Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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County encouraging more staff to work from home

Colusa County officials are trying to keep COVID-19 from sweeping through some of its county departments by encouraging more employees to work from home.

In April, early in the coronavirus pandemic, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors authorized a policy to allow certain employees to work from home, if requested, if they had underlying conditions that made them susceptible to illness or were caring for a vulnerable family member.

While most county employees are at their job locations, others continue to work from home.

“It is difficult to say how many people at any given time are working from home as many of them are doing so on an intermittent basis,” said Colusa County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler. “That said, to date I would say I’ve approved possibly 25-30 applications, across a variety of departments.”

While reasons vary for staff to work from home, including caring for at-risk family members or having their own COVID-19 exposure, Tyler said the county is now encouraging more use of telework, when suitable, as a means to limit the exposure of entire departments – so county employees don’t end up all quarantined at home at the same time, with no one to staff an office.

The board on Aug. 4 authorized the purchase of 15 Dell Precision 3551 laptops and Dell Thunderbolt Docking Stations for employees of the Probation Department to telework from home. The department had at least one COVID-19 scare already that forced the physical office to close until they got the “all-clear,” officials said.

Angela Gross said CARES act funding should cover most of the $22,491 cost for the new computers, although the Probation Department had budgeted $8,920 this year for some new equipment.

Likewise, Behavior Health will get 15 new Dell Precisions 3551 laptops and 19 Dell Thunderbolt Docking Stations that will enable the clinician staff to provide TeleHealth care from home.

The new laptops are intended to replace the department’s current desktop workstations long after the pandemic is over, with the $23,444 cost reimbursed by the state.

“We’re kind of killing two birds with one stone,” Gross said. “They are using them to work from home, but when they come back to work they will be used as workstations for staff members.”

None of the cost for the new computers for the two departments will come from the county’s general fund, Tyler said.

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