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Information About Employee Status

April 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In coordination with Governor Noem’s Executive Order 2020 - 12, the South Dakota Board of Regents will extend remote work through May 31, and if we are unable to accommodate remote work then nonessential employees will be granted paid administrative leave. Essential employees should continue to work as scheduled and in line with the workplace guidelines provided, which may include reporting to the workplace if essential functions cannot be adequately performed remotely. As in the previous weeks, supervisors will be evaluating the work that must be completed and will communicate with you on your essential or nonessential status, and expectations on reporting to work to ensure essential functions of the institution are being met, which may change from day to day. In addition, your supervisor will communicate with you if there are additional duties that require your assistance during this period of time.

This is an evolving situation, so in the event that the landscape surrounding COVID-19 changes, the Board of Regents may adjust this plan as necessary. We will make every effort to keep you timely informed as this fluid situation continues to evolve. Updates surrounding COVID-19 can also be found on this website: Please monitor and review this site and related communications you receive.

We understand that the spread of COVID-19 may impact you and your families whether related to work changes, school and daycare closures, or illness. Should these things happen, please discuss options for leave usage with your supervisor and Linda VanMaanen in Human Resources (605-688-4128). 

Thank you for your flexibility as this situation continues to evolve.  

Marc Serrett
Assistant Vice President-Human Resources

March 25, 2020

SDSU Community -

The governor of South Dakota extended emergency operations of the State with recent Executive Orders and the South Dakota Board of Regents announced the institutions under its control and management will offer courses online through the end of the spring 2020 semester. Consistent with these announcements, the SDBOR also confirmed that employees will continue remote and essential employment duties through May 15, 2020, in accordance with the current operational designations of “essential” and “nonessential.”

With the recent announcements from Gov. Noem and the South Dakota Board of Regents, we wanted to help ensure that everyone understands the differences between the terms “essential” and “nonessential” personnel, and that it is understood that there is no ongoing emergency campus closure per SDBOR Policy 4:40 and SDSU Policy 10:7.

All of our employees are valued; however, only some employees’ duties are “essential” because their work is necessary to perform at a physical SDSU work site. The nature of the campus operations, and challenges posed by the pandemic, will determine what services should continue on campus and what positions are essential to the desired level of operation of the campus or unit. This determination is made through continuity of operations plans (COOPs) and through supervisor analysis of their unit.

Once the highest priority functions are identified using these mechanisms, the next step is to determine which specific personnel are essential to the fulfilling those basic functions for their unit’s operations. In other words, supervisors across SDSU must review what work: 

  1. Must be performed at the normal work site.
  2. Can be performed remotely. 
  3. Is essential to their unit during our online-only course delivery and remote-work operations.

Leadership will assist in providing context to what operations must continue; however, the supervisor must then designate employees accordingly.

Employees should be designated by supervisors as falling into one of three categories:

  1. If at least a portion of the employee’s work is essential to the basic operations of their unit AND must be performed AT a physical SDSU work site during online-only course delivery and remote operations, then those position duties are “essential.
  2. All other duties are critical in nature, but are categorized consistent with the governor’s Executive Order:
    1. If the employee can complete their work remotely, then their duties are “nonessential remote” and they are to continue working remotely and reporting the hours on their timesheets as before.
    2. If the employee cannot complete their work remotely and are not being called to campus as “essential,” then those duties are designated “nonessential” and the employee, if eligible, can indicate those hours are paid through administrative leave.

Please note that an employee’s duties may be categorized as a mix of the three categories above. For example:

  • An employee may be required to work on-site two days a week and remotely three days a week and complete a full work schedule.
  • An employee may be able to complete the required operational functions remotely, but only in part. In that case, if the supervisor cannot assign a full workload of remote work, the employee may also accurately record part-time administrative leave up to an amount that, along with hours worked, is not in excess of their scheduled shift or more than 40 hours per week.

There may be numerous combinations of these categories assigned to ensure that SDSU and the employee can successfully complete the designated SDSU business operations and job duties.

Individuals on administrative leave may be required by their supervisors to work part time and answer emails and phone calls. In addition, supervisors are encouraged to designate use of time effectively. If an employee cannot complete all duties remotely, they could use this time to complete required SDSU trainings such as online security and Title IX/EO course modules. Time must be appropriately tracked in accordance with SDSU timekeeping requirements.

Supervisors must inform each and every employee how they are designated during these COVID-19 online-only course delivery and remote operations so there is no confusion. The supervisor must provide these designations to the responsible vice president so that SDSU security may properly provide access, Facilities and Services may ensure proper building services and cleaning, and Payroll and Human Resources can properly track payroll and leave. The supervisor has the authority and responsibility to change these designations depending on the circumstances while these COVID-19 operations continue.

To reiterate, every employee is important to SDSU. However, during SDSU’s current COVID-19 operations, only those employees whose work at their normal work site is designated as essential to the basic functioning of SDSU during online-only course delivery and remote operations, will be considered “essential personnel,” even if only for certain duties that need to be performed infrequently.

Key Points About Pay and Leave Handling During This Situation:

  • This is not an emergency closure as envisioned under SDBOR Policy 4:40 and SDSU Policy 10:7.
    This is a unique situation where the governor of South Dakota and the South Dakota Board of Regents have approved designated work from home for “nonessential remote” employees and limited administrative leave for select situations. SDSU will continue to offer courses online through the spring 2020 semester and designated supporting campus operations continue.
  • Employees designated as “nonessential” who cannot complete designated work remotely will continue to earn paid administrative leave, if leave eligible. Nonbenefit-eligible employees will not receive paid administrative leave.
  • Employees approved to work remotely one day may be required to work on campus the next day, if the situation requires it as determined by their supervisor. Employees may also only have limited remote work to perform, in which case they can account for the remainder of their regularly scheduled hours with administrative leave, if eligible.
  • Finally, these reduced in-person operations are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are intended to protect our employees, students and visitors as much as possible.

Refer to Time and Leave Reporting Policy 4:25 for a detailed explanation for pay and leave handling.

If you have questions about your unit’s COOP, please contact the emergency management specialist at 605-688-4251. If you have pay or leave questions, please contact SDSU benefits specialist at 605-688-4128. If you have general questions, please contact HR at 605-688-4128.

Previous Communications

Information About Essential Employees - March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

As you know, the South Dakota Board of Regents and the University have taken precautions regarding COVID-19 (“COVID-19 Response”) that temporarily limit on-campus work to “essential employees” defined in SDBOR Policy 4:40 and SDSU Policy 10:7. The question of who are “essential personnel” is one that many of us likely have.  As a reminder, BOR Policy 4:40 specifies that “essential personnel” are those in positions that are identified in the University’s Continuity of Operations Plan (otherwise known as the COOP plan) and individual department’s or unit’s COOP plans. Supervisors have determined which faculty and staff are designated as essential and those employees have been notified.  Non-essential personnel should not report to work or should be dismissed from work in accordance with supervisory directives during the COVID-19 Response. 

All of our employees are important and valued, however, none of us are “essential” if we don’t directly provide or assist with provision of services that maintain essential, structural functions of the University in this particular situation. The nature of the COVID-19 Response determines what services should continue and who is essential to the operation of the campus or unit based on the COOP plan for the University or your organizational unit. 

The Unit COOP and the Response to COVID-19

A unit COOP is developed with assistance of the University’s emergency planning personnel. The COOP was developed by supervisors who:

Reviewed “essential functions” and “essential personnel” lists and edit it as necessary in the COOP process; Shared the COOP plan and lists through reporting chain to the respective Vice President (Vice President will review with the Emergency Management Team and approve the list);


Refer to Time and Leave Reporting Policy 4:25 for a detailed explanation for both pay and leave handling, and contact University Human Resources at 605-688-4128 with any remaining questions.

  • Essential personnel will report to their normal work stations for their normal work hours unless otherwise expressly directed by their supervisors. Essential personnel will not be entitled to paid administrative leave hours unless they are self-isolating because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 (but are not showing symptoms) and cannot perform any of the essential functions of their position remotely (in which case, the supervisor should contact University Human Resources before approving the administrative leave). Accordingly, essential personnel are not entitled to additional pay during the COVID-19 Response. The South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources and the South Dakota Board of Regents are in alignment that since we are not in an emergency closure situation that essential employees are not eligible for both hours worked and paid administrative leave.
  • Non-essential personnel must not report to campus. Instead, each non-essential employee will work remotely during their scheduled work hours, unless their supervisor has determined that none of the essential functions of their position can be performed remotely and has communicated to them that they will be placed on paid administrative leave.  Note that employees on federal work study are not eligible for paid administrative leave at this time, and must not record hours if they cannot perform their work remotely.
  • If paid administrative leave is not approved but the employee wants to take appropriate leave, the employee may do so with the approval of the supervisor. When an essential employee self-identifies as immune-compromised and is uncomfortable with coming to work, the supervisor must accommodate the employee and allow for the employee to use annual leave or leave without pay. Hourly employees may use annual leave, leave without pay or adjust work hours during the remainder of the work week with the approval of the supervisor.
  • Employees will not receive administrative leave pay in excess of their scheduled shifts or more than 40 hours per week.
  • Only permanent leave-eligible employees are eligible for paid administrative leave. Seasonal and temporary employees are not eligible for any paid leave, including paid administrative leave.
  • Only employees who were scheduled to work during the COVID-19 Response are eligible for paid administrative leave. Employees who were on any type of approved leave including leave without pay during the COVID-19 Response may not change those leave hours to paid administrative leave.
  • Permanent regular employees with hire dates on the date of the COVID-19 Response will be paid administrative leave if they are eligible as provided above.
  • Salaried employees who were not on approved leave and who did not work during the COVID-19 Response should record the number of hours of approved paid administrative leave.
  • Advanced sick leave of up to 28 days is available for individuals who have exhausted all of their other leave and who have been employed with the State of South Dakota for one year or more in a permanent position. An employee requesting advanced sick leave shall submit a signed request supported by a statement from the employee’s doctor.

If you have questions about your unit COOP, please contact the Emergency Management Specialist at 605-688-4251. If you have pay or leave questions, please contact the University’s Benefits Specialist at 605-688-4128. If you have general questions, please contact HR at 605-688-4128.

Key Points About Pay and Administrative Leave Handling During the COVID-19 Response

The University is not closed as described under SDBOR Policy 4:40 and University Policy 10:7. This is because University operations from preparing for classes to research, extension, and support services continue to operate, albeit predominantly online and, where essential, on campus.

First and foremost, employees who are sick should take appropriate leave (including leave without pay, if no other leave is available), stay home, and focus on their recuperation. This takes priority over all other concerns! Similarly a priority—employees who need to care for immediate family members should follow SDBOR Policy 4:25 and use appropriate leave.


As a result of the COVID-19 Response, supervisors should have communicated with each of their direct reports the following:

  1. Whether they are considered “essential” during the COVID-19 Response;
  2. Whether they are to work remotely or whether they are granted administrative leave; and
  3. Their work expectations during the COVID-19 Response.