Conference office reopens gradually, cautiously

The Eastern PA Conference Office in Valley Forge (Audubon area) is gradually reawakening from a three-month repose, since mid-March, as the COVID-19 pandemic slightly eases in Montgomery County. With the county now in the PA governor’s green phase and office reconstruction nearly finished, conference staff have reoccupied offices in the regularly sanitized building.

Deb Boyd, DRA

Many are in newly assigned, offices and are coming in two days a week, while working from home on intervening days to keep limits on building occupancy as protection against the still-spreading virus. That includes District Resource Assistants (DRA), who, as of July 1, now work together from the conference office, rather than separately in locations across the four districts.

The conference office is closed on Fridays through Labor Day, as staff work their usual summer schedule of longer hours on Monday through Thursday.

“The next time people take a tour of our building they will see changes that allow us to make better use of the building’s space,” said Jo Fielding, Executive Director of Administration.

The Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation will have a new suite of offices when staff return by about August 1. That renovated space, formerly used for supplies, equipment and computer network servers, has been sorted, cleared out, cleaned and sanitized. 

“We want to do what we can to prevent any accidental exposure to the coronavirus,” said Fielding. “We want to maintain the best culture of service, while continuing to protect our valuable staff members.”

Program directors and coordinators continue to work remotely from home as much as possible to help keep the office’s maximum occupancy to 12 at any given time. Meanwhile, the associate staff in-office schedules are:

  • Mondays and Wednesdays: Regina Raiford Babcock (EPA Office/Connectional Ministries); Madeline Gonzalez-Lopez (Benefits/Database); Lindsey Cotman (Media/Events); and Deb Boyd (DRA)
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays: Lawrence Lee (Comptroller); Beth Lishon (Accounting); Michael Yancey (DRA)
  • Monday and Tuesday; Kristin Reifsnyder (DRA)
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Sheri Kentner (DRA)

In the conference office, everyone–including vendors–are required to:

  • take their temperature before entering;
  • wear a protective mask properly at all times;
  • practice social distancing, remaining at least 6 feet apart from others; and
  • leave the building if they have a temperature over 100º or exhibit flu-like symptoms. 

The staff continues to use Zoom or Google Meet video-conference platforms for meetings. Onsite staff meetings are limited to no more than 10 persons in Conference Room A, our largest room, where tables are staggered to maintain distancing. 

Staff are advised to wipe down their work stations when they arrive to work, wash their hands frequently throughout the day, use hand sanitizer throughout the day, limit restrooms occupancy to one person at a time, not congregate in the lunchroom, and take a break outside daily. 

Jo Fielding,
Executive Director of Administration

The conference has employed a new building cleaning service, OpenWorks, and the office is cleaned and sanitized daily. The building has been electrostatically cleaned twice since June 1, but the plan is to have it done quarterly.

“This is certainly a new reality we are living into,” said Fielding. “We are blessed to have a team that works hard and works together to anticipate and meet the needs of the conference. We have maintained a servant attitude in all we do during this period of change and adjustment. We do not know what the future looks like right now, but we are now set to continue this path for the time being.”