May 2020

May General Meeting with David Farris

Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

David Farris, executive director, Safety and Emergency Management, joined the Staff Senate on May 13 for an hour long session to address some of the safety concerns from staff as we navigate these uncertain times. Thank you to Mr. Farris for providing some answers and updates, and to those who were able to attend virtually during the session. If you were not able to attend the session, you may view the recording.

Mr. Farris referenced the Patriot Tiger Team report. You can find a copy of that report, here.

Mr. Farris was able to address some additional questions following the session. Below are some additional responses.

Q, Testing: Is there a plan to test Mason personnel (antibody testing included)?

A: We are talking about this but there is a shortage of testing, testing is a lagging indicator, our population is very large which creates challenges regarding processing time, how do we enforce this, what frequency, who gets testing, etc.  I have been on numerous calls with other institutions and we are all working on how to incorporate testing into our return to campus plans.


Q, Positive COVID cases/Tracing,: What will our plan be if someone gets COVID on campus and what is our obligation if we do not feel well and are working on campus? Testing? Tracing?

A:  Students and employees will continue to follow our current guidance, don’t come to work or school if you are sick and if you think you are sick leave campus, report your illness to the university, and the university will conduct contact tracing to determine if others need to be notified if they were potentially exposed.  We will close areas/offices as necessary and we will arrange cleaning for that space.


Q, Dorms Reopening: Do you expect to open dorms in the fall?

A: Yes but with reduced occupancy to create safer conditions for our students there are plans to have a 1:1 or 2:1 student to bathroom ration and individual rooms.


Q, Staff Return to Campus: Did I understand correctly, that regular staff members will not return to work on campus until August?

A: Yes, our current tentative timeline suggests that most employees will not return until August, however we are still expect to mandate telework to limit face to face operations which will reduce the number of employees expected to return to campus.


Q, Volunteers Needed:Do you need any volunteers to help with all these things like placing signs?

A: Possibly, we are working on how this will be rolled out.  I will be happy to reach out the Staff Senate if help is needed.


Q, Cleaning and Sanitation: How effective is cleaning spaces when there are dirty supplies (buckets of used solutions and rags) in the rooms overnight instead of disposing immediately?­, ­As for sanitizing, we cannot get cleaning supplies from the VDC or anywhere.  What do you advise.­

A: Leaving dirty supplies behind does not necessary pose a health threat but it should be disposed of properly and obviously between use and we will emphasize this with our housekeeping staff.  We are using EPA approved disinfectants.  We are working with purchasing to purchase cleaning and protective equipment. Departments will not be allowed to procure these items on their own to provide consistency across campus and leverage the institution’s buying power.


Q, Workspace Sharing:    What about spaces where shift workers are? I work in a space for a few hours and then my supervisor takes over — is it safe to do that? ­

A:  Possibly, and we are working on process to approve departmental plans over the summer to evaluate these conditions and make sure precautions are appropriate. What we recommend/require is that offices consider altering work schedules to prevent this from occurring, for example adjust work schedules to avoid shift work, reduce service hours to avoid shifts, provide alternate locations for services so that shift work, etc.


Q, HVAC Spread:   How is the University addressing some of the reports of the virus being airborne? Basically that it can spread through the HVAC.­

A:  Facilities Management and EHS are looking at the research and working on a process to assess our HVAC systems to determine what actions should be taken.


Q, Negative Pressure Rooms: ­Are any of the rooms negative pressure?­  ­Can some of the spaces be converted to negative pressure to contain any possible outbreaks?­

A:  Our laboratories are negative pressure, converting other spaces to negative pressure is a challenge. Where we discover issues with HVAC systems that might create a unsafe environment we would likely close that space rather than convert the space, there are issues with cost, timing, engineering, etc. that make this prohibitive.


Q:  Mason Shuttles/CUE Bus/Vanpools:  ­Are car pools and shuttles going to be regulated to meet social distancing requirements?­ ­Transportation is always a concern. What’s being done for the shuttles and the CUE buses?­  Some staff use vanpools via Enterprise.  On our vanpool pre-COVID-19, we had anywhere from 2-6 people in a minivan (Dodge Grand Caravan). Just concerned/curious what that might look like when we start returning to work.­

A:  We have a plan to limit occupancy on shuttles to promote physical distancing.  vanpools should not be used and we are discussing ways to support employees that utilize this service.


Q, Space:  ­Are you looking at the use of previously non-classroom space for classroom use? For example, large conference rooms, the HUB ballroom or for very large lectures using the concert hall or EagleBank Arena? ­

A: We are looking at all spaces that might serve as classrooms to include meeting rooms, conference rooms, and event venues.


Q, On-campus Events:  My department hosts events that involve food — will those be canceled for the foreseeable future?­

A: Events are cancelled through August 8 and will likely be restricted/cancelled in the fall with exceptions granted by an Event Exceptions Committee currently in place.  I suspect that the Governor’s Executive Order will continue to prohibit gatherings into the fall but the institutions plans will align with public health guidance and requirements from the state that are in effect next fall.


May 2020

Master Plan Engagement Session for Staff

A discussion of the university’s new master plan will be held virtually on May 19 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

During this session DumontJanks, our master plan consultant, will give a brief presentation about the master planning process and invite members of Mason’s staff to provide initial thoughts on the priorities and activities the university should consider as it plans for the use of its campuses and physical space. For more information about our master planning process, please visit:

This engagement session will be held virtually as a Webex event and is open to all Mason staff. If you would like to join us, please use this link for the Master Plan Engagement Session.



May 2020

MAP May Virtual Happy Hour

The Mason Administrative Professionals (MAP) group will host a Webex Happy Hour on May 19 at 4:00 p.m.  This will be a casual opportunity to say hello to your fellow MAP members. / Meeting number (access code): 614 279 916 / Password: HOUR

+1-202-860-2110 United States Toll (Washington D.C) 



May 2020

GMU Toastmasters Zooming

Once Mason closed buildings to the general public and mandated telework for all faculty and staff, GMU Toastmasters moved to Zoom!  Following guidance from Toastmasters International, we were able to move our weekly meetings to an online format with our first “test” meeting held on March 25. Even in this situation, we can still achieve the fundamental club mission by using the resources available and continue to practice our speaking and leadership skills while developing new skills using a virtual format.  Guests are welcome to join us!  The meeting details can be found on our website with Zoom meetings scheduled through the end of May.


May 2020

Updates from Human Resources and Payroll

Resources for Those Without Mason Benefits

In response to COVID-19, we created a resource list for those who do not have Mason benefits, access to the Employee Assistance Program, and/or for those who are experiencing hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On this page, you can find medical providers, mental health assistance, food banks, domestic and sexual violence resources, and financial assistance in Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William counties where Mason’s three campuses are located. 

If you need further assistance, please email 


Faculty/Staff Book Scholarship

Are you enrolled in a degree or graduate certificate program at Mason?  If so, apply for the competitive $250 book scholarship. Open to faculty and staff. 

The application deadline is June 14. For details and to apply, please visit the Faculty/Staff Book Scholarship web page. 

If you have questions, please email 


Virtual Professional Development in MasonLEAPS

MasonLEAPS connects faculty and staff with LinkedIn Learning’s library of thousands of professional development opportunities. Offering virtual workshops and curated learning paths and playlists on a variety of subjects, this is a great resource for learning a new technical tool, deepening leadership competencies, communication and customer service skills, or digging deeper into other areas of interest. 

Members of the organizational development and learning team are available to help supervisors set goals and identify training opportunities for their teams or individual team members. Reach out to us at to get started. 

We’re working on tools to help Mason’s faculty and staff easily find virtual professional development offerings. We’ll be sharing opportunities via our Instant HR messages, as well as on our website and in MasonLEAPS, in the coming weeks. The toolkits available on offer several suggestions for working effectively in a remote environment, and we have job aids available to help navigate LEAPS and build your professional development library. 

May 2020

Updates from Parking and Transportation

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

Reminder: DMV2Go Not Visiting the Fairfax Campus

In keeping with the University protocols regarding COVID-19, Parking and Transportation has requested that DMV2Go visits to the Fairfax Campus be canceled until further notice.  Please see the Department of Motor Vehicle website for information about their COVID-19 response.



Metro Orange Line Platform Work Expanded

Photo by Alexis Glenn/Creative Services/George Mason University

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has expanded the orange line platform reconstruction project slated to begin on Saturday, May 23.  All nine Orange and Silver line stations west of Ballston/Marymount University will be closed and silver line service will be temporarily suspended beginning May 23.  WMATA will provide free express and local shuttle service during the shutdown for essential workers.  For details, please see their 4/23/2020 press release at

May 2020

Prospective Staff Senator Information Session

Interested in becoming a Mason Staff Senator? Want to learn about how the university functions from a new perspective, network across departments, and contribute to the well-being of your colleagues?

The Staff Senate will hold an information session and discussion for Mason staff who are interested in learning about the nomination and election process, the work of the senate, and what senators do. During the presentation, you will learn about the structure of the senate, how committees work, and the time commitment expected of senate volunteers.

No registration is necessary.

Thursday, May 28, 11:00 a.m. to noon

Profile of a Senator May 2020

Meet Christina Frasson, Staff Senator and Videoconference Technology Specialist

Christina with her daughter, Ava.

My role on campus: I work for Enterprise Collaboration as the Videoconference Technology Specialist. In my role I have either managed or been involved in the deployment of our web conferencing and collaboration tools. Once deployed I help manage the administration and work to provide training materials and assistance. I also manage our videoconference spaces and have been working on a project to deploy a new telephony system in the upcoming year.

Live, learn, and teach: I grew up in the area and when I was younger I would come to Mason to watch women’s soccer games. I began as a transfer student at Mason the same semester we went to the Final Four (spring 2006) and was so lucky to experience that point in our history! I played club soccer for Mason and worked for Events Management (now University Events). My part-time job soon became full-time. In the last several years I have also completed my MA in Communication and an MA Certificate in Emergency Management and teach a section of Communication 100/101 each semester.

COVID-19 transition: This is definitely an interesting time for Mason as we have transitioned to working and teaching remotely. My department has played a huge role in this transition and it has been amazing to see the impact of our web conferencing and collaboration platforms. We went from having roughly 3,000 web conference sessions monthly to over 30,000! We’ve been working around the clock to help provide training and access to these resources. We have fast-tracked additional resources and solutions and have assisted in important events like the Town Hall and Admissions events.

To learn more about conferencing and collaboration at Mason visit:

Mason is like family: Mason has been a second home for me. My colleagues have always been like one big extended family. Like many others, I have actual family here. My sister, Brittany Sanders, is graduate programs coordinator in the Department of Communication. And when I got married each of my bridesmaids were friends I made either as a student or employee at Mason!

I’ve grown so much over these last 14 years at Mason and I attribute much of that to the support I have received from my peers and the opportunities my supervisors have given me to advance my skill set.

Best thing about working at Mason: I’ve been able to embrace practically every role here (faculty, staff, student, alumna) and because of the nature of my employment at Mason I have been able to work with nearly every department in some capacity. This has made me better at my job and has kept every day new and interesting. I love being able to see the impact of our work throughout so many areas.

Why serve on Staff Senate: Everyone on the senate is passionate about making a difference and helping bridge the gap between Mason employees and the resources available to them. As senators we are empowered to take on highlighting or resolving issues we feel are important to the Mason community. I’ve seen the impact the senate has and its influence has grown over the years. I am so proud of the work we’ve accomplished.

At the end of the day: I am a proud mom to two amazing little girls, Ava (2) and our newest addition, Aubrey, born on May 5th. I often feel guilty when I work a little late. But then I remember I have so much to show for my time at Mason, from my undergraduate and graduate degrees, to the impact of my work, and the lasting friendships I have made. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had here because they will serve as an example for my daughters of what hard work and community can accomplish.

May 2020

University Libraries Updates

Below are some helpful links from University Libraries:


May 2020

June General Meeting Announcement

The June Staff Senate meeting will feature Carol Kissal, senior vice president, Administration and Finance, as guest speaker.  Senior Vice President Kissal will discuss the university budget amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
General Meeting will follow from 11:00 a.m. to noon / event number: 612 756 333 / event password:  SS123

The Staff Senate represents all classified and non-student wage employees at George Mason University. Working closely with university administration, we address concerns that have an impact on the quality of work-life for the Mason community. The work of the senate is accomplished through open and continuous communication with its constituents.

For questions, contact