Reopening Means More than Setting a Date and Having Workers Return
By Luzdy Rivera

Luzdy Rivera
Luzdy Rivera
As Massachusetts nonprofits begin to reopen under the four-phase plan announced by Gov. Charlie Baker last month, having employees return to the work place is not as simple as announcing a reopening date and getting back to business as usual.

Nonprofit should consider the following key steps to help ensure their own reopening plan proceeds in a safe and responsible way.

1. Create a Checklist

Create a list that reflects determined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Here's a sample list.

2. Review Guidelines and Orders

Reopening guidelines vary from state to state and sometimes even from city to city. Be sure to review those local guidelines as you prepare for reopening. It's a good idea to review recommendations by the CDC and WHO as you write and implement health and safety policies and protocols for your office spaces.

3. Create Equitable Policies and Protocols

Before reopening your office spaces, you must create policies and protocols that address health and safety, sick leave, and management of COVID-19 cases with staff. It is essential that policies are implemented across the board and equitably, and that they ensure the health and safety of your staff and communities. It is also important to listen and respond to the concerns of staff, since they can help identify any gaps on protocols that you may have overlooked.

  • Health and safety protocols will address social distancing guidelines, personal hygiene practices, cleaning of high and low touch surfaces, elevator and restroom capacities, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks.

  • Sick leave policies should be considered for individuals who do not qualify for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guidelines. Think about how you can address staff who test positive for COVID-19 who have exhausted their sick and vacation time.

  • Provide reasonable accommodation beyond what is stated by law to support people with underlying conditions or who are considered high risk.

  • Create policies that explain how you will alert staff to positive cases of COVID-19 within your organization and/or building while also respecting privacy and HIPPA laws.

Be sure to follow the Massachusetts sector-specific protocols and best practices.

4. Work with Your Emergency Response Team

If you have not yet created an emergency response team, you should do so immediately. Click here for a guide on how to create your team. Your emergency response team will help review your policies and protocols to ensure that they capture everything you can include. They will also identify staff responsible for ensuring the rollout of policies and protocols as you reopen.

5. Train Your Staff

Training your staff on the proper use of PPE and other health and safety policies and protocols is required by law. Make sure you know how you plan on training your staff and who is responsible for those trainings.

6. Continue Work from Home as Much as Possible

TSNE is strongly encouraging all of their employees to continue to work remotely as much as possible. One of the biggest staff concerns we have is how to get to the office on public transportation—a health and safety concern we as an organization are unable to address. Since the health and safety of our staff is our number one priority, anyone who can work from home effectively will continue to do so—potentially even after our offices officially reopen.

Be flexible and modify expectations to enable your team to work remotely. People are facing daily challenges with their new routines in these unprecedented times, ranging from childcare to caregiving for relatives, to managing their own physical and mental health.

Luzdy Rivera is director of human resources at TSNE Mission Works, a fiscal sponsor that supports over 60 nonprofit organizations nationwide. Email her at lrivera@tsne.org.

June 2020