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Mar 18

City manager's message: City Efforts and Workforce Updates Related to COVID-19

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 11:09 AM by Don Mann

March 17, 2020 — I am writing to provide an update on our efforts and workforce considerations relative to the coronavirus impact on our community. 

First, and foremost, I want to stress that we are committed to taking care of our workforce — both in terms of your health and pay. Each of you is very important to us, and we want to make sure you do not have to worry about whether your next paycheck is going to arrive. 

Yesterday, I met with each of your department heads to review their continuity of operations plan and their development of telework and social distancing options for each of their employees. These plans are important as we believe the need for social distancing to extend for many weeks, and we want to be sure we have meaningful work for all employees whether they are emergency essential workers or not. For those who are not emergency essential workers, we are considering a combination of telework for those who can and increased social distancing at public buildings for those who cannot. In a limited number of cases, employees may be assigned to support other departments that have more telework options and/or needs that can be handled in accordance with social distancing recommendations. These plans are in their final stages, and I expect department heads and/or immediate supervisors to discuss their plans with their employees in the very near future. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, please direct them to your department head. 

We will also be offering a special COVID-19 leave benefit for impacted employees. Instructions on this benefit will come out later today, but in short, we will ensure that employees do not have to make the choice between health care and work. If an employee believes they have contracted COVID-19, they will be given three administrative days of leave to seek testing. To return to work, we will need medical documentation that they are clear of COVID-19. If the diagnosis is confirmed and/or the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends self-isolation because of possible contact, we will provide the VDH recommended two weeks of pay coverage based on the normal work schedule. To access this special leave, we will require the medical or VDH documentation; however, with this documentation, all employees - whether full-time, part-time or WAE - can maintain their normal pay for those two weeks without regard to their leave balances.  By doing this, we can ensure that those who are sick with the virus or exposed by a contact for which VDH recommends isolation, stay home without concern for their pay. 

I appreciate that this is a stressful time for many of you.  We are committed to making rational decisions based on the best guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to protect our workforce.  As this is a rapidly evolving situation, your city leadership, department heads and immediate supervisors will make every effort to keep you informed.  During times of crisis, it is critical that we as local government are here to provide services and stability to our citizens.  I want to thank each of you for your continued service to our community.  I also want to once again stress our commitment to taking care of our workforce’s health and safety. Please continue to check our city website and the links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) websites for the latest health guidance regarding COVID-19. 

— Mary

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