COVID-19 Updates

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Your feedback will help us plan agency response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Check out our results as they come in.

What is happening at the national and state level?

Today we heard from our national leaders that an economic and employment stimulus package will be signed into law by the end of the week. We will review the Federal stimulus legislation and determine what implications are contained in the new law for our employees. We will share guidance with you early next week.

Also today, Governor Inslee shared the rate of increase of COVID-19 cases in Washington seems to be slightly slowing. This is good news. The implication is that the social distancing and other community measures are beginning to demonstrate a positive effect on the spread of the corona virus. He further hinted that the current orders may need to be extended, but unless he gives a revised directive, we will stick with our current plans for limited operations through April 6.

What have we heard from you?

I have to report my amazement at how well you have responded to this crisis. Many of you are finding ways to remain connected (at a distance). I see you are using the phone more, emailing more, and joining countless online meetings. Even though it might feel very isolating right now, you are finding ways to maintain a sense of community. I also hear about how you are responding to the needs of children, students, and staff across our region. Thank you.

Your survey responses and emails also show you are very worried about your health and the health of your families. Many staff express concern about their future employment, or stress about finances. These are all real anxieties. We are in uncertain times. 

Our leaders are working hard to respond to your concerns. For your health, we are asking that all but a few designated staff remain home. For those who must come to work to perform tasks like printing checks, processing claims, preparing meals, counseling students, or producing learning materials, we are working to ensure you are safe. Social distancing is the new normal. The facilities teams are regularly sanitizing your workplace.

The fiscal team and program managers are regularly reviewing the vitality of our funding sources and expectations of our partners. We are in a good financial position, and many of our programs have reasonable assurance of continued funding. We just do not know how long the stay-home order will remain in effect, or how long schools will be closed.

We also don’t know with certainty about the future of every service we provide. Your program leaders will have a much clearer picture about how things look over the coming weeks. Please reach out to them to share your concerns and to seek direction about your work. I know this causes anxiety for everyone. I wish I had solid answers for you, but there are too many unknown factors. Please know, we are committed to prioritizing meaningful work for our staff.

Finally, as this first full week of altered work draws to a close, I want to share my appreciation for all you do. It is hard being away from our regular routines. We are disconnected and isolated, but we will make it through. A good friend says, “In the stories of our lives, big things like this are just a sentence.” One day we will look back and say, “That was the year schools closed for the corona virus.”  That will be it, just a short sentence. It doesn’t feel like that now, I know. It helps me to picture that future and to think of myself looking back and thinking, “Wow, that was hard, but we made it.”

Governor Inslee has directed us to stay home for the next two weeks, through April 6. With the exception of designated personnel, that means…stay at home for work. We are committed to the following our priorities throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We need our staff to be safe, provide support, engage in learning and remain connected to the ESD. We are reviewing all roles/positions to determine if an expectation to report to work away from home exists. For about 25 “essential staff” (technical term under the Governor’s orders), we will ask for only occasional work at offices managed by the ESD.

Facilities Access

We will be closing ESD facilities to the public and all but a few designated staff in compliance with the Governor’s orders. Staff who need supplies (not toilet paper) and equipment should come to their workplace to collect them no later than 4:30 PM, March 25. Center-based early learning staff will continue to report to their jobsites as appropriate to their roles and work plans.

We will have a mail collection, package delivery, and facilities coverage plan in place by tomorrow, March 25. After March 25, if you need to access our facilities contact your supervisor and the facilities designee to arrange access to work areas. This only applies to our main building in Tumwater, but may be extended to other facilities we manage.

Work Plans

Work with your supervisor to create individual work plans for the next two weeks. These plans apply to all staff who can reasonably be provided with meaningful work. For this next two-week window, our interpretation of “meaningful work.” Meaningful work can be home-based projects, telecommuting, individual learning plans (including SafeSchools), or other activities that will further your program’s needs and their growth. This guidance applies to full-time and part-time employees.

Planning Process

There are essentially a number of benchmarks we are planning against. First, we hope the April 6 deadline for “Stay Home” will end as stated. I believe this may not be the end of increasing restrictions on work and travel. We will plan for the possibilities of extension beyond April 6, or possible increases in workplace activities. We will be working on regular updates to our plans in two-week chunks.

Second, we are monitoring the school closure deadline of April 24. It is possible the school closure window will extend beyond this date. We are planning for changes in our services, the way we connect to those we serve, and for expanding the way we do business online. This is likely one of our most important areas of growth (individually and collectively) over the next few weeks.

Finally, our budget-development process is in full swing. We are building a budget on what we know right now, but realize the world is changing continually. Our board will adopt next year’s budget in July. So, we are planning backward from their date of approval, with just a few months to get a clearer picture of what we can expect next year.

Thank you for all you do as part of our ESD family. Without you we would not be able to meet the needs of our region’s children, students, families and staff. You make magic happen every day.

The current situation remains fluid, so this guidance my change. But for now, please consider this our “new normal” until April 24. 

 The guidance aligns with our priorities:

  • Safety: Ensure the continued health and wellness of our staff and the children and youth we serve.
  • Support: Provide support services for children and youth, and serve as a resource for school districts to help them meet the needs of their communities.
  • Engagement: Deliver educational enrichment to children and youth, and professional learning to educators.
  • Employment: Maintain our high-quality workforce to remain prepared to meet current and future needs of our staff and those we serve.

If you have a question about your particular situation, talk with your supervisor. If the guidance remains unclear, your supervisor will work with our Leadership Team for a response. 

What is the PLAN?

Tyee Site

  • All employees will telecommute to the greatest extent possible to support social distancing. Minimally, one member of the executive team or facilities staff will be physically present at the Tyee site each day during regular business hours (8:00 AM to 4:30 PM).
  • The Tyee site will be closed to the public with access for non-employees by appointment only.
  • Employees who have a special need to temporarily access the Tyee site should plan that access with their supervisors

Other Capital Region ESD 113 Facilities

  • Our facilities will be closed to the public with access for non-employees by appointment only. This does not include use of our facilities for food service distribution or client/patient care.
  • Employees who are meeting in ESD facilities are to follow appropriate health screening protocols and consult their supervisors to implement guidelines for employee gatherings.

Should You Report to Work?

When deciding if you should come to work, consider the following questions:

  • Do you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
  • Has a healthcare provider told you to self-quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19?
  • Are you caring for a family member who has been told to self-quarantine?
  • Are you caring for young children at home because schools are closed?
  • Are you pregnant, over age 60, or suffering from a chronic health condition?

Stay home if you can answer “yes” to any question from 1 through 4. If you answer “yes” to question 5, use your best judgment.

Work Expectations

  • All employees will have a work plan. They are expected to implement their plan through April 24, or for as long as they have meaningful work to complete. 
  • If meaningful work is exhausted, as determined by their supervisors, employees can access emergency leave (deducted from sick leave), vacation leave (if applicable), or leave without pay, in any order. 
  • Head Start employees will continue working on a modified work plan for as long as the funder allows. They will follow the guidance provided by their supervisors regarding use of leave.

Telecommuting/Home-Based Work

  • Employees should be readily accessible via phone, email and/or Zoom during regular business hours while in telecommute status.
  • Supervisors and employees will create a schedule for regular check-ins.
  • Supervisors will determine and approve whether meaningful work exists for an employee to remain in telecommuting/home-based work status.

Shared Leave

Employees with serious health conditions who have depleted or could deplete their leave balances may be eligible for shared leave. If you are in this situation, please contact Heidi Westfall in HR at hwestfall@esd113.org or (360) 464-6856. 

Vacation Leave

For employees who accrue vacation leave, there is no change in accrual or use of vacation leave.

Leave Without Pay

Employees may request leave without pay if:

  • They are not in telecommuting/home-based work status
  • Their supervisor has determined they no longer have meaningful work and they would prefer not to use emergency or vacation leave.
  • Employees may request leave without pay intermittently, in conjunction with work and/or emergency leave. (For example, you and your supervisor may agree that you will work two days per week, take emergency leave two days per week, and take leave without pay one day per week.)

Technology Support

  • If employees need technology support, they should submit a helpdesk ticket.
  • Employees may bring home non-portable technology only with approval by their supervisors.
  • IT employees cannot provide support for personal technology devices or services.

Travel

We have suspended all out-of-region and out-of-state travel unless it is specifically required by a grant or contract and approved by the program manager and the deputy superintendent (or designee). 

Meetings

  • All in-person meetings should be converted to Zoom, when possible.
  • Any required in-person meetings cannot exceed 10 participants. Attendees must practice social distancing guidelines.
  • Supervisors must approve required in-person meetings.

Outside Facility Use

We have cancelled all facility use by outside groups through April 24.

General Health Guidance

  • All employees should monitor their health daily.
  • Employees with a temperature above 100.4 degrees or displaying any symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, cold or allergy symptoms, body aches, and/or unusual fatigue should isolate at home and access sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay, in any order.
  • Employees who may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or presumptive-positive for COVID-19 should also isolate at home and continue in telecommute/home-based work status, if possible, and if they do not have symptoms. They may access sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay if symptoms develop.
  • If there are changes to state or federal laws regarding use of leave we will provide further guidance.

Employee Assistance Program

We recognize that this is an unprecedented time and is overwhelming for many of us. Our employees have access to the ESD’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Board Meetings

Capital Region ESD 113 Board of Directors meetings will continue as scheduled, via Zoom.

Out-of-Office Notification

  • Employees not in telecommute/home-based work status should post out-of-office notifications on email and voicemail. (Email template: “I'm sorry I missed you. Our office is closed due to COVID-19. For more immediate assistance, please contact [Contact Person] at [email]."
  • Employees in telecommuting/home-based work status do not need to post an out-of-office notification. They are expected to respond to emails and telephone calls as they would under normal working conditions. 

What if we are required to “SHELTER IN PLACE”?

In the event of a generalized quarantine, we will implement the following guidelines:

  • ESD facilities will close. All staff will no longer report to their on-site work location.
  • Employees in telecommuting/home-based work status should continue telecommuting, following the telecommuting expectations noted above.
  • Employees without telecommuting agreements, or those with telecommuting agreements who have exhausted meaningful work to complete in telecommuting status, should await further guidance. They should not submit leave requests unless they receive guidance to do so. 

We live in a time of tremendous technological advancement and amazing digital connection. We have access to information almost any time anywhere.  While the blessings of this time in history are clear, they come at a cost. One of them, at least in the western, industrial world, is increased anxiety. We know a ton, and feel we should be able to control our world…and when we find we cannot, we are confronted with a reality that creates stress.

Right now, with the spread of COVID-19, we are in the midst of uncertainty and dramatic disruption of our regular schedules, work and lives. The responses to our staff survey are clear: We are all concerned about continued employment, our health and the wellness of those we care about. While I cannot make these worries go away, I want to share the priorities and plans of the ESD throughout our response to COVID-19’s challenges.

Capital Region ESD 113 Priorities

  • Safety: Ensure the continued health and wellness of our staff and the children and youth we serve.
  • Support: Provide support services for children and youth, and serve as a resource for school districts to help them meet the needs of their communities.
  • Engagement: Deliver educational enrichment to children and youth, and professional learning to educators.
  • Employment: Maintain our high-quality workforce to remain prepared to meet current and future needs of our staff and those we serve.

Looking Ahead

  • Facilities: Our buildings will remain closed to the general public, except for scheduled or previously arranged visits. We will ask guests and staff to self-screen for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19. We will ask anyone with symptoms or possible exposure to remain home. Our facilities teams and contractors will increase sanitizing and cleaning of all workspaces, doors and other frequently touched areas. We will restrict gatherings to 10 or fewer in all common areas and workspaces. We encourage staff to maintain social distancing (6’ or more), to cover coughs, and to practice regular handwashing.
  • Telecommuting: We are working to maximize the number of employees working from home. This will mean work assignment changes to provide teleworking or home-based projects. Program managers and supervisors will work with staff to define meaningful work that supports the mission of the ESD, and provides necessary supports to children, youth and staff across our region.
  • Program Updates: Our program managers and executive team have been reviewing all our services to determine what changes in service delivery may be required. We will meet Friday morning to review plans for next week and to prepare detailed updates for staff. By Friday afternoon, we will share expectations for work and services next week so everyone knows what is expected.
  • Use of Leave: We will waive our usual leave procedures during this crisis and allow staff to use leave as needed. Until we return to a normal operation, staff may use annual leave, sick leave and leave without pay as they feel is most appropriate to manage absences. We will provide specific guidance to all employee groups regarding use of leave over the next couple of days.
  • Future Updates: We will email our next update on Friday, March 20. We will continue to update our staff website. Reach out to your supervisor if you have questions.

State and national developments related to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continue to change rapidly.  Last Friday, Governor Inslee ordered the closure of all schools in the State, effective Tuesday, March 17, through at least Friday, April 24, as a measure to slow the spread of the virus. This is an unprecedented step in Washington State. Several other states have also closed all schools.

Governor Inslee has also announced further restrictions on social gatherings, essentially closing restaurants, theaters, and recreational facilities, while retaining grocery and pharmacy services. High-risk individuals are being asked to ensure social isolation, essentially sheltering in place. This further measure is intended to expand the effectiveness of social-distancing measures.

State and county health departments, school districts, and OSPI are scrambling to keep up with these rapidly changing developments. Capital Region ESD 113 finds ourselves in the same boat. Guidance continues to be updated, and the statewide school closure has created a host of new questions that require guidance from the Governor’s office, OSPI, the federal government, and other governmental and regulatory entities. 

Week of March 16

Starting Tuesday, March 17, and lasting through Friday, March 20, the following work expectations apply:

  • All ESD facilities will be closed to the public. Our regular operations will be suspended and will resume in modified formats/approaches on Monday, March 23.
  • Employees identified by leaders as "essential for ESD operations" will be either provided a telecommuting work placement option, or be expected to report to work as usual. Supervisors and employees will work together to create a work-plan identifying work expectations and clarifying roles. Employees may continue to report to work in person at their discretion.
  • Employees without telecommute agreements, or who do not have roles appropriate for telecommuting may continue to report to work.
  • Employees in positions not designated as essential for ESD operations will not be charged for leave for March 17-March 20.
  • Employees will continue to be paid based on their planned work-calendar for March 17-March 20.
    Leave previously approved for March 17-March 20 will be charged as approved.
  • Employees are encouraged to continue practicing isolation when presenting symptoms of illness, and social distancing during any small group gatherings.  

By the end of this week, we will provide updated guidance on work expectations beyond March 20. 

From Superintendent Dana Anderson:

Coping With Stress

This morning I was thinking about how life has rhythms.  We all have routines, when we get up, what we eat, who we talk to…we have all found some cycle of life, patterns, routines, rhythms…

Well the patterns, routines, and rhythms of life are going to change over the coming weeks.  Schools are going to close, districts are going to close, and in most cases for a number of weeks, not a few days.  Our patterns of life are going to be disrupted, and that is stressful. Let me just acknowledge that, it is a stressful time. It doesn’t have to be a fearful time, or a panic-filled time, but it is a stressful time, because the rhythms of our days are going to be changed.

How do you cope with stress in healthy ways? First, you acknowledge to yourself and others that you are feeling stressed right now. It is ok, and you are not alone. Share what you are thinking and feeling with a trusted confidant. Second, you need to practice mindfulness. Check in with yourself and ask, "What am I thinking and feeling right now?" Am I worried about something real? Imagined? In my control? Out of my control?"

Focusing on the moment and less on the future is a way to cope with the stress. Finding ways to feel and express gratitude is a great strategy for managing your worries. Give yourself permission to take time (outside of work) to do something that nurtures you (read a book, walk in the forest, talk with a friend, enjoy a meal), these things build your resilience and help you cope.

We’ve told you to take care of yourself by washing your hands, covering your coughs, cleaning your work area…take care of yourself also by practicing mindfulness.

on to the news

You have seen, and will continue to see, district and school closures over the coming days/weeks. These are not going to be snow closures of a day or two, but pandemic control closures lasting weeks. You have to be wondering what the ESD is planning.

We will follow local health department directives as cases of COVID-19 show up in our communities and in our staff. If we are directed to close a center, program or building, we will do so. If a district closes where we have an early childhood program, per our bargaining agreement, we will close the centers in that district.  If a district closes where we have programs like GRAVITY or True North, we will consult with health officials and our program staff, and weigh the benefits of continued services and risks of staying open on a case by case basis.

Local government and county officials are moving toward telecommuting for some positions. We are currently preparing to do the same. Right now we are reviewing all staff and all positions to determine those that are telecommuting eligible, and will be preparing tentative telecommuting agreements for appropriate staff roles over the next week. This is a massive undertaking, and we want to do this with purpose and clear planning.

We expect restrictions on large-scale events will come eventually. We are currently reviewing all scheduled events and doing our best to plan for contingencies of continuing or cancelling.

We are reviewing our policies, procedures, agreements and plans to ensure we are ready to ensure continued essential functions, like payroll, decision-making, and essential client services.

Taking Action

Later today we will launch a survey tool to help us gather your questions and concerns so we can improve our communications to staff and help address as many worries as you may have quickly. 

I will change the rhythms of my communications to you, to do my best to keep you informed and share our plans as they become clear. The patterns of life and planning and meetings will change for a while, but normal will return.

From Superintendent Dana Anderson:

We are deep into our planning process — both as a system of ESDs, in support of our districts, and taking care of our agency needs. 

What can you do right now?

  • Get lots of rest.
  • Eat properly.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

Basically, take care of yourself. It all starts there.

At work:

  • Clean your work area with sanitizing wipes.
  • Create social distances in group settings.
  • Protect your colleagues by covering your coughs.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms.

Here's What We're Planning

Staying informed

We have key staff attending updates at the state- and county-level to ensure we have the most current information. Rest assured, we are on the inside of what is happening.

Following Guidance

We will follow local health jurisdiction guidance regarding staff isolation and facilities closures. This guidance is likely to start as general county guidance, then progress to organization-specific direction (clean, close, etc.) based on confirmed cases, then move back to county-wide directives for closures as numbers of cases increase. 

Creating contingency plans

Your executive team and superintendent are working on more detailed, ESD-specific plans based on a variety of health department scenarios. Thankfully, our counties have no confirmed cases at this time, so we have the ability to learn from the work of districts and ESDs to the north. 

Over the coming days, you will learn about the measures for reducing exposure, and slowing the spread of corona virus in King and Snohomish counties. While their population densities are much greater than our five-county region, we believe similar actions may be taken in the weeks ahead in our area.

At this time, we are planning for significant county-wide responses, but hoping we may be spared the need to implement what you will hear coming to King and Snohomish counties.

Leading by example

Uncertainty is stressful, and the constant news cycle about this outbreak is pretty dramatic. This is a time to be cautiously optimistic, while attending to preparedness planning.

You can help by staying informed, checking rumors you hear with leadership, and putting sound health guidelines into practice. 

The Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the best sources of information. Washing your hands is your best protection against getting sick. Please help us stop the spread of infectious diseases by staying home if you are sick (temperature over 100.5). Limit your risks of infection by washing your hands regularly and covering your cough.

 

What is Our agency doing to prepare?

ESD 113's Director of Health Services Lynn Nelson is actively participating in regional and statewide public health informational sessions. Our executive team is continually updated by state and local partners. The executive and leadership teams have reviewed and revised our contingency plans.

We are providing cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer for staff and guests. Our facilities teams sanitize common areas (tables, doors, desks) daily.

We ask that staff:

  • Wash your hands with soap & water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Hand-sanitizing products are a good second choice.
  • Clean & disinfect surfaces and objects such as keyboards, doorknobs, and telephones.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth throughout the day to prevent germs from entering your body.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or tissue.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and then for 72 hours after the fever is gone.

What if cases occur in our service area?

We are in regular contact with county departments of health. If cases emerge in our service area and county health officials recommend telecommuting, suspending large-group gatherings, or other measures, we will follow their guidance (please note, this has not happened yet).

Building Closures

We are planning for a wide range of possible responses to health office guidance, including limiting staff presence in buildings or closing facilities. We will close offices in our programs and administration buildings if:

  • Health officials direct us to close.
  • School buildings where we serve children or students close.

Other direct service program closures will be handled case-by-case.

If we close our main building, we will communicate by School Messenger, email, website, and social media (Facebook & Twitter). Contact your supervisor if you have questions about ESD operations.

Employees who work in facilities we close temporarily will need to make up time or submit leave per our inclement weather policy.

Telecommuting

We are preparing to allow temporary telecommuting options for staff if a county health office directs us to do so. Telecommuting is not an option for all staff, and we are asking supervisors to review all staff and their roles for the possibility of telecommuting.

Large Group Gatherings

If requested by the county health office, we will limit large group gatherings.