March 30, 2020
Dear Knox Community,
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed substantial stress on the College when we were already facing a challenging financial situation. At a virtual town hall for faculty and staff on March 17, I announced that the College would maintain employment of all staff members through March 31. I am writing today to let you know that we have now committed to maintaining our current staffing and payroll through April 14.
The approval of a federal stimulus package has provided some clarity on the timing and amounts of federal support that will be available to members of the Knox community, but it has also raised additional questions. We do know that in April many employees are going to be eligible for stimulus checks and expanded unemployment compensation, along with some relief from student loan repayments. The stimulus package also provides modest assistance to the College, but present estimates are that we will still have substantial losses as a result of refunding room and board to those students now off campus. The uncertainty about next fall’s enrollment is also a major factor. There are discussions about additional stimulus actions, and we are monitoring those closely.
As the economic shutdown continues, so have the effects on the College. Although faculty are all continuing their full-time teaching in a remote environment, the College’s needs for other forms of staffing have changed. Unfortunately, that means we will have to undertake further difficult measures, likely including layoffs and furloughs. We fully recognize the burden that lost wages will place on our staff members and their families. We will use the time between now and April 14 to better assess and develop strategies to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the College community.
I am confident that our efforts will help to keep the most vulnerable members of our community safe and contribute to the global efforts to contain the virus. But I am deeply distressed by the pain that this pandemic and its economic impact are inflicting on so many of you. Over the past (nearly) nine years, your dedication to the College has inspired and sustained me. I pledge to you that we will do everything possible to assist our employees, including working with Local 73 and Staff Council, as we cope with these extraordinary circumstances and work to ensure the long-term success of the College and our students.
This crisis will end -- and when it does we will be stronger for it because of what you have done and continue to do for Knox. Thank you all. Please don’t hesitate to email me with concerns and questions.
TERESA L. AMOTT