Dear Faculty and Staff,
I would like to begin my weekly communication with a simple and heartfelt thank you. Thank you for keeping the critical infrastructure on our campuses up and running for those who need shelter, food and technology. Thank you for taking the extraordinary challenge of moving instruction wholly online in such an efficient manner. I have heard the expression this week that this crisis is like “building the plane while it is flying.” We can all relate to that. You are all coming through with the resources to meet these unknown obstacles and your flexibility and common sense is prevailing. Again, simply and humbly, thank you.
On a very somber note, we lost a dear friend of the college on Monday afternoon. Senator Jack Hill passed away very unexpectedly at his office in Reidsville. We will deeply miss our friend and supporter and his guidance with our mission.
“Our region has lost a champion. Our college has lost a powerful advocate. I have lost a friend. He was a rock. He was a model of integrity and selflessness. He was always there. Whether it was a community celebration, a public meeting or a college event, he was always there to demonstrate his personal interest in the people he represented. Mostly, he cared deeply and worked intensely and long to help the region and people he loved. He saw the promise in every one of our students and fought to assure they had the educational opportunities they deserve. East Georgia State College respected and loved Senator Jack Hill and will not forget the contributions of this model public servant.” May you Rest in Peace, Senator.
The following message from Butch Parrish, Representative from District 158, also expresses the feeling of loss for our Senator:
“As some of you may have heard, Senator Jack Hill passed away yesterday, Monday, April 6. Jack was not only my Senator for three decades; he was a dear friend.
He had a true servant's heart. He wasn’t interested in who got the credit, he was only interested in getting it done. You have only to look around his district, and indeed the entire state, to see his fingerprints on so many positive things.
Jack was a great man and a good friend. He will be missed by many. My sincerest condolences go out to his family.”
As has been the case for the past several weeks, the Covid-19 situation and our response changes rapidly. This week,
Governor’s Executive Order - April 8, 2020
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has renewed the Public Health State of Emergency to assist with the state’s response to COVID-19 as of April 8, 2020. The Order extends his previous Executive Orders, which were due to expire on Monday, April 13, for a further period of 17 days. They will then expire on Thursday, April 30, 2020. To read the Executive Order in full, click here.
Governor’s Executive Order April 13 - Critical Infrastructure
Governor Brian P Kemp has issued a new Executive Order regarding COVID-19 and the Public Health Emergency. Among other things, the Order supersedes local ordinances and implements a statewide shelter-in-place directive. The provisions of the Order became effective at 6 p.m. on April 3 and will remain in effect through the end of April 13. The full text of the Order can be found at: https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action/executive-orders/2020-executive-orders.
The Order’s shelter-in-place directive has several exceptions, one of which is for individuals who are part of the workforce for “Critical Infrastructure” and are actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, their employment. Because East Georgia State College is considered Critical Infrastructure as defined by the Order, we can continue to engage in distance learning and other essential functions, and our faculty, staff and students are permitted to travel as necessary for those purposes. Therefore, if you are designated an essential employee by your unit, the Order allows you to travel as necessary to perform your job duties. While you are not required to carry documentation that you are an essential employee, we recommend you travel with your EGSC letter and EGSC identification. Employees should continue to follow direction from their units as to their designation as an essential employee. Employees who must work on campus should practice social distancing, and no groups of 10 or more should gather at any time. All meetings should be conducted electronically (e.g., Zoom) or by telephone. When conducting essential in-person operations, the Order requires the East Georgia State College to implement certain measures to mitigate exposure and spread of COVID-19. These sixteen measures, listed on the 5th and 6th pages of the Executive Order in the section concerning “Critical Infrastructure,” include screening and evaluation of workers exhibiting signs of illness; directing workers who exhibit symptoms not to report to work; and other safety, sanitation and social distancing measures. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms of illness, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should not report to work; instead, you should seek medical attention and notify your supervisor of your inability to report to work. If you experience symptoms of illness while at work, you should immediately report to your supervisor that you need to leave work to seek medical attention. We have no higher priority than the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. We continue to encourage all members of our community to follow guidance from medical professionals and public health authorities.
University System of Georgia announces no tuition increase for 2020-2021 academic year
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) will meet Tuesday, April 14th, and will be asked to approve a recommendation of no tuition increase for the 2020-2021 academic year.
If approved, there will be no increase for any USG student. Students will pay the same tuition rates at all 26 USG institutions for the 2020-2021 academic year as they do now for the current 2019-2020 academic year. This includes East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Statesboro and Augusta. Specifically, for EGSC students, there will be no tuition or fee increases in the coming 2020-2021 academic year.
In addition, the only fees charged to students in summer semester 2020 will be the Institutional fee and the Information Technology fee. With these fee reductions, a student on the Swainsboro campus taking four or more hours will see a reduction in their total summer cost of $178. EGSC-Statesboro and EGSC-Augusta students will also see reductions this summer.
In addition, students will benefit from the elimination of the online differential charged to undergraduate students. This is effective beginning summer semester 2020.
CARES Act – Stimulus Act III
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law less than two weeks ago. Understanding how this new law affects higher education is important to our region, East Georgia State College and students.
On April 9, 2020, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the first wave of CARES act funding. Funds will be distributed to colleges and universities to provide emergency aid to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. Each college and university must now prepare its own plan describing how these funds will be used to meet emergency needs of students. The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.
East Georgia State College and its students are included in the funding announced today. The specific terms of the EGSC plan for use of these emergency funds will be announced soon in order to assure that students and their families will have the opportunity to have these funds applied to achieve their educational goals.
As a reminder, USG institutions are receiving funds split 50/50 between funds that have to be provided directly to students (“Grant Aid”) and funds the institution can use directly (“Institutional Aid”) The first round of dollars is the Grant Aid that is limited solely for use as direct grant aid to students. The DOE specifically said institutions cannot use Grant Aid to fund refunds to students. The DOE noted that Grant Aid also cannot be used to reimburse institutions for purchases made on behalf of students.
Institutions must submit a form agreeing to use the Grant Aid funds in accordance with the law.
Guidance on use of Institutional Aid (the other 50%) is forthcoming from DOE and they anticipate guidance and funding being available in approximately two weeks. The DOE officials suggested that the Institutional Aid likely could be used to reimburse the institution for refunds and that they would grant “flexibility” in the use of these funds; however, we won’t know exactly what this means until DOE issues their written guidance.
Guidance for Supervisors on Employees with signs of illness has been released and is found on the www.ega.edu/covid19 website. Details are:
This guidance is provided to assist you in implementing East Georgia State College’s (EGSC’s) employee policies and procedures concerning employee illness and absences during COVID-19. During this time, it is important that EGSC take appropriate precautionary measures concerning employee illness and absence to ensure the safety of all employees and students. The following reporting procedures provide an illness and absence reporting mechanism for supervisors that will enable EGSC to monitor its response to COVID-19.
1. No employee should be on campus unless there is a need identified and the employee’s presence on campus is approved by his or her immediate supervisor. If an employee is authorized to be on campus, their supervisor should notify the appropriate vice-president or campus director and that individual should notify the Chief of Police.
2. If an employee is on campus, that employee should have little to no face to face interaction with others. If face to face interaction is required, the employees should practice social distancing of at least 6 feet. All meetings must be held by conference call or electronically (Zoom, Skype, etc.).
3. If an employee calls in sick from home and reports illness or possible exposure to COVID-19, the employee must be instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR.
4. If an employee is on campus and reports feeling ill, send the employee home. The employee must be instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR.
5. If an employee reports that a co-worker who is on campus has disclosed that the co-worker is feeling ill, verify with the sick employee and send the sick employee home. The employee must be instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR.
6. If an employee reports a co-worker who is on campus has disclosed that the co-worker may have been exposed to COVID-19, verify with the exposed employee and send the employee who may have been exposed home and for quarantine and notify anyone else with whom they have had face to face contact. The employee must be instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR. Employees that had close contact with the co-worker who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should also be sent home for quarantine and instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR. Close contact is defined as an face to face interaction of less than 6 feet.
7. If an employee who is on campus reports that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, send the employee home for quarantine and notify anyone else with whom they have had face to face contact. The employee must be instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR. Employees that had close contact with the co-worker who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should also be sent home for quarantine and instructed not to report to work until receiving permission to return to work from EGSC HR.
8. The supervisor must report any of the above incidents on the EGSC COVID-19 Possible Exposures Form, notify EGSC HR, and send the form to the EGSC President. The President will maintain the EGSC COVID-19 Possible Exposures Form.
9. The EGSC President will send each report to Human Resources for follow up with each employee.
10. The Director of Human Resources will send a letter to each identified employee with information regarding leave, self-care and quarantine per CDC guidelines, free COVID-19 screening, and return to work deadline and conditions, as appropriate.
11. The employee will maintain contact with his or her immediate supervisor and EGSC HR while on leave / quarantine. If the employee is quarantined due to possible exposure to COVID-19 and the individual to whom the employee was exposed tests negative for COVID-19, upon notice to EGSC.
Update from Emanuel Medical Center - 4/8/2020
Dear Community and Business Leaders:
As of April 6, 2020, we now have a testing site at our Meadows Building, 543 West Church Street, Swainsboro, GA. This testing site requires the patient to first contact their local Primary Care Physician. All our Clinics in Emanuel County have the option of Telemedicine visit over the phone or computer which will include a screening of symptoms. If the Physician foresees the patient should be tested, an order will be written to test the patient. The patient will then be given an appointment, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will need to report to our testing site. As a reminder, our physicians are able to handle a wide array of services via telemedicine, which allows one to never leave home.
According to the CDC and DPH guidelines, the best practice is not to send a family member or employee to the Emergency Room for testing. If you suspect that you or a loved one or employee has been exposed to coronavirus, and you are showing correlating symptoms of COVID-19, please take these measures.
Unless you are experiencing a health emergency and need immediate health intervention, do not go to an emergency room. Call your primary care physician’s office to discuss your symptoms and your possible exposure. Your healthcare provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
Be prepared to treat the common symptoms of COVID-19, which includes fever, cough, and possible respiratory congestion. Be sure to remain hydrated, drinking plenty of liquids. Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade contain electrolytes that are effective in combating dehydration.
Thank you for your continued support to our community and hospital. Emanuel Medical Center and our physician offices are committed to caring for our community. We are pleased to now be able to test all patients that meet the criteria of COVID-19 testing guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 478-289-1100 and ask for Administration.
Damien Scott, CEO
Residence Hall Update: 4 students are residing in Bobcat Villas for due to hardship, 9 students are temporarily storing belongings in their spring room assignment because they could not get here to pick up their items.
From this point forward, we are communicating that no student is permitted to return to Bobcat Villas to remove any belongings until they have received permission from the college to do so, and that the Bobcat Villas are closed to students (other than approved hardship stays) until further notice.
Meeting Protocol - Zoom
If you have anyone in your unit utilizing Eventbrite or other software to schedule events, please make sure they are not including Zoom meeting credentials in the event sign up form-especially if the sign-up form is publicly accessible. Participants should register for an event via the Eventbrite or other software sign-up form using an email address and phone number. The event organizer should then verify if the registered participants are legitimate and after doing so can email the participants the Zoom meeting credentials. The event organizer should also configure their respective Zoom meeting to have participants wait in the "waiting room" until the meeting host allows participants to join the meeting.
At no time should Zoom credentials be shared over social media or embedded in an event sign up form or link announcement.
Adhering to the above recommendations will help to prevent unauthorized participants from joining a Zoom meeting.
Please contact Mike Rountree if you have questions.
1. Whether you are having a Zoom meeting, Teleconference, Skype meeting, or Microsoft Team meeting, you will need to submit a request for this meeting in School Dude (if the meeting is not one you would have ordinarily held in your own workspace). This is the same as you would if we were all on campus & you were reserving a conference room.
2. Select your “Location” as All Campuses, Swainsboro, Statesboro, or Augusta. Then select your “Room” as Zoom meeting, Teleconference, Skype, or Microsoft Team meeting.
3. The historical data can be maintained and used to provide necessary information regarding our productivity and the effectiveness of our business continuity plan during a time of crisis.
4. If there is anyone else in your department that also creates or organizes meetings, please make sure they understand they need to also submit the SchoolDude request for the meeting as well.
Supervisors are reminded:
1. Complete and update Business Continuity Plans – Justification is needed for any individual who is working on campus.
2. Survey of technical capacity of employees - update as needed
3. Provide letter from President Boehmer each week to employees who are authorized to work on campus the following week to confirm their travel to/from campus.
4. Send Chief Seckinger a list of employees each Friday who are authorized to be on campus the next week to perform essential job functions along with the dates the employee(s) will be on campus.
5. Maintain copies of weekly teleworking schedule from employees.
A Covid-19 Relief Fund for students has been established and is being shared with donors:
EGSC Coronavirus Relief Fund –As you know, many of our students come from backgrounds that don’t afford them all they need in the area of technology, resources and even basic necessities. We also have students that must remain on campus because they have nowhere else to go. Some are international students; some are from the foster system and some are homeless. To help these students and others as this transition takes place, your gift of any amount would be life changing. To give online, click here, or www.ega.edu/donate, or text EGSCCovid19 to 41444 or send your check to EGSC, c/o Institutional Advancement COVID19 Relief Fund, 131 College Circle, Swainsboro, GA. 30401
There will be no in store textbook pickup through summer 2020. Orders will be mailed to the student.
Critical Information from Information Technology
Due to the University System of Georgia’s Cybersecurity policy requirements as well as recent cybersecurity threats, EGSC Information Technology will be enabling Duo two-factor authentication (2FA) on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, for all EGSC employee Office 365 accounts in which Duo 2FA has not yet been enabled. The Duo 2FA process for accessing your EGSC Office 365 email account will function the same as the Duo 2FA process for accessing the OneUSG Connect system.
Once Duo 2FA has been enabled on April 14, when accessing your EGSC Office 365 email account, you will enter your EGSC email credentials (username & and password) as usual. You will then receive a Duo 2FA authentication prompt, which you will respond to by either using your EGSC-provided Duo key fob or the Duo mobile app on your mobile device (cell phone, tablet). When accessing your EGSC Office 365 email account thereafter, the Duo 2FA prompt will not occur immediately but will occur throughout the day as your cached username and password credentials begin to expire as well as depending on the applications you have open or what you're accessing. For new devices, you should see a Duo 2FA prompt immediately after entering your password.
Additionally, once Duo 2FA is enabled, if you access your EGSC Office 365 email via a mobile device (cell phone, tablet), please monitor the email app on your mobile device to ensure it is still receiving new emails. If you notice your device is no longer receiving new emails, you may need to remove your EGSC Office 365 email account from the device’s built-in email app and install and configure the Microsoft Outlook app for use with your EGSC Office 365 email account. Below are links to instructions for configuring the Outlook app for Apple and Android devices:
• Apple: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/set-up-email-in-outlook-for-ios-mobile-app-b2de2161-cc1d-49ef-9ef9-81acd1c8e234
• Android: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/set-up-email-in-the-outlook-for-android-app-886db551-8dfa-4fd5-b835-f8e532091872
When Duo 2FA is enabled on Tuesday, April 14, EGSC Information Technology be monitoring system login status to help ensure a smooth transition of EGSC Office 365 accounts to Duo 2FA. If you have any questions, concerns or experience any problems using the Duo 2FA, please contact EGSC IT at firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject: Office 365 Duo or via phone at 478-289-2004.
Other Critical Information
Please continue to monitor the www.ega.edu/covid19 website for information and updates.
Remember to utilize all the cybersecurity tips that have been shared with you.
As we begin another week, I will say again, thank you for taking on this challenge of moving instruction wholly online. We will come out of this situation as a stronger institution, ready to face a brighter future. Stay well and stay safe. May we all continue to stay strong and stay in touch with each other.