected to begin August 27 for the Chicago campus. For faculty and staff regularly working on-campus, there will be a recurring random sampling process. The University will cover the costs of all required testing on campus.

  • Asymptomatic Testing on the Chicago Campus will occur at 345 Superior Street
  • Symptomatic Testing on the Chicago Campus will occur at either the Northwestern Medicine drive-through tent at the Lavin Pavilion, or the Streeterville Immediate Care Center (635 N. Dearborn Street)

Find more information on testing protocols.

Reminder: Return to Campus Training Requirement

All students, faculty and staff must complete COVID-19: Returning to Campus Training in myHRLearn before returning to campus. Please complete this training as soon as possible in the event that you need to visit campus. This training, along with completion of the symptom monitoring form, are required in order to access campus.

Reminder: Guidelines for Coming to Campus

In addition to the required training, the University has outlined the following protocols:

  • Complete a brief symptom monitoring form each day before arriving on campus. On the form, please select ‘School of Law’ from the Department drop down menu on the left. An app for this purpose will be available soon.
  • Wear masks inside University buildings.
  • Observe six-foot physical distancing when entering, occupying and exiting campus spaces, including classrooms.
  • Maintain responsible personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. The University will provide sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas in campus buildings.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns, and we will try to answer them as best we can. In addition, if you have any suggested topics for future newsletters, let me know.

Best,

Rita Winters


8/5/20

Dear Law School Staff,

As we head into the new academic year, we know you have many questions and concerns. We are increasing communications as we navigate the next few months together. With this in mind, for at least the next several weeks, the Northwestern Law Return to Campus Newsletter will be sent every Wednesday covering relevant topics and offering valuable resources. Also, please remember to attend the Staff Town Hall, this Friday at 12 p.m.

Today’s newsletter covers a number of important topics, so please read it in its entirety.

Classes and the Academic Calendar

The Law School is adopting a hybrid approach of remote and in-person learning that offers some live engagement opportunities while protecting the health of our community members. We are prioritizing in-person teaching for our first-year students, along with seminars, clinics, and other classes with enrollment of 25 or fewer students. As we announced yesterday, however, we have decided, consistent with the Wildcat Wellness program and the City’s travel order, that all classes will be remote and no student events will occur during the first two weeks of the term. Given the large number of students expected to travel to Chicago, we thought this the best way to start.

We also made the decision to adjust academic calendar slightly. The fall term will begin one week earlier than usual, on August 24th, and end on November 24th, before the Thanksgiving break, which will be followed by a remote reading period. Final exams will be held remotely. This plan ensures that students do not have to return to campus after traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. In our LLM program, we are offering January and May start dates, in addition to the normal fall start, to accommodate our international students who are unable to secure visas right now. We remain hopeful that all of our international students will be able to participate in their programs as planned.

Remote Work for Majority of Staff

The majority of our staff will continue working remotely through the fall in order to limit traffic in the building and provide flexibility. Please work with your supervisors to outline work expectations (hours, availability, key projects, etc.). The University’s alternative work arrangements policy and flexible work resources may help guide these discussions.

Some departments will need representation / coverage at specific times, however. In these cases, supervisors will work with facilities and their teams to develop an appropriate schedule.

If you need one-time or periodic access to the building, please email Administrative Services and they will work with you and your supervisor to arrange access.

Return to Campus Training Requirement

All students, faculty and staff must complete COVID-19: Returning to Campus Training in myHRLearn before returning to campus. Please complete this training as soon as possible in the event that you need to visit campus.

Guidelines for Coming to Campus

In addition to the required training, the University has outlined the following protocols:

  • Complete a brief symptom monitoring form each day before arriving on campus. On the form, please select ‘School of Law’ from the Department drop down menu on the left. An app for this purpose will be available soon.
  • Wear masks inside University buildings.
  • Observe six-foot physical distancing when entering, occupying and exiting campus spaces, including classrooms.
  • Maintain responsible personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. The University will provide sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas in campus buildings.

Self-care

The ongoing disruption and uncertainty of this situation is very stressful. Please continue to take care of yourselves and your loved ones. This includes taking time off as needed. Throughout the fall, we will offer opportunities to engage and connect as a community, and I encourage you to take advantage of these. Additionally, the University’s Employee Assistance Program and wellness resources are also available to all staff, providing resources and tools to help manage stress.

I am so proud of this community and the resiliency I have witnessed these past few months. Thank you for your continued dedication and hard work.

Best,

Rita Winters