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April is Earth Month - Think Spring!

Dear FM,

Welcome to week four of extended reduced operations at the U of M. Hopefully this Bill’s Biweekly reaches you well and healthy. While it may not look like it out there after yesterday’s snow storm, it’s Spring. With Spring comes outside work, play and Earth day. Today, I’ll share a bit about that, a thank you and some updates and notes on COVID-19.

April 22 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
While we are not able to celebrate this milestone in person, the University community can still come together online to celebrate and continue the work of addressing environmental challenges, and building a more sustainable and resilient earth. All members of the University community are invited to join the Earth Day EcoChallenge at It All Adds Up - Earth Month


In addition to celebrating and participating in Earth Day efforts, take a look at the U of M’s accomplishments and ongoing efforts in fighting climate change for more than a decade here: Sustainability and Climate Change: The University of Minnesota Responds

What Landcare does for our campus, you can do at home!
Even though we are under the stay at home order, where we CAN go is outside to work in our own yards, on our own decks and balconies and in the green spaces around our residences. Tom Ritzer, Landcare Assistant Director, has shared this list of what we do on the U of M campus each Spring to prepare for the growing season. You can do many of these at home, too:

  • Clean up sand and salt deposits on paved areas and boulevards. DO NOT blow this material into the street.

  • Clean, service and store snowblowers.

  • Store snow shovels and ice scrapers (well, maybe after this week…)

  • Pull your garden tools and repair or replace broken items.

  • Finish any winter tree pruning before buds break; it may be too late to prune oaks this season.

  • Prepare lawn mowers and other power equipment for the coming season: change oil, sharpen blades and start up the engine - use fresh gas for best results.

  • Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennial flower stalks.

  • Cut back hydrangeas and diervilla shrubs. DO NOT prune lilacs or forsythia or you will remove this year's flower buds.

  • Rake out accumulated debris from perennial and shrub beds.

  • Topdress mulch beds where mulch has worn thin.

  • For a more bee-friendly yard, allow some flower stalks to remain standing, or leave them laying near the plant for a few more weeks to avoid disturbing native bees that over-winter in the stems.

  • If the lawn is firm enough, rake to remove accumulated thatch, twigs, leaves, etc.

  • Aerate to improve lawn health.

  • Consider applying fertilizer to lawns, but test your soil first. The U's Soils Lab is open for testing.

  • If you have a vegetable garden, now's a great time to direct seed a few rows of cool weather greens, like lettuce or spinach.

FM Helps Set Up Covid-19 Research Site
In only five business days after learning of the need, Paul Wright, Chris Herbst, Erin Plesha and Madeline Squier helped set up a COVID-19 drive thru testing site for the Medical School in the garage of the 717 Delaware building. Click here for more of that story on FM’s ‘U are Gold’ web page. Way to go team!

I have been asked recently about whether or not our staff working on campus should be wearing masks, based on the CDC recommendation for people to voluntarily wear masks when going into public places where you cannot maintain physical distancing of 6 feet. If you feel you cannot maintain the physical distance recommended by the CDC, please let your supervisor know and we will make every effort to make an accommodation such as modifying that work task to allow for appropriate distancing. If you prefer to wear a mask at work, as you would at the grocery store, please do so. See Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. Keep in mind that the cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

DEHS is working on a workplace safety PPE document which we will distribute when it is available. Remember to stay informed about COVID-19 as our Governor and the President communicate with us.

Have a great week!



Performance reviews
Reminder: Employee self assessments are due by April 30 in U Review. The full review schedule will be communicated to supervisors by the next Bill’s Biweekly. 

Cleaning Kronos time clocks
Please do not clean the Kronos clocks with disinfecting wipes. Click here for a ‘how to’ guide on cleaning Kronos clocks. 

U of M COVID-19 resources


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