CTEP COVID19 RELATED POLICIES
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN CTEP SUPERVISORS AND MEMBERS
During office closures, we would like:
- Members and Supervisors to continue to have a minimum one-hour a week virtual meeting, either by phone or video. During this meeting, it is the responsibility of site supervisors to ensure that the member has sufficient work for the week, which should add to around 25-30 hours. If a supervisor is struggling to come up with work for the member to complete, please contact CTEP staff for assistance.
- We would like Members to send a daily email to supervisors at the end of each business day to summarize their accomplishments for the day, and if they need any support. This will help supervisors be able to approve hours at the end of a payperiod (confirm work was done as indicated on the timesheet), and increase communication and support needs. This doesn’t need to be a novel, and should take a member about 5 minutes to complete, and basically fleshes out a little more information of what the member is putting on their timesheet. Members, feel free to send screen shots, or links to things you are working on to give your supervisors a better sense of your accomplishments! After three weeks or so, if your supervisor feels like daily emails are not necessary to stay connected/help support/verify service hours, the supervisor could instruct the member not to send them. But we’d like to give this a try for a while.
MEMBERS COMMUNICATING WITH CTEP REGARDING ILLNESS
You have probably heard that it is currently almost impossible for non-essential staff (folks that aren't medical workers for example) to get testing for COVID-19 even if you suspect you have it.
Until that is possible, I highly suggest you order a thermometer if you don't already have one. They are still inexpensive on Amazon and other services. It is important right now to know if you have a fever or not.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, etc), please notify CTEP staff and your site supervisor immediately. MN Dept of Health currently recommends that you self-quarantine at your place of residence. That means that you should not be out in the world, even if you are respecting the 6 feet of social distancing. We can then work to find ways to support you or connect you to resources that can (arranging for food/supply drop-off, etc, if necessary)
To expand, our suggested protocol in case a member may have been exposed to COVID-19 includes:
Notifying a supervisor or program manager and keeping them informed.
Contacting their health care provider for instructions. The provider will interview the member to determine if testing is necessary and collect information about potential exposure to others. If testing is recommended, the provider will order it. If the test is positive, the provider will notify the member and contact the CDC.
If a test result is positive, the member should report it to a designated person (put the name and phone number here). The designated person on that call should ask:
- When and where do you think you were exposed?
- Who may have been exposed through contact with you in the course of your service?
- Do I have your permission to use your name if I necessary when speaking to others who may have been exposed by contacts with you? (note date/time/permission)
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary a great deal ranging from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and for some, shortness of breath. Some people also experience muscle aches, headache, sore throat and diarrhea. These symptoms are also found in many other common infections.
If you are feeling sick, here is an example from Allina Health of a free, online COVID-19 screening interview. It's available 24/7 and takes about 5 minutes to complete. I could help answer if you need to go in to see a professional or not.
So much continues to change on a daily basis with our communities rushing to respond to the arrival of COVID19. With school, library, and rec center closures through the city, SPNN staff also moved to work remotely effective March 17. Our office telephone numbers are set to forward to numbers at home, so it should still be very easy to get ahold of us.
To better support our AmeriCorps members to keep them safe, if a service site is still open, members should only come in to their service site as long as they can abide by the 6 feet of social distance separation between other staff and participants. This policy will be in effect until the MN Department of Health removes this restriction.
We recognize that this will have huge implications for a members ability to do direct service, and will probably effectively end in-person direct service for most CTEP members as we know it. Even in open lab situations, we recognize that providing direct support for people would be very difficult to accomplish if you could not be within 6 feet of a learner.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION/CAPACITY BUILDING SUPPORT FOR CTEP SITES
One response to social distancing could be for us to turn inward, hunker down and simply wait this out. Instead, my sense is that COVID-19 also presents an opportunity to prove that the mission of CTEP to teach technology literacy skills has actually never been more vital, and that our members can play pivotal roles in helping organizations adjust to continuing to provide services, collaborate on work together, and communicate in alternative formats.
For example, I am aware that some of our partner sites like Adult Options in Education in Hopkins are working to move all of their adult basic education classes online, with adult participants connecting to their class through GoToMeeting. You could use CTEP members to investigate these distance learning alternatives to begin direct service more quickly.
So.... for the next weeks or possibly months, the service year is going to look radically different. Focus now will shift from direct instruction to instead working on capacity building projects for your site, and new methods of instruction. We encourage site supervisors and members to come up with projects that will allow CTEP members to work in teams across like-minded sites, to encourage collaboration as well as social connection recognizing that we will need to be very intentional about not feeling isolated in the days ahead.
As you know, 50% of a members hours can be spent capacity building over the course of the year, and that members can complete that work remotely if that is approved by the supervisor. I am hoping that each member has projects that they can do remotely to support their site (curricula development, marketing, refining volunteer or lab procedures, etc) even if they are not able to complete direct service at their site. Please let me know if you need help with ideas for this.
I am hoping supervisors have a plan in place for how they can maximize sanitation in their computer labs and work spaces, which may involve some new procedures in light of the outbreak (possible examples, what kind of signage does your lab have about washing hands before using lab equipment, or encouraging lab participants to stay home if they are sick, etc). CTEP members may require additional training for this.
REMOTE PROCTORING FOR NORTHSTAR OR OTHER CERTIFICATIONS
The Northstar development team released on March 26 a Best Practices for Remote Northstar Test Proctoring, which basically involves proctoring the exam through a video call.
Remember this is only for learners you are working with who actually wish to get an official certificate saying that they have passed a Northstar standard.
As before, members can continue to administer North Star assessments, and count those results on your spreadsheet even without the official proctoring process if you are confident that the assessment was delivered with fidelity.
We know that many members still have a plan and ability to serve their normal hours and finish the year receiving their full education award. We also recognize that not having members be able to do direct service in their normal way could make this really challenging. We are expecting that members serving a minimum of 25-30 hours a week during this time. Please let Lizzie or I know if you do not have sufficient guidance from your site to complete this level of hours.
Please don't stress about your AmeriCorps service hours. Members will continue to be paid normally even if they are tele-serving, or are not able to serve exactly the same number of hours during this period from home. I have been informed by the Corporation for National & Community Service, that part of the CARES Act that was passed by Congress included some AmeriCorps specific provisions. Here is an important one for you: AmeriCorps members who finish their term length (end of August 2020) but do not complete their 1700 hours, would still receive the full value of your Education Award if your service was impacted by COVID19.
For our program, our expectations remain that while sites are closed we want members to be serving a minimum of 25-30 hours a week. If you wish to be serving more than that, that is also fine but not required. When sites reopen we expect members to return to the normal schedule of serving 7 hour days, or 35 hours a week.
So hopefully that should assuage any members concerns about their ability to complete the year even with a worst-case scenario of extended site closures with the virus outbreak.
FOCUS ON CATEGORIZING TIME AS CAPACITY BUILDING, LESS AS TRAINING
As we move into a time period where completing direct service hours could be more difficult, I want to caution members against categorizing too many of your hours as "training" hours on your timesheet. AmeriCorps programs actually have a training hours cap that we are not allowed to exceed 20% of total hours across the program.
So many of you are researching right now new technologies for example that you could incorporate into your site programming. For me, a more appropriate categorization of those hours would be "capacity building." Please emphasize "capacity building" for this type of research time, and not "training" hours on your timesheet. Training is really more meant to be time where you are solely benefiting and not your service site in any way.
DIRECT SERVICE RELATED TO COVID 19 RESPONSE (How to record hours, get approval, etc.)
In an effort to respond to the outbreak, CNCS is relaxing restrictions on what AmeriCorps members are able to get direct service hours. CTEP's policy of only allowing 25 hours for the year for individual civic engagement activities is changing to allow members to serve unlimited direct service hours if they are directly assisting in disaster relief activities related to COVID-19 closures and social distancing procedures. Please see below for more detailed ideas of what kinds of activities could count for this.
If this is something you are interested in, to get hours you would need to submit the same documentation to CTEP that you would for individual service hours, and get your site supervisor's approval. So basically everything is the same, except that for this type of activity, there is no limit to the amount of hours that you could accrue.
If you are assisting individuals for COVID-19 disaster response, please count those individuals on your tracking sheet, and indicate "COVID-19" in the "Class/Group Name" (Column B). You don't need to know their names necessarily, but ServeMinnesota may be interested in the number of individuals that CTEP members have assisted in this manner.
New Activities: Supporting schools and communities in disaster relief activities related to COVID-19 closures and social distancing procedures. Including, but not limited to, preparing and serving school meals, assisting community organizations or schools in maintaining a safe and educational environment for displaced students, developing and implementing distance learning solutions for students, as well as engaging in these activities for the wider community affected by coronavirus closures. Additional activities may include supporting the local community with food insecurity, social isolation, including collaboration with Senior Corps, and social distancing appropriate service, including environmental or housing support services.
Locations: Non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and/or government entities providing alternate care or relief activities for students and adults impacted by COVID-19 closures and social distancing.
Supervision Plan: On-site supervisor for activities that take place in current service site, but lie outside of the normal service activities; Program staff weekly check-ins via phone, email or video for community organization based service. No prohibited or unallowable activities will be allowed.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT PROJECTS
Obviously social distancing is going to have a huge impact on projects ability to have folks come together, or even to plan for future events.
We would like CE Project teams to continue to meet virtually on a weekly basis. Find a time that works for your group. Try to make sure each person in your team has some type of goal for each week to complete and report on for the following week.
My own opinion is that each group should be reformulating their projects based on the situation. If a major deliverable of your project is an event or conference, my own opinion with all the information that we have now is that you should plan any events to occur mid June or July, but not in April or May. Or switching the focus of your project less on critical events, and more creation of online resources that contribute to your topic.