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Members of New Community’s Safe Reopening Committee assess workspaces at New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI) July 9. The committee, tasked with helping department directors in their plans to bring employees back to their desks, conducted site visits throughout the NCC network to ensure social distancing was possible and determine the need for signage. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Galvez.

New Community Prepares for Staff’s Return to On-Site Work

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists nationwide, New Community continues to take steps to ensure its sites are as safe as possible for employees, residents and clients. The Safe Reopening Committee was formed at the end of June to assess sites throughout the network and work with department directors on their plans to bring all employees back to their workstations.

“We are committed to providing the safest environment possible for our employees, residents and clients,” said New Community CEO Richard Rohrman. “The Safe Reopening Committee has been an integral part of ensuring each department has what it needs as employees return on site.”

The Safe Reopening Committee is comprised of five members: Chief Operating Officer Fred Hunter, Director of Human Resources Benjamin Galvez, Security Operations Manager John Wade, Security Safety Coordinator Obinna Onwunaka and Director of Environmental Services Wayne Gravesande. The committee’s goal is to ensure each site has what it needs to welcome employees back in the safest way possible.

The group conducted site visits to assess signage, the ability to practice social distancing and other safety protocols, including the installation of plexiglass around workstations. The committee reviewed each department’s plan for bringing employees back on site and provided guidance when necessary. Committee members talked through any issues and also worked with department and program directors to ensure proper sanitation of workspaces and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), including ordering procedures.

“I think the staff has done a very good job of being responsible and wearing masks,” Hunter said. “We’re confident that if people continue to do social distancing, wear their masks and wash their hands, it will certainly reduce the risk.”

Part of the Safe Reopening Committee’s task was ensuring uniform signage throughout the network. That way employees, residents and visitors are aware of safety rules and guidelines, such as wearing a face covering, using hand sanitizer, staying at least six feet apart from others and adhering to updated capacity limits in spaces like elevators and laundry rooms.

Employees may experience changes to their workstations for additional safety, including plexiglass installation and perhaps facing in a different direction if they share a room with a coworker.

Hunter said it’s important to understand that everyone is operating in a changed world.

“Things will not be the same,” he said. “Everything you used to do, you have to do differently now. When it comes to meeting with people, assessing clients, following up with folks and having follow-up discussions, it may require phone calls instead of face-to-face meetings or using a larger space to meet with fewer people.”

The creation of the Safe Reopening Committee was a proactive approach with the overarching goal to keep the risk of COVID-19 infection low.

“We’re just doing the best we can do to keep everyone safe,” Hunter said.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. George Thomas

    Hope we’re not rushing this reopening, If Newark Public Schools and Rutgers have opted for remote instruction, why have we decided to re-open with in-person instruction. It heightens the risk of many staff who dont have private offices and will be required to give classroom instruction. franklly, I believe it too soon. All it takes is one positive test and/or a hospitilzation(or perhaps worst) to make this a failed experiment.

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