Hobart board approves contagious disease policy
By Ben Rodgers
HOBART – The Village of Hobart now has an contagious and infectious disease policy after unanimous approval by the village board Tuesday, March 17.
“It is not the COVID-19 coronarvirus policy, it is for everything moving forward,” said Aaron Kramer, village administrator. “It obviously has been drafted in response to this situation.”
“We don’t really have any policies in place for staff,” Kramer said. “How do we keep this building open moving forward?”
He said the intent of the contagious and infectious disease policy is to establish guidelines and procedures to address any contagious or infectious outbreak and to ensure the safety of village staff and the continuous operation of village government.
Kramer said if the village administrator determines conditions warrant the village to close nonessential services due to a contagious or infectious disease or pathogen, the administrator can declare a village operations closure.
In that event, village operations will be altered to ensure employee safety.
Kramer said responses could include:
• Closure of the village office.
• Suspension of certain village policies.
• Providing delivery of village services other than normal implementation.
• Requiring employees in non-emergency positions to not report to work. If an employee is told he or she should not report to work, the employee will continue to receive his or her regular pay.
In the event an employee is exposed and must stay away from work for 14 days, that employee can go above and beyond to use any and all time relating to off days.
Employees who do not have hours to use can borrow hours from the village.
Kramer told Village President Rich Heidel the policies together should cover almost any situation.
“This addresses everything, Rich, but don’t jinx us,” Kramer said. “I don’t want to hear there is an asteroid coming, because we don’t have a policy for that.”
Although a policy is now in place, Kramer said as of Tuesday night, there is no intention to close village offices.
“We are doing everything feasibly possible with the health of staff in mind to keep these operations functioning and open,” he said.
The village has now instructed visitors to use virtual means to conduct business when possible, such as paying bills online or asking questions through email or by phone.
The Hobart-Lawrence Police Department will no longer be collecting prescription drugs, and instead the drop box has been repurposed for citizen questions.
The police department also will no longer be doing any fingerprinting, building tours or ride-alongs.
Kramer said he is also asking non-emergency staff each morning if they feel comfortable at work.
He said staff understands if they feel sick, or have been exposed to a sick person, they are encouraged to go home.
“We’re going to do everything within the parameters of common sense and good public policy to keep this building open and function just like we were a week ago, a month ago,” Kramer said. “There will be some changes, but we will get through it. We always do.”
The board also wants to keep holding public meetings, but some changes may need to be made to accommodate larger crowds for public hearings.
“Open meetings in my view are extremely important, and while the League of Municipalities worries about legality, I worry about the legitimacy,” said Heidel. “There is a difference. The legitimacy of an open meeting is as important as legality.”
Finally, in response to what Heidel called “a lack of statutory function” regarding Gov. Tony Evers requiring restaurants and bars close to the public, aside from delivery and carry out, the board approved the appointment of Randy Bani, police chief, as a temporary designated health officer, in order to cite statute to issue any possible violations.