COVID-19 and GVRA Information and Resources

This page reflects agency communication as it relates to COVID-19, GVRA's response and information for staff. 

A Further Update (5.15.20)

GVRA received an update from the Office of the Governor directing state agencies to continue operating under current Public Health Emergency protocol through May 31, 2020. This supersedes the communication all staff received earlier this afternoon. Employees who are able to telework should continue to do so, and admin-office closure leave will be extended for those unable to perform the essential functions of their positions remotely.

We anticipate further guidance at the end of the month. For now, carry on as you have been.  

An Update On State Agency Response To COVID-19 (5.13.20)

On 5.12, Gov. Brian Kemp provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. As we prepare for a gradual transition back to more standard operations, our facilities team and other staff have worked hard to ensure we return to clean and safe work environments. While the Governor broadly referenced the reopening of some state functions Monday, May 18th, we are awaiting more specific guidance from the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) later this week. Once we receive additional direction, we will share details of a phased plan that will ensure alignment with directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health.

Please check your email and our agency website (gvs.ga.gov) frequently for updates over the next few days.

 

A Memo from GVRA Executive Director Shawn Ryan: An update on COVID-19 response/operations (4.30.20)

In the weeks ahead, GVRA will begin a phased-in process of returning to regular business operations. However, with the expiration of the state’s Shelter in Place order today, many of you may have questions about immediate changes.
 
The answer is, for the time being, we will continue to operate under our current structure. If you are teleworking, you will continue to do so. Those on Admin-Office Closure leave will also continue to receive that benefit.  
 
Currently, GVRA leadership is developing plans for a modified return to in-office reporting protocol. Our plan will be incremental and will allow flexibility for extenuating circumstances. Our approach will provide guidance for office coverage, address teleconferencing options for client meetings and describe best practices for safety and good workplace hygiene. Please look for future emails and to your supervisors for more specific guidance.
 
Thank you for your patience and flexibility over the past few weeks. For now, carry on as you have been. Together, we will emerge from these challenges with renewed drive and focus on our mission.

 

Be Aware of Individuals Trying to Gain Access to Buildings Under False Pretenses (4.22.20)

Due in part to the situation surrounding COVID-19, there have been recent attempts by scammers to gain access to buildings by pretending to be service vendors, most commonly cleaning crews. Vendors who are not scheduled for services or who seem questionable should be not allowed inside GVRA facilities without prior verification.  

 

COVID Cybersecurity Training Reminder (4.14.20)

This is a reminder that employees are required to take the following training: Q1: Mandatory Training Staying Cybersecure While Working Remotely (COVID 19). It must be completed by April 17. Team members at Disability Adjudication Services will be granted an extension to complete this, as many are on administrative/office closure leave. A link to the training will have come from the Georgia Cybersecurity Training Platform. 

 

Shelter In Place Order Extended April 30 (4.9.20)

On 4.8.20, Governor Brian Kemp announced he is extending the shelter in place order already implemented statewide through April 30. As you already know, the order provides for basic needs, like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, outings related to the care of medically-fragile loved ones and fulfilling responsibilities for essential jobs and services. Here is previous guidance the Governor’s Office and Department of Public Health have released to help answer many of your frequently asked questions.

This extension comes after an earlier announcement continuing Georgia’s Public Health State of Emergency through May 13 (read more here). At this time, administrative-office closure leave eligibility for some state employees continues through the original date of April 30.

At GVRA, we have aligned all our operations with the shelter in place order and also with best practices for social distancing and environmental safety. Property and Facilities and Fiscal Services staff are leading the charge to ensure every office is cleaned and disinfected before employees return. We continue teleworking operations throughout several of our programs. Where staff remain on the job, we have implemented. 

Shawn Ryan
Executive Director

State of Georgia Shelter in Place Order (4.3.20)

As many of you may know, Governor Brian Kemp signed into effect an executive order last night mandating that Georgia’s citizens stay at home with exceptions for essential employees and critical business operations. The order also provides for basic needs, like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and outings related to the care of medically-fragile loved ones. You can read the full order here, and you will also find additional guidance to many frequently asked questions here.

At GVRA, we have been prepared for such an order for weeks, and we have adjusted the way we do business accordingly. Most of our Vocational Rehabilitation staff are already working from home, conducting client meetings and counseling via phone. Many of our vital administrative functions occur by email or teleconference, providing opportunities for coworkers to exchange information and ideas, while still following social distancing protocol. Other programs have adapted, with reduced staff schedules, opportunities for administrative-office closure leave for certain groups of employees and more stringent sanitation protocol for those who remain on the job. Please note, if you are able to telework, you are discouraged from coming to your office locations unnecessarily. Our facilities should have as little foot traffic as possible to decrease potential exposure and allow cleaning crews to do their work. 

While many of our physical locations are closed, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency remains open for business. Keep doing what you are doing. Our current situation may be seen as a temporary disruption to our usual routines, but I want to remind you that the actions we are all taking to help stop the spread of this pandemic exemplify our care for one another. Even though you are not physically connected to your coworkers and clients, you are still very much present in their lives and critical to the fulfillment of our mission.

Stay safe, healthy and look to your supervisors for answers to any basic operational questions. We look forward to fully reopening in the very near future.

Thank you for all you do.

Shawn Ryan 
Executive Director

 

Disinfecting Local Offices (4.2.20)

As we work to ensure safety for our employees and clients, we want to provide some insight into the methods we are using to sanitize and disinfect our field offices in response to COVID-19. As Executive Director Ryan mandated, no offices are to reopen for business as usual until thorough cleaning is complete. We are developing a schedule that aligns with the extension of the Governor’s Executive Order to state agencies through April 30.
 
Our cleaning contractors will use a product called EnviroShield. Below are some basic facts about the product.
 

  • It kills 99.9% of all harmful bacteria, i.e. MRSA, H1N1, E.coli and listeria
  • Meets CDC cleaning requirements
  • Hospital grade chemicals used
  • Prevents regrowth and spread of microbial germs for up to 3 months
  • EPA approved
  • Does not cause skin, eye or respiratory problems
  • Safe to use in offices on keyboards, telephones, desk printers, etc.

Additionally, a rigorous cleaning schedule is in development for our 200 Piedmont offices. That process requires no action on the part of employees. However, please monitor your emails for updates on days and times when the office will be off limits to staff.
 
We look forward to a safe, healthy return to operations in the future. Look for additional information regarding the preventative measures in place to make that return possible.

New Update from Executive Director Shawn Ryan (3.31.20)

I want to reassure you, your health and the wellbeing of our clients is paramount. In my message to all of you yesterday, I shared that I will not reopen any GVRA location before it is thoroughly sanitized to prevent the spread of illness. To accommodate that cleaning timeline, allow for social distancing and align with a new directive Monday night from the Office of Governor Brian Kemp, I am now extending our current operating status through April 30. 

While we continue to work toward fulfillment of our mission and provide responsive service to our customers and partners, we will do so primarily via telephonic and virtual platforms. This time provides an excellent opportunity to call clients, ensure case files are well-maintained, engage in digital training, update performance document templates and collaborate with colleagues digitally. Even with our physical office doors closed, GVRA remains open for business.

We understand some programs are largely ineligible for teleworking options. In these cases, program leadership will follow up with staff and reiterate response plans and procedures. Where individuals remain on the job, stringent preventative measures and protocol are in place to protect everyone involved.

Managers should continue to assist those staff who are on administrative-office closure leave by documenting their leave time in PeopleSoft. All other staff should report hours teleworked accurately, documenting time each day. In addition, supervisors and employees should maintain close communication, discussing work plans and progress on various projects. It is important that you make sure your manager knows how to reach you, both to facilitate continuing operations and also to ensure you are safe and well.

Thank you for your patience during these challenges. Please remember—these adjustments are temporary and will help us make sure everyone returns safely in the near future.

 

A Message from the Executive Director: Continuing our important work during COVID-19 response (3.30.20)

I hope each of you are in good health and are following all ordinances and best practices intended to keep you and your families safe. As we receive further guidance from the Office of the Governor, we will pass that information along and apply any directives across our programs.

At this time, clean environments are our key priority. Our facilities and fiscal staff is coordinating with program leadership and local managers to ensure deep cleaning statewide. We will not restore any locations to standard operations until those sites are fully sanitized. Your managers will provide any forthcoming updates.

If you are currently teleworking, please continue to do so as we begin this new week. Ensure you are communicating regularly with your managers to prioritize tasks. Additionally, please check your email frequently and look for updates at gvs.ga.gov and on social media.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to do good work. Though our present challenges are unprecedented, the importance of our mission remains constant, and each of you play a key role to fulfill that mission. We will navigate the coming weeks together.

 

Georgia Human Resources Administration COVID-19 Response FAQ (3.30.20)

State governments throughout the United States are responding to the spread of COVID-19.  The state of Georgia is no exception to this effort.

Thus, to help you guide your agency through this situation, the Department of Administrative Services/Human Resources Administration has posted a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions document on our COVID-19 website.

This document was created by the Department of Administrative Services, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office, Office of Planning and Budget, State Accounting Office, and Department of Public Health.

The FAQ document provides guidelines and resources that may be helpful in responding to issues and questions related to COVID-19. It also addresses such issues as leave/pay status, workforce concerns, workers’ compensation, teleworking, and employee relations.
 
You may access the FAQs at the HRA COVID-19 website by clicking here.  In addition to the FAQ document, the site contains other HR COVID-19 related resources and information. Additional information will be added to the site as needed.

 

Use of Fleet Vehicles Suspended

In this time of limited operations in response to COVID-19, GVRA is suspending the use of all fleet vehicles. If you have dropped off a vehicle for a service or repair that is completed, please make arrangements to return the vehicle to its assigned location. If you have dropped off a vehicle for a repair that is not yet completed, and the vehicle is inoperable, please make arrangements to have it towed back to its assigned location.