The past several days have brought unprecedented challenges to Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency as well as the rest of the state. We know you are all dealing with concerns for your own health and for the welfare of your families. To that end, we hope the next steps described below will help alleviate some of your concerns.  
 
Late this afternoon, the Office of Governor Brian Kemp authorized the emergency closure of non-essential offices within state agencies through Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in response to COVID-19. Because we have five interdependent yet very unique programs as well as departmental administration, this directive may impact the various areas of our agency in different ways. Program and local leadership will follow up with staff accordingly. However, the guidance here applies broadly.
  
All staff who are able to telework are expected to continue to do so. Those full-time, permanent staff who are unable to telework are eligible for administrative-office closure leave, which will not be deducted from compensatory, administrative, personal or sick leave balances. Managers will be notifying those employees who are eligible for administrative-office closure leave. Further guidance will follow to instruct you as to how time should be documented.
 
Vocational Rehabilitation local offices will not require in-person coverage. Door signage is already posted with directions for walk-in clients. However, employees who are able to telework are expected to do so.

The Georgia Industries for the Blind (GIB) will remain open. The decision to keep GIB open is not one I take lightly, but its unique structure and its current fiscal position require it to continue operations. A shutdown significantly risks the program’s longer-term viability. Staff at GIB should report to work as normal and continue exercising the same health precautions they have been for the last week. Staff who do not wish to come to work may take annual leave or leave without pay.

All administrative functions will continue. Administrative leadership will be following up directly with staff. 

Other programs are currently developing response plans, to be communicated in the next 24 hours by program leadership. Until you hear from your supervisor or local management, please follow existing plans already in place.
 
We ask that all employees continue monitoring email and the agency website for critical updates regarding operations as well as your return to work on April 1, 2020. In the interim, anyone personally affected by presumed or confirmed COVID-19 should notify their supervisor out of consideration for colleagues who may have been in recent contact.  
 
Please know that we appreciate all of you, and your health is paramount to us. We encourage you to be safe during this time and to keep following the health and wellness recommendations of the CDC and the Department of Public Health.
 
Shawn Ryan
GVRA Executive Director