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Interim City Administrator Messages on COVID-19

Date Posted: March 19th, 2020 @ 6:51 PM
Last Updated: March 19th, 2020 @ 6:55 PM

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

To all City Employees:

As we move through these uncertain times, I want to again thank you for the work you do as City employees for the people of Oakland. I’m especially grateful for all of you who continue to support the essential government functions upon which our residents and businesses rely.

To follow up on the employee communication sent last night – and we will continue to send updates – I wanted to reinforce and announce a few things:

  1. Health and Safety remain our top priority. All decisions we are making will start from that foundation. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to acquire the equipment that front-line workers need to address this crisis. Our purchasing staff is tracking down every opportunity for personal protective equipment. If you have special requirements, please make those known to your direct supervisor.
  2. Effective immediately, every City employee who can perform their duties from home shall work from home. Every employee working from home should have a telecommute plan in place, as established with their supervisor or department. This directive ensures we can continue to provide support for essential City functions while keeping you and the public safe.
  3. Every City employee who is not working but otherwise able to work is considered to be on call as a Disaster Service Worker. During times of emergency such as this, any City employee may be required to report to work and be assigned duties that are not part of their regular duties such as helping with conducting mission-critical or essential services to our community. Please ensure your supervisor and department have current, home contact information for you.
  4. City Hall is effectively closed to the public; only City staff and members of the public with special appointments will be admitted. Access to all other Frank H. Ogawa Plaza buildings is likewise limited. Public service counters at City Hall, 150, and 250 are closed and/or switching to online/phone/appointment access only. Departments have been directed to make all efforts to provide for online access to City services. We will develop protocols for building security staff to permit limited entrance for specific business and functions, but otherwise these buildings will be open for City employees only.
  5. Pursuant to Governor Newsom’s order, employees who are 65 years or older should stay at home. If you are in that category, please alert your supervisor or department head, who will work with the City to determine whether a teleworking plan or administrative leave or some other arrangement is appropriate. This applies to all departments including public safety
  6. If you believe you have an underlying condition that places you at special risk, or if you are caring for a qualified family member with an underlying condition, medical authorization must be provided. Please work with your supervisor and medical professional. Once the authorization is provided, you may be placed on FMLA/CFRA leave though the Risk Management Unit.

Another important note: if you supervise employees who do not have access to City email and who are reporting to work, please ensure all employee communications are distributed to your employees.

Finally, several people have requested guidance regarding employees over 65 or who have underlying medical conditions. In those circumstances:

More information will continue to be forthcoming as the situation develops. Thanks again for the great work you’re doing to keep our city safe and healthy.


Steven Falk

Interim City Administrator

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dear City Staff,

Today, the Health Officer for the County of Alameda, along with six Bay Area county public health officials, issued a countywide order that, effective 12 am tomorrow, March 17, 2020 until Tuesday, April 7, 2020, “all individuals living within the County of Alameda are ordered to shelter at their place of residence.” This latest order from the County seeks to reduce community transmission, decrease the introduction of COVID-19 into new communities, and slow the spread of the virus, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Click this link to read the full order from Alameda County:

In accordance with the County’s order, and with the health and well-being of Oakland residents and employees in mind, it is our intent to continue to provide critical services to our residents while allowing people to remain sheltered in place at home and maintaining social distancing.

All of the functions we undertake here at the City for the benefit of the people we serve are important, and we are aiming to keep as many of them available to the public, provided we can do so safely with the health of our employees as paramount.

Oakland Police and Fire first responders and other Essential Government Functions will continue pursuant to the Alameda County Public Health Department order dated March 16, 2020.

What Does this Mean for Non-public Safety City Employees?

The City is working diligently to maintain employee wages and benefits during this Shelter in Place.

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17:

  • Employees assigned to an Essential Government Function will receive direction from their supervisor to determine if they are required to report to work and/or create a telecommuting plan. See attachment for guidance on telecommuting.
  • If employees are not required to work, they must be accessible (email and phone) to their immediate supervisor.
  • If you have a telecommuting plan in place, follow that plan unless otherwise directed by your supervisor.
  • If you do not have an approved telecommuting plan and you are considered “non-essential,” you will be placed on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the pay period ending on March 20th.
  • With regard to payroll for this week (through March 20th):
  • Temporary part-time employees who cannot telecommute and do not work the remainder of their regular schedule from March 17th through March 20th should use the Administrative Leave (ADO) time element. Use of ADO from March 17th through March 20th may not exceed a TPT’s regularly scheduled hours during this four-day period.
  • For remote timecard entry, please use the following link to access the Oracle self-service time module: You should be able to log-in using your standard Oracle ID and password.
  • Employees who submit paper timecards should continue to submit their timesheets through the normal procedures (i.e., employee submits paper timecard to supervisor; your supervisor will forward your approved timecard to your departmental payroll representative for processing). If you are not reporting to work in person, please make arrangements with your supervisor to submit your timecard for approval.
  • Additional instructions will be forthcoming on future pay periods.

The City Administration will continue to work with each department head to refine and identify functions that relate directly to the ongoing continuity of Essential Government Functions.

All City employees – like all other public employees in the state – are designated as Disaster Service Workers (DSW). During times of emergency such as this, any City employee may be required to report to work and be assigned duties that are not part of their regular duties such as helping with conducting mission critical or essential services to our community. Please note that even if you are directed to not report to work, it may be necessary to call you back depending on the status of the City to perform essential functions. During this period, you may be called upon to fulfill an emergency role that is outside your normal job responsibility. Even if you’re not physically in the office, there may be work you can do remotely as a DSW. Please ensure your supervisor and department have current, home contact information for you.

Supervisors should report any questions or needs through their usual chain of command and the City Administrator’s Office will work diligently to provide responses as swiftly as we’re able.


Steven Falk

Interim City Administrator

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear City Staff,

This email provides the latest updates on the effects of COVID-19 on City staff and facilities. There are two (2) attachments to this email:

  1. An update letter to City Staff about facility closures. This letter is also in the body of this email below.
  2. The Temporary Telecommuting Policy. The Telecommute Agreement and Application form is forthcoming and will be available online. Should you have any questions, contact your department director for guidance.

Mayor Schaaf shares the following message to City staff:

“The health and well-being of Oakland’s residents and employees is our first priority. We understand the closures will impact many people’s lives in Oakland and particularly hard-working families who will be challenged to provide childcare and maintain work schedules. We will continue to work with our county, state, and federal partners to create new measures of relief to assist all residents during this time. I ask all Oaklanders to do what we do best: Unite, help one another, and move through this moment with resilience and grace.”


COVID-19 City of Oakland employee update

Dear City Staff,

With the health and well-being of Oakland residents and employees in mind, the City Administrator’s Office has announced the temporary closure of specific City facilities and programming.

This decision is a result of the most recent guidance for mass gatherings from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPH), meant to reduce community transmission, decrease the introduction of COVID-19 into new communities, and slow and decrease the spread of the virus. These recommendations have been updated to align with guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on March 12, 2020 and replace ACPH’s local guidance issued on March 10, 2020.

Oakland Police, Fire and other emergency public safety services will not be affected during this time, and all other City facilities will remain Open unless and until otherwise announced.

The facilities listed below will be closed as of Monday, March 16 until further notice.

Specific Service Closures:

Oakland Public Library:

  • All library locations will be closed.
  • All Recreation Centers will be closed.
  • All permitted activities, including facility rentals, are cancelled. Our staff will inform individuals with current reservations and registrations. Should you have any questions, please contact the Central Reservation Unit at (510) 238-3420.
  • All Senior Centers will be closed.
  • All Head Start and Early Head Start program sites will be closed.

Note: OPL will extend loan periods during this time, and patrons do not need to return materials until OPL is back in full operation.

Oakland Parks Recreation & Youth Development:

Human Services:

Senior Centers

Head Start/Early Head Start Programs

Again, all other City facilities will remain open unless and until otherwise announced

In many cases the details of how staff’s daily duties will change are not yet finalized. Staff who work in these facilities should report to their supervisors and discuss next steps. We recognize these closures will have direct impacts on many of you and we are working now to provide clarity about where to report and when.


Many of you have asked about the City’s telecommuting policy and whether some City employees may be permitted to work from home. As I announced Thursday, our team evaluated that policy and have attached it to this email.

We recognize that many employees do not have regular access to work e-mail and we are asking for the support of those employees’ supervisors to provide updates in person and by phone. Supervisors should report any questions or needs through their usual chain of command and the City Administrator’s Office will work diligently to provide responses as swiftly as we’re able.

Looking Ahead

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop, it is impacting all of us, affecting both our workplace and our personal lives, especially as school districts and childcare centers close temporarily. In order to mitigate the outbreak’s effects and to support a return to normalcy, the City is working with professional experts, coordinating with other agencies, and doing its best to implement best practices and efficiently distribute information. While this process continues, we understand that many employees and members of their family may suffer from higher than normal levels of anxiety and stress and feelings of uncertainty.

Given the current situation, the City would like to remind all employees of Oakland’s Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”). EAP can help you and your family with practically any personal challenge or concern and through EAP, you can receive confidential counseling at no cost. For free and confidential support, please call Claremont EAP at: 800-834-3773 or visit and fill out an online request form. Through Claremont EAP you can discuss your question or issue with an experienced counselor who will refer you to the resources most appropriate for your needs.

If you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak or the City’s EAP program please reach out to Risk Management at 510-238-7660.

We are in unprecedented times, and it will take all of us to guide our operations, serve the public and come together as a community to weather this storm. As we make decisions over the next days and weeks, we will choose options that maximize employee and public safety and save lives. There will undoubtedly be uncomfortable trade-offs ahead. Those of us who have chosen public service are needed now more than ever. Thank you for being patient, kind to one another, and continuing to serve Oakland through these challenging times.


Steven Falk

Interim City Administrator