Opening of City Offices - Updates
COOP Leadership – I appreciate all of your hard work and the incredible amount of cooperation and flexibility from you and your staff. We are adjusting to the new normal.
The Revenue Building opened to the public Wednesday. In addition to city staff that worked diligently to get us open at Revenue and to service our customers on our Grand Reopening, I must also complement our customers. All of them that I talked to standing outside in line were very complimentary of the city’s efforts during COVID-19, very appreciative of our re-opening and the overwhelming majority were wearing masks voluntarily. At Revenue Thursday morning at opening, two of the three folks in line that did not have masks willing accepted them and placed them on when I offered them.
City Hall offices of will re-open Tuesday, June 2nd. All City Hall offices will be staffed and available to other city departments also on June 2nd. Mike Riley and his staff were here in City Hall all week preparing for this building to open to the public on Tuesday. Things are looking great and we will be ready!
The offices in the Annex will open for staff only this coming week and will be re-opening to the public on Monday, June 8th. This will allow the EOC to wind down operations on the second floor of the Annex by the close of business on June 5th. EOC functions that are needed beyond June 5th will be coordinated by Chief Klose from his office at Central Fire.
As I stated in my last email, the goal is to have all offices/ facilities staffed and re-opened no later than Monday, June 8th and all staff back working their full hours. Any staff effected by COVID-19 issues seeking COVID Admin Leave beyond June 8th will be required to use individual leave time and submit to have this converted to COVID-19 Leave using the form we have in place. The committee reviewing these requests will continue to base any decisions upon the guidelines contained in the FFCRA..
Once again, I would re-iterate that these plans and approaches to re-opening should be viewed as a longer term strategy. We could be operating under these strictures for the foreseeable future.
Follow-up to prior re-opening guidance:
1. All employees are required to report any symptoms of COVID-19 or close contact to a person with COVID-19 to their supervisor. We will use the survey questionnaire distributed by Chief Klose last week. Each department/ supervisor is required to confirm each day and document that each employee has completed the COVID-19 symptom survey. Staff with any symptoms will not be allowed to work.
2. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the requirement that employees are required to wear masks unless working alone in a private office space. Based upon the last two Leadership Team Meetings as well as my interactions out in several offices, I have amended this requirement as follows:
A. Department heads are permitted to suspend the mask wearing requirement if the employees working in a group office setting agree that masks not be worn. If any employees in that work group are uncomfortable with this, they must be accommodated and allowed to work in an alternative space where they can be distanced/ separated.
B. When employees are in common areas, in city vehicles or outdoors masks are recommended but not required.
C. When employees enter the office area of another office within their department or another department, they must wear a mask UNLESS it has been communicated to them that that office is an agreed upon area where masks are not required.
D. Important – Employees wishing to be protected from non-mask wearers are to be accommodated. This is to be done by installation of Plexiglass shielding and use of other “social distancing” methods such as we have done in those offices that serve the public directly. These individuals will also not be required to enter another office area that has jointly agreed to be a non-mask wearing office area.
E. Please let me know what I have missed or of any issues that still need to be addressed.
Once we are re-opened to the public, I anticipate a period in which we will be making adjustments and refining our procedures and processes. If at any time a department head/ supervisor/ safety liaison feels there is a weakness in our safety procedures or a breach to our safety measures, that person has the authority to close that office to the public (and to other departments) and consult with the City’s Health Officer. Re-opening to the public and to other city personnel will occur only after the Health Officer is able to assess the situation and remedial action deemed necessary is carried out.
Blaine M. Cox
Rochester, New Hampshire