It’s been 22 days since Governor DeWine initially declared a state of emergency in Ohio. While there were things happening related to the coronavirus prior to that, that March 9 declaration began to really change our world. We began limiting travel, canceling in-person training and increasing the cleaning regimen in the building. Schools were still open, but not for long. We sent out our pandemic contingency plan in the event the pandemic took hold. Unfortunately, it did.
Consider where we have been since then:
On March 12, we began, in force, implementing that pandemic plan. Field workers who could immediately work from home began to do so. We swiftly deployed resources to ensure they had remote working capabilities. Here’s a portion of the email I sent that day to my staff: “JFS is vital to this community and people count on us to be there in the worst of times. This is among the most difficult times of our lifetime. With that in mind, we will do everything we can to ensure we still provide vital services to our clients in the safest manner possible…”
And we have.
When Gov. DeWine announced schools would close March 16, our world changed even more. The county took the unprecedented step to grant emergency leave to staff impacted by the coronavirus. By this point, we had implemented our curbside intervention and drop box, dramatically cutting building traffic. Virtually all agency business was being conducted over the phone or online. Field staff were outfitted with gloves and hand sanitizer.
That day, I issued a call to action to all staff that concluded by asking each of my staff members who would be the safety net in this time of crisis: “If not us, then who? These are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary people. This community needs us and counts on us. We are the safety net. I ask you to rally for your coworkers and your community. Whether it was 30 years ago or 30 days ago, we all signed up to be public servants. Now is our time to live up to that title.”
And they have. We are making a difference and changing lives.