City of Stephenville offices moving to work-from-home due to increase in COVID-19 cases

E-T Staff
Allen Barnes

Due to the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Erath County, Stephenville City Manager Allen Barnes announced at Tuesday's council meeting that city offices are moving to a working-at-home schedule, which starts Wednesday and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Barnes said that as of Tuesday, one City Hall employee has tested positive for the virus and two others were quarantined at home with immediate family members who have tested positive.

He cited the public library previously shutting down and the rec center having to shut down twice in making the announcement. 

After gathering input from public safety officials and department directors, including city Fire Chief Jimmy Chew, Barnes said the recommendation for safety was moving to the at-home working situation. All municipal offices will be affected, he said.

"I just feel that it's in our best interest, to continue governance, to begin the rotational work at home," Barnes said.

Councilman Mark McClinton questioned Barnes about the possibility of interruptions in services due to the at-home working situation. Barnes assured there would be no interruptions.

"We will have folks in every department available every day," he said. "Those who are at home are working at home and are available."

Barnes explained that phone calls can be transferred to individuals at home just as they are in an office setting. 

He added that the public safety departments will go to a "hybrid," system with directors rotating working at home and working at the office with members of their executive staffs to ensure an in-office presence.

In addition, the city janitorial staff will sanitize City Hall every Monday morning and other municipal facilities during the week using special equipment and chemical secured by the police and fire departments.

Due to the move falling under a disaster declaration issued by the council in April, no further action was needed on the part of the council at Tuesday's meeting.