The dedicated first line responders in the Deputy Probation Officers’ Bargaining Unit continue to step up to the front lines to ensure both the safety of juveniles in the
Probation Department Halls and Camps, juveniles in Children & Family Services, juveniles and adults in the Field Offices and Pre-Trial Services, and our fellow members doing the job to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In yesterday’s 3:00 p.m. conference call with Probation Management, Local 685 Executive Board members were notified that
not a single juvenile
had tested positive for the Coronavirus at this time.
However, five of our brave Brothers and Sisters have indeed tested positive for COVID-19 and they have been quarantined for 14 days. Co-workers who were within six feet of contact for more than 10 minutes with those that tested positive were home quarantined for 14 days to protect both juveniles and other staff in accordance with Department of Public Health (DPH) protocols.
Each office location where first line responders tested positive has been deep cleaned and disinfected to maintain the safety of the work environment.
During these challenging times, your Union continues to work in partnership with management to ensure that members are safe and that special efforts are being made to ensure that all staff receive PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment – Masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, etc.) while performing your duties and responsibilities as front line/essential staff.
After pressing for two weeks, Local 685 leadership held its first meeting with Children & Family Services (DCFS) yesterday. We receive information about two potential COVID-19 alerts out of Edelman Court, and we were able to confirm that DCFS is following DPH protocols for quarantines and contact tracing. We were able to confirm available masks, gloves, and sanitizing material for Edelman Court and Lancaster/AV Court facilities. We addressed the significant challenges facing VIP staff and the need to immediately address safe distancing and safe hygiene at the location. We are scheduled for a follow-up meeting to address specific VIP location issues.
The Probation Department has confirmed that after it receives notice that a staff person may have contracted COVID-19, whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, they are segregated and sent home. Once a test is administered, the employee would be quarantined for calendar 14 days, if the test proves positive. The Probation Department collaborates with the Department of Public Health and follows their medical guidance, protocols, and well as the CDC guidance, and other unified medical guidance.
National, state, and local Public Health medical leaders are preparing the entire country for the “COVID-19” surge, which experts believe will be during the third week in April leading into the first or second week in May. Your Executive Board members and Probation management representatives discussed planning for pending operational changes to address the surge.
Additional operational changes include:
- The Probation Department will be cancelling vacation leave requests that have been filed in both Juvenile Halls.
- SEO Field Officers will be redeployed from the Institutions to perform needed home assignment checks and other field assignments.
- ASCOT Deputies and CAI (Central Adult Investigations) staff will be deployed to the Juvenile Halls and Camps.
- Other non-SEO Deputies will be deployed to the institutions, as well as staff that are currently assigned to the Probation Camps (RTSB).
The staffing situation is fluid and will be adjusted to meet the emergent operations in the Department to ensure Probation services are maintained in a safe and secure manner.
The Union questioned whether the Department would mandate that employees wear face masks in the Institutions, and whether they could make their own masks. The Department followed up with Public Health and will be developing a policy to require the wearing of masks on the job during business hours.
I am eternally grateful for the dedication, bravery, and efforts of each member of our bargaining unit who comes to work daily to do your jobs under unprecedented working conditions. In the Probation Halls and Camps, in the Field Offices, at Pre-Trial Services, and at DCFS, we remain committed and ready to serve.
The next 2-3 weeks will be critically important for labor and management to work together to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Union pledges to immediately notify the Probation Department and DCFS of any reported work-related information concerning physical distance requirements, positive test for any juvenile or staff person, need for personal protection equipment, or the need for deep cleaning and disinfectant of affected work locations.
I am urging all of our members to continue to work together with your Union and Department Management during this critical period.
Collectively, we will get through the COVID-19 pandemic.