XENIA — City Manager Brent Merriman announced changes to some city policies and procedures in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
In the administrative directive signed Monday and effective Tuesday, policies regarding attendance, paid leave, and other benefits were temporarily relaxed or adjusted to allow greater flexibility as the coronavirus continues to sweep through the state.
Merriman declared a state of emergency March 16, giving him authority to make such changes.
According to the directive, employees are encouraged to stay home from work to recover from illness, care for an ill family member, or in some cases, due to direct human-to-human exposure. The city is waiving its attendance policy through April 30 and doctors’ excuses will not be required.
“We will reinstitute these accountability measures when the current health crisis abates,” Merriman said in an email.
The city is directing employees to take sick leave when they experience general cold or flu-like symptoms; have a confirmed case of COVID-19; arrive at work symptomatic and are sent home; and are needed at home to care for an ill family member.
Employees will be allowed to go into a “negative” sick leave balance before requiring other available paid leave to be used.
“This means for legitimate sick leave purposes, they can have pay continuity using sick time not yet accrued,” Merriman said. “They will have to offset this negative balance completely through their normal accrual and eventually get into the positive accrual again.”
Certain public safety employees could be required to be on a 14-day quarantine or return to work for modified duty if direct human-to-human exposure is confirmed. Employees placed on quarantine will be compensated under a special leave provision on a case-by-case basis, according to the directive.
Other items addressed:
— Public safety chiefs are instructed to maintain emergency contingency staffing plans and are empowered to implement such plans as needed. They are also to maintain enhanced policies and protocols for disinfection, use of PPE, and other appropriate measures to ensure staff safety.
— The public service director is instructed to maintain emergency contingency staffing plans to ensure uninterrupted operation of all water and wastewater treatment facilities and is authorized to implement the plans. Grass mowing in key rights-of-way and public spaces, street sweeping, general roadway maintenance, general facility maintenance, and general water main and sewer main maintenance projects are considered essential work functions.
— Disconnection of water service for failure to play is suspended until further notice. Customers are required to continue paying for utility service and are responsible for any and all unpaid utility usage during the moratorium. Previously disconnected water service is to be reconnected.
— City facilities will remain closed through April 30 or until further notice. Space reservations for Shawnee Park Pavilion and Xenia Station are discontinued and previously scheduled events are cancelled and reservation fees will be refunded. Playground equipment and similar hands-on amenities at city parks are closed. Bike and walking trails, and other passive amenities remain open.