Updated: Jul 7
UPE and DHA continued to meet and confer over the Department’s plan to reopen operations on August 23, 2021. The Department had initially proposed a full return to normal operations when they first proposed the plan in late Spring. UPE always opposed this plan, citing the continued presence of COVID-19, the fact that in-person operations were occurring, and that other services were being offered remotely. However, the Department pressed on with its plan. As COVID increased over the summer, UPE renewed its objections to the plan and asked that telework be continued and expanded. The Department would not back away.
However, at this meeting, the Department showed their first signs of backing away from full reopening and recognizing the reality UPE had been showing them all summer. First, they changed their stance and stated that intake appointments would continue to be limited to one per time slot. Originally, the Department proposed a return to the normal intake schedule with each worker having multiple intakes a day. The Department also proposed reopening the resource rooms but limiting capacity. If the Department insists on reopening, UPE will continue to make proposals to keep safety a top priority. Instead of increasing lobby capacity from 25% to 100%, UPE proposed increasing it to only 50%. The County agreed. Instead of returning to a full in-person job club, UPE proposed continuing with a virtual job club for the next three months to see the course of the pandemic. The County agreed.
In light of schools planning on returning to full in-person learning in the Fall, the County also wanted to end schedule accommodations for parents beginning August 23. UPE pointed out that not all schools are open on August 23, which would leave some parents with a false choice between caring for their children or going to their jobs. UPE proposed this be extended until all Sacramento County schools reopen. UPE also proposed that the Department reevaluate offering schedule accommodations, including telework, should any school or school district stop offering an in-person-only option. The Department agreed to these proposals as well. However, the Department would not extend the accommodation to parents choosing to keep their children home when a full-time in-person option is being offered. Through sustained pressure on the Department, UPE made significant improvements in the Department’s plan.
In response to UPE, the Department also proposed several changes and reductions to GATE services at 28th St. However, this information was only recently presented to UPE, and UPE has a number of questions. UPE proposed a delay in implementing these procedures to provide time for UPE and DHA to meet and confer over the impact of the changes adequately. However, the Department would not agree to postpone. UPE will continue to press the Department on this issue. The two sides will continue to meet, and UPE will continue to update members.