Spring is typically a busy time for the Staff Relations department, which oversees processes for staff reviews, tenure recommendations and retirements. This work has continued during the school closure, but the team’s primary focus has been to support South Orangetown staff members as they contend with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Director of Staff Relations Joseph Lloyd, Ph.D. reports out about his team’s efforts.
Q: How has your department been supporting staff during this unprecedented time?
A: As our understanding of Covid-19 unfolded, we very much worked to establish routine, ongoing communications with our partners at the Rockland County Department of Health and utilized the New York State Department of Health Novel Coronavirus 24-hour hotline. Our staff members were conscientious in sharing their own experiences with potential direct or indirect exposures to the coronavirus. These interactions informed the development of a protocol to address staff inquiries related to Covid-19, both before and during our current remote operations.
In our continued efforts to support staff members, we’ve been in regular communication with our unit leaders, as well as individual staff members, while overseeing processes like attendance, benefits administration, Board of Education agenda preparation, employee inquiries and staff evaluations. Along the way, we have also shared resources from our District’s employee assistance program.
We are in the process of developing a team-building project to promote collegiality, social distancing and solidarity. We are encouraging staff members to share (through pictures) what they have been doing to be productive and to sustain their social-emotional wellbeing. A video presentation of submissions will be shared internally to enable staff to “see” each other and connect virtually.
Q: How has the school closure impacted the way that your office operates?
A: Staff Relations is operating at full function as our members complete their responsibilities remotely. Home technology access has enabled us to keep in regular contact, discuss upcoming assignments and share documents and ideas. While there are a number of forms that need to be reviewed and signed, we’ve been able to process them and send them to the appropriate recipients.
During the closure, I’ve been part of the team supporting weekly home meal delivery to families and moonlighting as my wife’s camera man. (She’s a teacher.) Service leadership is an ideal that I very much subscribe to. So, the opportunity to be a part of a team that delivers meals to our families feels very natural. It is an honor and pleasure to work alongside the delivery team in support of our community.
Q: What hasn’t changed?
A: Our office takes great pride in supporting SOCSD staff members, and we appreciate those little moments in our daily interactions. Despite the fact that we’re working remotely, we still hold close to the interactions we have with each other and our staff members districtwide.