FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19th, 2020
President & CEO Dr. Joel Gómez provides updates related to CAL's response to the coronavirus.
With the academic school year coming to a close across the country and the summer upon us, I have been reflecting on the incredible resilience and innovation you all have shown in the few short months since the pandemic began.
To call this evolving situation a difficult one would be an understatement, and I am grateful for the support you have provided to our community, to each other and to CAL. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, what you are doing day-to-day demonstrates courage and provides hope to the community. We will persevere through these unprecedented times and emerge stronger, more connected and better prepared for a changed world.
CAL’s adaptation to this new evolving and difficult reality is laser-focused on the safety and health of you, CAL’s staff; our various stakeholders; and, the community of educators that depend upon us. As you already know, as part of our adapting to the virus challenges, all of us have continued to work remotely and successfully. CAL’s leadership team has done a laudable job in coordinating with staff in meeting all deliverables an addressing the new challenges of working at home.
Also, as you have witnessed, our professional development efforts have expanded our virtual education options through various online webinars; a new online courses via Moodle; and, by moving several of our summer institutes online as well. All of these have been successful, with some webinars drawing over 1,000 participants. All of your adjustments to your work-life have been timely, creative and of high quality. In adapting to teleworking, you have been exemplary, while making the right decisions based safety and health priorities.
Today, I want to share with you a few updates on CAL’s future as we consider transitioning back to work. I know some of you may be wondering, what is the protocol for visiting the CAL offices? Who are CAL’s essential workers? Are they safe and healthy? I want you to know that I hear you. The well-being of our staff is on my mind every day, all day.
So first I’ll share with you our protocol for entering the CAL facility currently. If you or one of your colleagues would like to go to the office for whatever reason, I am approving those requests on a case-by-case basis. Please consult with your immediate supervisor, who can send me an email, and copy HR with your request. In granting permission to enter the CAL facility, I always request that we are consistently following CDC health guidelines and that we exhibit the utmost regard for our personnel safety and that of others.
Everything is being done to ensure their safety and limit exposure: each individual has been entering the building with a mask on; they have been entering early in the morning to avoid maintenance staff that may be scheduled to work on-site; and they have been using gloves and applying liberal amounts of Lysol to sanitize surfaces. The CAL Store, for example, is still shipping items once a week. To avoid unnecessary contact, one designated staff member comes into the office to complete this essential on-site work once a week. Again, if you find it necessary to enter the office, please coordinate with your supervisor and email me and HR.
Furthermore, I would like to let you know that I am not in a rush to have staff transition back to work at CAL headquarters. I will continue to evaluate the situation about work at the CAL facility and make any necessary adjustments as needed. However, on or around July 1, 2020, I will provide an additional update on my views for continuing to work remotely. Between now and July 1, I will be exploring with the leadership team options for creating a safe working environment at the CAL facility, as well as for creating a more sustainable telework culture at CAL, for right now and into the future.
As you can imagine, the process of reopening safely presents us all with a long list of challenges, regarding touchless entry, personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for staff and visitors, and the additional cleaning that will be required. I want to let you know that the rapid-response team and I are working on developing clear protocols for the transition which we will share with you as soon as possible so we’re all on the same page.
Now, it falls to me to deliver some tough updates to you as well. The leadership team and I have been working diligently to manage this unexpected and substantial financial impact and to make swift and necessary adjustments. When I first addressed you in March, I explained the increasing strain the virus would have on CAL’s budget, and I outlined several actions that we were taking to help us mitigate the impact. One of the most immediate steps that I am taking to reduce costs is by renegotiating CAL’s lease. I am working toward reducing CAL’s physical footprint such that we will have minimal on-site office space and the majority of CAL’s workforce will continue to work from home.
I do not have a firm date by when CAL’s space will be reduced. However, I want to make sure that all of you are aware that I am working toward this as one solution to the unexpected revenue shortfall. As you might imagine, our lease expense is significant and a reduction in this expense would work toward offsetting the decrease in revenue.
We have also submitted an application for a paycheck protection program (PPP) loan, and we are into the second round. Staying financially solvent is also a matter of not only reducing costs and applying for government support, but also being aggressive about increasing revenues.
I want to end by saying that I am proud of our team at CAL. All of us are acting proactively and with courage to change the things that we can. But let me be clear – this situation is not easy. This is not normal. Many of us may be feeling emotionally and physically exhausted, frightened, frustrated, anxious or just sad. Your emotional well-being is just as important to me as your physical health. That said, I would encourage you to review your healthcare benefits with CAL, and reach out to HR if you would like to learn more.
Our world –now more than ever– needs CAL’s mission: promote access, equity and mutual understanding of linguistically and culturally diverse people. The CAL Board and I appreciate all that you have done and all that you are doing in adapting your work-life to address CAL’s mission.