Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Employee Relations Update on COVID-related matters

Upcoming state university COVID vaccine clinics

Vaccination agreement for librarians and day faculty
Vaccination agreement for DGCE faculty
State University press release on COVID boosters

Mask mandate agreement for all MSCA unit members

Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education for the Fall Semester 2021 (American College Health Association – May 25, 2021)

Massachusetts Higher Education Control Plan (rescinded May 29, 2021)

MTA’s Legal Services division has put together an expanded question and answer primer regarding return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic: Back to Schools and Campuses during a Pandemic: Concerns and Considerations

MTA’s A Guide to Bargaining a Safe Return to Schools and Campuses

Commissioner Santiago’s letter regarding COVID-19 Response to the Board of Higher Education.

BHE’s summary of the reopening plans for all public higher education institutions.

Fall 2020 agreements and understandings reached by the Employee Relations Committee in June 2020.

On July 24, 2020 the Commonwealth released its COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan template. The template is intended for universities to use to create (modify) reopening plans and to post these on their websites.

At the MSCA’s request, the MTA Legal Services division has put together a question and answer primer regarding requests for accommodations related to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic: Q&A Concerning Disability-Related Inquiries and Reasonable Accommodation Requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Presidents’ press release “Massachusetts State Universities Announce They Will Welcome Students Back to Campus For Fall 2020 Classes.”

Safe on Campus: A Framework for Reopening Colleges and Universities

State University Fall 2020 reopening plans and pages:
Bridgewater State University reopening plan and COVID-19 page
Fitchburg State University reopening plan and COVID-19 page
Framingham State University reopening plan and COVID-19 page
MassArt reopening plan and COVID-19 page
MCLA reopening plan, faculty guidance and COVID-19 page
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Salem State University
Westfield State University reopening plan and COVID-19 page
Worcester State University’s reopening plan is on its COVID-19 page

MTA COVID-19 Safety Campaign for Higher Education

MTA’s “Reopening and Reimagining Our Public Schools
Directives for the State and Guidelines for Educators and Their Unions”

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

MTA advice on returning to campus.

MTA resources on COVID-19, including unemployment

MTA Unemployment Resource Guide for Adjuncts.

MTA Legal Services Division Q&A about Coronavirus, FFCRA, & FMLA

UMass Amherst Preliminary Fall 2020 Planning Report with June 23, 2020 PowerPoint presentation to the BHE

Pass/Fail policies approved by the presidents after a review by governance:

Bridgewater State University (proposed)
Fitchburg State University
Framingham State University
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Salem State University
Westfield State University
Worcester State University

The federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. You can view frequently asked questions. The MSCA has asked MTA for research on the act’s applicability as the Human Resource Offices have sent out guidance.

Updated agreements and understandings reached by the Employee Relations Committee as of March 26, 2020.

Original agreements and understandings reached by the Employee Relations Committee on March 20, 2020.

Massachusetts House Bill to provide sick leave for certain state employees. You can track the bill.

Massachusetts Senate Bill to provide sick leave for certain state employees. You can track the bill.

Emergency Fund for Public Higher Education Institutions

Economic Stabilization Emergency Fund for Host Communities of Institutions of Higher Education

March 16, 2020

Dear MSCA Librarians and Faculty,

We understand your anxiety and concerns associated with the presidents’ decisions to extend spring break by one week, and in the case of Mass Maritime, to send the students homes for at least three weeks.  Each of the nine universities has suspended classes for one week; the particular week varies based on the university’s scheduled spring break.

These steps were prudent.  You know by now that yesterday the governor banned public gatherings of more than 25 people.

Although the MSCA was not consulted prior to the implementation of the presidents’ decisions (with the exception of Mass Maritime) we will be working with the universities to manage the effects of the decisions and the governor’s directive.  I have been told that the DHE will be scheduling telephone calls directly with the unions starting this week.

Members have expressed to us concerns about returning to face-to-face classes in a week or two, as was originally planned, and the likely spread of the virus as a result.  Returning to that mode of instruction in the near term seems highly unlikely at this point given the governor’s directive.  The presidents’ and our primary concern at this point is the health and safety of our student, members and our families.

Please realize that the situation is changing rapidly at nine different institutions, and that we cannot react, inform or advise on an instantaneous basis.  Many times we learn about updates after you do.  Conditions last Friday morning were not the same by Friday afternoon, and the understandings Friday changed over the weekend.

At this point it is our understanding that the universities will be assisting faculty with moving classes online or preparing for remote delivery.  Again, as far as we know, no faculty member will be required to teach online.  Remote delivery would mean lecturing from a classroom on campus that would be delivered (possibly streamed) to your students who would be off campus.  The remote delivery option should be available for you from your home if you have concerns about coming to campus.

We understand that there are numerous issues.  How will laboratories, clinical, studio and other modes of instruction be handled?  What will be done regarding student evaluations?  Will librarians be required to come to campus or will they be allowed to work remotely?

The MSCA is prepared to request impact negotiations if the need arises, but at this point we are trying to work within the four corners of the two collective bargaining agreements to the greatest extent possible.

Questions, concerns and issues should continue to be directed to your chapter presidents/chapter leadership.  A number of issues may be specific to your university and the fastest, most efficient way to get a response will likely be from your chapter president.  They will be in touch as needed with the statewide MSCA.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President

Statements from the university presidents and provosts regarding extension of spring break (suspension of classes):

Bridgewater State University
Fitchburg latest message & original Fitchburg State University message
Framingham State University
Mass Maritime latest message & original Mass Maritime message
Salem State University
Westfield State University
Worcester State University

We are aware that a number of emails have been sent to faculty and librarians regarding the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The MSCA has been working with the university presidents since they reached out to us on March 5th.

We urge you to stay vigilant and follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We support the administrations’ efforts to keep employees and students as safe as possible. To that end we agreed to the following on the morning of March 9th:

  1. To prepare for the possibility that universities need to suspend classroom instruction, the universities will survey faculty to learn who is capable of teaching their present courses online.  The universities will need to be make decisions about labs, studios, clinical sessions and examinations, as these do not adapt easily to an online format.  The administrations will contact us when they have suggestions regarding these modalities and aspects of instruction to discuss them with us.  The universities will make training available as soon as possible for faculty who think they would benefit from some assistance in order to teach online.
  2. The Universities will require faculty to report any travel within the last three weeks to China, Italy, Japan, Iran and any other countries rated “2” or higher for risk by the CDC. This communication will be made confidentially, presumably by email with HR and/or department chairs.
  3. Faculty who are unable to work due to sickness or faculty who are sent home from work due to the presence of symptoms will be entitled to use sick leave. To avoid the loss of compensation, we agreed to waive the requirement that a member be off the payroll for five days before being eligible to access the sick leave bank; the universities will permit immediate access to the sick leave bank for those bank members who are unable to work due to the response to COVID-19 and who have exhausted their sick leave.
  4. As conversations occur on the campuses regarding the response to an outbreak, we acknowledge that local Association officers do not have the authority to modify the collective bargaining agreement.

Your cooperation with these efforts is greatly appreciated.

You should know that it is likely that the MSCA will need to enter impact negotiations as plans to avoid spread take place. The MSCA Board of Directors would need to authorize those negotiations.

If you have concerns/questions/suggestions, please contact your chapter president.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President