WARSAW — Although Kosciusko County offices remain open at this time, county commissioners made a move that will assure that county employees will be paid for scheduled work if an emergency closing is necessary due to the pandemic conditions.
Kosciusko County Commissioners approved the change in policy at their meeting Tuesday, March 17. The addition includes temporary, seasonal and part-time employees, who will be paid for hours regularly scheduled to work.
The Health Pandemic Emergency Closing addition reads: When a health pandemic has been declared by the State of Indiana, County Commissioners may alter, modify and suspend necessary procedures as recommended by the County Health Department, the Indiana State Health Department and Centers for Disease Control.
The county will follow all guidelines and directives provided by the County Health Department, the Indiana State Health Department and Centers for Disease Control to determine facility closures.
The commissioners will identify essential employees who will be required to work or telecommute in case of an emergency closing. Essential employees will be determined based upon the circumstances of each health pandemic. Essential employees that are required to work will receive payment for hours actually worked at the rate of time and a half.
“I know this has been a hot topic for awhile for a lot of the community here and we’ve been spending a lot of time as a county looking at this,” said Commissioner Cary Groninger, who told those in attendance that a department head meeting was held yesterday.
“We requested (department heads) to go through and kind of give us what their essential employees were and how they fell into different categories so that we’d know who would need to be here if we did have to close,” Groninger said.
He pointed out that the state health department and/or county health department would be the ones making the decision on whether county departments would close.
“We realize there are a lot of anxious people out there and a lot of concerns,” Groninger said. “This is something unprecedented for our community that we’re dealing with. We just want to make sure we’re prepared for that if and when it happens.”
“We want to react out of facts, not just fear and emotions,” Commissioner President Brad Jackson said.
Commissioner Vice-President Bob Conley said they initially took additional cleaning and sanitizing measures, such as wiping handrails and doorknobs, “the initial things you do almost immediately to sort of neutralize that sort of thing,” Conley said. “This just goes a step further.”
Jackson said they have discussed closing the courthouse to the public as an intermediate step, but are not taking the step at this time.
Jackson said he would encourage everyone to perform basic health habits and develop prevention strategies in the future in order to reduce the impact and spread of illnesses such as seasonal influenza.
“Hopefully that’s one of the positives to come out of this,” Jackson said.