After two months of prevention protocols and restricted access, Schriever leaders are looking to phase in a removal of restrictions in a safe, secure manner.
“We have been working hard to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and we continue to do that; however, we need to find a balance between those prevention measures and increasing both our mission support posture and Airman resiliency,” said Col. Jim Smith, 50th Space Wing commander.
Officials are suggesting the coronavirus is likely to be a cyclic concern for the foreseeable future challenging military and civilian leaders’ ability to return to normal.
“All the predictions are no vaccine for upwards of a year, so that means we've got to refine our ability to survive and operate and do the missions the nation require[s],” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a conference call with reporters Apr. 22. “And we've got to bring back those missions that we slowed down, so we can get back to some kind of a sense of new normalcy in an abnormal world.”
Leaders across the installation have been developing the recovery plans for weeks along with triggers required to be met before initial steps could be taken.
“Some of the primary things we needed to occur before we could move forward with any type of recovery was for the local stay-at-home order to be lifted, the average rate of infection for the local area to be in a steady decline and the local medical facilities being able to treat all patients,” said Col. Jack Fischer, 50th SW vice commander and Crisis Action Team director. “We’ve met those criteria and we’re ready to bring back our teammates. We’ve missed them and we need them to help us continue to take the fight to the enemy.”
Despite relaxation of some restrictions, many critical aspects of the current COVID-19 prevention posture remain in effect. First and foremost, vulnerable/most at risk members will continue to telework. Additionally, the operations floors remain restricted to those required to conduct operations. The dining facility will remain take out only. Work centers will continue telework plans/schedules as their missions allow.
While accounting for these restrictions, supervisors and commanders will coordinate limited return to work options including rotating shifts to return the force while maintaining physical distancing. Gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed, as long as participants engage six feet of physical distancing. The fitness center and some commercial activities such as the barber shop and Dunkin Donuts will reopen with strict physical distancing and increased cleaning protocols. The Child Development Center will reopen to mission essential personnel, also with appropriate safeguards and cleaning protocols.
“We know personnel are anxious to get back to normal. I am too,” said Smith. “But we’re not there yet and that’s important for all of us to remember as we step through this recovery plan. The threat is real and we must continue to take the prevention measures seriously. I thank you in advance for your continued patience and adherence to this new guidance.”
Unit leadership and supervisors should contact individual teams to define what their unique schedules will be in this recovery phase.
“I’m very interested in ensuring everyone understands their status and role as we move forward while taking the necessary precautions to protect our team and our missions,” said Smith. “Communication is critical, so please communicate any unique circumstances you have so we can make adjustments as needed.”
Officials have established what next steps will look like as well as what could require a step back.
“We don’t want to have to go back but we are prepared to be more restrictive should the situation change or people not adhere to prevention measures,” said Fischer. “We need everyone to be all-in on this prevention measure so we can get back to work. I ask for your support so we can punch COVID in the face.”
Schriever members are encouraged to stay engaged with email, social media, the Schriever AFB app, and other communication methods.