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Corona Virus Information for Region 16 Employees 
  • COVID-19 Decision Tree- ESC 16 Staff

    Terms and definitions

    Exposed - this occurs when an individual is in close contact with another person who has COVID-19 or is later diagnosed with COVID-19

    Close contact (High/Medium)

    • Direct contact with person with positive COVID or exhibiting symptoms
    • Within 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes
    • One or both were not wearing masks

      Close contact (Low)

    • Spoke to the employee for a period of time
    • Both were wearing masks
    • Were further than six feet apart
    • Individuals were in the building but did not see or interact with the effected staff
    • Individuals were in the building and passed employee in the hall

    Direct Contact - occurs when individuals are within 6 feet of each other over an extended period of time. 

    In-direct Contact - examples would be passing in the hall, having a conversation with another person, and staying well over six feet apart, having a conversation with someone who had direct contact with an individual who possibly had COVID-19.

    Asymptomatic - an individual who has COVID-19 but is showing no outward symptoms of the illness

    Self-isolation - allows individuals who may have been infected with COVID-19 to recover while trying not to infect others. Based on medical professionals’ understanding of how long an individual is infectious after fever and other symptoms disappear, self-isolation can end when a symptomatic or lab-confirmed individual:

    Meets all three of the following conditions for return to school:

    • 72 hours with no fever
    • Symptoms improved; and
    • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

    Or:

    • Obtain an acute infection test at an approved testing location (https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/) that comes back negative for COVID-19.

      Or:

    • A doctor’s note indicating an alternate diagnosis

      Screening is an activity that campuses conduct to identify and temporarily exclude from campus those who may have been exposed to COVID, in an effort to keep the virus out of campuses.

      Screening is accomplished by asking questions via electronic methods, by phone, and/or in person to determine that individuals:

    • Are not lab-confirmed with COVID-19
    • Do not themselves have COVID-19 symptoms
    • Have not come into close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19

    Case Investigation- Discussions with a COVID-19-positive individual to determine who may have spread and/or been infected and how that spread may have occurred

    Contact Tracing -The identification of individuals who have been exposed as close contacts to COVID-19 and are as a result possibly infected themselves, but pre-symptomatic.

    Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19

    Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to the workplace until the center screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for re-entry have been met:

    • In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to work when all three of the following criteria are met:

      i. at least three days (72 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications).

      ii. the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and

      iii. at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

    • In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who is not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, such individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to the center until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
    • If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to work before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) obtain an acute infection test at an approved testing location that comes back negative for COVID-19.
  • Guidance for Returning to the Workplace

    Region 16 ESC

    The following document is provided as a guide for Returning to the Workplace at the Bell Street Cleveland Street, and Nelson Street.  It has been formulated with input from our leadership team and questions that staff have posed to our team.  We will continually update this document as we monitor the situation.  Please seek your Director’s guidance if you have questions not covered by this document.

    Guiding Resources:  “Opening Up America Again” (OUAA), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), and “Texans Helping Texans”, The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.

    1. Why are we returning to the workplace?

      As you are aware, on April 27th, Governor Abbott outlined his plan for reopening the State of Texas so that we might all return to work and get back to a sense of normalcy.  We have taken the past 11 weeks seriously, and we will also return to work in a responsible manner.

       

      I think we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the amazing work that the Region 16 staff has accomplished in the last 2 months.  The move to work remotely and speed at which our staff transitioned and prepared to take care of one another and our clients is truly amazing.  Given that accomplishment, I have been asked, “Could we successfully work remotely 100% of the time in the future?”  I do believe we have done a great job; however, I do not believe we are ready to expand our work remotely.  For that to happen, we need to look at every job description, determine expectations, discuss evaluative criteria, and see if some positions merit such consideration.  This will take some time and some change organizationally.  We have proven that in the middle of a crisis, we can change our model and successfully continue to serve.  Now, it is time to move forward and enter a new time of returning to normal operations.

       

      We believe entering back into the workplace will foster employee engagement, continue to build our culture, and take us to the next “new normal”.  I think the bigger question is “What has made Region 16 so successful over the past 53 years?”  I believe our level of customer service is probably number one on the list.  From there, I believe our strong relationships and the talent of the employees in our organization rank right up at the top.  While distancing those relationships has been required for the past few months, it is time to slowly return to the successful model that has been so important to our students, families, and educators across the Texas Panhandle.

       

      Those things being in the forefront, we also want to return responsibly and ensure our employees’ health and safety.  Our hope is to help you feel as safe as possible under new circumstances.  If you have tracked the data using number of new cases in Potter and Randall Counties, you  will see that since May 15th, the number of new cases has fallen off drastically to less than 60 each day and in some cases, 10 to 12 new cases a day.

       

       

       

       

       

    2. What is the timeline for returning to the workplace?

       

      Throughout the past several weeks, the COVID-19 situation has been fluid.  It will continue to be fluid and we will continue to monitor the numbers of new cases, total cases, recovered cases and total loss of life in Potter and Randall Counties to make informed decisions.  These dates may change or be adjusted according to the data.

       

      Employees have returned to the buildings during the past 11 weeks in order to better do their job.  These returns are usually associated with a need to be at their workstations to better perform their duties.  These are usually for short periods of time to get what is needed and to return to home for teleworking.  Some of our staff have continued to work from our buildings to accept freight, run payrolls, update records, fulfill technology needs, move employees’ workspaces, and clean and disinfect.  Beginning on Monday, June 1st, Region 16 employees will begin transitioning back to their workplace buildings.  A smaller number of staff identified by the Directors will return with certain guidelines to follow to allow us to line up with CDC guidance.  We have referred to this as our “soft opening”.

       

      During the “soft opening” we will follow the guidelines below:

      • The workday will be from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm for those working in the buildings.This early end time will allow our staff to clean and disinfect the buildings thoroughly at the end of each day.
      • Before entering the building each Monday, employees will be required to complete an electronic Attestation of Health Status Related to COVID-19 form which will be available for their supervisor to view.
      • All employees will be temped at the door (use the front, north entry to enter the Bell Street facility, use the South front entry for access to the Cleveland building, and use the east entry for Nelson access observing social distancing 6 feet apart) at the beginning of each day (7:30 am until 8:30 am). This temping will be done with a “no touch” instrument.If employees arrive at the building after 8:30 am, they will be asked to put on gloves and a mask and temp themselves before signing in.Temping will only be done when entering the building for the first time each day.Any employee with a temp over 100.4 will not be eligible to enter the building.
      • If an employee has come in close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be asked to report that to your supervisor and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to the workplace.The safest way to prevent exposure is to maintain 6 feet of distancing and wear a protective mask.
      • Gloves and masks will be available at the front of the building each day for employees entering the buildings.If you have personal masks, please wear them to help us assist in preserving PPE.
      • Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the buildings for employee use.We have purchased enough individual hand sanitizers to provide one for each employee desk.
      • We will ask that you respect each other by wearing a mask when you are outside your workspace.Please maintain social distancing guidelines by remaining six feet apart and stopping at the door of offices and cubicles to ask if employees are comfortable if you enter their workspaces.When meeting someone in the hallways, please step to the side or down a cross aisle to help employees feel safe and respected.
      • We will ask employees not to gather at the tea and coffee bars, breakrooms, or restrooms.Social distancing is key to allowing these to remain open while in the buildings. Some of our facilities are small and will require small numbers in restrooms.Please check before entering. These areas will be set up to provide for social distancing.
      • Visitors will be allowed at the buildings.Please be mindful of others and do not bring your children to your workspaces during this time.If you are working with clients, please respect others by meeting in small groups while practicing social distancing and taking other precautions to protect spaces.During the month of June, we discourage any groups with more than 10 to meet face to face unless we have space for social distancing available.Please try to limit the number of visitors we are serving in the building.If you have a need to work with clients or have visitors in the building, please clear that with your supervisor.
      • ALL staff will return to the buildings observing the above accommodations beginning Monday, June 8, 2020.

         

    3. What measures is Region 16 taking to protect staff during this time?

      In addition to temping employees, requiring the Attestations of Health Status Related to Covid-19 to be completed each Monday, making gloves available, making hand sanitizer available at stations and at each desk, and requiring employees to wear protective masks outside of their workspaces, we have other processes which will aid in the control of spread.

      • We are bringing a limited number of staff into the buildings on June 1st and we will be tweaking our processes and exploring more ways to protect staff for a week before bringing back the entire staff.
    4. How will exceptions be handled?

       

      Employees who self-identify as having an underlying health condition that could place them in higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should contact Human Resources at michelle.wilson@esc16.net.  The Region 16 Health and Safety Decision Tree will be used to determine next steps.  The HR team will work with you and your doctor to review your unique situation and determine what that means for your safe return to working onsite.  Documentation will be required to be completed by your doctor for the request to be considered.

       

      Employees experiencing challenges with finding childcare for their children due to COVID-19 related reasons should explore their options for open childcare facilities.  Please contact HR at the ESC to discuss your options.  The Region 16 Child Care Decision Tree document will be used to determine next steps.

       

      The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a temporary regulation that provides certain legal benefits and protections to employees for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.  Please contact HR for more information.

       

       

    5. When will travel be allowed?
    • We will have staff assigned to sanitize high touch areas, bathrooms, and meeting areas that have house employees on an hourly basis.Areas such as desks, chairs, tables, etc. will all be sanitized at the end of each day.
    • We will encourage staff to leave the buildings at 3:00 pm each day to allow for cleaning and sanitizing.We will also ask that employees not return to the buildings before 7:30 am the next morning to ensure that cleaned areas remain sanitized.In an emergency instance, contact your Director for permission to enter the buildings outside this time frame.
    • We will have signs posted throughout the buildings that detail good personal hygiene techniques, identify the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, and signs to place outside your office or cubicle will be available at each program area administrative assistant’s desk asking that your peers or visitors do not enter your office.(These will be available if you choose to post them at your door.)
    • We will discourage the use of ESC refrigerators for food storage.If you are bringing your lunch, please bring a personal cold storage device.Break rooms will be set up to accommodate social distancing requirements.You may also eat at your desk during this time if you desire.
    • Please wear protective gloves when using copy machines.We will have hand sanitizer in close proximity to each copier, and we have purchased antibacterial wipes that will kept alongside the copiers.Machines will be sprayed with disinfectant frequently.Use hand sanitizer prior to touching machines and upon completion of copy jobs.
    • Region 16 also provides some free counseling for staff.During this time, many may suffer from emotional stress and issues that will require professional assistance.Please contact HR for assistance.

       

    Travel is an essential part of the work we do at Region 16.  Serving clients in our region and attending statewide and sometimes nationwide training is necessary and many times required.  However, if we put employee safety as a high priority, along with our clients’ safety and well-being, we must take extra precautions. 

     

    To minimize risks, we are issuing the following guidance:

    • In-Region Travel:Call ahead to ensure the school is expecting you.This will give the district an opportunity to cancel and reschedule the visit if they are requiring heightened visitor protocols.Practice good hygiene and personal space distancing while on site.Travel equipped with masks and gloves if you wish to use them or if the district prefers you use them.Cancel and reschedule trips to districts if you become sick or begin to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.Visit with your supervisor for assistance.Rental cars will be made available for use.If you prefer to take your own vehicle, you will be paid the rate according to our reimbursement charts.You assume liability if you choose to travel in your own vehicle.
    • Out of Region Travel:All Out of Region travel has been cancelled until further notice.Executive Director approval is required if you wish or need to travel out of region.We hope to open this back up to allow required travel for meetings or training as soon as possible.

     

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