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COVID-19 Update, Worceser Public Schools Closed March 13

For Immediate Release: 3/12/2020 7:05 pm

The City of Worcester has released the following update on COVID-19:

  • Out of an abundance of caution, all Worcester Public Schools will be closed on Friday, March 13 for cleaning. There are three individuals within the Worcester Public Schools that have been identified as persons under investigation (PUI). These individuals will be tested and results should be forthcoming. These individuals are associated with North High School and Chandler Magnet School.

Action steps implemented:

  • On March 9, the Worcester Division of Emergency Management, the Division of Public Health and the City Manager’s Office established a Unified Command Structure. On March 10, the Worcester Public Schools were added to the Unified Command Structure to ensure communication, coordination and collaboration between ALL major impacted City departments.

  • An Incident Action Plan was developed and submitted to the Unified Command team on March 10. This plan outlines the citywide strategic approach to managing the COVID-19 situation and ensures all departments have a consistent set of operational objectives. The operational period established in the plan will constantly be evaluated on a daily basis depending upon the circumstances.

  • As of March 12, the City’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated and will be open seven days a week. The City will be managing this crisis from that location with a full staff. As circumstances change, the City will adapt as necessary.

  • Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) guidance has been issued to all City departments to ensure the continuity of essential city operations.

  • The City Manager has established a task force made up of the city’s Unified Command, the Division of Public Heath, the City Manager’s Office, the WRTA, the Worcester Housing Authority, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Discover Central Mass, hospitals, community health organizations, senior care facilities, the DCU Center, nonprofit organizations, shelter managers, MEMA and the United Way. The task force will meet on a weekly basis.
Executive Order:

The City Manager has issued An Executive Order Implementing Temporary Measures to Minimize the Impact of Both the Seasonal Flu and the Coronavirus Pandemic. It includes the following directives for City of Worcester employees:

  • All work-related travel, both foreign and domestic, is to be discontinued until further notice.

  • Conferences, seminars, and other discretionary gatherings, scheduled and hosted by agencies involving external parties, are to be held virtually or canceled until further notice.

  • Regular internal business shall continue, including but not limited to mandated public hearings and board meetings. (new protocols forthcoming)

  • Additionally, City employees shall not attend external work-related conferences, seminars or events until further notice.

  • City employees feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms must stay home.

  • As of March 1, the following protocols have been put in place: proper self-care and hygiene such as washing hands, ensuring bathrooms are stocked with hand washing materials and paper products, frequently cleaning touch points such as doorknobs, handles, elevator buttons and common area surfaces, and making cleaning products and sanitizers available in all City workspaces.
In addition to this Executive Order, all City-sponsored events that have an expected attendance of 50 or above have been canceled.

As of March 12, the Worcester Senior Center has been closed until further notice
. With seniors being part of the most vulnerable populations, the City is acting with an abundance of caution. Senior Center staff is working on plans to support the needs of our seniors both at their homes and within the community.

Communications to the public:
  • City of Worcester website – COVID-19 information has been elevated to the top level of the homepage and a dedicated landing page has been created at www.worcesterma.gov/coronavirus with resources and information. This page will be constantly updated as new information becomes available.

  • A video library has been created on the COVID-19 page with health tips and facts about the virus from City of Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh. Residents are asked to share these videos widely among their social networks.

  • A COVID-19 Information Line has been established at (508) 799-1019 - The line provides facts and information about COVID-19, how to stop the spread, what to do if someone is experiencing symptoms and quarantine information. The line will be available in multiple languages.

  • Collateral promoting proper hygiene practices have been posted in all public buildings in multiple languages.

  • Digital signage across the city is being utilized to encourage good hygiene practices 

  • Laminated employee cards for all workstations and City vehicles will be distributed and displayed with proper guidance.

  • New protocols for public meetings will be implemented, including boards and commissions, where a statement will be read by the Chair at the beginning of each meeting outlining protocols for best public health practices and providing the necessary supplies.

  • Residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertWorcester to receive ongoing important notifications.

  • The City will continue to constantly monitor the situation and make changes whenever and wherever necessary.

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