July 29, 2020

Dear SBCEO Employee,

I am writing to you today to provide information on our SBCEO reopening plan. 

In June, we communicated plans to have all SBCEO employees on-site at 100% by August 3.  Since then, there have been significant changes to our statewide, tri-county, and county metrics. Those changes, along with the principles below and your valuable input, have provided the lens through which we have modified our plan. 

Throughout the pandemic, there have been four leading principles guiding our approach: 

  • Protecting the health and safety of our staff and their families. We have taken significant steps to implement health and safety measures throughout SBCEO (e.g., PPE, physical barriers, restrictions on visitors, and physical distancing).
  • Supporting the wellness of our employees. The ever-changing nature of this pandemic is challenging on many levels. We strive to support our employees' physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Maintaining excellent service and leadership throughout the county, for schools and districts, and programs, staff, and employees.
  • Being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. As civil servants and essential workers, it is critical that we work at 100% capacity, and are present for our internal program teams, schools and districts, and our communities.  

With this in mind, we have decided to lengthen the transition period until the time at which a full reopening is appropriate based on several factors, including local and tri-county metrics. This means we will pause the plan to have all staff on-site at the same time, and divisions will work to reduce the number of contacts within shared spaces. In some cases, on-site work schedules will remain the same as they are now, and in other cases, they may be adjusted.  Division leads will continue to work with staff on these schedules.  

Before sharing other elements of our reopening plan today, I want to pause here to address a question several colleagues have raised about why we will not be returning to the remote work approach we took in the spring.  There are several important reasons: 1) We are stewards of public dollars. With that comes the responsibility to be as present as possible--as safely as possible--for each other, our organization, and our programs and communities;  2) The environment is significantly different today compared to where it was in the spring, when the Governor ordered Californians to stay at home. We have implemented extensive health and safety practices, and have met the state and local guidelines for essential workplaces.  However, we will remain adaptable, and loosen and tighten our approach as needed; 3) Our own programs are not in the same place they were in the spring.  Many of our programs and departments are open and are serving the community - we need to support them to the fullest extent in the most efficient and effective manner; 4) Schools are reopening in a matter of weeks and we need to be accessible to support and serve them as well.

Having said this, we recognize that we’re heading into another phase with schools opening soon via distance learning.  This has reverberating impacts on every student, parent/guardian, teacher, school staff, employers, and on the community at large. We have heard from many of our SBCEO colleagues with school-aged children that supporting distance learning while providing excellent service and leadership at SBCEO may prove to be an enormous challenge.  We know that information about your child/ren’s school(s) continues to emerge and evolve, and you eagerly await more information. Your input to us has been that you would appreciate some flexibility from SBCEO, to be able to collaborate with your supervisor as details emerge about school and work schedules, and that you may need continued support this school year.  We want you to know that we will work with you as you sort out schedules and provide individualized flexibility within department parameters, which may include alternative hours or remote work. The four leading principles mentioned above will also guide our decisions about these arrangements.

This flexibility extends beyond those with school-aged children, to include those with other extenuating circumstances including medical needs, and we will continue to work with you as well.  Let's collaborate to balance all the priorities as we take one day at a time.  

In the future, we'll work toward having all staff at the same time on our campuses and sites.  For now, let's keep our focus on our core principles as we work together to increase the safety, health and wellness of employees, provide service and leadership and extend grace and flexibility to those colleagues who need it most right now. 

Thank you,