We have created this page to aggregate information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), USDA, Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), Farm Service Agency (FSA), as well as the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE).
This is not meant to replace information from those sources, but rather to make it easier for our members to access the source information. Whenever possible, choosing information on this page will take you to the source’s website.
Resources to assist employees with Teleworking.
Teleworking using Home PC/Mac
Accessing your Work email Using Your Home Computer
Telework Office 365 Web Only Access
Teleworking with Work Laptop
Tune Up For Telework Tips
Cisco AnyConnect eVPN User Guide
Cisco Jabber User Guide
NASCOE Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
NOTE: Not all questions asked of NASCOE will be placed on the “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers List”. Only those which are asked one or more times may be considered. Also, these are answers as NASCOE understands them. Answers are subject to change in this fluid environment and may be updated when information available changes.
Category: Building Issues & Operating Status
03/19/2020 Locking Office Doors
Q: The implement dealer in town already locked their doors because of COVID-19, why are we still open to the public?
A: Your state should have been provided guidance yesterday on having your LFAC immediately meet and look at the safety of your office location. Factors that should be considered include: community impact by COVID-19 (confirmed cases) and presence of high risk employees in the Service Center (in any USDA agency). If the LFAC determined that unlocked doors were a hazard based on their local assessment, they could have requested a designation change from the SFAC. We can follow up with management and see why COF’s employees have not been engaged on this issue. 03/20/2020 addition: USDA subsequently on the 20th designated all Service Centers Level 2 and required that all doors are locked to the public. The offices are still open for mail, phone and email business during core hours.
03/20/2020 Local Food Agriculture Committee
Q: Why did some State Offices allow their counties to have local FAC meetings where they could recommend Level 2 status to the SFAC? Our state didn’t allow this procedure. This really put our employees in serious risk during a pandemic. The result of that was my county was left exposed with doors unlocked for an extra day before the national office moved everyone to an automatic level 2. We had office members with serious pre-existing conditions.
A: Most STO’s request the local FAC to meet. We don’t know why yours didn’t. If local FAC’s believe the status of their building should be reviewed, they can meet and request a designation change from the SFAC. Requests for status changes should be assembled according to the USDA COVID-19 Playbook. The recent action by LFAC’s was a really good opportunity for some of our newer employees to become familiar with LFAC functions. Last week during the Employee Association call with management, NASCOE expressed concerns to the National office about consistency across states. You are free to pass along what state you work in and we can do some more research about your situation. 03/20/2020 addition: USDA subsequently on the 20th designated all Service Centers Level 2 and required that all doors are locked to the public. The offices are still open for mail, phone and email business during core hours.
03/20/2020: Office Status Level Classification
Q: Are our doors are to be open or closed here in California next Monday (03/23/2020) if we have state- imposed travel restrictions?
A: Good question. NASCOE had a bunch of other calls about this one today (Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois). To start off with, we need to nail down a couple definitions for this discussion.
- Level 2 facility/Locked Doors: Open by appointment by phone only with doors closed to the public. (Now with added requirement of NO face-to-face service and/or physical interaction with the public). Employees working inside.
- Level 3 facility/operational status closed: Not open/operational/no employees working inside.
No matter what happens on Monday (with the rules as we know them today), the building doors will remain closed and locked. This means most offices will be at a level 2 on Monday. Some will be at level three. Level three depends on the following factors: 1) employee contracted, 2) customer contracted -and 3) State/local travel restriction.
The long and the short story is, that once an state/local jurisdiction has decided to make travel restrictions a requirement, then USDA has to decide if they want to abide with the requirement (NOTE: technically, USDA isn’t bound by local laws/decrees).
03/22/20 addition: USDA has provided a legal document for FSA COF employees who are traveling in a state with travel restrictions. The title of the document is “MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS”
It is my understanding that CA did make a travel restriction, therefore it is possible someone from the CA State Food Agriculture Committee (SFAC) may have requested WDC approve a Level 3 designation. Also, it is possible that no one in CA has officially requested the status change. NASCOE doesn’t know the status of CA but predicts you will know Monday if it happens.
If a level 3 is enacted for USDA facilities before Monday, then someone from the CA STO should notify employees before their arrival at work on Monday of the new operational status.
In order to keep employees informed, the CA NASCOE affiliate and the CA STO should be discussing this issue together daily. Also, one other important point, the Local Food Agriculture Committee (LFAC) generally has the responsibility to meet and request changes in status per the USDA COVID-19 Play Book.
03/21/2020: Janitor Access to Building and COVID-19 Concerns
Q: I have not checked my email this morning, but has the national office sent building owners/janitorial services a guideline of how to properly clean offices? Also, are there firm (not gray) guidelines coming on janitorial access to the building? The main concern here that this could be a point of vulnerability in our efforts to stay safe.
A: Management touched on this issue last week during the Employee Association call with management. Bottom line is that the building owner is required to clean the building and perform needed maintenance. USDA is looking to possibly move contractor services to after hours to reduce exposure. This is not a requirement but allowed as a possibility. Management has not provided any firm guidance on this issue. We will let you know what the final guidance will be regarding this matter.
Federal Government Resources
COVID-19 Information from Federal Government Websites
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Ground zero for information on COVID-19. Contains everything from symptom detection, how to protect yourself and others, informational posters, and tools and resources on how to keep your home and workplace disinfected during the outbreak.
USDA Departmental Management
Be Prepared: Flu & Coronavirus Info
This page is updated by the Department to provide guidance to USDA Employees. The page contains a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Employees to ask and receive answers to questions. Also included are links to the CDC, EPA, WHO, State Department, Federal Occupational Health (FOH) and printable posters.
USDA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Page
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) works closely with a number of federal agencies, including the CDC, FEMA, Department of State, OSHA and Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) at the Department of Labor to provide updated information to Federal agencies and employees as it becomes available.
A joint website of the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and FEMA.
“Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19”
Contains over 50 links to Federal Government Departments and Agencies, grouped into topic areas.
Small Business Administration
Contact page with the different ways that SBA is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including links on how to apply for benefits.