01 Apr 2021

Returning to Campus: Melissa Pierre


by Shona Simkin

As associate director of security and emergency management, Melissa Pierre manages many aspects of campus security, including overseeing the teams that respond to security-related emergencies, investigate suspicious activities, and install security access controls such as card access and IP cameras. With a demanding job and two young children at home, we asked Melissa how she has managed being on campus during the past year.

How long have you been back on campus, and what is your schedule—has it changed at all?
I never left campus. I continued to work during the pandemic because the day-to-day operations of campus did not stop. My schedule did change; I've adapted a flex schedule to help manage my daughters, who shifted to remote school.

What were some of your concerns about working during the pandemic, and how were those addressed?
My concern was my family's health and how to manage childcare while going to work. During normal times, my kids are in school while I am at work. There is a clear separation between work and home. This pandemic saw the lines between work and home blur. I could be in a Zoom meeting while my daughters are in virtual learning, asking for my help. I've also become a teacher, a hall monitor, a cafeteria worker, and after school teacher all in one. Remote schooling has put a lot of strain on parents. The flexibility that HBS provided with adopting a flex schedule helped ease some of my concerns. The testing cadence HBS implemented also reduced some of my concerns about exposing my family to COVID.

What has it been like to be on campus over this past year?
It has been very surreal. We went from a very active campus to a ghost town in a short period of time. Normally, tents are going up for spring reunions, Baker lawn is being prepped for commencement; instead, campus became engulfed in a complete stillness. Once I adapted to the changes, it became the "new normal."

What have been some high points?
Seeing students return to campus in the fall. Seeing them playing tennis at the Shad tennis courts, grabbing food at Spangler Center Dining, or just hanging out at Schwartz Pavilion (wearing a mask and physically distancing, of course) gives me hope this too shall pass.

What has been challenging?
The ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines were a challenge. At the beginning of the pandemic, we needed to make decisions very quickly and sometimes there was not enough time to collaborate among our respective teams. One particular challenge was that my team provides numerous services that require close proximity—such as incident response, lockout service, lost and found, and escort services. These programs had to continue while we balanced proper public health and safety guidelines.

What has been particularly helpful?
Having the mentality that we are all in this together has been very helpful during this time. This pandemic has affected each and every one of us. I'm sure we all have either had the virus or know some who has had it. As long as we continue to do everything we can to be safe, we will get through it.

What would you like the community to know about working and being on campus?
I would like the community to know that campus is very safe. It will be good for them to come in to see it for themselves. We have implemented all the recommended state guidelines in regards to face coverings, physical distancing, limited gatherings, and cleaning. We ask everyone to complete their Crimson Clear before coming to the university to add an extra layer of safety. Everyone in the community are all doing their part to ensure we are all safe.

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