As it has in previous years, Iowa State will reduce most services from Thursday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, to promote time off for employees and reduce energy costs, senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain and vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr shared in an Oct. 16 memo with university administrative officers. That 11-day window includes three university holidays (Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1) and four weekend days on which services normally would be reduced anyway.
Cain and Darr said units may reduce services on the four remaining work days, Dec. 28-31, allow employees to use accrued leave or unpaid leave and develop schedules that reflect the guidelines in the university breaks staffing guidance. Winter session courses will meet those four days, and units need to be staffed adequately to support a successful winter session and all enrolled students, they noted.
Thus, the partial closing isn't mandatory, and Cain and Darr said critical services, building and grounds maintenance, and research programs that must operate during this period should continue. Senior leaders may approve physically closing offices as long as staff have procedures in place to handle incoming messages and emergencies.
Eight weeks between semesters
The partial closing falls within Iowa State's 25-day online winter session, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 21. Classes won't meet on the three university holidays identified during the partial closing but, as noted, will be held Dec. 28-31.
Cain and Darr wrote (with the exception of the 11-day partial closing) the university will be fully operational for the eight weeks between fall and spring semesters, Nov. 26-Jan. 24. As long as a successful winter session remains the priority, these tweaks to business as normal may be considered:
- Offices may implement break hours (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.) from Nov. 30 to Jan. 18.
- Supervisors are encouraged to accommodate employee requests to use additional accrued vacation during the eight-week window in support of work-life balance.
- With no spring break on the academic calendar due to COVID-19 transmission concerns, this period also is an appropriate time to adjust non-employment dates for eligible merit and professional and scientific staff.
- Units should work with their building supervisor to set office and building access during the eight weeks and share any closures on their websites, voice messages and building exterior doors.
- For units that will employ students between fall and spring semesters, the Nov. 26-Jan. 24 period is considered nonacademic, so students may work more than 20 hours per week.
Earlier this month, in a memo to academic leaders, associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince outlined expectations for faculty in light of the adjusted academic calendar. In effect, the conditions outlined in faculty appointments haven't changed, and faculty should continue to meet their department and college responsibilities through Dec. 16 and again beginning Monday, Jan. 11. Spring semester classes begin Jan. 25.