Protocol for Worker and Office Safety
DCF is doing its part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while continuing our critical child protection operations. The following precautions and guidelines are in place to ensure everyone’s safety during this unprecedented situation. Please check the Intranet and your email regularly for updates.
The majority of DCF employees are teleworking; however, because of the nature of our work some employees must be in Central, Regional or Area Offices. Before anyone reports to an office or does an in- person visit, we are asking staff to ask themselves and any person they will be interacting with the following screening questions:
- Are you or anyone in your household sick with fever (Higher than 99.9 F) or a newly developed respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
- Have you had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Have you or has anyone in your household been directed to self-isolate or quarantine?
If someone answers yes, their supervisor or manager should be notified immediately. The DCF Medical Team is available to assist with next steps.
Use of PPE on Responses and In Person Visits
Regional and Area Offices have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff to utilize on responses or in- person visits with children and families. Regional Administrative Managers (RAM) and Area Administrative Managers (AAM) are managing PPE distribution to field staff. PPE should be stored in a dry, cool location that is easily accessible. When distributing PPE, gloves and masks should be worn. Additionally, RAMs and AAMs should have a plan in place for accessing PPE in the event an office closure occurs, including ensuring there are other locations staff can access PPE in the event an office closes. Guidance for proper use of PPE is available on the DCF Intranet.
Social Distancing in Offices
When staff need to be in the office, DCF is taking measures to keep the number of people to a minimum to practice safe social distancing. Staff are to notify their supervisor and manager in advance if they need to come into the office. Area Directors are managing the number of people in an office daily. Area Directors and managers are also ensuring proper distance is maintained while in the office.
Closing Offices to Walk-Ins
As of March 16th, Regional and Area Offices have been closed to walk-in visitors. Signs have been posted outside offices notifying the public of this. The signs include contact information for visitors.
Standard Cleaning Procedures for Offices
As of March 13th, DCAMM Office of Leasing sent a letter to all Commonwealth landlords requesting they implement enhanced cleaning services such as:
- Frequent cleaning of high-touch points such as doorknobs, handles, elevator buttons, and countertops
- Ensuring restrooms are well stocked with soap and paper products to support recommended hand washing
- Have hand-sanitizer stations in common areas and workspaces, if possible, to support good hygiene
AAMs/RAMs have reached out to landlords and asked them to post the dates and times of the enhanced cleanings. If there are concerns with a landlord’s compliance with enhanced cleaning in an office, please contact the Area or Regional Administrative Manager.
Office Protocols for Confirmed/Suspected Cases of COVID-19
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must immediately report this information to their Central Office manager or Area/Regional Director, preferably by phone or email.
- Managers and Directors should immediately notify the DCF Medical Team and Deputy Commissioner when there is a positive test finding, preferably by phone and email.
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must also notify the Local Board of Health or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Epidemiology Line at 617-983-6800 and follow any provided instructions.
- DCF will not release the names or health information of employees
- If the Department knows of staff who were in close contact with an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 who was symptomatic while in the office, the Department will inform those individuals and advise them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Office Closures and Deep Cleaning
- If a DCF employee tests positive for COVID-19 and was symptomatic at the office, the office will be closed so that the office can be deep cleaned. Additional guidance on DCF’s deep cleaning protocol can be found here.
- Area/Regional Directors must immediately inform the Deputy Commissioner if they become aware that an employee of an EOHHS agency with which they share office space tests positive for COVID-19. DCF will coordinate with EOHHS and the co-located agency to determine the staff notification, quarantine and cleaning protocol.
Exposure to a Confirmed COVID-19 case
- The DCF Medical Team is managing consultations regarding possible exposure. If staff are concerned about a situation where they may have been exposed to COVID-19, staff should let their manager know. Staff will be asked to provide additional information about the circumstances and the Medical Team can provide additional guidance on next steps.
- Employees who have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-I9 but have not yet tested positive themselves should talk to their health care provider about next steps, including if they need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Close contact is defined as:
- Living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Has been within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or has been in direct contact with secretions (e.g., sharing utensils, being coughed on) from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- If an employee is self-quarantining, they must immediately report this to their manager and director.
- Employees who are home for quarantine but who are not sick are allowed to telework (TEL) every day and are not required to use their accrued time.
- If the employee subsequently develops symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, the directions for confirmed cases should be followed.
- If the employee completes self-quarantine without developing symptoms, they should talk to their manager about next steps in order to return to work.
- If an employee at work has respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they must inform their Central Office Manager/Director or Area/Regional Director, leave work and immediately contact a healthcare provider for further clinical assessment.
- Employees with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must follow the instruction and guidance of their health care provider regarding whether and when they can return to work.
- Central Office Directors or Area/Regional Directors should contact the Deputy Commissioner for further instruction regarding office operations when there is a suspected case.
Residing with a Quarantined Individual
- If an employee resides with a quarantined individual who has not tested positive for COVID-19, staff should let their manager know. The Medical Team can provide consultation and additional guidance on next steps.
- If an employee resides with a quarantined individual who tests positive for COVID-19, the employee must follow the instructions for Exposure to a Confirmed COVID-19 case.
Returning to Work Procedures
Limited information is available to characterize the spectrum of clinical illness, transmission efficiency, and the duration of viral shedding for persons with COVID-19. The following procedures are based on available information about COVID-19 from the CDC and subject to change as additional information becomes available. This guidance will prevent most but may not prevent all instances of secondary spread. The risk of transmission after recovery is likely substantially less than that during illness.
For Persons with COVID-19 Under Isolation:
Persons with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as:
- Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and;
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and; o At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when:
- At least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and;
- There has been no subsequent illness and;
- They remain asymptomatic.
In all cases, for 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should:
- Continue to take universal precautions like limiting contact with household members.
The Massachusetts Department Public Health continues to advise all citizens of the Commonwealth to only leave home when necessary. To limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions, wear a covering for your nose and mouth in any public settings where other people are present. This covering may be a barrier mask, (e.g. bandana, scarf, or cloth mask). The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.