P&S Council gets fall planning, class/comp updates

The chair of the fall planning committee provided the Professional and Scientific Council with an update at its July 16 meeting, less than three weeks before Aug. 3 -- when students begin to return to campus and many employees will resume on-campus work.

"It's about to get a lot busier around here," said vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence, chair of the executive committee on fall planning. “While it's challenging to return people to campus, the health and safety of all of our staff, faculty and students remains our highest priority.”

Students will move into residence halls over a two-week period before classes start Aug. 17 to spread out the process, allowing for better physical distancing. Arriving students will first report to the Lied Center, where they'll be tested for COVID-19, receive their room keys and be issued an ISU Card, if needed. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, partnering with the State Hygienic Laboratory, will process tests, Lawrence said. 

"That will allow us to get results back within 24 hours," he said, adding that about 400 rooms are set aside for students to quarantine and isolate. 

Faculty and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone who tested positive or has symptoms can be tested at the Thielen Student Health Center, said Sara Parris, P&S Council president and associate director of the health center. The university is working with city and county officials to urge the state to establish a Test Iowa site in Ames, which would provide coronavirus testing for anyone even if they're not experiencing symptoms or aware of an exposure to COVID-19, Lawrence said. 

Facilities planning and management crews have installed hundreds of hand sanitizer dispensers in campus buildings and have posted more than 4,000 signs on campus to encourage practices such as physical distancing, hand-washing and wearing a face covering, part of the Cyclones Care messaging campaign that will extend to digital media and other promotional materials, Lawrence said.

Title reviews running smoothly

Through early afternoon on July 16, 188 of roughly 3,200 P&S staff had requested a review of the new title they were assigned as part of an overhaul of the P&S classification and compensation system, Emma Mallarino Houghton, classification and compensation director in university human resources (UHR), told the council. The deadline for requesting a review is July 24.

"It's been a partnership with a lot of people across campus, and I'm glad to report that so far it's been pretty smooth," she said.

Mallarino Houghton said in August, before the new system is finalized Aug. 30, UHR will begin sharing information about the new pay grades and how they connect with classifications. Salary and work duties won't change as part of the new system.

Asked by a council member if some of the names of the new job titles could be adjusted, Mallarino Houghton said it is possible. The "application development" title, for instance, is being changed to "application developer," she said. If employees have comments about names of new job titles or other general feedback not related to their individual title designation, they can send them through the submission form on the project website, she said. Employees and supervisors can also request a business title more specific to an employee's job.

Mental health training

Stephanie Downs, ISU WellBeing coordinator, reminded council members about a training program that debuted July 1. Kognito presents simulations to prepare individuals for real-life conversations about mental health. 

Though the situations are set in an academic environment, with an instructor working with students, the 45-minute training helps provide participants with a broadly applicable skill set and is valuable for employees even if they don't have much contact with students, Downs said.

To access the training, log in to Learn@ISU and use the search keyword "at-risk."