(Editor’s Note: The following information was distributed to Glacier County Department heads by Human Resources Director Mike Kittson on Monday, March 16. An abbreviated version of the information was also received by this newspaper.
As of press time, Kittson said there was no restrictions on courthouse offices, however, this may change to scheduled appointments or some restricted access hours based on the determination and recommendation of the County’s appointed Health Emergency Incident Commander Carol McDivitt, RN.)
The Glacier County Board of Commissioners, in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and based on a recommendation from the Glacier County Health Department and Glacier County DES, will enter into a Declaration of Health Emergency, thus activating the Incident Command System and Protocol.
The Board of Commissioners appointed Health Director Carol McDivitt as the Incident Commander with support from Health and DES.
The following is a short summary of items discussed by county officials on March 16:
•Non-essential departments should start developing a process to allow employees to work from home. If this cannot be accomplished, then rotating shifts of two weeks on and two weeks off between employees. The County HR Dept. can assist with planning. This could include complete closure of non-essential departments, however, the Board of Commissioners will have to approve any request to close offices.
•Any employee with symptoms should NOT come to work, Anyone that has existing health issues should be allowed to remain home on leave. All COVID-19 leave should be identified on the time sheet.
•Commissioners meetings will no longer be in a group format. The meeting will be held; however we will have a call in number to listen and participate in the meeting. We are also working on live feeding the meeting via Internet.
•The Sheriff has already engaged restrictions on the offices, jail and dispatch areas. (See article below.)
If other departments would like to engage in public restrictions, please coordinate with HR before enacting those restrictions.
•All questions about COVID-19 should be referred to the County Health Dept.
•HR is working with the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) and the County Attorney to address some questions regarding forced leave, advanced paid leave, and unpaid leave and COVID-19 leave.
•Any employee that wants to be furloughed, Glacier County is working to get a waiver so the employee furloughed can still remain on the Health Insurance.
(The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates a 87 minimum hours work for insurance eligibility.)
•The Blackfeet Tribe and the federal IHS have declared an emergency on March 16 as well. Glacier County DES and County Health will be attending a discussion with those entities.
•There will be a restriction in place for meetings. Unless critical, there will be no Department Head meetings. All discussions will be held via email, phone or video conference. IT will be working on software to allow this.
•We understand that with the schools closing, parents are in a tough situation. HR encouraged department heads to work with those employees to allow them to work from home if possible. This includes Department Heads as well.
•IT is working on the website to update the notices.