COVID-19 update: 'Safer at Home' Emergency Order

March 24, 2020

Dear UW-River Falls Campus Community,

Today, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued a "Safer at Home" Emergency Order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. As I communicated to you last week, we have already greatly reduced the number of employees working on campus and access to buildings has been limited significantly. Now, in light of this new order, starting tomorrow, March 25, at 8 a.m. until April 24 or until a superseding order is issued, only employees who have been specifically authorized from the areas listed below are to travel to and work on campus.

Please note that the category of Higher Educational Institutions received the following exemption in the Governor’s order: “for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions as determined by the institution.” Based on subsequent communication from UW System President Ray Cross, it was specified that our institution has “broad authority to determine what constitutes an essential function."

Based on this guidance, we have determined that the following constitute our essential functions which would allow only authorized employees, very limited in number, to travel to and work on campus.

  • Police Department
  • Custodial staff
  • Facilities Management (Infrastructure, Heating Plant, Maintenance, Mailroom, Grounds)
  • Mailing, package delivery and Fast Copy printing to facilitate alternative learning
  • Division of Technology Services
  • Residence Life and Dining (including food preparation)
  • CHILD Center (only if requested for services indicated in the Governor’s order)
  • Faculty and instructional staff only if essential to facilitate distance learning, to maintain critical research equipment or projects and to care for animals
  • Business and Finance (only specific functions related to Financial Aid, HR, Purchasing, Accounting)
  • Admissions (as needed to process prospective student documentation)
  • Chancellor’s Office and other Cabinet members (only as needed, for example, in case of crisis escalation)
  • Emergency Operations Center (only as needed in case of crisis escalation)

We will continue, to the greatest extent possible, to promote use of technology to avoid meeting in person and to support employees in their telecommuting efforts, performing work remotely, using Webex meetings, and teleconferencing, etc. Any business carried out on campus must continue to adhere to the social distancing requirements as defined by the Governor. At this time, there is no indication that essential employees travelling to campus need to carry with them an authorization letter. Should that change, we will provide authorized employees with appropriate documentation.

I know that there are employees who are unable to telecommute and I encourage those of you who have not already done so to work with your supervisors regarding use of the 80 hours of COVID-19 leave made available by UW System Administration.

I am very grateful for your efforts and collaboration during this difficult time. Please continue to support each other and our students remotely. A simple phone call, personalized email or text message can be very impactful. I know we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to academic excellence within an inclusive community. Thank you for all that you are already doing to prove that.


Dean Van Galen, Ph.D.


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Phone: 715-425-3771
Fax: 715-425-4486