On June 8th, we transitioned DOE Headquarters to Phase 1 of our plan to return to normal operations and the transition went smoothly. Now that state and local government in the National Capital Region will transition to Phase 2 by Monday, June 22, I have determined that we will transition Headquarters to Phase 2 the following week on Monday, June 29.
Phase 2 Federal employees are now being contacted by their supervisors and provided with opportunities for virtual information sessions regarding how to return to our Headquarters facilities in Phase 2. Included will be descriptions of the various precautions such as sanitization, screening criteria, hand sanitizer, signage, and other preparations that have occurred at our HQ buildings. Employees who self-identify as members of certain categories will be able to remain on telework as described in our DOE Headquarters Return to the Federal Workplace Plan. As a reminder, we also developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions to answer common questions regarding the return to the workplace at Headquarters.
As many of us continue to face caregiving challenges, I have authorized an extension of the excused absence for Federal employees who are teleworking and have caregiving responsibilities to September 11, 2020. Supervisors may continue to grant up to 20 hours of excused absence per pay period to teleworking employees caring for or providing educational instruction to children as a result of school, daycare, and camp closures due to COVID-19. This flexibility continues to also apply to those teleworking employees who may have to care for other family members, such as an elderly parent or an adult dependent with special needs, whose care facilities are closed due to COVID-19.
This is a challenging time for many of us. You may want to consider discussing your concerns with a trained Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor to assist in relieving grief, loneliness, fear, and stress. Federal employees at DOE Headquarters can contact the Department’s EAP Specialist at (202) 586-4995. Federal employees outside of the DC area may contact Espȳr at (877) 801-5752 to speak to a counselor. For additional resources, Federal employees may access the Espȳr website (the DOE password can be found on the internal EAP page).
Finally, I want to add that we have no new cases to report and two previous cases have fully recovered. With the coronavirus continuing to touch all aspects of our lives, your continued commitment to DOE’s mission and perseverance in delivering critical services to safeguard the nation’s national security are even more commendable. I appreciate all you are doing for our nation during these challenging times, and know we will get through them together. Be well and stay safe.
Secretary of Energy