Many of these workers have complained about returning to work while most of the state is still on lockdown. Human Services Director Sue Wandalowski came up with a detailed plan on re-opening, and the State Ass'n of Human Services Director must like it. It has been circulated to other human services departments statewide.
Below is her plan.
Reopening of Northampton County DHS Building
Temperature Checks: Every employee must have their temperature checked by the sheriff deputies, and there will two deputies beginning their day at 7:00 a.m. Anyone with a temperature of 100.0 or higher will not be permitted to work. The thermometers do not touch your forehead, but scan from a distance of 1-3 inches from your forehead. The deputies are now wearing masks when they take temperatures. Everyone must have their temperature retaken every time they leave and return to the building. This process takes about five seconds. If you got outside for any length of time, you might have to wait five minutes for the thermometer to register your temperature. You can remain in the lobby for the five minutes.
Entry to the Building: All employees, with the exception of those who use the handicapped parking in the back of the building, must enter through the front or side entrances, where a deputy will take your temperature. The goal is to avoid a bottleneck by the elevators, so anyone who can use the stairs is asked to do so.
Start times: Each administrator will work with the supervisors to determine a slight staggering of times staff are beginning their work day in order to minimize overcrowding and longer lines as staff arrive at work. Your administrator will provide additional details, likely after supervisory staff return on May 4th and have a few days to modify or improve procedures.
Elevators: Please continue to limit one person per elevator car for the time being. Feel free to use your arm or elbow to push the buttons, or, you may wash your hands and/or hand sanitize upon exiting the elevator. Please limit one person per elevator car for the present time. Although some people are comfortable with two people at opposite sides of the same elevator car, this makes others uncomfortable. We will reassess this as needed. If you reside in the same household, you may ride the elevator together. Again, if capable, using the stairs will eliminate long wait times for the elevator.
Stay in Place: With the exception of the staff using the first floor conference rooms, the goal is for staff to remain on their respective floors as much as possible. To that end, we placed microwaves on each floor so staff from the first and second floors do not need to use the third floor cafeteria. Conversations should be held primarily via telephone, even with coworkers, to avoid unnecessary meandering and standing by others’ cubicles.
Stairwells: Other than arrival and departure from the office, there should be minimal use of the stairwells since we are making every effort to remain on our own floors. Please be mindful of others using the stairwells and wait on the landing to allow someone else to pass in the opposite direction. Although we discussed making each stairwell one way, the challenges outweighed any potential benefit and the same effect can be achieved by being courteous and allowing someone to pass while waiting on the landing.
Conference rooms, 1st Floor: Throughout the DHS building where staff cubicles are less than six feet apart, we will be strategically moving some folks to work stations in the first floor conference rooms. Each administrator will inform their divisions about which staff will be relocated to these work stations to allow us to maintain appropriate social distancing. Anyone notified by their supervisor or administrator about a temporary work station on the first floor may come to the DHS building the week of May 11th to arrange your workspace.
Visit Rooms: Most rooms can be utilized by staff as needed, but we will ensure that at least one is open at all times in case it is needed by a family for a skype/facetime call with their children. Visit rooms might be used for staff who have work calls to make that are particularly sensitive in nature, or which you know will be lengthy.
Interview Rooms: One interview room will be allocated to Early Intervention for tele evals. Two other rooms will be reserved by CYF for interviews or court proceedings.
Cubicle coverings: Staff are welcome to hang a lightweight covering or some sort of “rope” as a reminder for other staff to maintain social distancing. This must be done as a “door”, not a “roof”, and in a way to avoid damage to the cubicles. No tension rods are permitted. If you choose to use a cloth covering for your cubicle, it must be open at the end of your work day if you would like your trash emptied, and it is recommended you wash this at home regularly. These are not required or recommended, and are only meant to be a reminder for physical distancing. Although the cleaning company will clean flat surfaces, everyone is responsible for disinfecting their own workspace.
Inbox: Each unit or division can create an inbox for other staff to deliver documents to one another, in order to avoid folks hand delivering items directly to staff at their cubicles. Each unit or division can determine the most appropriate place for the inbox. If any division feels this is not necessary, no need to create an inbox.
Hand sanitizer: We have donated hand sanitizer from the Social Still, and received an order of larger bottles of foam hand sanitizer that was placed throughout the building for staff to use. There is ample supply for staff returning to the building. Please remember, proper hand washing is still the preferred method when available!
Masks: Everyone has been or will be provided at least one homemade mask. In addition, we have successfully ordered and received surgical masks from several vendors. We currently have a supply for all staff who wish to have a surgical mask when they return to the building. The goal is to wear a homemade mask over the surgical mask to preserve the life of the surgical mask. This way, the homemade mask can be washed or boiled in water each day, and the surgical mask will be able to be worn more than once. We will provide all staff with one surgical mask per week. The surgical masks should be stored in a paper bag overnight. Masks will be required to be worn when entering, walking around, and leaving the building. Everyone is encouraged to wear their mask as long as they can comfortably do so, even while at your desk. Homemade masks should be washed/boiled daily.
Copy machines: Everyone can use a stylus or pencil eraser so you never have to touch the copier! However, there are spray bottles and paper towels located at every copy machine to be wiped before as needed. We also placed plastic covering (Press N Seal) over the control panel to avoid damage to the copier by constant wiping down. This will need to be changed at least once a day and each Administrator can decide who will be responsible for this. Cleaning instructions will be attached to each copier. We have additional Press N Seal in the DHS admin office.
Restrooms: Restrooms on the second and third floor should be limited to a maximum of three women at once and 1-2 men at a time. In order to know how many individuals are already in the restroom, everyone entering should place a magnet on the restroom’s metal door frame. Simply remove the magnet when you leave the restroom. I purchased 120 small magnets for anyone who does not have their own in their office already. The shared restrooms on the first floor should be limited to two people at one time. For anyone who prefers a private bathroom, there are two outside the elevator on the first floor, two in the lobby, one in the staff/DCED hallway, and two on the third floor by the Aging division. The garbage can lids were removed in each restroom so no one has to touch it to throw away paper towels. Small cans also remain outside the shared bathrooms for anyone wishing to open the door with their paper towel prior to disposing.
Cafeteria: The cafeteria will have two microwaves for the staff on the third floor to utilize. If someone chooses to take a break or lunch in the cafeteria, please be mindful of social distancing. I would also suggest we limit the capacity to 10 people max, but if we run into problems with this, I will modify if necessary. The “food prep” area in the third floor cafeteria should be limited to 2 individuals, while the seating area should be limited to 8 individuals. There will be reminder signs on the doors. For folks who normally use the cafeteria sinks to wash dishes, I would encourage you to use disposable items or take them home to wash, in order to limit additional foot traffic on the third floor. We have created a “lunchroom” with a microwave in conference room 4 on the first floor for first floor staff which is marked on the conference room door; the maximum occupancy in CR4 is 8 individuals. The second floor conference room will be used for CYF staff to take lunch and breaks if desired; the maximum occupancy is 6 individuals for this room. Please limit your use of these rooms to ensure adequate social distancing. The second floor now has two microwaves, one in each kitchenette. The move of the microwaves to each floor is temporary.
Hand Washing: I think by now we are all quite familiar with the extreme importance of proper hand washing. This is a 60-second video about hand washing that reminds us how to do so properly. Some of you will have to watch from a non-county device. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SfHdSHK-g0
Social Distancing: Some of our DHS employees work second jobs in hospital settings, as EMTs, and at Gracedale. There are no plans to segregate those individuals from everyone else. If you remain six feet from others, even if that person tested positive for Covid-19 at some point, you would not be considered a close contact of that individual, and if you are wearing a mask and washing your hands properly, you are even better protected.
Dress Code: Until further notice, the dress code remains casual. Once dry cleaners reopen, staff will be notified of the return to professional work attire.
Cleaning supplies: Anyone who would like additional info about the cleaning supplies can review the label on each spray bottle or jug of cleaner, or the MSDS sheet at the reception desk. I can tell you it is approved to clean and kills germs from Covid-19. The cleaning company is using this and other approved cleaners throughout the building, paying extra attention to high touch surfaces, and each floor will have at least ten spray bottles throughout their floor to use by staff as needed each day. All staff should take ownership to clean high-touch surfaces throughout the day. Each administrator can also assign this task to people within their division.
Meetings: All meetings will still be conducted remotely via phone, skype, zoom, etc., until further notice. There will be no public meetings in the DHS building at this time. Home visits should continue as required by the state. The copier technician, vending machine staff, HVAC repairmen, etc., will be permitted access to the building after having their temperature taken and if wearing a mask. These visits are expected to be very infrequent. CYF needs to inform the sheriff deputies if a family needs to utilize a visit room for a Skype or Facetime call with their child(ren).
Individual Hardships: Anyone who feels they cannot return to work on May 11th or 18th should speak to their supervisor, doctor, or HR. I cannot stress this enough. In addition and as a reminder, you may use personal or vacation time with supervisory approval.