“Returning” to Work A message from the Chief

We made it to June! This meme seems to sum up perfectly how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s been an intense past few months and I think we are all anxious to make our best attempt at enjoying the nicer weather and more relaxed pace of summer, despite the fact that Covid-19 has not gone away and likely won’t for many more months.

Over the past several weeks, our agency administrative team, in support of the board, has been working on a “Return to Work” plan which began June 1. I use the word “return” a bit lightly because I know that the work didn’t stop for the majority of us while we have been working remotely. Our plan details are as follows:

Phase 1: Approximately June 1

Safety protocols were specifically designed for each of the following departments who have now physically returned to work (or will in the coming days). Our Phase I staff members can’t physically do their work from a remote setting which necessitated their return along with the fact that they have essential responsibilities to perform. We appreciate their commitment to keeping vital services such as equipment repair, custodial maintenance, printing, and the processing of media materials operational.

  • Information Technology
  • Maintenance
  • Media 
  • Print/Production 

Phase 2: Approximately August 1

In Phase 2, we will move from essential/critical workers to lower exposure risk staff (office-based) who are eligible to return to a physical office location. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines these workers as having minimal occupational contact with the public and other co-workers. Office-based staff are considered lower exposure risk given that they have limited public contact and social distancing is easy to accommodate. Others may continue to work from home as deemed appropriate and necessary by their supervisor. Those employee groups who are identified as eligible to return to the office during Phase 2 include:

  • Administration
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Business Office
  • Human Resources Department
  • Creative Services 
  • Receptionists

Each department is developing unique safety protocols in collaboration with Human Resources to mitigate risk and create an environment that is as safe as possible in light of what we know today about the spread of the virus. These protocols will be shared with “Phase 2” staff members prior to returning in August. Special considerations will be given to those employees deemed to be in a high risk category. If you feel that this applies to you, please contact the Human Resources department.

For those staff members who work primarily out in schools, reaching a conclusion on specific protocols will be heavily dependent on the Return To Learn plans that are developed by each district and due July 1. Rest assured that the agency will have a strong voice in the conversation to ensure that Central Rivers AEA employees are put in the safest position possible while delivering service. Much more to come on this topic as details begin to emerge! Also note that because Covid-19 is an evolving pandemic, our decisions may change as we continue to stay in conversation with public health officials and analyze the data in our area. This is still a very fluid situation.

Questions about returning to work? More specific details and direction will likely be coming from your supervisor. In the meantime, feel free to share any questions, concerns or ideas with Karl Kurt, who is heading up our Return to Work effort.

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